Friday, September 23, 2005

Monster Trans-action


It's hee-eere! After no fewer than 22 days of delay by UPS, the 091 Vanagon transaxle originally built for the Ghia Monster has arrived! Yes, the Ghia Monster, that most extreme of electric Ghias, outgrew it's bulletproof, locking differential, five speed overdrive with a granny first gear tranny before it even got installed. Steve Marks had this beauty built up by KCR transmissions (who apparently don't keep records of each tranny built for later reference!?!) early on in the Ghia Monster project, and then it turned out that the Ghia Monster would produce too much torque even for the beefiest aircooled factory transaxle available. To handle over 1000 foot-lbs of torque, the Monster needed a Lenco. However, Karmann Eclectric should 'only' put out about 300 foot-lbs, so this gearbox should fit the bill. There's some confusion between the builder and original buyer as to whether or not the 5-speed kit was installed, but that will be apparent soon enough. An electric Ghia would only need fifth gear for a salt flats run, anyway....

Ever since the engagement was called off, this jilted tranny had been sulking in storage under the stewardship of Richard Brown, EV mentor and creator of the Dualin 7. Rich consented to ship it up to me gratis, and built a custom shipping crate that would've survived a trip around the horn on a slow boat to Timbuktu. I'm thankful for his careful craftsmanship, because despite the conspicuous ^UP^ markings, the crate obviously spent part of it's three week journey in the inverted position (evidenced by the handwrittern upside-down UPS notes to staff....).

You've no doubt noticed that this gearbox came with some shiny accessories. Yep, I got the adaptor plate too. But this is no ordinary spacer ring, no. Steve had designed and built a very cherry and custom standoff plate to accomodate three 8" ADC motors! It fits perfectly into the Ghia engine bay, and the temptation to make use of this plate is too great. Just as Steve discovered, three motors would probably be overkill for this transaxle, but those slots in the adaptor plate are also perfect locations for any number of accessories, such as an AC generator head, or rotary inverter (more economical than the electronic kind, if not quite as efficient). Another possibility is a high-voltage DC generator, for the most efficient regeneration and dynamic braking possible, and there's always that leftover alternator that I've got hanging around, for an old-school and much less expensive DC-DC converter. "All" that has to be done is to drill a new set of holes for the larger 9" motor mounting pattern, and then it's off to the races.. Oh yeah, the coupler spacing doesn't appear to be quite the same, and then I'd have to rethink the controller location, and those contactors, and there's the water cooling, and, uh..........

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