Friday, December 16, 2005

Elea-no-more...















(Note to Ghiaphiles, the nerf bars were NOT used for pulling, only to store loose chain!)
You see, Eleanor is the name given to the 1967 Karmann Ghia coupe owned during high school by good EV buddy and KG enthusiast Ross Olson. Rosso had acquired this fickle redhead at a bargain price, owning to the fact that nearly her entire underbelly was rusted out, though sturdily braced by a stolen street sign. The three short months that he had her on the road were adventurous ones. Shortly after acquisition, loose lugs let a wheel bounce off and accelerate past her on Interstate 5, never to be seen again. Not long after that narrow escape, she was shouldered off the road by a careless driver, and smacked right into a parked car. Ross escaped without permanent injury, but it was the end of the road for poor Eleanor. For the next 10+ years, she sat forlornly under a tree in Grant's Pass, collecting a fine coat of moss and mulch to accentuate her smashed driver's front quarter. However, that pristine red butt kept peeking out from under the fir to tempt passers-by.

This is how I met Eleanor, after agreeing to adopt her as a donor of parts, and also as a shell that will hopefully be transformed into a long range trailer for the Karmann Eclectric.
A what?!
Yes, in keeping with the thoroughly eclectic, some would say bass-ackward nature of this project, I intend to transform the rear of this crumpled relic into a trailer that will enable the Karmann Eclectric to venture far from home powered by an aircooled VW engine, just as the good Lord intended. HowEVer, the power will not be transmitted through a transaxle, but by beefy wires. I plan to build an aircooled VW generator set by coupling the engine to a consumer grade 10 kW generator head. More details to come in a future post, but suffice it to say that I've got plenteous ideas.
A long range trailer is not a new idea, it's been accomplished in several forms, from the elegant generator trailer by AC Propulsion, to the diesel drivetrain of Mr. Sharkey's decapitated Rabbit. My inpiration comes primarily from the first generation pusher built by JB Straubel.
Though it would be simpler and probably easier to rebuild Eleanor as a pusher rather than a generator trailer, I desire the additional utility that a generator will provide, such as trackside charging during NEDRA EVents. Also, in the event of a blackout, the Karmann Eclectric will be able to provide quite a bit of household power, but when he runs low, Eleanomore can kick in.

But wait, all this has been done before! Karmann Eclectric needs something unique. And besides, Eleanomore came in much better condition than I was expecting. It would be a shame to use just her rear when only a front quarter is damaged... Well, from college road trip experience, I know that a six-foot male can fully stretch out inside the cabin of a KG, so why not turn Eleanor into a Karmann Ghia teardrop camper? Okay, eclectric boy, now you're really going off the deep end. You're turning a classic econo-sportster into an eco-freak racecar, and now you intend to add a trailer hitch and take it camping? Truly wacko! Yes, this should be fun......

Back in Grant's Pass, we managed to extricate Eleanomore from her bed of needles, and load her onto the generously-loaned custom car trailer that usually sees service under the White Zombie or Blue Meanie. Thank you John Wayland!
Despite the best advance measurements that my tennis shoes could provide, the trailer turned out to be about an inch too narrow for the Karmann Ghia. We set the car on blocks in order to clear the fender wells, and then securely chained her down. As you may imagine, this complicated the manual loading of Eleanor onto the trailer, and the fact that she had one locked wheel and one missing wheel didn't help a bit. Never mind, the neighborhood provided a couple of gawkers who didn't hesitate to provide unsolicited advice, so we got 'er loaded in a jiffy. Ross's generous dad is a retired hardware store owner, so EVery time we needed another wooden block, length of chain, or a come-a-long, he burrowed into the basement and came up with whatever we wanted.

The road trip home was extremely scenic and otherwise uneventful, and after leaving the carcass out front for a day to pique my neighbors' concern, er I mean interest, I unloaded Eleanor by setting tall timbers as an elevated runway, tied Eleanor off to a sturdy post, and drug the trailer out from underneath. She now sits under cover in my driveway, awaiting her date with the Sawzall....

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