Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Baby Optima's first date

Into the EV Archives we go, for a little more history on Godzilla #003 and our Baby Optima coolant reservoir, who first met each other under the hood of John Wayland's White Zombie, which is the world's quickest-accelerating street legal electric conversion, having covered the standing start quarter mile in 11.466 seconds, with a best 60-foot time of 1.58 seconds!

Of course, back in '97 our Baby Optima was a working prototype issued as sponsorship to the most notorious electric racecar around. It's nice that Baby O can live on in an EV with a new, and even greener, cleaner mission- holding green Zilla blood!

But it wasn't done, was it?

Not quite, but here's a summary of the past year's progress that lead up to the test drive.

Zilla Cooling: Thanks to excellent component selection by Ryan Bohm of EV Source, I mounted a super durable and quiet pump below the custom Baby Optima Coolant Reservoir, and fabricated a inner fender wall out of 1/2" HDPE, yellow of course. In this, I cut two portholes, and mounted a double-wide PC radiator and single cooling fan such that air is pulled in on one side, and exhausted on the other.

Another unfinished item was the Jim Husted-created Adjustable Brush Ring timing handle. It was not built with a method of securing it, as I thought I'd add a remote cable or servo control. However, inthe interest of simplicity, and wanting to allow enough learning time before risking Blowing Something Up (because I didn't have to), I built a jackscrew mount onto the motor, enabling easy adjustment, but not on the fly. Hand-fabricated from brass and polished to a high sheen, it sets off the motor nicely.

Lastly, the monster 12 pole disconnect switch from a power station was installed under the dash. Upon energizing the circuit, a current leak was discovered. So, the body is hot. Full pack volts, but no measureable amps, but I'll have to get that source identified ASAP. Good friend Stephen Johnsen became extremely frustrated by a similar fault, only to eventually find that some black rubber hose that was being used as chafe guarding was actually somewhat conductive! (a lotta carbon black in that compound!)


Sorry for a year of silence- it's been quite a ride, including the birth of baby #2; our son Jason, a corporate downsizing and unemployment, a new job and lots of associated training, and in short, not much time for the poor, neglected Karmann Eclectric. But lo, our hero returns, and his steed awaits.
We got a couple of work sessions in during the break with helpful buddies (thanks Hans and Wayne, more details on that later), but the momentous date of May 31, 2009 marks THE BIG milestone. Karmann Eclectric moved under it's own 240V power!
Like it's namesake, Godzilla #003 awoke from a long hibernation and started tearing up the neighborhood, having retired from racing in White Zombie in early 2005.
Without so much as a hiccup, the old controller came to life with that signature ZIlla "whoosh", and propelled the Ghia out of my man-cave.
I navigated a few speed bumps, relieved that he carefully-engineered 5" clearance held up after loading batteries and driver, and as I passed the immaculate gardens of our Homeowners Assoc. president, she gleefully greeted me with "It MOVES- but it's SOOO Quiet" She requested a ride, even though the passenger seat had not been installed. Not realizing the import of my recommendation that she hold on, our first passenger did half of a reverse somersault when I hit the go pedal!
Thankfully, the lexan battery covers prevented a plasma-imprinted tattoo on her back.. Cackling gleefully, she exclaimed joy and wonder for the whole neighborhood to hear, and then assisted me in discovering that the suspension height was no longer sufficient to clear our speed bumps. Thankfully, no real damage, as the lowest point under the chassis is just some solid stainless acorn nuts that grooved the asphalt...
No video of our adventure exists, thankfully, but the second run will be recorded!