Friday, August 26, 2016

Adopting a Unicorn.

One-owner 1983 Mazda RX7 GSL Aztec Gold Electric Vehicle Conversion
Built by an electrical engineer and driven daily for 18 years.  
2 year old flooded lead-acid battery pack
Vehicle Garaged and rain-tight
Battery charger failed, batteries at low voltage.

This imagined advertisement describes the situation that came to me via the grapevine this week, and now it is indeed mine.  Having passed muster as a worthy adoptive father to this antique love child, I brought it home to the genuine surprise of my wife, who couldn't believe that someone would give away such a beauty.  But then of course, she's never tried to sell a unique but low value used car on Craigslist, inviting all sorts of unsavory time wasters to your inner sanctum....  My great gratitude goes out to the builder, who did not desire publicity.

Vital stats are a 108V battery pack, Curtis 1231 controller, 9: ADC motor, high quality workmanship.
The top-of-the-line GSL included a limited slip differential, steel sunroof (with good seals and drains that aren't clogged), electric windows and solenoid-actuated hatch and filler door release, along with a leather interior and unique aluminum alloy wheels.

This car includes amazing documentation, from notes on the builder's first ever trip to an EV Assoc. meeting, to a log of all build progress and repairs, to the original window sticker and brochure, sales receipts for EVerything, engineered drawings, and EVen a typewritten RX7 EV Maintenance Manual complete with color photos for each procedure, such as battery pack replacement.  

The jury's still out on how healthy the battery pack is and whether it'll make my round-trip commute, but it'll definitely be a fun errand-runner and show car.  It also fits into my Karmann-Ghia sized car trailer, and most of all, it was ready to roll!  No work needed, it can simply be driven leisurely and gradually upgraded over time.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Grumman Gets Going!

After this chump got stumped for weeks trying to wake up the motor controller and diagnose faults, EV Expert Dave Barden came over for a visit from Vashon Island and solved my woes in one quick computer session.  I've gotta get a dedicated old laptop or Palm set up for this purpose, as the Zilla seems to be stuck in an old world of 9600 baud serial port communication, and USB to serial port adaptors are a wily bunch.....

Driving 17 miles home, the battery pack didn't sag much when kept under 400 amps, and I've resolved to take it easy while working out the bugs.  For example, there's a nagging noise coming from the right front corner that I erroneously diagnosed as a bad constant velocity joint, so the students and I put on two new axles, complete with stub axles and four CV joints.  However, that didn't include the wheel bearings, which are part of the front hubs that the stub axles are inserted through.  Off it all came again today and we pressed new bearings into that olde hub, still bearing the May 1982 inspection sticker!

The old bearing seemed good, but the first test drive seemed to prove us out.  Then we noticed a missing circlip that serves as the bearing retainer, so out came the hub again and during this reassembly, we noticed that a brake pad had delaminated during the test drive and the backing plate was bent.  SO, after that one short test drive, the Grumman went back on jack stands, awaiting new front pads and the retainer bolts that the pads slide on...