The Electric Truck Project

John Palmerlee

Ellen Setchko Palmerlee

Santa Rosa

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Project Log

Below is a record of our recent progress.
10-24-2012 6,000 Miles... Purchased a new set of Trojan batteries at Battery Systems on Shiloh Rd. Now our range can max at about 25 miles, and is much more efficient while charging. We've started installing a new J1772 inlet permanently - so we can use all the great new (free) charge stations around Sonoma County.
2-13-2012 One Year Later!... We've had so much fun and such good feedback from people wherever we go! That's not a long way, however :-) Our typical trip is about 10 miles, and have maxed out at about 18 miles to the point where we were pushing the old batteries pretty hard. So it's not a long ranger yet - but we've driven 4,000 miles this year... and we think that's not too bad. This year we've saved about 200 gallons of gasoline, and probably over a ton of CO2. We've carried a half yard of compost to three locations, driven in the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Parade, and enjoyed to pieces being perfectly quiet at stop lights. The truck (Val) will go over 75 mph, has a best cruise of about 50 mph where it's been known to run at 14 KW (with a tail wind!). Our next wish? A set of lithium ion batteries... maybe a rejected set from a Nissan leaf... or Tesla!
3-14-2011 Registration... Got a 1 day registration from DMV in the morning. Drove the truck to DMV mid-day to register. Went to rear of Santa Rosa DMV for verification (EV). Then we waited in line for the paperwork to register. SR DMV software balked at the Pickup/Electric power option. Four Folks working on it couldn't figure out what to do, so they "suspensed" the registration, gave us our sticker, and sent the Pink slip and forms to Sacramento for them to figure out. Next day we got the call saying all was fixed at the SR DMV now, and our papers were on the way. Celebration! Weighed it on the way home at Schultz Bro's Bekins: 3100 lbs empty, which is on the light end of our expectations - a gain of 500 lbs for a Lead/Acid conversion.
3-12-2011 Final Woodwork... Finished the plywood bed, battery box cover and rear light bar. Insured EV with AAA. Test drive 10 miles, volt readings on pack. Start desulphation work on older batteries using Battery Minder.
2-12-2011 First Drive!... Modified and installed rear bumper, rear lights attached with duct tape, add tranny and differential fluid, rewire reverse light circuit, add batt pack temp sensor. First drive to test complete system - 5 + miles with some acceleration tests. Full charge with onboard charger.
2-5-2011 Final Wiring and Tests... Install charger in engine compartment w/custom scrap aluminum mount. Rewire front harness, route HV charger wiring. Wire DC-DC converter. Wire relays for Master, vacuum, and controller coolant pump. Install and wire fuse bus. Wire charger and DC-DC to HV. Lay wire for master and contactor switches, and create wire loom. Final hookup of traction wires. Test Brake vacuum system, test contactors, test relays, test DC-DC charge voltage, test installed charger with 120v AC.
12-17-2010 Control system Wiring... Brake vacuum pump final and wiring. Contactor mounting and wiring layout. Moror wire cut and swaged. Controller cooling system rough install. Break into old wiring harness to remove excess. Hall effect throttle installation. Controller display canbus wiring. Hand make battery box disconnect at main fuse.
10-29-2010 Battery Compartment Connections... Pack connections finalized and flex conduit installed with Traction cables under chassis. Traction cable end terminal swaging.
9-4-2010 Control Rack installed in engine compartment... Using some used sliding glass door framing aluminum, we built supports for the electronic control equipment. We used 1/4" plexiglass for the platform, which made it possible to see our work below, and enhanced electrical isolation of components.
8-6-2010 Battery Pack Interconnects... Two batteries replaced by warranty at Battery Systems in Windsor (free-structural failure of top seal). Using 1/2" copper pipe, we annealed and flattened it, then cut and curved double layers for battery interconnections. Got a roll of 1" shrink tubing from Harbor Freight, and used it to insulate the interconnects. Used 3/4" PVC endcaps and a heat gun to form terminal caps for the battery posts, which made them essentially short-proof. Brake vacuum system major assembly.
6-18-2010 Bay Area Air Quality District Buyback Funding ... We finalized paperwork on our '87 Toyota Camry wagon so it could be turned in to Pick-N-Pull for $1000. Jumped through the hoops and brought home money for the EV project! We swapped tires and battery so our EV would have some newish radials and system battery. The Camry was an oil dripper needing some work, so this was real bonus for the project.
5-29-2010 Motor and Transmission in Truck ... After borrowing Steve Wyatt's hoist again, we moved the engine-tranny assembly to the front of the truck, lowered it in and attached the drive shaft and rear tranny mounts. With the assembly supported with a floor jack, we designed and built custom mount adapters between the motor clamping mount provided by Dave Malloy (a bottle of wine changed hands)... and the frame of the truck. We were able to use the vibration dampening mounts from the original engine.
- Click Here to see the Warp9 installed in a clean engine compartment.
5-22-2010 Motor Assembled to Transmission ... We used an 8" dial caliper to check the alignment with the transmission pilot shaft, and ended up rotating the pins 180 degrees to get an alignment within < .010". We cleaned the transmission, attached the motor to ring, plate, flywheel and transmission. At each step we ran the up to 12v speed (using one battery) to check for noise and vibration. Finally, we ran it up with the transmission attached, and using a cheater bar, operated the clutch to be sure everything functioned without noise. Passed! Note: we did not use the torque specs provided by Electro Automotive because we suspected they were not correct. So, we did some research and used the following:
10-24(6) adapter hub lock screws => 25 inch lbs (EA suggested < 1 ft lb)
3/8-16 bolts from ring to motor => 15 ft lbs(EA suggested 35 ft lbs)
1/2-13 bolts from plate to ring => 35 ft lbs (as suggested by EA)
5-14-2010 Adapter Plate Arrived ... from Electro-Automotive. This was no simple matter! Eleven weeks of waiting, and towards the end there were no replies from Electro-Auto. We finally got through and they shipped the adapter. Several phone calls with Michael Brown got us squared away with some custom dowel pins. In our case, Electro Auto had to make an adjustment to the plate for exact fit - they custom machined dowel tubes about 3/4" in diameter to fit in the large holes each side of the transmission.
4-20-2010 Ordered Major components ... Netgain Warp9 motor and WarpDrive controller ordered from Justin with Evolve was really helpful on the phone and via email. Really gave us support while ordering, and did his best to minimize shipping costs. Evrything arrived on schedule. The WarpDrive Controller "wowed us out"... couldn't stop looking at it.
2-28-2010 Built the Battery Box Shell ... Using 7-ply 23/32 " plywood. After a lot of planning, we built the basic shell of the battery box. It will be composite plywood/fiberglass/steel, and mount directly to the front two bed mounts. It will handle the 12 Trojans or 46 160AH LiFe (future upgrade). Mount was finished in the next month. Custom attachments and support frame built from steel and coated wtih POR paint (tough stuff).
2-20-2010 Started the Craig's List Sale ... to earn funds for the project. We are selling the Bed, which is in good condition. During the next week we sold over $100 worth of unused furniture (and some linoleum trimmings!). This will just about buy the battery box and wood bed materials.
2-16-2010 Ordered the Adaptor Plate and Hub ... from ElectroAutomotive. This was about a year after first contacting Bill Lentfer about the applicability of his transmission templates to our model Toyota. We sent off the transmission rubbing, "magic number" and other measurements and photos, and a check, of course! Bill emailed the next week to say he received the info and verified a match.
2-14-2010 Removed the Pickup Bed ... with a block and tackle pulley system we created for about $12. Using the pulleys, two of us could lift the bed and secure it, roll the truck forward and rotate the bet vertically for storage. For Valentine's Day, Ellen named the truck "Val", being red, and kindof cute with the bed removed (pictures coming). We decided to sell the bed, because the platform is so flexible without it. Perfect forward mounts for a battery box just behind the cab over the frame.
1-17-2010 Checked HP Requirements ... using same model year pickup owned by our neighbor Paul. Measured coasting deceleration from 75 to 55 on flat stretch of hwy 12 w/of Fulton. Determined we need 26 HP continuous for freeway driving. HGC AC-50 falls short at 17hp, Warp 9 DC only option within budget at 28 hp continuous (144v).
1-16-2010 Batteries Donated ... from Dave Malloy. He had a set (12) 1-yr-old Trojan 30XHS lead-acid batteries that he offered to us for our project.
1-6-2009 Planning Started for Spring Construction ... discussion and research re AC or DC, controller and accessories.
4-25-2009 Sold the Engine ... on Craig's List!
4-11-2009 Removed IC Components ... after engine removed. Took out gas tank, battery, cleaned tank for sale.
3-28-2009 Removed the Engine and Transmission ... from the pickup. Borrowed a hoist from our friend Steve, and carried it home in the Camry wagon. Spent all afternoon and evening removing accessories and the engine and transmission, draining fluids, gas, etc. See the picture of Ellen with the IC Engine and transmission on The Project page.
2-24-2009 Weighed the Pickup ... with internal combustion components intact, at Schultz Brother's Bekins in Santa Rosa. Came in at 2620 lbs empty with 1/2 a tank of gas.
2-20-2009 Ownership Transfer Complete ... DMV moves title into John's name, receive pink slip. Truck has a "salvaged" history note from a past accident that appears minor.
2-1-2009 Purchased Donor Pickup ... from San Jose owner via Craig's List. 1985 Toyota Xtracab 2WD with bad engine and good body. Towed to Santa Rosa using seller's AAA miles.