Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Charger and a Home for the Zilla

I finished installing the charger in the electrics box in the trunk. I connected the charger to the power line that comes in from the gas door, and mounted the charger itself to the floor of the box. I also mounted the DC to DC converters in the box, simply bolting them down into place, and I sealed the perimeter of the box where it meets the chassis, to be sure that any water that splashes up can't get in the trunk area.

I still need to finish up the wiring on the for the converters and connect the charger to the batteries, but as I don't have them yet, that will have to wait. One of the things you can't see is a port in the back of the box that will vent fresh air into the compartment. When the car is running, or when the charger is on, a fan will kick on to force fresh air into the box, helping to keep everything cool. I also need secure that wire loom to the top of the box and eventually cut the carpet that was there to accommodate the opening.

I mentioned yesterday that I'll be using the original location that was used for the car's electronics as the home for the Zilla and anything else I can squeeze in there. Here's a shot of that space complete with an aluminum sheet I cut to fit.

That sheet will act as a tray that I can mount the Zilla and the hairball to. I still need to build the support for the sheet, it will sit a little higher than where it is in the photo. I'm a bit concerned I'm going to run out of room for all of the electrical doodads that I need to install. Some of them I can put under the tray because I won't need to access them unless they fail. Others I may end up running into the cabin and mount under the dashboard. I'll just have to play it by ear.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Never Say it's Done

Last Friday I mounted, for what I thought was the last time, the aluminum tray under the motor. Well, over the weekend, I realized that with a few modifications I could improve the way it fits into the chassis. It nagged at me all weekend until I could bear it no more. Today it came out. Again. I made the modifications, wrestled with it again and finally got it back into place. While I'm not saying that it's permanent, I did put thread lock on all the bolts that hold the cross brace that it sits on into place.

I mounted the water pump as well. Not that exciting or time consuming, but one more step closer. Notice the nice brass housing.

I also permanently mounted (doh! there I go again) the back box that will house the charger and DC to DC converters. Next I'll be mounting all the components in them. I can't begin too much of the wiring at this point, but I'll do what I can before the batteries arrive.

I also sorted out how to mount the Zilla controller. There is a nifty little water tight area back near the firewall, right in front of where the passenger sits. It held the car's ECU and many other electrical connections. Most of those are gone now. I'm going to have to build a little tray to hold the controller and the hairball, but there's plenty of room, some good places to anchor the tray and it shouldn't take too much work.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Tray is Done

This morning I mounted the tray I've been working on. The tray is sandwiched between the sub-frame/chassis and the stability cross brace which mounts to both. It went on fairly easy. No pictures because it looks pretty much like the pictures I posted yesterday. Only difference is that it's not coming out again.

I began working on getting the box that will hold the charger and DC to DC converters in the trunk mounted up. I got as far as I could without help. I need someone either under the car or working in the trunk to help me tighten down the bolts.

I did manage to mount the fan that will blow fresh air over the batteries in the trunk should they get too warm. That fan will hang from the box I mentioned above and I will be routing some 2" flexible tubing into the battery box. I have a temperature switch that I'll mount in the battery box which will control the fan. When it gets above 122 Degrees F. the fan will kick on. It's set to turn off at 104 which means that in the summer time in Phoenix, it will pretty much run non-stop.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Power Steering Switches

I've mentioned earlier in the blog that I'm not the only person to have undertaken transforming a Z3 to an EV. A gentleman by the name of Len, who happens to reside in Malta started his conversion within a week of when I started mine. Well, he is clearly more skilled than I because his has been up and running for nearly 2 months now.

Len had figured out how to create a position sensitive assembly for the steering column that will turn the power steering pump on as soon as the steering wheel is not straight ahead. Since there is no need for power steering when you're driving in a straight line, this will help to reduce the draw on the batteries and increase range.

Earlier today, a package arrived on my doorstep from Len. He was kind enough to send along the necessary switch, shims, spacers and plans for how to duplicate the assembly on my car. What great and generous thing to do. Thank you Len!! I am most grateful.

Isn't Malta beautiful?

Vacuum Canister

Just finished mounting the vacuum canister this evening. Essentially it will store the vacuum created by the pump until the brakes are applied. (The thought of storing a vacuum is rather odd. How do you store nothing? I guess it's really a canister that keeps everything else out.) Once the vacuum drops below a certain threshold, the switch at the top of the canister will kick in and start the vacuum pump again.

You can see the orange line running from the newly installed canister on the right, to the brake's vacuum assist on the left.

More Work on the Tray Under the Motor

More work in the engine bay today.

Here is a shot of the engine bay at it's current state. The tray under the motor is mounted in place (although not permanently just yet). But it does give you an opportunity to see the tray under the motor, the duct work for the motor fan and the final position of the vacuum pump assembly.

Here's a detail of the passenger side. I believe I know what you're thinking. I can nearly hear it. "What on earth is that pink and yellow monstrosity next to the motor?" Well trust me when I say that the picture really doesn't do it justice. It's far, far uglier in person.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I need some way of keeping water from splashing on the motor fan and it's filter. Well, the space is tight and irregular, ruling out a tidy piece of aluminum. And by the way, for anyone who saw the work I did on the housing for the vacuum pump, you know I may not be capable of a tidy piece of aluminum.

Anyway, I constructed the shroud out of two flexible plastic cutting boards. I hot glued them together, and then ran some small screws along the seams just to hold them tight. It's not water tight, but it will keep all flying water off of the assembly. I'd show you a more complete picture of the whole assembly, but my fear of being mocked by all has gotten the better of me. Truthfully though, it works just great. It contains the assembly quite well and flexes around all the little things that stick out here and there.

I don't know that this picture is really all that different from the one I posted last week. But there is one important difference. The vacuum pump is actually in the housing now, and the housing is bolted down into place.

This whole tray assembly has taken a terrific amount of time, but it's all been necessary. It's a small car, with precious little space. Dropping a WarP 11 motor in that engine bay instead of a 9 hasn't helped matters as far as space is concerned. Everything that I need to fit in place I have fractions of an inch to spare at best. It makes for one challenge after another. But it's fun anyway.

Vacuum Pump Part II

I promised a picture, and here you go!

This is the vacuum pump nestled all nice and cozy in it's little home. It should keep it protected from the elements nicely. I'm not taking any bets on how it would do in a torrential downpour or hurricane, but then again, I do live in Arizona.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vacuum Pump

I finished positioning and mounting the vacuum pump today. It was a tight fit, but there was really no where else to put it. It down below the steering column linkage, between the motor and the chassis. I had maybe a 1/4" in either direction to play with when fitting it in there. Sorry, no pictures today. By the time I was done, it was too dark to take a decent picture. I'll see if I can post some tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, I need to figure out how I'm going to shield the motor blower from water before I mount that to the other side of the tray under the motor. I've got a few ideas, but not one that strikes me as really good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Charger Plug Completed

The charger plug under the gas cap is complete!

Notice the little green switch at the top. That's the kill switch I spoke of in the last post. I admit that it's not the prettiest thing I've built, but it should do the trick. Now to decide what to tackle tomorrow...

Charger Plug

Here's a couple shots of the charger plug assembly that I've put together.

Basically I just cut a disk out of aluminum plate, carved a hole to match the back end of that plug and then fixed it into place by putting the plug on one side of the plate, and the stress relief clamps that the plug uses on the other side. Once I screwed them down into place the plug is secured and doesn't move.

This is the assembly in place under the gas cap. Seems like the most logical place to put it after all. I still need to figure out how I'm going to affix a switch in that compartment so that when the door is open, the Zilla controller is deactivated and the car won't run. After all, I don't want to mistakenly drive off with the plug connected.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Engine Bay Pan and More

What a busy week! I got quite a lot done, and at the end of each day, I was just too tired to post anything about it. So I have some make up work to do.

Over the weekend, I decided that the big battery box in the front could really use some lateral cross bracing. So Tuesday I went about designing, cutting, drilling and painting some cross bracing that will mount to the steel we've welded in place, and the battery tray it's self. Only 1/2 lb of steel added, but it will add a lot of stability to the structure.

Wednesday I went about designing a pan to fit under the motor in the engine bay. It will do a couple things; 1, make the under side of the car a bit more aerodynamic, and 2, give me a place to mount a few of the components that I've yet to fit. I made a cardboard template, cutting, fitting, cutting, fitting, cutting some more... you get the picture. There is a "x" shaped cross brace that mounts to the chassis and the front sub-frame of the car. The idea is to shape the piece to sandwich between the brace and the car. Lots of trial and error and I got the cardboard just right, so I went and bought some aluminum plate.

Thursday was spent cutting the sheet of aluminum, shaping it and bending it to fit in the place I'd envisioned. I'd never given much thought to having a 10 ton press break in the garage, but I can tell you it would have been handy the last couple days. Instead, my work bench, some angle iron, clamps and a rubber mallet had to suffice. It took a while, but I got it to work out real nice!

In the top picture, you can see the passenger side of the motor and the aluminum plate underneath it. This space will hold the blower that will force air into the motor for cooling. In the bottom picture, you can see (although just barely discern) a box on top of the aluminum plate. This is located on the drivers side and that box will hold the vacuum pump. Which brings us to what I did today. I cut and shaped the aluminum for that box this morning. I have to do just a little adjusting to it before the vacuum pump is ready to be mounted into it, and then it to the plate.

Man, I can't wait to finish!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Zilla's Radiator

I mounted the small radiator that will be used to dissipate heat from the Zilla controller. It may be a bit difficult to see what's what in that picture. It's a black radiator with the car's black condenser serving as the back drop, with a little bit more black thrown in here and there for good measure.

I'll be routing the coolant tubing from those white inlets up to the passenger side next to the firewall, were all the electronics will live. I'm also thinking that I might put some ducting in that will help to pull air through it. The fan that blows air into the motor has to such that air from somewhere, why not through that little radiator? My only concern is wet conditions. I don't want to suck any moisture into the fan, not blow it into the motor. I'll think on it a bit more.

Painting Work is Done

I pulled all of the masking tape and paper out of the engine bay this morning and paint work turned out great. No over spray and a good clean surface on each. The paint doesn't match perfectly in the engine bay because the original paint was subjected to 9 years of oil and road grime, but it looks good enough to me. Check it out:

I fit a few of the parts together to figure out how I'm going to mount the AC compressor. After a couple hours of work, I think I've got it sorted. I made a cardboard template for the base plate and fabricated a small piece of angle iron that should work out as a top bracket. Now I just have to see about having that metal cut up properly. A plasma cutter is what's in order.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Masking Up

This morning I discovered a black hole of time under the hood of the car. It took me more hours than I thought conceivable to mask the engine bay off in preparation for paining.

This is the right or passenger side...

and here is the left, or drivers side. Like they say, put the time in masking properly before you paint and you'll be that much happier with the end result. If that's true, then I should be apoplectic with joy once I peel it all off. I've already primed the pieces, so tomorrow, I'll paint. I figured that I'd paint everything that's permanently affixed to the car red (BMW 314 red), and everything I bolt to the car will be black.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paint Prep

After a week spent in cool San Francisco, I'm back in the desert heat and ready to resume work on the car.

Today I worked on getting all the proper holes drilled in the support structure for the battery trays so that I can anchor them down properly. Then I worked on cleaning all the new steel off, as well as all the body work nearby so that I can mask it up and begin paint work. Not all together exciting, but necessary if I want to keep it all from rusting away and looking bad.

Later I'll start masking it all up and I'll post a picture or two for all to enjoy.

It looks like the soonest I can expect the batteries is going to be mid October. Later than I would have liked, but that's how it goes. It will give me time to finish just about everything else before they arrive. With some hard, smart work, I'm hoping I'll be able to build the cables, drop them in and be ready to go shortly after they show up.