Thursday, August 14, 2008

OH, and this is exciting...

After weighing many options, I finally made a decision on who to order my electric car components from. 

Now I've been weighing, and comparing and weighing options for a lot longer than I've probably let on here in this blog. Basically there are about 5 or 6 main vendors for this stuff in N. America, and I've been comparing prices, judging website graphics, coming to conclusions based on the way their color scheme made me feel. I'm not joking.

So I put those feelings away, deciding that these aren't people who are interested in good design, color matching or web aesthetics. I had been writing, calling etc since then. That seemed a bit smarter, perhaps a bit more prudent. It'll create a larger 'sample size.' 

In writing to KTA Services, they sent back a form to fill out about my project. I filled it out immediately and sent it back (emailed.) I waited a week, and never heard anything. So I called (they're here in CA, so I felt okay about calling...why? I's that unreasonable reasoning that seems to happen sometimes.) Turns out they had received the form, but hadn't had time to look it over. Okay, that's fine. We're all busy. But it's been about 2 months and I haven't heard a peep from them since. I finally read that they have a new guy that just took this place over, so maybe there's a new ownership problem. Too bad, I liked their site pretty well.

There was the go-to pros, Electro Automotive, started by the guy who wrote the book (literally, Michael Brown wrote Convert It, the blueprint to these projects) on EV conversions. Anyhow, great response (poor graphics on the site, and not a great layout) from the EA team, and very friendly. Unfortunately it looks like they're pumping up the prices a bit, most likely due to their reputation and location (in Silicon Valley). Hey, that's okay. They deserve the extra dough. From somebody. Just not me. I have a strict budget. Not to mention, they were running 10-12 weeks behind on orders.

There were a few others (folks that make Zilla controllers - pricey - or the Warp9 motors, again pricey), there are Sweater and Hat over at electro motorsports, our homeslice. Their site isn't terrible either. Ultimately I decided that they were more comfortable with setting up EV motorcycles than car conversions. That's fine. Just not my thing right now. 

There was, who had a good response time, and seemed friendly. Obviously this is their specialty (VW conversions). Their site was not so pleasing to my eye. That's an understatement. And after reading Convert It, it seemed that 48 vlt systems were not such a good idea. I know that the book is older, but it seems that the basic physic principles still apply. evolks seemed to think (at least according to the site) that the 48 vlt sys was fine. Plus I wasn't sold on their coupler/adaptor plate solution. 

The worst site, by far, was the mismatched, and patriotic Electric Vehicle of America. Unaligned graphics, poor photos, animated flags. So, of course I went with them. They're not even in California. But I did manage to call them once or twice (working against all natural intuition). 

Anyhow, I sold my biodiesel Mercedes and had the dough from the sale to send to EVA for my kit of electric car stuff. Why'd I pick them?

They always got back to me quick, and with smart answers. They are patient with me. They weren't the cheapest, but they were reasonable, and seemed to be offering a good amount of phone support post-purchase to help me with this thing. They also didn't have a long wait time (we'll see if this is true.) I liked the way they went about the adaptor plate/coupler solution (how the motor attaches to the transmission (tranny!) to make the car go. Plus they had detailed instructions on how to wire it all, install it, and a safety video etc. All sounded good, and they recommended I include a couple more contactors/breakers for safety issues. With kids in the car, I like that idea.

So, I fought off my aesthetic intuition towards decision making in this process. I guess that's progress.

Catching up...2 project realization

Missed some posting days. Done a lot. Pics coming soon.

I realized (did i mention this) that this is actually 2 projects. 
A restoration.
A conversion.

I'll have to make a list in 2 columns to help figure out the priorities for these projects (which is really one project, but, y'know, new realization and all...)

So this last weekend, the parents came to visit and Dad helped with some VW work. We cut out the old rubber window seals, popped out the old windows...cleaned them up and then put the new rubber seals on the old windows. I'm doing the chrome trim look (not Cal-look) so we had to shove that chrome trim in the rubber seals too. That seemed like it was gonna be really hard as we tried it after getting all of the rubber seals on the windows. But, apparently, our hands and fingers must've just been fatigued. 2 days later we used a little silicone lube spray, and got those chrome trims right into the rubber, no problem.

I'll wait to insert the side and back windows until I get the headliner done (that'll be on the Restoration side of the ledger), but we attempted the windshield installation. Maybe we shoulda waited a day or two to do this as well, but we didn't have a day or two. Soon after the trim was in, maybe an hour or so later, we tried to put the windshield in the car. The damn trim kept popping out, the rubber was falling away from the glass...ackkk. We tried to cool the rubber off a bit, to get it to hold it's shape a bit more, but it still wouldn't go. As the trim was popping out of one of the corners, I tried tapping back on it with a rubber mallet, and ended up getting a small window crack. So, lesson learned. Don't tap on the windshield with anything when yer trying to shove it in the windshield space. I've read a few more hints about how to do the string trick - found a good page, Rob and Dave's VW page, had some good info - and when I can get another volunteer to help out, I'll give it a shot.

Also cleaned out the old rubber seal under the "deck lid" (remember that term?) and I have the new rubber seal ready to go. I can't believe how many sites I'm looking up to get info on this (besides the books I have - the original 62 manual from VW, a hardback VW book purchased around 62 sometime, the Muir book, and another repair guide (not the bentley, another one). 

What's more, I can't believe how obsessed I'm getting with all of this. I have never been interested in car repair. What the hell is going on?