Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's on the road

So it's been a while since I've posted. But it's largely cuz I've been driving.

I've put about 100 miles on the ol' bug so far, and it's going well. A bit of trouble shooting, but for the most part, good news on the EBug.

I was putting off this post until I inputted some video of my first test drive. But now I can' find the tape. The first test drive was rather funny. I backed out of the driveway pretty well, and took off down the street...all at about 5 miles an hour!

I had the original accelerator pedal linked up to the PB-6 Curtis pot box, that determines the amount of voltage that hits the motor. At first, the old cable was looped directly onto the arm of the PB6. Resulting in a top speed of 5 mph. A few adjustments, and I was able to get it up to 25mph a bit later. The 'throw', or area from the top of the accel pedal to the bottom of the pedal wasn't the same distance as the pot box arm. So I tried using a turnbuckle to attach the accel cable to the arm. It was far easier to adjust, and worked pretty well, but I still couldn't get the PB6 arm all the way down to full acceleration. I could adjust it too far, and then as soon as I turned on the ignition key, the car would start moving. Not a good choice.

Anyhow I lived with this for a month or so, as I had a bigger problem.

My 12 volt battery wouldn't stay charged. I tripled, and quadruple checked my wiring, and everything was good. I checked with EV America, and one guy there said I had my DC-DC converter set up correctly. Of course, he's the same guy who sent me the email instructions as to how to hook up the DC-DC converter (as this information wasn't included in my original schematic...why? good question.) So I finally end up talking to the other guy at EV America, the one who actually knows electronics, and it turns out there was a missing relay in my system. Not only a missing relay, but also a missing schematic that even mentioned that I NEEDED a 2nd relay. So they sent me the relay, but only after not 1, but 2 different trips home in the AAA truck with the bug. Not to mention a great deal of humility and embarrassment from my neighbors and family.

So I got the relay hooked up ( the DCDC converter had been sucking the 12 volt battery because the relay wasn't there to switch off the juice), and it's been fine, though I haven't done a measurement on the DCDC converter, measuring input and output. Need to do that.

Next problem was the pedal issue, so I ordered a gold cart pedal from some golf cart parts online store. I saw the pricing for the curtis pedal was around $250-$300. Pricey. Found it on this site for $12.50. Not a typo. Twelve bucks and fifty cents. Must have been in their system wrong, but they sent it to me. It wasn't a Curtis, another brand, but it does the same thing.

Only problem is the size. It's really big. No room to put it where the old pedal was. Think outside of the bug box. So I put it where the clutch pedal was. Yes, was. I used a dremel and cut the clutch pedal off (heresey!) So I fastened the behemoth pedal to the floor with a 2" wide piece of stainless steel, bent at an angle and bolted to the floor. Even on this side, the pedal is too big for my taste. However, I get full juice! I got it up to 50 mpg going thru the tunnel. Much better reaction, but I'll have to put the insides of this pedal into a smaller housing. Someone had the idea to use an old wah wah pedal housing. If you have one, send it to me. I think it'll work. Not a Morely variety, but a CryBaby wah type would work.

It's time to service the batteries now, add some water, etc. Not looking forward to that, just kind of a pain, but part of the deal.

I redid all of the door rubber on the passenger side. Looks great, but damn, my fingers really got cut up on that job. Slipping them inside the door with the window etc, I almost lost my poop.

I have to do the same job on the driver side, and have been putting it off quite a bit. Then I have to replace the ragtop. Another job I've been putting off. I'll get it done soon.

Next post: pictures and maybe some video.

Promise. Totally.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wolfsburg West Rocks!

Just a quick note about the level of service I'd had from the 3 sources I used in obtaining VW parts for the restoration aspect of this project.

WOLFSBURG WEST is BY FAR the best to deal with. I can order and know, that no matter what, my order will arrive within 3 days. Like clockwork. I've called and spoke to them, very helpful, friendly. The parts are clearly labeled when you get them. They didn't screw up a single order. Everything was packed immaculately. The quality of everything I received was the best of anything I received. Especially the window rubber seals. I see almost no reason to use anyone else.

In experimenting I also used Jbugs. If WW gets an A, Jbugs gets a C+. I always got my order, but if it was back ordered they never notified me to let me know. Some orders were backordered into 3 or 4 shipments, but I never received any notification that this was the case. So I had to call them a lot. Their site could use a lot more description and photos. For instance, all their carpet kits have the word "super" or "deluxe" in them, so it's nearly impossible to understand what the difference is in the quality of the carpet you order. The one I got is fine, but a lot thinner than I had imagined it would be. They didn't send directions with anything, and when you have a carpet kit and headliner kit for a ragtop (with many pieces) a simple key would have been quite welcome. And helpful. When speaking to them on the phone for some help, they weren't really interested in speaking with me, and I always got the feeling that they were trying to get me off of the phone.

If Jbugs was a C+, was certainly an F. Really quite horrible to deal with. I only made 2 orders with them, and both of them were disastrous. The first sent one item, and a sheet saying the other orders were backordered, with no date given. After 5 weeks I finally called. "Oh that got shipped this week. It's not there yet"? A week passed. I called again. "Oh, yeah, we've been out of that. Coming in soon" It's was nearly 3 months later I got the rest of the order. 

I guess I forgot how long I waited for the first order when I placed the second one. This was more maddening as I needed this stuff quickly. So after a month I called. "Oh, that went out this week, you should have it tomorrow" I made a special trip to my office to be sure I was around to accept the package. Nope. No show. I called the next week. "Oh, we were waiting for another item to ship it"
"So you never shipped it like you said you did"
"I don't know about that, but we were waiting for another item"
"Well, I've waited a month, can you send it without the other items"
They agree to do so. If the other part isn't in the next day, they'll ship it out.

Another week goes by, after I make more special trips to wait for the shipment. I called again.
"Oh, that's going out this week"
"But you said it was going out last week"
"But we were waiting for another part"
Keep in mind now, that everytime I called, I talked to the same guy. 
"But you said that if the part didn't come in, you'd ship the package last week."
"Oh, well I'll ship it today for sure."

He didn't. I called the next week.
"Can I have a tracking number? You never shipped the package"
I get a different guy with a british accent.
"Oh, it's still here. You can have it shipped today"
"But I'll be out of town for the holidays, if you ship it today I'll be gone when it arrives. Please send it on the 24th so it arrives by the 26th when I'm back"
"Okay, will do."
"Well, the other guy told me 3 times that he had shipped it, are you sure you'll ship it this time?"
"I don't know what he told you, but I'll be sure you have it by then"

Guess what happened?

On the 29th I called again.
"Why isn't my package here? I expected it a couple of days ago."

writing this story...recalling it for you, is as painful as it was to call them. 

"UPS didn't come by to pick it up"
"That's bullshit. I know UPS was working on that day. Why isn't it here?"
oh, i was talking to the original guy, not the british one.
"Well (the british guy) said he didn't want to send it to you while you were out of town."
"That's why I told him to send it on the 24th so I would receive it when I was back here."
"Well I dunno what he said, but UPS didn't pick up that day"
"Well, which is it? Not to mention that you've already told me it had shipped, and lied about this package, I don't really believe anything your saying anyhow."
"I'll ship it today, it's all wrapped and ready to go"
what else was I gonna say? I could cancel the order, but I figure that they'll screw that up too.
"I have to say that I'm incredibly disappointed in your customer service. This is about the worst service I've ever had from an online order."
long pause
He wanted to tell me to get f*#$ed, but he didn't
"I'm sorry to hear that sir"

The package finally showed. But the items that they were waiting on to ship it originally, still have not showed. It's been 2 months. Don't use BFYobsoleteparts, as the only thing obsolete about them is their incredibly horrible customer service.  I can't emphasize this enough. Stay the hell away from them.


Full disclosure: I have no interest or relative or friend or family that is involved in WW, (or the other businesses I mentioned, for that matter.) 


The work has (as usual) got way ahead of the blogging. Trying to catch up.

Some miscellaneous items I caught up on.

In changing the bulbs from 6 vlt bulbs to 12 vlt bulbs, I had discovered that the taillight (pass side) was in extremely bad shape. Not only rusted out at the bottom from the worn out rubber seal, but several wads of tin foil had been wadded up inside with some gum or bondo. Check it out.



The signal lights on the front fenders have 2 bolts that attach them to the bumpers - so rusted they just broke off when I tried to remove the nut. So they had to get drilled out and replaced with new bolts. More uncovering that keep the process going longer than I want.

Also added the new running boards...

Basically the entire battery pack had been hooked up by this point with no melt downs. That was a big deal. Then I had to hook up the old wire harness (original bug electronics, former 6 volt system, now 12 volt system) to everything, and see if we were getting any juice.

The 12 volt system controls the 72 volt power system. When you turn the key, the 1st contactor closes to start the flow of 72 volts. When you step on the accelerator it closes the 2nd contactor and you have 72 volts thru the controller/motor etc. So I turned the, first contactor...pushed the accelerator (car was up on jack stands) and click we get 2nd contactor and some wheels turning.

All sorts of excitement!

Might as well try the headlights...nothing. How about the horn (I had to replace that as well to 12 vlt), nope nothing. Parking lights come on, but when the headlight switch is pulled all the way, I hear the contactor engage. Alright, tons of weirdness.

I spent the next 2 weeks tracking down ground demons. Ended up pulling out headlights, checking for ground shorts, examining all of the wire loom, the old wiring, every connection. This sucked. A real head pounding against the wall experience. Finally my pinball electrician pal stopped by and helped my suss out the issue (be sure and check out his spot, - all pinball palace.) Turns out I had a bad ground to chassis connection. The area where the negative battery connector was attached to the chassis was too dirty and painted. A little filling and everything was working properly. Hooray!