Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Electrifying Trogdor


  • Please log in to reply
87 replies to this topic

#1 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 27 August 2016 - 02:58 PM

I'm not a mechanic. But I do like cars and I know how to tinker, having done a bit of a lot of stuff. Cars are more like a hobby to me, and I've built or repaired a few.

That being said, enough about me. A few people asked me to make a thread about my electric conversion and so here we go! It might take me a while to post the story, but I'll do it little by little when I'm free. I'm going to fast track the beginning, but my 1984 Austin Mini Mayfair has been through a whirlpool over the few years I've had him.

It all started out with a VW Bug that I got from a friend. After realizing that I had been driving with half an engine for over 100 miles, I went through an engine replacement that left the car rather stunning. It was too nice to drive. When I would come back from the store to my car, there would be groups of people gathered around the car taking photos.

Attached File  image.jpeg   58.77K   27 downloads

At any rate, I had always wanted a Mini ever since I was a kid, and I found a listing on eBay of one that wasn't all that great, but that would be an even trade for my VW. So I made the trip out to St Louis Mo to go get it. That was an adventure in itself but I'm fast-tracking this story!

The trip was too far to turn around without doing the deal. But I was not too happy with the Mini. It was certainly not an even trade - it was junk. It had never been in an accident. However the exterior was ugly, the engine would pour out oil like a cup of coffee if you tilted the car, and the interior was disgusting and smelled like Mr Linch's car who would take me to school in the 3rd Grade. Bad memories! I could not even sit in the car until I had gutted it!

So even trade it was not, but project - very much so.

Attached File  image.jpeg   41.55K   34 downloads

Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 12:44 PM.


#2 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 27 August 2016 - 02:59 PM

Cars tend to have histories before you purchase them. Sometimes it's not the best news to discover the history of your car, however let's face it, there's really nothing that can be done about the past! This particular Mini had a flowery past and had been named. Nellie was the name. 

Attached File  image.jpeg   45.43K   27 downloads

I'm not sure if I would have traded for the car if it had of looked like that on the eBay listing, but whoever owned the car before me had "boyed" the car up. Anyway, who cares, because the very first thing I did was tear the interior apart, and then followed the exterior, and the car got stripped of the Mr Linch smell and painted, inside and out. I went with an off-white interior and roof, and a British Racing Green for the exterior.

Attached File  image.jpeg   37.46K   13 downloads

Attached File  image.jpeg   34.59K   6 downloads


Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 01:51 PM.


#3 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 27 August 2016 - 03:00 PM

Like I'm saying, we're fast tracking the story to get the intro out of the way, but the next thing that happened to the car was entailed - the engine was gutted, and I put in a Suzuki G-10 engine (from a 1993 Geo Metro).

It took me a while. Many cups of coffee in the morning, as I would sit staring at the car figuring out how to fit the pieces in, and many beers in the evenings while doing the work. As a geek friend of mine would say: it was a multi-beer-project!

Attached File  image.jpeg   64.51K   11 downloads

Attached File  image.jpeg   65.49K   22 downloads

Attached File  image.jpeg   52.76K   29 downloads

Attached File  image.jpeg   72.42K   36 downloads

Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 01:13 PM.


#4 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 01:25 PM

After almost a year, the car was now a different creature. Manual transmission, masculine, fuel injection Suzuki engine, and green.
He needed a name. A friend suggested Trogdor, that the little green car be named after the mighty green dragon of Strong Bad's creation.

(For those unfamiliar with Trodgor or Strong Bad, here's a link)
https://youtu.be/hrjLDgkCgLg

And so without more ado, may I introduce you to Trogdor.

Attached File  image.jpeg   81.43K   29 downloads


Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 01:51 PM.


#5 McMini 22

McMini 22

    Mini Mad

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 272 posts
  • Location: East lothian

Posted 28 August 2016 - 02:50 PM

And there was me expecting a dc motor and lots of batteries!

Am I correct in thinking your Geo Metro engine is the same as our Suzuki Swift?

#6 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 03:46 PM

And there was me expecting a dc motor and lots of batteries!
Am I correct in thinking your Geo Metro engine is the same as our Suzuki Swift?


I haven't started the electric story yet! So yeah, batteries and electric. But the Geo engine is the same as your Suzuki Swift!

#7 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:05 PM

Ok. So for some reason in our gas-monopolized automotive world, the inevitable first question in an electric conversion is:

Why?

I'm a fairly busy person, with only getting a day off every few weeks. Also having moved recently to Los Angeles, I really didn't have the best location to work on the car, so there was a big "why" that I needed to answer before embarking on the project.

I think I had a big enough "because" to rationalize the "why".

In the first place, the Suzuki swap never really worked for me. Bug after bug made the car really unreliable. I could drive it for 10 miles at a time before something would go wrong, either a hose, or a wire, or a sensor, or something would go wrong. I managed to rack up 1000 miles on the Suzuki engine, but it just never really worked. Also, the subframe that I used made the motor sit very close to the ground, so that it scraped on EVERYTHING. As in EVERYTHING!


The second reason is because BMW isn't making MINI's mini anymore. I've had 3 MINIs. One base, one JCW, and now I'm leasing a 2016. The question I posed was what I was going to do once my lease is up. I don't want to lease again, and let's face it, the newer models are not Mini anymore. They are BMWs in a mini shape. If they were to have gone ahead with the Rocketman concept, I'd definitely get one, but it looks like they are more interested in bigger and "better". So I've bought new cars, old cars, leased... But for my next car I'd think out of the box. I'd build it. Using the car I already had, Trodgor, I'd make a reliable daily driver that could replace the need of buying something new.

Electric does that. While gas motors have sensors, moving parts, wires and hoses, fluids and air that all have to come together without any fail in order to work, an electric motor has about as many things that could go wrong as fingers on my hand. (At least that's what I think so far!) It has an electric motor that basically spins on an air gap. There are electric motors from the 1800s that are still working. The electric motor will outlive me! Then there are a few other parts that could go wrong. The batteries - which last about 10 years, the controller could have something go wrong with it I guess, and the charging could have something go wrong I guess. That's about it! So I'd have a very reliable car that would require changing tires for maitenance. The motor is even used for braking so even the brakes last a very long time!

The third reason is for power. A stock Mini motor gets about what.. 55 hp? (I never knew, I didn't drive Trogdor with the Mini engine.) The Suzuki G-10 gets 48hp (embarrassing!) The AC50 would give me (I think) the equivalent of 150 hp.

No maitenance and no gas expenses are bonus, but I didn't think those enough reasons for the engine conversion. I think having a reliable daily driver to replace my lease that will last a very long time, that isn't a BMW and gets enough horsepower to satisfy me when I hit the accelerator is enough reason to justify the work and time!

#8 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:28 PM

A major drawback for an electric conversion is the cost. Sure you make it back in a few years of driving, but it is not cheap. So how was I going to afford this?

About 3 years ago we were having dinner and talking about this machine you could buy for $75k that would make the money back over a weekend and then make pure profit! Usually when people have that first conversation about bitcoin it is a little incorrect, and no the machine didn't cost that much. But rather than just talking about it, I got into bitcoin. Being an early adopter I had the opportunity to mine a lot of bitcoin while it wasn't worth anything.

But the nice thing about bitcoin is that we are still in the early stages of it. It continues to go up in value. While I don't mine bitcoin anymore, I do get paid in bitcoin, and so I waited until it went up enough in value so that the bitcoin that I had was sufficient for the project.

The other hurdle was the time to do the work. I really don't get much time to work on these things, maybe a day every few weeks. So for several months I did little jobs that would test the waters and see if I could do the work on my schedule. I rewired the whole car, replaced the lights with LEDs, got better seats, replaced the back brakes with KAD disk brakes, and a few other things.

Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 10:48 PM.


#9 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:34 PM

Lights was a big deal for me. If you notice, almost all older cars have really dim tail lights. At the same time, although it is against the law, many people are on their phones and stuff while driving. So if the car would be my daily driver, it needed good tail lights.
I got new tail lights,  the jeweled clear kind that you can get from Mini Spares.

I cut out the reverse light section to add a second brake light. That way I get double the lights at night and double the brake lights.
Then I drilled into the indicator section and put a small white LED for the reverse to share the compartment with the indicator. After all, nobody uses their indicators while going in reverse.
Attached File  image.jpeg   49.92K   14 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   37.71K   9 downloads

It took me a while to figure out why the indicators wouldn't work, but you need to have a special LED compatible relay. It has five prongs, the first three wire the same as the stock relay, the other two are for positive and ground.

When all was done, it was a BIG difference. The car was visible.

Attached File  image.jpeg   35.6K   12 downloads BEFORE, and AFTER Attached File  image.jpeg   31.8K   16 downloads

 
Attached File  img_20160808_212110 copy.gif   1.01MB   17 downloads

Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 10:43 PM.


#10 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:36 PM

I did a lot of study for this project. Looking back I don't know half as much as I should know, but before I started I exhausted myself researching. I bought books, I read a website of another guy who did an electric Mini in Canada - I'd give the link but the website is no longer working.
I looked at YouTubes, browsed EV supplier sites, etc etc.

Attached File  image.jpeg   30.22K   11 downloads
I've still got this envelope beside my bed. I'm finding it hard to remember what it all means now but I was comparing different batteries out there, based on weight, amp hours, size and price. I wanted the car to drive 100 miles on a single charge. That was the goal. However that's a lot of battery weight for the Mini!

Then of course there are different kinds of batteries. Lead-acid are out of the question. I'd be lucky to get 25 miles out of a Mini full of those. There's a new kind of battery that is just being invented now, it's through the roof expensive and sure, you get what you pay for. Then there is lithium iron phosphate which seems like the best option these days. In ten years when my batteries go bad the technology will be different and I can upgrade the battery pack, but for now the LiFePO4 batteries seemed the way to go.

Study, study and more study and finally I stumbled across EV West in San Diego, driving distance from LA. Not only did they have a website and store with everything I needed and then some, with competitive prices, but they have a YouTube Channel and were really awesome when I emailed them, answering all my questions. I was surprised that they were so helpful before I even paid them a penny, they seemed to be really solid guys!

So I went down there! It was amazing! They basically are EV geeks. It blows my mind how you can go to work every day and that's all you do! I can understand doing one car as a hobby, but to know and basically live emanating EVness.. Well that's another level! They had several cool electric cars, including a Ferrari that had an insane electric motor setup and amazing power! Michael also took me for a drive in his VW Bus and I was quite impressed.

Attached File  image.jpeg   61.32K   16 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   43.56K   14 downloads


Trodgor barely made it down there and barely made it back with the Suzuki engine (and then was back on the lift for a while!) but the guys at EV West got all excited about it. They said that it would be a perfect car for the conversion, and they wanted to do the challenge themselves! While it would have been nice for them to do the work, I kinda wanted to do the work myself, but I left there having learned a lot in the short visit.

I had learned that Trogdor would be a good candidate, they told me about used Tesla batteries that would fit perfectly in the back seat section and were better than any of the other batteries I had looked at, and ten times cheaper. They also said something about "bottom balancing" that got me really scared. Apparently something about once you finish all the work if you don't bottom balance the batteries you ruin everything.
(Don't worry, it turns out it's easy, but at the time it freaked me out!)

Anyway I came back and went back to studying more and doing other little jobs on the car until I was ready to go shopping!

Edited by Anchoright, 28 August 2016 - 11:35 PM.


#11 DomCr250

DomCr250

    Super Mini Mad

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 542 posts
  • Location: Berkshire
  • Local Club: 16V mini club

Posted 28 August 2016 - 10:37 PM

After almost a year, the car was now a different creature. Manual transmission, masculine, fuel injection Suzuki engine, and green.
He needed a name. A friend suggested Trogdor, that the little green car be named after the mighty green dragon of Strong Bad's creation.
(For those unfamiliar with Trodgor or Strong Bad, here's a link)https://youtu.be/hrjLDgkCgLg
And so without more ado, may I introduce you to Trogdor.
attachicon.gifimage.jpeg


Love the G10 conversion...you are lucky enough to have the turbo versions available in the US too ...

#12 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:15 AM

I finished rewiring the car, put on new rear view mirrors - just the stock ones, (the aftermarket ones were useless!) Then after beating around the bush intimidated about the task ahead and a few more weeks of ignoring it, I figured I could work on the batteries. After all, if I gave up after accommodating batteries in the back seat, the car would still be drivable. But if I ripped out the Suzuki engine and then didn't finish the task, I'd be left with a massive paper weight!

I made a mock-up of cardboard, (cheaper than a real battery as a prop) and tried to figure out how it would go in the back seat area.
There would be eight of these batteries, the size of the cardboard mock-up.

Attached File  image.jpeg   34.24K   5 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   25.8K   6 downloads

It's almost like the back seat was made for the batteries, because the subframe is right underneath. It can take the weight. The Tesla batteries don't weigh as much as the other batteries I was looking at, coming in around 300lbs for all eight, but still that's a lot of weight. The question was how to hold them there, since the seat section is not necessarily square.

Attached File  image.jpeg   24.72K   3 downloads

I got extremely lucky with finding batteries at a quarter of the price, on eBay. The guys at EV West told me to snatch them up, even though it meant less business for them - which shows how genuine they are.

I was kinda doubtful that the batteries would even arrive, since they were so cheap that I thought I was going to be scammed, but they actually did arrive! I was pretty excited!

Attached File  image.jpeg   64.89K   29 downloads

I decided to make racks to hold them. I welded the racks, and the two end racks sit right above the subframe.
The racks would be bolted to the back of the seat, and in the trunk area I put wide sheets of thick aluminum that the frame and batteries were then bolted to. In the event of an accident the batteries would be held back snug, very much as if supported by a seat belt.

Attached File  image.jpeg   148.03K   2 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   120.16K   2 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   62.93K   2 downloads
Attached File  image.jpeg   40.66K   5 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   50.23K   11 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   52.69K   24 downloads

Edited by Anchoright, 29 August 2016 - 05:41 AM.


#13 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 29 August 2016 - 06:29 AM

The battery mounting moved a lot quicker than I thought, after I had figured out how to do it (and gotten over my laziness!)
And bitcoin hit a sweet spot high because of the pending halving (which happened this summer) so I had enough funds to get all the parts I needed, so I contacted EV West and asked them to help me out get the right stuff for my car.

There isn't a "kit" as such, but from the different available motors, Michael recommended the AC50, and then told me all the corresponding parts to go with it. He put together an invoice and I planned the trip down.

But first came the fun part! Gutting!! And it went so fast! In 2:03hr I had the Suzuki engine out. Then came out the gas tank, the wiring, the exhaust, and while I was at it out went the dash board, the heater, the radio, everything!

I weighed it all as it came off. I needed to lose as much weight as possible to make up for the 300lbs of battery (336 lbs to be exact). So I made the list:

10 lbs wiring
10 lbs skid plate
10 lbs gas tank
10 lbs starter
140 lbs engine
60 lbs transmission (But it would be replaced with another refurbished transmission so it doesn't count)
15 lbs header
40 lbs exhaust
5 lbs alternator
5 lbs radiator

Total: 245 lbs. Not too bad!

Attached File  image.jpeg   97.69K   15 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   65.22K   15 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   12.87K   3 downloads Attached File  image.jpeg   44.4K   14 downloads

#14 Anchoright

Anchoright

    Mini Mad

  • Noobies
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 117 posts
  • Location: Los Angeles

Posted 29 August 2016 - 01:03 PM

My Webasto roof leaks. Rather I should say it pours. The channels fill up with water and when you take a curve the water pours onto you.
When I took it apart to fix it I realized just how much it weighs. So I decided not to invest the money fixing it. Instead, there's a gentleman in Arizona who does all sorts of carbon fiber parts for the Mini. I was fascinated looking at his site!

http://roguese7ens.com

He can even make an entire body from fiberglass (or carbon fiber if you wish)! Seriously, check out his site, it's pretty awesome.

I contacted him and asked him to make me a carbon fiber and green kevlar (in honor of the Trogdor) roof, bonnet and trunk. My plan is to eventually paint Trogdor black (I like my daily driver black) but the green kevlar would still be woven into the carbon fiber parts to keep the presence of the "Trogdor greenitude".

I told him to take his time, after all, I had a long way to go with this conversion.

#15 nicklouse

nicklouse

    Moved Into The Garage

  • TMF+ Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,097 posts
  • Location: Not Yorkshire

Posted 29 August 2016 - 01:13 PM

speaking of carbon you should have a look at http://www.carbonweezel.co.uk/






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Mini Spares