Monday, September 28, 2015

Steering mostly better

It's been a while since the last update.  I finally have the steering under control.  As a result of lowering the truck, the front shackles became a major liability.  After beefing them up with some welded cross memebers (thank you Jeff Elsworth), I now don't feel terrified when driving over 45 miles per hour.

Nice note on Gizmodo about a 1905 Woods Electric vehicle.  Studebaker had them in 1902!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A little progress, a little setback

It was a pretty good week.  The motor and electronics are working well, although there is a lot of jumping very slow speed.  That turns out to be play in the rear end, so I'm going to have Denny's auto repair in Stoughton fix it after I get some parts.

Next I'm going to rebuild the steering box.  I found a great video on line, actually for a model of Jeep that uses the same box.  I will replace the bearings and the pawl (which follows the worm gear) and it should be good again.  This guy, who has rebuilt several of them says that the worm gear is always OK.  I hope he's right because that is a major part.

Next Thursday I'll take the truck to Madison Spring to get their ideas on fixing the front end.  The extended shackles may be part of the handling problem, plus the front end bangs metal on metal when you hit a road imperfection.

Last Thursday I took the truck to bb7 to be photographed.  It gave a number of folks there the chance to drive it some which made me happy.  It's still not good over 40 mph, so their drives were limited.  Unfortunately, somebody got overenthusiastic about opening the door and crunched the passenger side door near the top hinge... one more thing to fix.

However, it's sort of to be expected.  Things are still rattling loose and I work to tighten them.  It's still a big project, but at least it's on the road again and great fun to drive.

Finally, I took it to the Stoughton Coffee Break car show Saturday.  A lot of smiles, a lot of curiosity.  It was fun, but will be more fun when it's finished.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Your mileage may vary

I drove the truck 53 miles yesterday and just finished charging.  Based on this the truck has the potential to go 140 miles between charges (57.6 kWh).  Of course that's running the batteries dry (a bad idea) and averaging 40 mph or so.  But it's a data point.  Here is a graph of the drives I've recorded (except for the max point (140 miles) which is an estimate based on the other data.

Friday, August 7, 2015


OK, OK, I'll post since I'm getting complaints...

Things are slowly getting better.  I have new tires, that reduced road noise and vibration.  I also removed the clutch and flywheel.

The flywheel was unbalanced and I was concerned that the motor bearing would go out.  After a bit of research on the internet, and speaking to my brother and Rick Beebe, I decided that I could remove them.  That still presented a problem of how to connect the motor to the transmission, but a little on-line hunting turned up the little item.  It's about 4" across, compared to the 12" diameter clutch assembly on the right.

Now it runs smooth as silk and I shaved 40 or 50 pounds off too.

Otherwise, Rick Beebe stopped by.  Rick was at EAA and has been watching the blog so he stopped because he was in the area.  He gave me a lot of good suggestions and we had a nice ride around the circuit. (pre-clutch removal).

This morning I took my first 'utility' drive to Stoughton to have breakfast with Kreg Gruben.  It's starting to get fun and I'm starting to trust it some.

On the agenda now is to take it to a local shop to look at the steering (still loose).  Finish wiring the turn signals.  Put in a new DC/DC converter. And lots of interior, windows, misc small stuff... oh yeah, and a parking brake.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Details, details

The slog continues.  Now that the truck is home, I can jump out and work on it easier.  This week I have been shoring up some of the essentials... like brakes and clutch.

During the drive home, I discovered that the brakes were not nearly strong enough.  They looked good while the truck was on jacks, only having to stop the wheel.  However, they did not do a good job stopping the truck!  Additionally, the clutch pedal broke off (!!) about the time we hit Stoughton.  Of course you don't 'need' a clutch pedal, but it sure does help.

I drove the truck to Ellsworth Welding in town and Jeff Ellsworth (who loved the truck) figured it had to be removed to weld.  So, I removed it the next day.  It was a bit of a puzzle, but came off easily after I figured that one out.

He did a great job of welding, and as a bonus, he reshaped the metal so that the pedals sit much better.  They had bent out of shape after all the years of use.

Notice the brake master cylinder under the floor

The pivot is squeezed between the cab hanger

The other major accomplishment was fixing a software 'bug'.  I was having trouble with the truck 'starting'.  Sometimes when I turned the key, everything was AOK, and sometimes it would only run the motor for a second before shutting down.

After several e-mails with Jack, I finally found the dopey mistake that I made.  You have to tell the controller box which outputs are hooked to where.  In my case I have outputs running to the two contactors, the main contactor and the pre-charge contactor.  I had them assigned to Outputs 3 & 4, but the wires were hooked to 4 & 5.  When it worked, it was just lucky that the output 3 came up in a state that happened to run the truck.  It shouldn't have worked at all.  So, when I fixed that, everything now comes up and runs very reliably.

Here are a couple of pictures of the controller software.  The guys at EVTV, Jack and Colin mostly I think (not sure), did a great job.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

On the road again!!!!

The good old Studebaker truck is once again on the road!!  

On Thursday I drove it home from bb7, 18 miles.  It was the best birthday present I could have.  There are three videos below.  Depending on your level of patience, you can watch the short (0:11), medium (10:00), or long version (17:00).

It was a great day, tremendous fun.  I want to thank the team at bb7 for all of their help.  When the truck is truly road worthy, I'll take it back for all to have a go at driving and enjoying it.

Greg Falendysz          Andrew Hawkins
Ben Paprocki              Bob Schofield
Bryon Sande               Duane Kaufman 
Jesse Ransom             Mark Begin
Mike Andrew             Peter Davis
Rob Podell                 Jason Henry
Dave Bauer                Ted Myers
Jon Mick                    Larry Holley
John Miller                John Smith

And perhaps some others that I missed... sorry if I missed someone

Short Version (0:11)

Medium Version (10:00)

Long Version (17:00)
by far the best!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Not as close as thought

Video blog this week.  Sorry for the shaky intro and crummy resolution... I'm working on it.  Cheers,

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oh so close

This week I have been balancing the batteries and hooking them up.  Jesse began the balancing process by discharging each of the batteries (100 of them) to about 2.75 volts.  This took a long time, but by doing four at a time, it only took a week.

This week I took each cell from 2.75 volts to 2.650 volts.  This only took a minute or two per cell, but it still added up.'

Once they were balanced, I strapped them all together and put on the beautiful covers that Greg made.  It took a little whittling to make them fit, but they look great now.

Today I will go back and make certain all of the connections are correct before turning the two red switches that you see to the left.  They are the master cutouts.  Once they are turned on, things will either work... or go up in smoke.

We will trying spinning the wheels on Friday at our lunch meeting!

Finally, here are the calculations that Mike did for the bed lift.  I was really impressed how the calculations matched performance.  Great job Mike!  I'd be happy to post the spreadsheet if anybody wants it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lift that bed, tote that bail

We've been a bit delayed, but I'm planning on low voltage wiring next week.  In the mean time, the boys got the bed lift complete.  It's wonderful.  Watch...


Sunday, May 31, 2015


It's been a pretty good week.  It's pretty obvious that I won't be on the road in May.  How about June?

I don't have a picture, but the front motor mount is installed.  It was designed by Rob, machined by Larry, and installed by Greg.  I'll try to get a picture next week.  It's pretty!

In the photo below you can see that the cooling system is connected.  It's the bottle and gold thing to the right of the batteries.  Peter got it all hooked up and filled on Friday.

The other big accomplishment was to finish the high voltage wiring.  The box in the middle of the picture contains two safety switches to disconnect all of the high voltage and two relays which do the same except by computer control.  High voltage goes to the motor controller, the DC/DC converter, the two battery chargers, and the other battery boxes.

The big gold thing is a pre-charge resistor.  It keeps things from blowing up (sort of).

I ran all of the wiring in orange split loom.  That will protect it from vibration and wear.  It is probably overkill, but it seems like a good idea.

Cooling lines and power

DC/DC converter to change 320V to 12V

Charging plug
With "gas" cap

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Busy busy this week.  We are still shooting for on the road by the end of the month.  Wiring is underway!

Jack Rickard at EVTV asked for a video so here is my attempt.  


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.  I'm grateful that mine (Sara) is alive and well and fixing me breakfast this morning.  I know that's not the way it's supposed to be, but she insists and I want her to have what she desires most.

Here we are in '63.  I wish I had that car!  Although she's a nurse, Mom has always been very good at feeding my engineering and science side.  We have done a lot of projects together.

 Ben, Dave, Mark, and Jon finished lowering the back end 3 inches.  You can see that they made some blocks and plates and got some long u-bolts.  Another matter that they solved at the same time was to move the rear end 1/2 inch towards the drive's side so that the drive shaft doesn't hit the battery box.  (it was uncentered before)

Duane got the steering linkage done and Mark painted the steering column.  Mark has also been working on the contactor box and it's looking good.

Next week the bed should be going back on along with the tilt mechanism and we'll start wiring.

Ruth and I had a nice meeting with Matt Meiller on Friday.  He runs a company in Milwaukee area called Peak Gain that specializes in antenna and RF design.  They seem pretty pumped to help us get the truck talking to the cloud and reporting to the wide wide world.

The last two pictures show all of the batteries save two in place.  We had one bad battery and room for one extra, so that will make 101 total.  You can also see Peter's handy work.  Just on the other side of the batteries is the pump/reservoir assembly for the cooling system.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gaining Inertia

Things are progressing nicely, but first, some interesting news.  We are in discussions with the good folks at Renesas with regards to some fun and nerd-alicious aspects of the Electric Studebaker.  Renesas is a huge microprocessor manufacturer (huge company, not huge micros). I attended a great meeting with them today and met a bunch of nice folks.  Why not keep going to the extreme eh?  Let's put her on the IoT (Internet of Things).  Updates to follow.

In the mean time, back at the ranch, things are pulling together.  We have our work cut out for us, but it all seems achievable in the next 25 days.  (On the road in May!).

Jason has started a list.  As soon as everything is X'd out, I guess we're ready to go.

Jesse has been doing an extraordinary job on the truck during the last few weeks.  He has rebuilt the differential and painted the frame and differential (note the orange!).  Then with the help of Greg, the battery boxes are now installed and ready to take batteries.

Here are the front (left) and rear (above) battery boxes.  Additionally, Greg has finalized the mounting of the motor controller.  It's the box just left of the batteries in this picture.

Now Peter is in process of plumbing the cooling system

Another big job that Jesse has tackled is to bottom balance the batteries.

He is hooking each battery to a power resistor (the gold thing on the right side of the table) and dumping the power into it.  They get very hot, hence the fan. The idea is to drain all of the batteries to the same exact point.  That way when they are charged, they all get an equivalent charge.

This is a tricky (and somewhat controversial) element of EVs.  We are ascribing to the EVTV method which they have had very good luck with (and no fires).  Here is a very good article for those interested.

 And, to end the post, Jason and Rob have been working on several aspects also.  They found a new seat.  Surprisingly, there were two (!!) Champ pickup trucks at the junkyard where they found the seat (both very bad shape, one with a tree growing through it).

I'm pushing them to finish and they are cranking hard.  We're going to be on the road in May boys, new seat or not.

On the other hand, there is a good chance the old girl will be going to California in October, so she'd better look like a movie star!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Looking Good

Things are starting to look good!  There are a lot of parts strewn about, but the truck will start some major assembly this next week.

Progress since the last post:

  • Rob and Jason cleaned up the mess.  Thank you thank you thank you.  This is small potatoes, but sure makes me feel better working in an organized workspace.
  • Greg put holes in the battery boxes and frames for the high voltage cables to pass though.  This was more work than one would think due to the steel and the frame.
  • The battery boxes are powder coated.  The front battery box is mounted.
  • Jesse with Jason's help cleaned and rebuilt the differential.
  • Ted and Mark sandblasted and painted the propeller (drive) shaft and installed it.
  • Rob and Jason painted the engine compartment and cab interior.  it is now grey and much more attractive.
  • I received and installed the Juice Box charging station
  • Rob painted the part of the steering column that sticks into the engine compartment (orange).
  • Jesse, and the team as a whole installed the battery boxes and batteries and truck bed so that we could figure out the stance of the truck.  We will raise the front end 1" (after being lower about 6") and lower the back end 3".  DaveB and Ben will figure out how to do that.
  • Andrew and Greg figured out how to and did mount the radio.
  • Peter ordered some tygon tubing for the cooling system.  It will look great filled with orange coolant.
  • Mark has started building a clear contactor box.
  • Just today, Jesse painted the new parts of the frame which support the battery boxes.

There are quite a few items left, but it is looking good to be road worthy in May.

The next big items are:
  • Paint the differential orange
  • Install steering column
  • Install the front engine mount
  • Lower the back end 3"
  • Final installation of rear three battery boxes
  • Install bed lift and lock system
  • Bottom balance the batteries
  • Finish the build and wire the contactor box
  • Wire the batteries
  • Wire everything else
And then of course
  • Cab interior
  • Graphics
  • Grill
  • Tail lights

Wow... it's a pretty big list.  Five weeks... I think we can get there!

Here are some pictures.

Rob and Jason with the painted engine compartment
Front battery box
A beautifully clean differential
Trying to assess the stance

Look at all those batteries
Ready for painting the frame (with the garage door open)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Creeping up on it

 This has been a week to work on battery boxes.  Battery boxes are probably the biggest hassle of a retrofit EV.  You have to put all those batteries somewhere, and they are heavy.  Cardboard boxes just won't do.

We found a great fabricator who got three of the boxes made up.  Friday we got them installed.  Jesse did a great job on welding some of the support members.  Ben was a man with a mission today.  Welding nuts and plasma cutting the frame to make it all fit.

To the right is Ben welding his nuts to his boxes.

Thanks to Brian for the fancy pictures,

The rear box was abotu 1/2 inch too wide so that meant some plasma cutting and grinding.  We had lots of sparks flying.

This is a mock-up of the cut-out switches.  There are two manual ones and two which are connected to ignition and charging.

Next week we will be painting and finish welding.  The front battery box will be fabricated and hopefully wiring will begin.

Still working to make it to the highway in May!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lowered and Motored

 A few good things happened this week.

  • Motor/transmission marriage
  • Motor installation
  • Front suspension finalized
  • Battery boxes fabricated
  • Color plan established
  • Frame cross member removed

After Duane and Peter coated the adapter plate with Alodine to prevent corrosion, the motor could finally be married to the transmission.

To the upper right you can see (from bottom to top) the motor, adapter plate, and the flywheel/clutch assembly.  The tricky part was to make sure that the motor shaft and transmission shafts are close to touching, but not quite.

Turns out that Jon had it figured right!  Perfecto.

Jon & John wrestled it all together.  Here it is, ready for installation.

Ben and David wrapped up the lowering of the front end.  It was an amazing transformation  when we set it on the ground.  It looks tuff man! (that's 70's tuff).

Jason and Rob are coming to consensus on color.  White with orange details (roof, transmission, graphics).  Interior of the engine compartment, cab, and bed will be gray.

This next week should see the fitting of the battery boxes and welding in of new cross members.  Rob and Jason are also committed to getting the gray painted.

I will also be ordering the final bits of HV stuff. Once the boxes are in, we can try running this baby!

Jason & Rob discussing color

The Friday Stude Group discussing rear suspension