Removing the engine
Although I had worked on vehicles before, I had never attempted to take out the whole engine. To take out the engine, I bought an engine hoist and a 25′ tow strap rated for 8000 lbs. As seen in the few pictures below I did two loops around the engine to the hoist. Some people use a chain for this purpose, but tow strap worked just fine.
I wanted to keep the electrical and the brake system intact. To remove the engine I started to disconnect everything around it as listed below (not in order):
- Wires to the starter motor, the ignition system, and the temperature sensor.
- Wires to the alternator
- Connections to the radiator
- Exhaust pipe
- Vacuum hose to the brakes
- EGR hoses
- Bolts to the clutch (bell housing)
- Clutch cable, and the gas pedal connections
- Motor mounts
Note that the clutch will come out together with the engine, but the bell housing and the transmission will dangle underneath the vehicle. It is a good idea to put something underneath the transmission to support it. For me, out of all of these connections the most troublesome were the bolts to the bell housing. If you have better tools, it will definitely help. The wrench I used could do only one click at a time because of space constraints, and it literally took me all afternoon to take a single bolt out. There were a total of dozen or so bolts and some were easier. A few of these bolts were so rusted frozen that I had to spray AERO KROIL on the bolts and wait over night to loosen them.
Notice the bulge in the upper right corner for the starter motor. Splined shaft at the center is connected to the transmission. If we don’t use the clutch, the electric motor shaft needs to be coupled to this shaft.
Clutch attached to the engine, starter motor upper left
At the center you will see the hole where the splined shaft of the transmission enters. Spikes that is pointing to the center are radial springs of the clutch.
Removing other parts (optional)
Some of the remaining parts can stay in the vehicle without effecting the progress of the project. The main reason to remove those parts is simply because it will make the vehicle lighter and more efficient. Therefore I removed the radiator, the gas tank, all three fuel lines from the gas tank to the engine, the exhaust pipe and the catalytic converter. I sold all these parts and the engine on Craigs List.
There was also at least 10 gallons of gas in the gas tank. What is the point of carrying this gas around? I emptied it out and transferred into our other car.
Picture above shows the biggest mistake I made in this project. The engine was leaking an oil that was caked in a thick layer all around the engine compartment. My wife almost threw me out of the house. It was an endless job of cleaning this thick layer of oil and dirt. It would have been a better idea to have cleaned the whole engine before I started the project.
I bought a 15HP three phase AC motor for $200 from Craigs List. DC motors have their advantages, but they are very expensive. After I bought the motor, I discovered that one could buy a motor from the scrap yard (Bob’s Metals) by the pound, and they do guarantee that the motor will work. They also have other parts like cables, aluminum plates to build an adaptor, switches, relays, and meters. The problem is that what they have is continuously changing, so multiple trips may be necessary to find what you want.
For controller I chose Hitachi L300P model -110LFU2 (rated 15HP, or 11 Kw) because of the number of control parameters that it offers. It also has a detachable control panel that can be located remotely by using a standard network cable. Another feature that I liked was that it is possible to collect data from the controller via a serial interface. This controller is designed to work with 3 phase AC power input, however it can work with DC power applied directly to the DC rails inside the controller. When I called the Hitachi technical support, I was told that the input DC voltage should be anywhere from 200 volts to 400 volts.
The Hitachi controller was the most expensive part of the project: the total cost $995. Ouch!
For batteries I bought 18 lead acid interstate deep cycle batteries. I connected these batteries in two banks of 9 batteries, 108 Volts for each bank. This allowed me to charge each bank separately from the standard outlet.
Testing of the controller and the motor
Before installing the components into the vehicle, I wanted to test them. I used a transformer to convert 110VAC to 220AC and that to little over 300 volts DC with a full bridge rectifier and a capacitor. The controller had an internal potentiometer to adjust the motor speed. Later I installed an external potentiometer hooked up to the gas pedal to do the same. It all seemed to work great.
The two pictures above show the motor wiring for three phase. There are two different ways these wires can be connected. I wired them for low voltage meaning 208 VAC. The motor will also work with 460 VAC.
110 to 220 transformer, capacitor, and the bridge rectifier. A few of the diodes exploded until I found the right ones.
Here is the potentiometer connected to the gas pedal. It is hard to see, but the gas pedal lever moves the horizontal lever up and down by about 45 degrees. The potentiometer motion range is about 270 degrees. So I had to set up the controller properly for the voltage range for 45 degrees.