The toys are coming (eventually)

We’ve discussed Rebecca’s conversion with several companies. We’ve found one company that can supply a left hand drive gearbox with a functional clutch (and they’re UK based) which is very good news. The company we’re planning to work with on the back axle were hesitant to say they could supply the box we need which’d left us pondering clutched or non-clutched.

Having followed up, lots of people who’ve installed non-clutched seem to suggest that having a clutch on the car is a good plan and that they’d have a clutch if they did their conversion again. So we’re going to stick with a clutch which unfortunately makes things a bit more complicated. We did toy with the idea of an auto-box, but adding in the torque converter and oil cooler… it was a bit more than we wanted to do (although ironically the box that we’re planning to fit, on ebay on the day I spent doing pricing research lurked an autobox with a torque converter complete and tempting me).

Also on the good news front, we’ve been in touch with EMotorwerks who are developing the charger that we want to use. We had been debating whether a second-hand leaf battery pack might be a good way to achieve the price/range compromise, and they were able to point us to an alternative BMS that supports the Leaf battery pack – opening up a range of options on that front too. We’re now waiting to hear back from a number of potential suppliers about the costs of a leaf pack; if we can find one in the UK. Otherwise it’d have to come from the states, which might change the sums somewhat!

However, finding a company to work on the engineering of the backplate and motor mounts has proven to be a trifle more difficult. I’ve spoken to lots of people, and their response has universally been ‘Oh wow, that’s fascinating, but beyond our normal level of work’. This has been particularly disappointing as we’ve spoken to people who create engine mounts for alternative engines.

So, given this difficulty we’re now looking at doing the engineering in-house. We’re going to check out access to a lasercutter at our local makerspace which would allow us to prototype in wood a backplate before we sent off the design to a CNC milling place. Hopefully the same technique should allow us to also prototype our motor mounts. We’ve also got our 3D printer which should hopefully be arriving here later in the year (if we can’t find somewhere to make up a prototype beforehand) so we can knock up a motor-clutch plate adaptor. That’s one of the more complex issues affecting the backplate, because getting the clutch perfectly positioned on the X, Y and Z axes to within 10ths of a millimeter is a factor that involves both the clutch mount and the motor mount and complex 3D juggling.

Still, I always love a bit of engineering, and although both of these are going to take a fair bit of work but it does make releasing the open-source final designs easier because they’ll have been created by us, here at the project. Which is not to say that if we luck-out and find an engineer who can create these parts for us that we would (in any way) turn them down. But we’ve got our back-up plan and we’re starting to implement it.

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