Nina is on the road! Here's the full story...

I’ve finally obtained my plates and have an official Electric Vehicle registration. I'm a bit speechless, but I think a real blog post is in order, as I’ve been biting my tongue for quite some time.

In short, there were a number of mishaps that made my registration process take an extremely long time. Additionally, there are a number of areas where the DMV in CT are ill equipped to handle Electric Vehicles. It all really boils down to the following:

1: The Requirements for Electric Vehicles are not properly distributed, communicated or trained to DMV staff.
2: The personnel responsible for handling Electric Vehicles is limited to ONE person, Lieutenant Frank Baio of the Bureau of Vehicle and Business Regulation, Commercial Vehicle Safety Division.
3: The State really has NO qualified inspectors, period.

(Disclaimer: do your own research, until you get a definitive answer from a authoritative source, someone more informed than your DMV Manager. I take no responsibility, whatsoever.)

Here is the story as I’ve been telling it face-to-face, and holding off on posting till after my registration was complete...

A while back, shortly after I started building the car, I figured I should have an idea of what requirements I needed to meet in order to register the car in CT. So, I did some research online, found some documents pertaining to Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, and that was about it! So, I drove myself down to the local DMV branch (Bridgeport) and inquired in person. The information desk had no idea, and sent me over to the manager. The manager, had no confident idea, and went on her PC, looked it up on their website, and 5 minutes later, she came back and said it should be registered as a "Composite."

For those who don't know, Composite cars in CT, is a rather large group of vehicle. Really anything that isn't what it originally was: Kit cars, Hot Rods, Custom Cars, Modified Bodies, whatever. So, it made sense enough, and I went on building.

One of the unfortunate, mishaps in all this, is that between the time that I started and the time I finished, the DMV stopped requiring appointments for inspection, they actually disconnected the published line! So, when it came time, I towed my car up to Wethersfield, as I was directed (10/21). Upon my arrival, the conversation went something like this:

Inspector 1 (i1): Hey, what do you think that is?
Inspector 2 (i2): Think it’s a Composite?
i1: No, must be a Salvage.
ME: Nope, Electric.
i1: ELECTRIC! Oh, I can't inspect that! Harry used to inspect those. Can you look at that?
i2: NO! You need a Federally Certified Automotive Engineer! Harry was, but he retired. Frank will have to look at that now I guess.
i1: Yea, I guess, but, uh Frank is in a meeting. You'll have to come back....

Needless to say, I didn't leave just yet. I waited 2 hours for "Frank” AKA Lieutenant Baio, and happened to catch him in the Cafeteria finishing his lunch. LT Baio did apologize, and quickly offered to make the situation a bit more right, and offered to send a qualified inspector to my house to complete the inspection.

While I was waiting for LT Baio, Inspector 1 found a document, dated 1994, which was written by Harry, pertaining to the "Requirements for Electric and Hybrid-Electric Vehicles." Attached to the Requirements was a Memo and Inspection Points.

The Memo: Essentially, in 1994, a similar situation occurred, and the EV owner must not have been as understanding as I was. Regardless, Harry sent out this memo, attaching the Requirements and suggested full distribution of the document to prevent the situation from happening again. (I have re-requested this distribution).

The Requirements: Fortunately the requirements are not all that far fetched and I simply needed to make some minor adjustment to meet their demands. This, however, could have been a much greater issue if my plans were not so close, and I built the car under false direction from the DMV.

Anyways, I spent the next 7 days at work in the garage, my day job, and calling LT Baio’s “Direct Line.” Funny, that he used those words. This actually translates to: Direct line to the receptionist/secretary in the Communications Department. There used to be 2 receptionists, but due to recent budget cuts, they’re down to 1. More so, this direct line, I first thought no one answered. I tried calling at all hours and it would ring and ring. Eventually, I gave up and sent LT Baio a fax (10/28). In trying to follow up on the fax, I kept making calls, until on time, I forgot the phone was ringing, and I let it ring and ring and ring while I was working and eventually, someone picked up! I was caught a bit off guard but learned that the trick is to just let it ring.

So, I got through, and was sent to LT Baio’s Voicemail, however the receptionist did confirm receiving my fax and putting it on his desk. Painful, I know, but the process was long. I had gotten no response from the LT, and only to come to find out that he got the Flu. So, I asked for the next person in line, and I was transferred to Sergeant Franson. Franson didn’t have much he could do for me. First he told me to call back next week, and I did. The following week, I called back and he told me to call back, around this time next week!!! I say, NO WAY. Who’s LT Baio’s boss! I need to speak with him. He gave me the truly direct line of Chief Rio.

Chief Rio, although our conversations were brief, they were very productive. He couldn’t send out an inspector, but he was communicating with Frank while he was sick, and at the very least expedited the situation. Once Frank returned to work, a week and a half later, I had 1 conversation, where we clarified some inspection issues and he gave me 3 options:
A: I wait 2 or more weeks for him to send me an inspector
B: I higher an Automotive Engineer to do the inspection
C: I tow the car back up at an agreed upon time.

Now, yea, I could do any of these, great, but I couldn’t pick one that second. Would you believe it took another 7 days to get him on the phone? Finally, I got so tired of getting no response, I left a frustrated message with Chief Rio, and within an hour, LT Baio called me, and about 3 days after that, I had an inspector at my house (11/20).

The inspection was stupid simple, but practical. The inspector, Doug, was most interested in making sure my High Voltage was electrically isolated from the chassis. I showed him this by measuring voltage from the controller’s B+ and B- connection. According to Baio, it must read less than 12V. This was all by the direction of LT Baio. The inspector was not an Automotive Engineer, nor was he versed or trained in Electric Vehicles.

Now, to step back a second, back in October, I faxed a letter to LT Baio, in which I express concern of my Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Did he press the issue, no! Was it an issue to finish the registration, yes. Very frustrating.

Anyways, because my GVW was 250lbs over the chassis GVWR, I had to lighten up and schedule a re-weighing in Wethersfield. At this point I’m communicating directly with Doug, who is a very nice man and continuously returns my calls.

Upon my second arrival at the DMV (12/4), it was pretty simple. I rolled over the scale, weighed in under weight, and went to LT Baio’s office area. He took the paper, signed off, and I proceeded to registration.

Now as far as the registration went, they had quite the hard time properly entering the information in the computer. More accurately, they couldn’t. Something to do with Number of Cylinders. No, but seriously, a computer issue pertaining to Class code or Subclass code, Fuel Type, and Number of Cylinders. So, my paperwork didn’t process immediately, as most registrations do, but will have to be filed in a more manual fashion.

And off I went…


I GOT MY PLATES!!! I now have an officially registered Electric Car!


7pm tonight. WPKN radio.

Extra Extra!

Today, the first press on my EV hit the streets with an article in the Fairfield Citizen. See below for the full article and stay tuned for more news...

Homemade electric car readies to ride



The missing link!

I can't say I'm done....yet, but, I've very very close. Like 2 cables away, and I've already made them.

Today, I squared away most all the miscellaneous details that had been sitting: Rear Coil Springs, Transaxle oils, wire loom, etc.

The more major accomplishment of they day was making my final interconnect cables. Some of these are pictured, which connect between the back of the controller to the motor, contractor, and batteries. So all i really NEED to do, is connect the fuse, and +/- cables.

That is to make the car move! Before inspection, however, I will need to clean up a few things, reassemble the rear seat, install a vent, put lock washers on the battery connections, zip tie everything, and tidy up my OEM wire harness.

Check back soon for a video of my car's induction.

Danger, High Voltage!

This weekend was full of high power! Lots of work done, many connections made, and all of my components are mounted! There are a handful of connections left to make plus the installation of my rear coil springs:

On the topic of my rear springs, they've arrived. I can't recall if I blogged about it, but I ordered new springs to compensate for the additional weight of my batteries. And, although i'm yet to install them, I am very satisfied with the company overall:

I was referred to them from another EV guy, Randy. So, i called them up and said:"Hey, I have a '93 Tercel and need to support an extra 900lbs in my trunk." Without a flinch, they replied "Okay, just give me the OEM part #s on the original springs, and we'll have them out to you in about 3 weeks." Even better, it only cost me about $250. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.

This week, I'll be picking up a few extra feet of cable, calling the DMV, and renting a spring compressor. Ideally, next weekend, i'll be installing the springs and making my final connections. I may even drive by Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for reading.

Whose that guy

Not "That Guy", but I've gotten another sponsor: The Guy

"The Guy" AKA Christopher Schreiner, is looking for a nice set of wheel for my car. Much appreciated. Take a chance to buy his CD, see him live, or buy him a drink!

This weekend was a productive one. I finally carved out some time in the schedule to get stuff done on the car. Although I didn't know exactly what i was going to do when i started working Saturday morning, I soon work up, and got going...Coffee helps.

I began with what i had on hand, which was my Electric Vacuum Pump that had arrived this past week. After my coffee, i worked out where it was going to go, and proceeded to install it. In the process, I ran into the end of my heater core, which i new had to go, so I stopped installing the pump and began removing the heater core; If anyone has ANY expierence with these, you probably know that it is not the simplest of tasks. In a short matter of time (relatively speaking) I had the entire dashboard ripped apart, and I still scratching my head. Nonetheless, i managed to get the darn thing out. I promptly put it aside and continued to install the pump as i had originally intended. That pretty much wrapped up Saturday, aside from some evening pondering, on how I would complete the next few tasks, which brings us to Sunday:

I woke up with a plan: Coffee and breakfast, NAPA ( 4 ga. battery cable, fuse, terminal, etc), home depot ( 1.5" ID tubing 8 feet ), home + install. Unfortunately, NAPA didn't have all the cable i needed, but i got 10 feet insead of 30. The other 20 will be in on Tuesday. Anyways, i made a bunch of measurements. Connected some lugs on my long High Voltage leads, and proceeded to tackle the heater core. I fortunately found myself in the "Zone" and i was able to weld a pretty decent carrier for my new Ceramic heater core, which fits quite nicely. While i was welding, i figured i might as well go all the way, and i made 1 more battery tray for my accessory battery ( which i had much deliberation on. I didn't even really want to keep it, but there was no real reason to go buying some other battery. I had the space, i just needed to make it work. So i did. Still not 100% cool, but acceptable, more that it was.)

So there it is. I'm getting there. Not as fast as i had hoped, but getting there. If i find any time this week, i may actually have my full battery pack wired, and the car Hot! Whoa, that would be cool. I'm going to need to go back to ABCO for more 2/0 cable to make the final connection to the fuse, controller and motor. So, i'm not quite driving yet, but getting there...

Getting EVen closer!

Last night, I was feeling a bit restless, so I headed out to the garage to see what i could get done...

Before i knew it, it was midnight, and i had successfully mounted the Curtis Controller w/heat sink and the DC-DC converter!

I'm still waiting on my charger and Vacuum system to arrive, but its getting down to the wire now ;)

I just place an order with Parts-Express for all kinds of random electrical pieces: wire, relays, fuses, etc. I've also begun to draw up my own EV schematic to plot out what is what and where and how! All in all its looking pretty good, the next few weeks should be exciting. i'm hoping to get some video footage up soon too.

Oh, and i talked to : Looks like they'll be taking care of the Rear Axle load issue.

Coming to form

It has been over three months since i began cleaning the garage, and taking out the ICE engine. And for a minute there, i would stare at the empty chassis, and wonder how this project would every be complete.

Today, I can say, i see the light at the end of the tunnel. The project is moving along very smoothly, although not without hard work and hiccups. I've spent the past two days almost entirely in the garage, measuring, cutting, drilling, welding,, repeat!

I'll spare you the detailed shopping list, but to give you an idea there was a lot of angle iron, threaded steel, nuts and bolts, more welding wire and a new cutting blade...

So, moving forward; This week, I'll be working out the mounting of the controller and heat sink, as well as, hopefully, receiving my charger, cable ends, heat shrink, and some other misc supplies. All that is left is connecting a lot of wires, making those wires, and a few small pieces to fabricate...and some cosmetics. A lot of testing too. oh and did i mention schematics? Yea.

In the end, i now have securely mounted all 12 batteries; 10 in the rear, and 2 up front. Here are some pictures, Enjoy:

more parts...

Another quick update: I placed orders today for my Deka batteries, russco charger, and vacuum pump kit! Just a few more odds and ends togo

And it all fits

Cheers to measuring first!

The motor went in very, very smooth. Almost too smooth. Its amazing how much space is still in there, aside from the < 1cm between the motor's shaft and the wall! Once the motor was mounted, I was busy making measurement to fabricate the rear motor mount. There are 4 threaded holes on the rear of the Impulse9 which I used to fasten a mount to the OEM rear motor mount assemble. Here are some pictures:

I'm yet to confirm all the specs on these Deka batteries, so, i'm also yet to order them. I do hope to have them for Thursday though. I got the cable to connect them, but don't have the ends, cause i can't verify the size of the terminals. Its all these details that have really made this a long process.

My Curtis 1231C Controller is arriving tomorrow!!! That is very exciting. While i wait for the rest of these details to pan out, i can get busy wiring the rest of the car, and figuring out all the schematics.

Batteries = $$$

Just a quick update: I've pretty much settled on Deka GC12V batteries, and i'll be fitting the battery tray in, tomorrow morning! Sunday, I plan to install the motor and transaxle!

Also, a HUGH thank you to MXenergy for their very kind sponsorship.

If anyone out there knows of ANYONE who would be interested in further sponsoring my electric car, I welcome all support; Barter, services, trade, parts and/or monetary.

Batteries found

Hey there! So, I spoke with Daryl from Deka Batteries today, who found me a cross reference for the Trojan t-1275 to a Deka GC12V, which are in stock at the warehouse. I could've had them for tomorrow, but I'm going to make a few measurements this week and get them in for next Thursday!!! Very exciting.

Controller and Adapter ORDERED!!!

Okayalright! So, I've recieved my Impulse 9 motor and it daunts me to put it in everyday. But until i get the rest of the crutial parts, I can't do squat. This has driven me to move forward and make some decisions.

This order:
1 Curtis 1231C
1 EvSolutions Adapter Plate and Coupler
1 Precharge resistor

Now, once these guys arrive, we'll really be in business. And in the mean time, I can begin working on the side and cross motor mount. I'm still looking for some funding to lighten the load on the cost of batteries. Hopefully, by the time that these parts arrive and are being installed, i'll have made some headway there as well.

Parts Arrived

Quick update, as i've gotten thrown in many directions over the past few weeks. My first round of parts have arrived and all looks well. I'm still looking to solve a few more problems before the project leaps forward, but its all going to happen very soon. And now, there is some serious consensus regarding the Controller. In short, Kelly is crap! Although i am very interested in the features of the Kelly controller, my understanding is that the actual components of the Kelly controllers just aren't up to par. I may just have to digress and use a Curtis...

Hills and Vallys

So far, this whole project has been very fun! I've taken my time, researching my system design, talking with people, and taking apart my conversion vehicle. Unfortunately, this is really the easy part. Come the arrival of my parts, i'll be faced with the somewhat daunting task of adapting and installing.

My biggest concern right now, very well may be the adapter. Although I've found a premade solution, i'd rather not pay the price, as tempting as it may be. Beyond this piece i'm not all that concerned with connections, mounts, relays, etc. But fabricating a secure connection from the motor to the transmission is daunting. The completion of the next few steps will very well dictate the timeline and success of this project.


Sooner than I imagined, the time has come to order parts. I've been spending an absurd amount of time, late in the evenings, to research and finalize my system design. Some are locked down, with a few variable I'm still undecided on. Today, I bit the bullet, so to speak, on a few major components!

1 NetGain Impulse 9 motor
1 Iota DC-DC 55A converter
1 Tyco Contactor & Micro Relay

From here, I can begin making my rear mount, and further contemplate the motor-transaxle mount...Purchase or Fabricate...decisions decisions. Although placement of the Iota is a rather small detail, I'll at least feel better having it in my hands.

The next big move is to decide on my Controller. I've begun a discussion here regarding the decision. Although people are trying to be helpful, I still haven't gotten the reassurance I'm looking for. Giving time time as always proven itself for me. As I mull these numbers and ideas around in the back of my head, I find the decisions to work themselves out on their own. As I posted in the Forum:

"Originally I was shooting for the KDH14650B, 144V 650A/260A controller.

Now, i'm thinking i'm better off all around, reducing my system voltage to 120V (or less) and using a controller with a higher amp rating such as the KDH12100B 120V 1000A/400A

This came up for 2 reasons really. 1: i'm all for over rating my controller, for safety's sake and 2: I like the idea of having "higher performance""

In short, I'm still leaning towards the KDH12100B, and running 9-10 12VDC Trojan T-1275 batteries. I suppose this is a typical James mentality of "less is more."

Gas Tank and Exhaust Removed

I guess this makes post 3.

First off, a few images from cleaning the other day:

As for today, i took a few hours this afternoon to remove some of the last remaining parts of the car: The Exhaust and the Gas Tank....

The exhaust was rather simple, considering I just installed it 6 or so months ago! No rust, no seized bolts, just a little pressure on the hangers and she dropped. The Gas Tank, however, was a bit more of a difficult task...not so much to do, but to do alone and not quite empty. All in all it was a success. I'm SURE I've spilled more gas trying to change a Fuel Filter, than i did removing this tank. 'Nuff said!

I'm simultaneously shocked at how fast this project is moving along, and how quickly i'm going to need to finalize plans and order parts. I took a little breather this afternoon and began to collect myself and my parts. I laid out all my un-replaced nuts and bolts, cleaned a few things that are going back in, and overall made sure that I'm not moving too fast for my own good.

Then, I was paid a surprise visit! Didn't get much done after that...washed up, off to dinner and a recording session.

A bolt a day keeps the gas away

I started my day today, first with an espresso, then some engine degreaser. I took an hour or so to spray down my engine bay, scrub the dirty corners, push it outside and hosed her down.

Later in the afternoon, i had an extra hand to take off my clutch and flywheel...

Current Progress Part 1

So, some of you may have heard that I'm building an electric car. Yes, that's right...I'm building an electric car.

Its a little late in the evening for me to make any progress on the car itself, so i thought i should take a change to set up this blog, and start my documentations....

It started a few weeks ago, actually, when I nearly didn't make it home from my trip to Burlington, VT. My 1993 Toyota Tercel was on its last leg and had some serious troubles going on. Needless to say, I made it home and re prioritized buying a new car. Within a 2 weeks, I picked up a 1998 VW Jetta, and the time had come for my long awaited electric car project;

About 2 years ago I started dreaming up the idea, researching plans and parts, trying to understand what was so difficult with driving an electric car...Turns out, I wasn't missing anything. It really isn't all that complicated, and I truly think that anyone who really wanted to do it, could. So I am here, leading by example.

Nearly immediately after purchasing my car, the gears began to spin any I found all this energy I didn't even know i had in me. I formulated a plan, while carrying out step 1, which was to make room for the project.

I cleared out all the patio furniture, sorted through 20 years of junk, made a dump run, installed a stereo, hung a work light, and uncovered the workbench. And within a few days, I was ready to pull in the Toyota with her last few puffs of gasoline.

Considering the time i had, i needed to get some things done, but didn't have the block required for the engine just yet, so I ripped out the back seat and the trunk and began some minor cleaning on "day 2."

Another busy work week went by, and managed to get bunch of research done, finalizing parts and asking technical questions or current EV owners. Come the weekend, I began to pull out the engine, and sure enough, she came out.

My brain is a little foggy to get the exact dates of these days right now, but its been the past 3 weeks or so, with removal, research and cleaning. Tomorrow I will begin degreasing the engine bay and transmission, as well as removing some remaining extraneous parts ( fuel filter, wire harness, etc. Evening plans may even include ordering parts!