Introducing the Electric Duster Project

General Discussion

  1. armyofchuckness

    armyofchuckness The Flying Valiant

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    That what I'm all about! New ideas to keep these cars out of the yard, back on the street, and accessible for real working guys to have something that doesn't look like a pea pod.

    Incidentally, it's nice to see another Doctor Who fan on the board. :)
     
  2. 1967DartGT

    1967DartGT Well-Known Member

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    It seems that most of the conversions I've found mate the motor to a manual transmission and modify so that you don't need to engage the clutch to change gears. Why is this? Your blog states that most of the time you plan on keeping the tranny in second gear. Wouldn't you get greater top end speed and range if you were to shift into third gear? Is there any disadvantage or limitations to using an automatic transmission?
     
  3. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    All good questions that illustrate the differences between electric motor powered and internal combustion powered cars. You can actually eliminate the transmission altogether. The elect motor has maximum torque at low rpm so it easily gets the car moving in a higher gear. However, the elect motor has it greatest efficiency at high rpm (around 4000 for mine). Therefore, a lower gear to start is not needed, and a higher gear to cruise in inefficient.

    I kept the transmission for a few reasons:
    1) Minimal change to the stock drivetrain and structure of the car. One of my goals was to keep the (modified) stock look as much as possible.
    2) ease of installation and control of the electric motor & systems.
    3) I can go into reverse without a reversing type motor controller.
    4) There may be times when I want the availability of a lower or higher gear. I won't really know until I drive it a while but it gives me some options - especially in the future when battery technology improves.

    The clutch and flywheel are heavy. Since you don't actually do much, if any, shifting while in motion, the clutch or flywheel aren't necessary and therefore excess weight. If you do need to shift, you can easily do it clutchless - used to do that all the time just for fun anyway :)
     
  4. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    Oops, I forgot this:
    Automatic transmissions are a big disadvantage and therefore hardly ever used. By its design an auto trans wastes energy. You just don't have any energy to waste in a conversion using current technology.
     
  5. pastortom1

    pastortom1 Well-Known Member

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    I LIKE the idea of developing a "Crate Motor" for this electric conversion.......Motor and Trans/Coupler, to your own A-Body with little but a modified driveshaft length...........Motor mounts, braces & wiring harness all included, along with the needed gauges and gas pedal adaptor.

    That would be stinking awesome............You could do a swap for a weekend expo and be back on gas when you bloody felt like it............

    (next we'll be discussing anti-grav, utilizing gravity-amplification technologies).

    Really..........I'm just joking..........I LOVE this electric conversion idea. 8)8)
     
  6. Small Block

    Small Block Well-Known Member

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    O.K I've just had a call from a ford guy that has found a 71 dart and said i could have it for $200 but it's missing a pass side door. Sounds like a good candidate for an electric motor. I'll get the books and then i'll be in touch. This will happen for me. Make something that looks like it will run 140 mph in the quarter but runs on electric and very quiet. Either a Duster or an Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite. Pretty lite and small.
     
  7. DionR

    DionR Well-Known Member

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    Have to say, I'm not really excited about this. Great work, keep at it, I'm not trying to discourage you, I just haven't bought into the whole EV thing.

    I remember being in school after I got out of the Navy some 15 years ago or more, and the community college I was attending had a little VW pickup or golf or something they had converted to electric power, so they aren't all that new. And, as I recall, it wasn't a whole lot different than this one in power and range. They have been claiming for years that technology was going to catch up and battery's would get better, but I haven't seen much yet.

    Range seems to be about the same as before, and it had always been much too short for my commute. Maybe if I lived closer to work, but as it stands right now it wouldn't work without charging before I left for home. And forget going farther into town to pick something up as I would never make it home then. Might just as well have kept the motorcycle I sold, couldn't do anything but travel on it, but at least I could go where I want without having to plan a 4 hour layover to charge the car (twice as I probably couldn't make it home on one charge from anywhere in town).

    I still feel like electricity is just as much in "their" control as gas is. Look at California when they had the blackouts. As soon as gas is outlawed, you can bet the price of electricity will climb at a record pace. Not that we are making enough as it is. Seems like a little while ago they were talking about how we were short, just wait until everybody has two EV's to plug in. Better hope the tree-huggers don't get the dam's removed like they want. If they kill the dams, better hope they build a bunch more wind farms (even though the tree-huggers seem to hate those, too) or figure out the solar charges as the other sources are nuclear or coal (great trade there). I'm sure there are other sources, but I don't see it getting much better.

    Also, seems like most electricity is generated by some other power source, and last time I looked every conversion costs in efficiency. Seems like it is just a slight of hand to me.

    If anything, I think diesel is the future. At the least in the short term it would cut back on oil use (more out of a barrel of oils, plus better mileage as a bonus). In the long term we need to figure out the bio-diesel thing, and I don't mean using farm land to grow it. It needs to be one of those algea plants that produce more base then farming does to leave the farms to grow food like they were intended. As a nice byproduct, diesels can be great fun to drive. Get the auto manufacturers to build a lighter duty diesel instead of the industrial giants they put in the trucks and we would see mileage that beats the hybrids and still has a fun streak. If I could figure out how to put a diesel conversion on a slant 6 I would go for it, but if it was to work it would have to be a more designed specifically for diesel, GM proved that. Certainly something an EV has a leg up on the diesel.

    In the end, I agree we are teetering on the edge and I'm not sure any of these are going to make any difference. Hopefully I will see a radical change in my location before it gets too bad.
     
  8. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    DionR - yes, there is nothing too new or groundbreaking in what I am doing, other than my choice of vehicle. When I was researching what I could do to buy less gasoline, I was really surprised when I discovered that people had been doing electric conversions since the early or mid 90s. The technology has improved somewhat over time.

    My choice to do it was because it will work for my situation and it was the only alternative that will actually pay for itself over time. I will be paid back in full at 45-55,000 miles depending upon gas prices - even sooner if I receive any tax incentives. At this point, I don't care about 'green' other than the 'green' that is in my wallet. No other type of conversion or fuel alternative I found would do anything but cost me more money than continuing to buy gasoline - even at much higher prices. So my decision was strictly economics - at least at first. Since I have begun this project though, I have discovered it to be something more - a challenge I guess. I think I have been more enthused about working on this than any of my past Mopar projects.

    There are a couple of misconceptions floating around about EVs. It really is less pollution to use power generated at a power plant. They apparently use clean coal where I live, but even if they didn't, it is still way more efficient to have the power generated at one location instead of each individual vehicle. As far as charging millions of vehicles, I have read that our current infrastructure could handle it because most of the charging is done at night - off peak hours.

    True, 'they' still control the electricity distribution. However, as far as I can tell, electricity is the only power source that we will have a shot at producing ourselves via solar or wind. The technology is way too expensive so far to make it worthwhile economically. But as with battery technology, these other forms of power generation should improve over time. You're right though, the promises of that have been around a long time. Maybe with growing interest in this stuff and people starting to purchase en masse will make it happen. My feeling is that electricity is the only power source that we can hope to obtain without someone else controlling the supply and price.

    To drive one of these conversions definitely requires a different mindset. I have been talking to my employer about possibly recharging while at work, which would double my commute range. I have also been investigating other ways to partially charge while on the road - including a small generator in the trunk - so as not to get stuck somewhere. The good news is that if you stop for a while, you regain a certain amount of charge without doing anything. It's like stopping your car and having your tank magically gain gasoline :)
     
  9. rumblefish360

    rumblefish360 So close, yet so far away

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    Another one here!

    I like the whole idea of someone thinking differently and doin it.
    The major manufactures are on it, but don't know how much into it they are or think they should be into it.
     
  10. armyofchuckness

    armyofchuckness The Flying Valiant

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    Not to venture off topic again, but hooray! Mopar A-bodies and Doctor Who. Somebody pinch me.

    Back on topic, I love the idea of a crate electric engine. That would be an excellent either/or option. Granted, the batteries would bet the hardest part. Just wait for the Chevy Volt to come out and we can grab spare electric cells at the local Advance Auto Parts.

    And since we're talking about additional fuel alternatives, my vote is for Plutonium. Not only is it cool, but it also produces the power necessary to generate the one point twenty one jiggawats of electricty to power the time circuits on my time machine.
     
  11. DionR

    DionR Well-Known Member

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    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think you shouldn’t do this; it’s just not for me. I understand the drive to do something like it, though. I have been trying to build a turbo slant for some time now because I want to be able to drive my old Mopar to work every day and not have to pay a 16 mpg (maybe) premium to do it. At the same time, I want to drive something fun (which is why I had a 5 speed turbo FWD commuter that got me 30+ mpg on average and has run a best of 14.7 in the quarter). Most look down on the slant, but I have grown to respect it and see that it can be a powerful, and yet economical, means to the end I want. But I see all kind of people (including a buddy of mine) that shudder at the thought of /6, for any reason. No, I would never say you shouldn’t do this, I am only voicing my opinion that it wouldn’t work for me, and that I’m not convinced it is all it is cracked up to be.



    I think that ignores the fact that most people in America live far enough from work that an EV would require charging both at night, and in the morning, and when they get back from lunch, and before the go to the store, etc. And what happens on Friday night when you want to go bar hopping? If it takes 4 hours to charge, you would have to hit it about 6 in the evening to get to more than 2 bars :) . I’m not saying this is you, I am only commenting on the state of the union and that I think the thought that “EV’s would only be charged at night” is kind of “convenient” for anyone trying to sell the world on them (again, not pointed at you, just at the people that came up with the reasoning).

    A change of mindset would help that some, but the same change would probably save millions of gallons of gas and I don’t see many Americans willing to sacrifice for that.

    At the same time, most of the people living in places like downtown Chicago or New York could care less as most of them don’t even own a car. I could see that being the future if anything. Move to a large town that offers you public transportation so you can get to work and entertainment so you don’t have to travel out of the city, then there is no reason to worry about the lack of gas, while the rich continue to use it without discretion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s what I want to do, only that it might be the only option some people really have.



    True, but I doubt they will let you get away with producing your own power without charging you for it somehow (sorry, if I sound pessimistic it’s just because I am O:)).

    Besides, if solar chargers don’t improve drastically sometime soon, you will be limited to a 25 mile radius from your home if you want to stay off the “grid”. :p



    (Honest question, not trying to poke holes) How does that work in a conversion vehicle? Is it automatic just by having the motor hooked to the car direct so that when you brake it drags the motor down?

    Also, if I remember correctly, you have 26 6volt batteries wired in tandem to generate 156 volts. Why not 13 12volt batteries? Wouldn’t that have cut down on the weight and volume?
     
  12. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    It's strictly a battery phenomenon. I'm sot sure how it works (probably chemical) but all rechargeable batteries seem to do it. If you run your 12 volt down so it won't turn your starter, wait an hour, try again and it will turn the starter a while longer. The rechargeable AA batteries in my digital camera work the same way.

    The reason for using 6 volt batteries in the car is storage capacity. Two 6 volt deep cycle batteries can store quite a bit more than one 12 volt can. In EVs, storage capacity (amp hours) is directly proportional to the amount (weight) of lead that you have. Storage capacity translates to range, total voltage translates to speed. Therefore, 156 volts with 6 volt batteries will have a much longer range than 156 volts using 12 volt batteries - both at the same speed. My whole design approach was trying to find a balance between volts, amp hours, and total weight that would combine into a speed and range I could utilize (and not just be a novelty).

    I'm with you on them not wanting/letting people produce their own power. They will probably find a way to tax the sunlight you receive :) Still, after looking at all other options, even growing/distilling my own biofuel (thinking outside the box), electricity seems the only source with hope in the foreseeable future.
     
  13. JackDW

    JackDW New to group old in years

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    Just bringing this back to the top. Sounds like a real test drive is close. Follow the link on ABodySickness post for his blog.
     
  14. Useless

    Useless Well-Known Member

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    Bumping this since the car made Mopar Collectors Guide this month.

    The one magazine I thought might "get it" obviously does not get it...... :???:
     
  15. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    Useless, Thanks for bumping this. I take it that they wrote something unfavorable? I guess that's not too surprising. I no longer subscribe to MCG, and apparently they don't put any content online so I cannot view anything about the article. I don't think I'll rush out and buy a copy for something negative about my project. Could you please describe the article for me? Did they show any pics or print my blog address? Thanks.
     
  16. rmchrgr

    rmchrgr Skate And Destroy

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    MCG generally frowns on anything to do with environmentalism and go into these long anti 'enviro-whacko' diatribes. It's sheer stupidity.
     
  17. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    That's one reason I'd like to know what they wrote. No one from MCG contacted me about the car. This build has absolutely NOTHING to do with environmentalism. If they had bothered to read my blog about the build they would have discovered that. I wrote a lot about why I was building it, but even after that, people (even on FABO) just continue to assume it's an enviro thing. I hate that by building this car I have been automatically categorized with a group I generally disagree with and dislike.
     
  18. rmchrgr

    rmchrgr Skate And Destroy

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    I wasn't saying you were one of them, just pointing out how MCG feels about things. It was in their anti-enviro section.

    It is hard though NOT to associate an electric car with environmentalism, they kind of go hand-in-hand these days.

    Still, they're quite silly at MCG, I stopped reading that mag many years ago.
     
  19. Useless

    Useless Well-Known Member

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    Apparently "Reader Bruce Hanson" sent them an email with a link to autobloggreen.com with something about it titled "Mopar Fan Converts Plymouth Duster To Electric". The usual song and dance about it being pointless and they "question whether he's (you) a "mopar fan" or an "enviromentalist". 3 pages of BS in their enviro-masochism colum, 3 photos.

    It's not the most friendly article, I'll try and scan it for you.
     
  20. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    Great, thanks. I appreciate it. I guess owning/building 7 other classic Mopars isn't enough to be considered a true Mopar fan.
     
  21. hemifish69

    hemifish69 Dain bramaged Hemi freak

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    Nice install.

    But you won't be catching me doing that.
     
  22. armyofchuckness

    armyofchuckness The Flying Valiant

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    I still can't get over this obsession people have with you hackin' up a Duster. IT'S A DUSTER. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Duster, but this isn't like you took a '71 Hemi 'Cuda and went to work with a sawzall. These are workhorse cars, and part of the beauty of them is you can whatever you want with them because there's still a zillion of them out there. I'm sorry to hear about the fire, but I'm glad you're not giving up on this.

    I'm still hoping you find great success in this project because when it comes time for the big, bad gubmint to come for our dinosaur juice drinkin' smog buckets, there's going to be a viable alternative, and we'll all be clambering to your doorstep begging for the plans.

    Keep it up.
     
  23. pastortom1

    pastortom1 Well-Known Member

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    I think the build is gonna need to move on from those lead acid batteries. But, the cost is prohibitive.........

    All in all, I'd like to see this build succeed, and BIG. Like it or not, something like this may be in an enthusiasts future if he wants to continue the long held tradition of "cruising" his classic down the boulevard. Too Orwellian? With the people in office currently, ANYTHING is possible in the next few years.

    ANYTHING.

    Don't sell the concept short. The ones with too little foresight always get "stuck" in the end. 8)
     
  24. MoparGarage

    MoparGarage Winter Sucks!

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    Hemifish69, I did have the pleasure of reading your original post. You are entitled to your opinion, and in fact I guess I solicited it, which is why I didn't respond to it. Kudo's to you for editing it :)

    You, like many others, completely miss the point of what I am attempting.
    Unfortunately, many people have an immediate negative reaction to it based upon their preconceived notions of my motives.

    I have received quite a few negative comments here at FABO, CarDomain, and on several other sites that have written about it. Armyofchuckness and Pastortom are definitely on the right track. I have been blogging about this project since I began last Summer. In the beginning I wrote a full explanation of why I am doing this and why I chose one of my Dusters as the subject. Very few, if any, of the negative comments I have read has anything to do with the reality of my project. They seem to be more of a backlash aimed at the "Al Gore" mentality that has permeated our society. Believe me, I am with you there.

    My project is all about CONTROL. I do not like anyone, be it our government, or oil companies, or futures traders, or foreign countries, or ANYONE telling ME how much I can drive MY CARS. I don't give a rats ass about saving the planet or conserving oil. I want a choice of where I get my energy. I looked into all alternatives and chose electricity because "they" have the least ability to control it. If "they" close down the power plants I will hopefully still have the sun and the wind to make electricity. I am counting on all of these technologies, including batteries, to evolve in the near future.

    As far as my using a Duster; that is because I am a huge Mopar fan. Hasn't anyone ever been to a custom car or hotrod show? A lot of it is art and making a statement of some kind. Not everyone sees what is meant.

    I guess my statement is that "the man" will not control the use of MY MOPAR. Simple as that.
     
  25. Useless

    Useless Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. I remember not too long ago when most A-bodies, especially Dusters didn't really make it into the big Mopar Mags because of exactly that, they were daily beaters, '70's smog mobiles and cars you hacked up to race, you only really had something or were "cool" if you had a big block B-Body. :roll:

    Funny part is, if you had hacked the inner fenders to put in a hemi and tubbed the car, not a single negative word would be said. So far the only thing you've cut is the trunk pan, right? Seems to me you can put in a new stock one with a few hours work just about any day of the week.

    I just don't understand the resistance from everyone about this, I'd much rather see someone driving an electric Duster daily than some econo box hybrid or an SUV. If the Duster was still how it was the day you bought it and you had it sitting 360 days a year and drove an F250 daily no one would say anything.

    I admire what you're doing and it's projects like yours that stir things up can only further the technology. I for one would love to be free of paying for gas everyday. I spend roughly $3000 a year in gas for daily driving; that's $3k I'd much rather put into my Valiant or do something fun with!

    BTW: Haven't had a chance to scan the article yet
     
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