A Virtual Tour of My Electric Car

Last Updated:05/21/98

Just click on any image for a closer look.

Mike's Car Image 100K gif


Base Car: 1980 Plymouth Horizon Coupe
Converted: Factory conversion in 1980 by Jet Industries
Miles Electric: 21,000
Range: 40 to 60 miles.
Top Speed: 70 miles per hour.
Recharge Time: 3 to 6 hours on 220 VAC
Capacity: 4 adults.
Curb Weight: 3460 Pounds.
Voltage: 120 Volts
Motor: 23 hp General Electric Series Wound DC Traction Motor
Batteries: 20 NAPA 8145 Deep Cycle Lead Acid Batteries
Controller: Curtis 1221B MOSFET Controller
Charger: Off Board Lester 220 VAC, Portable Home-Made "Bad Boy" Charger 120 VAC.
DC/DC Converter: Todd LV-40
Heater: 120 VDC Ceramic, 120 VAC Pre heater

Under the Hood

Front Battery Box Image, 177K gif

Lets take a quick peak under the hood. The large black box contains five of the car's twenty batteries. Below it, just out of sight is the drive motor. It is connected to a flywheel and clutch just as would be used in a conventional car. On the right you can just make out the plate that the controller and relays are mounted on. 

The Controller and Relays

Controller Image 180K gif

The large blue black component on the left is the Curtis Controller. It acts rather like a large dimmer to control the power fed to the motor. Near the bottom about center you can see the Main Contactor. This is the master switch between the batteries and the controller. Above the contactor are the heater and voltmeter fuses. To the right are the relays. The top one is for pre charging the controller, the middle one is for the heater element, and the bottom one controls the main contactor through the ignition switch. In the bottom right of the screen you can see the top of the master cylinder for the brakes. 

The Rear Battery Box

Rear Battery Box Image, 167K gif

There is not too much to see here. Again we have a large box, this one with fifteen batteries in it. A blower to vent the batteries during charging is mounted under the carpeted panel to the left of the box. The Todd LV-40 DC/DC Converter is mounted under the panel on the right.

The Drive Motor
motorl.jpg 126K file
This is a 23 horse power General Electric drive motor.  This isn't mine, but this one is out of an identical Jet 007.  The GEs don't have an internal cooling fan so they require an external blower.  If 23 horse power doesn't seem like much, you have to remember that electric motors and gas engines measure power ratings differently.  Gas engines are rated at their peak horse power, even though they can only maintain it for a few minutes without overheating or breaking.  Electric motors are rated at their continuous horse power, which they can maintain indefinitely.  The peak horse power of this GE motors is around 64 horse power, limited by the controller.  With a larger controller or higher battery voltage it can produce much much more power.  It only takes about 15 horsepower to drive a car at speed on the highway.

The Battery Charger
chgrl.jpg 178k file
This is the old Lester "Buzz Box", a rather noisy ferro-ressonant charger.  It is far to large and heavy to carry on the car, and since it require 220 AC power, it wouldn't be much use anyway.  I will be adding a small on-board charger sometime in the future.

The "Bad Boy" Charger
badboyl.jpg 100k file
This is my version of the notorious "Bad Boy" charger.  It is an unregulated, non-isolated, UL disapproved charger.  I built mine into an old NAPA  6 amp 12 volt battery charger, so it has dual outputs.  My car requires 12 volt power for the battery vent fan.  I used several heavy resistors in mine to allow me to have some control over the charge rate.  I had to add a cooling fan to keep the heat under control.  With low batteries it puts out about 8 amps on low, 12 amps on medium, and on high it trips its 20 amp breaker.  Voltage wise, on medium if left overnight it tapers down to about 3 amps at around 150 volts.  It makes a very handy portable charger, but I wouldn't want to use it all the time.  I will be adding a GFI to it shortly.


How it all works together
This is how it all works together.

    • Household power is fed into the Battery Charger from the wall outlet.
    • The Battery Charger converts the incoming 220 volt alternating current into 120 volt direct current which is fed into the Battery Pack.  When the Battery Pack reaches full charge the charger shuts off.
    • The Battery Pack chemically stores the electricity for later use.  Power is fed from the Battery Pack to both the Main Contactor and the DC/DC Converter.
    • The Main Contactor is the master on-off switch for the car.  Direct current is fed from the Battery Pack through the Main Contactor to the Controller.
    • The Controller regulates the power flow from the Battery Pack to the Motor, in much the same way as a dimmer controls a light.
    • The Motor converts the electric power supplied by the Controller into mechanical force.  This is in turn fed through the original clutch and transmission to the drive shafts and out to drive the front wheels.
    • Electric power is also supplied from the Battery Pack to the DC/DC Converter.  This acts rather like an alternator, by changing the 120 volt direct current from the Battery Pack into 12 volt direct current to charge the Auxiliary Battery.  The Auxiliary Battery supplies the 12 volt power for headlights, fans, and the radio.

For the moment, this concludes our tour. 

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