Here is my 27 years with the MGA
Copyright 1999 Bob Wing

(Bob passed away in March of 2002. We'll miss him a lot at Electrifying Times... Do read PASSING OF A PIONEER by Don McGrath. R.I.P. Bob.)

CONVERSION OF A MGA TO A ZERO POLLUTION ELECTRIC CAR

I now look back on the great gas shortage of 1973, with its long lines at service stations and rising fuel costs, as a positive influence. It motivated me to act on a long-standing desire to have a battery powered electric car for local travel. My job in Menlo Park, California was 1/2 mile from home and offered an ideal situation for electric vehicle application. But I did not want just any electric vehicle, I wanted a rag top --- something that did not look like other small sport cars on the road. Then I stumbled across a promising listing in a trade paper: $100 for a '59 MGA roadster, or what was left of it after two inoperative MGAs were rebuilt into one operational gas car. Since an internal combustion engine was not required and the body was straight, it was just the right car for my conversion plan.



Now that I had made my electric vehicle commitment it was time to obtain some expert opinion. I'd been thinking about joining the Electric Auto Association for some months and now it was time to take action. At monthly chapter meetings and rallies I was able to get enough information and helpful suggestions to proceed. Many ideas were of course contradictory but one could see operating EVs with different controls, battery count and motors.

Armed with my newly acquired knowledge I started my conversion project. I cleared the engine compartment, rebuilt the brake system, replaced the worn differential, removed the spare tire (since battery space was limited), gas tank, heater and other parts not needed. As this is a British car the Lucas wiring had deteriorated and needed replacement. I saved the gas tank in case a hybrid engine or heater later was needed later.

I knew that on occasion I was bound to find myself on the road with dead batteries. MGAs are notoriously hard to find any part of the frame for towing support. However it was possible to make a false front axle of 1 1/2 inch galvanized pipe with caps at each end and attached it with "U" bolts to the front bumper supports. This false axle made a secure connection for a VW tow bar. I've towed the MGA over 3000 miles N and S Interstate 5.

Next, I collected all the mechanical and electrical parts required for the conversion except for the batteries. I purchased them last so they would be fresh. (Always insist that all the batteries are from the same batch on the same manufacturing date.) Now was the time to plan for the location of the wiring, motor mounts, controller, on-board battery charger and batteries. Batteries should be mounted outside the passenger compartment for the safety of the occupants.



My first traction motor was a surplus aircraft starter-generator and 200 amp contactors (relays) from wing-flap controllers, with a 24/48 volt series/parallel battery pack. Speed control and range were not satisfactory on my electric MGA. But four motors and three controllers later I found the optimum system I wanted: 14 Trojan 6-volt golf cart batteries with a range of 24 miles between charges. The traction motor was mounted on an
adaptor plate on the clutch bell housing with the flywheel mounted on the electric motor shaft. The 5-speed gear box was kept for a safety mechanical disconnect and to reverse without the use of another relay as contactors are troublesome. Most of my forward driving is done in 2d and 3rd gear, 1st being used for steep hills. My MGA can reach 25 mph in 2nd, 45 in 3rd and 63 in 4th on the level ground. I don't use the clutch when starting or stopping, only when shifting. If the entire battery pack is connected
directly across the motor without a current limiting device something is going to break and it is usually one or both drive axles due to the high starting torque of an electric motor.

Before I found my optimum system I went through three motor-generators. The first two were very cheap and had been used in a mechanical experiment as I found out later. The drive shafts had been twisted off and the seller had welded on a new ones. When power was applied under load the motor sounded like a police siren as the armature rubbed the stator. I had to coast any time a police car came into view. The third used starter-generator had very noisy brushes and the most efficient speed was 7000 rpm, which was beyond the red-line on the MGA. Finally, I installed a solid state controller and a new 20 hp Prestolite motor designed for EV application. It I had installed it initially many hours and dollars would have been saved. The result of my research and effort is now a valuable second car, useful for errands. Occasionally I have to borrow a cup of electricity to get home but I have never had to grind the valves, install a timing belt, change the oil, install a new starter or alternator.

Moving to Oregon in 1979 with California plates made it difficult to meet any one outside of business contacts. But I was invited to show the MGA at the Seattle 1979 Environmental Faire for six days and appeared on a 1/2 hour TV interview which included a video of the car being driven to the Faire. The Bonneville Power Administration had an ElectraVan there also. About 260 people left their names and addresses indicating interest in joining an electric vehicle club. But it was impractical for me to be active in a new group as I lived 170 miles south. The Seattle Electric
Vehicle Association was being formed so I gave the organizers my list and this group is still functioning today and is affiliated with the EAA. I still try to get the the annual Seattle EV rally as there are always new EV ideas and and old friends to see.

My MGA has been shown at various shopping centers and on the Oregon PBS TV stations. Nearer my home I organized a Salem Chapter of the EAA with monthly meetings and a quarterly workshop on Saturday mornings in my garage. I found a '73 Suburu coupe with a blown engine and with volunteer help from the EAA members we completed the conversion. In time I founded additional EAA chapters in Portland, Albany-Corvallis and Medford.

in 1982 we moved to Inverness north of San Francisco and towed three EVs, one at a time, 600+ miles south. My electric cars had 14 6-Volt batteries with maximum range at 75 degrees F of 25 miles on a charge. An ambient temperature of 40 degrees F cuts the range about in half if there is any hill climbing unless the recharging is done just prior to use to warm the batteries. The MGA gets two miles per kilowatt-hour and at
our present rate that is 7.9 cents per mile. With only one moving part in the motor, maintenance is minimal but water must be added to the batteries or at least checked monthly. It is really a pleasure to go to the gas station only to get air for the tires.

I usually use the MGA each day to pick up the mail at the Post Office or for other errands. There are lots of day visitors in the area since we are surrounded by Point Reyes National Seashore and the Tomales Bay State Park. Some people stop to shop in Inverness and immediately notice the quiet operation of the MGA. At least one person a week says "Is that a '59, I had one just like that." I have to respond "no, not just like mine." They insist and then I open the hood.

The electric vehicle cost $4500 to complete over a five year period, in today's market it could be $8,000, less you find a used EV for parts. There were no finance charges as the monthly payments consisted of buying parts.

The traction batteries have lasted 7 to 9 years but the replacement can be a major expense. But one always hopes for a now light-weight battery which will permit twice the mileage at half the weight. The MGA with gasoline engine weighed 1,995 pounds while the electric version weighed in at 2,950.

For those of you who have solar, hydraulic or wind power the EV can be can be used as the supplementary battery pack for your home. The EV is also useful for emergency power. In west Marin county we lost commercial power for four days during the 1982 storm and 6-8 hour blackouts occur each year. During the blackout I run 100-watt reading lights in the house from the traction battery pack.

Car conversions to battery operation can be accomplished by most anyone who can use common tools with some technical skill. Perhaps the quickest way to obtain the technical help is to join the Electric Auto Association, Membership is $25 per year for 12 monthly issues of the international newsletter and notices of chapter meetings.

The future of EVs is now much more promising in California with the Air Quality Management Control Districts setting standards to reduce air pollution. Of the 23 million registered motor vehicles in California, about 4,000 are registered as electrics according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. High power density batteries at a reasonable price are still at least five years away we are told -- but the battery industry has been telling us that for at least five decades. Now, at least the four year
$260 million public-private venture has been funded to develop better batteries. The United States Advanced Battery Consortium is one of several joint research projects recently initiated by Chrysler, General Motors, Ford and the Electric Power Research Institute, with the U.S. Department of Energy providing one half of the funding.. Before 1915 more than one-half of all the motor cars on the road were electrics. I can't help but wonder when we will see that ratio in the urban areas again, but improved batteries at reasonable cost could speed the change from internal combustion to electric vehicles.

[The following report previously appeared on the Internet EV List, read by about 800 free subscribers around the world. It has brought a number of people online talking of their experiences with H2s and H3s. It also appeared in the GLEAN/EVNews Magazine in the July & November 1996 issues.]

ZAPI H2 now installed in my '59 MGA Roadster

The ZAPI H2 controller is working in the traction mode. I took the MGA out for 25 miles over several 400 foot hills to Abbotts Lagoon and North Beach on the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The hills are still green on the Pacific Ocean with the high-low temperature reading in San Francisco of 62F to 51F. And I successfully passed the hill climb where my 11 year old controller blew up several weeks ago. Compared to my 4 previous controllers the first thing I notice is that you can creep when starting. Although the 5k ohm linear pot is the same one I used with other controllers, the ZAPI start program provides different speed curves so the forward start can be very slow, half the speed of walking but moves up quickly to full current. And the controller is silent, I can hear the microswitch on the throttle pedal. No Curtis 1231C whine!

I have been waiting for regen since I first converted my '59 MGA Roadster in 1972. There are streets with 12 to 20% grades which I can easily go up but I do not trust my drum brakes on the long down hill.

After talking in person and by email with Gary Flo of InnEVations, he said to me three times 'talk to Greg McCrea,' Electric Conversions in Sacramento CA who drives with a regen H2 in his own car and stocks them. So I made the two hour drive. I always like to meet an EV component supplier in person and know that my calls will be returned if I have questions. Greg was that kind of guy. He does conversions and repairs on EVs and had several phone calls and customers come in while I was there, each person getting his undivided attention. I was glad to wait and observe how his shop operates. Greg does consulting in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe for firms with special electric propulsion needs in their vehicle development projects.

Electric go cart tracks are a very popular charge per ride activity in Europe. They must have a much smaller percent of the population of lawyers than the US. He also visits the ZAPI factory in Poviglio near Florence, Italy, talks with the technicians at the factory and brings back controllers as personal baggage on the return flight, saving on the shipping bill.

Greg's background includes solar-thermal and low-NOx natural gas combustion technology which seems to progress naturally to the lowest NOx technology; EVs. Much of the work at the shop includes support to EV users, from private conversions to government fleet operated OEM electrics.

This provides and ideal opportunity to upgrade antiquated components as they fail with new technology. This makes the users happy to get the "Latest" while the shop technicians gain the "breaking in" experience of installation and tuning. For the last three years at the current location, Greg has also been dealing in EV related surplus such as high tension aircraft alternators suitable for hybrid drives and electric fork lifts to the menial cable and contactors. Most of this material is from the military, a real life Swords to Plowshares operation.

The H2 comes in three physical sizes, I chose the 400A with reversing DPDT and braking SPDT contactors. This is the only one to fit in the space available in the MGA. There are also 500A and 600A models which are longer, both available for up to 96 VDC. There will be a 120 volt model coming out in August. The H3 is two H2s tied together which may be why the H3 is more difficult to set up. Greg McCrea specializes in H2s, Gary Flo does H2s and H3s.

The H2 400A was US $545 and the H2 600A US $676, shipping from Italy added, contactors extra, programming labor a small extra charge. Two different programming hand held consoles are available at extra charge but Greg programmed mine for straight traction before he shipped it to me so I did not need to buy one. Later I will remove my Prestolite 4001 motor (a predecessor to Advanced DC Motor installed circa 1978) to retard the brush ring to neutral as advised for regen mode. Some one will come to Inverness and reprogram the E-Prom for regen. There is something about the California central valley summer heat that encourages people to come visit the Pacific shore.

One of the fellows I first met in Greg's shop was Robb Robel who repairs and converts cars there. Robb is also working on own his own EV and about to install a H2. He was going on vacation in two weeks so I suggested he and his wife stay in our guest apartment as other EVers have. They did and we learned together, me mostly from Robb, how to read the 65 page 'User's Manual' translated from Italian to the English version by an Italian and locating the 20 or so pages that apply to this particular H2. It is really a shop manual for a technician who is wiring up lift trucks, field weakening, 5 cable motors instead of four, speed check, etc. I will be able to do a second H2 installation much more quickly after this first rather lengthy learning process. I recommend anyone doing their first ZAPI installation have a consultant come for 4-6 hours. I hope there will be a true 'Owners manual' available soon.

The H2 has an LED indictor lamp on the controller which flashes from 1 to 9, and 32 blinks or remains on. Each decoding blink displayed gives you one or more trouble descriptions for each. The continuous blink indicates low battery charge with less than 10% residual charge. We had just the 8 blinks so then it was for us to try to interpret the diagnosis page. We had installed the main contactor ahead of the traction positive feed and the ZAPI wanted it controlled just ahead of the motor with the B+ plus on at the controller at all times.

All the H2 contactor solenoids work on traction battery voltage so I used a 96 volt relay to control my 12 VDC Albright. With my 16 - 12 volt deep-cycle Optimas with BAT Ultra-Force catalyst connected in series-parallel, I get good acceleration for the two lane county roads through hilly terrain.

The H2 400 is the best controller l have ever used, it is flexible, can be reprogrammed in the future and can be be used in other applications. And the price is right, less than half the cost of other controllers I considered, none of which would give me regen at this time. I recommend it for any light duty pickup or car as an ICE weighing under about 2400 pounds. My MGA weighed 1995# initially, now 2500# with equal weight on each axle. The H2 600 would be best for cars up to 50% heavier.

I have been running my Italian ZAPI H2 400 amp 96 VDC controller in the standard traction mode since June 1996. The ZAPI 400 amp was considerably less expensive even with shipping from Italy added than other controllers for standard traction.

My 11 year old controller had given up so I was in the market for a new one, but I wanted one that did not squeal and also had regenerative braking. My only choice was the ZAPI H2, a well proven controller for pumps, lift trucks and EVs in Europe.

For regenerative braking there is the added cost of additional contactors. In mid-October the Albright contactors arrived from the UK, they ship about every 6 weeks but the August vacations got in the way. For regen you need a changeover contactor (single pole-double throw) and reversing contactor (doubled pole-double throw) at $190 and $329 respectively. This certainly adds to the cost of regen. But I require regen braking as the MGA has drum brakes all around for the paved roads on hills in my neighborhood, to 18% on hills 400 to 1000 feet above sea level.

When driving with the ZAPI the car is in free wheeling as long as the throttle is just barely on. With the release of the throttle microswitch the mode is that of compression on an ICE engine. Then with the use of the brake pedal stop light switch connected to a relay a further speed reduction occurs by putting a larger regen current back in to the battery pack.

For regen to work without damage to the motor it is necessary to move the brush ring to a neutral position midway between the clockwise and counter-clockwise direction of the motor. This is not difficult to do although it took me several months to find the information for my Prestolite 4001 motor.

Two different hand held programming consoles are available at extra charge but Greg McCrea, Electric Conversions, Sacramento CA programmed mine for straight traction before he shipped it to me so I did not need to buy one.

The initial installation took several days as the instruction manual is for the factory installers but after you done it once it will be easier another time. Greg plans to assemble ZAPIs in metal box with heat sinks and wiring complete so only the motor and battery cables need to feed in. Also a terminal block will be available for the microswitches leads making the installation much easier.

Greg came over in October to show me how to cable the new Albright contactor and reprogram the H2 for regen. I now feel much safer and under control going down the hills. There has never been any trouble going up hill.

Compared to my four previous controllers the first thing I notice is that you can creep when starting. Although the 5k ohm linear pot is the same one I used with other controllers, the ZAPI start program provides different speed curves so the forward start can be very slow, half the speed of walking but moves up quickly to full current.
The ZAPI controller has built-in resistors across the contactor points so there is no arcing and no extra diodes are required in the solenoid circuit.

Although I have a reverse gear I find the electronic reverse is much easier to use as it can work with any forward gear. The reverse gear has such a high gear ratio with an electric motor with high starting torque that more than once I have broken the welded motor clamp while in reverse. A dash mounted locking toggle switch with forward, neutral and reverse is very quick to use and the passenger cannot easily accidentally change it for you.

Also I think it is important to have motor governor speed control. With the motor under no load even at 72 VDC and now at 96 VDC the motor runs too fast with the clutch disengaged. Certainly you want the motor under load to go much faster that an ICE as the electric has good torque at low speed but is much more efficient near its upper end. I do not want to loose battery power to resistive heat through inefficiency. There are 16 - 12 volt Optima prototype deep cycle batteries in two strings.

My next project is to install Rich Rudman's battery regulators to limit charging to 14.7 VDC on each sealed battery. The kits sell for $7 or ready to install for $20 each. John Wayland sells these regulators <Datsun1200@aol.com> .

To complete my 24 year old project I want a 7kW, 120/240 Vac onboard charger to use at home or on the road.

June 10, 1997: Zapi H2 MGA Fire Chief get an upgrade.

ZAPI H2 120 VDC with regen now has Rudman Regulators installed on '59 MGA
Roadster.

Greg McCrea was visiting one day and asked me when those Rudman Regs will get installed on the Optima batteries. I responded with an indefinite time schedule and Greg said why don't you bring it in to his Sacramento CA shop. This sounded like a good way to get the upgrade done more quickly so the MGA was towed for 2 1/2 hours to Electric Conversions. I had done all my own electrical modifications for the past 25 years but contracted for the welding and machining. The original motor mounts, adapter plate and some original battery racks are still in use with new racks added as the
number of batteries increased over the years.

The original 96 V ZAPI H2 controller was modified to operate with a 120 VDC battery pack which saved me trying to sell the one year old 96 V model. All of the contactors and controller connections could stay in place as the contactor solenoid coils would operate on either the 96 or 120 VDC control voltage supplied by the H2. The H2 regen was already operating so the only change was to reprogram the H2 to increase the regen current slightly when throttle was released up to 50 A depending on car speed and gear, and to up to 150 A when the brake pedal is depressed. The hand held programmer can preset in 10 steps for many different controller functions and also read
the controller temperature while the car is operating.

Four new Optima Yellow Tops were added to increase the range to 53 miles at 55 mph from 35. At 30 mph the range should be 86 miles compared to 70 miles according to a commuter program. Those 30 mph theoretical estimates may be too high with the frictional losses in the MGA but I will check it out.

Space was found in the trunk for four more YTs (Before the Optimas I had planned for Trojan T-125s). Since this decision was made just before the upgrade I called E-car in Portland (I find they are closer to the distribution God at Optima than others) and Optima dropped-shipped to me by UPS in 2 days.) The other 16 Optimas are prototype YTs although in a red top as manufactured in early '95. I had used these RT prototypes for about one year.

All of the Optimas were removed and tested along with the new YTs with a Zivan commercial tester through four discharge and charge cycles. Several of the RT tested low but were brought up to capacity. One of the new YTs would not come up on the second charge at all, one cell was bad. Optima replaced the faulty YT. I have written John Olson, Senior Electrochemist at Optima, to find out the nature of the cell failure but have received no answer to date. This experience of a faulty new battery alone was worth the cost in time and money to have Electric Conversions do the upgrade.

Greg advised connecting two Optimas in parallel, then each pair in series rather than two series strings in parallel for 120 VDC. This way taking the strongest and the weakest battery paired, and then the next strongest-weakest pair, etc, the two strings should remain more balanced. Also, only 10 Rudman regs at $20 each instead of 20 would do the job. No. 2 cable connects the pairs and 2/0 in the series connections, then 3/0 from the H2 to the 4 motor connections, this is regen remember.
Most of the installation and recabling was done by Rick at Electric Conversions.

Samples were available to me of both the BattPro regulator designed by Mark Hansen and sold by Wilde Evolutions and the Rudman Regulator designed by Joe Smalley of Manzanita Micro is sold by Rick Rudman, E-Car and others. Since my batteries are placed in tight spacing, and with some on their sides, it was not practical to use the + battery post as the heat sink for the Reg as required by the BattPro. Also living in California with no freezing temperature my battery cases are open to the weather under the hood and in the rear trunk area where the gas tank used to be. Also I wanted to see all the LEDs at once. The blinking LED easier to see on the Rudman than the gradually increasing intensity glow of the BattPro.

At a electronic surplus store I found an IBM accessory box and mounted all the Rudman Regs in it. A fused lead from each battery junction connected through a multi-contact plug and socket connects to the regs. A pair of wires from each Reg then go to an external 5 ohm 25 watt resistor on a common heat sink. For final equalization battery charge every 2 weeks or so the cable connector can be disconnected to remove the regs from each battery and then fully equalized Optimas charged according to Optima recommendations for the final full charge of 2 A for 3 hours. I will not do this for more than 1/2 hours so as not to over gas any of the sealed batteries.

In operation the Rudman Regs operate only while the LED is flashing slowly at first, then bypassing that battery by sending the current through the other Regs through the on board power resistor and the heat sink and the external shunt to next batteries in the series string. Rich Rudman says 'You don't want the LEDs to almost lock full on...you are driving the Regs beyond their bypassing abilities. A good fast flash is ok, about once a second. While the Regs LED is off ALL the power is going through that one
battery, and no current is being bypassed. When the batteries voltage rises to the Regs trip point then the Reg flashes on to bypass another pulse. '

'The Charger should reduce it's charge current when the entire strings voltage is just at the combined Regs set points...it should trickle charge at this voltage, and not over amp the batteries and the Regs. If the Regs are no longer blinking...they are no longer regulating...they must blink or else you battery voltage will be above 15.5...or about 1 volt over their set point. With a loadless Regs and 5 ohms of bypass on a external heat
sink, the Regs are safe from overload...but they can't keep the battery voltage under control if you drive them to full on. To test this put a volt meter across a Reg protected battery and watch the voltage as the Regs start to work... Once you have them blinking...if the charge current is still to high for the Regs..the voltage will stay in the regulation voltage area for a while and then the blinking will increase in rate and duration, at a certain point the flashing will increase and the the voltage will then
start to rise again. At this point reduce your charge current, or double up your 5 Ohm external load banks. The stock Regs will stand about 10 amps of continuous current...or 120 watts of waste heat. This would take 4 or 5, 5 ohm 25 watt resistors. Better yet crank down your charger to stay below 2 amps of finished float charge current.'

The charger must be set to turn off just before all the LEDS are full on and no longer blinking. That is exactly the way my 220 Vac Zivan charger operates. l am beta-testing a RUSSCO separate on-board 110 Vac for charging on the road when 220 Vac is not available.

On the dash I have an Cruising Equipment E-Meter isolated from the lighting battery and car ground with a COSEL 250 ma, model zus3 12 12 DC-DC converter (size 1/4" 7/8" x 1 3/8") available from Wilde EVolutions for about $35. I use the Westberg analog ammeter to drive by to conserve my current draw. I usually leave the E-Meter on VDC when touring using the Ahr when charging. I can switch the E-Meter to 'Amps' when in regen as it reads instantaneous regen current. Also on the dash is a DPDT toggle switch for forward-reverse with a center off position.

Now for the summer driving with the top down. I am too tall to fit in the roadster with top up anyway. This keeps me off the wet and salty sea level roads as English sport cars are well known to rust out where the mud collects in the lower body. It has been exactly one year since the H2 without regen was installed as described in Part 1 of this series. It always takes longer than planned.

l am beta-testing a RUSSCO on-board 110/220 Vac charger with excellent power factor design. I will report on this development in the future. My previous RUSSCO controller had very a long life of over 11 years.



Nov '96 ZAPI H2 regen is fantastic

Since June 1996 I have been running my Italian ZAPI H2 400 amp 96 VDC controller in the standard traction mode in the '59 MGA Roadster. There are 16 - 12 volt Optima prototype deep-cycle batteries in two strings. The ZAPI 400 amp was much less expensive even with shipping from Italy added than other controllers for standard traction. The H2 is a well proven controller for pumps, lift trucks and EVs in Europe.
For regenerative braking there is the added cost for two contactors; a changeover contactor (single pole-double throw) and reversing contactor (doubled pole-double throw) at $190 and $329 respectively. I require regen braking to go down hills with up to 18% grades from 400 to 1000 feet above sea level. My MGA drum brakes overheat and become dangerous on hills. There is no problem going up hill.

When driving with regen the car is in free-wheeling as long as the throttle is just barely on as if in compression with an ICE engine with the throttle released. Then when the brake pedal is applied the stop light switch connected to a relay a further speed reduction occurs as a larger regen current goes into the battery pack. Down shifting also increases the regen.

For regen to work without damage to the motor it is necessary to move the brush ring to a neutral position midway between the clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation setting.

The initial installation took several days as the instruction manual is for the factory installers but after you have done it once it will be easier another time. Greg McCrea of Electric Conversions<greg_mccrea@macnexus.org>, 214 14th St, Sacramento CA 95814, plans to assemble ZAPIs in metal box with heat sinks and wiring complete so only the motor and battery cables need to be connected. A terminal block will be available for the microswitch and contactor solenoid lead connections making the installation much easier. Two different programming hand-held consoles are available at extra charge but Greg programmed mine before he shipped it to me so I did not have to buy one. One console model display can be dash mounted to give different read outs.

Compared to my four previous controllers over the past 24 years, the first thing I notice is that you can creep when starting. Although the 5k ohm linear pot is the same one used with other controllers, the H2 start program provides different speed curves so the forward start can be very slow, half the speed of walking, but moves up quickly to full current.

The electronic reverse is much easier to use than the manual transmission and it can work with any forward gear A dash mounted locking toggle switch with forward, neutral and reverse is very quick to use and the passenger cannot accidentally change it while the car is motion.

Also, it is important to have motor governor speed control. With the motor under no load even at 72 VDC and now at 96 VDC the motor runs too fast with the clutch disengaged. Certainly you want the motor under load to go much faster that an ICE as the electric has good torque at low speed but is much more efficient near its upper end. Why loose battery power to resistive heat through inefficiency?

To complete my 24 year old project I want a 7kW, 120/240 Vac onboard charger to use at home or on the road.

* Awarded best Classic Car at the Silicon Valley EAA '96 Rally at Stanford Univ.

West Coast Wing: May 28, 1999

Zivan Smoother Beta Test Results (Photos of installation available upon request.)

Greg McCrea, U.S. distributor for Italian-made Zapi controllers and Zivan chargers, at Electric Conversions in Sacramento CA, asked me to find two EVers with AGM batteries to beta test the Zivan Smoother Battery Management System. Wing bought one and Don McGrath the other. My test is on my 20 Optima YTs buddy pairs at 120 VDC and Don has tested with 22 Optima YTs on his 132 VDC system but not yet in his vehicle.

I am the only one at this time in the US equipped with the Smoother in an EV. I can tell you that I am very pleased with its performance. I have moved the Smoother display and control panel from the under hood box and mounted it in the speaker opening on the dashboard so I can watch the equalizing process directly

I like the price on the Smoother, about 1/3 of the Badcheq. I have seen the Badicheq but do not know enough of the details to compare it to the Smoother. The Smoother really works as promised and I am going to keep it.

An instruction sheet which originally came with the Smoother left much to be desired as it was incomplete and in fractured English. Greg was in Italy a few weeks ago and gave them a good English translation which is now available.

Meanwhile McCrea, McGrath and Wing have worked with the Smoother enough to answer most of our questions. I have SPDT toggle switch on the dash to change the Smoother operation to the 5 minute period on Drive and 30 minute on Charge. Normally this command is automatic by wiring the 12 VDC supply thru the ignition switch for Drive or for Charge through a two wire cable from a relay contact in the Zivan NG3 charger. Since I have two separate chargers, one 120 Vac and 240 V, I will have to a have a relay on the Russo also.

I have an analog ammeter on the dash which I usually drive by that indicated pulse charge by the NG3 near the end of the regular charge and during finish charge. Pulses are at about one second which explains why the E-Meter is reading charge current at 0, 2.5, 5.6 A and points in between depending on the instant of of the sampling.

Individual battery regulation occurs for each buddy pair separately, one at a time (or for each battery if in a full series string) This 5 A equalizing current, in my case, is added to the regular charging current and is switched between each pair depending on the battery voltage test at the start of each time period. The charge current is provided by the Smoother by a 120 VDC/12 VDC converter and switched to the individual batteries one at a time, depending on which ones are in the lower half of the voltage check.

The time period determines when the next regulating voltage will be measured. If all the batteries are with 0.5 volt the system decides not to operate and shows the Wait Phase LED.

The Italians designed the Smoother box with no visible means of attachment to the EV as if it was a VCR sitting at home. I did mount mine very neatly by installing thin metal mounting straps between the rubber feet and box to fasten to the top of the battery rack hold downs.

Specifications:
Minimum voltage input 80 V Nominal
Max voltage input 540 V (for 55 Ahr capacity AGMs)
Max number of 12 V batteries or buddy pairs - 32
Internal DC-DC converts 75 W at 5 A max
Red LED shows polarity reversal
Current sensor to 300 A
Baud rate RS-232 9600 Baud
Dimensions 11 13/16 x 10 5/8 x 4 inches.

It transmits V, A, and unit number, number of individual times charged during that drive or charge period, to my laptop via RS-232 making maintenance more simple by providing data which can be converted into graphs showing immediately imbalance of the batteries. It also displays the weakest batteries each time the unit is activated for those installations without data dumping capacity.

The Smoother sells for $950 for a 120 VDC battery pack, $10 extra for each 12 V battery relay circuit added.

The final configuration of the MGA is as follows:

Driving EV '59 MGA Roadster since 1972, now with Prestolite 4001
motor, Zapi H2 400 A controller in E-pump mode, no contactor
required, 20-12 VDC Optima deep-cycle batteries in buddy pairs at
120 VDC, E-Meter, beta-testing Zivan 'Smoother' battery equalizer
(First one in USA on the road), both Russco 120 Vac and Zivan NG3
240 Vac chargers on same 30 A 240 V circuit.
For EV News info: www.evnews.net

My electric '59 MGA Roadster was sold on Jan 30,1999 to Dean Grannes,

1081 Booner Ave, Fremont CA 94536. <dean.grannes@intel.com>. The MGA could not have a better home and I have visiting rights.

May 28,1999

Bob Wing, Media Correspondent, EV Consultant
Phone 415/669-7402
Fax 415/669-7407
bwing@svn.net

POB 277, Inverness CA 94937-0277

(Bob passed away in March of 2002. We'll miss him a lot at Electrifying Times... Do read PASSING OF A PIONEER by Don McGrath. R.I.P. Bob.)