It’s Alive!

I took the bug to Bugformance Sacramento and had them fix my noisy wheel, wonky CV joint boot, and modify my suspension so the ride height is back to normal. It runs great! The wheel noise was because the drum brake was not torqued properly. The CV shafts were OK but I knew the messed up boots would let all sorts of road grime in.

Here’s a video of the first half of my commute to work. I keep up with traffic pretty well. I am driving aggressively to keep up, though.

Installing the Electric Motor

I got a bit excited and installed the motor yesterday. I perhaps should have mounted the component panel first, but I wasn’t quite sure where to put it. Now that the motor’s in, I know where to put it but don’t have enough clearance to get it in.

Rebirth Auto Kit Arrives

My kit from arrived today! Way to send 2009 out with a bang.

Patching the floor and installing a tow-bar

Today I finished cutting out the old battery tray and grinding it smooth. Then I took my replacement tray and started hammering it in to match the shape of the pan. Once it was as good as I could make it, I whipped out the arc welder!

I am a complete novice at arc welding. I bought a stick welder for $90 at Harbor Freight before Christmas and I have done only a few test welds with scraps of metal. Today I took the remnants of the old battery tray, cut it in half, grinded the pieces smooth, and welded them together. That turned out pretty well so I started in the car.

My practice run was not a valid indication of my proficiency. I botched the weld in the car. I did manage to tack it into place, though, so I proceeded with applying sealant around the tray. I’m sure I managed to botch that, too, but it’s air-tight and it’s not going anywhere. I lost my motivation part way through because it became evident that my entire pan has got rust problems and I will have to replace the entire thing eventually.

The tow-bar went pretty quickly as soon as I had all the parts I needed. The bolts required were no longer on the car, so I just had to track down some nuts, bolts, and washers to get it onto the car securely. Now it’s ready to be towed and to have the engine pulled! That should be tomorrow, after the EV parts arrive.

Body work and battery racks

Today, I began repairs on the floor-pan. The area by the 12V battery is a very common area for rust in Beetles and mine was pretty bad. There were small holes all over the area. I have some replacement sheet metal that I can drop in.

The first step in the repair is to clear the area. This involved removing the seats and kick panels, and also a heating duct on the side with rust damage. I won’t be using the heating ducts, so I was a little more reckless than I should have been.

It’s pretty cold outside, so I didn’t want to work in the garage all day. I brought some cardboard into the house and made some scale battery mock-ups. I will have 10 batteries in the car, but I can get away with only 5 battery mock-ups.

The mock-ups fit so well, I’m worried about them being off by just a few fractions of an inch. If those batteries are any bigger than expected, I certainly won’t be fitting 5 in this spot as planned.

The other five batteries are more tricky. Many people put three or four up front where the gas tank used to live. I will keep playing with the mock-ups to find the best way to store the batteries. The biggest consideration other than just making them fit is how their weight will affect the suspension and handling.