The weather is warming up and I feel as if I’m slowly coming out of a slumber. It’s always felt a bit too cold to work on the car over the winter. Most of the changes on this blog over the winter have simply been adding books, magazines, and news articles to the research menus.
Now that we are in daylight savings time, it feels like its still light out by time I’m done with work, and it’s been getting warm enough to work in the garage. I’ve even started working outside on the car.
Last week I finished working on getting the break lights working with a backup break sensor that is based on the break pedal moving rather than pressure of the break fluid. I believe the 45 year old diaphragm in the existing sensor may not have the flex needed to move when the breaks are pressed. In addition, I believe replacing the lead acid batteries with Lithium has shaved a few hundred pounds from the car – requiring less pressure on the breaks.
Now that the break lights are fixed, I’ve started driving the car around town. We’ve had great weather for it.
I’ve been composing a large list of things that I need to work on, so there is plenty to do this Spring/Summer.
A few things are moving forward with the car. I’ve been taking little trips to parks around town fairly often.
Traffic Light Sensor
On my way to Chimney Field park, I was stranded at the light. The light cycled through its traffic pattern eleven times before it turned green for me during fairly busy traffic. I’m under the impression that the CitiCars aluminum frame isn’t able to trip traffic light induction sensors in the pavement. Someone mentioned in the C-Car forums that motorcyclists with this problem will get strong earth magnets to attach to the bottom of the frame.
I took a look at what I had to work with to find an appropriate spot to place the pot box. I prefer to keep the existing throttle switch so that I can swap between and original 3 speed and new gradual controlled driving styles.
Looking around, I found it difficult to find a spot to bolt the pot box. The floor is made of plastic, and even if I removed the original speed switch, I’m uncertain where I could bolt the pot box. I have an idea of using a bicycle cable for brakes/gear shifting so that I can put the pot box anywhere, but the cable itself still needs a place to secure it.
I unbolted the charge controller, disconnected all the wires, and removed it from the car. The thing is heavy, weighing in at 26.8 pounds. Inside is a giant winding of copper and a little circuit board with an interlock switch to prevent the motor from operating when charging.
On the back, I saw the previous owners name, company, address and a note:
Please Fix Low Voltage about 36v Book says should be 57½v
It’s comforting to know it wasn’t just me having a hard time getting the charger to work properly.
I had a bit of trouble determining how to wire the car back up to operate without it. Once I figured out what wires connect where, I crimped some spade terminals that fit very loosely into two of the original female connectors.
One unintentional side effect is that my cabin light now works. Apparently it wasn’t hooked up to the charge controller properly. The connector looks a bit… melted or deteriorated.
My primary usage of the car it to take Teddy for walks at various parks and events around town. My ultimate goal was to make it to Eastham Park because it has a Dog Park. The Royal Shenandoah Greenway runs through the park along the South Fork Shenandoah River. Not only is it far compared to my limited range, but there is a long and large hill to go back up a half mile on the way home.
Either due to my weight loss, driving style, 24/7 battery floating charge, “breaking in” the batteries, or a combination there of, the cars range appears to be improving. I decided that since I had free time this weekend, I’d give it a go and push the car to its limit.
It’s been a misty day with light rain at times. My shoes got fairly wet. There weren’t many people out, so Teddy had the whole dog park to himself. We also walked up to the end of the path at the high school before heading back. I let Teddy walk around in the South Fork Shenandoah river as well. On the way back, I could see people walking around and peering inside the CitiCar.
Loss of Power
The last part of the trip home today was an adventure in itself. As I made a hard left at a traffic light, the two loose spade terminals disconnected. The main contactor switch disengaged, and I lost power to the motor and lights – including the hazard lights. Fortunately I was in the slow lane, rarely used, highly visible, and pulled as close to the rail as I could before the car stopped.
I leaned over, connected the spade terminals, and was back on my way. I rewired a more secure connection after I arrived home. Eventually I need to rewire the whole car.
Although I’m going to upgrade the car to have a DC-2-DC system on board for my 12 volt power supply, I’m also considering using the small 12v battery I have now as a fail-safe backup for the hazard lights, signals lights, and flash relay. I feel that out of everything else on the car, I absolutely need the lights to signal that I’m having a problem if power is lost.
I made it home without any other issues. This felt like one of the longest trips I’ve been on. The GPS speedometer is accurate compared to my prior one, so the trips appear shorter compared to prior trips. My old speedometer often registered 4 miles faster than my actual speed.
My trips to the town square are 0.8 miles less with the new speedometer (8.7 miles is now 6.9 miles). In all, my trip via GPS was only 8.6 miles, but I suspect the original speedometer would have registered just under 10 miles for the maximum distance on one charge. I arrived home with 48.3 volts at 54% charge.
The under dash courtesy light in the CitiCar is not turning on when the switch is changed from one position to the next.
The cover was a bit difficult to remove. I slid it back and forth and tried squeezing the dome. Eventually I was able to remove it by putting pressure on the bottom side, pulling it up towards me, and lifting out.
Looking at the side of the plastic cover, it appeared that one of the tabs had a larger notch than the other.
The bulb was fairly easy to remove. Push it into the socket, turn counter-clockwise, and pull out.
The incandescent bulb had W1003 clearly printed on its base. Being so clear, I suspect it’s not the original bulb.
I’ve been having some trouble finding this part other than vintage old “new” stock. I saw some LED bulbs that mentioned 1003 as well as a few other replacements.
Replacement bulbs for W1003
Just to be certain, I tested the bulb itself to verify if it had burnt out. I placed it on the contacts of a six volt lantern battery. It lit up just fine.
The heat that it produced from such a low voltage is encouraging me to find a different solution that does not transform as much energy into heat.
I thought maybe it was on the circuit for accessories, and therefore wasn’t getting any power.
I flipped the ACC switch on the CitiCars’ dashboard, but the light was still unable to turn on.
I started following wires. It was a mess, but I found that the accessory switch had a wire that wasn’t connected to anything.
I plugged two wires into each other, but there still wasn’t any power.
If it runs off of the main battery – this could be a problem.
One of the cars batteries to the motor is currently disconnected. I have a nut that refuses to go back onto one of the terminals and seems to be biting into the threads. Other battery nuts look different, and go on the terminal just fine.
I didn’t know the size, so I purchased a few battery terminals that I thought I would need once I started installing a few lithium batteries in parallel. Everything was too small.
I also found an old bolt in the garage – and it was too big.
I didn’t want to keep buying battery terminals blindly. I started looking up nuts for the batteries group size.
Sure enough, there was a specific type of nut for it. It seemed limited in where you could find them, and a bit pricey.
At this point, I’m testing various connections for continuity. I received a notice that the battery terminal was shipped out this afternoon.