Hello again everyone!
Happy Christmas and New Year for all your wonderful EV peeps. Thought I'd better check in with updates seeing as it's been a while (over 3 years!) as I'm *sure* you've all been just hanging out for updates..
Yes, the J2ev is happily still on the road as my daily driver, and is still bringing smiles to kids and adults alike.
A few points of note:
- I have a Nanfeng dual contactor for fwd/reverse which is installed into the front control box above the motor. (in the old ICE motor space between driver and passenger) . Anyway one day late last year after an few days parked in the garage, I started up and had a bit of difficulty getting the van to switch into reverse. A couple of flicks on/off of the cabin switch finally engaged it but I did smell something burnt. Hmm.
Opening the lid I discovered a fairly extensive spider web all around the contactor but no sign of the spider. I isolated the front from the battery pack and cleared away all the web with some burnt "material" from in and around the contactor itself. It seems that the poor spider had met its maker between the faces of my reversing contactor, an ugly and hot death at high voltage!
I'm so sorry, little guy but next time please do read the High Voltage warning stickers before you build your web..
- In August this year in the rush out the door for weekend Sports Taxi duty, I had a brain fart on how much charge the van had left and had left the carpark thinking it was full. On the way home after the morning rush, I was cruising along the M5 at my usual 80kph when the BMS started beeping at me. Normally I have my battery gauge set to view the pack's amps so after flicking it over to voltage, I saw that the pack voltage had dropped to below 110V (normally sits above 130v) and the van was noticeably slowing.
Uh oh as it dawned on me that my state of charge was not as I thought.
Anyone in Sydney who knows the M5 knows that it really isn't a very friendly nor safe place to try and stop. In the time it took for me to find somewhere to pull over safely, the pack voltage had dropped to under 100v and a noticeable chemical smell had started permeat the cabin.
I called for a tow and once the NRMA safely flat-trayed me, the kids and the van back home, I took a deeper dive into what damage was done with some serious fears that I'd totally killed it.
Most of the cells seemed OK however I found 2 of them had completely failed (on zero volts and in a shortcircuit state).
After pulling them out of series, the pack registered what would be acceptable for a low voltage range so I gave it a good long charge to see if any other issues arose. Since the pack was now 43 cells instead of 45, I feared I may overvolt the remaining cells but after some discussion with Geoff O'Toole (thanks Geoff!) I was reassured the CMS circuitry allowed charge to bypass per cell once each reached capacity. The charger eventually brought them all back up albeit a bit of beeping/switching jiggery so all was well.
The traction pack is now 43 cells so is still holding up well enough for daily use, even though they're all about 7 years old.
Nowadays I am a lot more careful with state of charge for longer journeys and never take pack below 40%DOD.
I can still get the amps I need for hill starts and can keep up with traffic so I hope to put off buying a new pack for a bit longer still.
I have however started "research stage" for my next pack, and if there are any suggestions for 145v, 25kwh packs, fire away!
- Rust. In Sydney, the eastern suburbs are really not a great place to own an older vehicle, especially those made with 1966 mild steel panels. The humidity levels and salt spray make chasing rust an ongoing challenge, so I regularly get out my aircompressor and shutz gun to liberally coat the underside, inside the double skin and around the cabin with Lanox MX4 lanolin. (seriously great stuff, no smell and 100% non-toxic)
This routine has put a dead halt to any new rust breakouts however over time I've noticed the previous owner's panel work had started to bubble up in spots especially around the rear skirt closest to the road.
In an attempt to counter this, I recently took some time to strip off all the old bog and paint right back to baremetal to see what where the bubbles were coming from. There are quite a few old holes that had started bleeding rust and it became clear that the previous owner had just bogged over all the old rusty spots without treating the rust beforehand.
After clearing out the bog and filler, a liberal dose of rustkiller and a good clean, there are now a few larger holes, many tiny pin holes and a few old dents which are now rust free.
I bought myself a tiny TIG welder and am (slowly) teaching myself to buttweld thin practise panels. As a first timer, I'm making plenty of mistakes on test pieces but I hope to learn enough to stitch up/ butt-weld patches over the damage. I have to say that after so long doing not much, it's quite cathartic to have some work to do on the van again.
In the meantime, I've coated the exposed metal with grease which is holding back further rust beautifully, though it makes the van look a bit too rat-rod for my liking. So be it.
- Other costs - pretty much zero except rego and insurance. Tyres and brake pads still fine, I replace my own brake fluid every 12 months, and my last 3 pink slips were the standard $35 and no other. Oh.. I blew a 50year old fuse for the horn, so that cost $2.50.
Pretty good for a 52 year old van used daily, I'd say.
- Wish list 1 - The ride quality is pretty agricultural, the front drum brakes squeak a lot on humid days and the steering box has always been pretty loose. To solve all these in one swoop, I'd love to swap out the front end for a Mitsubishi LM300 van front axle with disks, proper springs instead of leaves, and a decent steering rack. In quiet evenings I find myself fiddling around in my favourite CAD package to see how this can happen. Stay posted.
- Wish list 2 - when I eventually buy a new battery pack, I'll likely upgrade my controller to the 1000amp version. Of course this will mean new traction cabling at 95mm2, new contactors, new fuses and a battery pack that can handle occassional peaks that high but the extra grunt I'll get will keep me from feeling like the slow old guy when driving in increasing-impatient Sydney traffic.
- Wish list 3 - Airconditioning - there are days when I feel like I'm sitting in a river of sweat.
All in all, I'm still loving it. Most roads around where I live are smooth so it remains mostly an enjoyable driving experience. It's so cheap to run and maintain, it runs quiet and cool, and I still get a great response from all kinds everywhere I go.