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RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 04:13
by rmlane
Hello fellow car nerds,

We have one of the original electric cars, from before the War... WW-1, that is: A 1912 Baker Electric.

Original Specifications:
  • Westinghouse 5.9 HP, 48-volt Series-wound DC motor
  • 56-volt nominal, 40-cell Edison battery (nickel-iron)
  • ~250 mile range on original battery pack
  • ~25 mph top speed
  • Resistive-mechanical-quadrant speed control. 5 forwards speeds, 2 reverse
  • 2-wheel brakes
  • Shaft drive
  • Tiller steering
40-50 km/hr top speed is quite fast enough, the car is taller than it is long, and has left-hand-drive-rear-seat-tiller-steering, which is... exciting.

It's the same model Jay Leno has - Google "Jay Leno Baker Electric" for some photos and videos. His one is shinier than ours, has a better interior and has nicer headlights. Otherwise very, very similar.

Our car currently has ten 12-volt flooded lead acid batteries configured as two 60-volt strings, which are, not to put too fine a point on it, rooted. I've been thinking about replacing them for a couple of years, they've finally completely died so I can't put it off any further.

The plan is to replace the lead-acid batteries with LFP cells, probably 60-volt nominal (20 cells).

Peak current requirement is only about 100 amps, sustained is more like 30-ish. In theory you could pull about 90 amps sustained, but in practice I've never seen it while we've been pottering around.

The car has front and rear battery bays, I'd like to use the front one as a "Frunk" like a Tesla and put the shopping / picnic in it. Batteries, charger, etc go in the rear compartment. Rear bay is about 600mm square, almost 400mm high.

Cell size looks like prismatic cells from 40 AH and up will have more than sufficient current capacity, but the 60 or 90 AH cells might be a nicer fit in the bay (should go ten deep - I'll check the measurements).

I'd be happy with an 8-10 amp charger, I don't care if it takes all night to charge, it isn't an everyday vehicle. 600 watt chargers also seem to be dirt cheap (under $200) and high-power 60-volt chargers seem to be hard to find anyway.

The hard part seems to be a motor controller. I'd like to bypass the resistive speed controller it currently has. For starters, the control handle seems to be sitting at pack voltage if the tingling I get is an accurate sign. Second problem is that the lowest speed is unreliable verging on kaput. Third is that it has 4 fixed "speeds", rather than smooth progression. Fourth and maybe worst: Unless you're driving flat out it's dumping amp-hours into a resistor!

All that said: It's a series-wound motor. So I need 100+ amps at 60 volts, DC PWM, with reversing of one field (either the armature or the field coils, not both). That's currently done mechanically by the speed controller. Open to suggestions for a speed controller - it seems to fall between "e-bike" and "e-car" in power terms - 6kw seems to be an odd size, but I'd prefer not to pay the extra $ and space for 20kw+++ controller.

I've heard that some PWM DC controllers can also supply 12v. I need a few amps to run the lights, nothing significant: It just has blinkers and a couple of stop lights that will be converted to LED. Head lights sort-of exist, but will probably have LED spots put in them in order to actually produce some light. The bell (think "tram bell") runs @ pack voltage, so it really is just the lights. The blinkers aren't original, and I'll likely convert the single tail light into a pair of brake/tail lamps.

Instruments is a dual reading volt/amp gauge: -50 to 150 amps, 0-100 volts. I'd like to add an inconspicuous power meter.

Last point: I don't need to comply with NCOP 14, the car isn't a conversion. In fact, I don't have to comply with any ADRs at all, because the car pre-dates them. However, I would like to avoid electrocuting myself. Current packs just have manual switching, but I could be convinced to add a contactor if it was cheap. There's no point worrying about restraining the battery pack in a collision, the car is mostly made of wood and huge amounts of non-safety plate glass, with no seat-belts. If you have an accident, the battery coming loose would be least of your problems.

Advice wanted on:
  • Battery size
  • Motor controller
  • BMS
  • Power meter[/i]

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 04:57
by Bluefang
Would love to know where abouts you are, sounds like a really cool vehicle just to have a look at :)

Love to comment on some batteries and chargers but most of the stuff i would suggest would be alot more powerful then needed or abit more dangerous. And i know nothing about controlling a DC PWM motor properly so i wont comment other then to say "Have fun and enjoy the car". Power meter i would use a Cycle analyst V2, its small enough to hide somewhere and will give all the readouts you would want including charging power etc depending on how its wired.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 04:58
by acmotor
Awe geez RM, green with envy here at you dilema ! what a great project.

I doubt the Baker ever went 250 mile on a charge, but it was so long ago, who's counting.

It must be a challenge in planning to stay ultra original or make selective technology upgrades. Purists may scoff at you but I'm with you on the battery, controller and lighting upgrades you plan. Leave the original control gear there and hide the new bits. Overall the statement can be 'look, original, with current best practice upgrades'

I'd expect the motor could pull more than 100A from zero RPM with good batteries and less resistive wiring, so don't undersize the controller. I'd go for at least a 450A unit in 72V. like this

You will be dropping the vehicle weight noticeably so ride will be rougher. Consider more LFP or some ballast.
Fit as much battery capacity as you can.

By power meter do you mean battery energy meter / fuel gauge like ?

Check the EVpower and EVworks web sites for parts.

edit: an EV that old is allowed to be proudly DC Image

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 05:10
by woody
Hello!

Is this the Baker which went to the Canberra EV festival?

You haven't specified the range you want - so if you just want it to "go" or if you want 250 mile range - there's a big difference.

If you're cruising at 30 amps / 30kph / 60V = 1.8kW = 60Wh/km which sounds very efficient - but low speed would help with that.

Headways are a better option if you're looking for a small pack - they put out higher currents for their size (higher C rating because of lower internal resistance) - drawing 100Amps from 40Ah Thundersky/Sky Energy is flogging them a bit.

100amps from 60 or 90 Ah Thundersky would be fine.

Lithiums can be paralleled - e.g. Mark T's OHM-80Y Suzuki van has 450 headways packed in 10 cells parallel / 45 series (45S10P). Each set of parallel cells is treated as one cell for wiring / BMS etc.

Rough pack size / range calculations based on your comments above would be 1 Ah / km. I.E. 90Ah pack = 90km range.

Battery management system is important to prolong the life of batteries and manage charging.
Lead acids are quite forgiving - lithium are not.
Batrium is quite popular here in Sydney - a good system with lots of miles under their belts, good integration with Elcon / TC charger and good monitoring.

Good news is you only have to manage 20 cells - a lot cheaper than 50 or 100 cells.

DC controller - you probably want a programmable one so you limit the power going through the motor - soliton junior or Kelly could fit the bill.

I hadn't heard of a controller outputting 12V - typically a separate DC-DC converter is used with a 12V (or 4 lithium cells) battery to allow lights to keep running if the DC-DC or main pack dies.

Reversing is usually done by a "reversing contactor" which switches either the field or armature.

I guess you could use some of the existing switches/controls instead of contactors for reversing, just bypass the resistors and use an accelerator pedal / lever / theremin as an extra control.

I know I haven't answered everything.



RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 06:03
by acmotor
The 600x600x400 should fit 20 x TS/Winston 160Ah cells.
That would be 20 x 3.2 x 160 = 10.24 kWh so maybe 100km range. I wouldn't expect the efficiency of the vehicle to be quite the 60Wh/km, sorry woody.

Don't go for too light weight as the ride will suffer.

Don't parallel lithium cells without fusing between them. Has been done doesn't mean smart to do. Tesla have that type of pack design under control.
Go for the larger format cells. Less risk, less wiring.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 15:21
by rmlane
Answers to various questions:
acmotor wrote: I doubt the Baker ever went 250 mile on a charge, but it was so long ago, who's counting.
The range is pretty well documented, but I was wrong, it was 244½, not 250.
Baker Electric did a documented range test in August 1910. On a lead-acid pack they managed 201½ miles, on the nickel-iron it ran 244½ miles. Remember that the car is low speed and rather light, leading to very high watt/mile efficiencies. Wheels are also huge and very high pressure (clincher rims) leading to low rolling resistances. Those distances were also "range tests", so the driver would have been driving carefully on flat roads. That said, they would have been going close to full speed to avoid wasting current through the rheostat.
acmotor wrote: It must be a challenge in planning to stay ultra original or make selective technology upgrades. Purists may scoff at you but I'm with you on the battery, controller and lighting upgrades you plan. Leave the original control gear there and hide the new bits. Overall the statement can be 'look, original, with current best practice upgrades'.
If the car had the original Edison batteries, I'd refurbish those and use them, but they're gone and not replaceable. Lead-acid cells aren't correct, so I don't mind replacing them with LFP.

I'm heavily involved with the vintage car movement, lighting upgrades are considered a completely defensible safety feature, especially fitting blinkers and stop lights to cars that don't have them at all. I will try and find correct headlights, but I'l upgrade the bulbs.
acmotor wrote:I'd expect the motor could pull more than 100A from zero RPM with good batteries and less resistive wiring, so don't undersize the controller.
Noted. The motor is rated for about 90 amps (5.9HP @ 1750 RPM @ 48 volts), so while it may be capable of pulling more current from a modern pack I'd be inclined to try and keep it to about 100 amps peak regardless. If I burn out the motor spares are, shall we say, something of a challenge.
acmotor wrote:You will be dropping the vehicle weight noticeably so ride will be rougher. Consider more LFP or some ballast.
This made me laugh. The car is on beam axles, half-elliptic leaf springs front and rear and has no dampers, ride quality is poor to start with. Leaf springs are also not very load sensitive, so I doubt I'll need to add ballast.

I will drop tyre pressures, especially at the front. I'm expecting that to do the trick.
acmotor wrote:By power meter do you mean battery energy meter / fuel gauge like ?
Yes - the Cycle Analyst looks like a good solution.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 16:04
by rmlane
acmotor wrote: The 600x600x400 should fit 20 x TS/Winston 160Ah cells.
That would be 20 x 3.2 x 160 = 10.24 kWh so maybe 100km range. I wouldn't expect the efficiency of the vehicle to be quite the 60Wh/km, sorry woody.


Original cells were 150 AH @ 56 Volts, measured at the 5 hour rate (30 amps).

With that pack the car is documented as doing 390 km (244½ miles).

If I'm doing the maths right, that's 28 watt hours / km (I assumed they actually got 200 AH out of the batteries and a relatively low rate).

The implication seems to be that 28 Whr/km is amazingly efficient. I can only assume that the very low speed, relatively light weight and low rolling resistance must be the reasons.


RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 16:55
by rmlane
woody wrote:Is this the Baker which went to the Canberra EV festival?

You haven't specified the range you want - so if you just want it to "go" or if you want 250 mile range - there's a big difference.

If you're cruising at 30 amps / 30kph / 60V = 1.8kW = 60Wh/km which sounds very efficient - but low speed would help with that.

Headways are a better option if you're looking for a small pack - they put out higher currents for their size (higher C rating because of lower internal resistance) - drawing 100Amps from 40Ah Thundersky/Sky Energy is flogging them a bit.

100amps from 60 or 90 Ah Thundersky would be fine.

Rough pack size / range calculations based on your comments above would be 1 Ah / km. I.E. 90Ah pack = 90km range.

Battery management system is important to prolong the life of batteries and manage charging.
Lead acids are quite forgiving - lithium are not.
Batrium is quite popular here in Sydney - a good system with lots of miles under their belts, good integration with Elcon / TC charger and good monitoring.

Good news is you only have to manage 20 cells - a lot cheaper than 50 or 100 cells.

DC controller - you probably want a programmable one so you limit the power going through the motor - soliton junior or Kelly could fit the bill.

I hadn't heard of a controller outputting 12V - typically a separate DC-DC converter is used with a 12V (or 4 lithium cells) battery to allow lights to keep running if the DC-DC or main pack dies.

Reversing is usually done by a "reversing contactor" which switches either the field or armature.

I guess you could use some of the existing switches/controls instead of contactors for reversing, just bypass the resistors and use an accelerator pedal / lever / theremin as an extra control.
No, it didn't go to Canberra.

I want it to be able to drive, and I'd be satisfied with 100-200 km range. That said, I think people might be over-estimating the power required to do that. I'll take a punt that 90-100 AH will be sufficient.

The original Edison cells were almost certainly the 150 AH size (measured at 5-hr rate of 30 Amps). My "30 amp cruise" experience is on hilly dirt roads that are mostly sand, I find it very plausible that the car would do ~40 kmh at 20 amps or under on smooth flat roads. I think that's about 30 Wh/km? Even assuming they got 200 AH out of the original pack to do their 244 miles, that's... err... 200 AH @ 56 volts / 400 km... I think that's 28 watt hours / km?

So 90 AH sounds fine. It won't have the same range it originally did with 150 AH, but it might be close due to reduced weight and a better controller. If I'm wrong and 1AH = 1km (or worse) than I'll cope, but I'll consider adding more batteries to the front battery bay.

I considered 38150/Headway cells, my worry with them is the scale of the BMS required (or the corner cutting) and the "twice as expensive".

I'll look at Batrium as a BMS and the related chargers, thanks for the tip.

The Soliton Jr is ~$2.5k and has thirty times the power capacity I need (200 HP vs 6). Kelly have a 72 Volt 200A peak / 120A sustained controller designed for scooters and go karts (KDS7200E) which looks more than adequate. It also has the advantage of being ~$150, which is cheap enough to gamble with. Kelly also had some wiring diagrams for that controller + reversing contactor for series wound DC motor, they even sell a pre-wired baseplate with main & reversing contactors, fuses, etc for another ~$150.

Working out how to use the existing speed control lever as an input for the new motor controller will be a fun challenge. It is actually a resistance pot + switch-gear, maybe I could run 12 volts though it and directly use it as the controller inputs. The resistance values in the existing rheostat will be badly wrong, but that's a fixable problem. <Cue thinking music>

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 17:21
by rmlane
Just how ridiculous is 30-60 Watt hours per km? Doing some quick guesstimates / research.

The Tesla Model S is.. 85kw/hr, 500km range... 170 Whr/km, but that's at highway speeds in a luxury sedan.

OK, Tesla has Cd of 0.24, Baker would be more like... 0.6 - 0.8. Let's assume triple, 0.74, with similar frontal area (Baker is tall and narrow, Tesla is wide and low).

Air resistance varies withe the cube of speed, assume Tesla's range is @50 MPH, so going from 80 kmh to 40 kmh reduces drag by a factor of 8.

170 x 3 ÷ 8 = 63 Watt hours per km.

Speed matters a LOT.

That ignores the skinny high pressure tyres on the Baker vs the fat performance tyres on the Tesla and the fact the Baker is much lighter (less than half?).

Starting with a 6HP motor and running it a high load/high efficiency vs 416 HP motor at tiny load probably helps as well.

I did some Google-Fu on the MIEV, people have managed 220km on 16Kw/Hr = 72 Watt hours/km, stated range is 160 km = 100 Whr/km.

30-60 Watt hours per km seems plausible for the Baker given the 40 Km/hr top speed.

I'll get the Cycle Analyst and run some numbers once it's running again.

But I'll probably end up with 90 AH @ 60 Volts = 5.4 Kw/hr. If it manages the same efficiency as the MIEV, then I can expect 55-75 km, which is sufficient. if it manages the ridiculous numbers they hit with the "244-mile record" than it will do almost 200 km, which is way more than enough.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 18:10
by acmotor
Oh well, if you only fit 90Ah then you can always add another bank. Image

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 18:34
by Jeff Owen
Why not just replace the existing battery with more flooded lead acid ones. For example, 10 x 6V golf cart batteries.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 19:30
by rmlane
acmotor wrote: Oh well, if you only fit 90Ah then you can always add another bank. Image
90 AH cells also only half-fill the rear bay, giving me room for the charger, controller, contactors a small tool kit and a long extension cord.

Rear bay is 660mm wide, 560mm deep and 350-380mm tall. 20 cells, 90AH, 2x10 arrangement, widthways, back of bay.

Leaves about 270mm deep, 660mm wide for electronics.

Front bay of 600x700x400 for the picnic basket. Or 20 big cells, 160AH fit easily, might be able to fit in higher capacity ones if they're the right dimensions (tall!)




RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 20:53
by Richo
rmlane wrote: The motor is rated for about 90 amps (5.9HP @ 1750 RPM @ 48 volts), so while it may be capable of pulling more current from a modern pack I'd be inclined to try and keep it to about 100 amps peak regardless. If I burn out the motor spares are, shall we say, something of a challenge.


Just thinking about this 5.9HP->4.4kW continuous @ 1750RPM @ 48V
Most motors can achieve a peak triple this or 13kW @ 1750RPM.
Or 26kW peak at 3500RPM @ 96V.

But like you said spares will be an issue so better not risk it.

Since you looking at ~90Ah cells I would stay away from Headway.
Esp since you wont need the peak power.

You would only change from a prismatic to cylindrical if they don't have the peak power or have mechanical constraints.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 21:22
by rmlane
Jeff Owen wrote: Why not just replace the existing battery with more flooded lead acid ones. For example, 10 x 6V golf cart batteries.
Short version: LFP is smaller, lighter, more interesting and cheaper over the full lifecycle. They also require no maintenance. "Maintenance free" and "more interesting" perhaps carry more weight than they should. I rather like the idea of having a 100 year old EV with modern batteries in it.

Long version:

I need a replacement charger, part of the reason the current lead-acid cells are dead is the existing dumb charger. It's just a massive transformer/rectifier set to a specific voltage with the knob broken off. Cooks the batteries.

60-volt charger is the same price for lead-acid vs LFP. Same thing, same computer, different charge curve. That said, it seems to be quite hard to find a 60-volt lead-acid charger, I haven't been able to find one over 48 volts, so it's somewhat moot.

Ditto motor controller. I either use the existing one (free, inefficient, exciting) or buy a new one, same price regardless.

So the only cost variation is the cells. LFP cells are smaller, lighter, last much longer and cost more to buy but less over their lifespan.

A lead-acid set will be ~$1,500 to $3,000, depending on capacity.
  • 12v x 5 @ 120AH = $1,500
  • 6v x 10 @ 185AH = $2,000
  • 12v x 10 2x120 = 240AH = $3,000
LFP set is:
  • $2,500 @ 90AH
  • $2,700 @ 100A
  • $4,300 @ 160AH
  • $5,200 @ 200AH
LFP is much smaller, much lighter and lasts much longer. I also don't need the same range as the original car - I'm aiming to keep an entire battery bay empty if possible.

Comparing the 120AH lead set to the 100AH LFP set: LFP costs $2,700 instead of $1,500. Weighs 66 kg instead of 185 kg. Takes up 50% less floor-space in the battery bay. Lifespan is 3000 cycles to 80% DOD, 5000 to 70% DOD for LFP, vs lead-acid dropping to under 1000-cycles at 50% DOD. 700-ish cycles at 70% DOD vs the 5k for LFP.

Cost per cycle
  • LFP to 70% DOD = $0.54
  • Lead-acid to 50% DOD = $1.50
Getting 1k cycles out of lead also requires flooded deep-cycle, which require maintenance, LFP doesn't. Not having to fiddle with distilled water is worth something to me.

I'd also be happy with nickel-iron battery bank if I could find a set in Australia, but Ni-Fe makes LFP look cheap. A 40-cell, 100 AH battery is USD$3,880, which is AUD$4,750 + freight (another grand?). Weight is 260kg and it takes up even more space than the lead-acid. Even harder to find a charger - 40-cell (48/56 volt) pack needs 74 volts to charge and has an odd charge curve (then again, indestructible, so kind of doesn't matter).

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 21:47
by rmlane
Richo wrote:Just thinking about this 5.9HP->4.4kW continuous @ 1750RPM @ 48V
Most motors can achieve a peak triple this or 13kW @ 1750RPM.
Or 26kW peak at 3500RPM @ 96V.
I think the 5.9HP quote is running the 48V motor at 56V, so given they bumped the voltage by a sixth, peak RPM is probably ~2,000, so we're 5.9HP @ 2000 RPM / 56 volts. Voltage boost also would have increased top speed by ~5 MPH.

Rated HP at 48 volts is therefore 5HP (nice round number), which is 3.7 Kw.

The period brochures claim "300% overcapacity", which suggests it can do 15 HP for brief periods, which implies 200 Amp peak current @ 56 volts.

That said, ammeter only reads to 150A and I doubt the pack could have supplied 200A?

Kelly controller with 72V, 200A peak, 120A sustained seems sufficient to me. If I can program it, I'd limit peak current to ~120A (9HP).

Also, here's a picture from the 1909 brochure. Driver sits on the back seat, there's a front seat that faces backwards.

Image

There are some slight differences between the 1909 and the 1912 - I found a picture online that appears to be the exact same car as ours:

Image

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 22:51
by CometBoy
Some might argue you are about to destroy a piece of history?

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 22:52
by evric
rmlane wrote:
Jeff Owen wrote: Why not just replace the existing battery with more flooded lead acid ones. For example, 10 x 6V golf cart batteries.
Short version: LFP is smaller, lighter, more interesting and cheaper over the full lifecycle. They also require no maintenance. "Maintenance free" and "more interesting" perhaps carry more weight than they should. I rather like the idea of having a 100 year old EV with modern batteries in it.


You would find that the 90Ah LFPs outperform 120Ah lead acid anyway.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 23:08
by rmlane
CometBoy wrote: Some might argue you are about to destroy a piece of history?


Could you explain how?

The original batteries went missing several decades ago. If it had the original Edison Cells, I'd refurbish and use them. The charger in the car dates from the 1960s, the lead-acid cells are modern (over 10 years old, but that's modern compared to the car).

Given that the original batteries and charger are already gone and accurate reproductions are not available, what difference does it make which incorrect battery and charger I use? The new nickel-iron batteries look completely wrong so they're not really a "reproduction", they're just a modern battery that happens to use the same chemistry as the originals.

All updates and changes will be fully reversible, the only change what will touch original vehicle fabric is the proposed speed controller, which is just adding some new some wires and leaving the original stuff intact.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 23:19
by evric
When the car is on display, all the modern equipment can be hidden and you could easily incorporate the "Resistive-mechanical-quadrant speed control. 5 forwards speeds, 2 reverse" lever? with a few secret connections/mods to the original switched resistor bank. This way the speed control will be just as jerky as the original. A great project!

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2014, 23:40
by CometBoy
Pretty well anyone can put state of the art components in it but it takes a lot of research and skill to faithfully refabricate and/or restore period components. Would not be easy agree but well worth the time investment in my view if you have the skills base.
See
http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/sh ... 37706.html

Worth a lot if done correctly as well… being such a rare piece of machinery.

To each their own.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 01:54
by acmotor
RM, you won't be able to please everyone so please yourself and enjoy the journey. Image

I'd still fit 20kWh of lithium and drive it a long way and get public interest.

Just thinking, almost any vintage vehicle is not running on original oil, battery, tyres, grease, upholstery, paint work, fan belt, windscreen wipers, globes, hoses, gaskets, clutch plate etc. A suitable modern match / replacement is used. Yes, sometimes a reproduction but still technically not original.
On that basis, changing the battery is ok. The controller is changing things but if the old parts are still intact and the new controller hidden I for one would be happy.

There is a risk that a faithfully restored Baker would only be fit for a museum.

On the other hand, a tastefully restored Baker as you propose has more still to do in its role in converting the world to electric transport.

Take pics, keep the parts and one day you or someone can still do the pure restoration.
You will not be destroying history. You will probably allow the Baker to continue to be part of making history.

IMHO Image

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 02:36
by rmlane
CometBoy wrote: Pretty well anyone can put state of the art components in it but it takes a lot of research and skill to faithfully refabricate and/or restore period components. Would not be easy agree but well worth the time investment in my view if you have the skills base.

Worth a lot if done correctly as well… being such a rare piece of machinery.

To each their own.

This had made me feel rather defensive and I feel the need to justify what I'm doing and why. So here's some background.

I've been involved with vintage and classic cars my entire life (my trip from the maternity ward to home was in a classic sports car), including multiple restoration projects including taking boxes of bits and turning them back into a car. My family and friends have done everything from concours restorations of historically significant cars to building one-off specials. Two family members have done Peking-to-Paris, I've done Targa Adelaide once and Targa Tasmania three times, all in vintage or classic cars.

I've rebuilt both electric and internal combustion motors, manufactured parts, re-wired cars. I'm building a body myself for a 1920's roadster from photos and having another one made by a coach builder for a more valuable car. We've made wooden car wheels from scratch, including steam-bending the rims. I got the last honeycomb radiator made before the final manufacturer in Australia retired.

From my family's perspective the Baker isn't even that rare - they made thousands. We've had cars that were one of.. 544, 110, ~40, 29 and the rarest was one of only 10 made.

For one of the cars we had to have gears made three time before they stopped breaking. We had another part on that car fixed by Qantas engineering because they were the only people we could who could weld the (safety critical) part adequately and it was irreplaceable.

One of the cars we're woking on at the moment had it's chassis shortened by 600mm. We found original chassis offcuts in the UK and had them shipped to Australia to weld into the car rather than use off-the-shelf steel C-section we could have bought for a few bucks at any steel supplier.

I think I have justification to claim a pretty fair understanding of what is and isn't practical and reasonable in car restoration, and my personal bias is to err very strongly on doing "more than what's sensible" in terms of keeping things original: I recently replaced every hose-clamp on my classic Jaguar because they had the wrong brand-name on them and the heads were hexagonal instead of round. I disassembled and rebuilt the relays in that car myself because the reproduction ones don't look quite right, including nickel plating the casings and screws myself.

I did look into trying to get the correct batteries, they are not available. I have copies of the original documentation and brochures on the Edison cells, including some cut-away drawings. The batteries are mechanically complex, with a large number of custom stampings. They are heavily optimised for mass production on a factory line.

I don't think manufacturing a run of 40 Edison cells is something that falls into the "practical" category.

I'm not the only person who doesn't think it is reasonable: Jay Leno has one of the best car collections in the world, including the same model of Baker Electric. He also has effectively infinite money, boundless enthusiasm, his own machinery shop, multiple full-time employees dedicated to making parts and restoring cars. He has a 3D laser scanner, 3D printers and piles of CAD-CAM gear. He regularly manufactures parts (and an entire jet powered car) from scratch.

Even he did not try and use Edison Cells in his Baker despite the fact he actually had some of the original cells to copy!

You linked to a thread to someone who you're implying "restored his veteran EVs properly". I looked up his two pre-WW-1 EVs. Both have new, modern batteries of the wrong cell chemistry and one of his cars has a ALLTRAX controller.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 03:04
by rmlane
acmotor wrote: The controller is changing things but if the old parts are still intact and the new controller hidden I for one would be happy.

There is a risk that a faithfully restored Baker would only be fit for a museum.

On the other hand, a tastefully restored Baker as you propose has more still to do in its role in converting the world to electric transport.

Take pics, keep the parts and one day you or someone can still do the pure restoration.
You will not be destroying history. You will probably allow the Baker to continue to be part of making history.

Thank you very much for your post, I appreciate it.

I think the battery replacement is a complete no-brainer. Trying to find the original ones isn't that much smarter than trying to find "original petrol". No vintage car has it's original battery, they don't last that long. "Original spark plugs" would be a fair comparison. It's technically possible, but not something worth striving for.

I've had people complain at me for fitting modern reproduction 1960's seat-belts to my 1950's Jaguar: I think they're insane. The same people complain about the fact I've put brighter tail-lights and blinkers in the car, which is (to me) a simple and unarguable safety feature.

The controller is a more reasonable debate. The original controller is a Westinghouse rotating drum contactor, in more or less working order. It's been resorted once and needs to be restored again as the slowest speed has stopped working and I think there's either crap design or failed insulation - the speed-control handle is at pack voltage, which tickles a bit.

Drum controller do not provide smooth speed control - you only have 4 or 5 forward speeds and usually two reverse speeds (sometimes 4 or 5). This was fine in 1912, there was no traffic. It isn't so fine nowadays. For the last few decades the car has only been driven on a farm, never going on the road, so the lack of smooth speed control or the lowest speed has not been a major issue.

I'd like to get the car back on the road and I think that smooth control over forward speed rather than only having four fixed speeds of (more or less) 10, 20, 30 and 40 Km/h is a moderately serious safety issue. Think about driving a car without a throttle pedal, only having cruise control, and the cruise control speed increments being 10 km/h.

Sound like something fun to drive in traffic? Yeah, me either, thus the thoughts about a speed controller.

If I do fit one it will be hidden and reversible.

Same with fitting discreet stop lights and blinkers. I spent three years driving a 50's car without blinkers as my daily drive. I was nearly t-boned three times, I've given up and ordered the parts to upgrade it to a later model that had indicators.

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 06:01
by evric
Make the stop lights and blinkers detachable for "showing".

RMLane's 1912 Baker Electric

Posted: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 18:40
by rmlane
evric wrote: Make the stop lights and blinkers detachable for "showing".


The vintage car community has pretty much come to the consensus that this isn't required for street-driven cars. Per the comment someone made about the difference between a "museum" car and a road-capable car - if an alteration is required to make the car safe for use on the road, there is no penalty for making the change. Just do it as "nicely" as possible.

You can make the extra lights removable if you really want, but I've entered a few concours events with a couple of different cars and they have all exempted blinkers and stop lights from points loss. So even when you're being tested by car tragics for originality, they accept the blinkers.

I've always used the solution of finding indicator lamps that look like they're period correct. People familiar with vintage cars will know the "period looking" blinkers aren't original and will also know why they're present (safety) and they are totally accepted by the community. People who aren't familiar with cars that old won't realise or care if the lights are exactly correct.

Vintage indicators, headlights, etc are all readily available as both original items and extremely good reproductions. Early style reproduction rear lamps are also available with internal upgrades to act as "Stop + Tail" or "Stop + tail + blinker" where they would have originally been nothing but a dim tail-lamp. Side-lamps were common at the front, those are available as "Side + blinker".

Another example of safety beating originality: Cars this old originally had completely white tyres, often with no tread at all - natural rubber is white. However white tyres go "off" - the carbon black that was added to increase durability, the black colour is mostly a side effect. Tread is also something of a basic safety feature. You'll sometimes see full-white smooth tyres on museum cars, but no one expects you to actually drive a car with no tread on a tyre that goes off in a couple of years. For starters, the lack of tread isn't legal anymore.

On the headlight issue, I've found a better solution. The original "headlights" are dim little lamps that don't provide enough light to allow you to actually drive at night. In the picture below you can see that the owner has added a sensible-looking headlight to the middle of the front of the car. The rear-vision mirror is also not original, but again, he's picked something that looks appropriate. See below:

Image