Sunday, June 14, 2020

Webb Motor Works

This is a cool way to convert you hotrod that would give it a nice original look.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I have had the Better Place batteries on Craigslist for over a year with plenty of interest but no takers, so instead of selling the Fiero EV project, have been looking for a suitable AC motor replacement. While checking out Facebook, this new motor came up from Netgain.

NetGain HyPer9 AC Motor


Motor Face: B-Face (Warp Compatible)
Motor Diameter: 9.0 Inches
Motor Case Length: 13.75 Inches
Motor Shaft Length: 2.0 Inches
Motor Shaft to End Length: 15.75 Inches
Motor Type: Permanent Magnet Synchronous Reluctance AC
Weight: 90 lbs 
Max Voltage Input: 132
Terminal Stud Size: M8 Inch
Integrated Sensors: Encoder and Temperature
Rated Torque: 173 Lb Ft
Rated Power: 120 HP
Max RPM: 8,000
RPM Sensor: Yes
Drive End Shaft: 1-1/8 Inch with 1/4 Inch Keyway
Accessory End Shaft: Not Available (coming soon)
Max Efficiency: 0.94
Thermal Cooling: External Heatsink
Max Temperature: 150 Degrees Celsius

What draws me to this motor is the Low Voltage, HP, Torque, efficiency, and the fact that it is a direct bolt-in to the currently installed Warp9 motor. It is not available until November, but EV West has installed the motor in a conversion and has offered a test drive before purchasing the motor package. Also, George Hampstra has been very supportive of the EV conversion industry over the years and always had gifts for the attendees at EVCCON, along with drawings for motors and merchandise during the show, so I really want to support him! I always felt like the last couple of EVCCONs without George were just not the same.

Undoubtedly, I will have to spend more to get the Fiero back on the road than buying a used OEM EV but something about converting an older classic car is more appealing than driving a newer offering by an OEM.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, April 2, 2017


The Fiero EV project has been a great experience filled with ups and downs over the last 5 years. My dream was always to take a build to EVCCON and that dream came true in 2015, although the event was actually canceled and only a scaled down version was held. 

My original thoughts were to purchase a lead acid conversion and just add the lithium batteries but that path went to the wayside when the original Curtis controller blew up, just as I was ready to start working on the Fiero.

Now I am faced with a fork in the road as after the Synkromotive controller caught on fire, I am really back to square 1! One lesson learned was that you do not want to do a build with old technology. When the Fiero was purchased, most conversions used DC motors and the HPEVS three phase motors were just being introduced. Prior that the introduction of this motor, AC motors and controllers were a very costly proposition. Now with the HPEVS motors and re-purposing of OEM motors, companies like EVNETICS and Synkromotive have ceased producing DC controllers for EVs.  


EVTV is offering a Siemens motor and air cooled DEMOC controller for around $1500, but just as the original purchase of the Fiero, this is old technology and is quickly being replaced by much lighter and more efficient motors and controllers. The Siemens motor is 190 lbs and the DEMOC controller is 60 lbs. That would be an increase of almost 120 lbs over the DC set up currently in the car using basically obsolete components.



Couple this with the fact that used OEM EVs depreciate rapidly and are being resold at a fraction of their original price leaves one with the decision of whether to convert or pick up used OEM EV that still has a battery and drivetrain warranty. Currently a Fiat 500 E can be purchased on ebay for between $5000 and $6000. Decisions.....decisions!

FIAT 500 E

Between better motor/controller efficiency and lighter, more powerful, and safer battery technologies, does it really make sense to put the Fiero back on the road with the currently available components. Also, I am more of a mechanic and do not do well with the programming portion of the currently available OEM component technology, so struggle even pulling up a terminal session to set the parameters.  

With all of that said, the Fiero EV was still a fun and functional car to drive and with the 2 Better Place modules that were installed, had a good 50 mile range when driven moderately. So the question becomes, do I sell the car with the battery module for a little over the cost of the battery modules or dive back in and get it back on the road?


If any of you have any input, I would be glad to hear from you.

Until next time,


Sunday, October 30, 2016


I must admit, the controller fire has knocked some of the wind out of my sails on the Electric Fiero Project. The panel meters were finally working and the plan was to install the third module before the Drive Electric Day at Easton Town Center in Columbus, OH. 

Currently the Better Place battery modules are listed on Craig's List and I am considering several options to power the Fiero. 


The Warp 9 needs a major rebuild and honestly, I was never quite satisfied with a DC motor that did not have any regen capabilities, so am strongly considering the HPEVS AC51 and Curtis 1239-8501 controller. The motor would be a direct bolt-on replacement and it's shorter dimension would allow for easier installation into the motor cradle. Also the efficiency would go from the 78% of the Warp 9 to 88% for the AC motor.



If the Better Place modules do not sell for a profit, I will keep them but if I can make a reasonable profit, will sell them and go with CALB LiFePo4 batteries.  This would allow me to get more cells in the back of the car and be able to arrange them so the cradle could be dropped without removing the batteries first. 

Hopefully work on reassembling the Fiero can begin this spring.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Last night I finally had the time to jack up the Fiero and remove all of the fasteners holding the battery module to the rack and even got four of them out of the car. To my surprise, all of the modules that were removed were still at 8.06-8.08 volts. 





The voltage reading was actually higher than expected as they were originally charged to this level but the car had been driven for 6 miles then went through a short period high current draw when the controller blew. The car was trying to move against the parking brake and then the brakes when I applied them so the amp draw must have been over 700 amps for a couple of seconds. Also puzzling, was that the fuse did not blow but it still has continuity.

All of the cells have been removed and the rack rinsed off, so the next step will be to remove the cradle.

When the new motor is mounted, adjustable coil over struts, new transmission mounts, and cradle modifications will be made to that the ride height can be adjusted, and the battery modules can be mounted lower. Also the transaxle is going to a transmission shop to be gone over and a new shift cable will be installed.

Also, a new AC motor and controller is going to be purchased and am trying to calculate the most cost effective way to go. This will take into consideration the cost of the components and the efficiency of the set up. The AC 50 or 51 would be the easiest to install and probably the least expensive but upon looking at the specs, is only around 88% efficient. I would think there are setups in the low to mid 90% efficiency available now.

More to come!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


AM8-XP 8 Cell LiFePO4 Battery

MSRP $134.99 *SALE* $119.99

Select Polarity:
Length60mm - 2.36in
Width114mm - 4.5in
Height100mm - 4in
Weight820g - 1Lb 13oz
Capacity5 Amp Hours
Amperage Output<3 pulse="" sec=""> - 375 Amps
Max Charge Voltage & Current14.4V / 10 Amp Hours
ConnectionBrass Terminals with 6mm x 10mm Threaded
EnclosureImpact Resistant ABS Plastic Case
MountingAM Pod™ Enlarges Battery to 150mm L x 85mm D x 100mm H
PolarityPositive Left or Right

Product Details

The Alien Motion AM8-XP is a favorite among our customers. We found a sweet spot between size, weight, cost, and starting power. Well suited for engines up to 1200cc 4 cylinder, 1000cc twins and personal watercraft, the AM8-XP is a serious workhorse. Its 60mm depth allows it to fit in spaces too small for most lead acid batteries, while weighing under 2 lbs. Guaranteed to provide better performance and provide several times the lifetime of the original battery with proper use and maintenance.
Our all new XP series offers greater starting power and capacity with no more weight!.
Great battery for applications that require less weight and have limited space.
  • Ultra-Lightweight and High Power Lithium Motorsport Battery
  • Holds a charge with minimal drain for years when there is no draw on power
  • 2-Year Warranty and Out of This World Support
  • Great for everyday use for bikes up to 1200cc 4 cylinder, 1000cc twins and personal watercraft
  • Works with the original charging system
  • Great for racing applications
  • Significant cost savings and longevity compared to lead acid
V-Twin engines over 1000cc and cold weather usage should utilize the Alien Motion AM12-XP. for ultimate cranking power.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


This morning  work continued on removing components in the Fiero. The DC-DC converter, shunt and insulators for the shunt were removed, followed by the contactor that was used to shut off power to the charger. The only thing left before dropping the motor cradle is to jack up the car and get a couple of bolts removed that tie the battery end plate to the angle iron battery racks. Then I will be able to remove the battery module. I want to assemble the module out in the driveway and do a discharge down to 90 volts and then charge back up to 136 volts. I will probably do this a couple of times out in the driveway to make sure the module is not damaged so that if it does fail, it will be away from the garage.

I have not decided what motor/controller arrangement I want to go with but will either need to keep the voltage at 120 Volts or 360 volts. Not sure if the HPEVS motors go up to 360 volts so may have to stick with the 120 volt or consider another motor/controller arrangement.

The lessons learned from the controller fire are:

  1. Never assume that because the accelerator is not being depressed that the controller cannot send power to the motor. I had started to exit the car to check the status of the LED lights on the controller and had left power on to the controller. Fortunately the parking brake was on and the car was in 4th gear, so had enough time to jump back into the car and keep it from going into the field on the other side of the road.
  2. There needs to be an emergency cutoff switch inside the car and you need to practice using it so anytime there is a problem, it is a natural maneuver to  use it. After turning the car to avoid the field, after pulling on the emergency and standing on the brakes with no slowing effect, turned the ignition completely off. This did cut power to the controller but also because in the excitement turned the ignition on to the lock position, locked the steering and shut off the vacuum pump for the brakes. Fortunately the wheel was turned enough to miss the car stopped at the stop sign but only luck kept me from rear ending him.
  3. You should carry at a minimum a Class C fire extinguisher in the car for electrical fires. Had I had one the Fire Department and Sheriff would not have had to been called. If the batteries catch fire, you are probably not going to be able to have a fire extinguisher big enough to do anything anyway.
  4. There should be an emblem or decal on the outside identifying the car as electric. I was not injured in the event, so was able to tell the fire department that the car was electric. One of their questions after the fire was extinguished was how could we tell the car is electric if you were unconscious when we arrived at the scene?
I am sure the Warp 9 is going to take a major overhaul, with at least a communicator machining, new brush holders and brushes for it to be used again. Also, before installing a new motor, the transaxle is going to have to be gone over, as it does not shift correctly. Also one of the seals in the axle is leaking and has play when shaken, so believe the bearing is going bad. Additionally, new shift cables need to be installed as the fire melted the ends and the fire extinguisher residue caused corrosion on the metal rods that go inside the sheathing. 

May be awhile before this puppy hit the road again, so canceled the insurance for now. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016


After the wrecker dropped off the car I turned the ignition switch to the run position and remarkably, the JLD404 was reading 128 volts on the battery modules. This was a relief, as I was really worried about the module getting damaged.




On Monday, the front battery module was disconnected from the cables going to the rear module. The rear module was then disconnected and since the fire had left blackening on the aluminum battery cell housings, I was a little worried about voltage tracking to ground, so took some of the connectors off of the module so the voltage would be lower if it was tracking. By Wednesday, the controller was removed and much of the burnt wire and loom was cut and removed. The engine compartment was a sooty mess, so I mixed up some detergent with water in a spray bottle and tried to remove it from the engine compartment. Then on Saturday, the charger, charger bracket, and motor base were removed from the car. I was still getting quite dirty from soot so went to AutoZone and purchased some engine de-greaser and Brake cleaner. The engine compartment was soaked with the de-greaser and the top of the battery module was sprayed down with the brake cleaner, scrubbed down with a brush, and wiped down with a rag to try to remove as much soot as possible. The soot on the aluminum sides was also cleaned and scrubbed with a brush and wiped down. Then the sides of the engine compartment was hosed down to wash off the de-greaser. It is much better but I still get a little soon on me when working. The contactor and emergency shut off switch was then removed along with the base it was mounted on.

On Sunday the motor brush cage was removed and there was quite a mess from the fire extinguisher that looked like it was corroding the communicator and brush wires. The communicator was sprayed down with brake cleaner and wiped out as much as possible. Then the top brush and connection post was removed from the motor. Not sure I can get to the remainder of the brushes but am hoping they can be removed without having to pull the motor. Even if they can be removed, I doubt the communicator will be able to be cleaned without removing the motor and the only way to remove the motor is to drop the entire cradle, so am going to need to remove the battery module. Basically, I am back to square one on the build and If the cradle is dropped and motor removed, will need to seriously consider going with an AC motor set up. Also if the motor cradle is dropped, I will probably purchase a new transaxle, as the one currently in the car has never shifted correctly.

I have been thinking about the lessons learned from the fire experience and will try to write about that in the next post.


... the LED communication light was still green and blinking normally on the controller. I got back in the car and turned the key off, waited for a moment and switched it back to start to put 12 volts back to the controller. Upon pressing on the accelerator, still no power to the motor, so went back to the back of the car, and now the LED was flashing yellow, indicating a problem with the controller. Then I got back into the car and cycled the ignition again, hoping the error would clear and the controller would start working so I could continue to the store. Still nothing, so I called my wife and asked her to look online and try to find me a tow home. While waiting for her to call me back, I cycled the ignition again and still nothing, so started to exit the car to see if the LED was still indicating a fault when the car started moving. Fortunately the parking brake was set so I quickly jumped in the car and pulled on the emergency brake, as I thought the car was coasting. Quickly I realized that something had happened inside the controller, as black smoke started poring out of the back, so hit the brake. The controller must have been delivering full power to the motor as the brakes did little and quickly turned the steering wheel to keep the car from going out into a field on the other side of the road. I got the car turned into the lane but was headed toward a car that had stopped at the stop sign at the end of the road where it intersected State Route 310 so turned the wheel to avoid hitting it. Then I switched the ignition off but in all of the excitement, actually locked the steering wheel. Fortunately, the wheel was locked with the wheels turning left enough that I missed the car at the stop sign but was quickly approaching the State Route from the wrong lane of the street I was on. With the ignition off, I also lost the power brake vacuum pump. The ignition switch was switched back to the run position and I quickly scanned for cars coming so I could try to make a quick turn if necessary to avoid them but no cars were approaching, so got the car onto the berm of the State Route and the car to a stop. By now, smoke was poring out of the engine compartment, front battery compartment, and the inside of the car. A car had stopped and called 911, so I opened the hoods on the motor and front battery compartment. There were flames poring out of the controller and periodically arcing as the insulation was melted on wires and they shorted together. Also, there were capacitors popping and at this point the scene was just chaos! My wife called back just as I was getting the tool box and charging cables out of the trunk of the car and as she was talking to me, the bystanders who had called 911 were screaming, get back, get back! My wife was freaking out on the phone as I am sure I was also. After ending the call, I got into the cab of the car to retrieve the tablet, as at this point, thought the whole car was going up in smoke. After what seemed to be an hour (more like 5 or 10 minutes) the Pataskala Fire Department arrived and I preceded to tell them the car was electric. They put the fire out with a type C electrical fire extinguisher but I was also concerned about the batteries catching on fire. Since it was an electric car, they would not cool the base of the batteries down with water but did get out their temperature camera and determined that the internals of the controller were 300 deg and the outside of the batteries were at 200 deg. They did get the hose out and sprayed water under the car to put out the grass that was burning and kept monitoring the battery module. After the temperature came down to around 100 deg on the batteries, they offered to take me to a carryout up the street, so I could cool down in the air conditioning while waiting for the Sheriff to arrive.

The Pataskala Fire Department was great but it was obvious they had never received any training on Lithium batteries and they were totally opposed to using any water. We discussed how they could tell that a car is electric and I explained that the power cables are normally orange on an electric car. It became obvious after talking to them for awhile that there probably should be an emblem or sticker on the outside of the car that identifies it as electric, as in the case of the Fiero, it just looks like an ICE car on the outside. The fire fighters gave me a cold bottle of water, helped me load up all my tools and cables, and gave me a ride to the carryout to wait for the Sheriff.

By the time the fire truck dropped me off at the carryout, the Sheriff pulled up. I had been standing out in 90 deg heat for over an hour and was drenched with sweat. The deputy let me go inside the carryout to use the restroom and cool off a little then we discussed the fire. This was his first car fire, so had to talk to his Sargent back at the station to find out how to proceed. We then drove back to the car to get the registration and insurance card and then he gave me a lift back to my house. My experience with the fire and law enforcement folks was great and left with a much better appreciation what they do for the community. Both were very interested in the EV conversion and I had a very great opportunity to discuss some of the recent unrest in our country over law enforcement and their perception by the Citizen in their communities.

After the deputy dropped me off at my house, my insurance company was called, as I have towing coverage. My wife had called all of the local towing companies and none of them could tow my car or hours. The Safeco Insurance road side assistance representative took all of my information and told me they would leave a voice message of when to expect the tow truck to show up and would have the tow company give me a call when they were close to where my car was parked. I drove back to the Fiero and surprisingly, the 12 volt system still bad battery power and I was able to put the windows up and also closed the front hood and rear engine compartment hood. Then I headed to Krogers to pick up the items my wife needed when I originally took off in the Fiero. As soon as I had all of the bags carried into the house, we received a call that the tow truck was almost ready to pick up the Fiero and when I arrived back to where it was parked, the driver was actually hooking it up. We drove back to the house and he dropped the car in the back corner of my driveway. Finally the end to a rather long afternoon and evening that by now,  kind of seemed like a dream.

More to come!