Wednesday, April 29, 2015


It has been a couple weeks since the last post and life has been really hectic with spring finally here and the grass mowing season starting up.
My last project before starting the Fiero project was a 1970 John Deere 110 garden tractor, that has been sitting in the storage building since then. In the haste to start working on the Fiero, the mower deck was never finished and was sitting on a pallet outside the garage, waiting for some attention. Finally it was time to start cleaning the rust off and replacing seized up bearings, so the tractor and mower could start earning their keep.



My Miata has been over heating and with 170k miles on the engine, hate to put much money in it, so decided to try some engine block repair to seal what appears to be a small leak in the head gasket. The Miata is going to be my next EV conversion, so that is the other reason I don't want to put much money in the motor. The block repair seems to have stopped the leak and the engine runs now without heating up. There is no coolant in the oil, so I may be good to go for a little while longer.

I have still been trying to get the Zivan NG3 charger to shut off at the end of the charge but got rained out the last time I was charging and only got it up to 134 volts before having to roll the charger back inside. When I hooked it up again to resume charging, it was charging at 25 amps instead of 18 and immediately jumped the voltage up to 137 volts, so it is back to the drawing board on setting the termination voltage.

We are also putting in new flooring in the kitchen and bathroom, so have been busy working out the details for those projects also. Hopefully things will slow down a little and I can get back into the Fiero full bore, as the other two Better Place modules need installed.

The Fiero did move back into first place on the EVTV Build Registry, so that was a little positive incentive to keep on building.

Hopefully more electric car related progress to post next time around.


Sunday, April 19, 2015


This week was spent picking out and purchasing new kitchen and bathroom floors, along with cleaning carpets and trying to find out why my Miata is overheating.

Saturday morning, when I went out on the back porch to have a cup of coffee and wake up, I noticed that the leaves had started popping out on the trees, finally winter is over! The grass is also growing at the speed of light, so I started working on the mower deck for my 1970 John Deere 110. One of the mower blade bearings had seized up, so a new one is on the way from EBAY. In the meantime, a metal patch was welded in to cover a hole in the deck and the deck was cleaned and painted. Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks I will be able to start mowing with the 110. It's 42 inch deck will help shorten the time it take to keep the lawn in shape this summer and give me a little more time to work on the Fiero.

Even though I was focused on other projects this weekend, the Fiero was still driven around 10 miles and I actually got it to shift into third gear. I believe that the bushings are shot on the shift levers and that may be why the shift pattern is off.

Sunday, work continued on trying to get the charger to shut off  before it reaches 137.6 volts but when I got to around 134 volts, it started raining, so I had to stop. I will continue trying to get the charger set during the week and am anxious to get the charger mounted back in the car. I have been looking at a JLD404 charge station so I can make sure that system is working before finding out it doesn't when I need a charge at a public charge station.

Hopefully more to report on next week, so until then, Keep On Building!


Sunday, April 12, 2015


There was rain in Columbus, OH off and on all week and the grass went from brown, to green, to almost too tall to mow, in just a few days. Friday upon returning home after work, the garden tractor was fired up and the first mowing of the season was done, just in time. The lawn was still a little wet and the motor on the mower bogged down in a couple areas of the yard but fortunately, chopped the grass up pretty good and did not leave any clumps of clippings.


Saturday morning started with charging the Fiero and heading off to Baltimore Ohio, to have some lunch at J. Gumbo's and show the car to the owner, Fred Baughman. Unfortunately, Fred wasn't in but I still had lunch and a couple glasses of craft beer, as they have one of the most extensive selections around. The car ran well and made the 16 mile trip with ease. The shifter is still not shifting correctly but will go into 4th gear and reverse, so for now, that will work.

The Fiero has been in the garage all winter, with the interior and wiring being worked on, so Sunday, another drive was taken to shake out any problems. For some reason, the Dell Venue tablet, would not bring up the number pad, when trying to log on and it took several minutes to finally get it to pop up and log in. I hate to take off without having access to the motor controller, as I have had the controller fail to start in the past and had to reset the throttle, to get it to restart. As fate would have it, after stopping at a store, the car would not move. After turning the key off and starting the controller several times, the car finally moved. Also, the parking brake has been sticking and this is a problem, as if it is not noticed, draws quite a few more amps and could reduce the range enough to strand me. Also, the brakes are a bit spongy after sitting in the garage all winter, so the car will be taken to a mechanic in Kirkersville, OH, near the house to power bleed the brakes and adjust the parking brake so it will release. Because the lead acid batteries used in the original build were so heavy, the original converter used spring spacers to raise the front of the car. With the vast reduction of weight with the LiMn2O4 battery modules, the front end is now sitting higher than it should, possibly causing extra drag when the car is up to highway speed.  All in all, the 16 mile drive went well and used about 40 amp hours at a nominal 120 volts for roughly 300 watt hours/mile. That is a little higher that what I had last year but the tire pressure probably needs checked and as I said, I believe the parking brake is still dragging a little.

Upon returning home, another charge was initiated and more tweaking was done at the end of the charge. The charger is tapering down to 3 amps but still is not shutting off before it reaches 137.6 volts. After I finally get the charger to shut down, it will be installed back in the car and a contactor will be connected to the 220 volt AC input, controlled by the relays on the  EPM-5740TVR volt meter, that was picked up from Light Objects. This will be a good safety back up should the Zivan charger decide not to shut down.

Finally, a bracket was made for the Hella, UP28 rotary vane vacuum pump that is going to be tried out on the car. My current vacuum pump is really loud and has bothered me since the first time I went for a ride, even before buying the car. Also pictured below with the vacuum pump are the new seat adjustment mechanism covers, from The Fiero Store.


It was really good getting the shorts out and enjoying the great day on Saturday and Sunday but as always, the weekend went way to fast! Not a lot of actual work was done on the car  but a lot of looking, measuring, and trying to come up with a plan to mount the other two battery modules.

Until next time,


Sunday, April 5, 2015


After a 120 mile drove to and from my parents, a little more progress was made on the Fiero. An opening was cut in the laminated face plate that was made and it was painted black. After drying, the face plate was test fit and it is going to work out well.


Then the fuses were checked to see if that is the cause of the dash lamps not working. All of the fuses were good so I checked the dimmer switch and sure enough, it was all the way on dim. After moving it to full illumination position, the right side lamps lit but not the left side. This means that the connector pulled out of the dash socket when the rear cover was put back on, so it will need to come off again.


All and all a pretty productive day but I will really be glad to get the interior wrapped up and be able to move on to getting the front batteries and new vacuum pump installed.

Until next time,



Ever since the Fiero was purchased back in 2012, I have been bothered by the noisy vacuum pump, so decided to try a rotary vane pump. After the interior is finished, re-working the vacuum system will be my next project.


The JLD404 mounted in the dash still needs a face plate, so a template was made and the cutout was laid out on a piece of flat foam. This will be laminated to a piece of Plexiglas for the front and a piece of aluminum or sheet metal on the rear. The idea is to make the face of the JLD404 mount flush with the face plate.




Wanted to get this post out before leaving to go to my parents house for Easter and may have another post tonight. The shift calibration is still giving me a head ache but I finally got it to go into forth gear. Work will continue until I get it working. Also, the instrument cluster lights quit working, so that is another project.

Thanks for viewing,


Friday, April 3, 2015


This is Easter weekend and in addition, a vacation day was taken on Thursday, to take my wife to the doctor. Upon returning home, the passenger seat was removed, to do a little rust clean-up on the adjustment rails and any exposed metal. 

The metal was cleaned and any areas with surface rust were coated with rust transformer jell. After the jell dried, the area was cleaned with a wire brush and wiped down with some solvent. The seats were masked off and a coat of metal etching primer was applied to the adjustment rails and all of the exposed metal. After drying, a coat of semigloss black paint was applied. 



On Friday morning, the masking tape was removed and all of the vinyl was cleaned with Armor All. The rails were then greased and it was then I noticed that the rod from the adjustment lever was missing. A coat hanger was used to make a new one and after a little fitting and adjustment, the slides on both side of the seat worked freely. The bolt that attaches the seat back to the bottom had to be run in and the seat hold down bolts were cleaned and painted.


When the seat back adjustment and seat belt guide covers were dug out, it became apparent that they were not going to be able to be used. The holes to bolt them to the frame were either broken off or wallowed out. I did an internet search and found that THE FIERO STORE has replacements in stock, so ordered a pair.



Aluminum backed duct tape was put on the bottom of the seat mounting feet to prevent future rust from staining the carpet.


Finally the mounting nuts were cleaned and painted. One of the nuts was missing but fortunately, I have a box of miscellaneous GM fasteners from a Camaro I rebuilt a few years back. I must be better than the Manufacturer because there always seem to be bolts left over from my projects!



Many metal parts and fasteners can not be seen and are hidden under the dash or interior panels but they have been rust treated and a new coating applied. There is just something that bothers me about knowing
there are rusty parts hidden in the build, so they were dealt with during this conversion. GM must have saved millions of dollars building their cars without coating all of the hidden parts, so it must not bother them. Maybe that is part of the reason GM went bankrupt a few years ago and had to scrap the Pontiac brand.

While working on this post, EV West uploaded the March addition of their EV Show. While not quite as technical as EVTV, they feature actual builds and finished conversions. Actually the show is very professionally put together and is quite enjoyable to watch. I can see a Discovery or History channel show on the horizon.

The steering wheel was tightened down and when putting the wheel back on, the horn honked. This is rather strange as since the car was delivered to my driveway, the horn has not worked. After with messing with the plunger, spring and carrier bushing, it appears the plunger is too short. I have a bid on one on EBAY, and sure enough, the plunger appears to be longer. 

Until next time,