Another cool Honda saved from the salvage yard, wrapped in electric pink and electrified! Jill Biden's JillMobile® created by Gregory Coleman and GreenTV team will share a series in clean, Green machines. In the mean time, enjoy the latest and greatest in converting cool cars!
Mike Chancey; "The car itself is a base model 1988 Honda, that originally had a 1.5 liter engine and a 4 speed manual transmission. I found in sitting on bald flat tires in the back of a used car lot. The sign on the windshield said "bad valve? $800" , but they took $400. That was in February of '99 and it looked pretty much as you see on the left, kind of nasty. I did actually get it running, but it was one very sick puppy. I was hoping the engine would be good enough to sell, but it was scrap"
I started tearing it apart on February, 24th, 1999. The loan of a very nice engine hoist by a fellow EV club member made pulling the engine fairly easy. As the car came apart I found a number of things that needed fixing. Among them, both front CV joints were ruined, the transmission had bolts broken off in it, the front motor mount was basically gone, and the brakes were toast. Instead of just fixing everything, I decided to make upgrades where possible. Among these were:
'91 Honda Civic EX front spindles. calipers, rotors, and master cylinder. These are the largest available Honda brakes that will directly bolt onto this chassis. This did require different axle shafts, but as I needed these anyway it wasn't a real problem. The EX uses the same rear brakes as the other Civics, so these were not changed, just overhauled.
'90 Acura Integra front springs on new Civic struts. This helped compensate for the added weight of the batteries.
'91 Civic Si rear lower control arms and struts. I fitted the struts with Prelude springs to support the additional weight of the rear batteries. I wanted the lower control arms, so I could have the rear stabilizer bar, and because the '89-91 control arms are forged, rather than the lighter stamped units used in '88.
'90 Civic LX front stabilizer bar, and '91 Civic Si rear stabilizer bar. My Civic was a base model with no stabilizer bars at all, so this made a huge difference.
'88 Civic DX 5 speed transmission. It was far easier and cheaper to replace the whole transmission than to try to drill out the broken bolts and re-tap them. It also gave me an extra gear if I needed it.
'90 Civic LX instrument cluster. These have a tachometer, and that was one feature I wanted on my EV. It can be difficult to determine motor rpm when you have a virtually silent motor.
Tearing the Civic down went rather quickly. I think I had all the ICE parts out in the first week. The trick is to label everything as you disassemble, and cut as little as possible. It is very annoying to realize the wiring you just cut through is one you should have kept. I bought a Helms manual, the same one Honda uses, and never regretted it. It makes the Chilton's and Hayes manuals look like jokes. If you going to do a conversion, buy the real manual.
One of the guys on the EV Discussion List decided to upgrade his MG Midget conversion project from an Advanced DC XP-1263 to an XP-1227. He listed his XP-1263 on the EV Tradin' Post, and after watching the price drop for a couple of months, I bought it. He had never actually installed it, so it was a new, un-used motor. Honda engines rotate backwards from almost everyone else, so I had to readjust the brush timing for reverse rotation. I lucked out, as Advance DC had already drilled it for this. I didn't even need to tap the holes, as the end bell mounting bolts are specially hardened self tapping bolts. It worked out rather well. The large plate under the motor is the adapter plate. I bought it made to order from Gary Flo at InnEVations.
To help everyone get some idea of the layout of the car, I created this. It isn't precisely to scale, but it is close. As you can see, I tried very hard to keep this thing from turning out tail heavy. My previous EV was also a front wheel drive, but was very tail heavy and had handling and traction problems as a result. All fifteen of its rear batteries were behind the rear axle. On this car I managed to fit 20 batteries in the area where the bottom of the back seat and the gas tank were. The only thing behind the axle is the 20 pound battery charger. A significant portion of the front battery pack is actually ahead of the front axle center line, to assist in keeping the car balanced properly.