Electric Bugeye Sprite update

This past week had a chance to get back into the electric Bugeye project, now that a bunch of the gas-powered Sprites in the queue have shipped to their new homes. With the power plant, controller and batteries located, FROG-E #1 is almost ready for test driving. Our next challenge is chargers. There will be three on board… one for fast charging from a 220 plug, one for a 110 household plug and one for the 12 volt system battery. The later runs every time the car is plugged-in to either 110 or 220, so that the headlights and other accessories always have juice available.

Above, you can see the 220 charging station receptacle for the fast charge function. We’ll fit that into the original fuel-fill hole, and a flip-up fuel fill cap will cover and hide this electric plug nicely, while providing a water-tight seal.

We have tough decisions to make as we fit these three metal boxes (one for each charger) and still try to preserve as much of the original look and feel of the car as possible. We needed to put batteries and chargers in the boot, but also have to make sure that people can still store some luggage there without interfering with the electrics. Thus two of the three chargers are nested in the right rear wing and a few battery cells are nested in the left rear wing.

I have included the two pictures below so you can see what we are up against. These are rough fitting pictures only, everything will be properly mounted and tidied up. Both sides will be shielded with plastic panels too, to protect the equipment (a panel is already in place on the driver side in the boot). But it gets interesting when you start running high voltage wires around these tiny cars. You can also see in the boot the wires running up from the batteries under the trunk floor, which also need to be shielded when we are done. We are trying hard to keep everything neat and tidy while retaining a storage space in the boot.

We should have the car running this coming week!

Electric Bugeye Sprite Update

The electric Bugeye Sprite (FrogE) is leaping forward. This week we made big strides with the creation of the polyethylene boxes to isolate and protect the precious Lithium Manganese batteries. Each one is in its own little safe. Kenny fabricated beautiful boxes this week to house each set of cells. In the photo album below, you can see the boxes going together to fill the engine bay with new (cleaner) power. Is it cold and plastic under the hood or hot stuff?

This week we also mounted our new custom drive shaft, which you can see below linked to the electric motor. This photo shows how neatly the team linked the electric motor spindle to the drive shaft. In this image you are looking down through the shift tower at the connection between motor and drive shaft.

Some electric conversions use the existing gearbox but we went with a direct drive configuration, to eliminate one more source of oil leaks. These cars are so light and the performance envelope for the motor is so broad that a gearbox is not needed. Losing the gearbox also saved us about 46 pounds and allowed is to mount the motor closer to the center of the car, down low.

The car has a 12 volt system for the lights, horn and accessories. This is charged through the main plug in the fuel tank through an inverter. The main motor batteries (inside the black boxes) are 144 volts and 500 amps.

Our goal is to have this complete in one week in time for British By the Sea in New London, CT. Will we make it? (Now, where does that white wire go?)

Electric Austin Healey Bugeyed Sprite update

If you thought Lucas electrics made life with a British car exciting, check this out! Every British car needs more wires! (He who dies with the most wires wins)?

Our electric Bugeye is well on its way to its first drive. Here you can see Russ organizing the electric motor controller wiring. Next week, it will all be connected and the front batteries will go in.

Below you can see the rear battery packs installed. The total rear battery load will be 85 pounds. A full fuel tank is about 42 pounds, and the weight of the tank and hardware plus muffler and pipe adds perhaps another 15.

Thus we are adding about 30 pounds to the boot over the gas powered version. We have configured everything so that 80% of the trunk is as available as it is for the stock gas Bugeye. The remaining 20% is occupied by two battery packs and a charger. Eight of the packs hang below the boot floor as shown below, in the space formerly occupied by the fuel tank. We have hung as many batteries as we can under the car to preserve trunk space and to keep the weight low. Just two packs will need to be housed in the trunk. Not to worry about protection… there will be a cover (later) for the batteries under the trunk floor.

I continue to be amazed by how simple this is, in spite of the complicated fabrication, wiring and weight placement. There is something every elegant about removing completely low-tech antiquated engineering and replacing it with a simple electric motor that won’t leak and that needs almost no maintenance. After our usual week of repairing and preparing the gas powered stuff, this electric project is quite a joy. We still need to prove it works (minor detail), but so far, we are on track to complete a very exciting project. We hope the exhaust note is the only casualty of this change over, and we now have a way to address that too (more on this later).

Another important hurtle is the drive shaft, because we have to of course connect the electric motor output shaft to the differential. Here is our custom fabricated drive shaft that will do the job, one more important link in the chain.

Is this an exciting innovation that improves the reach and longevity of our favorite classic car… or a bad idea that robs its soul? We’ll be back soon with another update as this exciting project comes together.

Electric Bugeye Sprite update, motor installed

While it takes a little getting used to, there is something quite elegant about an entire powerplant that fits in the space formerly occupied by the transmission. Our electric Bugeye now has the motor affixed, and we are excited that it nestles in the middle of the car, nice and low.

This week, Russ fabricated the mounts, and next we’ll customize the drive shaft to connect that motor to the rear end. Some electric conversions use the existing gearbox… we have elected to eliminate the transmission and to keep the driveline as simple as possible. These motors provide enough torque in a wide range so a gearbox is not needed.

This motor (with about 88 HP), weighs 105 pounds. The transmission that formerly lived in its place weighs about 35 pounds. We’re excited to get this much weight low and centered. The batteries will be located on the ends of the car, but we’re determined to keep the battery and petrol versions as close to equal as possible, in terms of total weight and weight distribution.

Our current estimate is that the electric car with 100 mile range will be about 30 pounds heavier than a fully-fueled Bugeye like Cole (see the next post). That’s after a fiberglass nose weight saving on this green prototype of about 40 pounds. We will use racing scales to balance the electric Bugeye and to get the distribution just right!

We’ll keep the updates coming. BTW, these parts will be available as a kit once we are done, for people who want to do an electric conversion themselves.

Bugeye Sprite Weight distribution

How much does your Bugeye weigh?

The Bugeye at left weighs 1582 pounds with 1/3 tank of fuel, minilight wheels and 175 series tires, as well as an oil cooler, non-stock exhaust, 1275 engine and five-speed transmission.

This is my Bugeye “Cole,” a mostly stock looking Bugeye I have been hoarding. It’s an awesome car with nice upgrades. We put it on race scales this week to establish a baseline for our electric Bugeye project. We hope to roughly match the corner weights shown below when we lay out the batteries in our electric Bugeye “Sparky,” so we can preserve the car’s great handling once the 40 batteries are distributed and installed.

This electric car project allows us all kinds of opportunities to redistribute weight, since the battery location gives us some flexibilty. But we probably want to simply emulate the original weight layout as seen below (the minor corner variations can be corrected with minor tweaks of spring height… this car is pretty well balanced)

It turns out the weight distribution on the “average” street Bugeye is quite close to 50/50. No wonder Bugeyes handle so well. We are excited to have this data, which helps us to be that much more confident that the BugeyE will handle exceptionally well too!

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