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EV Weblog: Electric Car Motors

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Welcome to the Electric Car Weblog. In addition to links, news, and tips about electric cars and other forms of alternative transportation we are publishing an on-line diary of our current EV project. Started in August 2005 the chronicle follows the conversion of a gas powered Ford Probe into an Electric Car.

You will find articles organized by categories, along with recent comments, along the right hand column of the website. If you are just getting started with the idea of converting a gas car to electric be sure to check out Your First Electric Car

Welcome and enjoy!

Electric Car Motors · 25 October 05

ADC electric car motor

I realized the other day that some folks might be reading this EV conversion without having read the first one. One day I pop out the gas engine and a few days later a fully attached and matched electric motor is in place…

“Hey, where’d that come from?”

Let’s talk EV motors…

Back when folks first started putting together their own electric cars they didn’t have many economical choices in motors. Often the first EVs used surplus aircraft starter-generators as a motor.1

Aircraft starter/generators were most likely used because you could find them as surplus relatively cheap and they had enough power to move a car. The EVs weren’t high performance, but could easily make it from point A to point B.

Soon electric car enthusiasts started using higher power motors and controllers, like John Wayland’s Blue Meanie2, a 1972 Datsun 1200 which started off as a souped up aircraft starter based EV and soon moved up to a 9” Advanced DC motor with Curtis controller.

The days of plodding electric cars were numbered.

Most folks familiar with gas engines are taken back by what they perceive as the low horsepower rating in an EV. Here’s an explanation from Austinev.org3:

“Electric cars are driven by large electric motors usually rated between 3.5 and 28 horsepower. For those accustomed to gas engines, this may not seem like much power, but the rating systems used for gas engines and electric motors are so different that the numbering system is almost meaningless. Gas engines are rated at their peak hp, electric motors are rated at their continuous hp. The peak hp of an electric motor is usually 8 to 10 times its continuous rating.”

The motor installed in Eve is an Advanced DC FB1-40014. This is a 9” diameter, 140lb series wound DC motor. I purchased is back in 1995 for our first EV and, as long as we don’t abuse it, the motor should last for decades. The one part that wears out, commutator brushes, typically last 80,000 miles and are pretty easy to replace.

On the first EV I failed to tighten one of the motor-transmission adaptor set screws and over a period of five years the adaptor worked its way back into the motor faceplate and wore away some of the metal. In the process it damaged the bearing. I found a local electric motor shop to replace it for $100, including parts and labor.

motor adaptor breakout

The hand drawing shows how the motor mates to the transmission. You’ll find more details on our Mazda 626 motor and adaptor page5.

There’s a much larger selection of motors these days for all sizes of vehicles and performance needs. Most EVs use series wound motors6, but you can also pick up permanent magnet and AC motors, even experimental wheel hub motors7.


Motor related links:

  • — Jesse    Oct 25, 2005 16:48 PM   
    Hey, I’ve read the older site numerous times, and just found this new site, didn’t realize you were a fellow New Hampshireite (I live in MA now though, shh). I’ve been thinking about building an electric car for quite some time, but haven’t had the extra resources to buy a mess of batteries, or an extra car.
  • — Jerry Halstead    Oct 25, 2005 21:02 PM   
    Howdy Jesse and welcome…
  • — Carl Voigtlander    Dec 23, 2005 22:27 PM   
    Hey this is cool I have been following some ev things.One Question when you put the electric motor in do you keep the torque convertor in it’s place?The drawing never seams to show that. Great job
  • — Jerry Halstead    Dec 26, 2005 14:29 PM   
    Hi Carl,

    I haven’t had to deal with a torque converter since my EVs are both manual transmission. If you were to use an automatic (i.e. w/torque converter) then I suspect you’ll have to keep it and/or make other modifications to keep the auto trans happy.

    Since I don’t even use the clutch I’ve also skipped out on using the flywheel. There’s a number of thoughts on this and approaches, all depends on the type of vehicle and driving you’ll be doing.
  • — Woody Becher    Feb 23, 2006 08:40 AM   

    Copyright infringement? Click Here!