Friday, December 26, 2008

Rear brake installation

In the instructions, this seemed like a big deal. However, it's quite simple and quick if done correctly. (note: If it's NOT done correctly, it's a real hassle to do). So here's what I would recommend. First, drill a diagonal hole in a regular 1/4-20x3/4" hex bolt, then thread the cable through it. The photo shows the pieces involved in this step. The modified hex bolt will screw into the bottom of the handle assembly. For the lower bracket, a cable stop is needed. A cable adjuster could be used. However, I found a washer can be used instead. You will need to take apart the cable and shorten the cable to 4ft. The outer outer covering should be shortened to 3ft. I found using a dremil with a cutting wheel and a vise enabled me to produce nice clean cuts.

To install, thread the bare cable through the large nut, modified bolt, lower bracket on the frame & lower washer. I found that the large nut is too large to turn easily within the confines of the frame. So, instead, I tried another idea. Don't turn the nut - turn the handle! Start the small hex bolt and tighten both at once! If your small hex bolt turns are off by a few, the brake cable still can spin around. Then jam the large hex nut with a screwdriver and turn the handle into place. To make turning the handle easier, I found enlarging the notch on the battery tray was helpful. Then, put the cable cover back on & run the covered brake cable over the motor to the back wheel area. Thread through the brake notch on the wheel & secure the cable to the pinch bolt. Zip tie to the shock hump if the cable flops around too much. The cable will stretch a bit so you'll need to re-tighten the cable more than once.

Kit provided materials:
  • Brake handle & nut
  • Brake cables (cut down to fit)
  • Faring latches (may use the kit provided ones or buy nicer ones featured in supplemental instructions)
  • Handle bar assembly (consisting of handle bar, handle clamp, hand grips, lighting controls, thumb throttle, speedometer and two handbrake handles).
  • Reversing switch handle
Non-kit provided Materials needed:
  • 1/4-20x3/4" hex bolt to drill hole through for brake handle
  • Washer with small hole to pass brake cable through
  • Cowl clamps & hardware as seen in supplemental photo.
  • Assorted drill bits
  • One set respirator cartridges
  • nitrol gloves (when cutting fiberglass)
  • Cutting wheels for dremil (My being a spaz made me go through 5 of them)
Tools used:
  • Safety glasses
  • Screwdriver, pliers & socket set
  • hand held drill with holesaw
  • Dremil cutting wheel & coarse mini sanding drum (to modify battery notch)
  • Sabre saw (used for cutting cable. However, Dremil did a better but slower job)
  • Trouble light
  • Extension cord & power strip dangling from the ceiling
  • Drill press & drill vise (for drilling out bolt). Not needed, but really nice if available
  • Pliers & 10MM socket for pinch bolt.
  • Shopvac and broom to clean up little fiberglass bits.
Time used (to nearest 15 minutes)
  • Trying to install the handle the wrong way - about an hour.
  • Using drill press to drill hole in hexbolt for emergency brake cable holding bolt - 15 minutes.
  • Trimming additional material from Emergency brake handle location - 30 minutes (mostly cause I kept breaking my cutting wheels)
  • Making brake cable and cable housing shorter by using Dremil tool - 15 minutes.
  • Twisting on handle, running cable to rear wheel & securing the cable with a pinch bolt - 15 minutes.
  • Cleanup - 15 minutes.

Mating the cowl to the frame.

Once the lighting was mostly done on the cowl section, it was time to mate the cowl to the frame.

As long as the clear canopy lens is off, I found it was still possible to lift the cowl myself from my workbench down to the frame to see how the pieces would mate together. Doing so required me to stand on the side of the cowl. To move the part, one hand grips the cargo port and the other grips the dashboard lip. Once the cowl was placed on the pivot tube, I could then see if anything needed trimming. One problem I found was that each pivot tube cover (the red thing) was too wide. Using a sabre saw, I quickly solved that problem. When it came to picking a spot for deciding where bolts & washers go, put them as close as possible to the pivot tube. I found out later that I needed to trim the excess lip off with a sabre saw otherwise it would hit against the battery tray assembly when the cowl was tipped up. When the cowl is bolted on, it is possible to cut off this lip. However, it would be much easier if this excess lip is cut off when the bolt-holes are initially drilled out (see below)

Next, I tilted up the cowl to install the pivot tube padding. For padding, the kit came with two squares of black neoprene material. I trimmed them with a razor knife, then wrapped them with duct tape. Packing tape was recommended, but I figured that duct tape would hold up better in my climate. Holding the pieces under the cowl to cover the pivot channel showed that there were no major issues with how things would fit together. However, I decided NOT to work under the car to drill holes for the covers.

Instead, with the help of an assistant, I removed the cowl and flipped it upside down on a cushioned table. Drilling holes and testing bolt fit was much easier to do from this angle. Then, the canopy was flipped back & returned to the frame. The parts were held up and Eight 1/4x20 x1" bolts plus 16 fender washers were then used to secure the parts together. Having the holes pre-drilled made installation MUCH easier! If I was to do this again, I think it would be easier trimming off the excess lip to be only one washer wide while the cowl is upside down rather than trim & fit once the cowl is installed on the car.

These were put on when the cowl was upside down.

Don't forget to put in the spacing washers between the frame and tray!
Also, this is a good time to apply anti-slip tape to the foot rest of the battery tray.

Put XLR connector on the external 48V charger. Put wires on the female XLR connector & incorporate into the wiring harness.

I started the chassis harness where the male chassis connector mates to the female cowl connector. Then I worked down the side of the battery tray, then passed the wire bundle through a hole in front of the battery tray. Along the way, the harness attaches to the horn with spade connectors (horn is mounted to the front of the battery tray). The battery cutoff switch & DC charging port will be in front of the battery compartment so when the fender is flipped up, the wires won't need to move far. Finally, the wires travel back to the plug-in connector that came with the DC-DC converter. The converter gets it's power by feeding a pair of wires back through the harness to tap the 48V battery pack. After it was done, I covered with split tubing to keep the wires looking nice and tidy. (White masking tape will be replaced with black electric tape to make it look better)

Taking the extra steps to create a two piece harness design was definitely worth the extra effort! Contrast the before & after wiring image after the cowl is finally mated to the frame. Plugging in the cowl to the chassis connector is such a satisfying feeling! The wire bundle is held in place with zip ties along the temporary tray then down and along the side of the battery tray on the way to the battery compartment pass-through hole. After the first shakedown cruise, the wiring on the temporary shelf will be trimmed & covered too. In the foreground, the steering tube can be seen, ready to accept the steering control. About two inches have been trimmed off with a saber saw so the steering control wire bundles can reach the connectors in the center of the temporary shelf.

Drill the required holes to mount a battery cutoff switch to the side of the fender towards the front left. The DC charge port fitting can be soldered together, then installed on the other side. Keeping the charge port & switch locations near the front so the fender can lift up without needing too much excess wire. Also, consider trimming the fender in the rear so there is no need to remove the reversing switch handle every time the rear fender assembly is lifted up for servicing.

Also, the throttle control on the handle bar was going to go through the canopy molex connector as well. However, this throttle will eventually be replaced so I'm keeping the wiring separate. The throttle will be connected to the DC controller in a later step.

Kit materials installed:
1- Cowl assembly
1 - battery cutoff switch (from ev-parts kit)
2 - Neoprene foam swatches for pivot tube (from BlueSky basic kit)
2- Fiberglass pivot tube channel covers (from BlueSky basic kit)
4- swatches of packing cloth from kit to cover frame & jack stands (from BlueSky basic kit)

Other materials used:
  • Duct tape (for pivot tube covers)
  • Male/Female 12pin molex style connectors & XLR connectors
  • zip ties
  • wire wrap
  • Wire & screws cited above
  • Wood & Spray paint for spacers (if used)
  • spade connectors (horn)
  • Pair of battery terminals for accessory loads
  • Black, red & white wires for harness & 2 inline fuses.
  • solder & shrink tubing
Tools used:
  • Dremil & cutting wheel (for trimming fiberglass channel covers)
  • Razor knife (for trimming pivot tool neoprene)
  • Drill & 1/4" bit
  • Sabre saw & two wood blades (they wear out quickly)
  • soldering pen (for molex connectors)
  • helping-hands & c-clamp.
  • Screwdrivers, spanners & ratchets
Time used (to nearest quarter hour)
  • If battery tray installed, unbolt it & remove from frame - 15 minutes.
  • Pad jack stands. Lift frame & test fit cowl to pivot tube (can also use automotive ramps which give same amount of height) - 15 minutes.
  • Trim neoprene pivot tube covers with razor knife & secure with duct tape - 30 minutes.
  • Measure, mark, trim pivot tube covers with sabre saw - 15 minutes.
  • Remove cowl & put on padded table & drill out bolt holes. Install bumpers. - 30 minutes.
  • (ideally, trim lip off with sabre saw in this step too - should take another 15 minutes)
  • Put cowl back on chassis & Bolt-on - 15 minutes.
  • Cut & trim traction strips and apply to battery tray foot rest area - 15 minutes
  • Reinstall battery tray & secure tray with bolts - 15 minutes
  • Install switch & bracket for 48V meter & wire to molex connector-3o minutes
  • Run 12V wires from DC-DC converter and battery meter to chassis MOLEX connector. Add on ends to allow connection to batteries, then cover all wires with wire wrap - 30 minutes.
  • Mount horn to outside of battery tray and connect to harness - 15 minutes.
  • Solder XLR connector to end of battery charger & put leads on female XLR - 15 minutes.
  • Solder wires to Chassis Molex connector & attach to cowl molex - 30 minutes.
  • Trim control stick with sabre saw then tighten controls to control stick - 15 minutes

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More cowl wiring.

Understanding how the wiring harness works is key. What worked best for me was to re-draw the wiring diagram to include changes such as noting pin-outs for my connectors, recording where my speedometer taps should go and where wires change color. Making such a diagram now will make troubleshooting future problems much easier. Once I had my diagram re-drawn, I then started from the back of the vehicle and worked forward.

Mounting the tail light was done by attaching 6" angle brackets using four 1 1/2 - 1/4-20 hex bolts. 8 washers were used as spacers. Note: When picking up angle brackets, make SURE holes line up with each other as these brackets appear to be made in batches with holes in slightly different places! The tail light needed a 3rd wire added to the body of it for a ground wire. Then the three wires were connected with electric tape wrapped crimp-on spade connectors to the harness. The rear turn signals were easier to connect since they happened to have crimp-on bullet style connectors that matched the harness wires.

The Trimlock starts from a point on the left and wraps around to an identical stopping place on the right. However, it cannot go across the dashboard area since the faring bulkhead and faring lip now are riveted together. Once pushed on the cowl lip, it will be modified as below.

The stock wiring harness was fed from the tail light area under the cowl lip to the front of the dashboard. To hold the wiring up, I used 6-32 machine screws with nuts and some home made sheet metal straps. The screws were installed along the cowl lip so the screw heads would be under the Trimlock. To put the trimlock back on, the non-visible part of the trimlock needed to be notched with a Dremil cutting wheel so the head of the screw was still covered but the rear of the screw could pass through.

Midway down the lip, there are two brake indicator wires for controlling the rear brake light. These wires were extended so they can reach the two hand brake switches on the handlebar. This pair will end at a 2-pin connector, meeting another on the control stick, that will go on to the handlebar hand brake switches.

I wish I could say I was a neat organized wiring guy but the reality is that modifying the harness to the BugE was a truly messy business. Each component was soldered onto the harness as per my wiring diagram. Originally, I was going to solder all connections. However, in the interest of time, I finally resorted to using wire taps for the speedometer indicator wires. Although it looks messy, the wiring is not really that complicated. Once I decide on the final dashboard layout, I'll shorten some of the wires to make this look better.

In the middle of the shelf, you can see the rear of the 48V meter. Next to it is a black switch for the fan. In the middle there are now some connectors. A 9-pin (lights), 12pin (speedometer) are installed. The red and yellow wires are for a 2-pin (brake light) connector ready to plug into the control stick. Along the right (driver's side left) are wires that are on their way to the chassis.
Also in this bundle will be a 48V pair of wires for the battery meter. Also, a wire pair will be run for the horn too since the horn will be mounted to the battery tray. The throttle cable will also run along this path, to be connected once the cowl is mated with the rest of the car.

Finally, it was time for testing. Turn signals worked as did the brake light. Headlights worked and the speedometer lit up a nice luminescent blue. The BugE seemed to come to life! I only had two problems. First, on the speedometer,I wanted the hazard indicator to turn on when the brakes were applied. Instead, I got the high-temperature indicator. This was understandable since the speedometer wire bundle had light purple & a grayish purple that are easily confused. Then, I discovered my vent fan was wired backwards (it has polarity). After fixing both issues, the wiring was then tucked above the shelf & zip tied to it.

The end result? Some nice lighting of course! Not only do the lights work, but the speedometer also displays the status of the lights too!

Tools used:
  • Table & cushions to put BugE cowl on
  • Good quality wire stripper (Sears Craftsman)
  • Helping-hands tool (Radio Shack)
  • Soldering iron & base
  • Trouble light (to see in cowl better)
  • Pliers (to crimp tap connectors)
  • Crimper tool (to crimp spade connectors)
  • Small screwdrivers & adjustable wrench
  • 12V battery for testing circuits
  • Drill & 1/4" bit (for making more Ziptie holes in the wiring shelf)
Materials used:
  • Assorted spade connectors (didn't count, had a spade connector kit)
  • Solder, heat shrink tubing & matches
  • Electric tape
  • Assorted medium size Zipties (I find I use this size the most).
  • Copper wire in colors red, black, yellow & blue.
Approximate time:
  • Redraw cowl wire diagram (noting wire color changes & tap locations) - 1:30 minutes.
  • Mount tail light - mark & drill mounting holes, then mount tail light - 30 minutes.
  • Extend brake light wires & solder/heat shrink headlight, mirror lights/fan (solder pen warm-up time included) - 1 hour.
  • Add speedometer wire harness taps as per new wire diagram - 30 minutes.
  • Trim lock notches, drill mount holes, run wire through strap - 1 hour.
  • Troubleshoot & Redo polarity problem on fan - 15 minutes.
The lighting performed OK. However, NY insisted that I change my lighting configuration to have a headlight in front. They also wanted separate DOT blinkers rather than using blinkers in the mirrors. So, I discarded my original wire harness and just made my own from automotive wire and MOLEX connectors. The new wiring harness is MUCH easier to troubleshoot and looks much nicer than my first attempt. Read about it HERE