Friday, December 26, 2008

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

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