Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yes, you can weld with a ratchet

Since my BugE was stranded at a motor-sports shop for a regular inspection rather than the more detailed inspection that a home built vehicle must go through, I decided to fetch it back and store the BugE until the paperwork can be completed and I can then transport it to the various stops it needs to go to.

There is a legal way to get the BugE home without using a truck. I decided to tow it. It seems unsafe - and it is. However, the law is the law. So, I got a nice big rope and had another car tow the BugE. It was an adventure to say the least. Unlike driving in regular traffic, I didn't have the means to avoid potholes. So, I hit them straight-on. However, the canopy structure experienced very little shaking - even going over some rough railroad tracks! One scary part was when the tow car went around a corner too sharply and threatened to pull the bug over with the rope! Fortunately, I accelerated and that reduced the tension on the rope enough for me to match the turn. I eventually got it home. Obviously, I lived through the experience. It was so sad to have such a great vehicle only on the road with a rope. Don't be cruel! Let the BugE go! Oh well, someday.

Once home, I decided to re-install the Powercheq modules. Unfortunately, when I was putting on a bolt from one of the rear batteries, I saw a spark that caused me to drop the ratchet handle which then touched another battery terminal with a noisy flash. I could hear the hum of electricity going through the ratchet handle! My batteries were destroying themselves! First, I tried hitting the ratchet off with a larger ratchet I had within arms reach. More flashes, more humming & I then noticed one terminal had welded itself to the socket and the other terminal was welded to the handle! Finally, I took a big wood stick nearby and hit the handle. Another poof of noisy sparks, but at least the handle came off! Whew!

The result was one ugly looking melted post. Fortunately, I could still use it. I decided to deal with the large battery imbalance by installing the rest of the Powercheq modules. So far, the modules seem to be re-balancing the pack. Each battery still works and reads nearly full voltage. However, I'm sure there will be a performance hit. "How much" is an interesting question.

Finally, I put the BugE away and tied down the cycle shelter. Over the next few weeks, I'll need to save my pennies again and think of the best way to make the BugE road-legal for the least cost. So far, to get a coveted VIN from New York State involves this little procedure HERE .

When working on the BugE, safety first! Have layers of protection not only in devices but procedures as well. Remember, with live circuits, use only ONE hand not two! Also, cover up exposed live wires with SOMETHING if they are likely to flop around.

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