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Electrical Locomotion

DeesThe last few weeks have had everybody wondering about the future of our economy. Common sense says that hard times will require a good deal of sacrifice. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to predict that one of the first areas most folks will feel the squeeze is in higher fuel costs. This post will be an attempt to share with you what I've learned about building your own electric powered vehicle.

I'm sure everybody has seen those futuristic looking hybrid cars on the road, and I'm also sure that only a small percentage of you have the extra cash to spend 40 thousand dollars in an effort to save a few dollars at the pump. There is a lot of information on the internet these day about home made electric transports, and a good place to begin is EV Album.com. Here you can find an easy to navigate collection of projects including electric powered bikes, motorcycles, cars, and trucks. There's even a guy who managed to get a small tractor working with a golf cart motor.starter motor bike

The cheapest way to get moving with electric power is to convert one of your pedal powered bikes. There are some nifty kits available that use a small motor that attaches directly to the hub of your bike wheel. These packages start at around 300 dollars and can go up to a thousand and more depending on battery size and motor power. I've heard of several people adapting starter motors to power a bike chain, and if you're lucky you might be able to get a bike motorized for less than 50 bucks this way, but be prepared to walk home a few times before you get it perfected.

hondaThe next step up in electric mobility would be converting a motorcycle. The average low end cost seems to be about 1500 dollars with some people managing a bit under that and most going several thousand over. You can expect to get somewhere between a 10 and 50 mile range on each charge depending on road conditions and how good your batteries are.  

The holy grail of electric locomotion would be the elecrtic car/truck. Once you find the right car to convert and take out its gas powered engine you should be prepared to spend at least 10 thousand dollars and 100 or more man hours to get something reliable. The maximum range people seem to be reporting is around 50 miles, which will most likely improve as battery technology gets better. At the time of this writting the most popular vehicle for this type of conversion is the Chevy S-10 truck.

I considered what it would take to replace our old Isuzu farm truck's engine with an electric motor. Once I priced the motor, batteries, motor controller, battery charger, and other various items I concluded that it would be easier and cheaper to just buy a used golf cart. We found one on Craigs list a few months ago and have been pleasantly surprised at its performance crossing our creek and dealing with the muddy conditions here. Of course it doesn't have the same power as the four wheel drive truck, but it's a breeze to get unstuck if you have someone pushing from behind, and sometimes it just feels better to get by with less.



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