Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It's Always Something

You may be old enough to remember the late great Gilda Radner and one of her stable of characters, Rosanne Rosannadanna. If not, maybe you've seen it on old SNL reruns. Anyway, her trademark line,"It just goes to show you, it's always something — if it ain't one thing, it's another" seems to apply to my EV projects.

Saturday I took a little jaunt down to Barnes & Noble to kill an hour browsing. I can generally speed skim a book in about five minutes and get the gist of it, so I rarely buy any. It's an enjoyable diversion, especially on days like last Saturday when the wife has flute students stacked up at the house all day.

So I'm driving the PorschEV and thinking: "Wow, this thing is running especially smooth this morning." Uh-oh! That usually means something's not right. Sure enough when I stepped on the brakes it was clear that the power boost was missing in action. The good news is the brakes still worked but with much higher effort, so I drove home without incident.

You may recall from my Road Test video that I was complaining about how noisy the power brake vacuum pump was. It seemed like a good idea at the time since it was a Ford product from the same eTransit Connect that supplied the Siemens motor and Azure Dynamics inverter. It was a diaphragm type pump, and when it was in service it made a huge clickety-clack racket. Mounted directly over the passenger footwell, I think the noise was magnified by the sheet metal of the battery tray and no amount of Dynamat was going to dampen the sound to my wife's satisfaction.

I pulled the offending part and tested it with my bench battery. Click - nothing. DOA. Casters up. Pinin' for the fjords. Pushin' up Daisies. Good riddance. 

I'd been looking at options for a quieter vacuum pump and settled on a HELLA 009428081 High Performance Electric Vacuum Pump. Ordered it Saturday afternoon and it was on my front porch Monday afternoon, free shipping with my Amazon Prime membership. Based on reviews and such, it seems to be OEM for current Subaru and Volvo as well as some GM models. It's smaller and lighter than the Ford unit and as a centrifugal pump, it promises to be quieter as well.

I reused the mounting bracket including the rubber buffers, so the new pump is double damped but still made a pretty noticeable whirring sound on the bench. The good news is that the sound gets mixed with the cooling fan and power steering pump and all of that is just background noise. The clattering vibration is gone and the brakes are back to normal so we'll declare a small victory on this one.

"It just goes to show you, it's always something — if it ain't one thing, it's another"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ancient History and Interior Updates

Absent mindedly scrolling through Porsche 924 videos on YouTube (actually looking for customization ideas), I stumbled across a video that looked hauntingly familiar.

Yes, it's the PorschEV with a video walk around by a previous owner. He comments on the bra hiding some body damage. All the details right down to the wear on the driver's seat and the aftermarket radio leave no doubt that this is my car. Nice bit of archival information, what Antiques Roadshow might call "provenance".

Did I mention the radio? My wonderful kids pitched in to get me a new sound system and voltmeter for my upcoming birthday. The radio portion of the old one worked ok, but the CD player was non-operational and it lacked the Bluetooth connectivity I've come to appreciate so much with my Leafs. The new unit is a JVC KD-X330BTS with the Bluetooth hands free phone and music streaming features I was looking for. I figured that as long as the center console was opened up for the radio, I might as well replace the useless oil pressure gauge with something that actually registered some worthwhile information. The Bosch Voltmeter filled that niche very nicely. Both were available at our local Pep Boys store.

The clock on the right still keeps perfect time, so it stays. In the center are the air conditioning controls and I ran a set of wires from the temperature rheostat for future use as an input to the PWM A/C compessor when I get that charged this summer.

These projects are always an educational opportunity and I learned that the Kenwood brand is manufactured by JVC. That meant the wiring connector was a direct plug-in for the new radio and I didn't need to rewire anything. It did seem like a good time to replace the shop-worn old radio antenna with a modern rubber mast style.

The microphone for the hands-free bluetooth phone link is mounted to the stationary steering wheel housing and seems unobtrusive enough. I called each of the kids on the hands-free to thank them for their gifts. OK, it might have been a bit of a victory lap as well.

I'm very pleased with the results and feel like it really dresses up the center console.