Archive for retrofitting

Save these other cars

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Desirable machines, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , on 26/05/2015 by Alexander

Yesterday I linked a beautifully-written article on what cars are worth saving from their ICE. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth having a look because the fundamental premise is saving cars that had crap engines but were otherwise lovely.

And because I’m a bit of an unoriginal simpleton, here are some of my own picks:

Citroen DS

Credit: Boldride

Credit: Boldride

No-one in the automotive world can deny the Citroen DS was revolutionary. Materials, aerodynamics, technology, safety and comfort were all redefined by the iconic French car, but it’s Achilles heel was the engine. There was nothing revolutionary about it, in fact, it was quite the contrary. On release, it had a 1.9l petrol unit, derived from the old Traction Avant, a car from the 1930’s. Subsequent engines introduced electronic injection, but you probably won’t see it written down as part of the huge range of the DS’s groundbreaking innovations.

Such a legend deserves to live on, and a technological advance like electrification would suit it like a glove. How you’d get the complicated hydraulics to work is for boffins, but it can’t be beyond the ken of man.

DeLorean DMC-12

Credit: DeLorean

Credit: DeLorean

A no-brainer. The DeLorean had a 2.8-litre Peugeot V6, which was underpowered for such a heavy car. Solution: a torquey electric motor, that suits its subsequent sci-fi credentials perfectly. Back to the Future, indeed.

And the best thing is, someone’s done it!

Alpine A108/Willys Interlagos
I love old Alpines, so much that I put the A110 in my Dream Garage. This particular Alpine was the type of old car powered by one those tiny engines that are bang-slap on the fine line of being suitable for cars or only good for lawn-mowers. The largest put into one I believe was for the Brazilian version (with the lovely name “Interlagos”, and manufactured by Willys, and pictured above) and had 945cc. And as anyone who has had this sort of car knows, the racket these cars make can be unbearable, making it perfect for EV treatment. You’d reach your destination without your ears bleeding and head pounding from a constant thrum of a noisy engine.

And because the A108 is so small, aerodynamic and light, I reckon it would be rather efficient in its energy consumption.

Volvo 200 series
Because classic cars can’t all be sports cars or legends, here’s an example of a humdrum everyday car made famous for its safety and practicality. According to some motoring journalists, the only reason some models had large six-cylinder engines was to be able to lug so much weight around. So hey presto, there you have the perfect excuse to electrify it.

And that’s just the excuse, there are other good reasons to bring one up more to date. There are its fabulous lines that have aged unbelievably well, its comfort or that wonderful interior. Plus, since it was rather reliable, and always a contender for the Volvo High-Mileage Club, it’s probable that 200 series engines have so many miles on them that the pistons have worn down to nubs and all the wiring is flaky and brittle. So you might as well prepare it for even more miles by transforming it into an EV.

Another of the best reasons I can think of is to stop them being slammed by tastless modders.

I loved doing this. I’ll think I’ll do some more later


Save these cars

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception with tags , , on 25/05/2015 by Alexander

One of my biggest worries as a conscious person who doesn’t want to see his planet bled dry of resources is what will happen to old cars if suddenly there’s a shift away from internal combustion engines?

There’s no good reason to throw away a car that’s in perfectly good condition apart from a broken engine, since the engine is where most malfunctions start. There’s the cooling system, with the radiator, the piping, the reservoir. The exhaust system, with manifold and mufflers and all sorts of bits that will wear out over time. The transmission, with gearbox, prop-shafts, clutch and linkages. And the engine itself, with oil, gaskets, valves, push-rods, pistons,  and so on.

Cars are usually thrown into a scrapyard once they’ve hit a certain mileage, because the engine is probably worn, but the rest of the car is probably alright. So why consign it to oblivion?

I’ve always been a fan of retrofits and turning an ICE car into an EV has undeniable benefits. For example, how about this BBC article that proposes modifying old classic cars that were lovely to look at but had poorly-engineered powerplants got them onto “Worst Car” lists since they arrived.

Undoubtedly that there are hurdles, caveats and other issues with this approach, but we’ll delve into that some other time. For now, just picture yourself driving your favourite car with the knowledge that it won’t overheat, vomit oil, seize up or spend a week in a sodding garage because its f**king head gasket decided not to do its job anymore (this last sentence is my personal rant because THAT’S WHAT’S BLOODY WELL HAPPENED TO ME).

Vegetable-fuelled Merc

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , on 29/09/2009 by Alexander

How I converted my MB to run on waste vegetable oil. An interesting account on an American bloke who converted his car to run on what comes out of restaurants. I was rather surprised since a) I believed diesel was non-existent in the US, and b) the very first episode of new Top Gear basically said all you need is the oil and turpentine.

Alt Fuel #6 – LPG

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , on 30/07/2009 by Alexander

Liquified Petroleum Gas is far from new. However, if we’re trying to find current alternatives to petrol and diesel, this should be taken into account.

– Any petrol car can be modified to run on LPG. In theory, any diesel car can too, but it isn’t as advantageous and is even illegal in some countries (such as Portugal).
– Much cheaper than petrol (around half the price) and somewhat cheaper than diesel. Current trends in motor taxing will penalise diesels, making LPG all the more worthwhile moneywise.
– Much cleaner than either diesel or petrol.
– As far as alternative fuels go, this is the most widespread. Except for Spain, it’s pretty straight forward to find a pump in Europe.
– You have two fuel tanks, one for gas and one for petrol. Should one run out you always have the other, so you’ll never find yourself walking along the roadside to the nearest pump with a petrol can. This is also great for autonomy.
– Despite common misbelief, it’s safer than liquid fuels. In the case of an accident, you’re far more likely to get leakage from a petrol tank than the reinforced gas tank. Explosions are less likely too. Gas dissipates quickly at normal temperatures while liquid fuels will trickle and pool.
– If you’ve had LPG installed but don’t want it any more, the process is reversible. If you want you can strip out the tank and apparatus and use it on another car, and the car where you took it from will just have some very small holes that need covering up.

– Space. The extra tank may occupy the place where the spare tyre should be (if the tank’s toroidal) or half the boot (if it’s cylindrical).
– The extra tank is also extra weight in the car.
– Modifying a car to run on LPG can be expensive, depending on what car you have. But depending on how far you drive, you can cover the cost in fuel savings in a year or two, so this point is pretty moot. My father installed a €600 LPG kit in a €3000 car. It took him six months for what he saved in fuel to payoff the installation and 3 years to cover the car.
– Some subterranean parking lots prohibit LPG vehicles parking inside. This, the legislators say, is due to the fact that leaked LPG can be dangerous in closed spaces. But in truth, it’s an admission of how the law fails to act upon ill-ventilated carparks where the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning are far higher than anyone getting a whiff of LPG in the air.
– It’s a by-product of petrol. So only as long as there’s a demand for lots of petrol, will LPG be cheap. And only as long as there’s petrol will there be LPG.

Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
Hybrid Retrofitting