Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Day with Electro Automotive

So today was my last day with Mike and Shari disassembling the VW 'VoltsRabbit'.  We removed the lead acid battery storage cases, all the extra wiring for the motor and controller, both wheels and front axels because they mount to the transmission, the wiring snake that runs to the rear batteries and charger, the DC electric motor and transmission.  So the car full of batteries that I posted a picture of the other day now looks like this...

After removing the motor and transmission, we proceeded to take the Rabbits transmission apart. We did this because one problem that we have is generating the adapter plate made to mount the electric motor to our transmission since our bell housing is enclosed.  By doing this, Mike was able to show me how to make the appropriate measurement in order to have the adapter plate produced and I will be sending him that information as soon as I get home.  Immediately afterwards I will be sending them the transmission.  He will then be able to make an adapter plate (all the components in the picture) that will look something like this...

While I was here I learned many things about the conversion, and what steps need to be taken to have this be successful.  My list for how the future students need to do this is:

1. READ the CONVERT IT manual... believe me I'm going to need to as well

2. PLAN where all the components will go... space may be an issue in our car if we use lead acid batteries

3. PRECISION and PATIENCE are going to be key... there's so much going on that we will have to make sure to get everything right or else we could have big problems

4. CONTACT Shari and Mike... they're here to help us be successful and make the '39 turn heads (or contact me, but I promise you they will be of more help with the components and conversion)

5. PROMOTE the project... we want Mike and Shari to come perform a workshop for RC in the valley so do your part... also as most of you know we need more support and sponsors so don't be afraid to email someone about helping out, who knows where it may take you... (I'm in California if you haven't noticed yet, and I've been in contact with some important people and companies like Phil Conserva, Trexa, and a couple others...)

6. READ the manual again... it'll help out a maybe a little bit... oh and there are some DVD's too, but read the book 

On another note for the Silver Streak the breaking news I had yesterday is actually quite interesting... This is because the lithium batteries work well with AC motors and kits, and we had originally planned to use the DC Medium kit, but Shari informed me today that there is a new AC controller and motor kit that they are about to begin selling as a conversion and it's not too much more than the kit we were planning on buying... The AC kit will give us easier use with the Trexa battery pack, and may have a little bit more range and higher top end speed and be able to handle a heavier weight bearing load.. But that is something the new group along with Doc needs to chat about and figure out..(personally I think the AC kit may be a better buy and is more of what the college is looking for especially with the battery pack)... But that's all a little food for thought

Finally I want to personally thank Mike and Shari for having me out here in California! I've had a great time, eaten some good food, and gotten to know two very dedicated, hardworking, and intelligent people! I don't think I can thank them enough for the opportunity to visit.  Everyone involved with RC Electric and Roanoke College owes them a thank you and you can email them at:  If anyone has any questions about my trip or want pictures you can get in touch with me on facebook or email me at  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 2 with Electro Automotive

Hey guys, I hope everyone is doing well! As for me today, I helped Mike break down their Volkswagen Rabbit model car.  

We started by removing all sixteen batteries, each weighing in around 76 pounds.  

Next we removed several components of the conversion, such as: power braking system, battery inter-cooling fan, the battery charging controller, the controller, the pot box, the DC/DC converter, all the battery interconnects, and other various wires. 

When we were done, this is what was left in the front of the car... So there is a little bit more left to finish up tomorrow..

But now for the news... As most of you know, Phil Conserva (the producer of CSI) was our commencement speaker, and he is big into electric cars.. He is affiliated with Trexa, which makes driving platforms for smaller vehicles (google them and watch the video, it's worth it) and he was able to get me in contact with their CEO.. and they saw some pictures of our project online and they are willing to help us by getting us a battery pack at cost, which is great, but also leaves some more questions to be answered with how will the system work with the medium kit from Electro Automotive.. So I'm working on that while I'm here too! I'd love to go see their shop, but I don't think I'll have time to visit it unfortunately... 

Stayed tuned for more updates and pictures of the disassembled Rabbit!

RC Electric Meets Electro Automotive

Hey guys just updating the blog from California! I'm here visiting Electro Automotive to see how the conversions are set up and performed.  Yesterday I met Shari Prange and Mike Brown, and got to see the car in which we will be working on, pictured below...

 After meeting them at Bryant's Auto Electric, I followed them back to their shop at their home in Felton, CA to see how it was set up and what they were working on.  

Mike was working on a blue EV that had been purchased by a friend from someone who did the conversion on their own... And it was not making the grade to say the least... So I got to help Mike design and manufacture a new mount for the liquid cooled controller (seen below).

Today, I get to help them disassemble the car for the workshop that they will be performing next week.  So please stay posted for more updates and pictures from my trip! Also, I have some other big news for RC Electric that I will be posting about later today!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

RC Electric Receives more National Recognition

RC Electric Receives more National Recognition

More national recognition! Here over the last couple weeks electric car has blown up all over the web, and most recently on USA Today. It has also been mentioned by the Nissan Leaf Facebook page, and has over a hundred likes and eleven re-posts! Autoweek also has recently featured the car in an article! Be sure to follow the blog over the next couple weeks due to a trip to our friends at Electro Automotive!

Friday, June 1, 2012

First National Recognition on Discovery Channel

First National Acclaim!  The electric was featured on Discovery Channel's website.  We almost immediately got 460 likes and 37 tweets.  If we can accrue enough likes our car will move on to the next level of press.  So go check it out and like our car!

The 1939 Pontiac Silver Streak made its first public appearance at graduation on May 5, 2012. Phil Conserva, Co-producer of tv show CSI and Roanoke College graduate, was the commencment speaker and met with the graduating environmental students about the car.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Orchard Expansion 3/12/2012

Action shot of Charles Leonard "taking a junk tree to task" with the help of his trusty chainsaw.  Of course, very precise ecological geophysics protocols were observed in the completion of the aformentioned procedure. 

Daniel Waters pensively contemplating the meaning of human existance as he gazes off into the horizon immediately after grafting a new apple variety against a backdrop of old sub-Appalachian meadows.

Hey, look, another nice graft.

On March 12, 2012; the Roanoke College Environmental Studies program students prepared the orchard area at Alta Mons for orchard expansion.  This was essentially a three-part process of removing mature "scab" trees from the site, planting an additional 34 apple whips at regular intervals in a rectangular ground-plan, and cleft grafting of the apple trees with international/domestic heritage varieties.  The last of these three steps was finished on March 17, with additional assistance from  Roanoke College Earthbound volunteers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Alta Mons Initiative: Apple Orchard Progress (3/17/2012)

On the morning and early afternoon of St. Patrick's day, the following modifications have been completed in/around the Roanoke College Environmental Studies Program's Heritage Orchard:
  • Removal of [mature] scrap trees which were shading out new growth apples and/or cluttering the orchard space, which is currently composed of four rows extending from behind the Pearman Retreat House towards the horse pasture.
  • Planting of apple trees to bring the total number to forty eight trees.
  • Grafting of approximately thirty varieties of apples on the extant trees.
  • Removal of ailanthus altissima colony on the site, which was previously spreading new growth uphill towards the orchard.
  • Flagging of future elm tree placements along the interior side of the fence-line (opposite the road, extending from the Pearman House to the Purgatory Creek crossing).
We would like to thank the staff/volunteers at Camp Alta Mons for assistance in ailanthus removal and providing an excellent lunch for the Environmental Science 400 and Earthbound students. 

Electric Car

RC Electric is a Student Organization that was started as a Student Group Project of the Environmental Studies Program. The previous graduating environmental capstone course and previous RC electric members have brainstormed ways to introduce a classic electric car to the Roanoke College community in a manner that would place Roanoke College ahead of the pack. We are currently working of the restoration of a 1939 Pontiac 4 door Silver Streak; the plan is to convert it into an electrical powered vehicle. We hope that the car will exmplify the College's motto, "Classic for Tomorrow." The Pontiac was purchased from Oliver's Garage in Mt. Tabor, Va. The students, under the supervision of a professional mechanic, Jackie McCann, are doing the majority of the work which includes everything from the sanding of the body to the electric conversion. In accordance with Roanoke College, it has been agreed to have this project complete by 2014.

Environmental Studies Lecture Series

For several graduating seniors in the Environmental Studies program, this spring semester has been dedicated to developing a lecture series focusing on key environmental interests like sustainability, concentricity, and alternative energy. This series is designed to build positive relationships with environmental professionals, program alumni, and the local community. We are excited to begin our lecture series with Guy Harbert and Dr. Mike Burton. The dates for these talks are currently being finalized and will be posted shortly.

Mike, Megan, Ryan, Justin & Stephen
The fruite of apples do differ in greatness, forme, colour
and taste; some covered with a red skin, others yellowe or green, varying
indefinitely according to the soyle and climate; some very great, some little,
and many of a middle sort; some are sweet or tastie, or something sower; most
be of a middle taste betweene sweete and sower, to which to distinguish I
thinke it impossible…
John Gerarde, 1597
(quoted in The Common Ground Book of Orchards)

2012 Roanoke College Environmental Studies Heritage Apple Inventory List
Alta Mons Heritage Orchard / Memorial Circle / Elizabeth Campus Heritage Orchard

(Black) Ben Davis (Phil Hash)
Buck Mountain Ladyfinger
(Phil Hash)
(Old Tree)
Mammoth Blacktwig
Maiden Blush (Howard Crain’s)
Pound Sweet (Walking Purchase Farm)
Winter Banana (Howard Crain’s)
Chenango Strawberry (Howard Crain’s)
Clara’s Creek Apple
Magnum Bonum
Priestley (Tucker Prisley)
Milam apple (Daniel Waters)
Virginia Beauty (Phil Hash)
Wolf River
Yates Winter apple
Yellow Transparent
York Imperial
Winter Sweet Paradise
White Winter Pearmain
Grimes Golden
Court Pendu Plat
Isaac Newton Apple /
Flower of Kent (UNeb)
Indian Creek (Jon Cawley)
Bloody Ploughman (Daniel Waters)
Bardsey Island Apple
(Old Tree)
Lost Mountain (Dave Scaer)
Port Onieda (Dave Scaer)
Virginia Eileen (Dave Scaer)
Nelson County Crab/Taliaferro
(VA Vintage Fruit)
Burford’s Redflesh
Wellington Bloomless
Frequin Rouge
Drap D’Or (Dave Scaer / Chotard Family, Nantes, France)
Lass O’Gowrie (Daniel Waters )
Albemarle Pippin (Virginia Vintage Fruit)
Beauty of Bath
(Somerset) Redstreak
Potter County White
Transparent (Alvie Fourness Farm, Potter
County, PA)
Irish Peach
James Grieve
Doux Normandie
Isle of Wight Pippin
Mountain Boomer
Junaluska (Kitua Cherokee Site)
Cullasaga (Kitua Cherokee Site)
Nickajack (Kitua Cherokee Site)
Indian Creek (Jon Cawley)
Allegheny Portage (Jon Cawley)
Gibbon’s Smokehouse
(Masonic Homes)
Pomme Gris
Isaac Newton Apple /
Flower of Kent (UNeb)
Junaluska (Kitua Cherokee Site)
Indian Creek (Jon Cawley)
Virginia Beauty (Phil Hash)
Amasya #2 (Turkey)
Doc Matthews
Potter County White
Transparent (Alvie Fourness Farm, Potter
County, PA)
Betsy Deaton
Crow Egg
Cullasaga (Kitua Cherokee Site)
Circassian Apple
Buck Mountain Ladyfinger
(Phil Hash)
Priestley (Tucker Prisley)
Bardsey Island Apple
Rusty Coat
Winesap? (Dayton Gordley’s Apple)
Johnny Appleseed Apple
(Nova Ohio via American Historic Forests)
Sarah’s Apple (Summer Rambo)
Northern Spy
Kindal Synap
Bryson Seedling