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Old 05-07-2019, 01:16 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Raleigh
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Roger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quiteRoger is a lot like rmcdaniels, but not quite
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I met Ed White in the elevator of our hotel near Barber; he was finishing up the Moscow-Paris Rally and we were there for the start of the Barber race. We talked about the rally and it sounded like a lot of fun. I talked to the team about it and my brother Robert wanted to do it in his meticulously maintained late model Lotus, which sounded like a fun road trip. I'd been wanting to do something else in the Electrica 007, and this looked like it might work, but Robert wasn't touching that, so I asked another team member, Ricky, and he was on board with it. I figured I'd mount a big generator in the 007 and just drive it until the batteries died, then pop out some folding chairs and read a book for a couple of hours while it charged back up. This was going to be easy.

We ran the 24-hour race in the Stag that weekend (it ran all weekend, but some idiot made a loophole that let another team run a nice late model Lexus sedan in C, so we never really had a chance), then got some sleep and showed up Monday morning for the rally.

A couple of things about the 007 based on the fact you really need to run the generator while driving as a range extender, otherwise you won't make it far enough between charges:

1 - It is noisy, you have what is basically a riding lawn mower engine about three feet in front of your face. After a few hours of this, it starts making you crazy. It also throws off a lof of heat, so the air coming past the windows is hot, even if it's not hot outside.

2 - The 12KW charge controller that lets the generator act as a range extender can't get wet at all, so it's inside the car with you, and it has a bank of fans that throw off a great deal of heat, so riding around the south in a car with a big space heater. On the bright side, I lost nine pounds.

That combination made it a very uncomfortable ride, and we'd be driving it for up to 18 hours/day.

The trip started well, Ricky navigated and I drove around SC to different scenic checkpoints, and a relatively good time was had by all. After we got to South of the Border, we had to decide to go for the Ferry in NC for an extra 90 points, or head to Myrtle Beach. The ferry was a stratch, mileage-wise, but we had the generator, so we made our first really bad decision.

It turns out, when you mount the generator down in the engine bay, it really doesn't get enough air flow unless the car is moving. So I set out and ran the batteries down until the car wouldn't go any more (second bad decision) somewhere in the middle of nowhere NC, and we parked at an abandoned building to charge. After a few minutes of charging, the generator shuddered violently to a halt, badly overheated. We had enough energy to make it a couple of miles to the next wide spot in the highway, where we found a Dollar General store and bought a couple of box fans which we propped around the generator with duct tape and bungie cords. This would get the generator to go a bit longer before siezing up, but still not long enough to get us out of the boonies. Several hours later, after a few heat cycles of the generator, we had enough energy to make it to Wilmington. This wasn't going to work.

A few weeks before the rally, I had ordered a little box from Rush at Tuscon EV that would let me plug in to a public L2 charging station and trick it into giving me 208 volts for whatever I wanted to use it for. The box came in the day before we left for CMP, so I cannibalized an old 8ga extension cord to run the box to a NEMA 140-2-50 RV outlet. I threw the mess behind the passenger seat and planned never to use it, because we had a generator.

In Wilmington we found a Whole Foods with a free L2 charging station and tried it out. To our surprise it worked, kind of. First it caught fire because I tried to pull too much power and toasted a couple of pre-charging resistors, but after I fixed that and reduced the charge rate, we could sit there in the parking lot (Whole Foods was closed) and watch the battery meter go up on someone else's free electrons. More discussions were had and the plugshare app was discovered (finds free charging plugs and has reviews of them) and a new plan was hatched. We found a hotel so we could get a few hours of sleep and hoped for a better day two. Since day one had us ending up one state in the wrong direction with a dodgy generator and some of our gear on fire, a better day was a low bar.

Day two, get up and find a charger to top off the car (we'd gotten about half a charge in it the night before before finding a bed to sleep in), which was only a couple of blocks away at a Whole Foods clone grocery store, and spend a few more hours in meticulous route planning. We developed the four rules of EV Rallying:

1 - Never exceed 50 MPH. The faster you go, the more ineficient you get. Stick to back roads, no interstates, stop-and-go traffic is your best friend. The generator will keep running if you keep moving, and the slower you go the more it helps you. If you can find a slow-moving dump truck or elderly motorist, then camp out behind them because that is your spirit guide in this journey.
2 - Never start driving with less than a full charge. You can't afford to run out of juice.
3 - Never plan to go more than 100 miles between plugs. You need some room for error if the plug you are planning on using is not available, and if you run it down too far, then it takes forever to charge back up.
4 - Always end the day at a hotel with a charger; it needs to be charging while you are sleeping because time is going to be an issue.

We needed to get in three 80-100 mile stints per day if we were going to make this work. Otherwise we were dead.

Myrtle Beach was our first stop, where we rented an RV spot at a campground for a few hours so we could use the 50A outlet. We got it charged up and set out for Charleston, where we stopped the Holiday Inn Riverview for the night because they had av EV charging station. That was two stints in a day with minimal drama. Our fancy semiconductor brake pressure transducer failed from the heat of the generator exhaust, and Ricky spent a couple of hours trying to reprogram the car not to think the brakes were on constantly, which caused it to not let us use the throttle, both times while in traffic. Eventually Ricky reconfigured the regenerative braking to use the brake light signal and set a fixed regen percentage, which worked for the rest of the trip. You need to have regen working for safety, the car is quite heavy and it has stock Dodge Omni brakes with no power assist.

Day three, first stop was Whole Foods in Savannah, where the breaker in the L2 charge adapter died, releasing more smoke from the precharge resistors. We made a trip to Lowes for parts from the Electrical department to make repairs with, then to a nearby Nissan dealer to finish charging. Next up was Brunswick at another Nissan Dealer, where we got some dinner while it topped off, and then on to Jacksonville, where the Holiday Inn Express had charge stations and we spent the night. This was our first 3-stint day. We were an entire day behind, but moving. We abandoned route book checkpoints and points, and when I mentioned in the Instagram feed that the only checkpoints that an EV could afford to go to were charging stations, the Rally Master replied that those were now our checkpoints and we'd get points for them. That was when we started thinking about actually winning this thing, vice simply surviving it.

Day four, up at 5:00 AM with the Smoky and the Bandit theme song playing in my head and a need to make up some miles. No more routes or checkpoints, just make for Key West by the most direct and slowest route possible, highway US1 all the way down. The first stop was Daytona Beach, where we spent a few hours murdering hotel chargers before the good people at the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University clean energy research department let us use their charger.

This is probably a good time to discuss public charging. All of the Tesla stuff is proprietary. It's probably pretty good, but we have no way to know that. DC Fast charging is outside the scope of the DIY EV enthusiast, so we're left with commercial 6.6kw and 3.2kw chargers, which are as good as their installation and maintenance. The jankiness of public chargers that we observed was:

Hotels - The worst, mostly likely to fail due to improper installation/maintenance. Also most likely to be blocked by non-EV drivers. They should really put EV spots out of the way instead of right in front where everyone else wants to park and will ignore the markings. Put them in the back of the lot where they will stay clear. We always dropped our charge rate at hotels and only used them when we were spending the night so we had more time. Even then you had to get up every couple of hours to make sure it hadn't died.

Campgrounds - Not really charge stations, but they all have RV plugs. They tend to work, but are a bit janky; don't try to run one at its rated 50A or the breaker will pop. It is easy to reset though, and you just have to drop your charge rate a bit to make it work.

Nissan Dealers - The gold standard of EV charging. They actually sell EVs and need to charge them, so they maintain their chargers and have them wired up properly. They were also universally friendly and helpful.

Whole Foods - Not as good as a Nissan dealer; they put their EV spots up front where they get taken by normal cars (EV people call this being ICE'd), but they usually work and you can get a big bucket of quinoa salad to munch on while you wait in the cafe using the free wifi.

P.S. - All of those are free, totally free, like getting free gas, but you just have to wait a while for it.

After Daytona, we went to Melbourne and stopped at a Nissan Dealer, then on to Jupiter where we were going to try the chargers at the town hall. After that we planned on pushing to Miami, but we got caught in a bad storm along the way, some flooding, Google maps detoured us down a slightly submerged road along the Indian River for a few hours at 20 MPH while our wipers failed and had to be repaired and the local conveience store had 17 varieties of cat food, but no Rain-X. After several hours of slogging through the thunderstorms we emerged just north of Jupiter, but because of all of the 20MPH travel (the generator actually charges the car when you go less than 30 MPH) we now had a full battery pack. Although it was late and we were soaked (can't roll up the windows or the heat can't escape) and exhausted, we were way behind and needed to make up some miles, so we went for Miami. It was not pleasant, we had to do the last 85 miles in stop-and-go traffic to keep the battery charged, but got to Miami around midnight after 18 hours of brutal EV endurance driving. We only had time for four hours of sleep, getting up every hour to make sure the hotel charger didn't die, and then back on the road for the final leg at 4:00 AM.

Friday was a nice cruise, about 100 miles to Marathon Key where we stopped at the Courtyard for a reduced-rate (taking no chances at this point) charge and some breakfast, and then back on the road for the last 50 miles with an escort of fellow rallyers to arrive at the finish with 40 minutes to spare.
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Political discussions are so different here than INC.
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