Electrogenic August 2020 Newsletter

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

Like many of our readers, at Electrogenic we have spent August dodging storms and quarantines, and confirming once again that the place we like to be best is in the workshop!  We have also been listening to reader feedback, and lots of you want to hear more about some of the cars we convert.  “Snowy” the Morris Minor has been drawing adoration in our social media, so we thought we would tell you a little more about him here.

It has not just been all about the workshop this month, however.  We have been putting together some exciting new initiatives, including an electric drive system for boats, with all the usual Electrogenic bells and whistles.  So soon you can be Powered by Electrogenic on the water, too!  More of this and other developments in the coming months.  And in the mean time, have a great August Bank Holiday.

Snowy

Snowy the Morris Minor (named after Tintin’s irrepressible dog) has seen 51 August bank holidays so far and as you can see, he looks forward to the sunny country lanes of his native Oxfordshire, cruising with his hood down and a gentle summer zephyr in his owner’s hair.  We’re hoping he won’t be disappointed this year..

The Morris Minor was launched at Olympia in 1948, and was assembled at the Cowley works in Oxford from 1948 to 1971.  In its day, it was radical.  It had no separate wings or running boards (unlike its contemporary, the VW Beetle, for example), it had a unitary body, and in an optical tweak, it had small wheels to make its relatively small body look bigger.  Under the bonnet, it was no less radical.  The engine was positioned over the front wheels instead of well behind them: investigation and experimentation having proved that the weight of the engine in this position dramatically improved the stability and controllability of a car. The front wheels themselves were given an advanced torsion-bar independent suspension, which combined with the rigidity of the unitary construction body, gave a standard of ride comfort such as had never been experienced in a small British car before.

And the Morris Minor is still going strong.  It is cute and sturdy, and though it was not an original feature, the cabriolet top creates a lovely car for zooming around in the sunshine.

So what are we doing to Snowy?  Snowy’s owner doesn’t want gears, and those small wheels are a help:  they make it easier for us to match an electric motor for direct drive without needing a reduction gearbox.  The new setup uses the original brass bush that secures the drive shaft at the gearbox end, and Alex has designed a coupler to directly connect this to the motor.  This part is designed in-house but produced out, and when this arrives next week, we will start the build.

Snowy generally does the school run and weekends, but also needs to go to Wales occasionally, so we are fitting 6 x Tesla model S85 batteries, for a total 33kWh.  A car of his size and weight will do about 4-5 miles/kWh, so this should get Snowy comfortably to Wales.  This also means a nominal operating voltage of 135V, which means we will be fitting a high-voltage motor controller to suit.  The batteries are mounted in our standard modular boxes: four in the front, and two singles in the back.  There is room for more batteries in the front, but the front suspension on a Morris Minor is famous for failing if the king-pins are not regularly greased, so four batteries means that Snowy is slightly lighter in the nose than before.  Two single batteries in the back means we can fit them in without cutting the floor – always a no-no.

Transmission connector for Morris Minor

We have checked Snowy out, he is in excellent running condition and the addition of regenerative braking system will help him stop even quicker.  We will re-purpose the fuel-gauge to show charge, but also install our standard wireless display which (among other things) shows battery charge and how heavy the driver’s foot is.  Snowy will also receive our electronic vehicle management system and we will add heating and headrests to the seats, for comfort and safety on the winter school-run.

Keep an eye out on social media in a few weeks for eSnowy!

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery Picture 9
Mystery Picture 10

Answers from July:

Mystery Picture 7 – it’s a universal public charge point!  This is one of Steve the Whizz’s creations:  it impersonates every different sort of public charge point in the UK, so that when you drive up and plug in, our on-board chargers know every funny “handshake” they need to, to ensure you can just plug in and go off for a coffee.

Mystery Picture 8 – they are LTO batteries, but where they’re from, we’re not sure – so perhaps you can tell us!  They came out of a huge battery pack flooded with silicone fluid and capable of providing some 2000A constant at some 600 volts. Their use is shrouded in mystery but maybe a starter for jet engines?

And welcome to… Oli!

Oli is a fantastic motor mechanic who has joined us to pursue his passion for innovation and doing new things, and who liked us, because apparently we “know how to put a car together”.  Oli has a long experience of doing cool things to classic motors.  He adds another production “line” to our workshop, to help us convert more cars, and also brings a keen eye for detail.

Here, he is building a jig to create Mark 2 of our classic mini front subframe.

PS. Oli hates having his photo taken, but it’s one of those rites of passage things at Electrogenic..  Sorry Oli!

And finally…

The video link in this month’s newsletter is the BBC’s programme for the 100th anniversary of the Cowley Motor Works, where the Morris Minor was assembled and the marvellous mini was created… of which more next month.

Our Covid-appropriate test-drives are going well – lots of happy smiles all round.  So if you fancy driving a Retro-EV, give us a call.  And we will be at Bicester Heritage from 18-20 September for the Classic Car Drive-in Weekend.  So see you there!

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