Blue Meanie Gets Meaner!

You all knew it would happen some day, and that day has come…Blue Meanie is headed to the drag track! The Meanie’s entire attitude is shifting from bad boy to bad ass. Along with a big bump in horse power there will also be a threefold jump in range per charge, too.

I had previously written:

The much-awaited shipment of LiPol cells were delivered on Tuesday this week, when 1300 lbs. of lithium arrived at the NorthWest Handling Systems shipping dock. Just shy of 1000 lbs. of these are earmarked for the Insight project.

Hmmm…I wonder where those extra cells are going? Here’s a hint – last weekend we had an EV party in my backyard shop where fueled by pizza and beer, we got together to pull the 700 lbs. of Hawker lead acid batteries (168V pack) from the Meanie. Those 12V batteries are still in very good condition with maybe 30 heavy cycles on them and they’re going to a very good home to re-power J Bills’ (Mr. Softy) Fiat EV convertible.

In terms of lead acid, 700 lbs. is a small and light weight pack, especially when it’s compared to larger lead acid packs like the standard fair set of 20, 6V golf car battery range-oriented packs often used in small pickups. Still, in the little Datsun those 14 good sized 12V lead acid batteries took up some real estate with 6 of them under the hood area and the remaining eight tucked away midship just behind the rear seat back (factory location of the gas tank) in the car’s motorized retractable rear battery tray. That clever rear storage system allowed the Meanie to keep all of its original trunk space and its rear seat in tact while the well distributed batteries gave the car good balance. The 168V lead pack able could effortlessly feed a full 1000 amps to a Zilla Z1k while sagging down to 130V and making an impressive 130 kW of power. Pumped into an ADC 9 inch motor mated to a lightened flywheel and heavy duty clutch with the factory 4 speed tranny, it was enough juice to rock the little Datsun 0-60 in ~ 5.5 seconds. That’s what happens when you put ~ 130 hp @ 300 ft. lbs in a sub-2500 lb, car! While the Hawkers are rated at 60 ah @C20, their C1 rating is 47 ah – this of course, is the most realistic rating for EV traction applications. When they were new and discharged at C1, in the warm summer months the battery pack made about 7.8 kWh of usable energy giving the Meanie 30-35 miles range per charge under Wayland style driving. Here’s what the web page ‘Blue Meanie’ section has had up for the past couple of years:

25-30 miles driven aggressively, 35-40 miles at constant 55 mph, 45-50 miles at lower urban speeds of 35-45 mph

I admit that the past year or so hasn’t been kind to the battery pack, as the Meanie hasn’t been driven as much as it should have been. A lot of the fun went away some time ago when I broke the tranny for the third time, wiping out 2nd gear – too many 2nd gear foot-to-the-floor tire squealing launches :-( The car was still usable, but the days of EV grin inducing acceleration blasts had given way to lethargic 3rd gear roll-offs from rest, or a balky 1-3-4 shift pattern. Last summer I scored two 1200 trannys, one that had been rebuilt, too, but what little free time I had went into pushing the Zombie ever quicker down the track while the trannys sat in the shop. Languishing sometimes months at a time, the Meanie’s batteries weren’t properly exercised so the capacity has diminished to where in these recent cold months the car’s range is down considerably. For now then, the Meanie sits in the shop 700 lbs. lighter, and minus a battery pack. The rest of the Plasma Boy team will be assisting Mr. Softy in getting his Fiat back on the road, and Hawkers being Hawkers, they’ll more than likely bounce back and work well for him.

Drum roll please…tomorrow we are headed to the metal shop with the Meanie’s rear slide-out tray. We are making a new one, very simliar but a few inches wider while being shallower in depth, designed to hold the entire Meanie replacement battery pack! Back in the early ’80s as I stuffed 1000-1200 lbs. of lead into everything from Ford Escorts to pickups, I would tell anyone who would listen, that some day we’d have battery packs the size of a suitcase that could take an EV 100 miles even in the winter time…I’m happy to report that day has arrived! Using the same 75 ah high power Dow Kokam cells we are using for the Silver Streak long range Insight project, 72 of them (275 lbs.) will be strung in a simple series affair to make up a 266V, 750 amp capable 20 kWh rectangular shaped pack that is indeed, the size of a suitcase! With a battery pack more than 400 lbs. lighter and able to make an easy 162 kW of power, and with the Meanie’s curb weight dropping to ~ 2035 lbs., with the current 9 inch motor, Zilla controller, and a rebuilt tranny the 0-60 run would be in the 4s! With 20 kWh of storage capacity, the flat discharge profile of a LiPol pack, and a 400+ lb. curb weight reduction, I predict the car’s range would go up to about 100 miles. As a comparison point, the Zombie is heavier by 300 lbs. and has a high drag Ford 9 inch ring and pinion plus high drag fat rear tires to push and yet, it can do 110-120 miles on its 22.7 kWh pack, so 100 miles for the svelt Blue Meanie with its 175/70 13 LRR tires and 88% the capacity of the Zombie’s pack, seems reasonable. Which brings me to the next subject…

What if I diss the LRR tires at all four corners? What if I pull the stock light duty rear axle with its tiny rear pumpkin and replace it with the chopped and narrowed heavy duty Nissan axle affair with the large case pumpkin that was once used in the Zombie in the Late ’90s? What if I return to the classic ’70s Datsun setup of American Racing four spoke alloys – 13 x 5.5 up front and the rare 13 x 7 wheels in the rear? The narrowed heavy duty Nissan axle allows the normally too-wide 7 inch wheels to barely stuff under and clear the rear fenders. What if I then lower the car to improve handling and toughen the stance a bit? Seems taking a hit in range down to say, 90 miles from the possible 100 with the benefit of way better handling and superior traction in back, is worth it. Did I say superior traction? Why would I need that? This brings me to the next subject…

As much as I love the power that this car currently has with the 9 inch series motor and Z1k, the Meanie is going AC direct drive! Unlike some other AC drive conversions that have tepid performance however, the AC drive in this car will deliver POWER! Though I cannot reveal all the details yet, let it suffice to say I’m working with a group of performance freaks and am considering using their 150 kW system with BIG torque. The beauty of the large case Nissan third member, is that I can get a seriously low ratios (higher numerically) which would work well with the high-revving AC motor. Using the efficent AC drive would push the range per charge back up to around 100 miles, too. This AC system also weighs less than the previous DC system, and there’s even more weight savings from discarded bracketry for the Meanie’s former lead acid pack. These weight reductions will help offset the increased weight of the beefier rear axle setup.

When it all comes together, the meaner Meanie stats might look like this:

~2000 lbs, curb weight (down from 2460 lbs.)
20 kWh LiPol pack (up from 7.8 kWh)
150 kW, 200 hp AC drive (up from 130 kW, 130 hp DC)
~100 miles range (up from 35 miles)
~0-60 in 4 seconds (down from 5.5 seconds)
~13.2 @ 104 mph 1/4 mile ET (quicker and faster than the current estimated DC stats)

With no more transmissions to break, no arcing brushes/commutator to worry about, a stout Dow Kokam LiPol battery pack, and enough ahrs to drive to the track, race, then drive home without recharges, the Meanie will see 1/4 mile action. Stay tuned!

See Ya…John Wayland

Rubber ought to be laid electrically’ (Dale Glubrecht)

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