Zilla Powered Blue Meanie Lights up the Crowd (and its tires)

It’s Sunday, a week since last week’s EVent packed weekend. I’m trying to get caught up with my writing, but there’s been a lot of activity around here, so bear with me folks :-) It was pretty much three days of total EV stuff that began on Thursday. About that rain-soaked trip to Kingston, Washington four weeks ago, I had written:

Rich had asked me to help out his town’s Earth Day EVent by bringing, as he put it, a ‘quality built’ EV to augment his rough-around-the-edges’ Goldie….When Friday rolled around, the car was still as it had >been, pretty much untouched. Coworker Tim Brehm showed up to help me, but by late Friday night, it was quite obvious we were nowhere close to having the car back together, and in fact, it was torn down further.

As I had posted, Tim Brehm and I had ‘tried’ to get Blue Meanie put back together for that show, but we simply didn’t have time to do it, so the Insight was the stand-in for the Kingston EVent. Following that weekend, a couple of weeks blew by with nothing more done to the car, as other racing EV stuff was being focussed on. Then, last weekend was on the horizon.

Tim’s first ever post to the EVDL pretty much covers things, but I’d like to add my perspective as well. I had written:

To add to all the stuff on my plate, Tim and I will be taking Blue Meanie to a custom street rod show on Saturday, so we’ve got to get the Z1K installed, the four new subs mounted, and the stereo system back on line. Lots to do, but when your having this much EV fun, it’s all worth it.

It wasn’t even close to being show-ready when we started, having been left in a torn down state for about a month or so, as I was working on the sound system, and, had also removed its Raptor controller. So here the car was, no throttle control (the solenoid control went with the Raptor), no controller, high current HV wires hanging here and there, wire harnesses torn open and partially gutted, the interior’s console out of the car and totally disassembled, the glove box gone, and the rear package shelf – subwoofer enclosure minus any woofers because the old ones were given away and the new beefy JL Audio 8W3v2 subs were too deep to drop in…in a nutshell, the car needed a week’s worth of work. I got home from work late Thursday and started on the install of the Zilla, pretty much putting it where the Raptor 1200 had been mounted only minus the extra metal plate that raised the mount base high enough for the large air cooled Raptor controller to clear the motor. Now the area was more compact with a tidier look.

Tim wrote:
…when I showed up he was already installing the new Z1K in the big empty space where the Raptor was. The Zilla is only about half the size, now the 9″ motor just jumps out at you now. John and I were just standing back and admiring the new, even cleaner look under the hood…

As Tim pointed out, minus the larger size of the old controller and with the small profile of the mighty mite water-cooled Zilla taking its place, the under-hood view is more show worthy. The ADC 9 inch motor is now more clearly in view, and even after 11 years of service, it still looks as new. In addition to the obvious performance increase that 176 kw gives over 135 kw….17 Orbitals pulled down to 10.38V per module with a 1000 amp draw (est. voltage sag) vs 13 Optimas pulled down to 10.38V per module with a 1000 amp draw (actual measured voltage sag), and with the resultant range increase that a 680 lb. pack will give over a 585 lb. pack in this light weight car, this latest upgrade to my favorite EV is also my chance to make the presentation of the car even better. So, even with the mods done by Tim and I to get the car ready for the Saturday car show, it’s all going to be redone ‘again’ when the new battery pack is installed. This puts an exclamation mark on the pressure this show put on me, as I did mostly everything knowing it was all for a one day EVent! It was important to do though, for several reasons. It made me get back to the Blue Meanie renovation project, it pleased a very good friend of mine at work, Rick Glover, having the car at this show since he had invited me to bring it, and, it was one of those high profile car shows that attracts huge numbers of folks…a chance to really fly the EV flag. Another cool visual point, is that Rick’s ’53 Chevy sedan is painted ‘Lemon Ice’, a bright hotrod type yellow and next to Blue Meanie’s Royal Blue with violet pearl, the two cars compliment each other.

Again, as Tim pointed out, we didn’t finish the car before we ran out of time on Thursday night:

We decided to call it a night. 5:30 AM Friday morning I headed back to the Wayland house to get a little more work done on the car before the trip to central Oregon. When I arrived John was just finishing the wiring

Friday, Tim Brehm and I had prearranged to take the day off from wrenching on forklifts. I started early by myself, wanting to be alone to finish up Hairball wiring and other items under the hood. I was starting to relax a bit, because at 8-ish in the morning, I could see the car might just be ready in time for the show, but only if Tim and I could get together early Saturday morning to complete things. Tim arrived, then we were joined by two of our zany EV friends from up north, Rich ‘Madman’ Rudman and Don ‘Father Time’ Crabtree. Blue Meanie time has run out, and it’s now time to shift gears and start Friday’s Redmond trip.

The four of us had the Jeep and trailer ready for our 300+ mile round trip up and over Mt. Hood to the Bend-Redmond central Oregon area and took off after a fun breakfast together. We got back into Portland late Friday night after a long and intense one-dayer…more on this adventure in another post. Rudman departed and headed to his parents house in Newberg, where his dad creates beautiful metal pieces for the PFC line of chargers, Tim left for his drive home, and Father Time crashed on the couch left vulnerable to Clyde the bad cat.

I was up early on Saturday, in a bit of a panic as Blue Meanie had still not been powered up, its interior was still in pieces, the exterior was in need of a wash and polish job, and the car still needed to be loaded onto and secured to the trailer….too much to do! I concentrated on finishing the under hood wiring, and by the time Tim arrived and FT had gotten ready from his cat-disturbed sleep, it was time to test the car.

From Tim:
He took off down the road with tires squealing until we lost sight of him. After about ten minutes came rolling silently up the road. John jumps out of the car “I forgot how much fun this little car is” with the EV grin he lost about a month ago on his face. With the new Zilla working perfect…the car was loaded onto the trailer for the trip to the show.

What more can I say about Otmar’s fantastic controllers, that I haven’t already said? The first time I twisted the key, it worked exactly as designed, did its precharge thing, clicked-in the contactor, and I was off and running. It has a very smooth throttle response, at first giving the impression that the controller ‘might’ be a low powered unit…that is, under you stab the pedal down and suddenly, the tires are squealing and there’s that shove back into the seat! Yeah, my EV grin was back, big time.

In a nicely orchestrated display of teamwork, we swarmed over Blue Meanie and got it pretty much put together. In went the console, even though none of its electronics were hooked up, loose carpet pieces were recemented in place, carpets were vacuumed, and moist bath towels made quick work of the shop dust and brought out the luster of the paint again. A bit of Armoral was sprayed on the tires, and the wheels were spiffed up with the Greek-approved Windex. We got the car onto the trailer and as I was inside putting on more suitable clothes for the show, FT and Tim finished up securing the car to the trailer…whew, we made it!

From Tim:
We arrived at the car show almost on time….and we drove through the gates with all the classic muscle cars. There was a large group of people around the car all day.

Blue Meanie was a big hit, as it usually is, and it delivered what I’ve always referred to as its 1-2-3 punch. Punch 1, is the fact that it’s a clean and straight, gleaming little Datsun 1200 sedan, a nearly forgotten econobox from the early seventies and something that you just don’t see every day. It’s nice paint job, perfect condition alloys, Armoralled black LRR tires, and custom interior touches punctuated by the in your face stereo system, attracts even hard core American iron folks. Next to Rick’s gorgeous bright yellow ’53 Chevy, Blue Meanie looked sharp. Punch 2, is when they look into the open engine bay and spot lots of batteries, gold plated connectors, tidy wiring looms, funny looking ‘electronic’ boxes, and an electric motor…damn, this thing is an electric car! Punch 2 continues when you hit the remote, the trunk lid pops open, and with the press of another remote button, the motorized rear battery tray starts humming and out slides 7 more batteries in view. Punch 3, is when they either learn about its stunning acceleration performance, or, they witness it first hand.

From Tim:
While leaving, with the sounds of loud exhaust and huge engines all around us, everyone had their eyes on this little blue car, silently cruising toward the exit gate. John could not resist, all those eyes on his car doubting that little electric motor they had been staring at all day, he had to let just a little smoke out of the tires on the way through the gate. The crowd went wild!!

Well, it didn’t go quite like that, nice try. Tim :-) What actually happened, was all day long, I was taunted by Tim, my brother Roger who had stopped by, and countless show goers, to take the car to an open area and do a smoke’n burnoff. As Tim pointed out, there were more than a few who had doubts about the claimed performance level of a ‘battery car’. A few were shown the video of White Zombie blowing off the V8 Mustang last year, and this pretty much sealed the deal for them.

The entire day, I resisted the requests, opting to behave myself. When we were leaving the show with FT sitting next to me, Tim was in the back seat and saying, “Come on John, light ‘em up for these guys.” I resisted for the moment, but then I looked over at the show’s security dudes who were smiling with big approval type grins and spinning their fingers in that universal hotrod sign language that says, “Light ‘em up.” This was more than I could take, and so down went my right foot…the Zilla responded instantly, and even with three of us loading down my little Datsun, the rear tires spun and scratched at the pavement with a very loud continuous squeal. Better than the security dudes, fellow hotrodders, and shocked show goers reactions, was the guy sitting next to me, Father Time, as his wry grin vaguely cloaked by his long white flowing beard could be seen as his sign of “Cool”.

See Ya….John Wayland

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