Hello to All,
Its’ all Otmar’s fault…..
Now that he’s an Oregonian and is within a 2 hour’s drive of Portland, we get to see each other more often than when he was one of those Californians. On his last visit to the Wayland laboratory, as usual, time was spent in his outrageous s-t-r-e-t-c-h VW bus with the tunes cranked through the Wayland sound system. After abusing me with some limp, bass-less acoustic earth muffin crap, Oat finally put on some downright funky stuff. I was immediately drawn to it (he knew I would be) with its low 5 string electric bass, killer drum mix, gurgl’n Hammond B3, and the requisite Fender strat clik’n 9th cord grooves Even though it was sourced off Oat’s iPod and formatted in dismal lo-fi MP3, I could still imagine how it might sound with full fidelity. Yup, in an instant, I was hooked on Jon Cleary and the absolute monster gentlemen…had to have that CD!
About a week later I decided to seek out this hard-to-find recording, and after Internet searching and a confirmation phone call, I was happy to find that one of Portland’s many hippie type record places, Music Millennium on Burnside, had exactly one copy of it. The off-the-wall record shop is about 5 miles from my place, so I decided to drive Blue Meanie for the early nighttime music run.
As I’ve written lately, the aged pack of Optima Yellow Tops are pretty tired after now, 6 years of service, so the car’s normal 25 mile range is down to about 10-12 miles. Yeah, I know, I’ve got no real excuse here. My EV shop is lined with new Exide Orbitals. Let it suffice to say that swapping out the 13 YTs and installing 17 Orbitals (different footprint and profile) in an all new configuration isn’t a simple job. When you consider the car’s unique rear motorized battery tray that would need to be reworked, the new quad 8 subwoofer enclosure volume it has to clear, and all the other physical restraints of a small 70′s econo-car, it’s really pretty reasonable to think of how I might keep putting off the project. I’m also not 100% ready to use Orbitals, either, as I’ve grown awfully fond of the Hawker AeroBatteries that reside in White Zombie! A high voltage pack of the feisty orange batteries would sure look cool against the car’s violet pearl over royal blue paint, and 100 lbs. more of lead would possibly bump the car’s range to around 30 miles per charge…336V @ 1000 amps would be fun, too! I digress….
The PFC20 hotrod charger had just topped off pack, but the cycled to death Optimas were only sitting at 157V static for about 12.1V per battery In their younger years the YTs (156V nominal) would pretty much hang in the 167-169V range, but 6 years later, 157V is all they’ve got left. The temperature was on the cool side at around 45 digrees, not lead acid range-friendly conditions, but I did check the LRR tires and found them sitting at 50 psi. With the pack just off the charger I headed out to get that CD.
As I pulled onto Glisan Street and mildly accelerated, the pack that used to stay stiff at 1000 amps of current, now fell to the 135V range with maybe a 400 amp draw…hmmm, better drive conservatively this time….better behave myself. I settled into a 40 mph cruise but had my eye on the Emeter reporting just 151V under a very light 45 amp draw. Still, even with a restricted amount of battery power, this car is soooo fun to drive! I was enjoying the ride as I glided along in my trusty EV friend, now 26 years as an EV to this month, February, since back in 1980 when it first ran on battery propulsion. Even with 6 year old batteries, it still had ample power, but with a 10 mile run ahead of me this was going to be a tepid cruise.
Glisan is pretty level for the first mile and a half heading west from my house, then it dives down a steep hill before leveling out at a lower area just as you approach the busy high traffic four lane north-south 82nd Ave. that Glisan intersects. I had nursed the car slowly up to speed, closer to 48 mph… a bit above the 40 mph speed limit but certainly not what any reasonable person would consider speeding. The idea was to crest over the top of the hill at a pretty good clip, then go off-throttle down the hill with the clutch pushed in for the ultimate in low rolling resistance, to milk as many miles range as possible for this little trip to the CD store…the things an EV addict does to run on electricity! I was concerned about the pack to the point where I was actually planning my strategy ahead, thinking of how I would handle the light at 82nd, & Glisan, should I have the misfortune of having it change at the last moment to red. Would I give up on seeing yellow, hit the brakes and stop for the light? Doing so would throw out all the advantage the hill gave me, and, cause me to use more precious current for another take-off from stop. Would I see yellow and stomp the accelerator to make the light? Doing so would also throw some of the advantage the hill gave me with the extra high current draw such a stunt would suck up, and, it would have me driving on the stupid side of the law, too. Believe it or not, I actually had this little discussion in my head as I crested over Glisan hill.
OK…..as I get a small roller coaster effect lofting over the hill, I see the light down below at 82nd is green….not really a good thing, because it’s about a half mile down the hill to reach the light. Will it stay green and allow me to go on my way? Will it instead, turn to yellow-then-red and halt my progress, robbing me of the momentum? So here I am, coasting down the hill at maybe 50 mph, right in that speeding ticket range. I make it within maybe 200 feet of the intersection when the damn light goes yellow! In that brief brain dump of mine, I again weigh the options….stop and loose all the momentum….nail it, suck big amps and fly through the intersection and still be on the losing side of the power equation, and, risk getting a ticket if there happens to be a cop in the area (and also be a hazard for others)…….man, what should I do?
I went for it, and while letting out the clutch in 4th, slammed down the pedal! To my surprise, the old Optimas still had some punch left, and as the Zilla pulled as many amps as the batteries allowed, Blue Meanie rushed up to probably 65 mph or so….OK, maybe as high as 70! As the car and I fly over 82nd the light’s still yellow, but probably turning to red as the Meanie’s rear bumper clears the far west lane of 82nd. It was kind of a rush, being bad and all, but I had made it, no one got hurt, and Blue Meanie was really zinging along now. Before I coast down gently to the speed limit while covering the next mile or so on zero amps, I decide I had better scan the rear view mirror, just in case their might have been a cop in the area…..D’OUGH!!!!! To my horror, I see a Portland Police cruiser pointed south on 82nd, yeah, right at the intersection I just flew through! There’s two cops inside, and they’re in the inner lane. I see their heads twist in synchronization as they follow the path of my car…..damn! As I’m watching in the mirror, I see them jump ahead into the intersection as they do a tire-smoking 90 degree cookie, cutting right across the lane to their right (how they kept from being T-boned by the car next to them ready to go through the green light, I don’t know)…they don’t have their lights on yet, but it’s obvious, they’re in hot pursuit of ‘me’! Damn! I now have this sick feeling as my genitals are receding into my lower abdomen, and I know I’m busted! What do I do now, to minimize the damage? If I stand on the brakes, in the fading light of the day the bright red brake lights will signal I’m having to use the binders to hunker down from speed….that’s an admission I don’t like at the moment. I decide against that and instead shift down to 3rd….damn, it’s an electric…no compression to slow me down! Where’s that regen when I need it? So here I am, still flying at 60 mph or so in a 40 mpg zone, with cops coming up on me in full pursuit at maybe 75 mph. Damn! I’m gonna have to hit the brakes, and as I do, my world’s now suddenly lit up with the brightest LED blue and red flashers known to man!
OK, I’ve accepted it, I’m busted, time to give up….right turn signal on, and I take the next available street off Glisan into a neighborhood I’m instantly familiar with. It’s coincidentally, the late Dick Finley’s old area where he once lived, and where he too, often terrorized other motorists with tire smoking antics in his rocket Renault EV. 82nd used to be his hunting ground where he’d egg-on muscle cars at stop lights. He loved being the ‘old man’ in the funky Renault that would roast both front tires for 100 feet in 3rd from rest. In that brief moment of panic as the cops have collared me, I can feel Dick smiling down on me and saying, “I never got caught, you moron!”
Next frame….I’m pulled over, have gotten my license out and realize my driver’s window isn’t able to roll down with the electric lift switches disconnected (been working on the new stereo lately and have some things not quite finished). Cops don’t like it when a suspect suddenly opens the door as they approach….I sure hope they don’t Taser me, though the old Optimas would probably like it.
I also realize that the glove box is temporarily out of the car, thus, my registration and proof of insurance aren’t with the car…..D’OUGH!!!!! Icing on the cake….I’ve got expired tags, too! Geez, I’m toasted here….I’m going downtown, for sure. I now have visions of my wife with steam coming out both ears. It’s definitely not my finest hour, I’ve been bad, and I’m going to have to pull off a miracle to get out of this one. Time to summon up all that Greek BS I’m full of and put it to use.
So the male cop is near my door now, and his female partner is on my right with her requisite 2 foot long flashlight. He’s a big strapping young guy, probably 27-28 years old and to my surprise, doesn’t look all that upset….she’s pissed though, is scanning the inside of the car, and looks as mean as a rabid dog! It’s about 6:30 pm, so it’s more night than day as the cop car’s lights are pulsing the once peaceful neighborhood, their extreme intensity red and blue LED flasher banks combining to flood the area in a purple aura. There’s folks walking their dogs on either side of the road, curious to see what degenerate has been apprehended, and there’s a couple looking out their front door. Unbelievably, I ponder in my defective brain the scene that’s unfolding and say to myself, “this would be such a great photo opt!”
Back to reality….I need to ‘carefully’ open my driver door, and as I do so, I s-l-o-w-l-y hand out my driver’s license as I’m recalling recent police officer shootings of traffic stop victims they interpreted as being hostile and having put them in life threatening danger. One stupid move on my part, and this could be the end of Plasma Boy! As the license is extended out the cracked-open door I say, “My window doesn’t roll down…sorry.” I notice the officer’s hand is already over his weapon, but he seems to understand I’m just a goofy guy in his little old econo-car going too fast. I ask if I can get out of the car, and with his partner ready to assist if something goes wrong, I’m allowed to emerge from Blue Meanie….whew…no bullets, no Taser.
Male cop……..”You know why I pulled you over?”
Plasma Boy….”Well, I can think of three reasons.” (I’ve decided honesty’s going to be the best policy here, he seems to be reasonable)
Male cop (now grinning and chucking a bit)……..”Three? This is going to be good…let’s hear ‘em.”
Plasma Boy….”One….not that I’m admitting anything of course, but…..I was ‘possibly’ speeding?”
Male cop (with a bigger grin and still chucking)……..”Yeah, that’d be one one of them.”
Plasma Boy….”Two….that…..’pink’ light back there?”
Male cop……..”I’d say red. I’ve gotta know…what’s the third one?”
Plasma Boy (ready to make his play for forgiveness)….”Oh yeah, three…..you figured out this was an electric car, you think it’s cool,
and you want to check it out, so that’s the real reason you pulled me over.”
Male cop……..”An electric car? Really? That explains your ‘VOLTS’ plate. Geez, the thing sure accelerates! I saw you pick up speed in
a hurry as I watched you blow that light.
Female cop (still not amused one bit)……..”I’d say so! You put on quite a demonstration for us. Are you an idiot? You didn’t see us
Plasma Boy (addressing the rabid dog)…..”I’m really sorry, officer, that was stupid and I apologize….wanna see my motorized battery
And with that, it was show and tell time. The officers were way cool, especially considering how guilty I was. The neighbors walking their dogs came in for a look, too. We chatted about all things EV, and about my other electric Datsun, and I of course, I told them about electric drag racing while emphasizing that we did our serious runs only at the track. And then, I remembered the idea Tim and I have been kicking around about getting a police officer to allow us to do burn-outs with their cop car’s lights on and all. The officer at hand was very interested and said he was sure that we could work something out, so long as I gave him a ride! I told him we’d get back to him in a few days to see what we could work out for a fun photo shoot. After a good ten minutes or so, he told me he still had to check my record out, and asked me to hang by my car…which I did. While the officers were in their patrol car together, I purposefully stood in front of the rear plate to hide my expired tags!
After a fashion, the officers reappeared to hand me back my license stating, “Mr. Wayland, you have a perfect driving record. I see no reason to ruin that for you tonight…..cool car! Oh, and we know about the expired tags, so you can move away from the plate now…go get those tomorrow!”And with that, they turned off their lights and drove away. Man, talk about dodging a bullet!
Getting back in my car, I was still trying to come down from the rush of it all. The Emeter told me that the pack was still doing OK, so I got turned around and headed down to the record store to pick up the CD….and yes, I dutifully cruised at 40 mph all the way. The rest of the story isn’t anything exciting, as Blue Meanie made it back home even though its pack was sagging pretty bad. I put it on charge right away. The batteries seemed to like the heavy discharge and took a deep drink from the charger. When finished off and left to rest for about a half hour, the pack was reading 162V static. Those Optimas just keep bouncing back.
See Ya….John ‘but officer I couldn’t have been speeding, it’s an electric car’ Wayland
Note: Blue Meanie has a fresh set of tags now, good to Feb. ’07