I am in the process of converting a 1926 model T into an all electric car. Does any one have any experience with this that can add some helpful hints?
THere is a kit to buy on the web for $8,500.00 which I think is a bit high so I would like to go another route. Since I sold the motor my only option is an electric motor.
This is gonna get interesting.
He is just trying to pull every ones chain and get them excited.
I think you will have a lot better luck getting helpful advice from an electric car forum. I expect there are some with that focus. Members here generally want to stay pretty darn close to what was done in the era with some concessions to safety and reliability.
This isn't a criticism of your effort, just to explain that this may not be the best audience for your interest.
I was told some one did in fact convert a Model T to electric and had a post on the message board. Apparently not.
Well, you certainly get my attention and reaction. An electric car anything is a waste....time, money and good sense. Particularly a model T.
Here is a recent thread on one who was converted when the original engine got stuck - they kept the old engine in place & added all the electric stuff in a pickup box: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/247634.html
David, It's your car and of course you are free to do as you choose. Just in case you haven't considered this option or was unaware, You could probably buy a rebuilt engine and trans for a little over half your above figure and have a lot of fun as well.
Here's an old post with an ice cream truck electric conversion.
We had a local club (Carbon Canyon) member do a total electric Model T Runabout a few years back. I believe it ended up toasted but it was a trip ! He doesn't do computers but he is a heck of a "Tinkerer" !
You can buy a used electric golf cart for a heck of a lot less,and probably go just as fast.
David, it wasn't converted, it was attached to a golf cart. It would be easier to adapt a fiberglass body to the golfcart then what you propose.
Burn oil, not coal.
There was an icecream truck http://isabellasicecream.com/index.html
Why would you convert a Model T to all electric? You can get one made that way from the factory, brand new. At the Automobile Show in San Diego in 2009, there was actually a Rolls Royce which had been converted to all electric. I have no idea why one would convert such a heavy car, or such an expensive one. It would seem to me to be worth a lot more original. If you convert a Model T to electric, remember that a T already has a limited interest for resale, and for sure an electric one would have almost no resale value at all. The only value would be one of curiosity, and there is already a lot of curiosity for a stock Model T.
Al Vivian built an all electric Model T 10 years ago. It worked well. Unfortunatelly he is in an old folks home now. I believe the presernt owner of the car lives in Temecula, California. I have his daughters phone number if you want it.
David, 1926 engines are easy to find. I've got 3 just sitting around. For less than half the above cost, you could have a new crankshaft, likely at 1.5 inch with mains and rods rebabbited and a new camshaft, valves, balanced transmission, likely new drums, etc. Why go electric?? The cost of fuel to go the comparable number of miles you'd drive the electric T each year would be minimal. If you are worried about the environment, you could even run E-85! (whoops, new can of worms openned)
David, I have to agree with other posters, but then I guess you would expect to hear a bunch of "neys" from Model T restorers. It is your car and you can power it anyway that you want. There was a Model T that I think that I saw on Ebay that the owner in Utah had done what you are proposing to do. He used an electric golf cart motor and gearbox. With 26-27 T's being the heaviest T's of all made by Ford, I wouldn't plan any trips to the Bonneville Salt Flats for attempts at an electric car speed record. In fact, I doubt the car will obtain enough speed to even drive safely on a public street. I do know a guy who has a 26-27 coupe powered by an air cooled VW engine and transaxle. There aren't too many T's that he can't keep up with.
Do we have the Doctor back again????????
I have to agree with most of the other posters- why change a good thing? If you want the nostalgia of a vintage electric car, why not go with the real deal? Same era as the Model T, here's a link currently on e-bay:
David, one more thing. You stated that since you sold your T motor, an electric motor was your only option, I beg to differ with you on that. Since when was there a law that said if you removed the original gasoline (or diesel) engine from a vehicle that it had to be replaced with an electric motor. As I stated above, I know of the VW powered 26-27 coupe, and more than once, there has been a T on Ebay with a brand X four cylinder engine. Two I remember, were Nissan powered, and another was Chevy II or Ford Pinto. Since you're probably going to have to change out a lot of things to go electric, why not keep an internal combustion engine in it? Do you have a personal grievance with the oil companies? Or are you just wanting something different that no one has? If you're still considering this stupid foolishness, why not just do like the guy that I bought a 26 running chassis and all the sheet metal except the body from. He kept the body off of the straightest, most rust free Kansas 26-27 coupe that I have ever seen; bought him a hot rod tubular frame and late model front and rear axles and stuck a 63 vintage 409 horse 409 Chevy in it. There are all kinds of ways other than electric power !
Hal, you said "this was going to get interesting". I have another word for it, but to keep from further offending David, and because women and young adults read this forum, I'll let it go at that. I think you get my drift.
Bob I think your on to something!
David, why did you sell the
"motor"? Buy it back or get another one. An electric motor is not your "only option". This makes no sense at all. Dave
I'm always suspicious of posters who won't list their location. Like we're gonna' find them in their town and steal their T. Maybe the hyped net horror stories have turned a lot of people into paranoid cowards?
I will read the threads, but not provide useful answers.
Sooner or later, some of these bobs will admit to being in Canada, or wherever.
Why does location matter? Climate for one.
Downieville for a day
I don't think there's much reason for suspicion here. Dave certainly gave us hints on where he comes from with Clamlakedave as his username, so he's likely from Clam Lake Township, MI (pop. 2238) or perhaps Clam Lake, WI (pop. 38). OK, there's a Clam Lake up in Saskatchewan, Canada too - but are there any people up there?
Anyway, there are many ways to build a 1926 T - they are not rare, so if he doesn't need to ride fast or long distance, then he should certainly feel free to build it just like he wants
(I recently got lucky & bought a lot of new engine parts for cheap from a guy in Sweden who also got the electric urge & sold off everything from his engine..)
I've done a little research on building an electric car myself. I thought a '20s roadster pickup with an electric motor and a bed full of batteries would be a fun alternative to the ordinary S10 or Ranger conversion.
One of the interesting things I came across was an adaptor to go from an electric motor to a Model A Ford transmission. Combining u-joints will get you from there to a T torque tube, so that's the route I'd take.
Alternately, there is a fellow making an adaptor to go from an S10 transmission to a Model A Ford torque tube, so you could use the easier-to-find Chevrolet adaptor.
I was interested in this some 25 years ago and read up on it. Recently pulled a newer book on the subject a few months ago and found the technology, with the exception of the control systems, hasn't changed much. If you want any range at all it's a 120 volt system that's needed and that involves 20 6 volt batteries. The weight is tremendous. You always remove less weight than you put back. Most recommend a small stick shift pick-up as the vehicle to use with most of the batts. in the bed. Batt. pack life? About 4 years. Replacement cost? about $2 grand. No heater, AC, or power steering either. Which is the only bit that sounds like a T. Adaptors are limited, as Dave hinted at, so a kit is probably out for you. The weight, work and cost would end up as a pass for me.
Here's option (2) for you I have a complete engine and transmission been in storage for 40+ years still has good compression I'd say a little TLC. it would run fine or you could do a complete rebuild. Your Choice.... The engine is yours for $800.00
I'm thinking about putting a gas turbine from a Rover in a T.
Should I configure it to run on lamp oil so I only have to carry one liquid on trips?
No. Your lamps will run just fine on Jet-A.
Now Now Ralph, Not all us Canadians are nutty as squirrel turds. Some of us are actually sane. I swear it!!!!
Rob from Onslow Mountain!!!!!
Take a look -
It is fascinating. The design and engineering was very well done. But in a "T" world, the silence is deafening...
Perhaps he should have an mp3 player with a soundtrack of a sweet sounding Model T engine hitting on all four.
I always wanted a Stanley Steamer but can't afford one. Does anybody here know what parts I need to convert my T to a steam vehicle? Water is cheap here, so I'll be driving for free once I have recouped the money for the conversion . . .
To convert your T to steam power you will need to change the camshaft to one that has the same existing lobes but new lobes added opposite the existing ones. Disconnect the timer. Remove the carb' & fit a pipe from the boiler to it. Obviously you will need a valve to control the flow of steam. Not sure what style car you have so you might have to carry the boiler on a trailer. Now you think about it the hardest part will be finding the camshaft. Not recomending this steam conversion though, Neither an electric one either.
And maybe have one of the "half tooth advance" timing gears.
Don't need a special camshaft. Just a one-to-one gears and chain. Same effect. Much easier.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Alex had been thinking of building a steam T speedster. I like the idea and most of it can be built from scrap material. I was thinking along the lines of a three cylinder, single expansion, 3" bore, short stroke unit using the "improved" Caprotti rotary cam poppet valve system for steam admission. The oil and water feeds to the boiler could be handled automatically like the Disneyland Railway locomotives, and taking water consumption into consideration, the steam dynamo and cylinder exhaust will be condensed, and since there won't be any exhaust steam to draft the fire box, a steam driven fan will handle drafting chores and again that too will be condensed.
Hey, one can dream and scheme eh?
The problem with all "electric cars" is the batteries. They are a serious limitation, to both range (distance traveled) and overall cost (recharge) and they can be somewhat dangerous as GM has recently found out. There is happily a solution, or at least the genesis of one I think.
The Sterling Thermo Dynamic Engine (or a Closed Cycle Steam System) I'll not go into the full history of Robert Sterling's engine that he invented in 1822, if you want to look it up, there are whole sites devoted to Robert Sterling and the purposes his engine has been put to over the years, everything from pumping water wells (that's what Robert Sterling invented it for) to running household rotary fans (that ran on an alcohol burner) and I think currently the US Navy uses it to circulate air in nuclear submarines.
I've been fiddling with this idea for the last 5 years now and how to apply it to a car. Building one, well that's altogether another story (I've neither the funds nor the facilities to do so, (so I plot, figure, calculate, cogitate and bounce ideas off the wall). A Sterling is not as exotic as that steam engine Paul is talking about either, and it has some real advantages as well as some (trivial) disadvantages over the standard steam operated engine.
1) No transmission
2) No exhaust or emissions (of any kind)
3) No fuel system at all
4) No cooling system (ambient is the only cooling needed)
5) No mechanical differential (a circuit board would work)
6) No drivetrain at all (i.e. driveshaft, geartrains, or reductions)
7) 4 wheel drive and total 4 wheel independent suspension.
8) 48 volt (or thereabouts) operating system
9) And there is no range limit (distance traveled).
10) When car is not being used, the engine could easily be used as a compliment power source for the home.
1) Once started, can't be stopped (or shouldn't be stopped)
2) Engine requires pressurization
3) Overhaul would probably be costly
The down side of things, is there is no way to throttle a Sterling, it hast to run full out to be efficient (GM found this out in 82, although that didn't stop them from trying to throttle it, what a bloody cluge that thing was). Also the engine has to be pressurized (and I'm talking about atmosphere's here). A Sterling runs on the differences between a hot side and a cold or cooler (ambient) side, the wider the range the better it runs, it's a true Thermal Dynamic Cycle!
Now as a main power source it's really no good at all, because you can't throttle it. But as a secondary (as in generation) to the primary (electric motor drive) which can be throttled it's a very intriguing idea, or at least it is to me. And I think it would probably grab the oil companies by the short and curlies, because this engine only uses mineral oil for a lubricant. Well anyhow that's my dream/scheme.
I understand wanting to tinker. I'm a tinkerer myself. I understand the allure of steam. I'm a certified steam operator myself. I understand why someone might want to build an electric car. I understand why someone would want to to build and play with a Sterling engine. What I don't get is why anyone would want to convert a T to use any of these power sources. To each his own I suppose but to me, the T doesn't end with the sheet metal. A T is an antique vehicle powered by a four cylinder flat head internal combustion engine with a two speed planetary transmission behind it. It is slow. It lacks horsepower. It lacks a lot of creature comforts, but that is what it is. I really don't understand why so many people want to change that.
Isn't it ironic that the electric car was so popular prior to Henry Ford's introduction of the Model T?
What was missing?? Mainly a century's worth of technological advancements and the proliferation of charging infrastructure.
Most major automotive companies are preparing to release their EV vehicles by 2013 - including Ford.
When a battery or other storage device is built that can power a car for 20 or more miles, and weigh only six pounds, (the weight of a gallon of gasoline) it will be competitive.
How heavy are the batteries in the Chevy Volt?
Topaz Lodge on Topaz Lake, NV
Before or after they catch fire?
Yes, they are all currently working on EV vehicles, but all run on battery stored power, none of them generate their own (which is the major failing I see). And as those batteries age, you'll find your distance range receding.
And yes, I don't quite get why anybody would take something as simple as a Model T and cob it up with something more primitive than Henry's original design. These new electric cars are nothing but a shiny revisited version of the Baker Electric, they may not crackle and spark (or smell of O-zone) like the old Baker's used to, but it's still the same idea with a few new gizmo's thrown in make them seem advanced (gizmo's which I might add, aren't really all that new either). Slap a coat of new paint on something and hang some chrome on it too and the next thing you know, it's new and improved.
That blasted hybrid isn't new either, but the problems still out weigh the benefits, mostly the pollution in construction of the batteries and their inevitable discarding/replacement not to mention the cost.
The Model T has got the electric systems beat seven ways from Sunday, it's easy to repair, easy to maintain and has a pretty simple lay out a wheel in each corner and a spring on each end and if you're not in one gear your certainly in the other and it earned the label of an incredible piece of engineering of it's time and even now it's still viewed as one of the chief "marvels of the mechanical age".
And yet you want to make it electric?
Get yourself a '26 engine and jump in with the rest of us, you'll be the envy of all who see your car and you'll have a hell of a lot more fun!
How about converting your T with a Wankel Rotary engine if you want to think out side the BOX.
I'm not up on the newer electrical/hybrid cars, but couldn't they recharge themselves with a magneto or is that not possible?
My son and I certainly don't advocate taking a perfectly good driving or excellent conditdate for resto Model T and convert it to steam or electric power, or even a Wankle. You have got to admit that a T is an excellent platform for such an undertaking. Frames and suspensions are out there for very reasonable costs. It would be in a sence no different then building a T speedster with a pressurized lube oil system, OHV
multi carbed T engine. I just think it would be a hoot to drive, and one hell of a learning experience for my son.
Ever pull up next to some kid with his high volume amps and that throbbing drum beat pulsing out of the car even with the windows up? Switch your T to Mag and pull down on the advance and let him listen to your plugs firing through his speakers! Kind of humorous really, watching them trying to figure out what's going on (hehe).
I know, I'm evil!
The problem is that the state, certainly Califunny, won't let you build an experimental car using steam or electric or even your idea for a better hybrid without a lot of legal wrangling. If you build something out of a model T, you might be able to work around the licensing and smog check issues. It would not be legal, but a person would have a fair chance of getting away with it and having current plates assigned to the car with no smog checks, no C.A.R.B. etc.
The problem that causes for the preservation hobby is that this sort of thing creates suspicion of every antique as being a fake to circumvent legal safety and smog restrictions.
States should have licensing allowances for experimental cars with reasonable safety and smog rules. Antique restoration and preservation should be just that, antique restoration and preservation.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thanks funny! I didn't know that would happen. I'm going to have to try it...he he (evil grin)
Mr Vowell You have to have some type of fuel to run a Sterling engine. I've built 3 models and 2 run off of a propane fuel and 1 off of alcohol. If you explain it to 50 average people, less than 10 will understand you. The first one looks like a piece of crap as it has a plywood flywheel, push rods are from coat hangers, power cylinder is a shock tube and the differential cylinder is a piece of exhaust pipe from a Mack truck. I ran it 4 12hour days at an engine shows and it used less than a small tank of propane.
I'd never heard of a Stirling engine. Can you post some pictures or diagrams? It's something I could get interested in.
Here's today's announcement about Ford's 2012 All Electric Focus
Interesting turn of events 104 years after the Model T. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison would have been knee-deep into it...
Being a steam nut, long standing, years ago when I was working on my Industrial Arts BA (I went back to college--think I was the oldest "kid" in the class--I was 36 when I got my degress), I did my special project in computer aided drafting on a design for a replica Stanley Gentleman's Speedy Roadster. Now Stanleys of the that time were mostly wood--including the chassis (and would do "60mph on a good road!") To save myself a lot of engineering, and to keep costs down I was going to use the ends of a T front axle (Stanley axles were tubular, so the ends could be fitted into a tube to fabricate it) And a T rear-end with a Stanley type engine attached (was going to build it out of hydraulic tubing and a lot of metal working for the heads & valves). I have some great drawings for this idea, but I doubt now that I'll ever build it. I should dig out one of the smaller versions and scan it in for y'all (the main drawings are on C size paper--a little too big for my scanner!)
Of course this project wouldn't involve a complete T--just some parts (like a really bent-up front axle, etc)
BTW, this 60 mph car; the steering gear is mounted on the wood frame, which is supposed to keep the gears in mesh. Seems to work, haven't heard of any Stanleys wrecking because of the steering--but still--wood???
PS Friend of mine builds model Stirling engines--I'm lucky enough to have one of them--really cool stuff! (or should I say Hot-Cool-Hot-Cool. . . )
You've reminded me of the Old Car Festival. Bob Barrett in western New York often brings his Stanley Gentleman's Roadster to Greenfield Village. When his daughter drove it prior to going off to college, she corrected people and told them it was a Gentlelady's Roadster.
Fred, Here's how it works. Lots of more information, model kits, etc. if you Google search "Stirling Engine". http://www.animatedengines.com/vstirling.html
Gary - how fast do these things run - rpm wise?
I see no response from David however he is.
He's probably over at TransAmCountry.com telling those motor heads about the 70 T/A he plans on converting to a 4 banger to get better mileage.
Congratulations on the plywood motor. that's neat, you can pretty much build a Sterling out of damn near anything.
On the other question. Yes and no, depends upon how you mean to generate the heat. That's the whole question isn't it? How do you generate heat without buring something? In Sterlings day they generated the heat stoking a fire box (with wood or coal), those house fans used an alcohol burner for the heat. But the small demonstration models use a glass of ice water on the cold side and your hand on the the heat side. Impractical for anything but a demonstration, true, but it does show that fuel may be optional, under the right set of circumstances and conditions, or the right design parameters (and a few rare earths).
You are no doubt familiar with this engine.
Sterlings (Or is it Stirlings?) could take advantage of a heat source that is otherwise wasted, like say......exhaust heat or heat from the cooling system of a stationary internal combustion engine or rejected heat from an air conditioner unit. There are all sorts of things in industrial plants and power generating plants that have to be cooled. Even solar or geothermal energy.....Any of these could be a heat source for a Sterling.