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gamby
gamby SuperDork
7/6/09 9:09 p.m.

I don't know how I missed this thread.

This is an astonishing build. So well-executed. I mean--everything just looks like it belongs there. (assuming it gets completed/sorted on time) This has to go down as one of the top challenge entries. I can't applaud your ambition and abilities enough. Just awesome.

I can't see how anyone could top you for the "best engineered" trophy.

Can't wait to see more.

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/7/09 12:29 p.m.

Aw shucks Gamby, you're making me blush.

Really, that's what I'm going for. This is supposed to look like a car that could have been built by GM digging into their parts bin if you really stretch your imagination. Ignore the fact that these powertrain parts didn't exist in the parts bin at the same time as the chassis, minor detail.

Bryce

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/7/09 2:50 p.m.

Hot damn, the Fiero made the front page over at Jalopnik!

http://jalopnik.com/5309278/grassroots-motorsports-competitor-builds-awd-hybrid-fiero

The comments are pretty amusing, in many ways.

Bryce

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/13/09 10:02 p.m.

For those with short attention spans, here's video of the car driving:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28CES5Zy_bQ

It drives! I've been hard at it, so hard at it that I barely stopped to take any pictures this week. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to package the cooling system. The cooling system has been particularly tricky because of some compounding complexity. First of all, the radiator for the gas engine used to be vertical-ish where the inverter now lives. I'm reusing the stock radiator, but it's now tilted to more horizontal-ish than before and tucked under the inverter. I managed to modify the old radiator support to hold the radiator in just the right spot so that it now fits UNDER the inverter, the filler cap is still accessible (even with the inverter installed!!!), and ground clearance is the same as it was stock.

The next trick was finding a home for another radiator. Yes, the car has TWO radiators. The electrical system, specifically the inverter and motor, uses liquid cooling. Unfortunately, the electrics run at a much lower temperature than the engine so you can't use the same cooling system for both powertrains. That means a second radiator, 12V coolant pump, coolant reservoir, and a slew of added hoses to connect the dots is required. I have a small aluminum radiator that was laying around (still not sure what FMV is for this thing) that I found a home for on the bottom side of the gas radiator. Finally, I wedged the electric fan between the inverter and the gas radiator.

If you're having a hard time following, just imagine how I felt figuring out how to get these legos to fit together! So if you imagine the front end as a sandwich between the hood and the ground, looking down, it goes inverter, electric fan, gas radiator, and electric radiator.

But wait, there's more! After those parts were all in, then I had to figure out how to route all of the cooling hoses. This seems like a simple task at first glance, but keep in mind I'm trying to keep the budget to the bare minimum and have this look like a factory install at the same time. The hoses for the gas engine were fairly straight forward in how I wanted to route them, but still took a lot of time to get in there. The hoses for the electric system were extremely tedious. The biggest issue is that the motor uses 1" barbs, the inverter has 1/2" NPT threads (which currently have 3/4" barbs screwed into them), the pump has 3/4" barbs, and the cooler has 1" barbs. That means there are transitions between 1" and 3/4" hose, plus the routings are really tricky. I actually took the easy way out on a couple of them just to get things operable so I can start testing. If I get time, I'd really like to make some formed metal hoses, but time is a precious commodity right now.

As it stands, the package has worked out very nicely. Yesterday I was all ready for a road test, but it was raining earlier in the day and by the time it stopped raining it was dark. I decided to wait until today and I'm glad I did. Last night while I was eating dinner, thinking about the rapidly approaching first test drive, I got this fortune cookie:

"YOU ARE AN ADVENTURER - TRAVEL THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE"

Now that is a good sign!!! Today the weather was good, so I cleared out the driveway and took the car for a spin (see video link above). I only drove down the street and back, there are already some issues that obviously need worked out. I worked some air out of the cooling system for the gas engine and it definitely needs a better alignment. I'm really tired, so I called it a successful test drive for today and parked it in the garage. Tomorrow the garage gets some desperately needed cleaning and the car goes back up on jackstands to continue checking things off the "to do" list.

I don't actually have a to do list. I think I'd be scared at how many things were left on it...but for now, I'm very happy to cross out "take first test drive" and as a bonus I even returned without a tow truck!

Bryce

Junkyard_Dog
Junkyard_Dog Reader
7/13/09 10:21 p.m.

Awesome job! Theres nothing like a first drive to get back the enthusiasm on a tedious project. I'd also like to say that as cool as the Fiero is I love the cars on the street in your neighborhood! I saw a (your?) Subaru in the driveway, a yellow Focus, a silver Sky, a ragtop Baja Bug and a Volvo 120 wagon!

P71
P71 GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/13/09 11:15 p.m.

Awesome Bryce! Are you still going to try and make the electric drags on the 25th?

wherethefmi
wherethefmi Dork
7/13/09 11:59 p.m.

I love watching you use the shift "lever". Nice man I can't wait to read about you in the Magazine, hope you get good video of the challenge!!!

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/14/09 11:27 a.m.
Junkyard_Dog wrote: Awesome job! Theres nothing like a first drive to get back the enthusiasm on a tedious project. I'd also like to say that as cool as the Fiero is I love the cars on the street in your neighborhood! I saw a (your?) Subaru in the driveway, a yellow Focus, a silver Sky, a ragtop Baja Bug and a Volvo 120 wagon!

Those are all mine, with exception to the Focus, that's Aaron's car. Also, FWIW, I've only been working on this project for 7 weeks (!!!). I haven't had time to lose enthusiasm! With five weeks to go until I drive this thing to San Diego, there's still a TON of work to do. The first test drive has already shown me where more work is needed. I've got Friday off work and I'll be hard at it in the coming days trying to get this thing ready for some more aggressive test drives.

P71 wrote: Awesome Bryce! Are you still going to try and make the electric drags on the 25th?

That's the plan...with a week and a half until then, I've still got a lot of work to do before this thing is ready for that kind of shakedown.

Bryce

jikelly
jikelly Reader
7/14/09 12:42 p.m.

Holly Cow this is an awesome build!!!

m4ff3w
m4ff3w GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/14/09 12:46 p.m.

Awesome man!

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/23/09 2:12 a.m.

Man, time is flying by! I finally had a FULLY functioning EV powertrain today. The last week has been absorbed with a lot of tiny details. Pictures would be pointless of any work I did this week, it was all ironing out bugs. This work is really tedious, tiring stuff, but IMO this is what separates a good "idea" from a good car. The devil is in the details!

I've got the front end clunk free after tearing it apart and reassembling things a few times. The packaging on this front end is really tight...and to think, I haven't even got an anti-roll bar stuffed back in the front end yet! It took a bit of attention, but once I got the air out of the cooling system it was also working well. The big challenge for the week was getting the electric stuff to go into regenerative braking mode. As of last week, I still had three diagnostic codes when I fired up the EV system. Two of them were related to the airflow sensor and wouldn't allow the electronics to go into regen mode. The airflow sensor is a resistive temperature sensor that the computer monitors in the stock vehicle to ensure that the battery fan is working properly. While I will have a fan on my batteries eventually, I'm not even close to getting to that point yet, so I needed to fool the computer to think things were alright. So, I took my all-too-familiar bag of resistors from radio shack and started some good ol' fashioned guess-and-check on the airflow sensor pins until I got the computer to think things were ok. In the end, it just looks like a single resistor between two pins, not very impressive to look at. However, after that I was down to only ONE more diagnostic code. The remaining one is one that I really have no idea how I can fake out, it's missing communication with a module I just don't have....however, according to the service manual it shouldn't affect the driveability of the car at all. I'm really happy to have things down to only one trouble code, it's very rewarding after the work I've had to do to make these electronics happy outside of their native home.

So, with my data codes beat, my cooling system in good order, and my suspension in better shape, I was ready for another test drive today. I drove it around the block a few times and I got the regen braking to work! Finally, the battery will recharge just like any other hybrid car around! I had some other stuff to do tonight, so I only got to drive it for about 15 minutes, but it was pretty fun. I did hit the EV throttle pedal about 50% just to see what happened. The internet doesn't lie, electric motors do make instant torque!

Tomorrow I'm dropping the ICE to replace the slipping clutch. I've been limping it along for the last several thousand miles and it's just dead, so I've got another (used, stock) clutch to drop into it. I'm hoping to do some engine bay clean up while I've got the cradle out, since it's much easier to work on while it's out. If I'm lucky, I'll have the cradle back in before I go to bed tomorrow night. The EV drag races are at PIR this weekend, both Friday and Saturday night. I'm going to bring the car to the track on Friday just to have the tech inspectors take a look and let me know what needs attention. If everything goes to plan, I'll have the car ready to do a first test run at the drag strip on Saturday night.

Wish me luck, I'll take all I can get. Less than four weeks until I leave for San Diego!!! I expect a LOT of build action in the next couple of weeks.

Bryce

blizazer
blizazer New Reader
7/23/09 5:02 a.m.

I can already picture you driving up, gas engine purring along, asking the EV drag tech inspectors if you can run. That should be a fun conversation.

CLNSC3
CLNSC3 New Reader
7/24/09 10:17 p.m.

VERY cool project, I would love to see this thing in person! Good luck in the challenge!

RexSeven
RexSeven HalfDork
7/24/09 10:38 p.m.

Kick ass. Good luck with your build! Something tells me the Jalopnik article will be the first of many on this little beastie.

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
7/25/09 6:09 a.m.

Thanks for the encouragement guys, it makes days like today just slightly less crushing.

I had planned on going to the drags today to have the tech inspectors help me fill out my to-do list, giving me 24 hours to deal with stuff they catch that I hadn't thought of. Unfortunately, I spent several hours working on the GAS powertrain today. I put in a used clutch (boy oh boy does that flywheel need machined!!!) and thought I only had about an hour of work left when I got home from work, then I could go do some more test driving and head to the track. Unfortunately, my clutch slave cylinder got damaged while doing the job and I couldn't get one locally on such short notice. I've got a couple of ideas to try tomorrow to get it working, but at this point they're just ideas. Meanwhile, I still have several other things to do just to get the car ready for the track like an external emergency shutoff, some more robust battery brackets, etc.

I've got a couple of guys who said they'd try to help tomorrow. If I'm lucky, I'll have the Fiero driving again in time to make a presence at the Saturday night drags. I'll be there one way or another.

Bryce

MrJoshua
MrJoshua SuperDork
7/25/09 6:49 a.m.

You put the word out on the local fiero forums? I'm sure one of those guys can come up with a slave cylinder. If not-start the drags with the ICE off but key on in 2nd gear. An electric motor pull start and a slow 2nd to 4th clutchless shift and you will at least have a time sheet.

P71
P71 GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/25/09 8:32 a.m.

Bryce,

If there's a clutch slave anywhere between Castle Rock and Portland I'll gladly pick it up for you on the way down and deliver it before lunch. Or any other part for that matter. Want me to call around?

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
8/1/09 12:52 a.m.

So much drama...

Well, last weekend was a bust. I was fully expecting to show up to the drags on Saturday evening to give the car a good shakedown, but unfortunately reality hit...hard. I had pulled the cradle on Thursday evening last weekend to replace the clutch. I've done this on a Fiero before, no big deal, standard operating procedure working with the gas engine. As I mentioned (above), the clutch wasn't working properly. I knew that the slave cylinder was screwed up right away, so I "hoped" that was it. Friday night I tried to rehone the bore, but it was too far gone. Here's what it looked like before we tried honing it out:

After replacing that, things were better, but not fixed by a long shot. I looked further and found this:

That's the old master cylinder with a bent pushrod and another used one that isn't bent for reference. I replaced the master, but things still weren't working right. Better, but not fixed. I bled the hell out of things without any success. Then, my buddy Caalon noticed that the clutch pedal seemed a little bent too. I had noticed it before, as a daily driver, but didn't think much of it. We compared it to a known good one, and sure enough, the pedal was bent too. We replaced the pedal and bled the hell out of things again, still no properly working clutch. Long story shortened, having very little sleep and running out of patience and parts, I called it around 6 pm. I drove to the EV drags just miles from my house in the Sky and left the Fiero behind, sitting motionless in the garage. I was one depressed dude.

As a strange coincidence, there was an electric Fiero Formula that showed up. What are the odds?!? It was black, looked very sharp, and ran mid 16s. I mentioned to the owner that it was almost as fast as a stock Formula, jokingly. He said that he and a friend had been building it for years and they were hoping for the car to be faster, but their batteries were in rough shape having sat for a long time. Boy, I really wish I had my Formula there (that had a couple of months of work into it) for comparison, it would have made for a great photo opp to have the two running up against each other. There were several very fast EVs there, from Teslas to a Tango and even the Killacycle. It was a lot of fun to see how they fared against the regulars.

Sunday I took the day off. I had busted my ass trying to get the car ready for Saturday's EV drags and I was just really bummed out, no motivation at all. I relaxed most of the day, recognizing that this was the last break I'd get until I got home from San Diego.

On Monday I did some more thinking on the bad clutch. I decided to pull the cradle again, as I suspected that I had installed the used clutch disc backwards. The hydraulics were finally working like expected, but since the clutch still wouldn't disengage properly I knew there was more to it...the failed hydraulics were just symptoms of a bigger problem. I pulled the cradle and decided that this was the LAST time I was pulling the cradle before San Diego, so I better find the problem this time.

When I pulled the engine off the trans again, I found this:

It doesn't get much more clear than that, I totally screwed myself over! Sure, the clutch hydraulics were in rough shape before, but I did them in with my stupid mistake of putting the clutch disc in backwards. This was good and bad news. The good news is that I found a big problem, and what I think should fix my clutch issues. The bad news is, this was my fault and I totally ruined my shot at bringing the Fiero out to the EV drags. I probably shouldn't have been working on so little sleep while talking to friends AND working on the car, lesson learned...even a "whiz" like me can screw up the basics when not paying attention!

Since I had already decided this was the last time I was pulling the cradle, I decided to do a lot of clean up work after the clutch problem was corrected. Even though the gas engine isn't the main focus of this build, this is still a show car and deserves some attention in the engine bay. I'm pretty confident this engine bay has never been washed, ever. Even with relatively low miles (about 130k miles) and seemingly zero oil leaks, this engine bay is still filthy. Here are some peeks at the nastiness:

The pictures hardly do this job any justice. Starting to feel a tiny bit closer to presentable:

The Fiero has tons of "spare parts" that clutter up the engine, engine bay, etc. Here's just a sample of the stuff I ditched:

Jessica helped a bunch with the engine bay cleanup, clean up is her forte. We rerouted most of the wiring and relocated a lot of components to clean things up and scrubbed just about every surface of the engine as much as our joints would tolerate.

Today I finally got the cradle back in. The clutch works as expected!!! Thank goodness, I don't know what I would have done otherwise. Fortunately, I can look back and laugh about how stupid and time consuming it ended up being to replace the old clutch with another old clutch and leaving the flywheel unmachined. Oh well, in the spirit of the event I thought a used clutch and gnarly flywheel seemed appropriate, since that's what the car had when I bought it.

I'm pretty satisfied with how the engine bay is looking. The car still needs a good thorough pressure washing and degreasing and the engine is a long way from "polished"...but it's a hell of a lot better looking. Actually, most people probably wouldn't realize how much work has gone into cleaning up the engine bay, but that's the whole point of my build. I want to keep it looking like something that would roll out of the factory, even if I have ditched/added a lot of parts. Anybody who has spent time with a stock Fiero V6 would know in a second how much cleaner the engine bay is, but that's probably it. There are still lots of things I'd like to do if I have more time, but for now the priority is shifting back to the EV stuff. Here's as far as I got:

With the car back in good working order and ready for a test drive, I've put it to bed for now. Tomorrow I will be gone all day for a wedding, so Sunday the car will get yet another shakedown run and we'll see how this "new" clutch works on the street. Then, it's back to the garage to go back under the knife. (cue: mad scientist laughter)

Bryce

P71
P71 GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/1/09 10:53 a.m.

Bryce,

You are truly a madman! That's awesome that you got it all fixed. I have spent a little time under the hatch of V6 Fiero's and that is looking mighty clean. You can actually SEE the engine! I am continually amazed by this project.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg Dork
8/1/09 7:47 p.m.

I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy..........

Just magnificent......I am so waiting to see that in Florida, I will be the one nobody can understand asking the stupid questions

ultraclyde
ultraclyde New Reader
8/1/09 9:03 p.m.

Wow. the engineering talent here absolutely astounds me. Wow.

fiat22turbo
fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/1/09 9:38 p.m.

Aussie, he's going to San Diego, not Florida.

Bryce, I need to give you a call next week and figure out a schedule, etc

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/2/09 8:40 p.m.
jj wrote: Great project! I had a thought come to mind though. How are you going to launch the car if both throttles are linked? You won't be able to bring the revs up enough to launch at the drags without moving the car.

An "e-throttle cutoff" button on the steering wheel could take care of that...

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
8/3/09 12:39 p.m.
jj wrote: Great project! I had a thought come to mind though. How are you going to launch the car if both throttles are linked? You won't be able to bring the revs up enough to launch at the drags without moving the car.

Very good question, and one that I'm still pondering myself. For this reason alone, an auto trans for the gas engine would make things a little more "fluid" in terms of integrated controls. There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, some easier than others, some better than others (in theory). Right now I've actually mounted the two throttle pedals immediately next to each other (new one in between the brake and gas pedal). The two independent throttle pedals actually nestle together quite nicely! This makes it easy for me to use the two as needed during testing, as some times I want to test EV only, some times gas only, sometimes both. With the EV motor helping things out, there isn't really any problem of stalling out the gas engine if I start in first gear. I accidentally started in third once and it bogged a little bit but didn't stall. I'll get a picture of the current pedal setup tonight if I remember to, I was quite pleased at how well it has worked during my initial testing.

Speaking of initial testing, I did some more test driving yesterday. This time I bumped up the battery count, running as high as 370 volts. As it turns out, spinning all four wheels on a Fiero is pretty easy when the car hasn't been aligned and the tires suck. Sounds cool too!

Bryce

subtle_driver
subtle_driver None
8/4/09 3:26 p.m.

that is an amazing build! You are going to the west coast 2009 challenge in Barona am i right? I can't wait to see this car! I'm team leader of SD Grand challenge, team midnight boba. We built a 240z with a turbo ka running e85. The competition is super tough, and close, anything can happen. GL, see ya.

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