ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Motor Purchase

Today was a major milestone. I left the house at 6am for Ontario, CA to pick up my motor from HPEV, aka High Performance Electric Vehicle Systems. The HPEV website recounts their legacy, starting in the early ’60s as a small company that rewound fried washing machine motors, and then branching into golf cart and other industrial motors. Today, their motors power the all-electric Wheego Whip, the Trexa M9, and numerous EV conversions by knuckleheads like me.

When I arrived, Bill Ritchie, the shop manager, invited me inside to check out their operation. I enjoyed hanging for a short while with the guys at the winding table, just one of the steps in the assembly of several different motor models.

Bill explained that the raw wire has a resin coating, and after the windings are complete and assembled in the stator cases, they are dipped in a solution and then oven-baked. This activates the resin and fuses the windings into a solid epoxy mass.

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In the shop, there are pallets of lithium batteries designated for various projects. This is the Voltronics standard 3.2 volt, 180 amp/hour cell, identical to what I will be using for my traction pack. A total of 36 cells will provide a combined 115.2 DC volts that will be fed to the controller to drive the motor.

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Here is the Curtis 1238R-7601 650amp controller that will do all of the heavy lifting. Its function is to invert the direct current to alternating current, and then shape the AC sine wave to provide a custom torque curve for the specific vehicle. The ability to shape that wave is why AC drives can be programmed to behave much the same as the original gas engine. HPEV is currently working on a more powerful AC motor that will pair with the coming higher voltage Curtis controller. It’s exciting to know that development and innovation is driving this industry forward.

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Here’s a look at the BMS (battery management system) that HPEV is using in their electric Jetta project. If I remember correctly, Bill said this was the Flux Power system. The above nine modules each manage four lithium cells. Some research will be required to arrive at the exact BMS that will fit my budget. Some leaders in the conversion field point to evidence that a BMS can ironically cause more cell failure than not using any BMS at all. That’s scary, since the BMS is designed to safeguard one of the biggest investments in an electric vehicle.

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Here’s a batch of AC50 cases waiting for the next phase of their assembly. This is the exact model that will power my 914. One configuration is sold as the AC50-1, which includes a tail shaft that can be used to drive various accessories, like a tachometer sender or an air-conditioning pump. However, Bill explained that the Curtis controller had a built-in tach signal output, and that there were better ways to install air-conditioning. He also explained that the extra shaft length could cause clearance problems, such as they encountered in their 911 conversion. With that assurance, he issued me the AC50 model without the tail shaft.

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My visit to HPEV was one of the high points of this project. Bill Ritchie is a great guy, offering me all of the insight and advice needed to make this a successful EV conversion. I left feeling inspired that this industry has a great future ahead, and with a trust in the quality of the components I was buying. That’s Bill sending me off with my new EV drive system. I can hardly wait to begin the install.

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4 Responses to “Motor Purchase”

  1. EXCITING !!! Can’t wait to see what happens.

  2. Very exciting, Mark! I’d be interested to know what swayed your final decision to go local.

    • I had been approached by a Chinese EV component company who had seen this blog, and who were interested in selling me their product. I decided the shipping distance, language difference, and unknown/untested product were factors I didn’t want delaying the completion of the project. HPEV has a lengthy and solid track record, and are in my time zone if I need phone support. If anything goes seriously wrong they are only an hour away. Maybe I’ll explore the Chinese connection once I have ONE successful conversion under my belt! Thanks for a great question.

  3. Congrats! Can’t wait to see it running šŸ™‚


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