Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Opinions and Challenges: Electric Lark?

Collapse
This topic is closed.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Opinions and Challenges: Electric Lark?

    Hi guys,

    I contemplated throwing this up in the technical forums, but while I want technical suggestions, I also wanted opinions on how people would feel about the idea in general.

    I'm in the process of restoring my grandpa's 60 Lark Regal, with a long ways to go on the body before I even think of the drivetrain. That being said, I've recently been thinking long-term about the car. With all the blood, sweat, and tears I'm pouring into this, I want it to be something my grandkids can drive. Of course, with the world using more oil every day, it's not going to be around forever. Some experts give us 50 years before gprices are unreasonably high, others give us several times that. (In my opinion, gas is already unreasonably high, but that's just me!) No matter who you believe thought, they all agree that someday we'll run out, which will essentially send gasoline-powered vehicles extinct.

    Following those lines, I'm a geek, and not afraid to admit it. I bought my first book on converting a vehicle to electric back in 1995, and I've been pondering the thought ever since. So a few weeks ago, the two ideas sorta bumped into each other, and I started thinking about the prospect of converting the Lark to electric.

    On the technical side, it seems feasable. The Lark chassis is far sturdier than the light duty stuff they make today. The Lark is also considerably lighter than most vintage autos. Including a payload of two passengers, it weighs in at about the same as a Chevy S-10 pickup, a favorite in the world of EV conversions. I'm not 100% confident in the drag coefficient guestimate I made on the Lark, but I believe I erred on the safe side, giving it a .45 for my math, which is about as aerodynamic as a square block on wheels.

    My biggest personal battle is the "ethical" side if you can call it that. Part of me feels like to do justice to the car I need to go back to stock specs. On the other hand, another part of me feels like I have planned on making some safety upgades to begin with (seatbelts, dual master cylinder, front disc brakes), so what would be the harm in going all out and just making this thing space-aged under the hood? I don't want to change so much that it looses the essence of Studebaker, but I feel like going to electric would not only future-proof my car, but it would make the car something unique, outside the norm. Sort of like Studebaker's idea of releasing a compact car before the big 3 even had the idea.

    What do you guys think? Good idea? Bad idea? Something else entirely? I'm really interested to hear input here.
    '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

    "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

  • #2
    Well....if my opinion means anything at all, I would say go right ahead! Sounds good to me! There will always be Larks out there with the original specs. Even if they are confined to a museum in the future, but perhaps you will still have a driving Studebaker when the oil dries up! (I know it is a long way away, but hey!) Besides, Studebaker exclusively made their horseless vehicles electric to begin with, so you would be extending that idea. I hope you can pull it off!

    Comment


    • #3
      Not to rain on your parade, but have you considered that the big Manufactures have spent countless millions of dollars and man-hours in efforts to develop a practical EV?
      Gas is not going to 'run out' in any foreseeable future, although it may become scarce and expensive enought that it will no longer be a viable energy source for the everyday commuter vehicle...
      And even if gasoline were to disappear completely, there are other renewable fuel sources that the IC engine can be adapted to run on, all easier than converting a conventional vehicle over to an entirely EV.

      Enjoy your hobby for yourself, and let your grandkids drive an up to the date EV when the time comes,
      (but I'd expect they'd get much more of a kick out of driving and showing off grandpa's neat old antiquey Stoodey-baker Lark than a cobbled-up and inefficient attempt at an EV)
      A good 259 V-8 set up with modern electronic ignition, fuel injection, and automatic overdrive ought to be good for somewhere over 30mpg, still maintaining the musical rumble of that classic V-8.

      eta. There are guys on here that can help you out tremendously when it comes time to put together your drivetrain, some would even give you an engine, transmission or other need parts to help you along...but if you go electric, you will likely be pretty much on your own.
      Not so much that we are against that direction, simply that it is not one in which we possess much in the way of either the parts nor the experience to be able contribute significantly.
      Last edited by Jessie J.; 03-10-2011, 10:37 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Jessie,

        I definitely have considered those options, and that's why I'm kicking the idea around here. Current battery technology basically restricts an EV converter to using a lead-acid based battery pack. Aside from the added payload to the car, it's also just a fact that lead acid batteries have 1% of the power per pound of gasoline. Gas is very easy to convert to energy, which is why it overtook electric at the turn of the 20th century. Range is another big issue, considering that the lightfooted EV driver can usually only get 150-200 miles before needing to park for 6 hours or more to recharge, where a tank of gas takes a couple minutes to refuel and you're on the road. Ironically, a few EV converters have started to build "pushers"- basically they chop the front end off a subcompact car like a VW rabbit and turn it into a trailer that pushes the car along for long out-of-town trips.

        In the end, I completely agree that today's EV is nowhere near as smooth as gasoline. My reason for considering the conversion (aside from just wanting to convert a vehicle to EV for my own amusement) is primarily due to the fact that even when gas does one day run out, be that 50, 100, or more years from now, we're still going to have electricity. With new, super lightweight super powerful batteries in development that rival gas for power output (at least in labs and on paper), 70 years from now a battery pack could theoretically run for 5 times longer with 1/6 the charge time, and it would still be compatible with any hardware I install today. As long as you keep up on changing your motor brushes, an electric motor will last far longer than any internal combustion engine. (Especially vintage engines, which oil manufactures seem intent on killing)

        But again, there are pros and cons on both sides of this. I am far from decided on a direction yet, and so I really appreciate input both for and against the idea!
        Last edited by JimC; 03-10-2011, 10:45 AM.
        '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

        "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

        Comment


        • #5
          I am an old GM retiree, and I worked in the plant right next door to the facility that produced GMs short lived and ill-fated Impact EV1.
          Biggest problems were the quick discharge and limited range that occurred under Michigan's inclement weather conditions, running with the headlights on, and the heater, defrosters and wipers all drawing power zapped the batteries in no time. Can't count the number of times I saw them stranded and being hauled in.

          My neice recently purchased a new Toyota Prius hybrid, which having driven seems to be an amazingly satisfactory vehicle. Time will tell however what its durability or hidden costs of ownership might be.
          Me, I'd restore/improve the Lark, and look around for a deal on a new or used Prius if I felt the need to transition to electric. It would cost less, and perhaps save those few hairs that I still have left on my scalp
          Last edited by Jessie J.; 03-10-2011, 11:12 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Personally I think the demise of the internal combustion engine, and petroleum fuels is greatly exaggerated. There are oil reserves that have not even been touched yet and more that are still being discovered. One of the things that those driving and advocating electric cars are not considering, or sharing, is that a significant amount of our available electricity is produced using oil. The next dilemma is that if a high number of cars do go to electric power, the current electrical grid will not be able to handle everyone getting home at 6 o'clock and plugging their cars in to charge. That being said, I say if you want add some spark to your Lark, go for it! It really does sound like a fun project. I have seen and heard of other vintage cars converted to electric and they always seem to draw a crowd when put on display or are silently cruising along.
            Pat Dilling
            Olivehurst, CA
            Custom '53 Starlight aka STU COOL


            LS1 Engine Swap Journal: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/jour...ournalid=33611

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JimC View Post
              Hi guys,

              I contemplated throwing this up in the technical forums, but while I want technical suggestions, I also wanted opinions on how people would feel about the idea in general.

              I'm in the process of restoring my grandpa's 60 Lark Regal, with a long ways to go on the body before I even think of the drivetrain. That being said, I've recently been thinking long-term about the car. With all the blood, sweat, and tears I'm pouring into this, I want it to be something my grandkids can drive. Of course, with the world using more oil every day, it's not going to be around forever. Some experts give us 50 years before gprices are unreasonably high, others give us several times that. (In my opinion, gas is already unreasonably high, but that's just me!) No matter who you believe thought, they all agree that someday we'll run out, which will essentially send gasoline-powered vehicles extinct.

              Following those lines, I'm a geek, and not afraid to admit it. I bought my first book on converting a vehicle to electric back in 1995, and I've been pondering the thought ever since. So a few weeks ago, the two ideas sorta bumped into each other, and I started thinking about the prospect of converting the Lark to electric.

              On the technical side, it seems feasable. The Lark chassis is far sturdier than the light duty stuff they make today. The Lark is also considerably lighter than most vintage autos. Including a payload of two passengers, it weighs in at about the same as a Chevy S-10 pickup, a favorite in the world of EV conversions. I'm not 100% confident in the drag coefficient guestimate I made on the Lark, but I believe I erred on the safe side, giving it a .45 for my math, which is about as aerodynamic as a square block on wheels.

              My biggest personal battle is the "ethical" side if you can call it that. Part of me feels like to do justice to the car I need to go back to stock specs. On the other hand, another part of me feels like I have planned on making some safety upgades to begin with (seatbelts, dual master cylinder, front disc brakes), so what would be the harm in going all out and just making this thing space-aged under the hood? I don't want to change so much that it looses the essence of Studebaker, but I feel like going to electric would not only future-proof my car, but it would make the car something unique, outside the norm. Sort of like Studebaker's idea of releasing a compact car before the big 3 even had the idea.

              What do you guys think? Good idea? Bad idea? Something else entirely? I'm really interested to hear input here.
              Get in in touch with the electric Avanti guy:

              http://nbeaa.org/local_evs/heacock/index.htm
              JDP Maryland

              Comment


              • #8
                Jim -

                Search the net...there are "kits" you can buy to do this at home.
                Or let me say...a coupla years ago there were 4 or 5 kits available.

                Not exactly cheap kits, kind-of-a heavy car (for this swap)...but for an around town car..it'd be interesting.
                I say "around town" because relitivly cheap battery technology is still not up to the task in a swap like this for money normal people can fork over.. This will most likely limit the miles and car speed to around town driving.

                Then...you'd just have to figure out a way to get the "kids" to drive it....!

                Mike

                Comment


                • #9
                  Jim
                  I wouldn't let "ethical considerations" restrain you from modifying your Lark. Scope out the project and make sure that you have a clear idea what you're getting yourself into, both technically and finacially, then see if you still want to try it. No question that it would cost more than restoring the car to its original configuration, but it would be a real-head turner at car shows, to say nothing of the bragging rights. It sounds like an interesting intellectual exercise, if nothing else.
                  John
                  1950 Champion
                  W-3 4 Dr. Sedan
                  Holdrege NE

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    From a geek to another geek .....
                    Do it!!!


                    There's over 100 years of electric car variants and conversions, so you wouldn't be the first in converting an ordinary vehicle. Many of the folks here seem to have forgotten that Studebaker's early history was in electric trucks and buggies, and that these vehicles are not much more than an oversized golf cart, or a Power Wheels toy.
                    Challenges....you will need to find an appropriate motor and battery for the conversion. I had an interesting conversation with the owner of a Delorean EV at the Orphan Car Show here a couple years ago, and he said that speed and torque are not necessarily the same with all motors. As far as batteries, see if you can dig up some Lithium Phosphate batteries, that might give you the best bang for the buck. Much like the fuel injection system I'm using there are quite a few online sources to get the hardware for a universal fit, but you'll have to do the measuring, cutting, and fitting. You may end up pulling the gas engine out, and hooking it up to the spline on the transmission, so when you need to go, just turn the motor on, pull down to the desired gear, and press the pedal or switch. As far as recharging it, if it were me I would have a solar powered station in my backyard or on my house where I could plug the car into, and have it charge overnight, so that it was ready the next day. That's a project that's going to be aways off yet(like until I get a house, lol), so instead I would see about having a small weatherproof flexible panel on the trunk, so it can extend the range on the batteries. You will also want to be able to plug into a standard outlet if you're out anywhere where it's necessary, so keep the plugs standardized on the car.

                    Ethics....well I'm working on bringing a 50 year old car into the 1980's, so it will be a little easier on the gas, so going to an electric conversion doesn't phase me in the least. It may guarantee a few more years out of the vehicle on the fuel injection, until the price of fuel bounces me out of playing with the cars on a regular basis, so I'm all for going for an electric setup . It also guarantees that you will be independent of the independents at the Studebaker shows too .
                    1964 Studebaker Commander R2 clone
                    1963 Studebaker Daytona Hardtop with no engine or transmission
                    1950 Studebaker 2R5 w/170 six cylinder and 3spd OD
                    1955 Studebaker Commander Hardtop w/289 and 3spd OD and Megasquirt port fuel injection(among other things)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There is a theory the Russians have (and have "proven") that oil is simply a biproduct
                      of the Earths internal process, much like how you sweat when you run. The "running
                      out" of oil is simply a way for the rich to get richer. If memory serves we "ran out" of
                      oil in the mid 70s ... right?

                      I wouldnt waste money on an electric car, and certainly wouldnt buy Japanese in this
                      time of layoffs and Americas decline into a 3rd world country. I do not know about in
                      your area, but electricity is quite expensive around here, I can't imagine how plugging
                      in a car each night to recharge would increase my bill. Heck, a jacuzzi is quite a jump
                      in usage. Then keep in mind that MOST electric plants use fossil fuels, so its not like
                      its helping the environment any.



                      Tom
                      Last edited by sbca96; 03-10-2011, 01:30 PM.
                      '63 Avanti R1, '03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves.
                      Check out my disc brake adapters to install 1994-2004 Mustang disc brakes on your Studebaker!!
                      http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...bracket-update
                      I have also written many TECH how to articles, do a search for my Forum name to find them

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I say if you want to convert it to electric do it. It doesn't sound like you are going to use it as your daily driver. It's really no different that some guy turning a Lark into a hot rod. You are just taking your car and modifying it the way you want to.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the really interesting replies everyone!

                          I've been doing the math on this for about two weeks now, so I'm not just going off on a lark (couldn't resist that pun!) in this idea. I've been conducting mini experiments and refreshing math skills that I haven't used since college algebra. The numbers seem to indicate that if I get a good motor, even with off-the-shelf deep cycle batteries I should be able to get distances of around 150 miles on a charge (if I stick to a max of about 45mph) and speeds up to 75mph for popping on and off the interstate. Technically, this idea works on paper, but again, I'm trying to decide if I really want to do a conversion to Grandpa's old Lark.

                          Mike - I've talked to some of those kit suppliers. There are actually a lot more kits out there than there were even a couple years ago. There's a nice mid-sized vehicle kit from electro-automotive which is actually a little more powerful than what I estimated for on paper.

                          Tom - I'm not really doing it to "make a difference" so to speak. I'm not much of an environmentalist, and if my job (which is also my home) didn't make us recycle, I probably wouldn't take the extra time. I also agree with the sentiments of most folks on this forum that oil will probably be around for the rest of my life. This project is mostly a way for me to merge my internal Studebaker geek with my electronics geek. That being said, Since Omaha is almost entirely powered by nuclear power, electricity here is pretty cheap and doesn't leave much of an impact on the environment (I mean, aside from the bars of decayed radioactive material that will outlive me by some 60,000 years or so). Plus, as I mentioned, my home is also my work. I don't pay for any utilities. I don't even pay rent. Of course, if they wanted to charge me for the added electrical usage, it's not like I'd be dumping money into rent. Or oil. Or gasoline.
                          '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

                          "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with Pat Dilling on this matter. One of the basic rules of commodities (gasoline is a commodity) is that when a commodity becomes rare, substitutes are found. Not only is there more crude oil in the United States under the land and offshore than there is in Saudi Arabia (google gas fracking), we also have more natural gas than any other large land mass on the earth. As the price of gas goes up, it becomes profitable to produce gasoline from sources other than crude. At $8.00 a gallon, it is profitable to make it from coal. We have very large coal reserves. There is no danger of "running out" of gas, although the cost will rise. "All Experts" do not agree that we will eventually run out. If you research the people who say this, you will find most of them are selling something, or members of some political group with an agenda.
                            If you want an electric car that will be a big collector item in the future, buy a GM Volt (281 sold in total). If you want a car that will be a popular collector car you can actually drive, buy a Prius and take care of it. In the future they will also be very collectible.
                            As always, your car, your choice. Just don't fall into the trap of believing gas will go away.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Plus, as I mentioned, my home is also my work. I don't pay for any utilities. I don't even pay rent. Of course, if they wanted to charge me for the added electrical usage, it's not like I'd be dumping money into rent. Or oil. Or gasoline.
                              If I read that right, that's the way to do it, like I mentioned earlier. A well, gas or electric hookup, and a roof full of solar panels, and paying nothing to the utilities. If you can hook up the car to the house, that's an added bonus, and over the long term it leaves more money for the Studebakers .
                              Like I said, I would also try and hang a solar panel from the trunk to extend the range of the car, since it would recharging the batteries at the same time the car is running. It would replace the alternator on a conventional vehicle .

                              Same here, up here in N. Illinois we run off of nuclear too, so coal is not as huge a factor either.
                              1964 Studebaker Commander R2 clone
                              1963 Studebaker Daytona Hardtop with no engine or transmission
                              1950 Studebaker 2R5 w/170 six cylinder and 3spd OD
                              1955 Studebaker Commander Hardtop w/289 and 3spd OD and Megasquirt port fuel injection(among other things)

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X