Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #112
  covering September 2017 (posted October 14th 2017)
Lawnhill BC
by Craig Carmichael

www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com = www.ElectricWeel.com

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
  - Electric(?) Bixel Ground Effect Vehicle - Chevy Sprint Electric Conversion with Improved Transmission - Electric Caik Outboard Motor - Leftover Articles From the Past Summer: EV.s Pickup - NiMH Battery Stick Fix... Duh! - Solar Panels for the Miles EV Cargo Van? - Lead-Salt, Lead-Alkaline Batteries: Belated Revelations - Electric Sawmill Rides Again - NOT!

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - A bit more perspective on the Permian Period & Evolution of Life - An Entirely New Take on the Second World War

- In Depth Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Electric Caik Motor & Electric Caik Outboard
* Chevy Sprint extra-efficient transmission conversion project: on again, with Curtis motor and controller.
 - A few transmission explorations & ideas for using stock transmissions

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects (no reports)

Electricity Generation
* Short Space Ray/Lambda Ray/VHE Ray Converter

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi, O2-Ni), etc. (no reports - but see lead-salt article in Month in Brief)

September in Brief

   Here's another late newsletter. I went to my youngest brother Ian's funeral near the start of October and I didn't get it ready beforehand. Only the date of the event was a surprise, as we could see it coming for a year or more. I'm glad he got an extra 22 productive and fulfilling years after being diagnosed with kidney failure at 35, being on kidney dialysis for 9 years, and having a transplanted kidney for 13. He had many health problems as a result, but finally died, apparently, of a very rare cancer. He is missed by all who knew him and doubtless has a bright future in the eternal career.
   So, since the last "monthly" newsletter covering 5 months was mid September and I was away for a week, this one would have less than a full month's worth of project articles except that I included several "leftover" articles from the spring and summer that I left out of that one. The one about turning lead-acid batteries into lead-salt (or lead-alkaline) may be enlightening to those who wish to use old lead-acid batteries, especially for off-grid energy storage. Plus there's a considerable article in In Passing about what World War 2 was all about, according to researcher Victor Suvarov. Apparently we, especially in the west, never knew of the most carefully concealed plans behind that war and so we have a distorted understanding of it.

Electric(?) Bixel Ground Effect Vehicle

   On the 15th I got an interesting e-mail from someone in Russia who was passionate about ground effect craft. He said he had conversed with Chuck Bixel for 10 years. It seemed the biggest problem with Bixel's designs was that with real world weight loading instead of extruded styrene foam models, the symmetrical wing designs were most stable with high angles of attack, and required too high a take-off speed. He did say he had made a couple of models in which it wasn't too high. But he didn't use flat/symmetrical wings for his full size craft.
   Here my latest ideas for blowing air under the wings and to have front-hinged wing flaps to complete a "box" underneath the craft may come into play. Now it will take off like a hovercraft at low speed, compressing the air in the box to push itself up out of the water. Then the speed increases until the flaps fold back against the bottom of the wing and it's flying like a plane. "In theory" it seems almost foolproof, but many details have yet to be worked out.

   He mentioned having written a book, and I wish to get a copy. It should be well worth reading. In the meantime, I decided to put this project on hold and go for one of more immediate value to myself: to finally electrify the Chevy Sprint and get it on the road.

Chevy Sprint Electric Conversion with Improved Transmission

   It started with nothing more than wanting to get away from the bloodsucking gas pumps after the Swift was gone. Checking things out I found I could reassemble the surplus Sprint manual transmission with only 2nd gear installed (overall about 7 to 1 speed reduction). That would at least cut down the internal friction and increase the range a bit. But it wouldn't let it go any faster on the highway. Installing 3rd gear instead (~5 to 1) would risk having it not start up or accelerate at low speeds well enough. (I could conceivably install the clutch and both 2nd and 3rd gears if I could get several more parts.) But installing the manual transmission at all would have its own set of problems as the car was originally automatic and various mountings were in different places, at least one of them quite awkward to access and modify.

   On checking the original automatic transmission that came with the car, I disassembled it to a point where I found it could have a 9 to 1 reduction, or with just two sets of gears installed it could simply act as a 4 to 1 transfer case: the gears for the differential, and a pair of large, equal size gears (1 to 1) that coupled the 'motor shaft' (as I would use it) to the intermediate shaft. This last assembly with all the other gears removed spun quite freely, so the friction can't be too high.
   9 to 1 would be too much reduction and 4 to 1 would be too little. But if only one wheel was driven and the other end of the differential was used for another connection to the motor, the differential transmission could have any ratio. A variable belt pulley could make it an infinitely variable transmission. But I am leery of belts, especially V-belts, with my earlier experiences with them slipping. A chain would be better, but it wouldn't allow variableness... except if the input sprocket had a clutch of some sort, it could be slipped as the vehicle started up to get better low speed torque, allowing a much lower fixed ratio like 3 or 4 to 1.

   I started in on this on the 25th by dismantling everything under the hood in the Sprint. The next day I fiddled with the automatic transmission and #40 chain sprockets. I found a plastic disk about the right size to replace a missing round plate with. (Me, threw something out?!? Gasp!) By the end of the month I had the transmission mostly back together, but I was still wondering just how to connect the novel parts. One problem is that the shafts from the differential are quite close to body parts, so it's hard to put in the sort of large pulleys or sprockets that would turn with less force. The other, causing the same problem, is that the shafts are too close together. Only adding a third, intermediate shaft would give some breathing room. And the last thing I wanted to do is once again create something with pulleys and belts that just slip, or inadequate mountings that won't stand up securely to the powerful forces required to move a car, leaving misaligned chains that bind.
   Then I tried out some internal parts and found I could get 10 to 1 or 4 to 1 by tightening or loosening a band around a drum inside. But however I did it, it all started looking complicated and probably inefficient again. I finally started looking at a simpler belt drive "from scratch" with an in-line variable pulley. There'd be lots of space for everything and it would give from about 9 to 1 down to 5.5 to 1, sufficient for typical driving needs.

Electric Caik Outboard Motor

   Trying the Caik outboard motor out again on land after I returned from the test trip (early September), I had trouble with the twist grip 'throttle'. I dug out a slide potentiometer such as is sometimes used in stereos and soldered on the same 3 pin "trailer lights" plug that the twist grip used. I unplugged the twist grip and plugged in the slide pot. The motor seemed far more energetic. It spun up to over 3000 RPM (my estimated safe RPM limit) in a flash at under 1/2 'throttle'. That seemed by itself to warrant another launch.

   On the 18th I changed the magnetically overheating metal bolts for nylon ones, a few at a time. That should make for lower current and less heat - however slight the improvement might be. While a change in motor heating would be hard to measure with any precision, the RPM.s would be higher for the same currents because of less drag on the rotor, so if the improvement was significant, it should be apparent.

   The next test on the water, on the 19th, didn't go well. I did remember to put the drain plug in the boat this time, and I brought the RPM (=Hz*30) meter and a voltmeter for motor temperature. But I had taken the new control (the main reason for the test) in the house to keep it out of the rain, and I forgot to bring it. I had also thought of bringing a clamp-on ampmeter to recheck the calibration of the connected one, but didn't. Its absence was soon sorely felt when the installed one became intermittent and then just read zero. The only reading I got was almost immediately: about 10 amps gave 1140 RPM. And I hadn't taken one at 10 amps on the previous trip, so no direct comparisons were possible. I puttered around for quite a while at about 1650 RPM, which was as high as it would go.
   The motor seemed to get up to about 50 degree temperature rise for a while. That was really as hot as I wanted the plastic motor to get. I turned it down a bit and it cooled a few degrees. I turned it up again and the motor started getting still hotter; 60 degrees rise or more. The coil heat could now be plainly felt on the outside of the composite plastic case. Just before I got back to the boat launch - and for some time afterward - I could smell the hot plastic. Did my motors heat up that badly, and at such low power, probably a little under one horsepower? This was very discouraging.
   But the three coils at the back felt much warmer than the three at the front. Since they must have all had the same currents flowing in them, that meant the front ones must be getting better cooling. With the cover having been off the outboard, I can only attribute this to the forward motion of the boat wafting air in from the front. That didn't say much for the magnets acting as a centrifugal cooling fan! On looking at the picture of the improved rotor (TE News #104), it was apparent that unlike the Hubcap motors, in the Caik size the inner ends of the magnets were so close together as to restrict air passage and perhaps almost eliminate "centrifugal fan" operation. Also I looked underneath and realized the holes for the circulated air to exit were pretty tiny.

   So the motor probably wasn't making a lot of heat, it just wasn't getting cooled effectively so the coils just kept getting hotter. Somehow the problem needs to be solved or I might as well give up making what I thought were essentially pretty fine motors. At least the nylon bolts didn't heat up.

   If I can solve it, maybe on the next try I'll try to get it up to 70 or 80 amps ...and maybe even get the boat on a plane before the 50 amp breaker blows - or the motor controller blows ...or the motor wire insulation fries. If it does get up on a minimal plane with one person on board, it's doing as well as it did when it was a 7.5 HP gas outboard. Would I dare try?

Leftover Articles From the Past Summer

   That really ends the September Month in "Brief". But here are a few perhaps noteworthy belated items I left out of the April-to-August newsletter because it was so long.

EV.s Pickup (Level towing)

   This is really included for those who may have occasion to tow a vehicle with "level towing" using a tow bar, especially for the purpose of electric conversion. You've seen it done behind big motor homes. I did it behind a Dodge Caravan minivan. (A vexatious and costly feature, at least in BC, is that the towed vehicle must be licensed as if for driving it.)

   On May 26th the monthly North Arm Transportation barge reached Masset and unloaded my electric vehicles: the Swift, the Miles truck, and the Sprint project car. Tom and I drove up to get the Sprint and the Swift that afternoon. The normally deserted North Arm yard was a hive of activity with huge trucks picking up cargo.
   Someone had hit the "kill switch" breaker in the Swift and so the gauge didn't know how much charge there really was. We charged it for a bit with a gasoline powered generator I had purchased before leaving Victoria. In a bit it looked like it must be pretty full.
   We connected the tow bar to the Sprint and hooked it to my Dodge Caravan. (...the minivan retrieved from its breakdown point south of Quesnel by Tom the previous week. The rescue took him a whole week, with the long distances, and the bus and ferry schedules being unfavorable. And it cost me 1400$ for his expenses. Ouch on both counts!) In a brief test, the Sprint seemed to tow well, so I drove, towing it, behind the Swift. I stuck to about 60-70 Km/Hr towing the car, and Tom also kept to those speeds. That was probably well given my next towing eperience.
   It was about 37 Km from the barge landing point to Port Clements - about the range of the Swift to keep the batteries above 50%, and it was also the half way point of the 76 Km trip. Tom drove it to a shop there whose owner he had previously met, with the gauge saying 52% charge remaining. We plugged it in for the night and drove home, both in the Caravan again. We unhooked the Sprint, washed the salt spray off it, and put it in the garage by the workshop. I was glad to get some of the supplies I had stashed in these vehicles, especially the electric chainsaw, the wheelbarrow for gardening and a kitchen table and chairs.
   The next morning I went back to the barge landing to get the little Miles electric cargo van. At the half way point I dropped Tom off to drive the Swift the rest of the way home.
   I figured it would be folly to try to drive the low speed (max 40 Km/Hr) Miles, with unknown but surely insufficient travel range, on the highway with the traffic (little tho there is) doing 80-100, and very narrow shoulders to pull over onto. Back in Victoria I had found a quick way to hook up the tow bar. The other requirement for towing was to disconnect the transmission from the wheels. Otherwise the motor would be seriously over-revved at higher speeds and might well fly apart.
   Things started off well. I backed the Miles onto a couple of ramps that were inside it. Surprisingly the 4 bolts holding the drive shaft to the differential came out with no trouble, and I wired up the shaft so it wouldn't fall down. But I couldn't push the truck off the ramps as they sloped a bit and it was uphill. I tried to pry it off for quite a while, unsuccessfully even using a peevee and sticks of wood to keep it from rolling back, before I realized there was a better way. I drove to Masset where I needed the chain-gate key to get vehicles in and out of the yard anyway, and borrowed a rope.
   After pulling it off the ramps with the van and rope, I put the tow bar on. Here it turned into a fiasco. I turned and the Miles didn't seem properly centered behind the van. I drove up the drive and across the highway from the yard to the North Arm office driveway and stopped there. The little truck moved from centered to one side behind the van. Something certainly wasn't right.
   I found the links to the tow bar were all bent up, also the body metal they were bolted to. Using what I had had and pressed for time, I had used some pretty light steel brackets that doubtless should have been heavier, and attached them at dubious points where there were convenient holes instead of at the strongest parts of the truck's frame. But I think my worst mistake was that the arms of the tow bar were too close together, attached too near the center of the vehicle. Instead of the equalateral triangle I had had on the Sprint, it had a narrow base. That meant that when I turned, there was great force pulling on one arm of the tow bar, and pushing on the other.
   I crawled underneath and bolted the driveshaft back on (hadn't needed the ramps after all!), then drove the Miles back into the yard. I returned the gate key and the rope, and told Masset services they would have to deliver the Miles on a truck for me. That would cost a bundle, but I didn't fancy my prospects of making and installing a new and improved tow bar linkage in a yard far from home with only whatever tools and materials I thought to bring with me, especially when (eg) I already knew I was missing all the angle grinder's attachments. (...probably in my trailer, stashed in Cache Creek.)
   I drove home with just the kitchen chairs, peevee and a firewood splitting maul for prizes. At least the Swift was there, washed and thoroughly cleaned inside and out by Tom after he got it home.

   After about 10 days of looking for someone to deliver it on a trailer (and some unreturned phone calls), on the third Tom and I were part way to Masset on other business and decided to drive up (another 40 Km each way) and look for some better way to attach the tow bar. I bought a couple of overpriced zip disks for the angle grinder in a hardware store there. Under the hood of the van at the barge landing we spotted some vertical square tubes with open sides (easier seen than described, but alas the pictures were on my old cell phone) in the frame about the right distance apart, out near the sides of the cab. I figured one might insert a couple of plates and bolt the tow bar up into them. We made a checklist of things needed or possibly needed as we drove back. (This was well, or we'd surely have forgotten several important or potentially needed things perhaps including the key for the Miles. In the event, the only thing we forgot was the safety chain for towing.)
   I made and drilled the plates from 1/4" thick aluminum scrap the next day and we drove up to rescue the Miles. Considering we had had no tape measure or anything, I had sized the plates perfectly and I just had to cut a couple of small notches in them with a hacksaw when I went to fit them in place. Once everything was ready, we hitched it up and this time it seemed to drive well. It was certainly heavier than the Sprint, with the better part of 1000 pounds of golf cart batteries in it as well as the greater vehicle weight itself. At a good pullout after a few kilometers, I stopped to check things in spite of Tom saying "Drive on, don't stop!" I yanked up on the tow bar... and it came right off the hitch ball! Yikes! (and with no safety chain!) The latch needed adjustment, which is accomplished by simply winding a locking nut up or down a bolt underneath with a socket wrench. That accomplished, we drove on. We arrived safely after towing the truck the whole 76 Km at 45-60 Km/Hr.
   I suppose I must have towed the Sprint home with the same precarious hitch maladjustment. However, the tow went without a hitch.

NiMH Battery Stick Fix - Duh!

 Two of the tubes in one "quintos" set didn't make contact, the cells rattling slightly between the end terminals. They probably got knocked about a bit by waves on the barge at sea on the way up, denting in the "-" end of one or both cells a bit. With the tube ends being glued in, I never previously saw any way to fix such tubes except to break an end off and re-glue it. This time it occurred to me that the stainless steel connection bolts were threaded through the plastic ends, and done up tight. If I loosened the outside nut and gripped the protruding threads carefully with pliers, I could turn one end bolt and wind it in until the cells made good connection again.
   That annoyance was my biggest reservation about the glued tubes, so I like them better now!

   The Swift fire of course was a separate issue, but one that brings battery safety and problems with overcharging to the fore. I think perhaps the tubes would be best placed in a metal box. Of course, they are best off not being overcharged. I'm thinking of putting in a charging relay with every set of batteries that will cut off charging for 1/2 an hour if the charge voltage exceeds some threshold, regardless of what a charger 'wants' to do. If it keeps trying to overcharge it, the cutout will keep getting tripped, even almost immediately, as needed. And maybe for NiMH.s it would also be temperature activated. This shutoff would especially apply to charging directly by unregulated solar panels, eg on the vehicle roof as I plan for the Miles cargo van.

Solar Panels for the Miles EV Cargo Van

   When I checked out trying to use the 36 cells, 90 watt solar PV panels to charge the van, it appeared that the voltage would be just a tad too low to use 4 in series for a float charge. Having got the 100 W panels, they seemed just that tad higher voltage. Not only could it work with 4 panels instead of 5, but these 4 shorter, wider panels would fit within the roof area of the van, where the 90 W ones would have stuck out over the front or back.
   I could either hook up each panel separately to 18 V worth of batteries, or connect all 4 in series to the lot. I prefer the separate charging, but to put in the shutoff would then require 4 separate shutoff units. Anyway, all theory as I didn't get it done.

Lead-Salt, Lead-Alkaline Batteries - Belated Revelations

   I'm not sure I've said this in any coherent fashion in one place before, so I'll stick this note in. It's interesting how little, unsuspected things can change our perspective. A great example would be the wrong reaction voltage for lead oxide or sulfate to lead dioxide in alkaline solution, that someone mistakenly printed on a chart, saying +2.47 V instead of +0.47 V. This chart led me to misunderstandings, confusion and wrong conclusions about what would happen to lead batteries if they were changed from acid to neutral or alkaline, for the whole of the time I was experimenting with them. It never occurred to me that chart might be wrong. (In acid it's +1.71, so +2.47 didn't seem out of place to me. But in fact, only at the acid end do the voltages rise up.)
   Only much later did I dig up a pourbaix diagram that showed the correct values, and then the mysteries were explained. The battery voltage drops from 12 to 6 volts as pH rises from 1 to 6.5 and is relatively constant above that, instead of the reactions becoming impossibly high voltage in alkaline aqueous solution, where it would bubble away the water without charging the lead. And the problem with lowered voltages - other than even lower energy density - is that lead-acid battery chargers will keep trying to get them up to pH 1 voltage, and fry them with overcharging.
   So the batteries can be renewed with a small amount of sodium sulfate, or they can be converted to "lead-salt" batteries having a lower voltage with a large amount. Since the renewal causes sulfate crystals to come off the plates and reconstitute sulfuric acid and dilute the Na2SO4 to acidic NaHSO4 (also pH 1), it's most likely going to be a compromise at some voltage between 8 or 9 and 11, depending on relative concentrations. At least, those were the voltages I was getting without understanding why they were lower. The less acidic batteries can be made from scrapped batteries and will probably last a long time. The issues become how to charge them, and for transport applications, needing more of them to attain the desired voltage -- the additional weight per energy stored.

Electric Sawmill Rides Again - NOT!

   I made an electric swivel blade sawmill in summer 2006. There was a snowstorm of heavy, wet snow that autumn that brought down big trees all over town, and from that initial collecting I cut specialty hardwoods from local trees people had taken out or which died or came down in storms - a 'hobby business', mostly for about 3 years 2007-2010. (But the stock doesn't move very fast: it was much thinned out, but I was still selling occasional bits of wood in 2017.) An electric sawmill is nothing new, but it's much 'greener' than a gas mill. I made mine from a burned out 7.5 HP, 3550 RPM motor that I rewound to run single phase on a dryer outlet, using 16" table saw blades that could be purchased anywhere. The last time I milled was 2011 or 2012 - some small ornamental cherry tree logs dropped in my driveway by Davey Tree Services. I had thought to sell the mill then, but I hadn't, so I brought it with me in the move, and for once it seemed all the parts had arrived and none of it was back in U-Pak storage in Victoria.

   Then I had the big spruce trees taken out, and Tom was having them turned into 6x6 beams by a new friend from Tlell with an Alaska mill, in trade for doing work for him later. The logs as such were too big for my little mill even if we could have moved them, but anything cut by the chainsaw mill became a good size. I called around to see if anyone wanted to rent me a small sawmill but I got no affirmative responses, so I set up my mill on June 25th outside the laundry room window. If I didn't need the lumber, I could at least sell it. I oiled the many moving parts and 'repaired' the cooling water bucket (it would still leak), and turned the motor on to test it. It ran, so I got a log piece, set it up, and made an exploratory cut to check the cut height. All went well; everything was ready to slice the piece into three 2x6es!
   The next time I turned it on, it blew the (dryer) circuit breaker as it started. After that, it wouldn't start. Something had gone wrong in the startup part of the circuit - switch, starting capacitors or starting coil windings in the motor. It was as if I wan't pressing the switch. I opened the connection box and the switch seemed okay on a meter. There was a rather loose connector to the capacitors, but tightening it didn't help. It was the end of the day and rained a few drops, so we put the mill away in the garage, leaving the tracks set up. Ug! It wasn't a very auspicious start to starting to use the mill again after so long! Another day I opened the box and found & fixed a bad solder connection. It started turning, but still wouldn't come up to speed and blew the breaker again. Now I suspect the startup circuit wasn't the original problem. There might be burned out wires in the main 'run' circuit - a problem I had had to occasionally deal with by cutting the burned ones and threading a few new ones in. Having been inexperienced with motors when I first wound it, I had made the 'overhangs' too long and they vibrated and eventually shorted out. (The only way to permanently fix it would be to start over. And I don't think there's a motor shop with a motor varnish dip and oven here.) I would now have to take the motor apart and check things out more thoroughly. But I had no magnet wire here to repair it. I pulled up the tracks and put them away. I'd like to rent a bandsaw mill or buy a used one.

   Note: Around the time I moved I had been thinking of buying a low cost "Woodland 722" bandsaw mill, but didn't. Like mine, you push the saw along the track by hand. In September someone told me he had one but that it was laborious and troublesome and he was always repairing and adjusting it. Until and unless I can find something that's affordable and also substantially better, I might as well repair and stick with my homemade electric!

In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

A Bit More Perspective on the Evolution of Life

   A while back (TE News #100) I wrote of the idea that the creatures of the Permian period were amphibians, not reptiles as has been commonly supposed. It appears to me that reptiles didn't evolve until the end of this period. Where it was mentioned at all in the literature I found, the bone microanatomy of such creatures as Dimetrodon and Bradysaurus support this theory.

   From a timeline perspective it makes perfect sense. First were probably phytoplankton and then multicellular pre-Cambrian vegetation, then it gradually made a transition toward becoming animal life as evidenced by the strange Vendian/Ediacaran period "transition" fossils. In the Cambrian the first true animals arose, the many varieties of trilobites and their cousins. Then there developed various cephalopods, brachiopods, arthropods, ammonites and so on (Ordovician, Silurian), followed by fish of increasing sophistication (Devonian).
   Meanwhile plants had gradually crawled ashore, and by the Carboniferous had covered the land in a magnificent verdure of fern forests, which started consuming the carbon dioxide that choked Earth's primitive air and converting it into coal and oxygen. Some suggest that the oxygen levels became higher than they are today, but there was surely still too much carbon dioxide for higher animal respiration in the early Carboniferous. Arthropods however came onto land, starting with sea scorpions whose swim bladders had evolved into lungs, and in the absence of any higher forms of predators, land "bugs" grew to enormous sizes, such as dragon flies with 30 inch wing spans, giant cockroaches and millipedes several feet in length.
   As the carbon dioxide levels decreased, certain vertebrate fish that had evolved along favorable lines started crawling ashore as adults and breathing air - they became amphibians. It appears there were two branches: those that became newts and salamanders, and those that developed into the frog family. As with the earlier insects, there were no higher life forms on the land to devour these moist, soft bodied amphibians, so they grew to dominance and large sizes. Eryops types of 'salamanders' grew to 4 feet while Dimetrodons and Edaphosaurs started at 6 or so and eventually hit 10 or 12 feet. The larger insects now perished, doubtless into the jaws of predatory amphibians. Insects could no longer dominate the land.
   The larger early amphibians grew large "sails" on their backs to help expel carbon dioxide from their bodies, especially as the air was still only marginally fit for breathing (see TE News #100). It improved until by the early or mid Permian there was little carbon dioxide in the air. Apparently the awkward sail backed creatures were then "obsolete" and died out as more aggressive and advanced species arose. Still they were all amphibians that probably grew from tadpoles when they were young. They had soft bodies and lived near water - even land life was still largely water based. Then in the mid Permian, the seed plants evolved, and for the first time afforded a good land based food supply for animal life.
   After that, new types started to arise, culminating in "pre-reptiles" such as the Dinocephalia and the Bradysaurs, probably evolved from the frog family, including the upright postured Bunostegas. Many of these were said to be "the size of a cow". Still, these large, sluggish amphibians thrived because there were no higher types of predators.
   With increasing land elevations, the world's salubrious climate started giving way to the continental type of climate, and widespread aridity. This caused an era of severe biologic tribulation toward the end of the Permian wherein most species died off the whole face of the Earth including in the seas. (Something like 95% of all species?) Being able to travel across land, the frogs and higher amphibious pre-reptiles survived even around the drying pools. The stage was now set, and at the end of the Permian, true reptiles appeared on the scene, real land animals, and rapidly branched into various families. Fierce early types such as the saber-toothed Gorgonopsids made short work of their larger amphibious and pre-reptilian ancestors. Amphibians could no longer dominate the land, and like the insects before them, only small bodied or specialized branches found ecological survival niches. (Was the sail-backed Cretaceous period Spinosaurus, living in a unique ecology of north African swamps, a giant Dimetrodon-like amphibian? Where are the breastbones? What does the bone microanatomy say? I digress again!)

   It then follows that after the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of reptilian dominance, with the rise to dominance of the birds and then more especially the placental mammals, the reptiles could no longer compete on even terms. They lost the struggle for dominance and again, only those branches which found specialized niches survived. Birds at first, and then mammals dominated and some attained huge sizes as the Cretaceous gave way to the Eocene. (For the most extreme example, a human could have walked underneath an Indrocathere [SP?] without touching it.) All the dinosaurs, the sea monsters, and the flying reptiles perished in a relatively short time.
   All these advances of evolution seemed to occur as a logical progression, virtually a programmed sequence. It seems that the first plankton had the same genetic DNA structure as all the later forms of life, and no doubt this DNA could be programmed to evolve into any form that it did evolve into, and countless other forms if the environment had been more favorable for that. No "snowball Earth", continental scale lava flows, or giant meteors are required to explain the glacially slow but continuous progression of life from the most primitive to the more advanced.
   (BTW, my vote for the first placental mammal is the rather kangaroolike, carnivorous Leptictidium. This creature is known from the late Cretaceous and wouldn't have been much of a change of form from some small, kangaroolike, carnivorous dinosaur, perhaps Troodon. But I digress again!)
   Evolution of brains also proceeded and increasingly brains and not huge size constituted fitness for survival, and the larger mammals with small brains of the Eocene gradually perished. With the proportionally largest brains and the development of attributes of free will, worship and wisdom, humans have attained dominance and caused a great wave of extinctions of other species which has increased in scale and reached a fever pitch in the last few hundred years. Some European plant and animal species were saved to the present day only by making "royal" lands on which hunting and wood gathering (or even being present) were punishable by death. Some "common" game animals like deer were hunted to rarity in the USA in the great depression of the 1930s. In the coming time of crisis, with triple the population of that time, the planet is almost bound to soon sustain terrible losses of species. (Word has it that 2018 will be a very rough year of economic depression for the 99% and a globally increasing crescendo of "natural" disasters - which seem to have already begun with more record droughts and bigger forest fires, more record flooding, even stronger record-breaking hurricanes, even higher record temperatures, and powerful earthquakes.)

A Whole New Understanding of the Second World War?!?!

   I thought that I, and everyone, understood what the Second World War was about pretty well. But if what Victor Suvarov writes is true, it seems the biggest story about the ideas and plots behind the theme and events of the war has never been told. It would appear most of us today have a profound misunderstanding of the main causes and hidden motives behind it.
   The war as we understand it has deep puzzles if too closely examined. Why did Hitler suddenly switch from simply demanding Danzig, a German city in Poland, to reconnect East Prussia with the rest of Germany, and instead invaded Poland in an all-out assault? Sure he made an agreement with Moscow, but was he really so naive as to think that Britain and France would abandon their strongly worded pledges and not declare war if he attacked Poland? Then, why did Germany attack the Soviet Union without ending the war in the west, when every school kid in Germany knew that a two front war was almost surely suicidal? And why were the Soviet forces so badly arranged and prepared when a German attack was the only and obvious threat to prepare for? One shrugs and figures Hitler must have been nuts... and the Russians incompetent... but it seems there was method behind the madness, and a hidden agenda no one in the west saw, behind the outward appearances. Hitler, it would seem, for all the havoc that he accomplished, was just a pawn in a larger chess game!

   I accidentally found a book on line, written by Russian researcher Viktor Suvarov (publ. 1990), which absolutely revolutionized my entire understanding of the war. It was titled Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War? In this thoroughly researched book which cites many documents and news articles of the day, we learn that almost from the close of World War One, the Communists decided they needed to start another war to "liberate" Europe from the fetters of capitalism and convert it to communism. (Suvarov also appears on youtube in speaking engagements on the subject, and there are corroborating works by other authors if one searches for them.)
   Lenin's overarching plan for the new war, then furthered by Stalin (a seven times escaped bank robber - that's how the Communist party was funded), was to get Germany to start another war and embroil Europe in a new conflict, again devastating to all sides. Germany was to be the "icebreaker" to break up Europe, which would then be so weakened as to offer little resistance when the liberating armies of (Russian) communism came to put an end to the misery and bring peace to the shattered continent. So Germany and Hitler, moved by their own lusts for power, triumph and glory, were intended to be unwitting pawns of Russia. The country that entered the war last, after all the others lay in ruins, would be the victor. World communism was the final goal. The soviet coat of arms didn't show Russia with the hammer and sickle - it showed the globe. It is important to realize that Russia was only step one in the unbounded enthusiasm and ambition of the new communist philosophy, which had widespread support from large masses of people. In the early 20th century it was considered by its proponents to be the "manifest destiny" of communism to overthrow all other forms of government, everywhere, and rule the world.
   So planning for World War Two really started in Russia with the Bolshevik revolution. Lenin saw the chaos of The Great War in Europe as an opportunity to destabilize the nations there and replace their governments with communist ones: the workers would rule, striking down the bourgeois capitalists and rich enslavers of the masses. Russia was only to be the first of many soviet conversions.
   It is hard today to remember or to think about a time when industrialism and to a large extent capitalism were still pretty new, when previously rural peoples had been moving from the country to the cities, and working conditions were miserable. Even children were treated horribly, sent to slave in mines and factories with little pay for long hours each day. Out of this misery, underpaid journalist Karl Marx conceived communism, where the workers would throw off the yoke of this terrible slavery and take the reins of power from the heartless capitalists and industrialists. When the Bolsheviks seized power by force in Russia, these ideas of communism were new, and its professed tenets held sway in the minds of common and uneducated people to the point that many would aid and empower the state to take whatever actions were needed to bring about its rise. In the Communist view the ends justified the means, but once the whole world was communist, the harsh measures needed to bring that about would somehow end and there would be a universal workers' paradise. Before that, any amount of central power and oppression, of attempting to overthrow governments - and not to exclude offensive war - were all cards to be played to help attain the final end. That means are ends in the making wasn't clear to common people of that day.

   The Comintern was set up in Russia to help foment communist revolutions abroad. It was essentially a declaration of war on the whole world, stating that communism aimed to convert your country to their system by any means, peaceful or (more likely) violent. But the war had ended and by 1920, it had to be recognized that the subversive Communist elements within the nations of Europe, while active and influential, had been unable to bring about their collapse and conversion.
   Lenin conceived at that early date that a "second world war" would be required, and envisioned the "icebreaker" strategy. From 1923, the German military, hobbled in Germany by agreements with the victorious western allies not to rebuild its military, was invited to rebuild and retrain within Russian territory. They were shown tank and aircraft factories: "look, remember and copy". Russia supplied copious volumes of goods and vital war materials to assist Germany with starting and prosecuting the war right up to the day they were themselves attacked. That was how German military might was revived, not directly under the noses of the British and French, but away from their gaze in communist Russia. Then, Russia knew Germany would need a mad leader to start another war. I confess to skipping a few chapters where details may have been supplied, but helping to foster someone like Hitler's rise to power definitely fit the Russian/communist agenda and plan. Nazism might also have been fostered in Germany in part due to fear of communism: better an extreme authoritarian government than risk letting communism take root! But I can't pretend to know the psyche of those days.
   In all this Europe including Britain and Churchill were evidently to a large extent duped. They didn't trust Russia, but they also didn't seem to see beyond the immediate threat of bad guy Hitler and Germany to the long premeditated plan that had ultimately fostered that threat.

   Let us turn now to the start of the war. It has been said that Britain and France, not trusting Russia, failed to come to effective alliance terms with them to prevent the war. I think this may now be seen as probably not a simple failure of western diplomacy and policy, but also because the communists didn't want to be allied with the hated democracies anyway and would have been negotiating insincerely - and then of course they would blame the other side for failure to reach an agreement. For example, they claimed to be "offended" that Britain didn't send someone more prominent to do the negotiating. ...is that a reason to not negotiate if you're trying desperately to maintain the peace? Anyway, western mistrust of Russia was doubtless realistic.
   Hitler had been demanding a corridor through Danzig in Poland to East Prussia, which was a piece of Germany not connected to the rest except by sea. Stalin said, "Why settle for the corridor? Why don't we divide Poland between us?" The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact to divide Poland and profess German-Russian Friendship, of August 23rd, 1939, was not a desperate measure to appease Germany because of the failure to come to agreement with the west. It is well known that it was this agreement that gave Hitler the nod from Russia to invade Poland. But Russia realized that. It was in fact a clever ploy to get Germany into a war with the west. At the same time it would create a common frontier with Germany in order to be able to launch a surprise attack on it. Hitler for his part didn't want war with the west - at least not while Russia was a threat in the east. Everyone knew Germany was in the middle and a war on two fronts would be suicidal. But he also was eager for a common frontier - in order to attack Russia. In addition to "Lebensraum" for the German people, the threat of communist Russia overrunning Germany and all Europe was a real one. The two odious governments mutually hated, wanted and expected to eliminate each other.
   So on September first, Germany attacked Poland. Hitler didn't just gamble that the western powers would back out of their agreement with Poland. Surely Russia's simultaneous attack on eastern Poland per their agreement would confuse, diffuse and deflect the criticism. But once Germany had already attacked Poland, Russia informed him that the Soviet armies weren't ready yet, and they didn't attack. Stalin had tricked Hitler (and it is recorded that he said so) into looking like the one very aggressive aggressor, and into embroiling Germany in a war with the west. Since the two powers never had any intention of living in peace with each other, he had already in effect tricked Hitler into starting the fatal two front war. From that very first day, Germany and Hitler had lost the war - unless they could negotiate peace with the west, or defeat France and drive Britain out of the war or conquer it. Peace was not offered. What remained was the attempt. Hitler was confident he could defeat France quickly, but he underrated the remaining difficulties: the resolve of Britain, and the obstacle of the English Channel to advancing armies with the power of the British navy to defend the crossing. (Many think Germany could have invaded Britain in 1940 if they had tried. They are not aware that that summer Britain sank in port about 1/3 of all the shipping Germany was trying to collect in the channel to invade with, by naval and air attacks. To illustrate the almost inevitable outcome: Later, in the shorter crossing to attack Crete, Britain sank all of the German troop ships, drowning many thousands of men. The invasion of the almost undefended island succeeded only by sacrificing the only German airborne division, who took an airport to land reinforcements at. And all the harbors were on the wrong side for Britain to land reinforcements. Such a weak German assault even on 'naked' Britain in early July 1940 would have been quickly mopped up, and every week the defenses became stronger and better organized. But I digress.)

   By the time Russia moved into the eastern side of devastated Poland on September 17th, it was accepted by the west to be a reciprocal move in response to Germany's attack. Indeed, while Hitler fought in western Europe, Russia's takeovers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and a considerable territory of Romania (Bessarabia) were excused as being necessary to fortify Russia's defensive position against the Nazi aggressor. In reality Russia had created a long common border and (especially) was now ready to strike quickly at Germany's only source of oil in Romania, and thereby at its throat, at any time of its own choosing. Once attacked, Germany might have tanks and trucks, but it would have no fuel for them. It would surely succumb quickly.
   The main events of the war as they occurred are well known. The reasons for some of them are what have not been understood. The Polish campaign, despite Germany's resounding military success, didn't go as Germany had expected. If Russia had attacked Poland on the same day as Germany in accord with their agreement, what would have been the reaction of the west? It might be expected that it would have been substantially different. The guarantee was to protect Poland from aggression -- only implicitly "from Germany". The western allies might well have paled at declaring war on both Germany and Russia.

   We now turn to the German invasion of Russia in 1941. When France fell easily but Britain couldn't be cowed or invaded, the hoped for (by Germany) end to war in the west couldn't be attained, and the hoped for (by Russia) destruction of Europe essentially didn't occur, and the Russians had little to gain by waiting. They prepared a gigantic blitzkrieg to overrun Germany and Europe, on a scale and perhaps at a speed that dwarfed the ones in Poland and France. It was even larger than Hitler's "Barbarossa" attack. They had many thousands of tanks that would shed their tracks and race over the German autobahns and other good paved roads of Europe on wheels at 100 KmPH. They had copious aircraft designed to strike down everything that moved behind German lines. They started an immense movement of troops, munitions and equipment in the spring of 1941 and placed it all just behind the frontier. Britain knew of the massive German troop movements toward that front from reading broken German Enigma code transmissions, but it didn't know of the Russian buildup. According to Suvarov, the intended start date for "Operation Lightning" can be derived from the movements and other evidence: Sunday (always pick a Sunday morning when westerners were in church!) July 6th, 1941. As it turned out, there was a fly in the ointment: Hitler attacked them first by just two weeks on June 22nd, 1941.
   Again Hitler seemed like a mad aggressor, this time bent on repeating others' mistakes and starting the fatal two-front war. In fact, it was a desperate attempt to salvage the position of what was already in principle a two front war. The mistake had already been made, in 1939 with the attack on Poland while Russia, in violation of the agreement just made, held back. In the Nuremberg trials, generals Kietel and Jodl both insisted that the attack on Russia was a preemptive strike, designed to start an inevitable conflict on more favorable terms than by waiting for the Russians to start it with an attack that would immediately cut them off from their only oil supply. Westerners didn't believe them, but the Russians knew it was the truth. They tried to get the generals to change their story, but they never did.

   How was it that an attack just two weeks before Russia's own intended attack initially fared so well and so disrupted the immense Russian armies? Both sides had set up for offensive operations as close to the front as they could get. They had no defensive depth and had prepared no defenses. Even defensive works Russia had previously had had been dismantled and pulled to the front to bring more power to bear for the offensive. Suvarov believes that if Russia had attacked two weeks before Germany did instead of the other way around, the Germans would have been equally caught with their pants down and would have been easily routed. And Germany, without immense stretches of land to retreat into, an immense peasant population to draw more soldiers from, and blocked from access to oil, would have been quickly defeated. The rest of already crushed Europe would be a cakewalk.
   Russia's powerful offensive weapons were wasted. The fast tanks that would have spread the attack and chaos so quickly through western Europe were useless in Russia itself where there were no paved roads. And the Russian planes were built to attack ground targets, not to fight other planes, again making them of little value for defense. Instead of preemptively destroying the German air force on the ground, it went the other way around. And wherever the Germans broke through, they could quickly surround the masses of Russian troops crowded along the frontier and cut them off from their supplies.
   Of course, once Barbarossa had been launched and Germany was driving deep into the heart of Russia, Stalin cried "Poor innocent us, we were attacked without provocation and without warning, and were of course completely unprepared for this German treachery!", as he demanded help and a cried for a "second front now!" (invasion of Europe from Britain) from the "decadent", "bourgeois" west that the communists had vocally consigned to rack and ruin right until that moment, congratulating Germany on every victory.

   Hypothetically, what would have been the reaction in the west if mighty Germany, victor over France and having just overrun the Balkans and Greece, seemingly invincible, had been itself suddenly invaded and quickly overrun by overwhelming Russian communist forces, which then continued right on to the Atlantic coast? Would they have suddenly adopted a more German-sympathetic point of view? The question might have been irrelevant, because there would probably have been little they could do about it. I think we may be glad that events did not take this course. It was more helpful to human freedom and progress, and one might feel more fitting, that the two mighty dictatorial powers battered away at each other for four long years, with the original schemers who would invade and lay waste to Europe becoming themselves the invaded party and substantially laid to waste.

   How was it that the Russians were so convinced that the amassed German armies wouldn't attack, until the day they did?, that they would have time to ready their own strike without interference? There were two factors. First Stalin simply couldn't believe Germany would start a war on a second front when they were still fighting with Britain - or at least he fervently hoped not. (When Churchill asked Stalin about them sending war supplies to Germany right up until the day of the attack, and ignoring Churchill's own warning - wasn't it evident the Germans were going to attack them? - Stalin blandly replied "I thought we would have more time." What he didn't mention was that he had only needed two more weeks to ready his own offensive, and then it would have been too late for Germany - and Europe.) Secondly, Russian spies reported that Germany, in spite of the troop buildups, hadn't taken obvious necessary preparations to attack Russia. The oil being used in their tanks would congeal in cold Russian weather, and they hadn't started changing it. And they hadn't ordered the millions of lambskin coats the troops would need for the cold Russian winter. The price of lamb and of lambskin was still the same.
   But if Suvarov is right, battle was imminent, one way or another. Germany decided it might as well attack first to start it on more favorable terms, and fooled the Russians by attacking without making these obvious preparations. Whether that was genius or stupidity, their lack was apparently instrumental in achieving initial complete surprise. But the winter was then devastating to the German army.

   Stalin didn't get Europe. After four years of bitter struggle that devastated the Soviet Union with the rest, he got half of it and was thus the only "victor" of the war in terms of territory. But he was forced to agree to a line of occupation with the hated west, which now included America. Instead of a weak force of devastated Europeans, a now powerful but devastated Russia was faced by a huge allied invading army of rugged, relatively fresh troops, which in many places had passed the agreed line and had to be withdrawn to it, the Russians humbly moving into the territory as it was vacated for them per the agreement. And almost immediately those allies had the atomic bomb, so assailing them would have been suicide even after they had withdrawn most of their troops and Russia had recovered. And (tho it took power in China and other places) the ideology of communism was making few new adherents. Surely everywhere people must have been doubting it was the "manifest destiny" of communist workers to rule the world or that that would be desirable. Russia didn't seem to be the promised workers' paradise under communism. The last soviet leader to claim "We will bury you." (i.e. 'We will outlast you.') was Kruschev around 1960. In spite of a few very serious scares, the rest of Europe proved to be safe until the ideological struggle had run its full course, until democracy took hold in the Soviet Union, communism was outlawed, and then the union itself broke up.

   Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech ("From Lubek in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the face of Europe. Behind this line we are not permitted to go or to see..." [quote wording unchecked]), was widely said to have kicked off the cold war. Or perhaps more correctly, it finally acknowledged its existence. But everybody was quite sick of war by the time hostilities ended, and it probably also did much to help keep it cold when he also said, after lamenting about Soviet Russia's actions and intransigent attitude, "I do not believe war is inevitable; still less that it is imminent."
   Okay, everybody relax!

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Electric Transport

New Chevy Sprint Conversion

   I spent time toward the end of September disassembling or looking at the two transmissions I had lying on the shop floor, and trying to think of ways to use them to get something better than just a fixed ratio with low starting torque and a low top speed. Below I've written these explorations up. But every path I started down that seemed promising at first seemed to get more complicated the closer it was examined and the more I did on it. They were pretty much fixed internally and they took up too much space to allow extra components to be added.
   Finally in October I decided to try one more time to do my own variable transmission "from scratch", this one seemingly straightforward and with belts only. But that's for next issue. I considered deleting "Various Transmission Explorations" as being pretty long and boring, but perhaps it could be useful to someone looking for ideas.

   Fiddling around and looking transmissions over was a relatively easy project with no further commitment. But of course it led to formulating a plan for proceeding, which would then become a long project. I see I can once again easily be distracted from the more impressive projects by the more immediately useful. I decided to put the ground effect craft on hold until I'm driving electrically again on land. With a known good motor and controller, and a simpler variable transmission design, it shouldn't take too long. (Ha, ha!)

Starting the Project

   On the 25th I dismantled everything under the hood of the Sprint, removing the Hubcap motor, transmission, mountings, motor controller plate and the right drive shaft. I installed the left drive shaft, the one to fit the planned new geometry at that time. Then I went back to working on the transmission.
   Another thought occurred to me: that if I was going to use the same Curtis motor requiring the same batteries in an almost identical car, the best place for them was probably in the same place: in a box cut in under the back seat. Was that made of aluminum? Why hadn't I removed it from the Swift? I loaded the car with tools and drove the 40 Km to the scrap yard I'd taken it to. It was still there (with several more vehicles in front of it). It turned out it was ordinary steel, doubtless welded to the body all around. And all the seams were well caulked up to seal everything. No wonder I hadn't removed it. It would be easier to make a new one! So I just took the measurements and left. I still had the aluminum top cover.

   Another random thought was that the motor, controller and charger for the Miles truck were similar but 72 volts instead of 96. What about using that in the Sprint and keep the heavier one for the truck, which I also hoped to modify and get on the road? I had just enough various large lithium batteries sitting around to double up and make 72 V at 200 amp-hours instead of 100, which by itself would add 50% to the range. I let this thought pass for the moment.

Various Transmission Explorations

Fixed or Differential Variable Converter using the Manual Transmission?

   By July 2nd I had disconnected and visually seen that at least most of the lithium batteries in the Swift seemed to be okay, which meant I could do a similar conversion by removing the drive and power parts from the Swift and installing them in the Sprint. (There was one cell with some liquid on it... leakage?) This would mean pretty much abandoning the Electric Hubcap "ultra efficient" conversion project. The best I might be able to do, if I could see a way, would be to make some version of the differential torque converter without opening, or at least doing much to, the transmission case. I didn't have the tools for a disassembly without damage and much less the re-assembly. Otherwise, if it was to use only one gear, it should at least be worth stripping out the unused ones to eliminate their drag.
   But it might need two gears. The Swift, locked into 2nd, wasn't supposed to exceed about 80 Km/H because it gets the motor spinning so fast. The Sprint had 12" tires rather than the Swift's 13", so they had to turn faster to drive the same speed. If the gear ratios were the same, the motor would be turning the same speed to do about 70 Km/H instead of 80. Since most of my driving is now on the highway, 3rd gear would be the choice to enable speeds up to 90 or 100. However, the torque in 3rd might be too low to start up and climb hills at low speeds. Even in 2nd the Swift didn't seem to have a whole lot of reserve starting up a hill carrying heavy cargo. It would be awkward to get stuck by a hill! My own driveway is a considerable hill up from the road. One could probably manage two gears without a clutch. I did it in the RX7-EV for a while, but in fact I usually started it in 3rd or even 4th unless it was uphill to avoid shifting while driving. In town 2nd should be fine, and on the highway here having to stop is uncommon. I guess the thing to do is to try just sticking it in 3rd, and leave room for a gearshift lever in case that's unsatisfactory. Too bad 2nd to 3rd isn't just a single motion shift like 1st to 2nd is.

   But the differential variable torque converter transmission didn't seem entirely outside the realm of possibility:
1. Replace the motor adapter with one that holds the motor farther away from the transmission, and in fact extending beyond the right side to a clear area.
2. Put in an extended shaft to connect them.
3. Put a spring loaded variable pulley on that shaft.
4. Disconnect the right wheel drive shaft from the wheel. (Drive the left wheel only.)
5. Cut it shorter and stabilize the outer end with another bearing, making it a fixed straight shaft extending into the clear area below the extended motor shaft.
6. Put a large chain sprocket (or a large pulley or toothed belt pulley) on that shaft.
7. Attach the third shaft on a lever arm somehow, affixed to the transmission case or motor adapter (this is where the details are a bit vague so far).
8. This shaft gets a pulley to the motor shaft variable pulley and a chain sprocket to the differential gear right chain sprocket (formerly the right wheel drive shaft). It is intended that a substantial speed reduction take place in the chain drive, to match the internal reductions within the stock transmission. (Of course, selecting different gears in the transmission would allow additional modifications to that relationship.)
9. Attach a cable from the lever arm on the transmission to the driver's variable shift lever inside the car. Moving the lever moves the lever arm and shaft in and out, causing the spring loaded variable pulley to expand or contract to change the ratio.

   Of course all that would be far more time and effort than just sticking in the transmission and motor as is, and would doubtless have some of the many teething problems I've already run into in the variable transmission design. In the meantime I'm burning gas every time I drive, and with town being 25 Km away, I'm doing far more driving than I ever did living in town in Victoria.
   I had eventually decided that if a Nissan Leaf EV actually made it here at a price I could afford and before I got too far into the conversion, I would buy it. After all, the Leaf's fixed ratio electric drive (as with most stock electric cars) does eliminate the worst feature of cars with regular automotive transmissions including most electric conversions: the pathetically inefficient 30% internal losses.
   In that case, I would continue with existing plans for the Sprint, and save the more powerful Curtis motor and controller for the ground effect craft.

   But by late September I was really missing having an electric vehicle for the highway. There were promising leads on cheap, lightly damaged Nissan Leafs from south of the border, but no delivery. But with or without an ultra efficient variable transmission, the boat tests convinced me that even two Electric Hubcap motors in a car were going to be underpowered for the highway. What about just putting the drive system from the Swift into the Sprint? At least it worked, and had plenty of power. The electric ground effect craft needed the RC model built first anyway.

Manual Transmission with just one installed gear - Assessment

   By then having all my parts and tools, I thought about the extra Sprint/Swift manual transmission I had bought and taken apart. Could it be reassembled with just one fixed gear ratio? Without all the unused gears meshing with each other and churning oil, it would be at least somewhat less inefficient. Might it then get to town and back with the same batteries? On checking it out on the 22nd, I found that the center shaft I had cut only had the slot for 5th gear cut off: it still had the places for both end bearings and could be remounted. By the sizes I figured that (with the 4 to 1 reduction at the differential) 2nd gear would be about 7 to 1 reduction, and 3rd gear would be about 5 to 1 (32/25 teeth * 78/20 teeth = 4.99). 2nd gear seemed to be the choice, and it was cast onto the input shaft. The matching gear for the center shaft of course spun on a needle bearing. To get it to lock to the shaft required reverse gear pushed against it. The locking hub needed to hold the reverse gear in place was missing - the only missing piece to the whole assembly! I looked in boxes and around. When I finally went to go to bed, I remembered I had used it, that it was a perfect fit for something. Going back through TE News issues the next day I remembered what it was - a flat belt transmission pulley. I'd used it precisely because it did lock onto that shaft. I took the pulley apart and retrieved the piece. Now it had everything it needed.

To install 2nd gear only, leaving out the unused gears.
Motor drives the front shaft at the left end.
Gear at rear left ("center shaft") drives the differential.
Ratio ends up as about 7 to 1 reduction.

Use Automatic Transmission as a Transfer Case? - Assessment

   Even so, the Sprint had been an automatic, and the manual transmission would need some mountings welded on to make it fit. Was it possible that the automatic transmission that came out of the car could also be configured with a single speed reduction? If so it would be the simpler one to use. I had another look at it to try and figure it all out. Turning the shaft gave the 4 to 1 reduction of the final gear set to the differential. If I put one gear back, the center of a hidden planetary, turning that gave about 8-2/3 to 1 ratio, and it still seemed to turn pretty freely. Adding the planetary that went to that gave about 10-1/2 to 1, but the friction seemed to go up considerably. The 8-2/3 reduction seemed to be the best one, but the 7 to 1 of the manual tranny seemed like a better ratio for the power of the Curtis motor.
   Also there was a missing circular plate with a bearing holder at the center for the automatic, that I probably threw out long ago. (Me, threw something out?!? Gasp! and, Curses!) But it's a circle, so I could probably make up a plastic one on the lathe. (In fact later I found a 7/8" thick UHMW turned circle that was close enough by putting in a fat gasket around the outside to seal the crack.)

   On the 24th I returned to the chase. A new idea, really a synthesis of old ones, occurred to me. With a fixed ratio transmission, from 5 KmPH to 10, the motor RPM doubles. From 10 to 20 it doubles again, and from 20 to 40 and again from 40 to 80. Electric motors can run at a much wider range of RPM.s than gas engines, but the limits show up in a highway car. 7/8 of the RPM increase (ignoring under 5 KmPH) is under 40. If it wasn't for that little bit at the lowest end, where the RPM is almost zero and the most torque is needed, a single speed reduction could be, for example, 3 or 4 to 1 instead of 8 or 10 to 1, and lots of motors can handle 3000-5000 RPM. 10000 in a larger motor has huge centrifugal forces trying to rip the rotor apart. So, in order to use such low ratios, what about slipping the drive in with a differential ratio until the vehicle is moving at some speed where that ratio works okay, perhaps 5 to 20 KmPH? Beyond the slip/clutch range it's a single speed, but with a lower reduction that lets it attain any reasonable highway speed without over-revving the motor.

   It seemed the automatic transmission could easily be turned into a fixed 3.9 to 1 ratio transfer case with most of the gears removed. Again, extend the motor shaft a few inches so the motor wasn't directly 'plugged in' to the tranny and some shaft is exposed. Remove the drive shaft to the right wheel and put a short shaft in that end of the differential. Next, put mating pulleys on the motor shaft and on the short shaft. If the pulleys are engaged, and if they are 3.9 to 1 reduction as is the transfer case, then all will turn in unison. But if a clutch pedal or lever is engaged and the belt is loose and slips, the wheel will remain stationary while the short shaft and its pulley will turn twice as fast as the transfer case is driving the center of the differential. Letting out the clutch puts more and more pressure on the belt, slowing it down and starting the vehicle into motion.
   The difference between this and what I originally had (by September 2012) is that there the slipping friction of the rope/belt was adding nothing to the propulsion and so it worked slowly and got hot, whereas in the new one it's slipping toward making it go and should be in use only for a brief moment - with great low speed acceleration.
   Another way of doing it might be to use a chain drive and instead slip one of the sprockets on its shaft with some sort of clutch arrangement. The original clutch from the Swift, both halves of which were attached to the Curtis motor didn't look workable. Beyond top speed considerations, it would be very interesting to compare the driving range with the Swift, using the same batteries and motor but with a hopefully more efficient delivery of power to the wheels - or I should say, to one wheel.

   It would be possible be to have a different ratio chain or belt drive than the transfer case ratio. Even if no clutch or variable part was made to work, one could have any desired fixed ratio without going inside the transmission. As detailed in previous issues if it was 2 to 1 while the transfer case was 4 to 1, both would spin freely and the vehicle wouldn't move. And if it was less than 2, the car would go backward. If it was around 3 to 1, then by the differential ratios the final drive would be around 6 to 1. Or it could be made 3 or 5 to 1 or whatever was the best ratio for the highway - or the best compromise single higher ratio if the clutch idea doesn't go well. If 7 to 1 from fixed 2nd gear gave recommended speeds up to 80 Km/Hr, then perhaps 6 to 1 (gear "2-1/2") would be good enough for starting and it would allow up to 95 Km/Hr - a better highway speed. 5 or 4 to 1 with the clutch system for start-up torque would be even better. Of course, it would be a lot easier to experiment variations if the whole motor and transmission weren't going to be covered up by other components under the hood, laborious to remove. Perhaps things can be arranged differently than they were?

   On the 28th I continued by removing one rubber boot from a spare drive shaft. (I had bought two at an auto wrecker along with the manual transmission.) It looked like the "drumstick" on the wheel end would also fit into the end of the differential if its threaded end was cut off, and it also looked just about right to be a hub to weld the 40 tooth #40 chain sprocket to. (But spacing of mountings dictated I use the original transmission end with a piece of the shaft.)
   I also did some reassembly of the transmission, less over 10 Kg (~23 pounds) of parts - 5.5 Kg of spinning pieces from inside and almost 5 Kg of other things inside or attached outside. The remainder weighed around 62 pounds, so that was a significant weight reduction. And there was still a "one-way catch", a set of plates, that I could have removed by completing the disassembly, but I couldn't seem to get the other two gears off and as the plate unit isn't connected now and doesn't turn, it wouldn't have gained much to do so. (Funny, I remember the transmission being about 130 pounds when I first removed it from the car, and I was marveling that it was actually heavier than the engine that drove it. That would have been with the fluid 'torque converter' attached - and the oil is now drained. Still it don't seem to add up.)

The Right (motor) side of the transmission, showing the new (short) input shaft,
and the gear on the middle shaft driving the center of the differential
at 3.9 to 1 reduction ratio (20 teeth to 78).

The left side, with the two gears simply transferring the input shaft rotation to
the center shaft. (With an electric motor, the reversal of direction is meaningless.
I can't help but think this seems like an almost total waste of everything and it
would be a smaller, simpler and lighter transfer case without it.
...It does set the input and output shafts farther apart.)

   To the 62 pounds will be added maybe 10-20 pounds of chain drive stuff to get the desired results. Seemingly low friction and well under 100 pounds? Wow! I should have been using the original transmission as a 4 to 1 reduction transfer case all along! But owing to prejudice against 40% inefficient automatic transmissions, I failed to realize it might have some valuable components and (as it wasn't easy) I didn't disassemble it far enough to find out until this summer.
    By October 1st I had the transmission back together (lots of cleaning, scraping and making of convoluted gaskets), but I was still wondering just how to connect the novel parts. One problem is that the shafts from the differential are quite close to the firewall, so it's hard to put in the sort of large pulleys or sprockets that would turn with less force. Another problem with the same effect is that the shafts are too close together to set two larger disks in line. Adding a third, intermediate shaft with more pulleys might give some breathing room. Oh, no - it's starting to get complicated again! Which brings up a third problem: there isn't enough width from left to right under the hood to add much of any shaft length with the longer Curtis motor. (It would work with an Electric Hubcap "pancake" motor, but that's not what will be used.)
   Well, whatever the configuration, all the shafts were going to have to be very secure so they would stay perfectly in line. As I found out a year ago, the tolerance for error in chain alignment seems to be very fine. And that is the third problem, which I've struggled with all along - how to securely hold the moving parts. There seems to be more design, and certainly more metal, in the case than in the gears and other components that the case holds, and all the added parts somehow have to be affixed outside of that.

The reassembled transmission.
The chopped right hand CV drive shaft is shown with a 40 tooth #40 chain sprocket on it.
Now... how to attach the loose end with a bearing and securely hold the shaft straight?

  Looking into the reassembled transmission.
The mechanism turns quite freely - if I give the middle piece a spin,
it takes around a second for everything to come to a stop.

Using only the transmission, get two gears

   Intruding on next issue for the sake of continuity since I hadn't posted this one yet, on October 11th I took some of the parts I'd removed from the automatic transmission and experimented. One of the parts was a band (spring steel?) that went around a large drum with a smooth rim. The possibilities for doing some kind of a clutch with that were intriguing. After all, that was what it was for. OTOH, the band would clutch the drum to a stop like the one I did with the slipping rope in 2012. I would rather clutch between two different rotation speeds, which was what I had later been trying to achieve in a clutch, expecting greater effectiveness and less heat.
   I found that with the drum and the parts further down the line installed (mainly two planetary gears with their sun gears tied together), and held the right way, the ratio was about 10 to 1, with the whole drum assembly turning freely opposite to the shaft. However, if the drum was held stationary as by the band, the ratio became about 6 to 1. (How does that work? Another ingenious, convoluted mechanical monstrosity!) I could mount the pieces to stay in this configuration. The gearshift lever would simply select 10 to 1 or 6 to 1. As it was pulled back while driving, it would tighten the band and the reduction would decrease from 10 to 6.
   There were some complications. It seemed that I had to somehow remove the one-way clutch from inside to allow reverse, and jam certain pieces inside the drum so they couldn't turn relative to it. The worst part was that it didn't look easy to get into that last section of the transmission to remove the one-way. (All those three slipping joins I'd eliminate seemed to have a lot of friction - good to eliminate them anyway... Hold the presses! It seems these are actually clutches. I'm not sure how they're pressed, but even a small pressure locks the two parts together. There are in fact an awful lot of clutches in there!)
   I'd have preferred 4 or 5 to 1 for "high gear" as 6 might limit top speed again to around 80 KmPH. But I decided that for the sake of doing something that would probably work because I was only using components from the original transmission, I would use this configuration. It would add ten pounds of rotating crud. If it wasn't as efficient as I might hope, I would live with it for now and maybe try something else later if I felt inspired. (I won't be installing that worst inefficiency of automatic transmissions, the fluid "torque converter".) At this point, I wanted the car to work more than I wanted to prove the variable transmission system. But it was starting to look complicated again and I got more convinced that it wouldn't be very efficient. I started looking again at other ideas.

Electric Caik Outboard Motor

Outboard - the Throttle don't open?

   Trying the Caik outboard motor out again after I returned from the test trip, I had trouble with the twist grip 'throttle'. One time the motor would hardly turn when turned to "fast", but later it was fast again. Now I wondered if the twist control was ever moving the potentiometer to the far end and giving a 'full on' signal to the motor. Was 60 amps perhaps not full power? On the 16th I went to check it out but I couldn't figure out how the arm came apart. Not wanting to get far into that, I dug out a slide potentiometer such as is sometimes used in stereos (the only suitable one I had - I'd have preferred rotary) and soldered on the same 3 pin "trailer lights" plug that the twist grip used. I unplugged the twist grip and plugged in the slide pot.
   The motor seemed far more energetic. It spun up to a very high speed when I'd only moved the bar 1/3 of the way up the shaft. I went and got the frequency meter and tried again. I found it spinning up over 3000 RPM (my estimated safe RPM limit) in a flash at under 1/2 'throttle'. I don't know what would have happened if I'd pushed it farther, but I decided not to find out. Of course in the water it will have to work much harder to get up to that speed, but it was faster than the twist grip ever turned it.

Replaced Magnetically Heating Bolts with Plastic Ones

   On the 18th I changed those magnetically overheating metal bolts for nylon ones, without disassembling anything. The heads of the eighteen #10-24 round head slotted bolts were at the top of the motor. I unscrewed them, a few at a time, drilled and tapped the holes for 1/4"-20 bolts, and put in nylon bolts of that size after cutting them to length. It should make for lower current and less heat - however slight the improvement might be. While a change in motor heating would be hard to measure with any precision, the RPM.s would be higher for the same currents because of less drag on the rotor, so if the improvement was significant, it should be apparent. At least the bolts should stay cool.

Test on the Water

   Next another test on the water was in order, on the 19th. It didn't go well. I did remember to put the drain plug in this time, and I brought the RPM (= Hz * 30) meter and a voltmeter for motor temperature. But I had taken the new control in the house to keep it out of the rain, and I forgot to bring it. I had also thought of bringing a DC clamp-on ampmeter to check the current calibration of the connected one, but didn't. Its absence was soon sorely felt when the installed one became intermittent and then just read zero. The motor had trouble starting up a couple of times, which I attribute to the twist control not going up very high. (Once I had to turn it to another shaft rotation by hand to get it going.) The only reading I got was almost immediately after launch: about 10 amps gave 1140 RPM. I hadn't taken one at 10 amps on the previous trip, so no direct comparisons were possible. I puttered around for quite a while at about 1650 RPM, which was as high as the control wanted to take it. I was unable to take any useful measurements except of the temperature rise inside the motor, and even that not knowing how much power was causing the rise.

The Overheating Caik Motor

   After a while, the motor seemed to get up to about 50 degree temperature rise and stay there for a while. That was really as hot as I wanted the plastic motor to get. I turned it down a bit and it cooled a few degrees. I turned it up again and the motor started getting still hotter; 60 degrees rise or more. The coil heat could now be plainly felt on the outside of the composite plastic case. Just before I got back to the boat launch - and for some time afterward - I could smell the hot plastic. Did my motors heat up that badly, and at such low power, probably a little under one horsepower? This was very discouraging.
   But the case above the three coils at the back felt much warmer than for the three at the front. Since they must have all had the same currents flowing in them, that meant the front ones must be getting better cooling. With the cover having been off the outboard, I can only attribute this to the forward motion of the boat wafting air in from the front. That didn't say much for the magnets acting as a centrifugal cooling fan! On looking at the picture of the improved rotor (TE News #104), it was apparent that unlike the Hubcap motors, in the Caik size the inner ends of the magnets were so close together as to restrict air passage and perhaps almost eliminate "centrifugal fan" operation. Also I looked underneath and realized the holes for the circulated air to exit were pretty tiny.
   So the motor probably wasn't making a lot of heat, it just wasn't getting cooled effectively so the coils just kept getting hotter. Somehow the problem needs to be solved or I might as well give up making what I thought were essentially pretty fine motors. At least the nylon bolts didn't heat up.

Stiffen Next Motor - Thicker End Plate, Larger Diameter

   Earlier I had noted that the stator end plate had bulged out from the continuous magnetic pressure attracting the rotor to the coils, causing the axle to press on the center bearing. I now realized that the main problem was that the end plate was too thin, less than 1/4". So here's a note for future construction: make it thicker. The material is light, so even 1/2 or 5/8 inch wouldn't add much weight, and it would certainly be stiffer.
   I would also remark (probably not for the first time) that the Electric Caik motor would have a lot more breathing room if it was just a little larger in diameter, with an 8" or even 8.5" rotor instead of 7.5. The bearing's metal plate would have fit on the inside (as originally intended) to reinforce the plastic. If I am to make more of them, I think I would change this. The problem with that will be to get the new CNC router fitted up and operational to make new molds and magnet installation jigs. That will take time, so it'll all have to be put on hold pending completion of more important projects, or finding a suitable helper.

No Good Coil Cooling Idea

   Last month I mentioned trying (for new motors) to get cooling air flowing on the sides above and below the coil wires as well as on their outside rim. A new idea that occurred to me was to put 2 or 3 narrow slots in the windings themselves, using spacers that would be removed after winding the coils. The 21 turn coils would take three layers to wind instead of two, but almost every turn of wire would be exposed to cooling air on one edge or the other. Hmm... come to think of it, there isn't room for three layers of fat #11 wire in the Electric Caik motor. But it might work in the Electric Hubcap size. Oops, such slots would interrupt the magnetic circuit going through the ilmenite coil coating! Well, scratch that idea.

Electricity Generation

VHE/Lambda Ray Converter

   With the trip back to Victoria, trying to figure out how to surmount internet access problems to post the last newsletter, oodles of boxes to unpack and try to figure out where stuff should go in a house with fewer rooms and less space than my old one, and helping Tom build the roof over my travel trailer (lifting up sixteen foot long 6"x6" beams and sheets of 3/4" plywood), over 3 weeks were lost on the converter just when I had been getting into writing the control software. And with all my stuff arriving, it was tempting to divert onto another project of more immediate interest. I did do some tests and work on the Electric Caik outboard, which had been ready to be tested for almost a year.

   Something I unpacked from storage was a printout of a patent for a "Motionless Elecromagnetic Generator" or "MEG" (US 6362718 B1, 2002), which I had printed off early in my investigations. Now, especially after having looked into "permanent magnet assisted motors", I can make more sense of the diagrams and the idea. This one only claimed to make a few times as much energy output as was put into it. Still nothing to sneeze at! It had a "nanocrystalline" transformerlike core but with the center bar of the "EI" shape being a permanent magnet with some flux gaps in the other parts, the coils oriented oddly around the outside rim, and a simple flip-flop driving the two coil drivers oppositely. There were two opposite-end output coils that seemed independent of each other. These were both rectified, filtered and regulated before driving a load. One had a sensor circuit for feedback to the oscillator doubtless to change its frequency based on the output voltage. If that's all that needs to be done, my unit should have little trouble! It was so basic and yet it worked, that I'm starting to believe tapping lambda ray energy is actually pretty easy... if that's what this unit actually does. It had a lot in common with the PM assisted motors. The nanocrystalline "transformer" core material is probably the tricky bit that has prevented widespread duplication. It's not something one could readily buy, and it would be really hard to make. Perhaps that's why the "status quo police" let this one through?
   Another PDF document I reviewed was for a "QEG" ("Quantum Electric Generator") which had a motor turning a generator, apparently patented by Tesla in 1896. But the generator had multi thousand turn coils that made multiple kilovolts as it turned, and some other coils with 'only' hundreds of turns supplied a 240 volt, 85 amp, 400 Hz AC output. Surely the energy had to be coming from VHE rays, demonstrating yet another means for capturing them, this one with moving parts replacing electronic pulse generation to attain and switch the high voltages. There was the usual sort of mumbo-jumbo about the energy coming from the "quantum field", explaining the device's name.
   It seems more and more that getting VHE rays to convert to a 'visible' electromagnetic energy field requires high voltages, and perhaps the higher the better. With the 'primaries' and 'secondaries' of the coils in mine, it just might put out a kilovolt, and I'd better use at least 1000 to 1 voltage division before feeding it to the microcontroller for taking readings.

   On the 18th I finally got back to the project. I finished writing the last section of coding, the periodic timer interrupt coding of the microcontroller. This was the part that put out the pulses and adjusted them based on the output voltage to keep it within limits. Writing it was still a ways from having it tested and debugged. I decided to make a test board with 3 LED.s in place of the coils, and to slow the clock way, way down so that I could see the LED.s blinking when the coils should be going on and off. And perhaps something to simulate the output voltage, driven by (for simplicity) the pulse width ("PWM") of the pulses. That way I could be pretty sure the program was driving the outputs as expected before trying to run the actual converter/coils hardware unit.
   I had a resistor divider on the microcontroller board to drop the sensed output voltage to 1/200th for the microcontroller to read, but it occurred to me that instead of sending the high voltage to the delicate little circuit board with its delicate human operator, I should solder the divider into the coils assembly so it was low voltage coming out of the shielded box.
   Safety first! OTOH, the coil drivers are also on the main board, and they will probably have lethal voltages on them. And it occurred to me that I should also measure the peak flyback voltages coming from the coils. They could easily either be too low to be useful, or high enough to blow the 500 volt transistors. Measuring them would provide an indication of how long the pulses should be turned on. Well, I put an extra analog input pin on the sensor connector in case there was something else to measure!
   Of course it would be helpful to know what voltage range to aim for. This stuff seemed to work best with tubes, which usually run at pretty high voltages, but if anybody figured out a good voltage figure for lambda ray conversion, it would seem it never it never got written down and saved. I'm thinking somewhere over 90 volts or so. But it could easily be double or triple that or more. Or maybe it's just proportional to the voltage?

   On the 23rd I designed a little test board with an LED for each coil output, a frequency counter power supply and hookup (For a 5 volt frequency counter board I bought decades ago, a "demo board" from Intersil.) And I put in an integrator with a couple of capacitors and resistors whose voltage would rise with the duty cycle of one of the coil outputs as a sort of Vout simulator. Making it was a struggle. I had retrieved all my belongings, but much was still in boxes, and they mostly weren't in settled places yet. Each thing I needed turned into a big search. First it was the "Fab-In-A-Box" toner transfer paper to print the board onto. Then for the printer that worked well in the PCB making process. (I didn't find it until the next day, when I had already printed it with a crappy printer.) Next was the laminator to transfer the toner to the PCB. (On the board, the printer's toner had so many gaps I filled in the lines with a felt pen. It still came out ugly and pitted. Well, it was only a testing board. BTW, felt pen works okay with ferric chloride, but if you use hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide for etching, it dissolves the felt pen ink. I've never tried ammonium persulfate etchant.) Finally the hunt was for the "Dremmel" tool to drill the holes. I had the board made by the night of the 25th, having searched through a lot of stuff, much of it more than once. I guess that's the hazards of moving, with piles of tools and supplies - clutter everywhere!
   I populated the board the next day. I didn't need the voltage regulator if I ran everything at 5 volts, which was well as I didn't seem to have any of the one I designed the board for. (Add to next order!)
   Then I learned I would have to take an unplanned trip to Victoria, and I got no more done.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada