This is a tale about what happens when a wife bans her husband to his ‘man shed’ and won’t let him keep any of his ‘junk’ around the family home!
Add some ‘retirement time’ and a vivid, mechanical imagination, and you have a home-constructed electric vehicle being developed for island use!
Long time island resident and well known to islanders, Paul Jones, is the culprit.
He has been helped in his imaginative endeavours by another well known islander who just happens to be an electrician, solar expert and now acupuncturist, Neville Ryan.
Paul Jones will be remembered as the operator of the island ferries years ago prior to the service being taken over by BITS.
He has always had a love of motor vehicles, particularly hot rod projects.
Owning a large lump of territory near the RSL Club on Russell Island has given him a location to run away with his imagination.
“I blame my wife.
“My activities have been banished to my big shed here and I reckoned an economical way to get here from home and to scoot the short distances around the island, would be to do it in an electric vehicle,” Paul told The Friendly Bay Islander.
That was five years ago.
The vehicle to be ‘converted’ was a Ford Ute and ever since then it has been a case of stripping, experimenting, tinkering, adjusting, changing, new directions and, finally, success!
“It has been a case of trial and error and a fair bit of time and money.
“Neville has been helping me throughout.”
After stripping the ute of the engine, fuel tanks and a whole heap of other stuff, they set to work.
So, 28 Lithium batteries to provide up to 96 volts were installed where the fuel tank once was.
“I purchased an old forklift and thought the motor from it would do the trick. It didn’t. It would only move the ute at about 40kph.”
A more powerful electric motor offering 3000 rpm was required and purchased, with Paul fashioning conversion plates for the electric motor to be attached to a power glide gearbox from a six cylinder old model Holden.
A Direct Current (as opposed to AC) system was the way to go, it seems.
Many adjustments and innovations have followed and, you wouldn’t believe it, we just happened to rock up on the day it was to be finally tested at its latest capacity.
That was when they ‘discovered’ that the computer program that is needed to manage and run the vehicle, needed updating.
That finally happened and now the all electric Ford Ute is ready for the ‘economical’ island transport to which Paul Jones has long aspired.
When in full operation, the ute can be charged using electricity generated from the solar panels that he has long had installed on his shed.
Both he and Neville Ryan reckon electricity is the way of the future with motor vehicles, along with hydrogen (water) power.
The all electric ute has impressive acceleration and they are confident it will easily exceed 100 kph.
And, if things go wrong, Paul can hit the emergency button that has been installed, ‘just in case’ things don’t go exactly to plan!
We shall keep you updated on its progress!