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Dala's EVNX buildthread (1991 Nissan NX)
#1
Hi, I'm Dala, a 25 year old electrical engineer. I decided to start something new this year. After having lots of fun with my other project car,a 6-speed turbocharged, water injected Nissan NX, my mind was constantly looking for a new technical challenge. I think I have finally found it, I'm now in the process of converting a Nissan a NX -> EVNX. I am really interested in EVs, since they seem to tick all the boxes youd want in a fast car, instant torque, blazing acceleration and minimal service needed. A Tesla here costs ~100 000Euro, A boring Nissan Leaf costs ~35 000Euro, so building your own EV seems like the best way to get into EVs. You might also learn something by doing it yourself. The plan now is to harvest most of the lithium needed from 18650 cells. Lets see how this turns out, since the most of the cost of an EV comes from the batteries, it seems like a logical way to save lots of money.

As much as I would love to use the SR20VET NX, with its bulletproof 6-speed transmission for this project, I think its sensible to start small with a proof of concept. I scanned the classifieds for some time before finding a suitable chassis. I had only three requirements, but the first two were quite demanding.

1. Shall be a GTI, so bigger brakes, discs instead of rear drums. Also the GTI has side skirts, which makes it look way better imo
2. Shall not be a total rust bucket
3. Shall be pre-OBD2, so <1995.

If you are familiar with my geographical location, which is Finland, this makes that extremely hard. We salt the roads each winter like mad, so most NXs today are either Swiss-cheese or scrapped. This is after all a 26 year old platform. 2.0L GTIs were never sold in Finland, we only got the 1.6L, and so it has to be an import car. After many months of searching I found one. So, on to the victim!



This is originally a 1991 SR20DE powered German GTI 100NX, imported to Finland in the mid-2000s. Perfect! It was taken off the road in 2013, after the previous owner blew the engine, and lost interest mid swap. No engine, Perfect! I got it for the price of 150$, quite OK in my book Smile



It has been standing for quite some time, so nature has taken its toll on it. Ill take that any day over a rusty but well used mess. If we pop the hood we are greeted with:



Surprise, surprise. Nothing. Time to bring out some elbow grease, give it a wash, and push it into the garage.



After washing it. Now it is time to start deconstructing it, and prepare it for a new drivetrain.

The next update will focus on the fuel aspect, more precisely, lithium harvesting. Were gonna need a whole lot of 18650's

So here is a rough checklist of what needs to be done
-Harvest ~2000pcs of 18650 Lithium cells
-Strip down car to barebones, remove fuel tank, exhaust and excess wiring
-Rust proof chassis
-Re-paint whole car
-Update brakes/suspension components
-Install electrical vacuum pump for brakes
-Fabricate Arduino GPS speedometer, battery level instead of fuel level
-Install 5-speed gearbox, fabricate mount for DC motor
-Remove clutch pedal, remove throttle pedal
-Install potentiometer throttle pedal
-Install batteries into packs, insert packs into car, spacing them to improve weight distribution
-Install charging port into fuel filler location
-Install battery management system
-Install fuses/shunts, impact relays
-Install DC-DC converter for normal 12V system
-Optional, fabricate heating element
-Iron out bugs
-Inspect & Drive

I estimate this will take 2-3 years before fully completed, so buckle in for a long ride Smile ill try to document and describe the whole process as thoroughly as I can. I am copying this thread over from another forum, so as soon as it gets approved here, I'll add the rest if the posts.

Okay let's go thru the process of harvesting some lithium. First step is to find some scrap laptop batteries / powerbanks. Then I gently smash them to pieces, and extract the 18650 cells inside.



Next step is to tear the cells apart from each other, breaking the spotwelds that they are attached together with. After that a quick multimeter check, to verify if the cells still have some potential to be charged. All cells that measure close to 0V are instantly discarded. Cells above 2'ish volts can be charged. The lower ones seems to sometimes recover, depends on the cell. I am using Nightcore chargers for the initial charge, 500mA charge per cell. Each cell takes anywhere between 0-5h to charge with this charging setup:



When the cells are full, and measure 4.2V, they are set aside for a week. If the voltage drops rapidly after this week, the cell is considered a self-discharger and discarded for this project. Here are a few good cells that were salvaged from laptop batteries:



Next step is to test the capacity, but more on that in a later post. Let's get back to chassi prep!
First order of business was to make the trunk stay open without falling down. The gas struts weren't doing much after 26 years of service. I replaced one of them with an 800N unit, which worked perfectly



With good access to the trunk, I can start to deconstruct everything down to bare chassis. I am doing a complete color change, so it has to be done properly. This gives me good room to fix small rust spots too!



Something that felt really satisfying was to cut through the main engine control harness. Soo wrong but oh so right Smile



The amount of parts that are never going back on the car is growing fast! I found an old alarm system under the dash, a pair of sidecutters made removal swift.



I deleted the powersteering for now. I just looped the inlet/outlet on the rack, hoping it will work as a start. It's always possible to add an electrically driven later on



So I headed out to the garage and pulled an all-nighter. The SR20VET NX is going into deep sleep, I drove it to another garage for long term storage the following day. This will clear up more area to work on, which is much needed.



After stripping out the carpet, I couldn't help but stare at those unnecessary pedals.



Much better. Who needs more than one pedal anyway Big Grin



I am going for maximum weight reduction on this build. One good place to start is the sound deadening tar



After a few hours of scraping the floor. The green waste bucket in the picture weighed so much after this, I expect to save roughly 15-20kg by doing this!



Then I shifted my focus on the rear. Removing the rear bumper is mandatory, both for rust assessment and to prep it better for paint. No fasteners gave me any problems here, which was unexpected to say the least!



With the bumper removed, I could reach under the car and remove exhaust hangers and heat shields. It was a rusty mess, the heat from the exhaust made all shields super crusty.



Speaking about crusty bits, removing the side-skirts turned into an archeological dig. Very dirty!



Seems like I got part of Germany right into the garage Big Grin This was a solid 1kg of dirt packed under the fender on each side!



With the side-skirts removed, I put the car on jack stands to raise it slightly higher than it would have been on wheels. This will help with the body prep, more tolerable to work on a higher car.



Next step, the front comes off. This is soo satisfying to do on a B13 chassis... A few bolts were too rusted to save here, so had to break out the dremel.



The main reason to remove the front, is to get access to otherwise un-paintable areas. Here you can see rust starting to form.



Next step is to go and lend a MIG welder. Removing the panels exposed some really nasty bits in the rear

First step of getting rid of rust is to strip it all down to bare metal. Wire-wheels are great at getting down in seams, angle grinders work great for large surfaces.



After bare metal is achieved, gray zinc spray is applied to the most vulnerable spots. This process, cold galvanizing, greatly increases the longevity of metal. I really like the spray variant, it is really easy to get into seams. I have found that a generous application of Hammerite paint is not a bad idea, it seals everything up real nice. Only downside is that it costs quite much, doing a whole underbody with this stuff will cost a fortune!



So to summarize, Underbody treatment;
-Strip to bare metal
-Zinc spray
-Hammerite black
-(Normal 2K paint+lacquer if area will be semi-visible)
-(Stonechip if area is exposed to wheel-well)

This was a great opportunity to remove the doors. They really get in the way otherwise, and will get repainted separately.



Here you can see why I went for this chassis, it is extremely nimble with the targa top roof. The normal weight of the car is around 1090kg, let's see if we can reduce that Smile

Here's the essential building block when making 18650 packs. The plastic-holder-building-block. These come in many shapes, and I intend to try out a few. This one consists of individual pieces that you snap together, to make any battery shape you want.



When using it with cells, they look like something like this



Another essential thing is a proper testing station. I did not opt for such, so I went with the more budget oriented 'Opus BT-C3100' It costs roughly 25€



When testing the capacity of cells, you need to charge-dischare-charge the cell. After the discharge bit is done, the charger stores the capacity value expressed in mAh. It also starts to recharge the battery again. As you might have noticed, I am only testing two cells at a time. According to some on forums, this thing overheats. There's a tiny 30mm fan on the end of it, which is supposed to cool down the (P=UI, 4cells x(4.2V*0.5A)) = 8.4W of power it generates. Forum posts say that it thermally throttles and shuts down, which would be catastrophical when the process takes 3-5h to complete. So to combat this, I added an 120mm fan directly under it. So far it seems good, I will make a better mount for the fan in the near future.



But this all allows me to test the cells fully, and mark them with a sharpie according to their quality. Cells below 2000mAh are instantly discarded for this project.



Back to the car. I further dismatled the windshield covers, exposing some pretty nasty bits.



I wish I had some blasting tool. It takes forever to grind down the metal with angle grinder / wirewheel drills. After it is completed, I apply liberal amounts of zinc paint.



After the zinc is dry, I can encapsulate it in proper metal paint. This looks sooo satisfying in person, makes it worth all the effort.



Another thing that had to go was the gas tank. I had never previously removed one of these, so it was a bit of a learning experience. I ofcourse salvaged the fuel, and put it to use in my daily beater Big Grin Getting rid of the fueltank makes welding the chassi much safer. Especially when I'm gonna be working quite near where it used to rest.



After poking around on the right rear trunk section, it was rusted beyond repair. This will have to get welded. Some rust is expected on a 27 year old car Smile



Today a small package arrived:



I tried sourcing some of the lithium from a Polish guy, he sells already tested cells (2200-2300mAh range) for 0.91Euro per cell. Sweet! Here's my initial buy of 75 cells. I will take the skeptic approach and re-test some, but this looks very promising!

Since a co-worker asked, I did some math on the battery weight compared to traditional lead batteries.
2000 lithium 18650 cells weigh ~90kg
5x big lead batteries with the same capacity would weigh ~380kg

No one in their right mind would attempt this with lead batteries Tongue It is also more expensive to purchase lead batteries compared to recycled lithium batteries.

I received a massive shipment of NEW batteries. 18x HP CC09 containing 9 cells each. 8x Sikher batteries containing 6 cells each. They were really cheap, very pleased with the HP ones:



So here's everything on the bench. The total amount of new cells today is 162x Samsung, and 48x no-namers. I have now a total amount of ca 330cells. The bottleneck is now the Opus battery tester, seems like I will have to get another one (or even two more!) to get the processing sped up. It will take some time to get to 2000 cells by buying random packs, but it's the most economical way to do it.
jdeadman, zag2me, Amigaman And 8 others like this post
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#2
Nice project.
I would seriously pull ALL wiring and not just the excess. Start over and have a good understanding of exactly what wiring is what rather than this half is original crap wiring, this half is the new digital this and that.
I wouldn't use the single cell holders, the larger the pack the more flex they will have, I'd use the 4x5 cells as they are also cheaper over all.
Are you planning of making a special false flooring for the cells or are you going to make a new floor with cells (tesla style Smile )?
There's just so much you can do to your car now with electronics it's insane the ideas.
I think if you're using old cells, you'll be lucky to be half the capacity of a Nissan Leaf.

You might want to try get sponsorship from battery cell company, or someone who can benefit from your work by advertising their parts or car parts used.
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#3
Nice build so far and great write up. Cannot wait to see more!!!!
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#4
Nice, very interesting to see and read!

Oh and before I forget, on behalf of Germany I demand that you hand over the parts of our country immediately! Big Grin
FarFromStock and Korishan like this post
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#5
Awesome! I have an old car I'd like to convert someday. Looking forward to seeing your progress! Smile
-Mike G
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#6
Thanks for the feedback guys!
-I ordered 50pcs of 4x5 holders, and I also ordered two additional Opuses to be able to handle the amount of cells.
-I am still on the fence on how to mount them, false flooring or not, they will be in the rear down low
-Don't worry about the wiring, I will be pulling everything Smile

I've been working on eliminating rust this weekend. The front passenger floor was quite corroded. Let's fix this.


Midway through grinding it clean.


After encapsulating it in thick paint. This small section took over an hour to complete, so it's not a fast process.


Backside is shaping up. All rusty parts have been scraped clean, zinced, and now painted.
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#7
Progress is progress Smile

Just wondering, why didn't you take everything out first? The dashboard is still there, some of the wires as you have said, the seatbelts...
Wouldn't it be easier to remove everything first? You could then sandblast it and then apply the new paint.

Also wondering, how easy is it for you to get the car, once it is finished, past whatever your local institution is that evaluates if a car is roadworthy or not? Can you just tell them that this is a 1991 Nissan NX which has passed all required tests back in the day and you have just taken out the engine?
I can only imagine with how many paperwork I would get swamped when trying this here in Germany. I once thought about importing a Nissan Skyline GT-R34 (just a coincidence, I'm not a huge Nissan fan or something, I just like the old Skylines Smile) and the total cost for the paperwork and fees would be more expensive than the car. And that was a fully functional, unmodified car in it's intended configuration, just not qualified for using here.
Dala likes this post
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#8
I don't have the equipment needed to sandblast. Would love to try it sometime, but it'll have to wait until I get a proper garage at my own place someday Smile

It should be hard but doable to re-register it. I live in the hip energy cluster section of Finland, and I've seen quite the bit of random homemade/university made EVs on the roads. It will be challenging none the least, no comprehensive information exists in Swedish or English format, only half-assed Finnish. Time will tell Smile I would assume it be next to impossible in Germany? Big Grin

I got another 2€/laptop battery shipment, 16 random ones to tear down. I should now be in posession of about 500ish cells.


I'm always excited to see Samsungs, they always seem to be >2000mAh


I fixed the Opus overheating more permanently. I cut out the bottom plastic panel, and attached the 120mm fan directly to the casing with zipties. Now if only the rest of the testers would show up Smile I'm starting to collect quite the backlog of cells to test Smile


Some of the best cells I've found were rated at 2750mAh. Quite impressive considering the laptop battery they came out of looked quite used!


Back to fixing rust. Here's the before picture of the front chassis.


Interesting to find lots of Nissan stamps on random bits. They must have really enjoyed branding all individual sheets of metal back in the 90s.


I'm going for maximum weight reduction, removing the fog brackets from the front bumper bash bar.


And let's not stop there, I'll even grind off the mounting points for ultimate weight reduction.


Removing rust. It's even colder that it looks in the picture :S


I went ahead and cut the second wiring harness completely. Seen in bottom right corner. Now there are no electrical connections whatsoever left. Everything will be redone from scratch.


I then grinded and painted some more, but pictures will have to wait until next update, once everything dries. We've been hit with -25C, so keeping the garage warm enough to paint is a proper challenge. It consumes quite the amount of wood to keep the floor heating loop warm enough. A minimum of +10C is needed for the thick paint to dry, and I'm barely reaching +8C...
hbpowerwall and Korishan like this post
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#9
Canada Here I understand working on the cold. Big Grin Looks great. Also a small bit of trivia, Here in Canada there is a place that has the largest population of Finnish people outside of Finland. Where am I?
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#10
(02-27-2018, 01:31 PM)jdeadman Wrote: Canada Here I understand working on the cold. Big Grin Looks great. Also a small bit of trivia, Here in Canada there is a place that has the largest population of Finnish people outside of Finland. Where am I?

Thunder bay perhaps? Big Grin The climate is probably awfully similar to what you guys are getting Big Grin
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