Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eagle Mountain

There is such a euphoric feeling when you are driving an all-electric vehicle and people driving by give you that look that says, “Whoa, are you really driving an all electric car? You must be from the future!”

I give them a glance in reply, “That’s right! It is the future. It’s electric, it’s clean, I built it myself and it’s going to save the world in more ways than one."

I try to drive only 55mph so my battery range is extended but sometimes I get condescending glances that seem to say, “Pft! Electric.. Wimpy tree-hugging electron cooker, can’t even keep up with traffic. Who does that guy think he is, driving that glorified golf card on the highway anyway?”

It’s glances like that, that get me into trouble. I speed up a little bit and my current draw goes up a little more. On days where you are going for a new distance record, it can be especially troublesome.

A week after the Antelope Island experiment, I set out for an extreme all electric one-way trip to Ben’s house in Eagle mountain, UT. On Google maps, it’s a 57 mile one way journey.

I had Ben send me a picture of his drier plug and I built a compatible adapter cable. I was now prepared so I could charge up at his house in a reasonable amount of time before heading home the same day.

Perhaps it was driving with a lot of other cars but for some reason, my current draw was a lot less than it should have been. I was only pulling 80 amps on the freeway instead of the usual 100Amps. Opting to appease the “Hey! EV’s suck” voices in my head, I drove 60-65mph instead. 

I found out later that my amp-meter was not reporting correctly.  I was really pulling over 100 Amps the whole time.  

This worked great and I was making great time too but after 42 miles, I began to notice my voltage was getting lower than it should at this stage of the trip. I pulled off at a Maverick gas station to let the batteries rest. Ironic place to stop huh?

I then embarked up the hill heading toward Camp Williams. The hill took a steep toll on the batteries. They were about dead as I creeped over the top and coasted back down the other side. I drove another 5-7 miles before admitting defeat. I asked permission to plug in at a local gas station. After 3 cents worth of electricity for the battery charge and a fruity pie for my belly, I was back on the road. As I approached the last hill and its nearly 1000 foot elevation climb, I knew that my truck was not going to go the distance. Fearing that neighbors with plug sockets were too few and far between, I pulled off by a barn on the side of the road. I asked the owner for a charge. He was a very kind farmer that thought my truck was the coolest thing ever. He insisted that I pull into his garage and plug into the 240V outlet in the laundry room. After 30 minutes, I figured I had enough to get me over the hill and I was back on my way. I made it to the top of the hill and over, down to Ben’s house without any more incidents.

Ben and I hung out for the day, catching up, talking about old times, eating and watching Netflix as my truck charged back up.

On the way home, I was extremely concerned about my battery range. I planned out a couple locations where I could pull over and charge up if the need arose.

This time, I stuck to my self-imposed speed limit of 50-55mph.   Remembering the morning problems I had, I was nervous.  My fears were in vain because I made it home with range to spare.  Nice!  

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