Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Update 2 - Bonneville FIA meet 2008

Just when you think you’ve seen every possible problem with the car, something new pops up. As of this time all signs are pointing to a problem with our electric motor. Here is how we got to this point.

We spent all of yesterday fighting off what we thought was an inverter problem. Before coming back out to the salt, we thought we had made the changes needed to get all the extra power the fuel cells were making to be put through the inverter and into the motor.

Just before we wanted to push to the start line, we decided to do a spin test of the wheels, and found the wheel spin to be jerky and uncontrollable with the throttle pedal. We tried all the normal checks with no success, so decided to revert to all the settings and parts used in our successful runs in August. This resulted in the same problem.

Next we hooked the fuel cells up to our resistor load bank, to be absolutely sure they were providing power and working properly. The worked flawlessly. Frustrated and confused we went home well after the sun had set on the Salt Flats.

We came back in the morning with some sunlight to work, and some fresh ideas, and all signs pointing to the inverter. Luckily Ford had provided us with a new spare inverter left over from their Hyrdrogen 999 program. We programmed this to work for us, and tried another spin test with the same jerky poor results.

At this point we were forced to consider that our most reliable part of the car, the part that powered the Bullet 1 to its battery electric record, the motor, might be having a problem.

Initial testing is confirming that the motor might be the problem. Obviously we don’t have the tools on hand to do full diagnostics or any repairs on the salt. We are contacting some electric motor repair shops in the Salt Lake City area to see if they might be able to perform some more advanced diagnostics, and possibly open and repair our motor.

Unfortunately our motor is a very special motor custom built to allow us to attain these speeds, so off the shelf replacement isn’t possible. Ford built an exact copy of our motor to power the Hydrogen 999 vehicle, but the vehicle is currently on a show tour in Europe, so any chance of them sending us the motor is impossible.

The week is getting shorter, but we are pushing to keep things moving. Hopefully more to come…

Bad luck is apparently not only playing games in our pits. The Speed Demon ran the first day and their engine-bay caught on fire and destroyed their turbo engine. They are currently rebuilding a naturally aspirated motor to go for a different record. The Royal Purple car destroyed their 3rd engine in as many years as they have gone for FIA records on their first run of the meet. Some of the other vehicles are running but their records are proving hard to beat.

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