Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sparrow Returns

The Sparrow has returned and there is much joy in our household for now we can be part of the solution again. Catherine got the first ride, since I had a client out of range that day. Then we drove it that weekend to a workshop of environmentalists and were much admired. The Sparrow really does put us on the right side of the bed as it were. Getting up in the morning, we feel much less hopless about the state of the planet when we can drive our sun-powered electric car. When it was gone so long it was as though we took a step backward, way backward. It had been nine months gone, by the time we had her back home again.

The new DCP controller puts out 900 units of power instead of the 500 that the original Kilovac controller did. So it's peppier and it also uses the battery pack more efficiently. Ed said that the Kilovac was set to put resistance on the motor for safety considerations, so without the added resistance the motor doesn't have to use up juice to keep itself in check. What took so long was that he couldn't figure out how the DCP was supposed to be wired.

Originally Ed opted to put in another Kilovac controller that had become available, but when he got it in, it wouldn't work either. It wasn't new (they don't make that model anymore) so that was a risk he took and he didn't charge me for installing it. (It took the wind out of his sails a bit, especially since he was between jobs when he took it on and then he landed a job that had him working overtime). To fit the DCP controller into my Sparrow he had to cut the steel box shorter and weld it together again. Then he was missing a bracket which he didn't find until he took a trip to another state to an EV rally and asked around. Then when the bracket was in, he couldn't get it to go into reverse or what, so there was more troubleshooting to do and the other local mechanic was booked up. Finally he got the mysterious Claire Bell to come out and wire it. She used to work for the original Corbin factory.

I was just thankful that the car can still be made to run with what parts there are out there and with what Sparrow support mechanics there are. This is not a complex technology thankfully. In fact any high school auto shop classes can take up the EV challenge and teach kids to convert old cars and trucks to EVs as 30 schools are doing now. And with the battery technology getting up to speed and all this talk about the plug-in hybrid, the return of the EV feels like it's right over the next hill there.

Just as hidden in our geography are sustainably built, solar powered buildings waiting to reveal their secrets to a willing public, so, too, will EVs become a sought after solution once our "oil addiction" is accepted for what it is: an unsustainable, planet killing, dead dinosaour technology. We took a tour of such a building on Stanford land last week. I e-mailed ahead to ask if I could plug in the Sparrow. They had golf-cart type vehicles on the site, so they knew exactly what I was talking about and we got the royal treatment when we arrived. Plus I got to give a test drive to one of my classmates and exemplify the Be The Change message of our program. Just having the Sparrow at hand in its physical reality imbues optimism everywhere we go.


Blogger Robert van de Walle said...

That's a wonderful, hopeful message. I'm so glad you've got the funny yellow car back!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Stelle said...

I'd call it a cool little yellow car. Well, it does look funny in some ways, but I do think that it's cool. On top of that, it's "green" too. Glad to hear that you've got Sparrow back. *salute*

Stelle Courney

11:47 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home