Welcome to Canada and Gifford AutomotiveOld Motor Compartment PictureFront Left Corner of Partially RenovatedLeft Rear of Electra-Van Reconstruction
OwnerGifford Automotive Inc.
LocationOttawa, Ontario Canada map
Web/EmailWebPage email image
Vehicle1981 Subaru Electra-Van
MotorGeneral Electric Series Wound DC
DrivetrainRear-motor, Rear wheel drive
ControllerCurtis 1221 C
We might like to put in the Curtis 1238-75 3-phase AC drive and motor with regenerative braking, someday. Let's break this one first.
Batteries10 Optima SC31DM, 12.00 Volt, Lead-Acid, AGM
The "Marine" Series is nice because it has four posts on the top. On the downside, the shape of these batteries is just, plain odd--difficult to make a compact pack. Rated at 100Ah for C20 discharge. We are hoping for 50% of that, at least.
System Voltage120 Volts
ChargerSoneil 10 x 1214CCWB
Excellent chargers. Soneil warns that they are NOT rated for this type of series application, but we will see how they do.
HeaterThere is no heater today, but we'll probably go with some ceramic heater elements.
Instrumentation0-400 Amp Ammeter, Accessory Voltage, Speedometer
Top Speed60 MPH (96 KPH)
I had it up to 100 km/h (62 mph) briefly.
Accelerationnot measured. Peppy until about 40 mph.
Range30 Miles (48 Kilometers)
EV Miles
Start:6,876 Miles (11,063 Kilometers)
Current:7,110 Miles (11,439 Kilometers)
Total:234 Miles (376 Kilometers)
Seating Capacity4 (quite snug)
Curb Weight2,250 Pounds (1,022 Kilograms)
We have shed about 450 lbs with less batteries than stock, a smaller insulated battery box and individual chargers.
Tires155SR12 Ohtsu Hi-Steel 210
Conversion Time80 hours to install the batteries, perform some automotive servicing and replace indicators and brake lights with custom LED's
Conversion CostAbout $11k, depending on what you count and when the clock started ticking!
Additional FeaturesWe are only the third owner of this vehicle and the prior owners make for a healthy pedigree.
February 3rd, 2010 - We bought the vehicle a few days ago and the truck driver just called to say that it would be delivered late tomorrow. The delivery brings it as far as Syracuse, NY and Tom will go down to haul the rest of the way home, which also involves importing it into Canada. It was formerly in Oregon for all of it's life and mostly in storage over the last few years.

February 15, 2010 - Vehicle arrived on Feb 5 after some minor trouble at USA-Canada border. Batteries went in quickly but vehicle did not move under it's own power until Feb 7th. It will go down the road OK, but steering is mushy, brakes are not quite up to our standards and there is no defroster (a requirement for a safety certificate). We have spent quite a few hours building custom LED lighting for the old lights which crumbled as we tried to change the bulbs. Added an additional interior light over the batteries and like them so much, that we may add more. Moved the 0-5 k pot to behind the accelerator pedal and eliminated the sticky cable. Even with this, it seems difficult to take off from stopped smoothly without using the clutch. Soneil chargers arrived on Feb 9th and have been temporarily installed on top of batteries. Clutch slips in every gear and motor makes a sound like it wants brushes, but it is still fun to drive around the parking lot!

February 28, 2010 - The last two weeks have been busy with the complete removal of the traction drive components and old battery box. The controller (which we are told may be a copy of a Curtis 1221C) and DC-to-DC converter have been relocated to the interior of the vehicle along the same bulkhead that they were on before. A 1/2" plate of aluminum with heat transfer paste on both sides now helps the controller dissipate more heat. The clutch has been upgraded and the flywheel resurfaced. Rick Lane of REV Consultants has been very helpful in providing us with a battery rewiring kit, some digital gauges as well as lots of great advice and support. Because of his advice we have added an Anderson disconnect between the battery pack and controller as well as a 400 Amp fuse and some really cool boots for every connection. The new battery box is insulated and coated with spray-in bed-liner. It allows for no horizontal movement and hold-downs prevent vertical movement in the event of any accident. We were hoping to use the bed-liner to make permanent floor mats.

August 25, 2010 - We haven't done much work on it, but we have been driving it, now that it has insurance! We are looking for a radio that is shallow enough to fit in the stock location and are looking forward to installing our new Exedy clutch. Need more time.

May 3, 2014 - The vehicle has been parked for over a year. A lack of time and motivation have meant that some small problems make it much less fun and safe to drive. The boss (Tom - in the orange jacket) does NOT like the heat produced by the Soneil chargers in our current battery box. The biggest problem are the wheels that were haphazardly replaced with 12" wheels that were cut to fit the drums. They don't quite roll in circles and driving the van is not really safe. The quick fix is to re-install some 10" wheels. The hard work of changing hubs, bearings and brakes to use Subaru Justy wheels seems absurd to us--and we work on cars for a living! There are many other problems, but going straight done the road is important! The brakes were redone in 2010-2011 and other repairs made, but sitting isn't good for a vehicle; especially not in Canada. I'll try to snap some photos of the battery box and redone high voltage wiring (from 2010-11).

Send me an e-mail if you have a lead on the wheels! Thanks folks!

code by jerry