Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let's Start at the Beginning...

This blog will be a running diary of my experience as an instructor of hybrid automotive technology. Beginning with the spring 2011 semester, Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan will offer training in this area of automotive repair. Follow along and try to pay attention. You might just learn a thing or two.

A Unique Off Road Project

One part of the class will be to transplant the complete hybrid drivetrain from a wrecked 2004 Toyota Prius into the rear of a Berrien Buggy sand rail. Don't assume from the pictures that this car could be saved. It was punched very hard in the rear and driven into another car. Some of our students from various classes volunteered to help strip the donor car to the shell. These guys wasted no time removing the engine, electric machine, transmission, suspension and every inch of wiring from the car. It took them less than six hours to pick the car clean.

And here's the prize: The engine, electric machine, transaxle and voltage converter.

Photo courtesy of Berrien Buggy

And now let's look at where this project is headed. This is a Stalker sand rail frame from Berrien Buggy, built right here in Michigan. The front wheel drive hybrid drivetrain will find a new home in the rear of this frame. For those of you who are wondering "Why?", let me explain. Our original idea was to mount the engine on a stand, allowing us to run it for the purpose of training our students. But with no way to introduce a load on the battery pack, it could not serve our purpose. The completed buggy will allow us to test the system under actual driving conditions. It will also allow for plenty of room to mount all of the other components such as the battery pack, computers and associated wiring in such a way that it will be easy for a group of people to observe and test the individual systems. The buggy will also be shown in area car shows as a means of showing the community that NMC is keeping up with current technology in the automotive service technology field. And it might even help us to recruit new students for our program. We will hopefully be bringing in students from our engineering program to help with the massive amount of fabrication that will be required to build this one of a kind vehicle. Another idea is to involve our local high school tech program in painting it when the fabrication is complete. I would like to involve as many students as possible in this project. Because they are what this is all about.