Supercharging the Wreckla

Wreckla Supercharge Test Complete

Good Progress

The Wreckla is almost ready to start its transmogrification into the Stretchla. It feels like progress is picking up lately. Although one might think it counterintuitive that I get more productive when allergy season hits, it makes sense when you consider that the small amount of Pseudoephedrine I take for allergies is basically some form of speed.

Air Conditioning

I wanted to insure the AC is working and also get comfortable with AC systems so I can modify them someday. To do that I needed an AC condenser on the left side of the Wreckla. I was resisting this a bit since the support that holds that part on the car was long gone. Fortunately a small plywood addition to my 2X6 DF headlight bracket plus a number of fresh bungee cords made for a surprisingly strong mount and it only took a few minutes to make. Road testing shows that it holds up to wind loading well above the speed limit.

Hacked installation of new AC condenser

Hacked installation of new AC condenser

Hacked installation of new AC condenser

Hacked installation of new AC condenser

Since the system had been open for a long time, I replaced the filter and dryer which are located in the right side condenser on the Model S.

Modern style AC dryer and filter

Modern style AC dryer and filter

My friend Ross owns Horton’s German Auto Repair and fortunately he’s a great guy willing to help me out with his AC service machine. Per his suggestion we left the car on the vacuum pump overnight and charged it up in the morning after a leak check. It’s a good feeling to have it charged up since the AC now works well and I assume that the system is required for Supercharging.

Setting the Caster

I wanted to set the caster on the front suspension. It was not really necessary at this stage, but I knew I’d feel better understanding how to do it. Many thanks to Christopher Schimke for his write-up on The Samba on DIY Wheel Alignment. Christopher supplies parts to help out many Vanagon owners with his company T3Technique.com. I already have a very nice super level diamond polished floor, but one of the great ideas I picked up from his post was to put wax paper under the tires to let them slide in place much easier. I found that half a turn of the Model S steering wheel is about 20 degrees and so I recorded a bunch of caster measurements at neutral and +- 20 degrees of turning, adjusting the front suspension until they were balanced left to right and camber was in spec. Years ago I made an addition to my digital level, adding bolts to contact the wheel rim of the Stretch, fortunately the mod also fits well on these 19″ Tesla wheels.

Setting caster

Setting caster

Charge Port Installation

I was concerned that people might get a bit freaked out if I were to pull up to the Supercharger and drape the cord into the rear hatch with highly visible orange high voltage cables (I’m sure the wrecked front of the car surprises people enough), so I spent a little time on “bodywork” to make the charge port and cover flap work properly in the original position. Along the way I discovered that the cover sensor is quite sensitive to the flap sitting flat on its latch. A little loosening of the flap mounting screws took care of the car warnings for the charge port being open. Not that it really matters, the car drives fine even if it thinks the port is open. The inlet was mostly undamaged in the accident but the impact did break half the mounting tabs. For now I used plastic repair epoxy to fix the broken tabs, but I’m concerned they won’t be strong enough for more than gentle handling. Although a new inlet assembly costs about the same as one from Nissan for a Chademo inlet, it’s almost a thousand dollars that I’d rather not spend for a couple broken tabs, so I’m still contemplating options to restore it to original strength.

Charge port and cover in close to the proper location

Charge port and cover in close to the proper location

As for the Tesla taillight that I bought for such a great deal on ebay, it turns out that despite the sellers insistence that it was a US version, it wasn’t. It seems “ECE” does stand for European. Once I installed it I got an orange turn signal light which also lit up with the brake lights. It looked really cool, but for legality I went back to my US red light with the missing outer cover.

Louvers

I wired up the replacement louvers (also bought off ebay) with some connectors from Newark to replace the missing section of wiring harness. These are the two for the AC condensers and they seem to operate normally. I assume that installing them fixed a couple error codes, but I’ll have to wait until I get a report before I know for sure.

Collecting louvers

Collecting louvers

To the Supercharger!

With systems looking pretty good I headed off to my nearby Supercharger in Springfield Oregon. I was topping off the pack at home before I left just in case I couldn’t charge there and to allow for high energy use on the trip due to poor aerodynamics. In retrospect that was not needed and may not have been such a great idea for testing the Supercharging function.

Wreckla plugs in

Wreckla plugs in

I arrived and plugged it in.

Supercharging at 110 Amps and 394 Volts, the battery was already pretty full

Supercharging at 110 Amps and 394 Volts, the battery was already pretty full

The car ramped up to 43kW charge rate which is probably normal considering it was over 80% full when I started. I was a bit surprised that the AC did not kick in to pre-cool the battery. I wonder if that was normal for a cool battery and low charge rate, or maybe something is not quite right yet with the system. I don’t know the car well enough yet but eventually I’ll get an error report to see how it performed.

Supercharging the Wreckla

Supercharging the Wreckla

Now that the car is running pretty well I’m excited to start preparing the Stretch Vanagon body for the swap. Maybe it’s time to take some base weight measurements and start cleaning it out. The real adventure is about to begin!

-Otmar

 

21 thoughts on “Wreckla Supercharge Test Complete

  1. Sweet tap dancing Tesla technicians Batman! I’m still biting my nails in anticipation of the Model S disassembly yet very intrigued to see the various steps and all the parts and how they will mate with the Vanagon. I hope you take plenty of pics and videos Otmar. PS protect that condenser from accidental damage.

  2. Love the updates and photos! Crunched fender and charger especially. Glad you are testing for speed and compatibility at every opportunity. Don’t forget Re-fuel in July! Reading your blog is as good as Teslaspotting first thing in the morning!

    • Thanks! Glad to hear you all are enjoying it.
      I’m preregistered for the Tesla gathering combined with REFUEL in Monterey July 18th. It’s my big deadline to get it running.
      I am SO looking forward to a hot lap at Laguna Seca in the Stretchla!!

  3. Bottom line of considerable discussion on the Forums at TM and TMC was that the illegality of amber turn signals etc. is an urban myth, based on over-generalization of a few restrictions. IIRC.

    • I don’t think the issue was amber turn signals being illegal, but rather amber brake lights. Presumably wiring is different in the European models as well so they are only on for turn signals.

  4. Awesome! How much does a wrecked Tesla fetch these days? I’ve got my own ideas for one as well.

    • Mine was $42K by the time auction fees and delivery were included, details were in a previous blog post if you are curious. I figure it was “Half Off” in more ways than one. :-)

    • Yes, that one is pretty deeply damaged. The pictures I have from the original insurance auction two months ago show that they’ve cleaned it up and made the rear wheel point in about the right direction, but the mileage has not advanced a single mile and I suspect it still needs major work. I think the better deals are directly from the auctions. I also expect salvage selling prices will be falling quite a bit now that people are realizing how difficult they are to repair.

  5. If you want you can contact me by email – I bought GasDoc’s wrecked Tesla
    (Don’t know if you follow the Tesla forums or not)

Contribute your thoughts here