Saturday 12 April 2014

Bike.4, bike.5 and the Freelander

First, bike.4. I've replaced the clutch/gear assembly with one from an old motor, and I've ordered a new replacement. Bike stuff is always so cheap - £10. Show me a car whose clutch and gear is under £1000.

When I took it out for a run, the rear drum brake was dragging, so I got it back to the workshop, and after frequent dismantling and remantling, I determined that I need to have two washers inside the drum.

Then I had a lot of trouble getting the derailleur gear assembly right; I'm always a duffer at those. But eventually, it was ready for a test.

The problem that I had originally, the stop-start-stop stuttering, that I'd hoped would be fixed with the resistor replacement in the controller ... was still there. It didn't happen at first, with the battery voltage at 32, but when the voltage got down to 30, it was happening again. It's the controller saying "Oooh, your voltage is too low, I'm switching off" which means that the voltage recovers, so I get half a second of power, and that makes the voltage sag ... and so on.

So now I've tried another solution. I had ordered a 7.4 volt battery from Hobbyking. I charged it up to it's full 8.4 volts, added one of my standard battery connectors (EC5), and put that in series with the batteries I was already using. So instead of 8S (33.6v) I had 10S (42v). That small increase in voltage, was enough to make the controller happy. So, I think bike.4 is ready for action. I want to test it some more first; if it's going to break down, I want that to happen near home while testing, not in a muddy field in the middle of nowhere.

Then, bike.5. The problem with bike.5, is wimpiness. I put a speedometer on it, and with a very slight uphill, the best I could get was 9mph. And it felt generally sluggish. My answer to this, was to order a new bike controller from China costing £9.99, which I'm hoping will cure the wimpiness. It arrived today, only 9 days after I ordered it. I've had to wait longer for stuff from London!

I hooked it up today, a non-trivial exercise because all the connectors were different from the ones I use, so I had to strip them off, and solder on new ones. Eventually, I got everything assembled, waterproofed inside old inner tubes, and it works. I don't know how good it is yet, because I want to test it in daylight. But I'm hopeful.

As a small digression - my El Cheapo soldering iron stopped working. So I've ordered A) another El Cheapo, B) a new element for the broken one, C) a decent quality one at five times the cost and D) a soldering gun. I've never used a soldering gun before; something new to learn.

Also, AA batteries. With what I've learned about batteries in general, I felt it was time to invest in some decent AA rechargables; I use a lot of them. The big thing I learned about batteries, is that many of the manufacturers just lie about their capacity. Some internet research revealed that the battery to buy is the Sanyo  Eneloop; it doesn't self-discharge, and it holds as much charge as you can expect from an AA.

While I was rummaging through Ebay, I came across a build-it-yourself kit that makes a noise like a steam locomotive, it costs £10. I couldn't resist it. I plan to mount it on the bike, so that I sound like a steam train as I'm biking along. And when you press the button, it makes a noise like a steam whistle. Yum!

And the Freelander. That was a very simple problem; the two rear tires were worn down to the legal limit, and the front tires weren't much better. Simple to fix, it just needed a trip down to Honest John, who sold me a set of Pirellis for £700, fitted them, checked the tracking and pressure and now Freda is good to go. But £700!

I could buy four electric bikes for that much.

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