It’s Alive!

I was able to move the leaf under it’s own power (using two of it’s own wheels as well…) I titled the video “Drifting the rear end” because I want to see how many racing enthusiasts I can troll. This is probably the last time this Leaf will move under it’s own power, as the next step is to drop the high voltage battery pack.

Booting up a Nissan Leaf

Hojas, the wrecked 2013 Nissan Leaf that I purchased at an auto auction site was delivered to my house, and appeared completely dead. The first thing I did was to check the 12 volt “accessory” battery, and found that it had drained down to 1.5 volts. I think this was because in the collision one of the rear doors was knocked ajar, and the interior lights were illuminated because of that, but it could have also been due to the 2-3 months it had been sitting in the auction yard, or perhaps somebody initiated the emergency shutdown procedure.


After charging the 12 volt battery back up, I was able to put it into “accessory” and “on” mode, Continue reading

How to purchase a Leaf Battery Pack (and surrounding car)


This is Hoja, a new (to me) 2013 Nissan Leaf. Hoja was rear-ended sometime around December or January, and was “totaled” by his insurance company, The Travelers Indemnity Company. They used Copart, an auto-auction company to sell the remains with a salvage title.

I purchased Hoja just to obtain the LiIon modules in the battery pack, and was happy to find that the dash console reports that the battery has the full 12 bars of capacity, even though he has almost 19K miles under his tires. I may also be able to use a few other parts such as the J1722 charging port (and possibly the built in charger…), but the majority of the car will be junk sitting in my back yard until I can get rid of it.

My hope is that I will be able to sell many parts from the car to help reduce the overall purchase price, and in this respect I think I am lucky that the majority of the damage was to the rear end, in that the motor/inverter/charger and front mechanical systems look to be in good shape. (If anybody wants to buy Leaf replacement parts, email me…)


Details about the purchasing process

In Georgia, due to good lobbying by the established auto industry players, only licensed “auto brokers/dealers/dismantlers” can purchase used cars at the Copart auctions, but private individuals (with some cash) can purchase Continue reading

Hexagonal wooden mirror frame

This is my finished hex frame mirror, which is the last piece of the downstairs bathroom we renovated.


I built a hexagonal wood frame out of ceder planks for the new bathroom mirror. I had originally wanted to build an irregular three sided “triangular” mirror, but once I figured out that my compound miter saw wouldn’t make cuts sharper than 50 degrees I decided I needed more than 3 sides…and 8 pieces would have been a nightmare to assemble.


I used a table saw to rip a groove in each piece to hold the glass, and then I used the flattest surface I had available (the mirror glass) to assemble and glue the pieces together. The mirror glass was original to the house, and has a 1961 date printed on the back.


Once I had the frame built, I traced out a template so that I could mark the mirror glass exactly where it needed to be cut. (Due to a few holes I was avoiding in my scrap wood, the frame is not perfectly symmetrical….)


If I hadn’t already built the frame, I would have strongly considered making a “Superman” mirror at this point in the glass cutting phase.


Adding disk brakes to a bike frame without disk brake mounting holes

The electric hub motor I purchased had a set of six holes built in for adding a 140mm disk brake rotor. Unfortunately, the bike frame I had used was not set up to mount a disk brake caliper.


I purchased the cheapest cable actuated disk brake caliper and rotor set I could find on ebay ($50) and then had to figure out how to mount the caliper. After a bit of thought, I eventually decided to keep it classy and not weld the entire thing directly to the bike frame.

Disk brake calipers are mounted using two screws, hopefully with lock washers to make sure they don’t come out. M6 SHCS (Socket Head Cap Screw), typically 1.0 thread pitch and 18mm long)

Although my bike frame did not have built-in holes for a disk brake caliper, it did have some threaded M6 holes for other purposes (racks/mudguards, etc..), so I could use one of those, and only had to add a 2nd mounting hole at exactly the right place.


From chopping apart a lot of bike frames, I had some spare steel, and one of the spare front forks also had an M6 hole tapped into it, so I didn’t even have to drill and tap the 2nd hole. I used a cut-off wheel on an angle grinder to liberate the hole and surrounding steel, then screwed it to the 2nd hole in the caliper, using the caliper body itself to hold the steel piece in place while I welded it. (The caliper also has two screws that adjust the body slightly, so the weld doesn’t have to be 100% perfect…)


Getting the small piece of steel, and cleaning off all the excess paint to get the parts ready to weld took a lot longer than actually doing the small weld. (I could have brazed the two together, but since I have the welder just sitting there, and the welded joint will be stronger, always important for brakes…)


Of course, because the brake caliper itself has M6 threaded holes, you don’t want the holes on the frame to ALSO be threaded (because then you can’t use the screws to tighten the caliper to the frame of the bike effectively) so after I had the holes positioned where I wanted them, I used a drill bit to ream the threads out of the holes on the frame. (N.B….never use a drill bit as a reamer…unless you don’t have a reamer….)

Franken-bike: Back Rack, Rain-cover support


I needed a place to mount the back of my rain cover on the bike. I also needed a place to place my electric motor controller bag. I solved both problems with left over bike parts. This “rack” is made out of the top half of an unused fork welded together. I cut a 1 and 1/8″ hole in it to go over the bottom of my seat down tube. I also put a few weld nuts I had laying around on the top of it, just in case I need to mount something else securely to it.


Electrifying Franken-Trike

Franken-Trike is big and heavy. And it’s only going to get bigger and heavier once I finish the rain cover. So I added an electric motor to it… Weight with motor and battery is now 80 pounds.

This is a Chinese generic hub motor, controller, LCD display that includes speedometer and odometer, along with a “water bottle” style 36v 10aH Li-Ion battery pack. The motor claims to be 500 watts, and the battery claims to be able to provide 540 watts (15 amps * 36 volts), but on steep hills I have to petal a bit myself to maintain speed. On level ground it can get the bike up to a scary enough 10 mph by itself, and I expect it will fulfill its purpose of making my commute into less of a taxing workout of lugging the monster bike up the big hill…


Fabricating Gingerbread House Cookie Cutters


One of my relatives makes a large number of gingerbread houses for all the kids (and me!) to decorate for the holidays. They have been cutting the house panels out of rolled gingerbread dough using a knife and paper templates. I volunteered to make them some custom cookie cutters, as the three panels (2x roof, 2x wall, 2x end pieces) are geometrically very simple (two rectangles, and a triangle sitting on top of a rectangle.)

I bought some 1/2″ angle aluminum at the the big box (I would have preferred 3/4″…but they didn’t stock it…), along with some aluminum “welding rod” which is really a Continue reading