Tesla powered Hudson

50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,880Senior Contributor
I know there was a writeup in WTN on someone working on an electric-powered stepdown, but here is an approach (non-Hudson for now) that is much more refined, albeit expensive!  Nonetheless pretty cool!  Note I am not a big pure EV fan until a lot of problems are sorted out - like mileage, cold weather driving distance, battery costs......  Hybrids make a lot more sense and something Hudson I am sure would have done if it were still around.



  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 289Member
    Our chapter is supposed to have a meet where the Tesla powered Hudson is being built sometime in the coming months. 
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,880Senior Contributor
    I don't think the Hudson that is being electrified is using Tesla technology.  I could be wrong but ?
  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 289Member
    I have no idea... It was described to me as "the Tesla powered Hudson". I guess I will find out when I see it.
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,880Senior Contributor
    is this the one that was in the WTN?
  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 289Member
    I don't know. I haven't seen either one of them
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Hi, this is Brian, owner builder of the Hornet EV in the WTN.  I hope you all are doing well. Kerry dropped this link off in my email...(thanks, Kerry!) I'm happy to see that there is interest in EVs, particularly Hudson EVs. I've been into EVs for 25 years now, and I bought my Hornet specifically to build into an EV. My Hornet, a '53 4dr, was almost a basket case... I didn't want to start off with a car that was prime restoration material. This is a car that probably wouldn't have been saved otherwise. I'd hoped that it was a little more solid than it turned out, and that's why I shifted the plan.

    Initially my plan was to change as little as possible, partly to show how a classic car could be turned into an EV, and still be possible to change back. I originally had gotten a Siemens AC electric motor that I paired with a Borg Warner T-85/R-11, which is the beefier version of the T-86/R-10 in many of our Hudsons. After we realized that my sub frames and body mounts were pretty rotten, my plan of changing very little went out the window. I eventually switched to a Tesla drive unit, because I want this to be a daily driver. I think I'd still like to try my first plan, maybe a Hudson I could build with one or both of my daughters

    When I joined the club almost 3 years ago, I poked around and it seemed that the vibe of the club was towards bone stock vehicles, and I didn't want to rock the boat, since I had gotten a particularly nasty response to an EV drivetrain on the HAMB, I just kept my head down, haha. I love all kinds of cars, especially Hudsons, stock, modified, Kustom, it's all good to me.

    I didn't want to write a novel for my first post in his thread, but I'll tell you guys anything you want to know. I know a lot about EVs and hybrids, and I'd be happy to share what I know. 
  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 289Member
    Welcome Brian. I would love to see what you have done. I don't see myself doing an EV, but I am intrigued with the idea. I enjoy seeing how people engineer and modify their vehicles and fit them to their tastes. Any chance you could post some photos here? Maybe a series showing us your build? Have a great day.
  • 35 Terraplane35 Terraplane Posts: 238Senior Contributor
    I second the motion. Pics please
  • ESSX28-1ESSX28-1 Posts: 1,373Senior Contributor
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Ok, then... I'll dig up what I can... :D
  • 33kc198933kc1989 Posts: 380Senior Contributor
    I’m in.  Something old, Something new.
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,880Senior Contributor
    edited February 27
    Nice info Brian.  I assume you are using a Tesla S drive train?  Out of curiosity, are there issues with Tesla typically connecting to the mothership at HQ for various types of information.  I read recently that a purchaser of a used Model S had some of the desired features "removed" remotely as Tesla felt like as a used car buyer he did not pay for them.  To turn them back on they wanted something like $9K.  The switch to electric is interesting, but now we are shifting from mechanical knowledge of old to IT and EE knowledge!

    Icon's Merc project did not really talk a lot about this, only the main brain connections to the control unit and other features.
  • bent metalbent metal Posts: 1,581Senior Contributor

    I wanna' see build pics too.  :D

  • bent metalbent metal Posts: 1,581Senior Contributor
    That should have been, I wanna' see build pics too.  :)
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member

    Jah, I'm using a MS (Model S) small rear drive unit which includes the AC motor, inverter (changes DC battery current to AC for the motor), controller, gear reduction (about 9.73:1), and the diff... It's good for almost 300 horsepower, and gobs of torque.

    MS and MX (Model X) have two basic types, small and large, the large one is in the "P"\Performance models and good for around 650hp. There are also front DUs, the guys I got my drive unit from are still working on that, along with the Model 3 (M3) drive units.
    This is the company - https://057tech.com/products/driveunits

    Along with the drive unit, I also got the entire rear suspension, which is built into a subframe that attaches to the unibody of the car with four big bolts... the whole unit drops out of the car. The challenge with that, especially in our Hudsons, is that the Model S and Model X are very very wide cars. Our Hudsons, even though they're pretty wide for a '50s era car, have pretty narrow rear ends, so the wheels can fit between the fender skirts. I had bad information, and ordered up a complete drive unit with suspension, only to find out that it was about 11 inches too wide. It's taken me the last 6 months to figure out how to narrow the subframe for the suspension to get it to fit into my Hornet. We built a jig to locate all of the suspension points on a rail, and now we can make a custom sub frame to varying widths, including one narrow enough to fit comfortably into a Stepdown. This is all still in development, and we're making it up as we go along, haha. Narrowing the axles hopefully won't be a problem, and when it's all done it'll use all of the stock Tesla suspension, brakes, drive unit, and air struts. There are lots of wrecked Teslas, so spare parts probably won't be a problem.

    Speaking of the drive unit, some guys extensively modify the inverter to gain control of the motor, but the guys at 057 have instead built a little black box that fools the inverter and controller into thinking that it's still in a Tesla, and it doesn't care... Just hook up power and the throttle and brake wires, and it just goes. The inverter is stock, so if I blow it up, I can just replace it with another stock one.

    The connection to the "mothership" is in the main computer for the Tesla, which controls everything from the motor units to the battery, and the charging, and all of the other gizmos. It took years for some very determined people to figure out how to get around the secret code and control the components.

    I'm not using Tesla batteries, but even if I did, they would also end up being "dumb", and wouldn't talk to the mothership. I won't be able to use supercharging, obviously, but I don't think it's even really necessary for this kind of car. I am shooting for a range of about 200 miles, and I plan to drive daily, but that should fine with charging overnight at home, and regular chargers out in the world.

    I realize all of this sounds very complicated, and some parts of it are, but it really boils down to hot rodding, and the things I love so much about hot rodding... Taking something awesome, and making it even more awesome (Kustom/faster/better) with salvaged parts and stuff we can make it our garages.

    Some of the bleeding edge parts like the inverter controller and some of the battery tech, use some very computery parts, but that's just to be able to use the most sophisticated salvage parts now, like Tesla parts. Very simple drivetrains have been built for decades, even by a knucklehead like me, to drive cars around on battery power. Some cars even use drivetrains as simple as a forklift.

    The holdup has been the batteries. We're finally starting to get some powerful small light batteries that are affordable. That has been the linchpin. The motor, controller, and all that other stuff, does matter, but it all depends on what your needs are. Lead acid batteries had been holding back the hobby and the small time builders.

    I like Tesla because they're mostly American, and they really led the charge to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream. I've been into EVs since the mid-90s, and I've watched the mainstream manufacturers do everything they could to stop the electric car. I got interested in electric cars because of the wars on oil, but also because electric motors are amazingly powerful and efficient... Perfect hot rod stuff. But thanks to Tesla and other very determined people, electric vehicles are now almost mainstream, and the manufacturers can't ignore them anymore. What that means for us, is lots of parts in salvage yards, and a growing aftermarket industry that can help us use all that stuff. Chevy Volt/Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius* (ugh), Lexus parts (still Toyota*, ugh), and a bunch of other hybrids are prime for picking.

    This really does remind me of the first hot rodders, those crazy kids who souped up their cars and fixed up crashed cars, and built really awesome jalopies. It's a great time to be a hot rodder...

  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    * some guys will probably ask why I "ugh" Toyota... I dislike Toyota very much for their marketing and engineering choices. In the late '90s, when we had the false-start Electric Renaissance. Chevy had the EV-1, Toyota had the RAV4, Ford was farting around with converting Rangers, and Honda made a half-hearted attempt at a hybrid, which turned out to be a pretty good car, the Insight. 

    The manufacturers were trying to comply with a California mandate to bring electric cars to California drivers (and also the rest of the world). At the same time, they were also spending millions of dollars on lawyers to try to defeat that law. They knew what a lot of us know... Electric motors have one moving part. They don't have a lot of other things that wear out quickly because of spinning and rubbing and burning. Most manufacturers and car dealers make huge profits from parts and service (I know because I became a car dealer specifically to convert/build electric vehicles and sell them... This was in 2006, way too early, doh!). Most car manufacturers are also cross-invested with the oil companies, who also had zero interest in electric cars becoming mainstream. The bottom line is that they wanted to kill EVs, or at least delay them as long as possible.

    I got off the point..Toyota... When the manufacturers finally fought off the law, they pretty much ceased production of these vehicles (and GM recalled all of the EV-1s). Toyota, recognizing that there was a substantial group of people who were interested in high fuel efficiency, and reducing pollution, made the Prius. But they made the Prius unnecessarily complicated. They also made it so that the car with a tiny battery that couldn't drive more than a few feet without the gas engine turning on... they didn't want to lose out on all the revenue from parts and service. The car did save fuel, but Honda built many other conventional cars that got great gas mileage, too, without all the unnecessary complication of the Prius. They marketed the Prius as some new advanced tech, but in reality it was overly complicated so that they could continue fleecing their customers. 

    {steps off soapbox, haha}
  • KdancyKdancy Posts: 2,416Senior Contributor
    Great info Brian!
    I too have been interested in this for years and hope to one day do a conversion.
    I did add an HHO unit to our VW diesel 10 or so years ago, but didn't really see any noticeable improvement and took it off

  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Thanks Kerry...Yeah, I bought into HHO for a bit too, but managed to get the idea that it was snake oil before I finished building the unit, haha... Seems like a feasible thing... but in reality, it can't produce nearly enough hydrogen to make a difference.

    Sorry for the novellas up there, I got on a roll and then just kept ranting! (tldr, haha)
  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 289Member
    Thanks for the overview Brian. This EV stuff is like sorcery to me. I seem to avoid electronic stuff like the plague. I like to be able to SEE how something works, and IF it is working. Like points vs electronic ignition. It is a big leap for me to use multi point EFI in my current build... Kudos to you and your build. I'm looking forward to seeing more>
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,907Expert Adviser
    edited February 27
    ...noticed the comments about digital reach out and touching as well as the battery technology.

    1.  As the saying goes...We in the USA are talking out of both sides of our mouth when it comes to mandating electric vehicles.  Everyone should ask themselves where are the batteries coming from?   When was the last time we (the USA) invested in US manufacturing of modern batteries?   It is all well and good to make the comments that we should .... do electric vehicles but one should pull the curtain back and find out where and how the batteries that are being used in vehicles like Tesla are created.   And more important, are we saying one thing and doing the opposite when it comes to the essential element of the electric car?   

    2.  Reaching out and touching you is a convenient way of saying your destiny with electric cars is in the hands of the manufacturer and maybe in the hands of the battery manufacturer.  If you do not already know it, when you purchase anything manufactured  with a digital connection it is being monitored... maybe not actively, but it is capable of being manipulated and in fact might be disabled due to the manufacturer's original agreement with you or a vendor who imported technology into you device.   If this is hard to understand... take an look at your cell phone... how does it operate?   Software updates are a necessary to keep it running correctly.  The phone is manufactured to do this nearly automatically.  Recent updates for a popular phone included a bit of code that caused the battery to discharge faster than before the update. Why you might ask?   Well the average consumer has zero knowledge of what happened and this maybe "the straw" that causes the cellphone owner to purchase the newer product.   

    My current vehicle was accessed recently by the manufacturer via the digital console ... the access stated the mapping system needed an upgrade.  In fact... a change to the ECU ... the electronic computer unit that runs the car,  was made in the background.  This change was not universally accepted by all vehicles, including mine!   It caused the vehicles ECU to engage "limp mode" this mode is meant to keep the owner from damaging the vehicle if the ECU detects fuel burn problems and other issues.  The car had to be returned to the dealer on a rollback.  I was not happy!   The dealer was very apologetic and sent me away in a newer loaner.  When the car was ready for pickup, 2 weeks later,  I asked the tech for a list of replaced materials.  He was not willing to do so... the service manager finally provided me with a service sheet... it listed a replaced ECU!  So folks... be aware the Electric vehicle is a great idea and something that will be a part of our lives... be ready for the unexpected intrusions that WILL come with these vehicles.

    Off Rant.... 
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Copy all that, Glowplug, those are all excellent points. To the things you mentioned directly, Tesla is making their own batteries in Nevada in their facility they call a Gigafactory, they are building others in China and Europe, and they are planning to build others all around the world. They're in partnership with Panasonic, but it sounds like they're trying to strike out completely on their own. You're right about the sourcing of a lot of these elements and nothing is free... Anytime you extract anything out of the Earth, there will be problems.

    Extracting, transporting, refining, and distributing oil is very very very problematic, but it's the devil we know. The components in battery technology lithium, cobalt, manganese, etc., are all problematic as well, but Not nearly to the degree that the oil company propaganda has been telling us. In any event we need to concentrate on constant improvements... Make each new part of the process less problematic than before. Oil is very very very very dirty, and if extracting the stuff for batteries is only very very dirty, well that's two verys less, haha. The oil/gasoline process is only getting dirtier and more problematic, in the near future there may be very very very very very very dirty.

    The easy oil has all been tapped... Now, they're having to do all kinds of crazy things to get to the oil, deep sea drilling, sideways drilling, shale, fracking, tar sands... It's all getting even more problematic. 

    Harvesting the materials for batteries, and making the batteries, is a lot less drama than any single part of the process from the oil well all the way to the wheels of your car. And one of the most important parts is, batteries are almost completely recyclable. When EV batteries wear out they can be used in stationary systems, like battery balancing and backup for houses and buildings, etc... Once they're completely worn out, they can be torn apart, and all of the elements can be reused to make fresh batteries. 

    There has been mountains of propaganda and harmful stories about electric vehicles and battery technology... pretty easy to guess who's been putting that out... The oil industry thinks that there's a lot to lose, but if they shifted instead of obstructed, they'd be right in there with the new startups that are moving everything along.

    What you mentioned about Tesla, and others companies taking control of the devices they build is a real problem. In our case, building our own cars, we're not using those complete systems. Smart people have been figuring out ways to use the stuff. For a long time nobody could figure out how to make the Tesla drive units work, now a number of people have it working. Thankfully, there's always good smart people willing to tear things apart and figure out how to make them work.

    A big thing though, is we as citizens really need to take back control of our information... Nearly every company buys or sells our information and data, it's a real problem. And keep hearing about new laws being proposed to put the control of our information back where it belongs, with us. Take care!
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Electric cars are not a privacy problem, it's the companies that make them. One of the reasons why Tesla collects so much information, is because they're trying to improve the vehicle in real time. I do think they collect too much information for sure. And I think it's horrible that they will turn off features that somebody else paid for. I have one, and I paid for the autopilot, and yeah the money was spent on it, and horrible that if I sell the car they might turn it off... But I'm not sure they turn it off if you sell it to somebody else. I think they only do it if they refurbish the car and resell it as a used car... I'm not sure about that. Either way, I think it's wrong. If the money's been spent on the feature, then the feature goes along with the car. I was trying to build electric cars commercially in 2006, and I even bought a car dealership and a workshop to do it. It takes so much money to do something like that, that it's staggering. Ultimately, obviously, I wasn't able to get it off the ground. Elon Musk had made millions (billions?) of dollars in IT, and I'm thankful that he spent huge amounts of his fortune, time, and talents on getting electric cars to the mainstream. Smartphones, and other computers are super scary in the amount of data that they collect, and they're not doing it for the greater good... They're doing it for profit, with OUR iformation. 
    There's an old saying, "if you're not paying for the product, then you *are the product" Facebook is not free, we pay for it with our information... Most websites aren't free, we pay for that with our eyeballs, looking at ads for stuff that we don't want to buy... Google, and many many other companies, make money by selling our habits to the companies that are selling stuff buying the advertisements so that it's more targeted. I think it's horrifying.

    Okay done ranting, haha, we want to talk about Hudsons and hot rods! it's kind of weird that all this stuff is actually related in this modern life...
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,907Expert Adviser
    In the grand scheme of things, my path took me through CNG vehicle conversion and on to battery power.  The building of batteries is an exercise designed to capture the combined performance of the products sub components and the required physical characteristics.  In a past life I inspected component manufacturers and due to in ability or out right fraud, the component parts were < 30% usable.  So our plan had to include 100% testing and movement of assembly to the US.  Musk is NOT in control of his batteries, if he does not control cell doping and matching.  Unless something has changed the manufacture of the cells is done off shore and under the off shore governments control. Been there and done this...trust me; or them, there is a major step in control of the batteries.  Sharing concerns with the real smart folks gets you a agreement that the situation is controlled elsewhere.  

    Best to all 
  • RichardDRichardD Posts: 670Member
    If electric cars are going to get more and more, the USA had better start doing some mineral work. China controls 50% of Lithium, 80% of Cobalt, and 95% of rare earth metals. Regulation & inefficiency are choking mining efforts.  The Admin. is making progress but there's a lot to catching up to do.
    We certainly welcome electric but all isn't free as some believe and promulgate. 93 miles per gal/e I think is what Car & Driver said on an Tesla 3 test last month & a lot of thumb twiddling on very long trips. But $50,000.00 for a car is a lot so you can brag about that mileage !!  2¢
  • 40indianssgmailcom40indianssgmailcom Posts: 157Senior Contributor
    This has been interestingly informative to me.  Not to hijack but I am interested in an electric drivetrain for a 1960 Morris minor convertible which has been awaiting the upgrade for 25 years.  I know it is not a Hudson, but I have been restomodding my 47 pickup thanks to this forum and I think this discussion may help me find answers to electrification even though the Morris is smaller and lighter the methods should be transferable.  Thanks for the info
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Like they say about the weather in Hawaii... If you don't like it, just wait a minute. The EV world changes very quickly, usually for the better. It's also tough to know which bits of data are fact, which are conjecture, fantasy, or propaganda. 

    I drive a Model S P100DL for work, it's an amazing car. It, and the Model 3, are about more than mpg-e bragging rights. It's a terrific car on many levels. It's got an amazing array of gadgets, but like Glowplug said, it is monitoring a lot of data and information. I generally think the M3 is easily worth its price, and if one has the means, I think the MS is as well.  I've never had so much fun in a car, not even a racecar and track day my wife rented for my birthday. The Teslas scoff the laws of physics. It corners like it's on rails, the acceleration is unreal, and that never gets old.

    I know my Hudson EV will become my favorite driver, though. It's already my favorite car that I've ever owned, and I have had some cool cars. 

    I'd only limped around the block once before it died completely, and has been waiting patiently for resurrection. Will it drive like a Tesla? No, doesn't need to. It'll look and feel like a Hudson, and drive like its own thing. 

    40Indians, it's a great time to convert a car. 25 years ago meant lead-acid batteries and would have probably been a disappointing system in such a small car. Range more than 20-30 miles probably would have meant lead weights far exceeding the car's capacity. Most people building or converting a car to electric usually try to find a small light car. That seems to make sense; the less weight you have to drag around, and the smaller hole you're trying to punch through the air, the better, and they seem to add to the efficiency factor. The only problem, is that smaller lighter cars have lower loading capacity, and have less space. Back in the day, everything was a lot heavier and larger. To build a car with respectable range usually added 1,000-2,000 pounds, far exceeding the safe load capacity of the little car. Nowadays, there are lighter smaller components. It's also feasible to convert larger vehicles than previously thought.

    There are a few ways to go; mostly salvage parts, new store-bought parts, and/or something in between. The most important thing you need to start out with is, your expectations.

    With any project, draw two triangles on a piece of paper. On the first one label each corner: Fast. Good. Cheap. Pick two... You almost certainly can't have all three. If you want Good & Cheap, it won't be Fast. If you want it Fast & Good, it won't be Cheap...etc.

    The second triangle is related to the first; label each corner: Time. Money. Skill. An abundance of any two of these will make up for the lack of the third... Example, if you have Time & Skill, you make up for a lack of Money, etc. If you only have one, you can probably still do it, but it's going to be triple-tough. If you have all three, it's going to be a lot easier.

    The cost of conversion is tied to two goals... Distance (range), and Performance (speed). Either one is doable, but trying to have them both is a lot more expensive and difficult by a magnitude. Safety is a huge factor, too. We're dealing with some mighty forces here, and they really need to be respected. In any project, electric or not, you've got to think about other people having to drive it, ride in it, work on it, or have to save you from it. Safety first.

    These questions will help you find a starting place... What are your goals/wishes? Drive like stock, but be electric? Faster than stock? How far do you want to go? How much do you want to spend? Look up a company called Zelectric. They specialize in restoring and converting Volkswagen Beetles. Super clean work, cars are immaculate, but they are expensive. I don't want to buy somebody else's conversion, I want to build my own. It's good for inspiration, though. They make their cars just a bit faster than original. And they concentrate on originality in the restorations. They've also been doing some other kinds of VWs, and lately they've gotten into old Porsche 911s and 912s. Your Morris is probably a bit lighter and smaller, but you'll at least be in the ballpark. Also, check out a site called EValbum.com It's a gallery website filled with people's projects...cars they've converted. You might just find another Morris there, and you can learn about what other people did that's good and not good. 

    And, there's at least one Hudson on there ;-)
  • BrianV53BrianV53 Posts: 20Member
    Here's an album I started on Google Photos... Let me know if you guys can see the photos here, and the descriptions of each picture.
  • charles4dcharles4d Posts: 528Expert Adviser
    edited February 28
    Go ahead Rock the boat    :)
  • ESSX28-1ESSX28-1 Posts: 1,373Senior Contributor
    fascinating, thanks for the pics
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,880Senior Contributor
    I think this whole exercise is great fun and will be interesting to watch.  However, that being said I am still far from sold on EVs, hybrids make a lot of sense, but all EV is not there yet regardless of the Tesla hype.  The battery technology, although a long way from 10 years ago or so, is still basically a chemical reaction waiting to happen, and it does not happen as well in cold weather as in warm or hot.  This country's aging power grid is one step away from collapse in many parts of the country.  I saw over the holidays Tesla and other EV drivers in CA in long lines waiting for a charge.  Yep, 20 min. for 80% charge.  When there are only a handful of EVs that is not a problem, but if you have hundreds that need 20 minutes, you can do the math.  Yes, I know "I charge at home" well not everyone is out of a short drive.  Now imagine a "charging" station with 50 individual chargers running at 480V our grid is not set up for it yet and if there is no improvement in the infrastructure how will that improve?

    EVs might get there, but ICE and hybrids are with us for some time to come.  Fuel cells are also in development, but also have a lot of drawbacks.  This country is loaded with NG and my feeling is that 10 years go a program to put that in place should have been a priority.  NG is not carbon neutral but it is a lot cleaner than gas or diesel.  

    BTW EVs use motors and ICE use engines.  Motors use power from an external source, engines use power created internally.  My shop teacher would reem us if we called a gas engine a motor.
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