Category: Tech Speaking

TS (SepOct15) - Ex-Ray

By: Matt Vallez

The other day I received a call from Systems Designer Tony Thorn, a friend and professional acquaintance who works at Alltrax. He was all excited about a new speedometer he had just developed and brought to market. Tony (who invented the thing) ought to be excited, but his excitement was unusually contagious because he really believes in what he has created. After talking about the new device, with Tony for about a half hour I wanted to put my hands on one and try it out myself. So a week later I received a small box delivered to my attention, there it was about the size of a smallish desk top calculator a speedometer for any electric vehicle with a nice big display that anyone’s grandmother could read without glasses.

But where the rubber hits the road is when you install the thing and see how it works. The next weekend I made off with the Nivel company golf car, destination the Vallez experimental garage, from which many bikes and skateboards have never returned and one old Land Rover remains on life support. Once there I got the thing out and read through the instructions. I decide it will be easy and jumped in with both feet; I’ll have this thing installed in no time flat. I was correct with the exception of some difficultly I had removing the decorative steering column cover, it had to go or be anchored so as not to rotate when the speedometer is mounted on it. It seemed easier to just remove it.

Other than that, the install was easy with excellent instructions, when I bothered to read them. There are also a lot of pictures that help with the most technical parts. Don’t be freaked out by all the parts you get either, they are for all applications so you only use some of what you see. I only used two clamps and two of the small brackets. Once all the cables are in place and the unit is powered up so the backlight comes on your in business. Now by measuring the height of the tire and multiplying by pi and then a conversion factor from inches to millimeters you have your calibration number. Calibrating the thing for your specific tire and wheel set up only requires a short run through the prompts and some other questions and the speedometer is all ready for action.

I get out on the road and bring the golf car up to speed and lo and behold, there was 18 displayed on the speedometer, I was impressed. It has many other features including an odometer, clock and a heat sensor for your electric or gas motor. There are more but I am almost out of time. This is a great new device and will become more and more popular as people continue to use golf cars for everything they previously used a car for. This LSV movement is really picking up momentum with the Stimulus money getting spread all around in the form of tax credits.

Allowing LSV’s “low speed vehicles” on public roads has not been without controversy since they do not meet all of the DHST or DOT safety requirements. Getting your LSV registered for on road will require certain safety features added or updated including seat belts, headlights, taillights, and AS-5 compliant windshields. Some states also require rear view mirrors, reflectors, and speedometers with non-resettable odometers. Many states treat a moving violation on a golf car the same as if you were in a regular car. This includes speeding, drunk driving and reckless driving just to mention a few. This new device won’t keep you sober, but it will tell you how fast you are traveling which hopefully will be enough to keep you out of the long arm of the law.

Nivel now has in stock the new EX-RAY Speedometer, so don’t take my word for it try one of these out for yourself. This is a nice new device that one day soon will become a standard on all golf cars.

This article originally ran November/December 2009.

TS (JulAug15) - Lift Kits

By: Matt Vallez
This article originally ran January/February 2014.

Today we will talk about lift kits, not just any lift kits but the new breed of lift kits known as the “Double A-Arm”. But first let’s go back in time to how this style of lift kit came to be. The first lift kits were simple axle lifts on E-Z-GO’s and “Z” bar lift kits used on Club Car (the one’s requiring the frames be cut in half). There were also many simple block lifts with U-bolts & blocks on both Yamaha and E-Z-GO golf cars sitting on many dealer lots around the country. Eventually we all became more sophisticated and Jake’s brought out the spindle lift kits for E-Z-GO, Club Car and Yamaha. This made installation a lot easier and you ended up with better results. A lifted car you could feel good about selling and with a solid modified suspension you felt good about selling to your grandmother.

Finally, the ultimate in lift kits came out just before the side-by-side UTV market took off. It is the long travel lift kit. These kits were a complete re-engineering of the front suspension, to be a true independent front suspension. These were most popular before the Razor and Rhino were available, these kits allowed golf cars to be used as dune buggies and for other off road purposes no one had tried before. The Double A-Arm kits are the little cousin to the long travel lift kits for golf cars. They have many similarities to the long travel kits without the cost.

The Double A-Arm design provides a rugged off-road, long travel look without the cost of a true long travel suspension. The double front leaf springs provide a more heavy duty suspension than the stock single leaf spring. This spring also provides a more stable ride. In addition the Double A-Arm design is not as wide as the spindle kit which allows for a tighter turning radius allowing you to maneuver the car better in tight areas. If you are starting with a car with well-worn suspension components the Double A-Arm lift kit is a better choice than a spindle lift because these kits come with new leaf springs, new upper and lower A-Arms, new spindles and all the bushings, basically replacing all worn out front suspension components. These are just a few things worth noting when considering a Double A-Arm kit over other types of lift kits.

Another consideration for these Double A-Arm kits is the reason we put lift kits on golf cars in the first place. The number one reason to lift a golf car is to fit that premium set of tires and wheels on the thing. The design of the sub-frame extends the wheelbase allowing for larger wheels/tires than the spindle kit. Where the 3″ spindle kits allow a 20 x 10 x 10 wheel/tire the 4″ Double A-Arm kits allow up to 23 x 10.5 x 12 wheel/tire. Where the 6″ spindle kit allows up to 22 x 11 x 10 (DS) & 23 x 10.5 x 12 (Precedent) the 6″ Double A-Arm kits allow up to 25 x 10.5 x 12 wheels/tires. In addition the upper and lower A-Arms use heim ends which allows the camber to be adjusted. This is very important with the different style wheels having different offsets. The adjustability of the A-Arms will allow the customer to achieve the alignment they desire.

Now that we are aware of the differences between Double A-Arm kits and other styles of lift kits, there is one more important point to make. Not all Double A-Arm kits are created equal. The Jake’s Double A-Arm kits come with the same Jake’s quality you have come to expect from Jake’s, a Nivel company. The spindles in a Jake’s Double A-Arm kit come with extra support gussets making them the strongest Double A-Arm kits available. So once again Nivel and Jake’s have what you need in the lift kit department covered. We have the spindle lifts with the ease of installation and now the best Double A-Arms on the market when you are looking for something with improved suspension and adjustability. We’ve got you covered.

TS (MayJun15) - AC Systems

By: Matt Vallez

Over the last several years we have seen the increased use of AC systems in golf cars. The most telling development has been E-Z-GO installing an AC system as standard on their RXV golf car. In past articles I have highlighted an AC system for golf cars and discussed its advantages. Well, it is here to stay and there are some big improvements. Whether golf cars are your profitable business, your dependable local transport or your enthusiastic hobby, you want the best performance you can get. With AC induction motor technology, you can get more, much more. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy the newest generation golf cars that come straight from the manufacturer with today’s latest AC motor/controller systems installed. Instead, get one of the new AC Conversion Kits that let you upgrade your existing car, and get the most out of your vehicle investment.

What’s the AC Advantage?

Just a few years back, AC motor drive systems were the new frontier in EV technology, building on a progression of Series and SepEx® motors. Today, they’ve been proven – in every usage application and environment – to deliver more performance and programming than DC generations past and present. The advantages are considerable:

Efficiency: When correctly configured, AC systems do a better job of converting electrical to mechanical energy.

Speed: Not only can an AC system achieve higher speed, it also has better power characteristics at higher speeds.

Maintenance: AC’s brushless technology puts a lot less wear and tear on the motor, thus requiring less maintenance.

Simplicity: Construction of the AC motor is much simpler, another maintenance plus.

For many fans of AC EV technology, drive quality is the overriding factor. If you’ve ever driven an AC golf car, you can’t help but notice the exceptional difference. The system is more controllable, accelerates more smoothly, transitions forward to reverse more smoothly, and overall delivers more feeling of control with less drag.

The power issue is also significant: high efficiency translates to longer battery life so the golf car goes further on the charge. And with the improved torque of today’s AC systems, these cars become faster and more rugged. They can actually be modified for all-terrain use, to go up hill and through rocky terrain. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts take note … there is definitely an increase in torque.

One more point – an uncommon occurrence but still an important advantage: In the rare event of a failure, an AC system failure mode brings vehicle safely to a stop.

Package Deal: AC Conversion Kit Contents:

Nivel Parts LLC has a new AC System Conversion Kit on the market that has everything you need to successfully implement a conversion. The comprehensive kit includes these components:

• Curtis 1236, 450 amp AC motor controller

• Advanced Motors & Drives 3.2kw AC motor

• Full car logic wiring harness

• 2 gauge motor, controller, and battery cables

• Inline 450 amp fuse

• Inline fuse holder

• Curtis / Albright SW180 Contactor (solenoid)

• Curtis Dash Display

• Turf / Street switch

• Forward / Reverse switch

• Wiring diagram& instructions

• Hardware kit

Nivel created this kit after observing how long a well-kept golf car can stay in circulation. “It’s not hard to keep the body in good condition, especially since most golf cars are not out in severe weather,” says Roger Kramer, an Engineering Manager at Nivel. “The chassis often remains in great condition even as the motor and drive system become outdated. We started thinking what we could do for our customers who want improved performance but can’t see their way clear to replacing a good, solid vehicle. This way, they don’t have to replace the whole vehicle – they can get a new high-performance electric golf car for the cost of the kit.”

Conversion 101: The Process:

You don’t need a tutorial and you don’t need to be an engineer to successfully complete a conversion; if you’re at all mechanical and like to tinker with a golf car’s “inner life”, you can handle it yourself. “I designed this kit to include all the pieces and to be plug & play,” says Tim DeWitt. To learn more about AC conversions and the Nivel AC System Conversion Kit, contact your Nivel sales staff.

TS (MarApr15) - AGM Batteries

By: Matt Vallez

AGM BATTERIES EXPLAINED

This article first appeared in the Mar/Apr 2010 Golf Car News Magazine, It has been updated and fact checked for this re-release.

Battery geeks have long heralded the coming of new battery technology, to all including the golf car industry for years, 22 last I counted. During this whole time the wet cell lead-acid battery has been the mainstay of all golf car manufacturers, and is currently the main battery available by the big three golf car manufactures in the electric cars they make (there are now AMG options) That is about to change, there is a new challenger to the dominance of the wet cell lead acid battery and it is for real this time not just hype. The battery type is AGM or (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries, and they are being used in production golf car vehicles by some of the lesser known manufacturers and optional equipment for the big three.

These AGM batteries are sealed lead-acid batteries, also referred to as VRLA (Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid) batteries. They are similar to conventional wet lead-acid batteries however the electrolyte/acid is absorbed in a fiberglass material rather than in liquid form, hence the name glass-mat. Another key difference is that AGM batteries are sealed, so that the gasses produced during charging and discharging operations are recombined and remain within the battery rather than being released into the atmosphere. The sealed construction means there is no water loss in AGM batteries – therefore no maintenance.

This is the most important difference between the two types of batteries. AGM batteries are like wet lead-acid batteries on steroids without the water maintenance issues. All the water related problems for normal lead-acid batteries are eliminated. That also eliminates most maintenance and most common causes of premature failure related to wet lead acid batteries. This leaves a battery that can do the job without the maintenance and problems associated with wet lead-acid batteries.

The charging of any battery is another potential problem area and it exists for all batteries, overcharging has ruined many a good set of batteries. Charging needs to be done at a rate that will not damage the battery and long enough to adequately charge the batteries. Each battery has its own algorithm. A batteries algorithm basically is the rate and duration at which it should be charged for optimum performance. AGM batteries have an aggressive algorithm most similar to wet lead-acid batteries. So in many cases the same charger used for wet lead-acid batteries will perform well for an AGM battery. Gel batteries, sometimes called sealed batteries have much different charging requirements. They usually require different chargers or chargers that have a dual setting, one being for gel batteries. It only takes one over charging of a gel battery and the output permanently reduced. Wet lead-acid and AGM batteries are also not meant to be overcharged but are not as sensitive as gel batteries to the event.

Other interesting facts about AGM batteries: Shock and vibration resistant, little self-discharge per month only 1%, can be installed and operated upright or on its side, certified safe for land, sea or air transport by DOT, IATA, IMDG, ICAO. That is to list a few. These batteries are here now and have become a viable alternative option for wet lead-acid batteries. They are more expensive to begin with, so currently the most common use is for AGM batteries are applications where performance is more important than economy. As these batteries gain popularity, they are a serious rival to the status quo, wet lead-acid battery.

I want to thank the people at Fullriver Battery Company for contributing to this article.

TS (JanFeb15) - Custom Golf Cars

By: Matt Vallez

In this issue, we’re showing off the top submissions for the Most Exotic Golf Car contest. I love this competition, and most of the entries we received were excellent. But you might be wondering exactly what makes a golf cart exotic. Does it need a custom paint job or big tires and wheels? Is it elongated with extra seats for more passengers? Obviously, I have a few of my own ideas about what makes a golf car exotic and if you read on, so will you.

It starts with the guts – what’s under the hood. We’ve all probably heard the famous description of anything modified as being “all show and no go.” Why would anyone want to spend the extra money and effort on a golf car just to have average performance? We’ll start with electric models. To be truly exotic, an electric golf car needs to have something more than the regular 36V or 48V motor/controller system. It needs an upgrade, and the best of the best have increased voltage. Sure, you may have problems charging higher-voltage batteries, but that’s part of the charm of owning an exotic car.

If it’s a gas car, it needs to have more than the stock clutches and muffler set-up. For you motorheads out there, change the clutch to a high-torque driven clutch to improve the engine revs out of the hole. Then let the motor breathe a little with a tuned header and K&N-style air filter. Take it a step further and bore out the engine, dome the head and re-jet the carburetor. That’s about as far as you can go with a stock engine. If you want to go further, you need to swap the engine for something with more horsepower. Remember, if you’re building an exotic golf car, money is no object!

Next we need to address the suspension, because a stock suspension will not do for an exotic. You want to make a statement, and this requires a lift of at least three inches or more (if nothing else, a three-inch lift will allow room for slightly oversized tires). If you feel the need to lift the car more than eight inches, I recommend doing so only when putting grossly oversized tires on the beast. I have seen some of these monsters in person and they make a jaw-dropping impression. The golf car becomes more of a show piece because the size and weight of the tires and wheels max out the tolerances of all the other steering and drive components. Granted, practicality is not the goal of an exotic car, but there’s a delicate balance between function and flair. Your car becomes a lot less different and cool if it breaks the steering gears or tie rods every time you take it out of the showroom.

Extended length is a new trend in exotic cars. Owners want to bring along more of their friends for the ride, so many models now have seating for six people. When I started in this industry, six- and eight-passenger cars were commonly used around churches or resorts with large parking lots. This year’s exotic golf car submissions included five entries with seating for six or more people! Plus, all but one featured custom work that rivaled anything done on a smaller golf car. They really are quite impressive.

A final word of warning and safety, because it’s important: any modified golf car that’s set up to carry four or more people should have upgraded brakes for obvious reasons. If you’re modifying a golf car by elongating it, do it right. If the fabrication work is poor, the car will be dangerous when fully loaded. It is worth the extra work to make sure the final result is structurally sound. Anything less could be a death trap.

So what do you think about exotic golf cars? Ready to create one of your own? These cars are a passion of mine, and judging by the hard work we saw in the submissions this year, they are for many of you as well. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next time!

TS (NovDec14) - EVs

By: Matt Vallez

There is a brand new car in my driveway. It has no gas tank or exhaust pipe, and I drive it to work on the freeway every day since I brought it home. Unfortunately, for my wallet, it was not manufactured in Augusta or Newnan Georgia. However, there will be more than just golf cars that the big three golf car manufactures will be manufacturing in the future and some already are. The car I am talking about is a Nissan Leaf, 100% electric car with no gas engine; complete with a charger that resembles an oversized laptop brick charger. Testing it on the open road, I have had it up to 95 miles per hour. It has impressive speed going from 0 to 60. While it’s not the same feeling of power from 60 to 90, never the less it is quick by any standard. By far, it is the quietest car I have ever owned, or driven before. The electric motor noise is barely detectable at takeoff or when rapidly decelerating. Most of the time you can’t hear a thing. My ultimate goal was to see if I could make something like this a viable option for my commute to and from work because I have a 40-plus mile commute each day. Even with the limits of the current electric car, only 90 miles per charge, so far so good. Being a bit of a skeptic, I have to admit, I am not “all in” on the purported benefits of electric technology so the car is a leased vehicle.

Regardless, I took the plunge and got one. This got me thinking; if I can use this type of car to travel 23 miles each day to work, one way, who else might be doing this too? My bet is a lot of people. With the price of gas where it is now my commute in a traditional-style automobile was costing me around $300 a month in gas alone. With this in mind, I set out to find an electric vehicle. During my search I discovered there are many choices of electric cars for lease, mostly on the west coast at this point, averaging between $179 and $250 a month with a $2500 down payment. Almost every manufacture now has a model available in their line that is fully electric. As an incentive to buy or lease our government is offering a $7,500 instant credit as part of any deal. Even with these enticements it is still a roll of the dice. I had a lot of questions, like; will I have to do something with the battery pack before I turn this in? How much will my monthly utility bill go up? Whether this works for me or not, only time will tell on these important aspects of the economics of this type of transportation.

The important question for most is how far this goes, as a trickle-down effect. Prior to the last few years an electric car replacing a gas-powered one was only happening in a few communities around the US, such as Sun City, AZ, Villages, FL and Peach Tree City, GA. Having large retirement populations, these areas are known for couples moving in and replacing at least one of their two gas automobiles with an electric golf car. In some cases a gas golf car is purchased, but let’s stick with the electric example so we don’t muddy the waters. Many cars purchased are just stock golf cars with an enclosure and set of lights. Other cars come from one of the big three golf car manufactures and have settings for 25 mph or 15 mph. My personal favorites are the electric fleet golf cars that have been modified to go 35 miles per hour and beyond. The point is they are cars mostly manufactured in Augusta or Newnan replacing something made in Detroit, or Japan.

Lucky for us, we now have a lot of electric options, from the Tesla model S to a stock electric golf car. I did not use a brand name here for obvious reasons… okay MELEX. Now when a consumer decides he or she wants an electric vehicle as part of their own personal fleet of cars, they can buy any number of different options, provided it will get the job done. At present, I could not make my 23-mile commute that includes highway travel in an electric E-Z-GO. However, let’s say I was a lifeguard living at the beach, and I only needed to travel a few miles per day, an E-Z-GO would be a viable option. Laws are changing fast across the country; LSV’s are popping up everywhere, in beach communities, subdivisions and other neighborhoods with low-speed areas. Places where the weather is warmer most of the year are quickly allowing LSV’s, NEV’s and the like on their streets. Recognizing trends like these, E-Z-GO has been manufacturing a hybrid golf car for a while. The Freedom RXV featuring Exceed™ Hybrid Technology is just one example of a golf car vehicle that “fills the gap” between an automobile and a golf car. This begs the question, what is next? Are the movers and shakers in Augusta and Newnan going to be able to fill in more of the gaps with road-ready vehicles that replace our gas-powered automobiles, or will companies like Nissan, Toyota and Ford be the ones doing that? If so, will the government allow us to ride around in golf cars without roll protection and air bags? What regulations might be on the horizon for the use of more convenient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation on our roads? Whatever the answers are, it seems clear the future of electric-powered vehicles is brighter than ever. The only question that remains is who is going to lead us into the future of electric travel?

TS (Sep/Oct14) - Fleet Maintenance

By: Matt Vallez

This article was originally published in the Golf Car News Nov / Dec 2008 issue, it has been fact checked and updated as needed.

If you own or maintain a fleet of gas golf cars, you have two key times for yearly maintenance: spring or fall. At the end of the season, do you procrastinate until next year, or do you “get ‘err done” (as they say in the South) so those cars are ready for an early spring? Personally, I prefer an early spring start. So let’s see what it takes to prepare a gas fleet for a long winter’s nap. You electric-only guys can still read on and apply what fits.

The first thing before storing a golf car – or any piece of equipment, for that matter – is to give it a thorough cleaning. Any mud, dirt, or grime left on the car will only be more difficult to remove later. Also, it’s much easier to properly inspect and work on a clean vehicle. When you’re finished cleaning the outside of the car, pick up the seat and spray the battery so it’s free of corrosion. If water alone can’t do the job, mix some baking soda and water together – about one box of baking soda to a gallon of water. Lightly brush the outside of the battery with the paste. Rinse with water and dry. While you have the seat up, check connecting wires to and from the battery, making sure that cables are tight and in good shape. This is also a good time to cover the battery terminals with a protective coating. I prefer the anti-corrosion felt washers that go over the battery posts. Nivel #3118 are the correct size for gas golf car batteries.

Before you move on, park your golf cart in the area where it will be spending the winter – otherwise, you will be pushing it into place later! Drain the fuel from all parts and plumbing between the fuel tank and the carburetor. This prevents gas from breaking down and gumming up the small parts in the carburetor and/or the fuel pump. If the car is equipped with a shut-off valve, turn it off. If no shut-off valve is present, disconnect fuel line from the fuel tank, then run the engine until it quits – this will drain most fuel out of the system. Drain the remaining fuel out of carburetor bowl by loosening the bottom screw or bolt. Finally, seal the fuel tank so no air can get in. Start by tightening the cap. If you can’t get a good seal, replace the gasket or the entire cap. Next, use a golf tee with some duct tape to seal the vent tube. Just be sure to use a fresh wooden golf tee. While you are in the proximity, replace the fuel filter. This will also allow any leftover fuel to escape.

This is the proper time to do a complete tune-up. Remember, if you don’t do the tune-up now, you’ll have to do it in the spring. Spring may come early and you could be caught off-guard, so I highly recommend you do the tune-up in the fall. Start by replacing the fuel filter and air filter. Then clean or replace the oil filter and remove the old spark plug. Pour a half-ounce of oil into the spark plug hole, as this will keep the cylinder from rust or corrosion. Install a new spark plug. Check your oil, change it as needed, and check all other fluids and lubricate as required.

Next, disconnect the battery cables. This will help prevent a myriad of problems from occurring – after all, you can’t have an electrical problem if the electricity is not connected. Also, air up the tires to the proper tire pressure, as this will help your tires maintain their shape. Lastly, do not lock the parking brake. If you lock the brake and leave the golf car sitting for an extended period, the cable will stretch. Instead, use a 2 x 4 to chock at least two of the wheels. This will prevent the car from going anywhere.

Now that your maintenance is finished, you can rest assured that you’ll only have a little work to do on each of these winterized gas golf cars when the season begins next year. Just sit back, relax with a beverage of your choice, and grab some reading material – perhaps a Nivel parts catalog? Regardless, enjoy your off-season!

TS (Jul/Aug14) - Lyte-Lock Battery Covers

By: Matt Vallez

This originally appeared in May 2012 Golf Car News Magazine and has been fact checked and up dated for this issue

As I am sure you are aware, electric golf carts are powered by rechargeable, lead acid batteries. These deep cycle batteries are designed to give the cart a steady discharge of power over a long period of time as compared to a short-term high amperage discharge used for cranking with automotive batteries. Different golf carts use between 36-72 volts as a power supply by using 6 volt, 8 volt or 12 volt batteries.

By far the most popular battery used to power golf carts are vented, wet cell, lead-acid batteries, sometimes called flooded or traction batteries. Other options are also available; mainly AGM (absorbed glass mat) or gel batteries. The reason the vast majority of golf carts use wet cell batteries are the price. AGM or gel batteries can be 2.5 to 3 times the price of a similar wet cell option. The major golf cart manufacturers use wet cell batteries for most of their markets, although they generally provide AGM or gel cells as an option. AGM and gel batteries are also known as ‘maintenance free’ batteries. This is due to the fact that checking and maintaining water levels is unnecessary. All three battery types do an excellent job delivering power and have similar run time capabilities.

So what is the down side of using the more economical wet cell batteries? There are a couple of things to consider. First, wet cell batteries require regular maintenance mostly in the form of maintaining the water level inside the battery. Second, these batteries are vented for a reason. During the charging cycle, hydrogen and oxygen gases are created and must be discharged into the atmosphere. If not released, the battery case would rupture due to the increased pressure. If you look, you can see the holes located on the vent caps. Unfortunately, water containing sulfuric acid (battery acid) can also be released through these same holes if the water level is not maintained properly or if the battery is overcharged.

The result - The water/battery acid discharge will permanently damage most flooring. This may not be an issue in a cart barn at your local golf course, but a personal golf cart is most likely charged in someone’s garage…well, see for yourself. At this point, the concrete itself has been damaged, so cleaning it will not be an option. Left unchecked, sulfuric acid has been known to eat completely through concrete exposing the dirt underneath.

Lyte-Lock is an easy to install battery cover that absorbs and neutralizes battery acid at the source. Lyte-Lock covers are available to fit most 6v, 8v, and 12v vented, lead-acid batteries. To install, simply remove the vent cap, place the appropriate fitted cover around the vent holes (label/white side facing up), and then replace the cap. That’s it. It is not necessary to remove the batteries or terminal cables. Installation only takes a couple of minutes. Please refer to the safety instructions on the part and listed at www.Lyte-Lock.com before you begin.

The cover has an orange strip across the top which will change to red as its neutralizing potential diminishes. The average life expectancy of the Lyte-Lock cover is 6 months to a year, but this can vary between the individual batteries.

How does it work? Once acid drips on the Lyte-Lock cover either through the vent holes or from around the O-ring, it is absorbed into the glass matrix and distributed across the surface of the cover. The chemical reaction that neutralizes the battery acid creates water, salt and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide dissipates in the air, the water evaporates, and the salt is contained inside the Lyte-Lock cover. Since battery acid that comes into contact with the terminals can also cause them to corrode, Lyte-Lock covers can minimize this issue as well.

Every couple of months, you should check the water level in your batteries. Make sure to reference the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and safety guidelines. This is a good time to make note of the orange indicator strip on the cover. Generally, each battery will vent at different rates, so you may notice that your set of Lyte-Lock covers will not all have the same amount of wear. Once the strip changes to red, it is time to replace the covers. Simply remove the cover and discard. Gloves and safety glasses are recommended any time you work with lead acid batteries.

When the time comes to replace your batteries, you will also notice a difference. It is not uncommon for acid and corrosion to build up around the base of the batteries and on the battery racks. Often, this corrosion has to be removed with a hammer and chisel in order to properly seat the new batteries. This should no longer be an issue if you have been using Lyte-Lock.

Lyte-Lock is simple and safe. Don’t let battery acid leave its mark on your investment. Visit www.nivelparts.com or call 1-800-959-0852 and order a set today.

TS (MayJun14) - Remanufacturing vs replacing

By: Matt Vallez

In this time of “all green is good” remanufacturing is the new recycling. Saving anything from going into the landfill is now chic, and what used to be considered the cheap way to go is now the environmentally friendly approach. Fixing things is now in style and has always been a good alternative in certain situations. So before you decide to just chuck it into the dumpster you need to see if it can be fixed and returned to service, after all it is the environmentally friendly approach, and you are now considered progressive and green for recycling, not just a cheapskate.

When it comes to golf cars, remanufacturing has been a viable alternative for many years. There once was a time in the mid to late 1990s when electric cars had motors that could not be rebuilt. These were not green times and it was troubling for remanufactures because the motors were made in such a way that in some cases remanufacturing was not possible. The fields were built into the body of the motor and left no room for error or damage, once the fields were damaged the motor was junk. Remanufacturing was not always an option for that generation of electric golf car motors.

For gas golf cars remanufacturing was a necessary evil because in the 80s and early 90s most had 2 cycle engines that required an annual overhaul or remanufacturing. This had more to do with the 2 cycle power plant and the lack of horsepower designed into the vehicle. What made it worse was the gas golf cars were used on difficult terrain, as only gas cars were capable of climbing steep hills and would not freewheel down the other side. At that time the electric cars were just not up to the task.

That all changed quickly as the OEM manufactures made the move to less maintenance intensive 4 cycle gas engines. The new engines could run for years with very few maintenance issues. This gave the owners of the new 4 cycle gas engine cars a false sense of invincibility. The “maintenance free” gas golf cars, as compared to a 2 cycle, however still required maintenance but would run longer and better than a 2 cycle without any. They then ended up a basket case after several years of so called “maintenance free” service. For many, by the time the engine quit they considered it a throwaway. Not something to be remanufactured or even repaired.

Now Obama is President, there are electric cars that will go over 100MPH (www.trslamotors.com) and we all have two garbage cans, one for trash and one for the recyclables. We also must look at the economic alternative of remanufacturing (AKA recycling) vs replacing. Remanufacturing can be less expensive than replacing a gas engine or an electric motor. The problem with a lot of remanufacturing or repairing is that you may end up with a product not as good as the manufacturer’s original equipment.

This is where the experts come into play. Having a qualified remanufacturer with the correct tools and expertise makes the difference between a motor being “repaired” or being “remanufactured”. The difference is the process. Repairing a motor is when the failure is identified and corrective action is taken to address the failure so that after the repair is completed the motor works again. On the other hand, remanufacturing a motor is when there may or may not have been a failure in the first place. The motor is taken apart, as if to be repaired, but instead of just addressing an obvious issue, all items that could cause a problem in the future are addressed unless replacing that item would not make economic sense. For instance a gas engine gets all new seals, bearings and gaskets, pistons and rings. The crankshaft is only replaced if the original one is not useable. The main difference is that during a true remanufacturing process everything that could go wrong is assessed and addressed, not just the most obvious issue. The end product can then be considered to be “remanufactured” not just “repaired”.

Nivel now has two powerful remanufacturing operations. Luna Industries in Tucson, Arizona for all low voltage DC electric motors for golf cars, fork lifts, pumps and other applications. And Jake’s in Lewiston, Pennsylvania for all gas engines for golf cars. In both cases we have professionals with many years of experience and the latest equipment standing by ready to assess your remanufacturing project. Ask your Nivel salesperson for more information or call the locations direct. Luna 520-792-3080 Jake’s 866-405-2537.

TS (MarApr14) - Solar Cars

By: Matt Vallez

This article was originally published in Golf Car News Magazine January issue 2012. It has been fact checked and updated for this publication.

Solar and golf cars have been paired together since the early 1990’s, the problem has always been they have not worked well together. They seem like a natural; an electric golf car and sun to recharge the battery system like a match made in heaven. The honeymoon is soon over when the reality sets in that most solar tops do not return enough juice back to the system to justify their existence, let alone the expense.

The solar panels are all similar with claims of collected watts ranging from 150 to 300 and surface voltage of 25-35 volts. These are the numbers hot off the panel. The problem has always been getting the numbers off the panel into the batteries, which are the tricky part. How do you do that and not loose precious energy by converting it into a battery charge. That has been the problem all along with solar as a recharging source it is just not efficient enough.

Well it is now 2014 and solar is popular for a variety of different uses including around the house. The price of the solar panels keeps coming down and the technology keeps getting better. A company from Canada, by the name of Unconquered Sun with experience in the consumer market, household solar. These guys at Unconquered Sun have developed a solar top for a golf car that works. It actually takes 250 watts or 35-volts @ 8 amps and on it way to the batteries is converted to 56.6 volts @ 8 amps. They cracked the code to solar on golf cars by developing advanced propriety technology to boost battery-bound power to the 56.6 volts @8 amps. This level of charge is approaching that of a conventional electric charger, the kind you plug into the wall.

At Nivel we have looked at many solar tops and panels and have not been impressed by any of them. This is the first one that works better than just a trickle charge. In fact this technology is currently in use by the NASA Marshall Exchange and its intramural sports league. They created what is believed to be the worlds first Solar Gator Groomer. It has eight six volt batteries that power the Gators 48-volt DC power train. It is paired with an infield groomer towed behind. The application works great because the vehicle only requires intermittent use; it is a perfect match for the solar top, since a few hours of sunshine easily replenish the power used by the Gator each day.

The bottom line is this is a solar product that actually puts back enough energy to justify having it on the golf car. Now will this replace your electric charger, probably not, unless you only use the vehicle occasionally! Will it lower your electric requirement and charge time and extend battery life. The answer is yes. Now the big question is how much is that worth to you to have less charge time or lower electric requirements. Thanks to the guys at Unconquered Sun the debate about solar is not if it works but is the return on investment enough. If you want to try the latest solar top technology it is now available from Nivel Parts. Update from original the price has dropped, call your Nivel salesperson and find out how affordable it is now.

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