Category: Tech Speaking

TS (JanFeb14) - Double A Arm Lift Kits

By: Matt Vallez

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” lift kits. 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 & 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. Below are some pictures of the lift kits discussed above.

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 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 22×11x10(DS) & 23×10.5×12 (Precedent) the 6″ double A-arm kits allow up to 25×10.5×12 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, and part of “Your Complete Source”. 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 & 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 got you covered.

TS (NovDec13) - Yearly Maintenance

By: Matt Vallez

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 ‘er done” (as they say in the South) so those cars are ready for an early spring? Personally, I vote for the 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 tighting 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 (SepOct13) - Lyte-Lock Battery Covers

Reprint by: Matt Vallez

While your golf cart is charging, it may be sending you a message.

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 is 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 since your golf cart is most likely charged in your 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 has an alternative.

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 and pick up a set today.

TS (JulAug13) - AC Motor Drive 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:

Activation wiring harness

Power cables for the motor to controller connection

Inline fuse for power circuit

Contactor

Dash Display Meter

AC drive motor

Wiring diagramming instructions

Curtis AC motor controller (500 amp)

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 – the Nivel team has made it that easy. To learn more about AC conversions and the Nivel AC System Conversion Kit, contact your Nivel sales staff.

TS (MayJun13) - F&R Switches

By: Matt Vallez

This article first appeared in May/June, 2010 issue of Golf Car News magazine, it has been updated, fact checked and reprinted for this issue.

Over the last few years dealers have been “beefing-up” their electric golf cars. It started with a motor or field coil change, then the controllers. Then the motors started to get even larger, and this meant larger, higher amp controllers. It soon became necessary to have 4-gauge wire to put it all together so nothing would melt.

All these modifications allow, or require higher amperage to flow through the power wiring to the primary electric components. The problem is that one part is often overlooked during this “beefing-up” process, the F&R switch.

I was speaking to the brains behind EV Parts Inc. Roderick Wilde and discussing the interesting things he has done with electric cars, mostly for racing purposes, (go to: www.suckamps.com) to come up with a hot topic for this months article. He and I both agreed that the F&R switch is the most overlooked part when “beefing-up” an electric car. Although this is not as exciting as modifying an electric postal jeep to reach speeds of over 100 MPH, it is a hot topic, literally.

Cars are often modified with the stock F&R switch unchanged except to connect a smaller gauge or thicker power wires to them. This is unacceptable and will only cause problems somewhere down the line. A mechanical F&R switch has a hard enough job as it is. It is always “on” so to speak; current is always passing through it. Your F&R switch is a circuit between the controller and your motor, and they must be capable of the same amp load. Once the switch is shifted from one direction to the other, it first passes through a natural point, so as not to arc before reversing the polarity to the field coils. Otherwise the load is constant.

These switches were designed to handle the stock amps, not the new level. Think about it, you just installed a 500-amp controller, this means that if required, your controller will send 500-amps to the motor, and that means 500 amps right through your F&R switch. The original system is capable of handling about a 350-amp peak, if that.

There are two good solutions that I know of. The simplest and least expensive is to modify a stock F&R switch to handle the load. The weakest part of these switches is the buss bars. On an E-Z-GO switch they are between the contacts on the cam, or part that moves.

These buss bars are thin and not made to carry large amps. Just replace them with some 3/16 inch thick by ½ inch wide copper bar and you’re off to the races.

The second alternative is more complex and more expensive. It requires replacing the mechanical switch with two, six terminal solenoids and a three-position control switch. For the solenoids, use two Nivel #1165 for 36-volt or Nivel #1130, both of these are rated at 200-amp continuous and 600 amp peak. This will work for most applications. As this is a more complicated set up I have made up a diagram to help.

Next time you are making a “beefed-up” electric car remember the F&R Switch. Because your “beefed-up” electric car is only as good as its weakest part, so make sure that’s not the F&R switch. Nivel now manufactures a line of F&R switches for high amp applications. Ask your Nivel salesperson for more information.

TS (JanFeb13) - Solar Tops

By Matt Vallez

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 2012 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 260 watts or 33-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.

TS (NovDec12) - Chargers

By Matt Vallez

Upon returning to the garage where his golf car has been stored for several months, the owner plugs in his automatic charger and finds it will not come on.  He did not feel comfortable leaving it plugged in for the entire off season, but now the battery charger won’t come on. This is one of the most common problems with electric golf cars left sitting for several months without a charger connected to them. They appear to be dead; next a technician is called to check it out. The typical technician will check the car over and tell customers the batteries or the charger is the problem, transport the car back to the shop where they have a method of charging batteries that are under the critical 80% discharge level (70% nominal voltage level), and or checking the charger.

There are still many automatic chargers out there in use today that will not come on until there is at least 70% nominal charge voltage in the battery pack. That is how they were designed; this keeps them from working if there are major issues within the system. That is why they need to have a 70% nominal charge voltage to start; it was a designed safety feature. The nominal pack voltage of a 36 volt system fully charged is around 38 volts. A 48 volt battery pack fully charged would be around 52 volts. On the low end 70% (voltage) of a 36 volt pack would be close to 25 volts and a 48 volt pack at 70% (voltage) would be close to 33 volts.

The good news is that in the last five years charger technology has improved to the point where most automatic chargers only need to detect one or two volts to start a charge cycle. Also many chargers are now built with multi fail safe systems. Now if the relay fails the charger will not continue to run until unplugged as some older chargers did. The problem with wet cell lead acid batteries is they discharge at a rate of 4% per week. In higher temperatures the discharge rate is even quicker. That means 16% per month. If you do the math it will only take two months and you are below the 70% nominal voltage. Newer charger technology also allows maintenance charging for storage.

I will give you a couple of solutions to fix this problem, in order of expense. One, you can add a relay by-pass switch to an existing automatic charger (Ferro-resonant only) see attached diagram (DIAGRAM HERE). Two, you can take an existing manual (timer) charger 36 or 48 it makes no difference. Put a SB50 amp DC plug on the end. This will allow you to use with any Nivel modular DC cords we offer to fit any current DC receptacle, and a lot of old ones also. Connect the manual charger using the appropriate Nivel DC cord set and let the pack charge 2 or 3 hours which will allow pack voltage to rise to a level where the automatic timer will accept. Before completing the charge cycle, check battery cell water level and you should be good to go. A general rule of thumb is to charge the batteries every 30 to 45 days to prevent over discharging to start with. The final option is to switch to AGM batteries which have a slower self discharge rate of 1% per month. This way the car could sit for many months before needing additional help charging.

In any case I believe a good idea is to take an old manual charger and have it ready to use in these situations. A technician can put the manual charger on the car, go to lunch or another call and circle back to check on the progress. Most of the time that is all that is needed batteries are fine and so is the automatic charger. Good luck.

TS (SepOct12) - Lift Kits

By: Matt Vallez

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” lift kits. 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 and 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 & 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. Below are some pictures of the lift kits discussed above.


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 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 22×11x10 (DS) & 23×10.5×12 (Precedent) the 6″ Double A-arm kits allow up to 25×10.5×12 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, and part of “Your Complete Source”. 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 & 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 got you covered.

TS (JulAug12) - Accessories

By: Matt Vallez

This is a reprint of an article that original appeared in the Golf Car News Magazine May/June 2007 edition.

In this issue we are focusing on accessories for golf cars, so what exactly are golf car accessories? According to my Webster’s Dictionary, an accessory is any object or device that is not necessary in itself, but that adds to the beauty or usefulness of something else. How does this definition then apply to golf cars, and whose definition of beauty or usefulness should we go by? This article will attempt to define a golf car accessory in a more meaningful way, as well as discuss some of the trends and combinations of accessories that can increase the beauty and usefulness of any golf car.

Let’s first go back in history and review what our industry has considered an accessory. When I started in 1991, a top was considered an accessory. In order to sell the other two most popular accessories, windshields and enclosures, you had to sell a top first. After those big three, the next accessories were sheepskin seat covers, wheel covers, light kits (running lights), recycled tire floor mats, and rear seat kits or cargo boxes. That was about it; maybe if you add mirrors and club protectors, as well as a few golf related items such as coolers, sand bottles and ball holders you would have about ninety percent of the accessories available in the early 90’s. The next wave of accessories included premium aluminum wheels, flip flop seat kits, light kits (with turn signals and brake lights), high-amp controllers, high-speed gear sets, high speed or torque electric motors, carpet, and simulated wood grain plastic dash kits. Fast-forwarding to today and there are also GPS systems with monitors, tilt chrome steering columns, 23-inch tires set on 12-inch offset wheels, and independent front suspension lift kits. Today, you don’t have to ask the customer if his car even has a top; it came that way straight from the factory.

The definition of an accessory for a golf car is basically anything that is not necessary for the golf car to function properly. To decide on what is necessary would depend on how you plan to use your golf car. If you are hunting, then camouflage and a gun rack would be considered necessary. If you are using it as a form of transportation, as many living in retirement communities do, then lights and a state of charge meter would be necessary. In these cases, such items as the plastic wood grain dash might not be necessary. For simplicity sake, most golf cars start their life as striped down fleet cars. Anything added to this stripped down fleet golf car is, for our industries sake, an accessory. That would include motors, controllers and heavy-duty leaf springs; parts that are often considered “hard parts” or replacement parts. This is especially true when you replace a perfectly good part with a new one for the sole purpose of improving performance. That is a working definition of golf car accessories.

Certain accessories, if not combined with others, will actually decrease the cars usefulness rather than adding to it. For instance, if you add a lift kit and 23-inch tires set on 12-inch wheels to an otherwise stock electric golf car and want to climb hills, then you have decreased its effectiveness and thus shortened the life of the motor and controller. Or, if you install a high amp series controller and motor combination without 4 gauge power wires, a high amp solenoid, and beefed up F&R switch your customer will be back sooner rather than later and not in good spirits about it either. If someone installs a rear seat kit and intends to ride four adults, he will also need heavy-duty leaf springs. Certain things just go together. Like a lift kit with big tires and fender flares or custom paint, or premium upholstery and graphics with chromed aluminum wheels. There are many combinations available, but selling the complete package is both where the money is and where the customer satisfaction is.

Why do it half way? If someone comes in with an electric golf car and wants to haul dirt around his land that has a steep hill, you would be doing a disservice to sell the person only the steel box and call it a day. Instead, you offer him the other options that will finish the job. Such options may be plastic or aluminum boxes, and dump box mounting kits, or different top options, standard to 80 inches. In order to get up the steep hills on his land with a payload, a car might need heavy duty rear springs, a lift kit, a high torque motor and controller combination, or some heavy 4 gauge wire, beefed up F&R, and so on….

You won’t know until you bring it up. Even if the customer walks out with only a steel box, you have at least started him thinking about what else he can do to the golf car. If next week he decides the golf car is not climbing fast enough, he will come back and ask you about the motor and controller package you had discussed. So, the final definition of an accessory item is anything that you are able to convince a customer to add or replace on his golf car that is not required. The Nivel catalog has doubled the size of its accessory section for this reason. Make sure you know all of your options and relay them to your customer.

TS (May/Jun12) - Lyte-Lock Battery Covers

By: Matt Vallez

As I am sure you are aware, electric golf cars are powered by rechargeable, lead acid batteries.  These batteries are still the most economical way to power an electric golf car. Although other technologies are available, most likely in anyone’s lifetime that is old enough to read this article the lead acid battery will still is the power source for golf cars. That is just the way it is.

These batteries are by far the most popular battery used to power golf cars 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 cars 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 since your golf cart is most likely charged in your 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.

The bottom line is these batteries have some bad side effects, poisonous gas and sulfuric acid over flow, to mention just two.   These are problems we have all just have had to live with to have the benefits of cheap battery power. Nivel has come across a new product that takes care of some of these issues and makes living with lead acid batteries a lot easier prospect.

Lyte Lock is an easy to install battery cover, new to the golf car industry 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

The cover has an orange/yellow 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/yellow 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 almost time to replace the covers.

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.

Nivel now carries these little wonders that will make the side effects of owning lead acid batteries much easier to live with. Acid is a destructive but necessary force of nature, we all house some very destructive acid in our own stomachs. As long as the acid is contained and controlled it will not cause the damage we all have seen.  Find out for yourself and order a set, you will be glad you did.

Panorama theme by Themocracy