Side Trip: Sparky Goes to 'Bama

I have been driving Sparky on a regular basis for several years and have enjoyed both the utility of the car and answering the numerous questions concerning electric cars.

About a month ago my wife and I were driving to the local coffee shop when we noticed a burning smell.  We immediately turned around and headed home.  I removed the seat, sniffed, looked for burnt wires, etc.  Nothing.  The next day I decided to drive Sparky again.  The results were the same - an acrid burning smell.  I drove home and lifted the seat.  Again, there were no burnt wires, melted plastic, etc.  Next I removed the dash and checked for heat damage.  Nothing.  At this point I was bamfoozled. 

My next step was to call Glen Stevens of Assembled Products Inc./EV Performance in Rogersville, Alabama.  In the past two years, Glen and his father, Michael, have supplied me with brake parts and lots of information on maintaining my C-Car.  Glen and I have lots of interests in common and it didn't take long for us to become friends.

By process of elimination we decided that the problem had to be in the electric motor.  Glen gave me a detailed tutorial on how to remove the inspection plates on the motor and check the brushes.  I jacked up the car, put it on jack stands, removed the plates, and checked the brushes.  They appeared to be fine.  Next Glen suggested that I remove the motor and send it to him.  At this point an idea started to germinate.  I hadn't done a road trip for a while and thought it might be nice to visit Glen and his family and see his operation at Assembled Products Inc.  While I was mulling this over, Roger, faithful friend and boatbuilding buddy dropped by the house.  The prospect of a road trip and getting away from painting his condo was enough to send him home to pack.  Alice gave her blessing to the project.

The rest was simple.  Glen said that he would be in his shop the following week.  We rented a U-Haul 5X9 Ramp Trailer, loaded Sparky, and headed north a couple of days later.

When we arrived in Rogersville we were greeted by Glen and his wife Kendra.  Within a few minutes we met Glen's dad, Michael.  It was sure nice to be able to put faces with voices that I had talked to for years.

Next we unloaded Sparky and took a test drive.  There was a really powerful burning smell in the cockpit, which Glen thought might be the coating covering the armature in the motor.  We wheeled Sparky into the shop for further diagnostics.  But before going to work on the car, we got a tour of the electronic assembly plant that Glen and his father own and run.

 This is the Assembled Products Inc. shop floor where electronic components are assembled.  It is a large, modern shop with all of the equipment and technicians needed to assemble virtually any electronic component.

This is Kim Herston, one of the technicians employed by API.  API specializes in designing and assembling electronic components and has prices that are competitive with the overseas market.  API is living testament to the fact that the United States can keep high tech jobs at home.

One of the first things that hits you when you leave the API assembly area and go into the C-Car shop is this brand new ComutaCar!  This car is in mint condition with only 1 mile on it.  Glen bought it from a collector who had it in storage for almost thirty years and never drove it once.

This is part of the rest of Glen's collection.  From what I could see, he had seven cars and lots of parts.

The first order of business was to get Sparky up on jack stands so that we could drop the motor.  Here Roger looks on as Glen jacks up the car. Glen and Roger in a deep discussion about the motor.  Glen had it out in 15 minutes.

Michael and Glen examine the motor for damage.

We didn't have time to run tests on the motor while we were there, but we left Sparky in good hands.  Glen is going to repair/replace the motor and give the car a general going over to include making sure all of my factory equipment and gauges are in good working order. 

That evening we were treated to a fine dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and were able to catch up on the many topics that we had discussed on our phone calls.

I can't say enough about the hospitality from Glen, Michael and Kendra at API.  .  If you own a C-Car and need actual "garage" type service, I highly recommend transporting your car to this top notch facility.

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