About the project

Greetings and welcome to the blog of two teens on their quest for a gas free world.

After two years of being on a Skills Canada Robotics team for Resurrection Catholic Secondary School (not to mention winning the National competition in Saskatoon in 2007), Ian Hillier & Jamie Hobson needed another project to work on.

Now attending Conestoga College for Mechanical Systems Engineering (a combination of electrical and mechanical engineering), they have begun an ambitious, but hardly original project. Converting an old beater to electric.

Yes, electric cars have been around for decades – they just haven’t been allowed to hit the mainstream. Thousands of people have already converted old ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles to electric all around the world. So why hop on the bandwagon? Maybe it’s because it’ll still be years before the electric car hits mainstream, or maybe it’s just to save some money and the environment. Regardlessly, it’s going to be quite the project.

The idea was first conceived near the end of grade 12, where the teens threw together an electric scooter in an afternoon. It zipped along the hallways at school (to teacher and adminsitrations dismay) at speeds of up to 30km/h. Enjoying the thrill of making something they could ride, they thought of building an electric car from scratch. A few calls to insurance companies, and this idea was scrapped. It would be virtually impossible to get something like that “road-worthy” to Ontario Highway Enforcement Act standards. Reading up on electric cars, Jamie found out people had converted old gasoline powered cars to electric  – It was perfect. The idea was set. They still weren’t sure about insurance, but it would be much easier to get approved as a converted car with all safety features intact.

Over the summer the conversion was put on temporary hold as the two teens worked construction to make enough money to pay for tuition in the fall – and to help with the conversion costs of the car. Late summer they bought their first car. A 1998 Hyundai Tiburon. But after spending a few months fixing it up – including replacing the rear control arm (a crucial part of the cars suspension) due to the old one rusting off, they decided it would not be worth converting. Replacing the parking brakes, doing all the necessary body work and making it look new again, they were able to sell it – for just enough to break even for their costs of fixing. 60 hours of labour’s pay was merely the constant learning journey of taking things apart and putting them back together. They were happy enough with just getting their money back.

Posting an ad on kijiji for the donation of a small car, James O’Shaugnessy answered the call. He had a nice (so to say…) 1993 Honda Del sol. The body wasn’t in the greatest shape, but learning from the Tiburon they checked the frame. It was solid – not much rust. They bought it for $300 – a good price for a little car with a fairly big fan base.

Let the conversion begin!


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