Friday, July 31, 2009


My sister in Santa Barbara was celebrating her 80th birthday on July 30th so we decided to push the limits on 030. The first stop was Bob Smith Mini in Calabasas, a 79 mile drive. We thought that by leaving home at 9:15 AM would avoid the heavy traffic. Wrong! After crawling along a good part of the way, we arrived at 11:25. The Mini dealership is on the left side of the building and I missed the first driveway ending up on the BMW side. I was sent to the left side and waited my turn. It took 20 minutes to get to the charger located at the exit to the shop. Three hours later they took it for a 15 minute wash job, which was also appreciated. I learned where the coffee machine is located (on the BMW side) and that there is no restaurant within walking distance (take a snack with you!).

We were on the road again for the 67 mile drive to The Inn at East Beach, 1029 Orilla Del Mar, close to the beach and Hotel Mar Monte. Linda said they have hosted electric cars before and that her co-manager and husband Frank could get me hooked up to 110 volts. Unfortunately Frank was out until 8 PM and I was out until 10:00. The problem was that the ideal plug-in was a GFI and it was triggered by the charger. Oh yes, I then remembered that problem! Frank allowed me to plug into a non-GFI receptacle that was 25 feet away. Fortunately I had brought a 12 gage extension cord that did the trick. Also I learned what happens when you do not reset the charge voltage to 110 volt! The charger flashes "Charging Fault" and then does not work when the correct voltage is set. That was solved by disconnecting the 110 volt supply plug before it will worked. So, 16:45 later it had climbed from 43% to 78% charge. Traveling to the 80th birthday took it back to 58%. In 11 hours was back up to 87%. When I called back to Frank he reminded me I had not really said "Thank you for the charge". Oops! I did it then and promised myself that next time I get a charge somewhere I would properly express my heartfelt appreciation.

Back at Calabasas again on the 31st it took 3 hours to charge from 25% to 98% plus another wash job. The staff at Bob Smith Mini were very friendly and helpful during both stops. Leaving for home at 2:30 we were hopeful the traffic would be better. Wrong again! It took 3 hours and the charge was 32% upon our arrival at home 74 miles later. Climbing the 2 1/2 mile hill south of Camarillo had taken the charge down 3% per mile instead of the normal 1%. But that leg averaged less than 1% per mile. Interesting---

The trip could not have been accomplished with less than 2 nights in Santa Barbara because of the slow charge on 110 volts, the delay in starting the initial charge, our need to use the car while there and the hours the service is open at Bob Smith Mini. Except for the traffic problems it was a great trip and I was pleased to have the time available and the opportunity to make this extended trip.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Ed Kim, David Fliegler, Keith Goldsmith, Roy Parsons, Joel Sheiner

Crevier Clasic cars had an open house today. Five of us Mini-e drivers ended up there together and it was fun to visit together and swap tips. For instance, Joel said that when his 005 showed the electric plug on his display with a "/" across it he learned that it was telling him he could not charge it. Fortunately he had enough juice left to get him to the dealer on his own. He dropped it off and in 4 days they had it repaired. Someone else said that the book shows that and other displays. Guess I missed that page---

The building was filled with beautiful cars, motorcycles, etc. I will post a couple as Gadgets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have tried several methods to automatically monitor how long it takes to charge each time. It looked simple, so I purchased a 110 volt DPDT (Double Throw Double Throw) relay and connected the normally off poles to one out terminal of the big relay that is thrown when the cable is connected to the car. I put the relay in a box with a a 110 volt socket. I plugged a non digital clock to that plug-in-spot and set the hands to 12:00. I plugged the cable into 030 and WHAM. The clock stated keeping time! I thought I had my problem solved. NOT! I went a few hours later and to my surprise the clock was still running! Oh oh. The cable was still connected and the green light was on, so the relay was still on. I checked all of terminals in the charger, but nothing turned off when the charger was done with its job.

Next, I looked in vain for a light sensing switch that triggers "on" with light. Sorry, they only sense dark, so I bought one of those. I put the sensor on the flashing yellow light and plugged in the clock, figuring that the clock would stop when the light flashes. Oh oh again. The clock does not use enough power to trigger the switch. I connected a light in the circuit. Too bad! The light would go off but the switch passed through enough current to keep the clock running even when my light was off.

The only possible way I can figure how to accomplish my goal is a suggestion to use a video camera on the flashing yellow light with the clock showing. By setting the clock at 12:00 & finding what the recording says when the light goes out I could have an accurate record of the time required. I have not yet set that up. But it appears that it uses about 6.5 KVA per hour of charging, just by checking the readings on the hour--

Monday, July 13, 2009


After standing in line at the Costa Mesa DMV I was told to take 030 to the Verification Lane behind the building. I did not need to stand in that line at all! After 20 minutes of waiting the inspector showed up, asked for my registration, checked the car (VIN, license plates, engine, etc.), signed the form 343 / 31 and sent me on my way in about 15 minutes! After photo copying the form, the letter I received (marked to note it is electric and not "compressed Natural Gas) and my registration form (marked to note that the "G" should have been an "E"), stuffed it all in with their supplied envelope with the original form and check and mailed it at the Post Office. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for a response---

A parcel showed up on my doorstep today from the MINI-E team. It was fun to open it to find a cap, log book, etc. My favorite is the keychain with 030 on it. I have stuck the dice on the antenna already. No, I have not left the keychain on the antenna!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I found out from Josh that if my registration card does not show an "E" under "MP", then I am not registered as a ZEV. Sure enough, mine shows "G" (Gas?), which is why my application for an HOV sticker was kicked back. Crevier will be checking up on this on Monday to see how it happened. Fortunately I have not had any occasion yet when I needed the sticker.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I applied for a Clean Air Sticker as soon as I took delivery of 030 on June 1st. Today I received back a response with my $8 check that said:

"A review of our records indicates that the "motive of power" (MOP) is gas and not "Compressed Natural Gas". In order to issue the "Clean Air Sticker" for your vehicle, it will be necessary for you to go into your local DMV and get a vehicle verification completed. Once we have received the vehicle verification indicating the MOP as "Compressed Natural Gas", we will issue you the sticker."

On the application I had checked the box ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle). Of course today is the new mandatory furlough day for CA State employees, so I have to wait until Monday to prove that I have a true ZEV!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


In January I checked on getting an environmental plate. At AAA they told me it would take 12 to 16 weeks, so I passed on doing it. I was anticipating getting the MINI-E in February for 1 year, so it did not seem logical to have the plate for only a few months. I then decided to check out the DMV website and decided to order GO MINI-E anyway. In less than a month I was notified the plates were in at the local Costa Mesa DMV office! I went there and asked if I could put them on the car when it was delivered. Oh no, I had to wait for it to "get into the DMV system" (4 to 6 weeks) and bring in the plates they sent me and exchange them. Also, the printed instructions said I had to have a notarized authorization from the lessor of the car. Three weeks after the June 1 delivery AAA told me that the plates had been assigned. I returned from a short trip on July 2nd and the plates and BMW letter were in my mailbox.So, finally on July 3rd I picked them up without any mention of the need for the BMW letter. As you can see I put a red dash between the I & the E. It is fun to have the plates on now! One more small step for mankind---


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today marks one month since I took delivery of 030. I have clocked about 30 miles a day average even while not driving it at all 12 of those days. So I actually averaged 50 miles every day I drove it.

What I have liked most is the performance and the quietness. Also, what most other Mini owners have mentioned is the ease of parking it is a definite plus. And of course it is fun to be one of a small group of "Pioneers". I am enjoying tracking the KVA's used per mile, etc. The "fuel" cost of about 10 cents per mile is phenomenal. Unfortunately, the lease, sales tax and registration costs adds about $1 more per mile! So much for the price of having fun----

On the negative side of course is the limited range. This is not a factor most days, but it sure would be nice if I could travel wherever I wanted to go and not be concerned with running out of "juice". The limited cargo space has been a potential problem at Costco too. The car has an abundance of options as to how it is programmed, but I have had problems learning how to set those up and how to know how to operate the sound system. I am known as a person that does well with technical complications so I wonder how a person that does not have that inclination will deal with those issues. Perhaps they will just drive like it is delivered and not concern themselves with such questions.

I like the idea that I am reducing pollution and I look forward to seeing the solutions to the limited range problems resolved soon.