Why I’m doing this… A Tribute to my Dad

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I’ve been AWOL lately, and I’m sorry, but, and much as I don’t like to talk about my personal life publicly I wanted to share this.  My father passed away last month, and he was a big reason I’m doing all this.  He taught me how to use tools, how to solder, how to handle electricity, but, more importantly, how to learn.

My favorite story about him was after my first crash on the street on my motorcycle.  I was basically OK, and the bike was scratched up a bit, and I was expecting the lecture.  He looked at me, and looked at the bike, and said “If you don’t learn something from that, there’s not much I say that will teach you anything.”  He was the best kind of teacher and mentor.  He taught me how to learn, and trusted that I’d find my own way.  Little did we know, that “way” would lead me to learning how to build an electric motorcycle, but he wasn’t particularly surprised.

So here’s a post that I wrote back in 2010 about why I was in neck-deep in this EV stuff, and it reaches all the way back to 1967 and the car my Dad brought home for the weekend – a Renault Mars II.

Thanks, Dad.

In 1967 or so, my Dad was working for Mass. Electric, and there was a Home Show in Worcester. There they had an electric car. It was a modified Renault, and he got to bring it home for the weekend after the show. He gave us all a ride in it, and it was, to my 11-year old mind, an obvious solution to the internal combustion engine. (One of the things that amazed me was the fact that when you stop, the motor is off. I think of that today, when I’m idling on my bike in traffic…)

My Dad said that the problem was the batteries- the weight of the lead-acid. He said that it was “up to your generation to develop a brand-new battery technology”. 40 years later, we are finally on the brink of that breakthrough, and as hollow as it may sound, I’m proud to be part of the generation that has, in fact, done exactly that.

The preconceptions against electric vehicle are based one basic notion- that they have a limited range. The facts are that most electric vehicles fall within the average daily range of most commuters and something like 90% of vehicle use- 30 miles. People think they need a 100 mile range for a commuting vehicle. They generally do not. They think an electric vehicle won’t get them where they need to go, without a gas motor to augment the batteries. That’s just wrong, in most cases. Besides that, the perception is that an electric vehicle is simply incapable of more range.

I’m building an electric motorcycle to show how simple the technology is. I’m not an engineer. I’m not a mechanic, yet the system is so inherently simple I can assemble one out of readily available parts. The batteries are here, now, and so are electric vehicles.

…and here to stay!

If you’d like to read more about him, go here.

Also, I’ve been going through all the family papers, naturally, and found some great records of my Grandfather’s work with high-tension, high-voltage transmission, which he helped develop.  Here are a couple of papers he presented in 1927 that I just found.  I have no doubt he’d be giving me crap about running DC and not AC, but that’s another story.  …heard a great story about his work with Doc Edgerton from my cousin, too.

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