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Discussion Starter #1
Some bad news on my car. :cry:
The booster batteries have been riding with me for 3500 miles.

I have been noticing that I can't seem to get as much speed when using the E-wheel, and my un modified MPG has been suffering, more than the cold weather would account for. The brakes are freed up, so that was not it, but discovered that my rear tires are wearing on the edges.
After doing some front to rear eyeballing, it looks like the 400 lbs is begining to have it's toll. Both rear wheels are bent outwards on the bottom. I think that some of those bigger pot holes may have twisted the rear axles up.
Bummer.
I will have to start tracking down a new rear torsion arm. Anyone know where I can get one?
The 5th wheel is hanging in there, but has developed a squeak between the aluminum covers, that a file should fix, once I take it off for the winter.

:(
 

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i coulda sworn i saw an axle beam on ebay a few weeks ago. not there now though :(
 

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Hi Mike,

sorry to hear that about your car! That sounds serious! Any idea how to strengthen the rear end once you get a new axle?

Did you call these guys? They should be somewhat close to you in Wareham, MA. I got my new ABS controller there when my front end was smashed up. Seemed to have three Insights at the time, but that was years ago...

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the link Armin
I will give them a call next monday.

As far as how to make it stronger, I will probably look carefully at what bent when I get the old assembly off the car, and decide if it makes sense to try and reinforce the assembly, or to look into a lighter battery pack, as I was originally going to do with the Prius subpacks. The car still handles pretty well with the weight, but droping to 200lbs, and limiting my Ewheel range to 20 miles, or the battery boost to 30 minutes , would still fit into my normal driving pretty well. The car is still driveable as is, but the tires will not make it through the winter this way.
I am scheduled to demo the system to Trinity College and Ucon on Nov 9, so I will probably not try and fix it before then unless I get lucky with the rear end. The wheels look a little like this /-----\ compared to the front.
 

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Hum, I know what that looks like. My Lotus Europa restoration in progress has exactly the same problem. I'm just not sure yet if mine is from worn bushings or something else. It's been sitting in the same place for the better part of 25 years.
 

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unfortunately most junk yards and salvage yards... and auctions and such... do not post on line yet....

I found 2 totaled Honda Insights on-line ... the best of the two looks like it just got rear ended and has under 50,000 miles for under $2,000 but it is in Texas....

http://www.ridesafely.com/inventory.asp ... =610044044

I haven't seen anything a reasonable distance from Mike in CT.... :(.... the most of it seems to be auto auctions and junk / salvage yards that do not have inventory on-line.... so searching would have to be the hard way face to face... If I see anythign I'll be sure to let you know... Best of luck.
 

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Mike,
Have you tried removing the 400lbs to determine if the rear camber goes back to normal?
This will determine if the rear is just flexing or if permanent deformation has occured.
 

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Here is the best web site for finding parts from auto wreckers.

http://car-part.com/

The database seems to list the part as
"Rear Axle Beam (FWD)"
Lots of wreckers all over USA have it in stock.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Guillermo
Thanks for the help, I will be doing some calling around tomorrow.
When I first put the e-wheel and batteries in the rear, right before the tour de sol, I looked at the deflection pretty closely, and determined that it was not happening. Many pot holes later, I am suspecting that one of the times where the whole rear end became airborn, and bottomed out on the stops, the rear end components bent permanently. The springs and stop are on one side of the tube, the axel on the other, so all the force was translated to twist. The round tube is welded to the torsion beam, so there could be some movement there, where the welding partally annealed the beam?
I still can get 60-65 MPG, so the problem is not too severe yet. The battery configuration and 5th wheel put more weight over the passenger side.(wanted to offset my weight on the drivers side) That's the side where the camber offset is most noticeable. I have hit two wheel airborn bumps more than once when fully loaded, and the impulse load must be pretty strong.
At least we now know where the weak point is.

;)
 

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Since what you have is twisted anyway, How would the rear end components of a Honda Civic or CRX compare to fit? They should be designed for more weight????? The difference in weight of the components might be worth it since you have added about 20% more weight anyway.

I don't have any experience with any of these, but with your extensive mod skills, it might be worth a look!!!
 

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Mike,

If it were me I would look into replacing or reinforcing the springs, for instance with air springs. I'm thinking about that just to make the ride in mine more comfortable and still be able to carry significant loads when I want.

If the torsion beam isn't bent too badly you may not even need to replace it, just set up the supplementary springs for more load. And if it is badly bent, uprating the springs would, I suspect, be a lot cheaper and easier than reinforcing the beam.

IIRC there are some pretty cheap air bags intended to be inserted into coil springs, maybe some would fit.

What is the beam made of? I'm not a material scientist but I would bet money that hitting the stops once or twice is less likely to permanently deform the beam than "normal" driving while long-term heavily loaded. It's a contest of elastic limit vs. creep and it's hard to believe that the bump stops aren't set within the elastic limit, but the creep will get you every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
moses
I already have air helper springs.
http://www.99mpg.com/mikesinsight/needheaviersprings/
They do a good job with regular roads. But one of the roads I need to travel had town gas connected to each home, and is riddled with full road width depressions where the excavations have settled. With the 300 lbs of extra batteries, and 70 lb 5th wheel, I can get the rear suspension to support the extra weight at the proper ride height, but if I hit one of the depressions a bit too fast, I still bottom out the rubber bumpers. If I raise the rear suspension a bit higher than normal, I can make it over the depressions without the bottoming, but then my 5th wheel which has a limited travel, is a bit too close to the end of travel, and will slip easily, since it will have less down force. The answer of course is to increase the travel of the 5th wheel, but that means rebuilding the pivot assembly, and with winter coming, I will probably just remove the batteries, and other extra parts for the winter, and rebuild in the spring.
LoNOx 1
Interesting idea. I would need to take a good look under a civic or CRX to compare measurements. A Civic body manual with the frame measurements may show if the mounting system is compatable. I have the one for the Insight.
On a quick search of Car-part.com, I found 6 places within 50 miles that say they have the Rear Axle Beam , (Thanks Guillermo) with prices of $250-$500
I can't help thinking that if I could find an Insight that had been totaled, I may be able to get the whole car for not much more?
 

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Hi Mike,
I can't tell by the pictures, and haven't crawled under my car to see how the trailing arms are constructed, but maybe we could box them or add some angle to make them more rigid. That is, if I'm understanding the issue. If you are getting more negative camber, then the trailing arms aren't staying straight, or the torsion box between the arms is bending which could also be strengthened.
Are those pieces aluminum or steel?
I'm impressed with you guys' knowledge and desire for improvement. It gives me hope that I will be able to drive my Insight for a very long time.
robert
 

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Discussion Starter #16
originalbadbob,
The assembly is steel. The trailing arms are steel tubes where the wheel spindles attach. The springs, my air spring and shock are on one side of the assembly, and the spindle is on the other. The tubes are welded to a U channel that acts as a support and torsion assembly. My guess is that the twisting action on the round tube, was strong enough when I bottomed out to perminantly put a new set to the assembly. I can't yet say where the movement occured, since my 5th wheel is tucked right up in the way of a good visual look.
After Nov 9 (demonstration at Trinity college) I will tear into this, remove the 5th wheel, batteries, and get a good look at the mess. I will probably bring it in to have an alignment check before and after the weight is removed to confirm that it is not just deflecting as Guillermo has suggested.
I expect that once I see whare the damage is, it may suggest a way to reinforce the assembly so that I can continue to use the boost batteries.
 

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Ah, I see... Thanks for the information, including the website.

Good luck. Despite the fact that the last piece of advice I offered was behind the curve I woud still like to offer another just because I would feel bad if I didn't and you had the kind of trouble you might have.

Unsolicited advice: I would try reinforcing the torsion beam only VERY carefully. Exactly how structures like that bend is usually subtle and reinforcing one place often produces premature failure someplace else.

But you're way ahead of everybody else (especially me) on this so I'll shut up now.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Good Point about the torsion member.
I was thinking that attachment of the new member would be at the ends and in the middle of the present u channel, so the torsion is the combined effect of the new and the old.
If it is bent at the round to u channel point, the cross member would not help. The sholder would need beefing up instead. I just got word that the UYV rolled Insight had not gone to the crusher, so I can get that rear end. It was rolled several times, and the guy got out un hurt, but the roof was 6 inches narrower than mine, so it took some big hits.
The trailing arm could be worse than mine, so I will have to do some careful measuring.

:D
 

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Here is what is what the Insight rear torsion beam looks like:
http://www.insightcentral.net/encyclopedia/enrearsuspension.html

I've stiffened my rear torsion beam with a VW Shine Torsion bar that acts like adding a very stiff rear anti-sway bar.
After 2 summers of competition driving with race compound tires my rear alignment does not seem to have changed and no cracks or damage has occured to the rear beam.
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=134140451&size=l
http://www.flickr.com/photos/insightracing/134140299/
 

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That might work but...

Adding a super-stiff rear swaybar to a car that already has an extra 400 lbs in the boot might not be the best thing. Talk about oversteer :badgrin: ...
 
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