Henney Kilowatt

June 21, 2015

I had all the wheel cylinders rebuilt. Brakes were all adjusted and tested.

January 2014

In December of 2013 I traveled to Iowa from Kentucky to purchase a 1961 Henney Kilowatt. It was so cold in Iowa, 8 degrees below zero to be exact. The car showed up for sale on eBay in November of that year. I HAD to have it. There was no way that car was not going to be in my possession.

Having a passion for electric cars for the past 30 years, I have always had an eye out for a Henney Kilowatt. A few years back a museum auctioned one off, but was just out of my reach financially.

I have owned Miles Electric cars, Zenn Electric cars, Zap Electric cars, and many other older makes and models. The Henney Kilowatt has always been elusive. That is probably because only forty seven were made which is four less than the fifty one 1948 Tucker cars made by Preston Thomas Tucker. Of course that was a gasoline powered car.

My plans are to restore the car EXACTLY like it was built. I will use the archaic controller. I will restore the original charger that can light you up like a Christmas tree if you touch the wrong wire. The car will be exactly as it was in 1961.

My background is in Electrical/Mechanical Engineering and I have been designing electric car drive systems for the past 30 years. Electric cars have become part of my soul. Electric cars are our future.

Below are pictures of the car I purchased. I did not take the pictures, they are from the eBay listing. I will be doing periodic updates as to my progress.

January 2014

I finally had a chance to check out the controller in the car. Actually, it is quite ingenious. Hats off to the designers.

The vehicle has a 72 volt battery pack consisting of 12 six volt batteries. The batteries are in four groups of three (in series). So each group totals 18 volts. When the car is initially turned on, the controller (and I use that term loosely) puts all four groups of three in parallel with each other, making a very high amp hour 18 volt battery, so to speak. It also adds a resistor in series with the motor (to slow it down initially).

As the accelerator is pressed, it brings in the directional contractor (two individual relays) and the car starts moving! There are actually six positions on the accelerator pedal in which each position changes the configuration of the relays.

The next voltage step up is 36 volts. It puts the front two battery packs in series, making 36 volts and then puts the back two battery packs in series, making 36 volts. Also, while this is all happening, the front pack of 36 volts is put in parallel with the back pack of 36 volts.

The last step is of course each pack of 18 volts is put in series with each other making 72 volts, which goes directly to the motor (full speed).

There are two times a field shunt is added in the mix to increase the speed during the 18 volt and 36 volt configurations.

Here is chart of the different positions and what relays pull in:

Key On: LO3, LO2
Position 1: Directional Relay [ 18 Volts ]
Position 2: RS (LO3, LO2) [ 18 Volts ]
Position 3: RS, FS (LO3, LO2) [ 18 Volts ]
Position 4: RS (Half Battery Pack) [ 36 Volts ]
Position 5: RS, FS (Half Battery Pack) [ 36 Volts ]
Position 6: RS, HI (Full Battery Pack) [ 72 Volts ]