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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A little background;
After moving from the city to a small acreage, we started looking for a small garden tractor. In 2019 a Case 448 with mower, tiller and snow thrower attachments came up for sale. Without knowing anything about these tractors we purchased and basically that was it, I was hooked.
Since then, we picked up two more Case tractors both 444 models. The 448 is still our main tractor, the Onan 18hp runs so smooth and other than regular maintenance it’s been problem free, fantastic machine. As for the 444 tractors, both were older units (pre 1976) in working order but not quite in the same running condition as the 448 but still great machines.
At this point I decided to combine my passion for these tractors with my interest in electric vehicles…It seemed a natural fit with the hydraulic drive of the Case design and simply replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric motor. However, there were a few other considerations not initially apparent…Anyway this is how it went down (and apology for lack of pics and detail throughout the process):
The Case 448 (pride and joy):

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Motor vehicle




The Case 444 (to be converted to EV, the other for parts as required):
Wheel Tire Plant Automotive tire Vehicle


Step 1 – Tear down and clean:
Chainsaw Wood Road surface Asphalt Tree


Road surface Asphalt Wood Automotive tire Public space


Step 2 – Painting of individual parts. For this I used (thank you so much from others in this forum) Dupli-Color Chevrolet Orange-Red DE1607. For the complimentary color I went with black rather than the “desert sunset” mostly due to availability (I get this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). However, the fact I’m kinda butchering the original design by removing the combustion engine anyway, what’s one more change…
Shelf Wood Tire Shelving Motor vehicle







Step 3 – Rebuild:
Note at this point I decided to replace the rear tires with: BKT model: TR144 and the front tires with Carlisle Super Lug model: 5100969:
Tire Plant Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle

Plant Wheel Tire Vehicle Tractor

Plant Tire Wheel Tractor Vehicle







Step 4 – Now for the electric motor:
This system is designed around 48V only because I already had some batteries around from another project. Designed using a LiFePo4 battery bank for longevity reasons (they just handle way more charge cycles than other battery materials). The bank is 48VDC, 51Ah (but expandable). The motor is 10kW which should equate to the original 14hp Kohler combustion engine:
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Electrical wiring Engineering Automotive design


Next step coming soon…I'm just finishing up the motor mount to couple with the pump, battery box, and working on the electric harness at the moment.

<UPDATE>

Got a first coat of paint on the hood, decals on the way:
Wood Water bottle Gas Rectangle Composite material


Winter has really set in around here and without an adequate heated space to work on the tractor I’m looking into the battery box / on board charging portion.

So for the battery storage I figured take advantage of the fact that it’s going to be heavy (regardless how many batteries I end up with). My goal here is to be able to attach the battery box to the rear sleeve hitch when using the front blade in winter and attach to the front end of the tractor when using the tiller in summer. As a starting point I found a commercial box designed for dual 8D batteries. Not the type I’m using but the dimensions seemed to work out nice (bonus that it has slots to run the cables):
Rectangle Automotive exterior Wood Bumper Gas


Next I’ll look at making a heavy duty housing for this box that mates with both ends of the tractor.

My tractor wiring harness will have connectors at both the front and the back so the battery box can be easily connected in both configurations. Earlier I mentioned the system was designed using 48V only because I already had couple of these batteries. These lithium iron phosphate batteries have built in electronics where I’m not comfortable connecting them in series to increase the voltage, not to mention it would add complexity to the charging process. I don’t have an issue with connecting in parallel to increase Amp hours. Having said that, given the choice I’d have gone with a 72V, or ideally 96V setup. The issue with lower voltage is the massive current draw (couple hundred amps), I’m using 1/0 AWG between the battery box and the motor controller with some very large connectors. I guess the flip side is cost, it seems to me the higher the system voltage you pay more for components…

When it comes to charging this beast, I didn’t want to be pulling out the individual batteries to charge. I also didn’t want the hassle of connecting a charger all the time. The plan is to have an on-board charger. I haven’t selected the charger yet and will have to wait until I determine the Ah rating of the battery bank. I did however install the power entry so a regular extension cord will power the charger:

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive design Red


Note both the battery box and power entry I found at NOCO

<UPDATE>

Wanted to add an electric fan, picked up a 6.6"x 6" (2" depth), 48VDC, 17W with decent CFM. I mounted it with vibration dampers and hoping it doesn't make too much noise...Planning to control it on / off based on hydraulic fluid temperature.

Motor vehicle Red Gas Auto part Machine
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, I'm learning as I go, but there is



lots of great help on this site!
I will be following this one as well. Your tractor looks great and the EV concept is intriguing.

What are your long term plans for this machine? Do you plan to use it regularly or just to show off the capabilities of electricity?
Thank you. The plan is to use the tractor with the front blade for clearing snow in winter and hydraulic tiller in summer. At least initially as the belt driven attachments will need some additional modifications (no more clutch).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How much run time are you expecting out of this? 51Ah doesn't seem like it'll be very much with that strong of a motor.
Yeah you're certainly correct that 51Ah isn't alot in this application and the battery box will have room for more. The batteries are the highest cost part of this conversion so this is a starting point. Once running under load I can take amp draws and better determine bank size based on desired runtime. The batteries can be added in parallel so figured my best bet is to size based on actual results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Does your controller control the speed of the motor? You will need some form of governor due to the wildly varying torque requirements of a hydraulic pump.


Does your controller control the speed of the motor? You will need some form of governor due to the wildly varying torque requirements of a hydraulic pump.
So there's a number of ways to controller can be setup, one of which closed loop mode where the controller automatically adjusts power to the motor to maintain a constant RPM. This target RPM can be adjusted through the "throttle" input to the controller. Right now I have the throttle input connected to a potentiometer so I adjust on the fly.












[/QU











Yeah the controller
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Just wanted to update the limited progress over the past few weeks. For the cabling between the battery bank and motor controller I purchased some Anderson power product connector components online (terminals, housings, and weatherproof casing) and picked up some 1/0 awg welding cable locally. The three cable assemblies I needed to make were battery bank to tractor (source), front of tractor to motor controller (load), and rear of tractor to motor controller (load). I used the SB series Anderson connectors (175A version).

Push wires through weatherproof casing and crimp terminals:
Electrical wiring Cable Electric blue Wire Networking cables


Put terminals into housing:
Cable Automotive tire Wire Electrical supply Auto part


Push housing into weatherproof casing:
Cable Auto part Composite material Household hardware Wire


I used glue walled heat shrink for a better seal and visual indication of +/- leads:
Cable Auto part Rectangle Wire Composite material


The idea being if the battery box is connected at the back, the front connector can be capped off and vice versa. I'm working on some brackets to secure these connectors to the front and rear of tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I did give some thought to this at the start of the project; direct drive vs utilizing the existing hydraulic system. There are benefits to a direct setup, including, as you mentioned, reduced system loss. Also a direct drive system would have allowed me to use regenerative braking, improved throttle control, and simplified forward / reverse.

However, in the end the benefits to utilizing the existing hydraulic system won out for me personally; replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric motor is less invasive to the overall design than the required modifications to convert to direct drive. The other factor was maintaining the hydraulic PTO for use with the hydraulic tiller.

I’m working on ways to maximize battery runtime including turning off the motor when stationary and implementing a “smart” hydraulic cooling fan (turns on based on temperature). However, with the system voltage being 48Vdc the 17W cooling fan draws less than an amp. But het, this is a learn as you go project…
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Just getting ready to paint my Case 224 would you share the exact orange color. Love it. Also are the tires Hi-run. Haven’t mounted mine, looking good
The paint is Dupli-Color DE1607 engine enamel (chevy orange-red), another member recommended this and here in Canada it's available at Canadian Tire...

Rear tires with: BKT model: TR144 and the front tires with Carlisle Super Lug model: 5100969
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
It seems to me that you could spin down the electric motor when pressure is not needed. This ignores cooling, so you'd have to experiment with that. As I read it, the page in the link below indicates that this can be done by placing pressure switches on the high side and low side of the pump, and comparing their output. You'd vary the motor speed to keep those pressures as close as possible.

Makes sense however in this particuar application I want to maintain a constant RPM, you don't want the drive speed to slow down if you shut off the PTO attachment. That's the idea behide the temperature based fan control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Your oil cooler fan draw is negligible. Even if you forgot it on for a day or 2, it isn't going to affect runtime. If you were basing runtime on mileage, you would need a tape measure to see the difference. LOL
I agree 100% however doesn’t change the fact that the cooling fan should only run when needed, power saving wherever I can in this project!
 
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