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Old 07-26-2021, 05:07 PM   #1
81clubcar
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Default 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Hey everyone, After reading countless threads about conversions, what I havenít found is anyone talking about upgrading the old ones... and I mean year 1 DS models, 1981! I will admit, reading the chat about amp draws, voltage drops, charging specs, etc... I feel I am in a small boat on a big pond because some of it sounds like Greek to me. My intro thread give a little insight into how I got my gen 1 DS (I think it was DS still back then).

I am fairly sure almost all the mechanical/electrical components on my 81 are stock still, besides the lights which I swapped out to LED. Side note: I swapped out my old round glass headlights with a set of pretty awesome motorcycle fog lights (<$40) and they were **** near a perfect match in size and just popped right in, I can get a link for the ones I used if anyone wants. I have been running (6)6v continental golf cart batteries but I killed them from neglect and sure would like to switch to a Lithium setup.

This is where I could use some help:

Looking around it seems like just buying (3)12v LiFePO4 50 or 100ah batteries and running them in series would be a pretty easy swap? The more I read the more confusing and scary things things seem to get (like the sticky ďgolf cart exploding fire ballĒ thread at the top). I reached out to 2 of the site sponsor folks and 1 said ďI donít do Lithium, good luckĒ the other I talked to said ďI would not do it, the tech isnít there yet, convert to 48v insteadĒ.... that wasnít very inspiring.

- Can I run a LiFePO4 batt through those old school resister coils or do I need a solid state speed controller conversion first? Or any other kind of conversion first?
- Is there a crazy risk of turning my cart into a 4 wheel fireball if I use the old components? When I say old, I mean there Is no computer of any kind on this thing.
- The max speed in 81 was a blistering 12mph... I donít care about getting it faster, I just donít want to have a runaway cart if I get some discharge rate wrong with fancy new batteries?
- I donít need to go across the state on a single charge 15-20 miles would be fine Iím sure, what size LiFe would I need to go with for that type of range? My hood is pretty flat and paved, I just want to be able to cruise around with the kids and go to a friends house from time to time.
- my headlights and phone charger... and tail lights are 12v which currently just pick off the first 2 series batteries, can I do the same if I got (3)12v and just tap into 1?
Some simple doís and do notís would be much appreciated if you extremely knowledgeable folks have any insight into my setup and how it can be done, safely! I donít want to go cheap cheap and risk burning down my house, but Iím hoping to avoid buying some ridiculously priced super battery that will take my cart to Florida and back at highway speeds.

Thanks in advance fellas, I look forward to hearing your advice.
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Old 07-26-2021, 06:23 PM   #2
Pat911
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Hi,

Do NOT purchase 3 x 12v batteries. Lithium batteries require balancing to work correctly and you cannot balance 3 seperate batteries. You will need a 36v battery with a single Battery Management System (BMS), not 3 batteries with 3 seperate BMSís

The exploding lithium sticky thread relates to a home built NMC lithium setup. A NMC battery is safe when used within its limits but a LiFePO4 Lithium battery is much, much safer, even when abused.

Lithium batteries are a mature technology, what is ďnot there yetĒ is the average personís understanding of it, itís uses, itís benefits, itís limitations. Many, like the people you spoke to, donít understand the technology and push their ignorant views on to others.

There is no reason to not convert to Lithium, except for maybe itís initial cost. Just be sure to read others experiences here and be sure to size your pack correctly, paying particular note to the continuous and peak discharge currents.

Cheers
Pat.
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Old 07-26-2021, 08:41 PM   #3
simicrintz
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

The key to the Lithium exploding fireball cart starts at post # 11

My cart is an '86 and I did a Lithium conversion (I am not very good with electrical, but a lot of reading, taking my time, and tons of help from this forum got me through). I did not want to deal with the off gassing and other stuff associated with FLA batteries, and even though this is my first cart I could not see using FLA. There are a lot of great folks on here (much, much more knowledgable than me!) that will provide answers (Pat911 is just one of the much, much smarter folks than me on here!).

If you want to do it, take your time and post questions; these guys (and some gals) are awesome! You can do it if you listen to them and take the proper precautions.

Good luck!
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Old 07-26-2021, 10:45 PM   #4
81clubcar
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Thanks for the responses Pat911 and simicrintz,
I definitely want to switch if it is possible, I canít stomach the thought of getting 6 new FLA. I know Going lithium will be a bit more pricey at first, but I really dislike the babysitting needed for FLA batteries... and the overall weight for my poor old cart. I literally ruined my first set of batteries without ever successfully a charging them at my house once! Charger kept shutting off after 10 min, shop said it was fine... charger would not start at all, shop said it worked fine... a year later I had 6 dead FLA...

Pat911
- thanks for the heads up about getting (3j 12v LiFePO4 and the issue, that makes sense. Reading the manufacture pages, half of them say ďeasy drop in ready replacement, nothing else neededĒ more or less. Would a single 36 LiFePO4 have a way to get 12v for the lights, or would it be better to just get a separate 12v on the side?
- how do I tell what the continuous and peak current is normal/suitable (same as my (6)6v FLA?) for a 1981 club car so that I have a reference to know what to look for with a new battery? I am not really looking to upgrade my performance or speed, just a match so the thing runs normally.

Simicrintz
- did the 1986 still use the resistor coils? Did you abandon them completely right off the bat and switch to a different controller?

Anyone
- seems like from what I read, nobody uses the old antiquated 5 solenoid/resistor coils, do I need to switch to a solid state controller or is it just a more efficient system when you do. I realize there are not many oldies like this out there to begin with... who wants to cruise at a breakneck 12mph... lol
- is there a basic beginner parts list I could use for just getting up and running and so I can research the items... I.E. - controller X, 36v LiFePO4 battery X, solenoid X, charger X... ?

Thanks folks, there are so many different ways of doing it and seems everyone has a different setup. Just trying to get my bearings so I can understand where to start.
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:08 AM   #5
Pat911
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Hi 81clubcar,

You will need a 36v to 12v reducer for your lights. No big deal, but once again, get one with enough current to supply your 12v accessories.

I am unsure of how much current a stock 36v 1981 DS will draw, maybe another member can help. Failing that, a cheap DC clamp meter that can measure to 200-300 amps can be used.

Cheers
Pat.
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Old 07-27-2021, 08:25 AM   #6
simicrintz
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

My cart was pretty much a train wreck when I got it, and about all that was left was the coils. I tore it completely down and started over (here's a tip: use the site sponsors-ScottyB or Dave from Revolution-when you order parts. I was a newby and made a lot of mistakes by ordering from the first company that showed up on a search), replacing everything from the wiring harness to the motor, controller and converting to the MCOR.

I would also consider going to 48V if you are going to go through all of this. And I second the reducer for your lights and any other accessories.

I basically got my cart done and running, drove it three times (very short trips) and parked it in a storage garage because we moved and I now have a house to build. I was 100% happy with the conversion and would do it again without hesitation.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:02 PM   #7
81clubcar
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Thanks for your patience with me folks, I have been doing more reading and talking to various cart shops around town to get a better understanding of what all I need to get this thing running on lithium.

Found a couple more shop guys that say ďI donít do lithium, too many firesĒ, and a couple that seem to be pretty blasť about it like ď should work if you just drop it inĒ ... seems to be both extremes and Iíd rather fly somewhere in the middle... lol

I called Allied battery who make a 36v 36ah GS2 drop in replacement LiFePO4 (I would buy 2 and run them parallel). I mentioned the balancing issue that Pat911 discussed and he said the BMSís would talk to each other and keep the batteries balanced during charging... ? Does that sound plausible or just a sales guy giving the green light?

Seems a lot of folks I talk to say ďmay as well switch it to 48v if your doing all thatĒ... but would that not require even more things to be switched out? Motor, wiring, etc? Is there some safety, cost benefit, or practical reason for switching from 36 to 48 BESIDES performance, which is a really low priority for me currently.

In the Forums vast wealth of knowledge, what would be the simplest way to take a stock old 36v and get it to run on LiFePO4 verse FLA? The consensus so far is: the resistor coils need to go, need an MCOR, which In turn seems to need a new pedal and throttle assembly... does that sound right?

One shop guy suggested finding a wrecked 92-98 club car and scavenge the MCOR and pedal from that... does the MCOR from any 36v club car control any 36v motor or are there certain ones that have to match up... my cart has a GE 2hp, 36v, 55amp, 2800rpm motor. He said all the club cars are basically the same frame and pieces should fit... but... I noticed when shopping for parts there seems to be a definite break at 1982-96, not 1981, which is the very first DS...
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:22 PM   #8
81clubcar
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

This is the cart in question... the easy answer is to just go buy a newer model and forget the headache, but I put a fair amount of work in to this one... I think it is considered an antique by now? When was the last time you saw that Fat aluminum ďYĒ holding a roof up in the back?

The FLA are dead and gone and itís just empty under the seat currently...
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:40 PM   #9
Volt_Ampere
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Looks nice. I think it's worth upgrading. I would get a real controller and go with lithium - maybe 48Volts.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:44 PM   #10
81clubcar
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Default Re: 1981 Lithium conversion possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Volt_Ampere View Post
Looks nice. I think it's worth upgrading. I would get a real controller and go with lithium - maybe 48Volts.
Thanks volt! It was pretty fugly when I got it. What would you consider a real controller? Iím thinking a 300amp is all I need since hopefully I can just toss in (2) 36v 36ah LiFePO4 allied batteries in it (at least thatís what I am currently leaning towards).
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