Image

Every 191000 km…you’d better have a spare ready!

Last week I was driving at 90 km/h on the A1 motorway on my way from and to a next meeting as suddenly TW560 started losing speed. No noise, no grinding, no error messages – just no acceleration. Eventually, after changing the controller display to show raw inverter messages the inverter showed me a F06 error and rebooted gracefully just to show the same error when attempting to accelerate again.

As TWIKEs in general roll very well, I didn’t have to leave the right lane immediately. After 3 reboots, I knew that something was definitely wrong. A few hundred metres later I stopped TW560 on the hard shoulder and started troubleshooting.

The motor seemed to be still somehow connected to the inverter since I got a judder and a very strange squeaking sound when trying to accelerate – but no acceleration. The inverter didn’t show any errors nor did the controller. Everything seemed normal. With another few unsuccessful reboots, I decided to call road assistance and get my TWIKE to dreifels for closer inspection.

Our local roadside assistance organisation, TCS, was on site within 20 minutes. The operative told me that he’s been with TCS for over 12 years and knows TWIKEs but never has had the pleasure of assisting such a vehicle. He asked me at least twice if I’ve still got enough energy in my batteries and if I wanted to be towed to a charging station. (Turns out that this is indeed a common occurence these days!) I assured him that with over 180000 km ev-experience I was 100% positive that this wasn’t the problem.

I took TW560’s nose off for the second time in 2 weeks after 4 years not having to do so and was towed to a parking lot just off the motorway.

Towing on Swiss motorway

Towing on Swiss motorway

Here the operative asks me where I want my vehicle to be brought to. I assume that this means a transporter will come to pick-up TW560 sometime during the next few days and bring it to dreifels. But no! The transporter’s eta is 15 minutes and I may accompany my vehicle on its way to dreifels! (These are the moments I really like Swiss efficiency!)

Special transport!

Special transport!

Ready for a trip to Dreifels

Ready for a trip to dreifels

I get into the drivers’ cabin and off we go!

EV on tour

EV on tour

After a relaxing drive and chat we arrive in Gelterkinden, home of dreifels, the TWIKE inventors.

Ralph Schnyder himself greets me and we start some additional troubleshooting. First of all, we need to determine if the problem is mechanical or electrical.

One of the tests consists of starting a charge and trying to move the TWIKE. Why? Since weight was at the centre of all design considerations, one motor phase winding is used as the inductive load during charging. Since this load creates also a magnetic load, pushing a TWIKE during charging is quite hard. (which wasn’t the case, so the working assumption from that point onwards was that the problem was mechanical)

Since any further analysis means taking the motor and gearbox down and a few hours of work, I bid my farewell to Ralph, asking him to take some pictures of the repair process.

Next tests include trying a different inverter:

. . . es ist definitiv mechanisch, mit dem anderen Umrichter tönt es genau gleich. Marc nimmt nun den Motor runter.

(…definitely a mechanical problem. Same sounds with different inverter)

Let's see what the problem is

Let’s see what the problem is

191000km worth of dirt

191000km worth of dirt

All my adventures are documented in up to 6mm of dirt! 🙂

Then dreifels starts measuring resistance values from the motor and…

Es ist elektrisch:

Wicklungswiderstand Sternpunkt (Ader 4)
4 zu 1 = 3.8 Ohm
4 zu 2 = 1.8 Ohm
4 zu 3 = 2.8 Ohm

Dreieck:
1 zu 2 = 7.9 Ohm
2 zu 3 = 1.8 Ohm
3 zu 1 = 3.8 Ohm

Wicklung 2 hat in der Hälfte einen Kurzschluss.

Ich schaue mal, ob ich einen Occasionsstator finde bei mir oder soll ich eher nach einem neuen Getriebe schauen (Maya hätte eines an Lager).

(The problem is an electrical one: winding 2 is partially shorted. I’ll try to can find an used stator or shall I rather go for a new gearbox-motor assembly? (Maya has one on stock).

This is where I was able to surprise Ralph: No need, Ralph, I have a brand-new (well, 17-year old but unused) Rüetschi motor – would that be ok?

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to purchase the motor at a very reasonable price and hoped that it would help keep costs low when the current motor would fail. Which it indeed did!

Lucky me that I've still got a spare motor!

Lucky me that I’ve still got a spare motor!

Technical details of a Ruetschi motor

Technical details of a Ruetschi motor

Motor shaft

Motor shaft

Not that big at all!

Not that big at all!

Three phase connection

Three phase connection

After the motor arrived at dreifels’ offices, I got an email with an attached picture.

. . . ist schon gut, wenn die Kunden einen Ersatzmotor dabei
haben, denn alle 190’000km muss man den ersetzen 😉

(…very good to have customers with their own spare motors as they need replacement every 191000km!)

New motor with gearbox assembly

New motor with gearbox assembly

Everything is ready for re-assembly – the motor/gearbox goes back into TW560.

During re-assembly, Marc, dreifels mechanic discovers some other things that need urgent attention.

A problem just waiting to happen

A problem just waiting to happen

Woudln't have lasted for long!

Woudln’t have lasted for long!

Molten solder

Molten solder

Molten plastic and original

Molten plastic and original

With these additional repairs I’m ready for my trip to Vienna next week! As I collect TW560 from dreifels, they jokingly tell me that their newest policy is for every TWIKE pilot to have at least one additional motor ready for cases like this one (although not a very regular occurrence, it is still an inconvenience since there are virtually no new parts available for the older motor assemblies and repairs usually get very expensive since the replacements are on complete assembly level). I’m very happy to report that I’m still fully compliant to their new policy … I still have another one at home 😀

I get into my TWIKE, start up the controller and set out into the dark. The higher-pitched, drive-frequency sound the motor makes is distinctly different – it will take getting used to the new harmonics to determine speed by the pitch of the motor (I was really proud to be able to guess the speed to 1-2 km accuracy!)

My drive home takes much longer than normal, since winter, finally, has arrived!

Finally, winter has reached Switzerland

Finally, winter has reached Switzerland

I’m really looking forward to my next 191000 km with TW560’s new motor.