tesla interior roberto nickson g 237027 unsplash 640x431So Elon Musk has parked his Tesla in the Milky Way or wherever. Just imagine having the capability and resources to do that, and the mind boggles at the thought of what else you could dispose of up there in the big blue yonder. I presume that he removed the battery before take-off, because those things are heavy.

Yes, I know they are Lithium Ion (LI) batteries, but those are not as light as some imagine. I know this from when I drive my Chevy Volt to my office in Tesla Drive (a bit ironic don’t you think) and feel how solid and sure-footed it is on the highway. That’s because it weighs about 800 pounds more than a similarly sized Chevy Cruze due to the hefty battery pack. But thanks to that 17kw lump, I have sizzling, silent acceleration and decent range in a very stable platform.

Talk is that there’s soon to be an Electric GT motor racing series featuring a modified Tesla. This will no doubt have phenomenal out-of-the-box performance, but weighs in at about 200 pounds more than my road-going Volt, and where less weight = more speed (i.e. on the race track) that means a lot of lithium to be grappling with lurching around the bendy bits. 

I started tinkering with LI batteries six years ago, and even made my own 100 amp/hr pack from bits and bobs I bought online. I did it primarily to investigate whether that might be a viable alternative to the few expensive and complex marine LI systems available back then, but soon realized that the safety aspect was paramount.

Those specialized marine LI systems featured external Battery Management Systems (BMS) that could cut loads and/or charging devices if anything got slightly out of whack, and when you’re in the middle of an ocean that’s a pretty important feature. Most of the online offerings I came across were for auto use, where it’s assumed that if something goes wrong you can pull over to side of the road, hop out, and run away. Not so good for a yacht where the closest land may be a just mile away, but happens to be straight down, on the ocean floor.

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Dover, England. A fascinating place. I was there recently meeting with a friend who keeps a sailboat in the marina, and he showed me around the ongoing construction project that will one day be a spanking new marina complex plus more desperately-needed parking spaces for lorries (trucks) waiting to embark to Europe on ferries. I also happened across the huge Banksy street art that appeared overnight recently on the end wall of a building near the docks. This features a star being chiseled off the European flag, a satirical comment on Brexit for the amusement of those heading to the ferries over to Europe.

There’s enough history in Dover, both ancient and recent, to satisfy all manner of inquiring minds. Being at the closest point in England to Europe it has proved to be an enticing location for a water-borne invasion through the ages, so it’s only natural that various means of defense have been constructed to repel attacks. The town itself is at sea level, but at its eastern and western extremes it is under the shadow of the higher elevations of the famous White Cliffs of Dover. The cliffs are sans bluebirds these days, as that was the nickname given to wartime fighter pilots in their blue uniforms. Perched menacingly on top of the eastern cliff is one of the most imposing and magnificent castles to be found anywhere; Dover Castle.

gas tank filling dreamstime xxl 55387059 691x405It’s a simple and common task for anyone owning or operating a vehicle with a gas tank. You pull up to the pump, stick the nozzle in the filler, pull the trigger, and then wait for either the auto-stop mechanism to operate, or you get a boot-full of gas. The math is simple: Since the last time you filled up you have used x gallons of gas, and now you add exactly x gallons to the tank to bring it back up to the level it was previously. There are no losses other than the boot-full you might have got thanks to the faulty nozzle.

Refilling batteries is a very different kettle of fish.

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