98-04 GEM worth saving?

I was offered this cart for free. He thinks motor is dead, says he has a controller somewhere, and had bought batteries but never installed or finished.

I’m assuming I’d need battery, controller, and motor? Anyway to get decent performance for 2.5-3k or not even possible to get it running? Do I run away or have a fun project? I’m mechanically and technically inclined so do a lot of projects.

It’s not at my house, so figured I’d get opinions of experts before diving in.

Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes.

Do you own any firearms and hapoen to know someone with a bulldozer ?

Unless you have access to a GOOD service man RUNNNNNNNN

It appears to be missing the windshield, that’s a $5-600 item alone. If it is missing any other mechanical or body parts it’s going to be pricey to get back together. The parts for there can be quite costly….and some are difficult to find

It depends on how deep you want to get into these things and how much is actually missing.

I agree that this one appears do be a bit too far gone to be worth the attempt at putting it back together.
What you CAN/might do is accept it for the parts value.

  • The plastic/fiberglass looks like it may be in real good shape which is getting rare for these old Gen1 cars. If stored out of the sun is a bonus.
  • The heater has a bit of value to some, as well as a few electrical components (the round dash display), but I doubt this car has the DC Converter Upgrade.
  • The windshield would have been nice too. Either it is real clean or it’s gone. I’m sure there is a good story behind the loss or it was towed backwards on the trailer when it was brought to this location. In which case the guy behind the trailer might have a good story.
  • The rubber components in the brakes may be questionable due to age,
  • This car might have a good steering rack assembly and front and rear suspension components. Bonus if bushings are still good.
  • Probably has the 8.9 gearbox and halfshafts. Not the best ratio when going bigger wheels/tires
  • Motor may be a 3.5 which is not goof for much.

You can scrap this out and use the funds to go towards a better project car. Prices will vary depending on your location and how popular these are in your area. You can keep the parts if in good condition and if you find a running car for cheap it may be all beat up. Many of the best parts from this might be swapped over and you’ll have a styling ride fairly cheap.

Use this as an education as to how they go together and relate to each other.

Where this plan will get wobbly and threaten to fall apart is going to be what your final intended use for this car will be. It was hinted at by your words:

Anyway to get decent performance for 2.5-3k

You aren’t even a cart owner and you are already looking at turning up the dial.
This barn car (being a Gen1) is not the best platform to go the performance route for several reasons. A few members on this forum learned that is real easy to have 10k into enhancements and still not be happy. If you were going to make a real commitment you would be far better off by finding a Gen2 car (06 to 13) as a base to build from and work from there.

Saving the components off this Gen1 barn car for your future Gen2 is not the best plan. Very few components will swap over. I’m not sure about most of the body components.

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Well you guys aren’t instilling confidence lolol. I’ll probably get it, clean it and then decide whether to part it out or not.

It’s not about installing confidence(sarcasm recognized), It’s more about trying to guide you away from a path which many have taken only to have regretted it later.

You asked for advice, got a free scoop of wisdom mixed in too.

It looks as if a highschool kid found the GEM, a screwdriver and a wrench and just started taking stuff off of it. At least if you part it out you don’t have to do any disassembly except of you sell the horn or the MC.

Keep posting to this thread how your adventures go and especially which way they go.

Well here we go. The gifter dropped it off today. Now what do I do?:joy:

Take a sawsall, cut it up, throw it away piece by piece. 100% money pit!

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Stuff to do right now - Put a meter on those batteries and see if they have anything in them. If so, boost them up w)ith a car charger one at time and see if they will hold a full charge. K9(11/19 seems just like yesterday. They might have enough to provide some power to check out function of the systems and get the mail.

Start a shopping list

  • Batteries - Depending on how it works out, you will need at least two or six batteries
  • Motor Controller - You would do well if your source could scrounge the controller from the corner of the barn if he thinks he still has it . Otherwise, you will be looking for a GE T1 controller or (even better and easier to find) a T2.
  • DC Converter - The one you have will work for now but it is the old style open board that has been recalled. They occasionally like to catch on fire (much to the delight of JarJar).
  • Key - You actually have one. Consider this a bonus, Most people seem to not get one with thier car for some reason.
  • Handheld Meter of reasonable quality - If you don’t have one, It will be very useful on this project.
  • Rear accessory - The easiest would be to keep an eye out locally (depending on where you are) for something to clip into the Back Pack Accessory System. These came with the optional/swappable Golf bag rack, or a trunk pod that clips onto the back of the car. You could also get a mini stake bed. This makes the car more useful. If you are handy you can make something that goes on the back but it depends on what you will be using the car for. Some people have even put a second set of rear facing seats, but the weight of two adults will overload the clip in receiver and this should be designed and bolted to the frame for safety. Perhaps the previous owner have such a thing sitting in another corner of the barn too?

Stuff to Check Out

  • Brakes - Look for wet dribbles coming out of the drums. Old slave cylinders like to leak. The brakes don’t work well when dry, but when brake fluid gets everything wet, they work even less well. Ironically, they stick too. Jack up each corner and make sure all wheels are free spinning and brakes aren’t sticking.
  • Cracks - Specifically in rear suspension. The swinging gate/one piece swing arm design does not like to independently flex. I think they all crack eventually. Check progress of yours at the following points.
  • Rubber boots - around the CV axles and steering rack tend to crack and need replacing.

Decide what this car wants to be to you. In basic form this car works well as a Mailbox runner, Ice cream getter, Camp runner, Ball chaser. When you start going outside the original design envelope is when things start getting expensive.

Awesome, thank you. I do have the controller but forgot to show it.

I’m handy with a multimeter and have done some PCB board repairs before.

Is there any test on the electric motor or controller i could do without a full set of batteries? I think I have a simple 10a/30v bench supply but assume the controller won’t do much with that

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Great, You are almost off to the races! Usually that has a part number that ends with a T1. There also might be a label on the side of this thing. Otherwise, show a pic of the end with the big connector/plug.

Note: When putting all the big wires together, spend some time cleaning all of the connectors. Tight and bright is the rule. If dirty, there will be added resistance. Where there is resistance, there is heat. Enough heat can melt things.

If you feel like taking the motor off it is not that difficult. At least blow it out and make sure the gearbox hasn’t been storing it’s oil in the motor (input shaft leak).
Blow out all the carbon. To disassemble the motor to get a look at the brushes is a bit more involved on this motor. Best to leave it for another day.

Three 7/16 screws hold the motor to the gearbox. Pro Tip-> To remove the big cables going to the motor, resist the temptation to just spin off the top nut without backing up what is underneath. Most of the time the whole stud will spin. This breaks the insulator and sometimes stresses or even breaks off the connection inside. See if you can find a wrench that will hold that nut on the bottom below the cable lug. Most of the time it is too narrow and you need a thin wrench. I took a cheap wrench and ground it down special for this purpose. Harbor freight is good for that.

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Shouldn’t he be able to figure out the motor wear by how many miles on the odometer? Getting the 23pin connector onto the controller and connecting 48V(4 batteries) should power it up enough to test a few things. I had a T2 on the bench once and IIRC it powered up around 40VDC. The converter might present its 12V too so that other electrical things could be checked.

Tires are all inflated so it likely was rolled off the trailer so the motor and transmission are spinning.

EDIT - Doug, ignore me… I misread, thought that post was from the OP. Yeah, it may power up, but you’re one of the guys who knows what the rules are, so you can break 'em.

It’s a 72V system. 90-94 had 2 batteries up front over the motor and 4 under the bench seat. The 98-99 “Trans2” Gems were 48V.

Really? I thought I taught you better than that…

Shoot it. Burn it. Crush it with a bulldozer. Shoot the pieces into a decaying orbit around the sun.

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So, if you decide on getting 2 more of the Deka Dominator Gels, make sure you check the Zivan charge profile. It’s a micro dial assessable from the “top” in the current mounted position; see screencap below. Set it to “C”.

Screenshot 2023-09-16 105226

Now, if you part it out, which may be the better option, the following parts have decent value, if they work. Values are from memory of eBay, they may or may not reflect current market.

  • T1/T2 controller ($200-$400)
  • Zivan NG1 ($200)
  • Heater ($300)
  • Differential - depends which one it has 8.9:1 ($200-300) or 10:35:1 ($150-225)
  • half-shafts ($25-40 / each depending on condition and boots)
  • Digital gauge from steering pod ($25-35)
  • Medeco Key & Tumbler used as “ignition” ($50, way more if you have extra keys as Medeco keys require proof of ownership to duplicate and can only be done by a few locksmiths outside of the company)
  • Motor (Sell it to Old Houseboater as a core - not sure what he’ll pay for a 3.5hp short GE, but may be more than you’ll get on eBay, it’s not a real desirable motor. The 5hp short is worth a bit more, but still a shittay motor)
  • Deka Dominators (craigslist or offer up, those are $200+ each new)
  • brakes, steering rack etc (whatever someone will pay for them).
  • Frame and roof support bars are clean extruded aluminum, weight is about 250# or so. Whatever they pay these days. Or save the frame rails, that double box channel is great stuff to build things out of, super sturdy.