New Gem Owner, Barn Find

Just hauled a Gem home yesterday on trailer. It sat on farm for a few years at my folks collecting dust but I’m going to use it in town for casual driving around neighborhood and downtown, it originally came from California. It’s a 2002 E825. Got it for a reasonable amount. No batteries. No keys. I found a part number on here, I think I’ll just go that route and replace the ignition with the Napa one. I already have the Medeco switch pulled.

I may just haul in the dash and carry all to the locksmith and see if they can rekey or whatever it will take for those locks.

It has 14" tires and Al wheels. The back fender was removed for hauling but I see it won’t fit without some shim work because the tires are taller and wider. I’ll probably see if I can get that going next. So I got it unloaded today off trailer and washed the thing. I bagged all the electronics first so they didn’t take on any water. I forgot to bag the motor but It looks like it’s sealed up pretty good and it’s open down there so I assume it’s fine if it gets wet because it would get wet if it was raining, I hope.

It cleaned up pretty nice. Someone put clear coat over the yellow paint, most of it has pealed off and the yellow coat is still very good. My brother who was the second owner said it had less than 1k miles on it. Other than the larger tires and wheels it looks stock, original motor.

After I get the inspection done and tag I’m thinking about making a flat bed for it with removable side boards. Also a removable box too for storage that’s larger than the carry all similar to the newer model option.

Some time in the next few months I need to get batteries but I’m not sure what to go with. I see the Decca’s are $255 at my local Napa and they want a $27 core for them, yikes! Also VMAX 125 ah, for 260 on Amazon which would be cheaper with shipping included and no core charge.

Of course I keep thinking about the Walmart Everstart batteries. 99.00 sounds a lot better to me, just not sure how long they’ll last. If I could get 4 years and 10-12 miles per charge I think I’d be happy.

I have to say, I really think I’m going to like this little car. My wife just laughed when she pulled in the driveway and saw it, she said it was the cutest little car she’d ever seen.

One thing that concerns me is the seat which is fiberglass. I hope that never breaks because it appears to be all connected to the entire cab, all the way up to the dash and behind the seat. Anyone have that break before? I don’t weigh 300 lbs or anything, just seems a little flimsy to me. I know keeping the weight down is crucial on electric cars but I think I would have made it a little stronger.

You for sure don’t want car starting batteries. if your on flat ground You can buy marine Deep cycle size 31 at Sams for $95 plus core. Make sure your charger is set up for flooded batteries. They will lose half their capacity in 6 months from undercharging if left on the gel setting. You should get 20+ miles range and 3 plus years out of them. They are made by East Pen, my favorite manufacturer. I believe the model is 29HD.

No they were marine but only group 29, 61lbs. I’ll have to check out Sams, looks like they might be a better option. I think I have one battery in garage I can take in for one core at least.

The Sams Dura Cell 29HM is a group 31 battery.

This battery is An East Penn and is sold under a number of brand names. I have used these in 3 of my carts.

I bought this same set of batteries a year ago from Pep Boys (31MDC) for $620 out the door…

Not bad, I’ll write that down and have a look. Actually won’t be getting batteries for a few months, still have a to pay for car, waiting for tax refund next year, don’t want batteries sitting around meanwhile. I can get some of the little things done on it right now, plus winter coming here gonna be too cold anyhow to drive it.

good job Tommy… know you’ll enjoy driving it when tou get it running


I noticed the front tires are towed in at the bottom, I can’t think this would be normal. Holding a level up to the tire shows it’s about an inch off vertical. Would this just be tie rod adjustment? Or something else?

Working on a bed for it. Looked at shimming up fender but looks like it will have to be raised quite a bit. I’d rather have a more usable flat bed any way. Nearly done with it. Should hold around 350 lbs. I’ll post some pics when I get a chance.

To much toe forces wheels in at the bottom. To little toe forces wheel out at bottom (negative Camber) toe in should be 1/16 to 1/8 inch toe in. Positive camber looks good Negative camber looks like crap.

I adjusted the tie rod, but that just pulls the wheels in or out side to side, I’m not sure how to adjust the up and down. The A arms don’t appear to have any adjustment, and the wheels are bolted on. The bottom of the wheels are over an inch pulled inward than the top. Must be another way to adjust but I’m not sure where it would be.

You loosen the 4 bolts holding the spindle hub assembly to the knuckle and put flat washers between the hub and knuckle

Wheels out at the top put washers in the bottom.

Wheels out at the bottom put washers in the top.

Little bit 1 washer .040 Lots 2 washers .080

HOWEVER: Too much toe in or toe out will pull the bottom of the wheels in or out depending on the problem. 1/2" toe out will pull the wheels out at the bottom enough to make the cart look like a splayed Donkey/ Too much toe in will pull the wheels in at the bottom.

Improper toe will also make the cart unstable and darty as well as increasing steering effort.

Ok, thanks, I went out and looked again, didn’t see anything. The A Arms, no adjustment, no adjustment on the strut either. Ok, so it’s got positive camber I guess, a lot. About 1.5 inches. Looks like it’s worn the tires wrong for awhile.

Use washers to shim the spindle hub out from the knuckle.

Wheels in at the top put washers on the top 2 bolts

Wheels in at the bottom put washers on the bottom 2 bolts.

Little bit single washer .030

Bunch double washer .060

NOTE: The nuts are welded to the backing plate you do NOT have to pull the brake drum. 1/2 hour per side.

Ok, just got done. Used two washers. The bolts were a trick to get off, especially the bottom one near the tie rod bracket. Lubricated them before they went back on. Wasn’t sure if I should go more than two washers, worried the top bolts would strip with that much angle on them, maybe not. But it helped A LOT. Nearly straight up and down now, I think I can live with it. Lined the steering wheel up and adjusted tie rods, so that’s pretty close, I’ll need to have the car rolling before I can test it.

Thanks for the help, that had me stumped.

Pics of flat bed I’m working on.

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More pics. Can’t wait to get this little car on the road.

Better get new tires if they are worn uneven…?