If you could imagine the least most glamorous place in the world, add to it some cold, damp weather, and that was the sight that greeted us upon waking up…a desolate downtown car park. But despondence didn’t last for long as Richard suddenly arrived on his bike with Claudio on the back carrying large quantities of coffee, and this combined the last night’s leftover pizza made for a fine start to the day!
The first order of business was to transfer all the equipment from the RV and pack it neatly and accessibly in the much smaller support vehicle. This took quite some time because as we were packing we were also cleaning up the RV ready to be handed back later that day. Fortunately, Charis had agreed to join us for a few days after Vancouver and so we had a competent woman to help us get organised. After a few hours we ready to head back to the Fairmont Hotel to pick up our charged car. Just before the convoy was due to set off however, Richard received a call and found out his wife was in labour and so he made a speedy departure back up to Vancouver. We would like to wish Richard and his wife all the best for the latest addition to their family!
However, our convoy was not to remain light for long because at the Fairmont we were due to meet Ben Pullman and Dan, reporter and photographer respectively for the famed CAR magazine. They were due to stay with us until San Francisco to write a long article about the project. While we went off to the Fairmont to pick up the SRZero, Toby and Clemens took the RV to the long stay car park at the SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) airport where we were to drop it for the rental company to pick up the next day.
Upon arriving at the Fairmont, the day’s first surprise awaited us; the car was not fully charged. In fact it was nowhere close…it only had 53%! Clearly some personnel on the morning shift who was not familiar with our arrangement with the night staff had disconnected the plug after about 4 hours of charging. This was nowhere near enough charge to get to Portland, so we had to schedule an emergency stop elsewhere. And this is where the RV stepped in for the last time to help us out; we were going to charge off its onboard generator for the first and last time. So the support vehicle, SRZero, and Ben’s car headed off to the airport for a quick emergency charge.
After spending a few hours at the airport charging the car, we continued on our way south to Portland. In fact, our final destination for the day was a town called Wilsonville about 12 miles south of Portland, and home to Rinehart Motion Systems, a silver sponsor of ours who built us our custom motor controllers. We had been promised beer and a barbeque at their facility so we were very keen to push ahead and get there as soon as possible!
It was a pretty eventless journey, with the car performing very well, and really eking out every last joule of energy from its limited charge. At about 8pm, we finally pulled into Rinehart’s car park and was greeted by the entire company. It was quite a weird experience as we had been speaking to members of the company for so long without having any knowledge of what they looked like, so it was great to finally put names to faces after about 9 months of skyping!
As always, we had to ensure that the car got fed before we did, so out came the cables and plugs. However, this was possibly the best bunch of people in the world to help us come up with a quicker solution for charging, and very quickly they had located some 600 volt power supplies from the back of their workshop. After hooking 2 of these units up in parallel with our one existing charger, we were able to charge quickly for the first time since Whitehorse, and so in the knowledge that the car would be charged by early the next morning, we tore our eyes away from our baby and onto the food!
Nachos, pizza and salad were waiting for us as the barbeque got going, with delicious smelling burgers, chicken wings and salmon cooking away. Beers abounded and the whole atmosphere was extremely friendly and jovial. While eating, we had the privilege of being shown around their facility and some of the cutting edge technology they have been developing. We were blown away; some of the equipment that they have built in-house completely boggled the mind, and compared to other products we have seen on the market, it would appear that they were way above the curve!
By now it was getting late, and food-induced tiredness was setting in. Larry, the CEO of Rinehart, showed us into the office where he offered us the opportunity to crash on the floor. Given the fact that we had slept the previous night in a car park, the clean, carpeted floor looked extremely welcome, and we gladly accepted the offer! After a quick internet fix, it was time to crash out!
A massive thanks to Larry, Chris, Azham, Patty, Kyle and all the rest of the Rinehart bunch for feeding us, accommodating us, and of course sponsoring us!