Saturday, July 21, 2018

Webasto And The Oregon Coast or "I Fought The Car And The Car Won!"

So after a full day of recuperating from my Michigan/Ohio trip (and the 3 hour time zone change) it was time to go on Vacation! But this time, no planes, no gassers involved.

The plan; 800 miles to check out Webasto upgrade progress on the previously incompatible (to the 2018 LEAF) QC stations along the Oregon Coast.  My desired destination was Bandon, Oregon to spend a few hours wandering among the rocks on the beach. When you say it like that, it doesn't seem like much but its one of those experiences you really can't understand from pictures. You simply have to be there.

Goal;   To see if I could maintain a decent charging speed of 30 KW by keeping my batt temps between 7 and 8 bars or under about 105º

For those of you that have minimal patience, I provide the following short version;

Castle Rock, WA
Astoria, OR
Cannon Beach, OR
Tillamook, OR
Lincoln City, OR
Newport, OR
Albany, OR
Woodburn, OR
Newberg, OR
Scappoose, OR
Centralia, WA

Westport, OR
Yachats, OR
Florence, OR

Reedsport, OR
Coos Bay, OR

For those of you who have a lot of time;

July 19th; The Beginning

As mentioned, I was recuperating from Eastern time which means I slept about 3 hours on my last day in Ohio being forced to wake up at 4 AM to insure getting to airport in time for my flight (That is 1 AM West Coast time btw)  so naturally I slept 10½ hours Wednesday on my one day home before this trip but still managed to get up at 3:30 AM Thursday simply because I could not sleep any more. I had planned an early start but this was a bit ridiculous so I drank coffee for a bit and made sure I remembered everything and must have done a great job cause the only thing I forgot was my extra wall charger and the power cord for my Go Pro.  Not too bad!

Trip start. Odometer; 8093. SOC; 98.48% 403.49 volts.   Notice residual heat from the QC
 the day before. Garage temps were 64.4º  On my 30 kwh, temps would have been within a few degrees by now with over 16 hours of cooling

The Network Test; Part 2

What Webasto had been doing was commenting on Plugshare when each station was upgraded for 2018 compatibility but I noticed none of the stations along my route had these comments. So I decided to leave home with a full charge and top off at Castle Rock which would have given me enough range to make it to Tillamook with the idea that if the stations had not been updated, I would hang at the cheese factory while charging on Level 2 to make it to Lincoln City which for some reason, has always worked for the 2018's.

I did call tech support Wednesday and they did say that 6 stations were being upgraded that very day but it took time for Plugshare to post the info on the website. I wondered why the tech who did the upgrade couldn't comment on Plugshare as they completed each site but whatever.  Lucky for me, the person who scheduled these upgrades was gone for the day so the person on the phone could not specify which stations had been done. They also mentioned that wildfires in the region had complicated the scheduling a bit so that pretty much told me the Northern part of my route was probably ok.

Castle Rock, WA

With the early start, I got there and Cascade Market was closed and I needed facilities BAD!! (too much coffee... WAY TOO MUCH!!) Unfortunately, there is no viable bush options in the area but luckily there was a lady at the laundromat next door. Despite the sign on the door proclaiming hours not starting till 7 AM, she was in there anyway.  I guess what the sign really meant was "lights don't come on till 7 AM" but being this far North, there was more than enough light at 6 AM!  But due to vandalism, the bathrooms were locked but she did tell me about a 24 hour gas station located on Front St a block away and sure enough  Speedy Mart was open!!  Keep this in mind folks.  Castle Rock is the station least likely to be queued up with both Centralia and Tumwater the most likely.  So now when you are there you can walk a block for relief, coffee and munchies!

 Arrival Castle Rock, WA

 Charge curve Castle Rock, WA.  Charge speed 47 KW time 29 mins, 50 sec. 13.42 kwh gained. 
SOC controlled curve

 Depart Castle Rock, WA

Westport, OR

Since I got coffee at Speedy Mart, facilities were required and again much too early for The Berry Patch Restaurant to be open but there is a gas station across the street with porta potties so..."always open".  Something I have to say I have never seen is a handicap access porta potty.  WTG Westport!

As we already know, Westport did not work which was a bit of a concern for me since 6 stations were to have been upgraded. Was it possible it was the 6 on the southern coast??

As you can see, I had plenty of range so still not worried. Besides each location has level 2 that works fine (in their sloooow way!)  so there is always a Plan B!

Arrival Westport OR.  Notice temps well below the "slow" zone!

Astoria, OR

The first time I came here, I walked a few blocks south to the library to use their bathroom not realizing the transit center (which faces the street and doesn't look like much from the parking lot) had a bathroom that bus riders AND EVers are allowed to use. You have to get key from reception. 

Arrival Astoria, OR.  Notice there is still plenty of range?

This time the station connected and charged me!  This really boosted me. I figured that I was well on my way to getting to Bandon! Why Westport didn't work seems strange but it is surrounded by other stations near by so not as critical maybe?  But seems strange it would have been skipped especially after I found out the stations on Highway 30 East were also updated!

Charge curve Astoria, OR.  Charging speed; 37 KW,  time 17:54, 10.14 kwh
Charge curve "temperature controlled" 

Departing Astoria, OR.  I posted LEAF Spy so you can get an idea
of the temps involved. I will be blogging my findings on the comings
and goings of the temp bars as related to charging speed but you can
also figure out a lot of that from this and previous posts from the
charging curve graphs. 

Cannon Beach, OR

As seen above, I left Astoria with 8 TB's (temperature bars or segments...) but I was back to 7 TBs by the time I hit Cannon Beach. As luck would have it, the heat had not reached the coast yet so it was cool. Actually it was perfect weather. I was wearing shorts and a "no wet" t shirt which means its made of nylon and super thin but I was very comfortable since I did get out and walk around on every stop to stretch legs, take pix or simply find restrooms!

Astoria charged at 37 KW so no complaints there. The key was maintaining a decent charging speed so this was the first real test!   Charge started at 29 KW.  Now this is a bit of a borderline call. Charge speed is controlled by two things.  SOC (ongoing) or "starting" temperature.  At this point, I would guess its the SOC controlling the speed here since I was expecting a bit higher like 32 KW. 

 Arrival Cannon Beach.  Pack over 100º  7 TBs

 Charge curve Cannon Beach, OR.  Charging Speed 29.2 KW, time 13:26, 6.293 kwh. 
Charging curve; SOC controlled??

Cannon Beach station is at Cannon Beach RV Resort so facilities are available during the day. Not sure about 24 hour access. Bathrooms were very clean!

Departing Cannon Beach. Back to 8 TBs. 

The scenery was also "ok"... I know what you are thinking but trust me. The farther south, the better it gets and we still have a long way to go!

Tillamook, OR

Tillamook, OR is home to the World famous Tillamook Creamery.  Well, ok if you live in the Pacific Northwest, its famous.   They recently finished a remodel so had to stop in to check out the new digs, right?? 

Tillamook Mudslide double scoop. Ok, so maybe there were other reasons to stop... 😋

 Best part of the self guided tour! Free samples! (besides the ice cream)

I hadn't really eaten breakfast or lunch but the ice cream pretty much covered both!!

 Arrive Tillamook, OR.  Visiting the Creamery allowed extra cooling time!

 Charge Curve Tillamook, OR.  Charging speed 30.8 KW, time  14:07,  6.88 kwh
Charging curve; temperature/SOC controlled

Departing Tillamook, OR

Lincoln City, OR

Well, I warned you!!  This part of the trip is always slow due to a lot of twisties, etc.  Constantly have to stop to rest after the heavy exertion negotiating those extreme roads so might as well grab some pix too! Click on the pix for the full sized view. 

 Arrival Lincoln City, OR

Charge curve Lincoln City, OR.  Charging speed 28.3 KW,  time  16:55, 7.63 kwh
Charging curve, temperature limited

Lincoln City charger is in the back of the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Bathroom facilities are in the center and espresso but no food. There are some options within walking distance however.   

Departing Lincoln City, OR.  Temps on the rise. Bye bye 30 KW!!

Newport, OR

The charger at Newport is located in the downtown area one block off the main drag. A TON of places to eat including a highly rated Mexican place adjoining the parking lot.  Newport is basically a peninsula with the Pacific to the west and Yaquina Bay to the right. If you are hampered by slow charging and not sure where you want to spend extra time, fret not. This is the place!  There is so much to see here with a lot of it within walking distance.  Because the upgraded chargers petered out (this was the last one that worked) I doubled back to spend the night here and it was a very good decision to do so. 

Don Davis Park is right on the Pacific overlooking a sandy windswept beach where tourists gather every evening to watch the Sun setting over the Pacific. Unfortunately, there were clouds several miles off the coast that blocked the actually Sunset but it was still pretty awesome!

Yachats and Florence, OR

Well I was told 6 stations were upgraded Wednesday and Newport was station #5 but it didn't make sense that it would end in Yachats, the next station south. Sure enough neither Yachats or Florence worked.  FYI; The drive is simply one you have to experience. The scenery is breathtaking, the drive nail biting; All of which an EV excels at!

But the remoteness and constant ups (where there are cliff scenes you have to see!) and downs means there is ZERO cell service.  A few of the small towns had 3G limited to the very small town limits as the signal disappeared within blocks.  I use Project Fi AKA "Google Wireless" which uses the combined networks of Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular and still had nothing.   So take my advice; download Google Maps of the area before your trip so you can at least have basic navigation. 

DCFC at Yachats, OR. Didn't get a charge here but at least its Green Power...

With the 2nd failure at the Casino in Florence, I plugged into L2 and grabbed a few Kwh while pondering what to do. I decided it was time to consider option 2.  Bandon has the "real" awesome scenery but it was still over 100 miles away and with the specter of nothing but level 2 charging to get there, I decided it was time to turn back.  So after grabbing just under 4 kwh, I headed back to Newport all the while wondering where the 6th upgraded station was?  Could it be possible that Westport had errored out for some other reason? 

Back in Newport, as mentioned there is a ton to see so after grabbing charge #2, I went to Don Davis Park and watched the Sun set after getting sand between my toes!

Newport 2nd charge start. LOL... can't believe I deleted the wrong pix! 
Temps (This is CRITICAL) 94.8/89.0/80.1
Thankfully, LEAF Spy records EVERYTHING (even if I don't)

 Charge curve Newport, OR 2nd. Charging speed 36.3 KW, time 26:09 16.16 kwh
Charge curve temperature controlled

Whoa! Getting warm. Good time to call it a day!

9th TB happened on last charge of the day!

Day 2

Spending the night in the cold coastal air does a battery good I am guessing.  If you saw my previous blog about the precipitous drop in batt stats, you might have had concerns but after the nearly 400 miles and 7 QCs, I lost a grand total of ....  .02

 Overnight cool down!

Day two was as glorious as day one. Not a cloud in sky. Nice and cool with the ever present breeze (resembling gale force winds btw...) blowing.  So now I was faced with backtracking or forging onwards so onwards I went. 

Going farther south wasn't an option and the LEAF really isn't "that" waterproof so west was out so east was the only direction left so off I went. 

Albany, OR

Now most of the chargers off I-5 were among the first updated so no real surprises here but it would allow me to double back to highway 30, skipping Portland's sure to be wonderful Friday afternoon traffic and check out two stations that I have never been to so very much a win-win. 

The road to Albany, Highway 20 crosses a few hills thru wine country and past Oregon State University  in Corvallis.  Again another station I had never visited situated in the corner of a Chevron gas station and an A & W Restaurant!

Well, its been decades since I had been to one so this was really a treat and the best part was despite it being only 9 AM, they were open and serving hamburgers!

 Arrival Albany OR

 Charge Curve Albany OR  Charging speed 47.3 KW,  time 31:56   21.19 kwh
Charging curve SOC controlled

Departing Albany, OR

Ok, it was never my intention to charge that much but A & W as good as it was took forever to make my order. I only wanted to charge right to the knee and leave!  But the food was awesome (A burger with onions where you can actually taste the onions!) so be it. 

One thing that should be obvious; crossing the hills traveling east from the coast means no more coastal weather. It was starting to get HOT!

Now before I left Albany, it only made sense to check up on EA (Electrify America; The VW "oops we got caught" company) to see how they were doing.  So off I went and progress is coming along with all 4 stations in the ground.  Sadly, its another CCS blowout with 3 CCS only stations and a dual station with the lone Chademo plug.  Bet ya within the first week after they open a LEAFer will pull in to see a lone Bolt charging on the dual station while the other 3 CCS only stations sit idle...

 All stations are up!

 The 3 CCS Stations. They have both 150 KW and 350 KW plugs but only 150 is available initially

The lone dual format station. Click on pix for full sized photo. Chademo is easy to spot
 due to thicker cabling. As you can see it was last one installed almost as an afterthought...

Woodburn, OR

Ahh Woodburn! There isn't a station on the network that has been meaner to me than Woodburn!  If you recall on my Mall trip in March with my 2018? No charge.  The Eclipse trip with my "works with everything" 2016 S 30?  No charge then either!  In fact I had tried Woodburn two other times in my 24 kwh LEAFs and there was always a queue and simply too many options near by to wait. But this time it was vacant!

 Arrive Woodburn, OR. Not sure what happened with temps 
but it was a lot warmer than 66º!

 Charge curve Woodburn, OR. Charging speed 26.5 KW, time 20:34  8.890 kwh

Departing Woodburn...a "Hot" 8 TBs!

The charger is located at the Woodburn Transit Center which would make one think that facilities are present and that is not the case.  In fact, Woodburn is quite the pain since you have to take a circuitous route into the transit center avoiding bus lanes.  This means circling in from the back near the Denny's.    Again, I had not planned on charging this long but I will say; If you want to know how long it takes to plug in then cross the street to McDonalds to use the bathroom and return? Well, now you know!

Newberg, OR

Here was a station I didn't even know about! Well, I knew there was something there and had been thru the vicinity but only briefly while enroute elsewhere. When checking travel times, I decided that avoiding Portland area traffic was a priority even if it meant cruising the countryside so that is what I did. It wasn't fast but it was rather relaxing with E Pedal on. 

The Newburg station was in the Chevron (across the street from Fred Meyer. I guess I should have read the description first instead of touring their parking lot first...) and from appearances, was competing for space with the carwash.   Now if there was ever a one stop for all place; this was it. They had a lot going on besides gas. After plugging in, I decided to walk the lot (yeah, I know you are thinking "Its a gas station, how much is there to see??") and ran across this!

Ok, so A & W wasn't all that long ago and I really wasn't hungry but I could not resist. So I walked up to the window (its kinda of an espresso stand with drive up on one side, walk up on the other) and asked the counter person "Do you have Hillary Clinton's head on the menu?" with as much of a straight face as I could and she just kinda looked at me like I was crazy. Guess being up on current events is not on her bucket list. 😊

But I did notice they had a very interesting menu and the more I looked, the hungrier I became.  So I ordered the "Boo's Love" and I am so glad I did.

This thing was AWESOME!!  As mentioned before, I wasn't hungry. In fact the plan was to eat at Burgerville in Centralia but I literally could not stop eating!  The salad was very good but the Piorski was out of this World! I literally thought I was going to explode because I was so full but I couldn't put it down until it was gone!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!  (and they did get a 4.9 rating on Google and Facebook)  

 Arrive Newberg, OR. Still only 8 TBs!

 Charge Curve Newberg, OR  Charging speed 23.8 KW, time 18:11, 6.923 kwh

Depart Newberg, OR  Back to 9 TBs!

Scappoose. OR

Another location I had been near but never actually visited. This is another Highway 30 location (along with Astoria and Westport) but well East of where I normally hit Highway 30 crossing the bridge from Longview, WA.  Another reason I had never visited the station is due to its reputation of being unreliable. So I had no expectations and plenty of range in case it didn't work so why not?  

I negated driving the main highway electing to take the overland, over hill, over everything route where the traffic was light, speeds slow and curves treacherous. It was very cool.  On the way, I past "Mountainside High School" which has to be THE biggest high school I have ever seen. The 3 story brick building came right up to the street and I am still kicking myself for not stopping and getting pix!   

The Scappoose station was in the Fred Meyer parking lot and the charge was brief since I didn't really need one but did need a bathroom so charge it I did!

 Arrive Scappoose, OR

 Charge Curve Scappoose, OR. Charging speed 23.8 KW,  time 18:30, 7.054 kwh 

Depart Scappoose, OR. 9 TBs again! Notice the temp rise? Not the first time I have 
noticed a bad reading. Seems like thermometer is too exposed to moving air so a lower 
temp is the result when checked immediately after a drive.  

Centralia, WA

Arrive Centralia, WA  So it was so hot, the thermometer broke?? 

I was going to stop at Castle Rock but Brian Henderson was hitting Centralia to top off before tackling Highway 410 to have dinner in Yakima.  Daring!! so decided to meet up for a few. He got there before me so he charged to 96% then switched to level 2 to top off.  So one thing led to another and we talked and talked and I realized I had been plugged in a while and not only was car hot, so was the phone.  I got a message that "services were unavailable because phone was overheating and didn't realize till I got home that several pix and screenshots did not take.  I took several but none worked. 

Sooo... back to the logs!!  I charged 35 minutes gaining 14.24 kwh charging at 23 KW so not too bad but only because charge speed is dependent on starting batt temp which was good because when I unplugged I was on 10 TBs for first time on trip!!  122.5º/117.9º/109.1º.

BUT.... before I could start up and get out of the parking lot, it dropped to 9 TBs and 121º. Brian is my witness!!  But I was now close enough to home that I no longer felt like driving and declined his offer to head to Yakima. Especially since I would have to spend another 45 mins or so charging to even have a chance of making it!

So off I went north while he went east. 


On my "not so efficient" drive home, I kept bouncing between 9 and 10 TBs with a lot of overlap.  Granted you can get an idea of what charging speeds you can expect at what temperature but I have also been collecting data on bars and when they come and go.  Since charging speed is the most important issue we are facing after range degradation, I will be posting an entry concerning this as well after I have time to review the data for any missing or light parameters.  As of now, I have a lot of data for 6,7 and 8 TBs but light on the rest. This trip did help me fill in a few blanks. 

So there we have it. A few takeaways to consider;

It is a hassle to stop as many times as I did so not expecting this to be a convenient option for anyone unless you happen to be traveling an area that is abundantly rich with picture taking opps like the Oregon Coast.  On the earlier charging sessions, I simply charged until the 8th bar appeared then moved to the next station.  Sometimes, my personal needs took longer than the appearance of the 8th bar.  Since the temperatures did not start getting out of hand until I had reached nearly 250 miles, I could have easily done 300 miles.  Another thing to note; Most of the earlier stops I "needed" to make. As you can see, I was mostly charging the top half of the pack. 

What it really boils down to is the 2018 LEAF with all its drawbacks can be a relatively effective "tourist vehicle."   Racing down the road at 70 mph will heat up the pack quite quickly as the last leg of my trip showed, will ensure a lot of time charging and at that speed, less choices. 

What is really needed is simply more charging stations in more convenient places. THAT is what the Oregon Coast has going for it. Never going more than 35 miles to charge means picking the station that is convenient to my needs. I admit I should eat less, drink less (I ALWAYS carry chilled water with me) so I can stop less but TBH; That is not going to happen!

So on my trip stopping at every station, I realistically only could have skipped a few at the most. But Washington has finally kicked off WCGH (West Coast Green Highway) Phase 2.  EVGO is expanding and Electrify America has started Phase one of their buildout so soon, we may have the network we have been deserving for years!