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A College Student Rebuilding a Salvage Tesla Model S

Discussion in 'Model S' started by satoshi, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    Hi Tesla Motors Club,

    After many bidding wars at salvage auctions, I've obtained a Salvage Tesla Model S to work on. There are a number of reasons why I'm embarking upon this project, from career relevant skill development to simply because it is fun.

    Particularly noteworthy is I want to see Tesla succeed in its efforts to make EVs mainstream, and eventually it would be nice to work for them as an Engineer in the future. Right now I am about 2 years away from graduation as a double major in Electrical Engineering and Japanese so by the time I graduate and would be eligible to work for them the model 3 will ideally have come out.

    I'd like to support Tesla's model 3 as best as I reasonably can, and right now the only real thing I can do is try get actively involved in the bug bounty program. Part of the conditions of that program involve only working on a vehicle you have ownership on or explicit permission by the owner to work on it.

    A salvage model S is perfect for this purpose because I have no warranties to care about, it's the only thing I can finance on my low income as a student, and it requires me to start from a broken down vehicle and work my way up to a functional vehicle. This rebuild process makes it so I have a very acute awareness of the impact of whatever security exploits I try to discover and patch as I will have developed a very intricate understanding of the model S design by the end of the rebuild.

    Here's a quick primer video on the car:

    I will post updates eventful things happen. If these thread updates are too infrequent for your interest in the project or relevant information shared feel free to listen in on the Tesla Motors IRC channel.

    Sincerely,
    Satosh
     
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  2. Patrick W

    Patrick W Member

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    I am very impressed. With luck, word of your project will get back to folks at Tesla HQ.
     
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  3. Nosken

    Nosken Member

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    Out of curiosity, how much did the car cost you?

    Good luck with the project! Keep us posted.
     
  4. Silverpnt01

    Silverpnt01 Member

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    Just from following BTR's rebuild thread this is an expensive project to tackle.. how do you plan on covering the expenses? or procuring parts? Especially while in college. You financed a salvage vehicle?

    I wish you the best and look forward to seeing your posts!
     
  5. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    Covering Expenses: I have a good job relative to most student jobs. I also Referee from time to time to make a little extra boost for parts.

    Procuring Parts: Yes, Tesla refuses to sell replacement parts. So it will be a fun scavenger hunt, a number of parts I will just machine replacements myself where possible. The only part I would rather not take any risk on is replacing airbags, it's a safety critical part that, while I know how and can repair... I would rather not take any chances.

    If Tesla did sell parts, I'd be more than happy to pay for parts-only to make sure those expenses go towards the development of the Model 3, but until they do that money is going to a 3rd party market is seems.

    Will not ever pay for service though as it defeats the purpose of the project.
     
  6. Edmond

    Edmond Permanon

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    I'm surprised the B-pillar is straight enough for the doors to fit. It's one of the few steel components in the car. Normally I'd replace that. Side impacts are not easy to get right, as the doors must seal.

    Behind the rear door isn't so bad as that could be banged out from the wheel well, assuming the sill isn't warped. You'll need to become (or buy) a good metalworker. And time to learn TIG welding.
     
  7. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    Luckily, my intro to engineering (Project Lead the Way) courses in high school taught us TIG & MIG welding. University also has TIG welders and trains us to use them as well. Only hard part is getting the car and the TIG welder in the same location at the same time.

    Found some more "concerning" damage on the interior... That likely will be a "cut out and reinforce with new metal welded on" job.

    First priority though is getting access to diagnostics & getting the car to shift into drive... While I'm waiting for my keys to arrive in the mail from Copart I'm pulling the dash apart to get the MCU out so I can force it into factory mode (or even root it if need be... whatever is necessary to get diagnostics).

    [​IMG]
     
  8. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    I am very very glad that I learned how to TIG weld in high school, and have access to a TIG welder when I get to that point in time.

    It's damage like this that separates the real men from the boys :p

    [​IMG]

    Same B-Pillar damage from previous post today, just different angle and better camera:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Edmond

    Edmond Permanon

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    I think you want to do it right, and Tesla has very specific requirements. If so, never weld where there wasn't a weld before, and replace damaged parts rather than straightening them. This is difficult with the B-pillar, but if you must replace a riveted part, drill out the old rivets, and use the same size (steel, not aluminum) rivets, and bond with a Tesla-approved crash-safe adhesive like Lord Fusor 2098.

    Then again, if doing it the Tesla way is not so important, weld where you will and clean it up nice so it doesn't show. Don't forget to wire-wheel before you weld, and use weld-through primer where needed.
     
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  10. KJD

    KJD Member

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    Nice project. Looks like you will have plenty of chances to work on your cutting and welding skills with this project.
     
  11. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    #11 satoshi, Mar 27, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
    Yes, I would like to do it right. Although, copying Tesla movement for movement without mechanical analysis in one's choice of engineering software would be a poor choice in my mind as well. I'm looking for "Tesla approved" but not necessarily "Tesla identical".

    Given that we are working with damaged metal, copying Tesla's original design choices might be akin to taking someone's words out of context. I'm not a mechanical engineer though, so I will be consulting with experienced automotive mechanical engineers on the design of such repair.

    Although, Tesla & Insurance company alike are certainly vindicated in their choice to total the car. At this point I'm tapping into skills that are extremely expensive to ask someone else to perform. It's only because I'm a well rounded engineer myself that this level of intricate quality control is fiscally feasible.

    I probably will do the design/mechanical analysis in Autodesk Inventor as it is a software I have previous experience with. Unless someone heavily advocates for learning solidworks instead.

    It's facing challenges like this under a strict budget that lead to innovation in whole industries as well.
     
  12. rjcbox

    rjcbox Member

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    Best of luck. Looking fwd to following
     
  13. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    Good luck with the repairs!
     
  14. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    Good luck!
     
  15. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    Most expensive camping tent ever (how to work on the interior at night without annoying the neighbors with your blinding work lights):
    P1020010.JPG

    Inside the expensive camping tent:

    P1020011.JPG

    Pretty much all of Sunday and a little bit of Monday morning accomplished getting the MCU out:

    P1020019.JPG
    So now the quest for factory mode begins, neat.
     
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  16. Btr_ftw

    Btr_ftw Court Jester

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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    image.png
     
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  18. zhur0002

    zhur0002 Member

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    Hate to be a buzz kill, but car has very extensive damage on it. From the pictures the reason why the b-pillar is semi straight is because a jack was used from the inside to kind of straighten it so doors would kind of fit. Front by the a-pillar was pulled back and ripped by frame machine when they were trying to straighten it. Only way to fix this car properly is to cut the car all the way length wise and weld a new half on it. I have parted cars out that were in better shape than this. I think this should be a parts car.
     
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  19. satoshi

    satoshi Electrical Engineering Student

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    So your thoughts are even if I reinforce the damaged sections, it's hopeless?

    When the community's aluminum body expert thinks this, that is indeed disheartening...

    Still going to consult with my Uni's automotive faculty advisor for thoughts though...
     
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  20. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    There is no way to put a dollar figure to learning. Have at it.
     
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