Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lastest updates from Bostig

 Well here's my sexennial blog post. I really am terrible about keeping up with the blog and making videos, but I'm convinced to make a better effort at it. My guess is that it will end up helping customers and helping Bostig. It might even be entertaining!

So here we go on the latest updates on things people would like to know about by subject.

The SC (Supercharger)

The supercharger dev hit a number of showstoppers along the past 5 years, luckily none of them were insurmountable. They did however brutalize the speed of the project, which when you're at this scale of operations is pretty easy to do. 

Sure I could have shoved something out the door faster, but trust me that's not good for anybody. We are still in the private beta phase of dev. The phases of Bostig dev tend to be Proof of Concept (POC) -> Private beta -> Public beta -> Retail.  The private beta in this round was speeding up last fall, when we again hit some real slowdowns. Slowdowns in the form of 2/3s of private beta guys getting injured to the point they couldn't participate!  All unrelated, none having to do with vans. 

Despite that setback, we did overcome a MAJOR showstopper in the fall in the form of finding an ECU guru who is not only fantastic at calibrating, but who can actually hack the ECUs and gain customized control over the factory ECUs to a level I haven't seen in my entire working life with cars, which is ~30 years.  This advance may actually carry back over to the conversion itself since it allows us to once and for all delete PATs (Passive Anti-Theft) from the focus ECUs meaning we can use them again. And could give us some great new capabilities like controlling the radiator fans speeds from the ECU etc. 

Currently I'm onboarding a couple additional folks into the beta, which will be the first change in group size in over a year. I was hoping to be at this stage in the early winter last year but man, if it isn't one thing, it's a pandemic. 

The best news on the SC front that I can share via text is that the hardware is pretty dialed in now, very few changes. This combined with consistency in tuning/calibrating across the group is what gets us into the public beta phase.

I'll add some new pictures of the current setup for the next post. 

The PZ (Project Zion)

Me with the 67 hp ZF75 motor from a Zero SR

This is the codename of one of the other "power adders" that I've been working on. All cool projects should have codenames, and this one is great because Zion is one of my favorite national parks, but also because it really is the ultimate type of power adder to achieve. 

PZ is a parallel hybrid drive system from Vanagons. There, I said it. I've been , researching, waiting, and working on it since early 2019. The POC is quite a thrill! So are the benefits to such a system:
  • Hugely Improved acceleration
  • 2wd -> 4wd
  • Improved braking via regen
  • Only way to add power and *lower* loads on other driveline parts (300-400 hp vanagon now possible without instantly destroying transmission)
  • Errand or Emergency pure electric range
  • Huge GINORMOUS house battery for camping
  • Improved MPGs during city driving
  • Great for rock crawling, (max torque at 0 rpm up front)
  • CA legal right out of the box
  • Rear powerplant agnostic
See why I would call it Zion? Plus "Zion" sounds vaguely electrical. Anywho the POC is a blast to drive as the test mule is both the SC test mule and the PZ test mule. For the POC I wanted to test a smaller, lighter, lower voltage aircooled setup. I did so with the drivetrain from a 2017 Zero SR electric motorcycle. That setup is great because the whole thing would add under 500 pounds, and for the DIYer would be much safer than the typical 300+ volts you deal with in electrics. 104 volts can nail you, but isn't nearly as likely to insta-kill you if you really screw up. The 106 ft/lbs right off the line is really great too. The POC was a test to see how a single one of these motors does, with the intent to use two of them eventually. But while the Zero drivetrain is great, it just isn't up to the sustained kW output levels I want to see to climb mountains etc. So the very first day I had it up and running and tested I hit the drawing board again to upsize. (here's a video of that very first little jaunt around the parking lot) 

For my next blog post I'll go through some of how I did the POC and share some more pictures and get some more video. In addition, I'll also start getting into how PZ has the potential to help syncro owners and 2wd owners looking to go syncro with suspension and brake upgrades for the front end as well. Syncro parts are of course made of unobtanium. Things like new forged uprights are not possible at this scale, and machined chromoly parts are just ludicrously expensive without truly offering the value they cost. But I'm working on a solution for all that too and just today actually, it passed the very first hurdle. Please email me with any specific questions you'd like answered in the blog, or encouragement!


  1. Geeez Jim! Amazing to see your continued dedication to incredible Vanagon upgrades! Thanks for all your work, visions and accomplishments. -Will Hoenig

  2. Excited to hear more, please update us on the blogstig!

  3. I've been waiting on a system like this to appear on the market for Vanagons. So stoked you're working on it. Please let us know of any crowd-sourcing efforts. I'd happily donate to help move this effort along. Godspeed.