Ford Think Neighbor Journal

Adding a clutch pedal to the Ford Think

Adding a clutch pedal to the Ford Think


The Ford Think Neighbor Journal ?

First off, don’t think this is about any Ford Think, this is about one that I bought without understanding the previous owner (a State University) had done nothing to take advantage of the many items fixed under warranty. what this means is I owned a Think that would take twice the money to fix than the purchase of a different Think Neighbor with the problems fixed. Keep that in mind, it’s not that I hate EVs, it’s that this one is not economically viable to fix..

what to do? Toss in on the scrap heap, or re-power it?

I decided to save it.. Considering my time and labor, it was an insane choice, but full of learning, and by following my effort, you might avoid a lot of the work and planning. Avoid the hard part, and enjoy the learning part, and then take your Ford think to places other Thinks will never go, and will you remember to check the fuel tank? The Mileage so good, you might forget, it now runs on gasoline 🙂

The car is pretty much done, and a great deal was learned.. the 250cc ATV engine now sits mid-ship, and there’s still room for passengers in the back seat!

I’ll redo these pages as I have time, and if you have a Ford Think that is NOT economical to fix, do Know I plan to sell an inexpensive CD full of pictures of how I did this one, there was a lot of re-engineering involved, but you know how it is, I could do the next one is 1/20th the time! I have a lot of Ford Think Electric Parts to sell..



4/16/13 Update.

Progress stopped on this project.. it’s taken me a bit to get over the news that Washington State has imposed a flat tax on EVs to be paid up front in lieu of road tax.   If you consider the cost to own a vehicle like the Ford Think…., the cost of Insurance, License tabs (ever higher each year), and now laden with city transit taxes, Seattle congestion taxes and more.  The average person IS far better off driving a 3/4 ton truck around on short errands and just paying for the extra fuel than paying all the associated expenses to own and keep an EV with limited utility as a second vehicle.  Washington State continues to demonstrate their inflexible and not so logical attitudes.  They allow motorcycles on the streets, but they impose strict standards for most vehicles with 4 wheels.  We turn to Japan, and see the ‘K’ class of vehicles, no doubt they are less safe than a full size Car, but are they less safe than a Motorcycle? And this whole idea of a three wheeler being allowed, but if you put an extra wheel on that vehicle for added stability, it becomes illegal, is that a line drawn that embraces the idea of making better use of our resources, and is it consistent with the States investment in wind energy?  Are K class vehicles and UTVs with street legal tires and lighting  adequate for running neighborhood errands while getting 50-60 MPG via their light weight, small and efficient engines?

We live in a society where leaders are certain they need protect us all, and as I ponder this latest Sick and Sad Boston Terrorist event that happened yesterday..  I can only imagine what is going through the Bloomberg mind, and other minds like him.. “why didn’t we ban the bomb along with limiting magazine capacity?

At some point, maybe my State will look at other states and note how nuts it is to allow motorcycles on the streets, and not allow properly equipped ATVs and UTVs.  When they have the right tires, lights and turn signals, are they not as safe as a Motorcycle? I’m sure it would take some doing to find a State Official in our DOT who would pick the motorcycle over a side by side UTV knowing he’d be involved in a 25mph T-bone.

Meanwhile.. Europe is full of laws, and in some places it’s illegal to be fat, but you can buy a UTV set up for the street.  And to think.. some of these people here who don’t allow us to own and operate the more efficient vehicles call themselves progressives.

With that said.. I need to finish the Think, and save it from the junk heap. I like the fact that it is a light weight vehicle using an alloy frame and composites, but there’s so many signs of ‘junior engineering’ or cost cutting in this car. I remember the Gang Greenies scolding Ford for their effort to collect as many Ford Thinks as possible and get them off the road.  Of course they were accused of being influenced by big oil 🙂  fact is, they bought a pig in a poke full of kiddie engineering mistakes, or at least that’s what I think..

As a foot note: The State of Washington has made exceptions for themselves when it comes to “K’ class Japanese Mini Trucks.. . You find these vehicles at State Auctions, and it appears they were safe enough for the State Employees to drive on State roads, but no good for you…

Yesterday I pondered how to put a clutch in this car without making it look like a hatchet job? Maybe thinking about it a while would prevent me from chopping up the floor boards? But don’t we know, the better thinking always seems to kick in, after you do the job. Could I bring both pedals through that stock opening in the floor boards?

It appears the Ford Think uses an ‘off the shelf’ Brake Pedal assembly, and the support is generous enough to suspend a clutch as well. I just copied the brake pedal arm, and the pedal itself. then cut off part of the tube the bushes fit into, bored a hole in my clutch arm to receive that part of the tube and welded it in place.  As per making this piece, a person could lay the brake pedal out on another piece of steel near the same thickness, trace the pattern, then take it to the drill press and drill a series of holes nearest the trace line in center punched holes. Once small holes are drilled, you can move up a few drill sizes and break into the adjacent hole.. finish with a grinder or coarse files if you have no better way to make it.  A lot of parts on this car appear to be designed under the King’s measure, I drilled a one inch hole in the pedal arm, this allowed me to push in the bush tube, and ready it for hanging next to the break pedal.

I made a simple steel bush that supports both clutch and brake, the stock system used what looked like a typical nylon bush at each end of the bush tube, 3/4 inch ID, 7/8 OD for the nylon bush.  I left adequate clearance in my home made steel bush and coated all with a silver based anti seize between the bush and support tube. If it ever gets sticky, it will be easy to pull and grease. 

Intro to project:

The story all starts with the fact that I have a Ford Think Neighbor I had hoped to repower with better batteries. Considering the cost of the components, and the fact that I do not live in an ideal area for an EV, I’ve decided to experiment with the car— err I mean Golf Cart and see what I might do with it.

Soon Wah Lee sent me this picture of a think like EV while he was visiting the Mainland recently.













The first time I saw the Ford Think Neighbor I liked the styling, this is a copy of the think above, or is it the people in Norway that copied the Chinese EV?

No doubt others like the design, and we can certainly see the influence of the Think Neighbor on this vehicle above that was found by Lee on a street in Mainland China.  Gone is the Think’s front trunk lid, and it looks as if this designer chose to reduce the parts count with what looks like one piece instead of individual front fenders and a trunk/lid up front.

I do think a ‘think like’ EV could be a very practical vehicle for a cop on the beat in congested areas. My friend SW Lee sent me a number of pictures of two and three wheeled bicycles with that big familiar motor hub as well. He explains that China is experimenting with EVs, in the hopes it will provide mobility while not increasing the serious pollution in cities where the air can be near too thick to breathe well at times.

China has not had the technology to work on emissions the way we have, and there’s much to do, and many of the older powered carts,  two wheeled tractors and more will change IF they don’t bite off more than they can chew. Unlike us, I think they (Chinese Leaders) fear hunger, and know that an empty plate leads to many deaths, so it’s best to be realistic about what you can afford to do.


Above:  I’ve unbolted the rear fenders and drilled out a few pop rivets to remove the trunk compartment on my 4 seat think..   What you see is the rear differential/motor loose, and near ready to lift out.  Just ahead of the differential, you can see the motor controller that looks to be a bear to replace if you have to.  I’m not sure I totally understand why they didn’t protect this unit better as well… under the car? What the heck were they ‘THINK’ing?…. there are areas where salt and anti icing agents are applied to the road, and I can’t imagine the programing port would appreciate these agents.

The differential has a ratio of 1:10.30 I’d imagine that means this GE DC motor will churn some rpms, and why wouldn’t it?

10:1 diff

10:1 diff








I was curious just how they accomplished the reduction, and you can see that there’s three gears in the set, and they mesh at all times.  What I’m thinking about is just plucking out the assembly to the right and making a custom chain driven rear differential out of it. That large gear is called a crown-wheel by our UK Cousins, and if you read this valuable page, and scroll down in the linked article,  you’ll see that the ford think differential has crown wheel that is bolted to the assembly that carries the spiders and bearings. This allows a DIYer to remove the crown-wheel and literally bolt a custom motorcycle sprocket in it’s place. The modified think unit will be plenty strong for the power I am considering, and I keep all the shafts and stock components, just plug in the splined shaft back into the modified differential.  A small water cooled ATV engine might fit back here with little problem.

















In the above picture you can get a better idea how the splined shafts ‘plug’ into the differential, and how I will go about making a bearing support for the chain drive diff. If I am clever, it will bolt in the same space with the same holes, and these handy side pieces should allow me to create same without a lot of trouble.

I think about the advantages of the four seats, and just how often I’d use them for what I normally do.. maybe I’d keep such a vehicle for running into the small town in the Central Mountains, but more often than not, two seats upfront, and a small bed in back would be far more useful, I have plenty of time to think this over..

As you can see from the back, the use of aluminum and other light weight materials in this vehicle means it won’t take much to push it.  If I take the back seat out, no doubt I could do most anything, maybe a V8?  but my approach is to use as much of the stock parts as possible, and make the conversion as KISS as I can. I do admit some of these other EV conversions look  fun, but a real IRS rear, and a small water cooled power plant is still my thought.. sip fuel, make it as quiet as possible, and here again, the water cooled design helps keep the noise low. BTW, theres’ plenty of room up front for a radiator.

And here’s an insane toy likely made up with a high performance bike engine driving a chain driven differential similar to what I am considering.

30MPH seems plenty fast for a golf cart.. One way of fitting a small MC engine might to  place a live shaft towards the back of the engine compartment.  Set the engine forward of that shaft, drive aft, and then drive from the aft shaft forward to the chain differential. Some ATV engines have a super low first gear, this could allow us to re-purpose some of these EV’s that are just too costly to fix to the Farm or Ranch, and they are vehicle designed to get into and out of easily..

A little off topic, but I have an old EZGO Marathon Golf Cart with a small two stroke in it. The CVT drive allows me to pull a self powered mower at very low speed, and the roof(shade) and cup holders make it a most pleasant way to mow 5 acres of grass. This old marathon is so easy to get in and out of!

It all depends on how cheaply you can buy someone else’s problem, and how much  money and effort the conversion costs. Maybe you will be able to sell some of the electrics to the EV hobbyists when you’re done?

More to follow..


OK, it’s 10/6 around 1600 hrs…  more thinking on this, and maybe time to share my thoughts about the kiss approach, part of good kiss is soliciting ideas, another part is never toss a part from a donor vehicle or your project vehicle untill you’ve thought about it for a week or more.. why hurry? How many times have you cut something off or tossed it away and wished you hadn’t?

Note, the crown gear has been removed.

As I kicked around the shop today, I removed the Gear from the center of the diff housing finding it easiest to put a pencil flame from a propane torch on the foot of the bolts to help break the lock-tite lose, then penetrating oil.

With the stock end caps and differential laying in place, it became obvious how simple the part is I need make, or at least it looks simple 🙂  I will  measure the OD of the stock end caps, buy two pieces of round Aluminum bar stock and make a recessed area for the differential bearings and outside of that, an area to ‘plug in’ the stock end caps!  That’s one part to design, and two to make per conversion. Yes, you know I will change my mind before I make the part.

There is plenty of room to mount our custom motorcycle sprocket, and if we’re lucky, only the ID will be custom.. and the OD that the sprocket fits onto will receive A custom cover. All though there’s at least 20 ways to approach making this can or cover, I love to play with two part epoxies, and having both ends of the diff housing the same OD will make the cover easier to make..  Since there are no stresses here. I plan to ‘build up’ the other end to match the machined area, this will allow me to use a straight tube for a cover..

Here’s a rough idea of what I have in mind… done MS in paint.

Nope, I don’t suggest this is a good drawing, but try and picture this as the right side, and picture one on the left as well. The bolts pass through the stock locations in the stock rear diff mount rails, then  through the stock end cap (green), and into our custom bearing housings (grey). our red bearing and brown bearings are stock sizes. Not shown is the hole that the splined shafts plug into.. use your imagination.

Got ideas? Share them.. we need distill this to as much KISS as reasonable.

In order to place the engine in the more convenient spot for maintenance, and to keep the passenger space unencumbered, I have an idea how to drive with a single chain and still keep the engine more aft and accessible… still thinking about this, but I want the engine in a place easy to check and  change oil and perform other service.

10/15/2012  I’ve had time to fondle the pieces of the stock trans axle, and to come to the realization that I am best off with a very compact power unit. Having learned something from my hands on hours of home power generation design, I tend to migrate towards the idea of using enough power, but not more than i need to do the job.

I think about motorcycle miss conceptions, and what I learned from Dan Coyle, a man who commuted to work almost every day rain or shine. He did so on an extremely fast Zuk 1300 air cooled. With 80,000 miles on the odometer, the bike was still running strong, and it went on and on.. last I talked Dan, he was over 100,000 miles!  Of course Dan was methodical about changing oil, and he took great care in selecting oil with higher anti wear agents, ones that are likely illegal now or soon will be. What I learned from Dan is even the higher performance bikes can go the distance with proper care. We all know that the lowly Honda push rod engines didn’t offer us huge power, but I never saw one fail that wasn’t seriously abused.. a design to consider?

True Motorheads, no matter how hard they try can not ignore Motorcycle advancements and design. The same for aircraft, there’s just too much innovation that seems to show up here first, and to be tested and tortured.

I’m a little nervous about the size of engine I’ve selected (250cc) It’s a mule of an engine that develops about 16 useful horsepower, it’s compact, and I’ve decided I’ll skip the CVT drive system which I’d prefer, but not at the expense of bulk that adds complexity to the conversion, and loss of seating or hauling space. The engine must be easily accessible, it must be water-cooled, as the vehicle may be forced to move along on an incline at lower speeds that could create high temperatures in an air cooled engine.

There’s two uses I’ll design around. One comes from my experience with an old EZGO Marathon golf Cart, it has a small two stroke in it, I forget size.. maybe , 230-240cc? I have taken the Marathon places where some people get nervous on a Quad.  sure, it crawled to my destination, and the air cooled got so hot it burned out some oil in the exhaust canister that had likely been there for 20 years. The wonder of this machine is how it is designed from the ground up for easy in and out, and provide low speed grunt. I have found it an ideal vehicle to work around the ranch or farm, or run to the neighbors.  There’s one task that the Marathon does so well, and that’s pull a self powered mower! Nothing I’ve tried comes even close!  Mowing about four acres is a big job, and best done in reasonable comfort. The Marathon Will develop enough torque to spin a tire that has a good bite and still be just off idle. On the hottest day, I can mow with a roof over my head for sun protection, cup holders on either side, and a small ice box on the generous floor board for refreshments. I’ll fill the thirsty mower a number of times while mowing  4 acres, and sometimes it enters my mind to ask myself,  just when did I refuel the EZGO last? It’s a fuel mizer for sure.

Can I repower the Ford Think to deliver the same low speed performance? I think so, and we need note that the Think is also a vehicle designed for easy in and out, and the roof line is adequately high, which helps when doing chores that require constant in and out.

The other design criteria is reaching a place on top of Monahan Mountain, there’s a rock you can walk out on and look up towards the top of the pass, and down towards Ellensburg. I like to visit this place. The Think needs to be able to make the trip up there on a steep logging road.  Since the old Marathon can do it, I think the Think will too.

A worst case situation will be the need to change counter sprockets, but a stump pulling first gear might eliminate that need.  The power plant is four speeds forward, one reverse. A push-rod design, and fueled by gasoline. I wanted diesel, but my first effort is about KISS and low-cost conversion.  I do worry about flywheel mass being low, and other things, and don’t we all know there’s no real substitute.. you really need to fab it up and drive it!

One thing I’ve learned is you don’t get too carried away fabricating parts till you have all the major pieces to measure and fit. There’s always something your mind’s eye misses, and as we know,  no matter how much attention you pay, there’s always going to be that thought you’d do it different the next time, but we make the effort to distill the idea to it’s simplest KISS form.

One thing we address right up front on a work vehicle that will operate anywhere near a mower on dusty land. You’ll build an air cleaner large and easy to service with an intake high as reasonable on the vehicle.

Today, I’ll leave a sketch with Otey, he’s got some four inch round stock to make the new bearing carriers for the chain diff, and the saw to cut the stock off in proper lengths; and he can creep up on the dimensions I need for clearance between the carrier and bearing OD. My hobby lathe mill takes more skill and patience that I prove to have at the moment.

As I sit here reflecting, I think about the Sow running the EPA, and my fellow voters who are cocksure that central planning is best. They who don’t see the value of States having the autonomy to do things as they see best for the people in their region. And this word ‘sustainable’. The pigs have tinkered with the word!  Our Children easy prey.  If Lisa Jackson had better aim, she’d piss on your back and tell you it was raining!

I think about my own State, we have a lot of people here that travel to Idaho to vacation and enjoy the outdoors. Some of us here even have Idaho license plates on our ATVs and UTVs. It’s not because it makes them legal here for a occasional run to town to spend buckets of money at restaurants and more.. it’s because we Washingtonians keep making the trip to Idaho to spend our vacation dollars…. they welcome us, the local cops wave as people respectfully stroll into their town on recreational vehicles.. to spend money lots of money.  Need help or advice? The cop is there to help you, he might even advise you on best tire pressures to run on the street and where the nearest free air is if you ask him.

No wonder people want the FEDS controlling it all. Idaho should never have the autonomy to venture away from the Pig’s plan…. that being to herd you into the city, and reduce your need to travel. No doubt all those video games serve a purpose.


As I listened to the debate tonight, I finished up the new bearing housings for the open chain drive Diff.  Following is a picture, Once I decide on the sprocket I’ll mount,  I can make the sleeve that covers the spider gears. I’ll need to wait till the engine arrives before I attempt to design more.  I’ve learned the hard way.. you really need put your hands on it before you start figuring exactly how you’ll design it, jump the gun, and you can make problems for yourself.

Bearing Housings made

Bearing Housings made

Designing the shifter, clutch linkage, unwinding the electrical, and that cooling system.. that should all be fun.  And eventually, I’ll do the same run down to Otey’s place as I did on the Cushman, will it be faster? It will have 60% more horsepower, but  I haven’t calculated the weight Difference yet.

One sure thing, the fuel tank will be a boat tank, I like them!


I’ve struggled with priorities!! Will it be KISS, or will it be making the best use of passenger space in the vehicle? I can’t have both, and I’ve finally decided I will cut into a few parts of the structure to make room for the engine in what I think is the best location. I think the gussets I’ll add to assure the structure is still strong will be more than adequate, but it will likely man that a person will have a spool gun and wire feed to reproduce my effort.. (aluminum welding and/or mods).  But shouldn’t we be honest? Just how many people will convert the Ford Think to gas or diesel? I’d imagine those who follow will spring for the gun, or hire the work done by a DIYer friend who has the skill.

Did I say I did settle on a 250cc engine with 4 speeds forward and reverse?  and I have one on loan to test fit?  Following is a picture, but it may not be obvious what I’m attempting to do yet. The open differential  doesn’t have the sprocket mounted yet, but as mentioned, it mounts where the ‘Crown’ gear once did.

The splined shaft that normally carries the counter sprocket will receive a “splined connector”. The side cover has a casted in piece that can be milled or drilled out where the added shaft will cleanly exit and a carrier bearing will be fitted just inboard of the mounted sprocket that aligns with the larger sprocket on the differential.

Before I show the picture, you may recall, I was interested in the conversion noting it was an extremely light weight car, with plenty of alloy and composites used. With this in mind, I chose a power plant that weighs in at 67 pounds minus the carb and a few electrical parts! I haven weight the electric motor, but it’s close to a push weight wise, but remember, we need not haul that lead around. There are opportunities  to shed a little more weight, but it gets more expensive to do so.. trading in the steel wheels for lighter weight alloy a possible consideration. Oh, and that on board battery charger.. what a heavy pig that was!




All should fit in the trunk!



In the above picture, you might see that the chain drive will be just out board of the left engine case. It should be easy and quick to change counter sprockets for low speed work, or for road work at higher speeds, maybe even up to 35MPH?  I guess I’ll eventually know how well it works.  More study, and then maybe the fabrication of a motor mount system with neoprene mounts?


I need inventory the weight of parts removed and added, one of the things that we know from Dr. F. Porshce’s time of EV design is that lead and other EV components can be heavy. In the Ford think, I see serious efforts to reduce weight and some curious.

The on board charger might be a tweakers target for theft, just what is it inside that little on board box that makes it weigh 40 pounds?

I weighed up the old trans housing with the electric motor attached 55 pounds.

There’s still more to remove, and we’ll be well over 500 pounds lighter.  Have you ever pushed a cart with 500 pound on it up a hill?

sure.. I know, I can’t plug it in.. but do note.. I waited for a long time for President Obama to deliver a decent and less expense battery pack.  All I got was news that my forced investment in a battery company is no bankrupt. Yes, I guess I should have waited to buy the Think that the Government bought, and then sold for a heavy loss at auction.. but how to salvage my loss.. that’s my effort here.

After several attempts at fitting the engine in the place I want and making brackets, I’ve developed a new approach. The power plant really needs a skid plate under it considering the places I might attempt to go, and the chores I might attempt.  This is gold cart you might say! I answer… you would never believe where I’ve had my EZGO Marathon, and the only damage has been a rock hit to drive train components.

11/15/12 With this new direction, I’ve chosen to consider a combined skid plate and engine mounting plate. First fit the plate, set engine on top of plate, shim it in place checking clearances, and then attempt to fit motor mounts from plate to engine mount locations making sure that drive shafts and suspension parts are free to move as designed.

Here I find myself cutting steel plate into odd shapes and knowing I could do it faster and more accurately If I only use a mill! And.. isn’t it time to study my own ATV Quad, and see how they did the motor mounts? Just how much Isolation did they engineer? I have faith the skid plate motor mount idea will work.


My confidence grows, the motor mounts look good enough for prototypes, and my attention turns to other things that need be fitted, will this run on Christmas day?


12/21/2012  (bad head cold, down time) As with all hands on projects, the real learning happens WHEN your hands are full of grease, and your wife is demanding you keep those smelly work clothes in the garage or shop.. Don’t stink up Her part of the house, and for goodness sakes don’t ask again what part of the house is yours? She’ll just remind you it’s why you have a shop!

Buried deep into this post where few will ever find it, is my note of just how poorly >my<  Think was designed! As with all engineering exercises, we know we can’t just blame the engineers, because they often answer to unrealistic customer demands and more. Teh Ford think neighbor (this vintage) looks like one of those hurry up and get this thing out the door! But as we learn with other things, you can NOT force a mind to look deep into the guts of something, especially if he knows he might find a reason to change his belief in the cause. He may already be part of the Parade, and worshiping that banner he’s placed above the front door.

Identifying the pressures on Ford Motor Company might be a place to start. By nature, healthy People and Corporations don’t intentionally commit suicide, but politicians, being so isolated from reality often do. Don’t like this discussion, jump forward!

Maybe it was the CARB that doomed this car? They demanded it by a certain date, and Ford Delivered it. If you’re interested in the story, you’ll do a little research. You’ll likely take the fork in the road you want. If you want to read about how the rich and ugly people (like Huffington) doomed the car, read at the Huffington post. Most who write over there, couldn’t tell you the difference between a BTU And an IOU..

I’m this far and what I’ve learned is the Think is so much worse of a design than I thought, and totally worthy of converting it to another fuel.. Propane, Natural Gas? Diesel, gasoline, you have plenty of options.

IF you choose to go electric, and you found a think (like I did) where public money bought the car originally and then the custodians apparently ignored the all the service bulletins and updates Ford did under warranty, you are likely screwed.

One place that never seem to let you down (if your qwest is to know reality) is eBay. There you will find support fo the Ford Think, a lot of parts, and people with knowledge and some without, but ti you follow the thread you’ll learn just how many problems people had with version one, and what you need consider replacing.

As freely as I write here, there’s not enough room to discuss the problems with the original charger, Controller, Batteries, motor, the insane location chosen for the controller, (under the car where road chemicals can attack it. and so much more.

So.. here’s where I’ve decided to add a couple of alternative titles,

  • Tips on converting your EV to gasoline
  • Convert your EV to gasoline
  • Convert your Ford Think to gasoline
  • Why convert an EV to gasoline?
Trial fitting

The Chain Goes about here, lots of re-enforcement to add.

There were reasons for a DIYer to rehab this Ford Think, and I say it would be you move forward fully understanding that you could buy another Think that had a LOT of money put into it and fully upgraded for a LOT less money than you will rehab one like this for.  You move ahead knowing you do it all at greater cost, and just for fun and learning.. we need not justify what we do, unless its to do with…. (wait a minute!) fact is we need justify more each day!

So.. where am I?



Engine installed, and now the drive system figured, and a new muffler found on Ebay for $19.95! Held up by a nasty head cold, but that muffler will find a home!


Muffler might go right here?


Muffler Here?

Muffler Here?


As I sit here thankful to be recovering from some cold or flu, I’m thankful for DIYer can do friends off in other lands, SW Lee and I have swapping few emails, we both have these somewhat new Shineray 250s with reverse, and documentation is not so easy to come by. This engine is designed after very old designs with a very long history of good service. These are NOT power houses, they will impress no one as per performance, but fuel  economy is important to the home market, and even a fuel injection system is in the works, or is it actually a reality if you have the money to waste at this point?

As Lee and I sort out the wires and what they do, I share with him, he shares with me. We find a few drawings that give us the key connections, the colors from the engine, and to the devices like the external rectifier, and the CDI unit! We know the pins, but what’s missing for us is the wiring harness. The connector on the engine doesn’t match the CDI unit.. because that’s what the wiring harness did 🙂 Neither of us have easy access to the connectors they used.. and we’ll take a breather before we decide to solder our own work to theirs. These parts will be along at some time, and so much is slowly showing up.. on eBay, at and more.

But I’m at a loss for all these wires coming from the engine, is it eleven ? And then Lee writes.. Hey George..  what about neutral light? Maybe even a Reverse gear warning or light? And maybe there is even a (lock out) button we need push before it’ll go into reverse? Oh yes, it’s so nice to have DIYer  friends and ideas exchanged 🙂

But there’s other things to wire 🙂 There’s a Thermal switch on the radiator, and another one on the thermostat housing.. One turns on the fan, the other is an over temp alarm, or dies it depend on the installation? Then there’s that starter lead, but most will be easy to figure with the hints we already have.

Engine specs:

Single-cylinder, water-cooled, 4-stroke 250cc motorcycle engine.

Model: 167MM

Mode: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, water-cooled,

Displacement (ml): 229.2

Ignition: C.D.I

Compression ratio: 10.0:1

Net weightkg: 34

Starting: electrical/ kick

Max power(kw/r/min): 11.5/7000

Max torque(N.m/rpm): 18.5/5500

Bore and stroke(mm*mm) : 67*65

Dimension(L*W*H)(mm): 358*324*458

Clutch type: Manual













This entry was posted in Vehicle Design and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Ford Think Neighbor Journal

  1. Pat Sweeney says:

    You are going to give some of the greenies a vapor lock by converting an electric to gas. but that said it is a verry slick conversion. I am most interested in the CVT belt drive. Where can you find them at a reasonable price?
    Pat Sweeney

    • George B. says:

      Pat… your question…. there are several transaxles that are set up to work with CVTs systems, the key is getting that reverse gear, and then figuring out whether you want an IRS system or a rigid axle. This converted EV Gem gives you an idea as to how these are rigids are mounted (likely came from a golf cart) a sub frame carries all, and is mounted to the main frame like a swing arm. It’s high mass, but plenty good for utility use. most are suspended from a single point forward to help keep wheels in contact with the ground. The Cushman Truckster uses a similiar approach. One source of differentials with reserve is the Tuff Torq differentials used in skid steers, John Deere Gators, and a few other off road vehicles. One of these units has a built in diff lock, brakes, and a reverse! This would make a simple conversion, but one needs to know that the CVT system can be expensive, and the input shaft of the unit used in the Gator and Cub Cadet is splined and forces you to consider the CVT system they used.

      Thanks to very poor powder coating prep, and salt, there are a number of rotted out Gators sold each year at State auctions. If you don’t sand blast the metal or make it toothy some way, powder coat peels off with one season of salt added. It’s a little like placing a can of soup under water, and watching the label slid off. Gators use a lot of sheet metal to form their frame, it just doesn’t take all that long to rott them in half! State auctions are a great place to find EVs too, imagine coming home with a Gator, and a Gem for a low price! In a week, you could have a Frankenstein GemGator and then sell the left overs. I got $150 for that pile of dead batteries!

      No doubt, the Greenies would want a law against the reuse of a sinlge part off >their< EVs. It's really funny how they push the EVs, but so few ever buy one to help support the industry.

  2. George B. says:

    Pat, It really is a shame, but it’s reality, the cost of of upgrading my th?nk would exceed the cost of what I could buy another one that has been upgraded and equipped with new batteries. I have been sitting on this car for a few years in the hopes that the newer battery technology would come down in price, that just hasn’t happened, at least not enough to sell me on the idea of using in this Think.

    There’s one other factor, and that being I don’t have your battery experience, and without building a realtime monitor for each cell, I’d ruin stuff without a clue I did…

    There may be an opp for a DIY EVer here, I was thinking of selling the MOTOR, the controller, the charger, and other pieces off the Think that may be helpful in building a cost effective EV. This might help a person who doesn’t have a lot of money to get some hands on. I’d sell the motor with the output shaft and diff housing. This makes it a snap to machine a new end bell, or? fact is, I don’t even need the Crownwheel, so all three gears could be part of the package.

    Off topic but an EV idea I like… I keep looking at some of these more modern bicycles, the active suspensions, and other nice features. I visualize a matching side car, a Hub Motor at front, and on the side car. Lith batteries in the side car, a lith batteries light weight tube frame with nylon fabric covering. A place for a passenger, or all your stuff you take to work or the ball field. An excercise in light weight, lower speed transportation. If I thought of it.. it likely already exists.

  3. treetopflyer says:

    George, neat concept. you wrote about casting a shroud, I just read something (maybe even here at utterpower?) about using the turning scraps from brake drums and discs that were mixed with epoxy resins to make a composite part that will take machining and thread tapping? Wish I could find the source…more later.

  4. bob g says:

    its called polymer cast process
    i wrote about its use about 10 years ago on the windforum over at otherpower. ed lenz over at did some casting years ago using the process too,

    if you mix with good clean cast iron chip, and use some chopped fiberglass as well as a decent armature (steel wire skeleton) as well as some steel bosses (pipe nipples or similar) it is nearly as strong as cast iron, will machine freely, and will take threads for studs or helicoil inserts for bolts.

    very large machine tools are made with the process, they use quartz as an aggregate and mix in other fillers to change the quality of the finished product.

    the beauty of the process is it allows anyone to cast just about anything in a home shop, and get a product that require very little to no machining to finish.

    i know of at least a couple bench top lathes that have been built out of this stuff, and i would have no qualms in building a bellhousing using the process.

    bob g

    • bob g says:

      another side note, one can cast in place all manner of bushings, brgs etc. which dramatically increases the utility of the process for the average DIYer.

      shrinkage is not a problem, and the forms can be made from just about anything, from wood to plaster of paris.

      if one uses plaster is must be fully dry and then heated to assure there is no water still in the plaster, any moisture will impede the resin from being able to heat and set properly.

      when you mix this stuff, only add enough activated resin to dampen the iron chip, the resin is used as a binder.

      for stronger mix use epoxy resin.

      great stuff!

      bob g

  5. bud hornik says:

    Thanks for all the above, I am nearing 70 and still enjoy learning new things. Bob G thanks for including the site for your artical. George, what happen to the diesel cushman. I am still interested in trying that but can’t seem to find the items at a price I can now afford. thanks again for all your info and comments.

    • George B. says:

      Bud, my interest in these small ATV engines is an outgrowth of the Cushman Truckster Repower Experience. Anyone can google with a prefix ‘utterpower cushman’ for instance…. Fact is, few DIYers are set up to make a bell housing adapter, and machined parts to adapt Cushman parts to the new engine shaft. I did ask about interest in my article and there were maybe three people interested in a conversion kit for the Cushman Truckster to Diesel. You might remember Chuck McGhee took on the task and machined a one off bell housing adapter from a sold piece of steel with a CNC hobby mill no less! Of course he was the SME on getting the most out of that equipment. There was a weakness in the design of another part as per how we attached a clutch part to the new engine shaft. It should have been a taper lock design! I will redo it in time, but for now, I have an engine with a screwed up shaft, and a part to redesign. Do note, the little Truckster would easily haul a Lister 6/1 clone new in the crate with spares! After years of looking at screwed up shafts I know better, but this was a prototype. The sad part is, the use of a taper lock bushing may have resulted in an easier to make part!

      I think I understand Mainland China’s path, items of necessity first, and I see that China has vehicles very similar to the old Cushman Truckster. They will replace many of the two wheeled trucks in China, and there are already Mini Trucks being offered, even for export that are powered by water cooled ATV engines.

      I have an Artic Cat 400cc Quad. It is built like a tractor, nothing sporty about it! The Quad will easily pull a 5’x8’ trailer loaded with wood! Yes, you’d be a fool to try and stop without trailer brakes, but the Cat will pull this trailer at an impressive (useful) speed, and the CVT system assures you will spin tires in 4wd before the engine gives up!
      All over China, there are two wheeled trucks, and the home market is hopper cooled, so every operator carries a bucket to add water when needed. I can’t imagine looking through all the steam on the coldest days! The new water cooled ATV engines will be godsent, and no more waking in the middle of the nigh wondering if you let the water out of the hopper to prevent breakage of the engine block!

      China and India will now make the vehicles many of us would like for in town short haul trips on back roads and around town. Safety? Well certainly more safe than a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, so if we were to ever consider one of them, we need set aside the argument that big is better, or at least admit our ultra light weight vehicle is safer than being on the two wheeler!
      China spends a fortune in fuel to lug cast iron engines and power trains up hills. The ATV engine with reverse will find its way into truck and commuter vehicles, and little doubt in my mind that we will see a two cylinder diesel power plant with integrated transmission with reverse. The reason? The home market needs it, the two wheeled trucks are long in the tooth, and shipping cast iron all over china is expensive too.
      Some remember the little Subaru 360cc car sold here in the 70s, others will remember the Honda two cylinder cars, where did they go? Fuel got cheaper, demand dropped, and no manufacturer could afford to stock them.
      When the Cushman was in front of the shop, it was the vehicle I used to haul off yard waste, visit neighborhood friends, and more. But there are economic realities that work against us in our efforts to conserve fuel. If you wish to be legal, you would have a license plate, insurance, and more expense for this vehicle. For many, the added expense is more than the savings.
      With Liability insurance, it seems logical that when we are in our neighborhood commuter, we are not driving our $50,000 Pickup, and creating risk for the insurance company as per the collision insurance on that vehicle. If I were an insurance company, I might study the risk reduction aspect , and offer liability insurance for a neighborhood vehicle for a very low cost WHEN I have the other vehicle(s) and home owners coverage. God knows we don’t need the government involved to screw it up more!

      Some might remember my rant on the so called smart car, and think me a hypocrite. Do remember… my argument was the company was focused on producing a car short as possible. This means that no matter what kind of wonder materials you use between the front bumper and human body parts, you can equal or better the survival statistics by adding a few inches onto the front. Fact is, you can also use less exotic materials (reduce the cost) and equal the performance. Who says? Basic Physics says. The Smart car is a vehicle no ones asked for.. When did you ever hear a guy say.. “you know, what I’m looking for is a really short car?”

      The class of neighborhood vehicles recognized by most states have a place in our society, but there’s no reason NOT to allow them to be powered by clean and efficient propane, gasoline, or even diesel. Think of the fuel savings. today I go to the store in my Duramax. won’t it be interesting to know what the insurance man wants to cover liability on a ford think neighbor? Anyone out there have an idea of cost?

  6. bob g says:

    here in our little town, the city allows one to drive just about anything up and down the streets provided you are not making a arse out of yourself, or driving something that is clearly unsafe.

    golf carts, atv’s, quads, minibikes, gokarts etc are all ok, as long as you drive sensible.

    i am awaiting them to change their attitudes and clamp down on it, at which time i am set to suggest to the council that they ought to allow them on the streets and just do an annual permit to do so.

    that way everyone wins.

    the county, state, and fed’s can keep their pointy noses to themselves thank you very much.

    currently my ’83 toyo diesel consumes about 25 bucks of pump diesel every 60 days, if i were to build a small cart or whatever with a little diesel or one of these 250cc water cooled engine’s i might be able to get around the better part of a year on the same amount of fuel.

    it might well be i should limit the size of the gas tank so it doesn’t go bad before i use it all!

    bob g

    • George B. says:

      Part of what inspires me to do this is the old EZGO 230cc golf cart I have, very mild tune, and I never can remember when I added fuel to it last.. It seems to run forever on a gallon of fuel… and it works very hard..

  7. SWLee says:

    Hi George,

    Merry Xmas.

    Wanted to work on my Shineray but then the Yanmar NT refuses to start the night before. Turn out the decompression lever had acted strangely. The NT uses a adjustable collar crimp to the pushrod with nut. Like a drill chuck holding the drill. The decompression lever then act against this collar. The position ran out and causes the engine to loose small amount of compression and thus refuse to start.

    It was an easy fixed and since I was in the engine room, I decided to give it a full service. Originally wanted to do a decoke but then I realised the 6 x 34mm size nuts holding cylinder head is no easy meat to loosen in the cramp engine room!

    I then went to harvesting “rambutan” and “pulasan” now that the seasonal fruit is in full bloom in the family orchard.

    We all sat and savour this fruit desert after Xmas dinner!

    Merry Xmas to you and all readers.

    • George B. says:

      Merry Christmas! I hope you are enjoying your family, and I hope your children were able to be home with you. BTW, I found a UK site, and they advertized the lowly workhourse 167mm as a racing engine! We together will have good stories to tell! Too bad you don’t have a pile of NT iron to sell.
      Thanks for all you do Lee…




  8. SW Lee says:

    George, i was partially right.

    the 6 wires are for the gear selector indicator. 1 common, 4 forward and 1 reverse.

    just connect the green/blue wires to the CDI modules and the engine should fire up nicely. remember to refill the lub oil. the engine is dried.


    • George B. says:

      Hi Lee,

      Good info! so you are saying we could use six leds on the dash and know exactly what gear we’re in, that could be handy 🙂

      I will post a complete wiring diagram when I’m a little further into the project. I had a cold for a bit… feeling better now, so I expect to make more progress.

      Thank you Lee!

  9. Rich says:

    Can I send you my Ford Think to be re-powered?

  10. Nathan says:


    Just wanted to say good luck with your project, I hope you can help others with the wiring diagram I gave you. You might want to post it on your website here so that others can download it for reference. I look forward to seeing your progress in the future.


  11. Nathan says:


    I had some time this evening, so I browsed your website some more and it seems the main issue you have with this project is sorting out most of the wiring. I said to myself, something doesn’t make sense, you seem to be a pretty knowledgeable DIYer, then I realized you didn’t order the engine with the complete wiring harness as I did, if you follow this link you can see in the ad it includes the wiring harness.

    Nathan, I’ve omitted a supplier here, I have a more reliable contact in the Far East, SW Lee who can get this engine and spares..

    This engine includes the complete wiring harness for a 250cc motorcycle and makes the installation of this engine basically plug and play in any chassis. If I was you I would contact XXXXXX and see if you could order just the wiring harness for this engine, it would save you a lot of time and headache trying to sort out all the connections. It matches the wiring diagram I gave you exactly. I would be careful though, the seller XXXXXX didn’t ship the wiring harness with the engine when I paid extra for it. (Thermostat and CDI were missing too) The seller also refused to send me the missing parts until I contacted customer support, so do be careful if you do decide to go that route.

    Good Luck,

    • George B. says:


      Greatly appreciate your help, for my project the motorcycle harness wouldn’t have been that much help.. Getting the CDI unit right was an issue, and thanks to other DIYers that was figured..

      As for the Th!nk project, it’s easier and quicker for me to make what I need, it’s pretty much done.. I need a smaller counter sprocket as you suggested elsewhere, and maybe better motor mounts..

  12. Dave says:

    Just wondering what the sleeve looks like that covers the spider gears or did you go a different way with it? I have a 4 seat ford think that I have been playing with. I put a 5 speed Polaris 425 expedition motor on it. I pulled all the guts out of the electric motor and put a chain sprocket on the electric motor shaft from the output shaft of the quad motor. It works well enough and prob hits 30mph. Problem is I have to spin that electric motor shaft so fast because of the 1:10 reduction in the differential. The chain makes lots of noise which is transmitted throughout the entire frame of the think. Sound like a loud “howl” above 10 mph or so. I was thinking to redo the drive system at some point the same way you did yours as would reduce chain speed by an enormous amount. Hope this all makes sense and explains why I am wondering how you sealed up the spider gears… Thanks, Dave

    • George B. says:

      Greetings Dave,

      I totally understand your reason for modifying the end of the electric motor and using it for your input. Since I am driven by the KISS principle, I’d lose sleep over the number of extra components 🙂

      It took me a while to study the differential, and convert it to chain drive, and of course the key is to make the time to convert it as simply as possible.

      The key is to find a sprocket that will allow you to modify the ID to just fit over the OD where the crown gear mounted, retain the original bolts, and match the holes found in the crown gear (make same on sprocket). This need be a nice fit, no slop. I asked Machinist Rob Otey to do that for me, as I don’t have the equipment to make a nice tight fit like he did.

      The sprocket takes up half the room as the crown gear, use the other half to seat your custom cover for the spider gears. The easy way is to turn a flat on the other side of the diff housing, and build a ring with ID that seats tightly on that flat. Now turn the OD to match the OD that your crown gear was seated on, and simply machine a cover with and ID matching the housing OD. I used silicon sealer, a person could get fancy and cut a place for an ‘O’ ring but I think it’s totally over kill, we know these spiders will be happy with a little grease. I did add a set screw to assure the cover does not come loose.

      You should be very happy with a sprocket driven open diff. Our UK cousins left me a good trail to follow, and I see there’s a very spendy open diff on the shelf over there.

      I’d be pleased to see more of your project, it’s a shame that the Ford Th!nk Neighbor had so many problems early on, and that I bought a unit with no a single one of the many problems fixed under warranty.

      Seem we are both after the same thing, a way to repower them getting some decent efficiency and maybe speeds approaching 40MPH.

      BTW, I have decided to trade some back seat room for the mid engine design, I’m getting close to posting same.

  13. Chris Biery says:

    I have been sitting on a ford think for a bunch of years . Mine was running OK but I kept burning out the clusters and got fed up. My first plan was to make a hybrid ,but lately I switched gears and decided to go all gas . I started with a 50 cc scooter motor and came to my senses and dropped that. A friend of mine gave me a 400 cc scooter motor but I could not get the wiring right . ( it had a lot of safety switches and no reverse . So I sold it.) Lately I acquired a 400 cc atv with reverse ,and it runs like a champ. After pocking around on you tube and finding your video and the burn out video ,it all clicked . I quickly pulled my gear box apart and started making my bearing carriers . I made mine in two parts . It is split in the middle of the diff bearing and has a backing part that acts like a dust cover and should keep the grease in for a while. They are different on each side to clearance the diff. I finished them today by adding grease fittings. I hope by the end of the week I will have the diff dust cover and sprocket finished . I would be happy to post my progress if you email me back , and I thank you for giving me the ideas to go forward with my project .

    • George B. says:


      Good to hear from you! It has taken me a long time to engineer what I have, and I have many pictures yet to post.. my differential has a cover for the spiders, no grease escapes.. I’ll answer with an email! We have a contest going.. The name for an ice power think?

  14. Tom ludwick says:

    Any ideas about drum to disc conversion on the think. I heard a 95 vw Jetta disc brake set up will work? Any suggestions appreciated to get me started

  15. Miguel tan says:

    I’m converting my fordthink to gas. I got motorcycle engine with transmission. I want to use the original differential. I’m looking for junk motor that i can use the spline to attach sprocket. Anybody has junked motor that i can use.

    • George B. says:

      Mike, between the input spline in the differential case, there is a reduction gear set. This allows the motor to run at higher RPM where it can produce it’s rated horsepower. It is a good idea to study your drive train ratios before you commit. As mentioned in one of my posts, I think my UK Cousins are leaders in powering small cars with bike engines. Therefore I studied their examples of converting differentials (like the Thinks) to open diffs, with chain drive. This makes it easy to pick counter and drive sprockets to get the ratio that will best work for you.

      Anyone who has ever driven a Legend Race Car, will know the feeling of letting out the clutch with a low mass flywheel, you need spike the RPM a bumch, and master taking off from a dead stop. If you are re-designing the Think for others to use, it is worth considering a Quad Engine with an Automatic clutch, of course reverse would be a nice touch.

Leave a Reply