Evie: A Retired Golf Pro’s New Country Life

Beginner
Cartoon of Evie
Cartoon of Evie
Evie the utility cart
Evie the utility cart, at the PV charging station.
Cartoon of Evie
Evie the utility cart

Our homestead’s remoteness—and the need for all-wheel-drive to get here—has kept us from pursuing an electric vehicle (EV) for to-town transportation. But for years, I’ve wanted, craved, and sought an electric golf cart—not for golf, but for light hauling from one end of our barony to the other.

In the Rough

We live in the mountains, so our property is not level in most places. The parts that are flat are used for our gardens. We have three—the upper, main, and lower—and there is a fair amount of light hauling that takes place between the three, especially when we’re preparing the beds for spring and during harvest in the fall. We have several contractors’ wheelbarrows—you know, the deep metal ones—and a large garden cart that was my birthday present 29 years ago. As I have gotten older, though, it has become more of a chore to haul heavy loads in the ’barrows and cart. The uphill push is strenuous and the descent is downright scary.

A small electric golf cart, I surmised, would be just the ticket, since we could fuel it with excess electricity generated by our off-grid solar, wind, and microhydro system. I kept my eyes open for electric opportunities, and finally found one online for $350. I showed the ad to my husband, Bob-O, but he popped my balloon pretty fast, pointing out that the cart was a three-wheeled version that wouldn’t work well on our sloped property.

I returned to my search. The cart had to be cheap, electric, and have four wheels. My possibilities were narrowing. Imagine my surprise when Bob-O came home from work one day and told me that a client had given his apprentice, Mike, a derelict electric golf cart.

They had been at a golf course to do a solar site survey and evaluation. As they were walking around, Mike spotted the golf cart, which was sitting off to the side of a building, with two flat tires. Obviously, it had not been used or running in awhile. When he asked about it, the client told him to take it if he wanted it. Eight months later, after the cart project still hadn’t gotten traction at his house, Mike offered it to us.

Bob-O had been thinking about the cart and had a plan pretty well formulated for refurbishing it by the time he picked it up from Mike. He also named the cart—Evie, short for a “Little Electric Vehicle”—and wanted her name in script on her front panel.

Evie Playing Through

Years ago, Bob-O set up a racked 570-watt PV system on the southeast side of the shop specifically for keeping used deep-cycle batteries charged. So the first thing he did was to hook up Evie’s motor to three old 12-volt batteries, which had been hanging out in the charging bay. The motor spun easily—both forward and in reverse. Now we knew we could get serious.

The two front tires were totally shot, so Bob-O moved the old, but still good, back tires to the front steering axle. Two new beefy, tractor-type tires went on the back drive axle. We also had to buy a new key for the cart as the original one was missing.

The cart was a very faded yellow with peeling daisy decals on the sides. Bob-O took the cart completely apart, cleaned it, did a little body work on the fiberglass body, and then sanded and painted the body Oregon Ducks green, a promise that had been made to the golf course owner. The final touch was a vinyl sticker of her name applied to the hood.

Comments (2)

John Bramlet's picture

I really enjoy your article and look forward to it in each issue.
I,too, would like to know more details about how you connect your 12v charging system to the golf cart. Do you use a controller and an inverter ?
Or what is your method ?? Any help on this will be greatly appreciated, as our golf cart is very similar to yours.
Looking forward to your answer. Thank you.

Marc Fontana's picture

Thanks for this story Kathleen ! I like the idea of re-furbishing and re-purposing an electric golf cart. I know someone who lives off-grid who would love to have one. I'm wondering what kind of setup Bob-O has for charging Evie's newer batteries. I imagine these carts have an on-board charger designed to plug into 120v AC. But for an off-grid home, it doesn't seem very practical or efficient to me to charge your Evie batteries from your house batteries. Do you use the mentioned 570-watt PV array and some kind of charge controller to charge the batteries directly? If so, do you have to disconnect them from the vehicle every time you charge?

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