- Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Cooking on gas & ready to roll!

With just 4 weeks to go now until my first full event in the CFM (Hebécrevon 9/10 May) I'm as busy as ever, but a lot of the pressure I've been under the last few months has thankfully subsided as I tick more and more jobs off the list. One that loomed heavily in my diary and has been booked since October last year was commissioning all the electrics & gas in the motorhome, or Herve as he's now known :)
A friend recommended a chap called Dave Butlin Caravan Services, and I originally went to see him last autumn to chat through my plans for the motorhome which, at that point in time, was nothing more than a bare shell full of giant spiders. I'm glad I didn't leave it any later as the next two free days he had were April 18 & 19th!! I immediately booked them on the spot, and have been working furiously ever since as there's nothing like a deadline to focus your mind. He stocks every kind of fitting and fixture you can imagine so I could relax knowing it could all be completed over the two full days.

I started with a wish list that included solar panels and a few other bits, but in the end I had to stick to the must have items - mains electric hookup, interior LED lights, sockets, boiler & pump, and all the bits that link it together. I bought a gas hob with grill off eBay for £20 that I can cook with out of the back of the van, copy of a Honda suitcase generator that I have fairly low expectations from but at £140 it should get me through this year (and run my hair drier!), plus a fridge that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I have a minimum 2 hour drive to most of the hill climbs so I can chill it en route and top it up over the weekend. I'm trying to keep it all as light as possible so it's bare essentials.

Having said that by the time it was finished  on Sunday afternoon it looked anything but bare. Dave's done a really tidy job and it's all a doddle to work, the boiler just fires up on gas (or electrics if you have mains) at the touch of a button and takes about 25 mins to heat the 9 ltr of water it holds. I have to say I'm ecstatic at the prospect of touring France in Herve, I had a hazy vision when I started of how I pictured it all coming together and the end result is every bit as good if not better! For one smallish person its perfect (ok I'm yet to try the shower but I'm quite flexible...), the colour scheme looks really cool and I think must have been inspired by the colours on my blog and the fact that it's currently Spring so there is bright green everywhere you look - it satisfies my inner earth child :D To have built 90% of it without any help feels like a big achievement, and for fear of sounding a bit sad I feel really attached to it, goodness knows how many cuts, bruises & broken finger nails I've had in the process but it's all plain sailing from here on - bon voyage!

Right now there's not much left to do, I need to see the fabricator once more on Saturday to do a small bit of strengthening on the ramp extensions, finish painting the outside (with a roller - looks great from a distance), and just secure the last few things inside. I recently bought a few spare nose cones which need painting as am trying to put a whole front end together just in case, hopefully I won't need them but it's best to be prepared. The new fuel tank is and I have a few little jobs to do still to prep the car for it's first competitive outing - I was thinking how much I miss not having a rev counter as you're never looking at the numerical display and the engine note inside the car doesn't vary much in pitch. It may sound strange but during the test I found it hard to really distinguish between say 3000 rpm and 6000 rpm as the engine and vibration just produces this quite industrial sounding noise so I need to play around with the shift lights so I don't end up short shifting unintentionally.

I'm working on a using rally style pace notes to learn the sequence of corners for each course. By combining this with YouTube and the plan of each hill that I've drawn out in Photoshop from images off the net, I'm aiming to be able to close my eyes and visualise each hill in head. This is what I've always done before each run in the past and it definitely works well for me. I can then get more of a detailed idea once I get there and start adding in info like gears, etc. It feels a little like homework and is a bit geeky but I'm hoping it could not only reduce my chances of crashing but hopefully help me going quicker from the start - it worked last year at St-Gouëno.

One idea I'm toying with is a vlog throughout the season as I'd love to bring the whole story to life with as much video as possible. It would be great to hear any of your ideas & feedback so please feel free to leave any comments below or on my FB page!

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