Saturday, 28 February 2009

Solid, liquid and gas

The gas bottle arrived this week as did the fresh water tank, table leg and new windscreen washer bottle with pump. I spent most of today fitting them all with no problems and no real challenge. Even though the water tank will fit on the underside of the floor I decided to install it inside after all. I didn't like how close it was going to be to the exhaust and the rear axle and there's plenty of room next to the gas bottle under the sink. When the last few hose connectors arrive I'll screw it all together and give it a test.

Last night I cooked myself some fish fingers on the hob and they were lovely. The cooker is also a pretty effective heater too. After about 5 minutes on full power it was lovely and warm inside.

The air intake vents on the ceiling were all loose due to what appears to be a rubber or leather washer having rotted away completely. I worked out a way of fixing them with pop rivets which meant I didn't even have to take them down and they look great.

The new washer bottle fits perfectly into a recess in the front and the pump has plenty more oomph than the one it replaces which means the washers spray a frothy fountain rather than the pathetic dribble they used to produce.

I cut a hole in the floor and screwed the table leg base down and used a piece of the same wood I used for the bed base for the table top.

Not many jobs left to do now. It's starting to dawn on me that the end is in sight and spring is just around the corner. I recently found out that there's a camp site right next to the place where I like to fish for Sea Bass on the Solent. I'm looking forward to cooking my first freshly caught fish dinner in Althea. That'll be a great day.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

A weekend of wires

Yesterday morning Althea refused to start for no apparent reason. She flattened both batteries completely so I put them on charge and set about doing what else I could.
I cut the hole in the side for and installed the external electrical supply socket. I attached hinges and handle to the overhead storage area door. I re routed the speaker cables and put in the conduit for them to run through. I had a dam good look for the source of the fuel leak and though I didn't find it exactly I did determine that it has to be the fuel pump. I was hoping it might be something as simple as a loose nut or worn cable but alas no.

I measured up the space underneath where I want the water tanks to go and though there isn't enough room for two 70 litre tanks I reckon I could get two 35 litre tanks in there which should be plenty.

This morning I put her freshly charged batteries in and she started with a vengeance. Not only that but the sound system and inverter worked a lot more comfortably too. It looks like a lot of the problems I've been having with the batteries might be because they aren't charging properly. Maybe the alternator isn't capable of charging the 96 amp batteries or maybe she just needs to be driven more to keep them fully charged.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Then there was even MORE sound.

It turns out that the reason the amp was cutting out was not because it couldn't drive the speakers or because it wasn't able to draw enough power from the battery. It was simply that I hadn't tightened the screw that holds the power supply cable and when the bass notes shook the van it was cutting the power (stands back and takes it on the chin).

But I only found this out tonight when I went to install the dedicated subwoofer amplifier I have just bought. It did cross my mind that now the system was working well enough and I had lots of bass and volume now I could take the new amp back and be satisfied. But I thought I'd just plug it all up the way it should be and see what difference it made.

This is what I just said to my friend in IM about it,

"me: well I bought a bass amp to solve it and thought I'd try it anyway
Just blown myself to a whole new dimension
building damaging proportions of bass and volume without distortion or rattle are now available to me
I thought I'd scared myself the other day...that was just a glimpse
Plum: hahahhaha
me: its astounding
I played disco infiltrator and I swear the van hovered
and still no buzz or rattle
wait till you hear it you'll understand"

Needless to say I will be keeping the new one and running the old one to drive the two sets of speakers comfortably and the dedicated sub amp to drive the sub comfortably too.

I apologize to anyone within the M25 for any structural damage I may have caused to their properties and to seismologists worldwide for the strange readings they will no doubt be trying to decipher.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Then there was more sound!

The front speakers are now in and connected up. They sound fantastic!! It was pretty straight forward cutting the holes and wiring up the crossovers etc but it did take hours. The amp is struggling with the sub woofer and the four speakers which is no surprise. It drains the battery pretty quickly too. I'm going to try bigger and better power supply cables and if that doesn't work I'll get another amp to drive the sub alone and use the current one for the two pairs of speakers.

I also failed to fit the hinges and handles to the speaker panel as the JBL covers overlap....will have to think of a solution for that one.

The delightful little old lady who lives on the top floor came and had a look while i was just finishing up and I enjoyed showing Althea to her. She tells me to wear a hat and makes me feel how cold her hands are when she's been out. I first really met her in the corridor last summer when as I came out of my door she was there and said " I'm looking for someone who can mend my television." I said, "You've found him," and went up to her flat and mended her television.

The fuel leak seems to be getting worse. I'm looking for a garage that I can trust to fix her now. Hopefully once the leaks are done it will be the end of major expenses for a while. We'll see.

I rewarded myself for a weekend of work by relaxing in the back of Althea with a dozen oysters and some draught Guinness from Sainsburys while listening to some dub reggae. Right on cue it started to rain.


Homebase hell

I've just been to Homebase to buy some wood and when I asked the peroxide yob about getting it cut he said there was nobody available until 2pm because the wood cutting guy hadn't turned up. I even asked him if he was sure there was nobody in the building capable of cutting a length of 2x2 into 4 pieces and he looked me in the eye and said "no". This was pretty disappointing as I had failed to get wood cut there last time and had waited until now to try again. When a few minutes later I asked if there was a way I could make sure I could get it cut when I came back, this time in the presence of a manager. It turned out that the yob was indeed the wood cutter and he started ranting about his bad back. I suggested that perhaps he shouldn't be at work if his back was too bad to do his job. He became very aggressive and I would be surprised to see him working there again. I think the reality of it is that he was very hung over and just didn't want to do it.
Having been to countries where people value their job no matter how lowly it may seem and where people take enormous pride in making customers happy it stuns me just how bad the level of service is in this country.

Listen folks if you hate your job maybe you should think about trying to get another one. If you hate people maybe you should work with animals or rocks or trees. If you are hung over to hell then call in sick or take some Nurofen, keep your head down and go through the motions all day. You'll feel better by lunch time anyway. It's easier to do it and be helpful than to skive and be obtuse in the end. I've seen people use more energy to avoid being helpful than it would have taken just to be nice.

Anyway I'm going to spend another day with my lovely green shed on wheels and drying out my Mazda. I have (eventually) four straight and square cut legs for the bed to replace the joke ones I made yesterday. I have hinges for the storage door/speaker mount panel and If I still have any daylight and energy left I'll have a go at the front speakers too.

I''ve got a dozen Oysters and some Draught Guinness for later too.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Two pairs

Today I have installed the rear set of speakers and made the other half of the bed. It has taken 5.5 hours non stop and I'm knackered. So not much to say apart from take a look at the photos I know the bed legs are a bit odd but they work. The speakers are mounted on a board which fits nice and tightly into the storage section which I will put hinges, fasteners and handles on, probably tomorrow. I need to put something round the edges too to make it look better. The wiring still needs to be tidied up too.

The bed is rock solid and very comfy. The legs screw on and there are dowel pegs to keep it in position.

I've also included a picture of the water pump I fitted last week. Next month I will buy and fit the fresh and waste water tanks which I am pretty confident I will be able to attach to the underside of the floor.

Friday, 6 February 2009

And then there was sound

I spent just over £100 at Halfords on some JBL 6x9s and a very tasty pair of Vibes with separate tweeters for the front. In about half an hour I had rigged up the Sony amp, the JBL sub woofer and the JBL 6x9s. I'll install them and the Vibes properly tomorrow. This was just to see if everything works.

So I worked out how to trick the amp into switching on without a remote controller and plugged in the iPod. I flicked the toggle switch I built in to on, waited for the puff of smoke and the popping sound that would have said I had just made an expensive wrong guess, but thankfully a reassuring blue glow came from the amp. I selected Leftfield's Phat Planet and hit play.

What happened next was blissful. The track starts off with lots of bass and the sub did it's work. As the rest of the track kicked in it became clear that I had made the right shopping decisions and spending the extra few pounds here and there was more than worth while. Though Althea vibrated deeply with the music she (surprisingly I must admit) didn't rattle or buzz at all. I found myself laughing out loud with sheer delight. It's cold and dark now so tomorrow I'll set to installing it all properly. Cutting holes, running cables etc. It will be a huge task but well worth it.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Sunday, 1 February 2009

A heap of new bits.

I spent most of this weekend installing the water pump, the safe, and the two battery level indicators. I had to work out a way using keyhole shaped holes and long bolts to attach the piece of wood, on which the pump is mounted to the fibreglass wall. The battery level meters took some modification too as they had been glued to their face plates with so much glue, some of it had to be trimmed off to get them to sit flat against the wall. But now I have an accurate way of knowing how much juice I have left in both batteries.

I also mounted a fused switch for the inverter on the end of the bench which means I don't have to open the bench to turn on the mains. I discovered that the inverter makes a beeping sound when the battery is running too low which is very useful too.

The charge switching relay has been malfunctioning so I traced the fault and fixed it.

I took delivery of the cushions at last. They look wonderful and fit perfectly. The upright one stays upright without any need for fixing and fits the window line perfectly too which is a complete coincidence. The covers are a little loose but that means they can be folded over without stretching anything and that they will come on and off easily.

I collected the 1000Watt JBL sub woofer I won on eBay for £9.50 (utter bargain!) from Slough. I was going to take the Mazda but found it with 2 inches of water in the foot well and a flat battery. I am a little troubled by this as it has been covered up. No time to investigate or repair I took Althea. She added an hour to an hour long journey but I didn't mind. When I get the amplifier (tomorrow I hope) I'll install them both. I haven't bought speakers yet as I'd like to have a proper listen to a few sets before deciding which I want. There are perfect spaces in the front doors and in the back to fit them.

I spend quite a lot of time enjoying the view through the tinted windows. They are slightly worn and faded round the edges giving them the look of old photographs and the sky always looks great through them. The soft tungsten light from the built in lamps is also very pleasant and hours can drift by so easily. The new cushions are very comfortable and if it weren't for the sub zero temperatures I would spend a lot more time in there.

I'll post some photos soon.