Sunday, 27 January 2013

VW Camper conversion - stage 2

So, the observant among you might notice that there's no 'VW camper conversion - stage 1' post anywhere, and you'd be right. 

About three years ago we decided that we wanted to get ourselves a campervan. At the time I was adamant that if we were going to get one, it had to be a classic VW of some description - a Bay maybe, a Splity or perhaps even a 21 window Samba...Mrs C had different ideas.

Needless to say we ended up two and a half years later with a T5 panel van - frankly, it was inevitable...

What it did mean though was that the van cost us a lot more than we (I probably mean 'I') thought plus we only had a van - the 'camper' element was very obviously missing.  That said, it was really exciting to at last have completed Stage 1. I could have posted about trawling the internet for suitable vans, visiting shows, poking round second had car lots, but frankly, that's the boring bit and I can summarise pretty easily:

We're now the proud owners of an 09 T28 T5 SWB 2.5 panel van in metallic black. I'll explain what that lot means in a different post if you're new to this stuff.

Anyhow, I was talking about Stage 2 wasn't I.  Stage 2 consisted, for us, of finding a conversion company with an awesome reputation, cool delivery and a workshop not too far from our home in Gloucestershire. Funny enough (and unlike the vans, where we looked at like, millions) there was only ever one contender. After visiting Busfest in Malvern a couple of years before and seeing their work and then reading about a guy called Daz who'd had his van transformed by the Worcester based Dirty Weekender - they were our number one choice. Mostly, due to the awesome piano black units they fitted, with flush doors a cool wooden worktop (it always sounds like a trip to MFI when you start talking about worktop doesn't it...but, trust me, this is super cool) and that fact that Daz was obviously very happy camper.

So, after a misfire a couple of months before we bought the van, we finally got to meet up with Johnny at DW this weekend to discuss the job. A slightly shaky start where he was a little distracted by a cool bespoke kitchen solution (actually really cool, but I suspect I shouldn't talk about that here - it may be a secret!) and briefing a guy about alterations to the entrance to the fantastic Reimo showroom, but in the end, it was great.

We talked, pointed at images we'd collected, looked at stuff in the showroom, crawled around project vans he had in and visited his full-blown joinery workshop (!) for three hours. We covered pretty much every detail of our conversion including chatting about designs for a quick fit canopy for barn-doors and a unique TV bracket.

I need to send Johnny the notes from yesterday so he can work out the cost of it all but before I go, here are some helpful links:

Dirty Weekender Check out what Johnny and the gang can do...
Angelfire Brief but interesting (and maybe a little clunky) early history of VW vans
Busfest Great camper show held every year at the Malvern Showground

Monday, 21 January 2013

Why dogs don't get cold paws

So, why don't dogs get cold paws? 

I asked this question in a recent YouTube video I made when we were snowed in at home (here) and I saw a dog charging around like a whirling dervish, seemingly completely unaware of the super-cold snow underfoot.

Well, several friends gave answers, so I figured I'd find out and let you all know. Here goes.

Some animals, like dolphins and penguins have a highly developed set of blood vessels in certain areas which allows heat to be transferred efficiently between arteries bringing blood from the body to the veins going back to the heart; in dolphins the system is in the fins and in penguins, their legs and wings.

Research carried out in Japan (published in December 2011 - abstract here. If you're a student or academic you can get the full paper at that link) found for the first time that domestic dogs have this same system in their paws. Arctic foxes have been known to have this system for some time but it had previously been thought that there would be no evolutionary reason for domestic dogs to have such a developed system.

So, what do you know. In dogs paws, this set of vessels, called venules, allows heat from the arteries to pass to the veins before it moves back in the body. Interestingly, this process is sufficiently efficient to overcome the heat loss from the large surface area of the pads.

Cool huh.