Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cool seat

Since the hot weather didn't seem to be letting up, I decided to build something I had been reading about for a while: a cool seat. Our first race at CMP was in late July and we struggled to even make it for 45 minutes in the car. That's where we first learned about the existance of cool shirts and we resolved to get them for the next race... until we found out that the base unit was $300 and everyone would have to buy a $100 shirt.

I read about someone building a cool seat on the LeMons forum and this struck me as a great idea. By building the cooling into the seat there was nothing attached to the driver and no need for each driver to buy a pricey cool shirt.

Our cool seat cost us about $100 in materials. It consists mostly of 1/4" vinyl tubing and fittings. It has 5 separate circuits looping through a seat pad that has horizontal lines of stitching to keep the tubing in place (thanks Mom!). The tubing connects to some 3/8" tubing that goes back to the $10 Walmart cooler and the $25 bilge pump that I got at a boating store.

One of the challenges was figuring out the fittings to get from a 3/4" hose outlet on the pump to a 3/8" tube. I ended up ordering a barbed tube reducer fitting from McMaster and using a short length of 3/4" tube to connect it to the pump.

The biggest challenge, and the one we kinda failed, was securing the cooler to the floor. We finally ended up just bolting straight through the floor of the cooler and sealing the bolts and washers with caulk. The cooler was pretty secure, but the caulk never cured (we left it for 3 days) and we had to run the race with a trash bag in to try and prevent leaks in a container with a couple of gallons of water, a loose pump, and two frozen milk jugs sloshing around. Needless to say we only made it about halfway through the second stint before we got black flagged for leaking what looked to the corner workers like gasoline.

It did keep our asses cool when it did work, so for the next hot race we'll have a larger capacity cooler that's better connected to the floor.

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