Conor La Grue, product sponsorship lead for the Bloodhound supersonic engineering challenge gets TM up to speed with the latest developments in the manufacture of the unique Bloodhound car.
The roller coaster that is Bloodhound SSC certainly has its ups and downs, but looking back on April my feeling is that we had a month very much on the up! – With the last few days of the month delivering in spades.
On April 30 I had an early start to get the red eye to Glasgow – to witness the press, internal announcement and public launch of our wheel manufacturer; Castle Precision Engineering (TM’s Manufacturer of the Year 2010).
With the show car already in Glasgow for an education event it made very good logistical sense to fix the outline agreement for the manufacture of both the UK runway and desert wheels by Castle and get the full size show car to their site and introduce the project to their workforce.
The closest manufactured object from a functionality, traceability, quality and process flow perspective to Bloodhound SSC’s desert wheels is actually a jet engine compressor disc. The compressor discs rotation speeds and forces are all close to our wheels and that’s why Rolls Royce have played a part in our understanding of the wheel design for Bloodhound SSC.
Further to their support , two years of Engineering and design analysis effort by Lockheed Martin supported by class leading material expertise provided by Innoval Technology have matured the design scheme to the point where input from a manufacturing team will now allow us to continue on and complete the detailed design of the fastest car wheels in history.
The team at Castle already manufacture compressor discs for the Rolls Royce Trent family of engines and have done so for many years. The same level of quality, care and processes of inspection will now be applied to the wheels for Bloodhound SSC – in short Andy couldn’t be in safer hands!
Yan Tiefenbrun the operations director at Castle pointed out in his announcement to his work force, press and local dignitaries “the wheels are vital to the success of the project and are a key component that simply cannot fail” – they have to be right! And the level of skill, experience and attention to detail that Castle bring to the wheel build programme is now key to delivering robust wheels for Bloodhound SSC.
The response from the workforce at Castle has been remarkable and it was great to see members of the night shift come back into work so they could hear the announcement for themselves and then queue up for a signed poster from Richard Noble who was there to introduce the project and sign the agreement in front of the press and Castle’s workforce.
It’s been nearly four years in the making to find the right partner to make the wheels for Bloodhound SSC and it’s another vital step achieved towards the primary structure build of the car. I was lucky enough to be able to speak to the assembled Castle workforce and walk the length of the car introducing them to some of the other companies in the Family that is Bloodhound SSC.
Castle has a great team and are all massively enthusiastic about the project and the work ahead. That enthusiasm was truly infectious and I came away feeling very lucky to have been part of their special day.
In other areas we had a great review meeting for the first three weeks of a five week discrete Design Project on Bloodhound’s tail fin with Hyde Group. This has been really effective and the team at Hyde have done great work and driven forward the Fin design very significantly and in the process allowed the in house design team to work in parallel on maturing the upper chassis – especially the interface to the fin.
The rear upper chassis is a very busy and hardworking area on the car! Not only does it have to provide performance towards the overall chassis stiffness and robustness but it also has to deal with two of the most significant and complicated interfaces on the car; that of the EJ200 mounting and the fin mounting.
What will May bring? – So much is happening with both the rear chassis and front end carbon composite monocoque build in full swing. We have a few key meetings coming up to secure the vital flow of material into the various manufacturing teams as well as completing some material trials that will fix the final detailed design for the ever busy rear upper chassis – More on that at the end of the month.