Up to speed: Bloodhound SSC shows its shape

Some areas of Bloodhound SSC will have had as many as six different designers contributing to the project.
Some areas of Bloodhound SSC will have had as many as six different designers contributing to the project.

Bloodhound’s Conor La Grue shares his excitement as the supercar is mechanically put together.

Having spent seven years delivering the supply chain for the most advanced land vehicle in human history, it’s a pretty good feeling to see all those parts come together for the first time as we do a ‘dry build’ of Bloodhound – and in time for my birthday too!

Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project
Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project.

We don’t have everything we need yet for a UK runway car yet, but we do have 95% of it. So, having promised we would show the car in an advanced state of completion this summer, we are currently doing a dry build of all the car that we have – that’s over 3,000 bespoke, one-off components coming together for the first time.

Dry build benefits

‘Dry build’ is a technical term that means the car is mechanically all put together, but not with final torques or lubrications – it’s a fit and function exercise, as in “Does it fit and will it function?”!

Going through such a process is hugely valuable for any car, airplane or space craft build, firstly to celebrate what we have accomplished by putting all the parts together and secondly because of what we learn in the process and the snagging that will help us to put the Car together “for real” over the next few months.

This process is particularly useful for Bloodhound – it is a unique, hand-built beast, so we could never assume that, just because it fits together on a CAD screen, it would fit together perfectly first time.

Some areas of the car will have had as many as six different designers contributing to the scheme and some have parts produced by as many as 20 different suppliers.

You can read about The Manufacturer’s sneak preview of Bloodhound SSC here.

So it’s testimony to all of them that we’ve been able to bolt together most of the car successfully. Overall, we are assembling bespoke parts from more than 340 companies.

The effect on the team is great to watch – it’s incredibly rewarding to see the car come together and for those of us that have been on the team the longest, it is affirmation of many years of effort.

Rolling to the next stage

The assembled car not only lets us show off what we have produced so far, but has also been built so it can roll for the first time, which will again be a landmark moment.

Overall, Bloodhound SSC has been assembled with bespoke parts from more than 340 companies.
Overall, Bloodhound SSC has been assembled with bespoke parts from more than 340 companies.

The systems guys and girls are also having a field day. For the first time they can see where all the major components go and how they can actually route their looms and mount their control boxes.

Doing this at the dry build stage will inevitably mean it will take less time when we do the final assembly.

When the Car finally goes together mechanically then the Systems team will transform it from a static mechanical object to a living, breathing, land-speed record car.

The ultimate birthday present

Bloodhound SSC
With the major components in place for the first time, the systems team can see how they can route looms and mount control boxes.

2015 has been a tough year so far, with very long hours and huge personal effort from all involved. But getting to see the car – which has been such a huge chunk of my working life – in such a complete state and looking so amazing, is the best birthday present I’ve ever had.

Not only that, but I’m incredibly proud to be part of a team of many thousands of individuals who have contributed and produced something truly special, and that is succeeding in its goal to inspire more kids to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).