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The journey to 1,000 mph begins with a single jig

A British company's engineering know-how has helped keep the Bloodhound SSC project's supersonic ambitions on track, after angle plates supplied by project sponsors WDS Component Parts allowed for the accurate calibration of suspension components that are expected to handle forces of up to 30 tonnes en route to reaching 1,000 mph.

Bloodhound SSC project

Bloodhound SSC is one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the 21st century. Its ultimate goal is one that many still think may be an impossible task. Ex-RAF pilot, and current World Land Speed Record holder, Andy Green, aims to drive a 135,000 thrust HP, rocket and jet powered car at speeds exceeding 1,000 mph – breaking the speed of sound and smashing his existing record in the process. This will only be possible with the help of hundreds of engineers from many different fields playing their part.

Pushing the boundaries of engineering

The challenges facing the Bloodhound team are truly Herculean, pushing a 7.5 tonne car through the air at these speeds means pushing the boundaries of aerodynamic, materials and automotive engineering. During each timed run the front suspension alone will have to deal with a downforce of up to 11 tonnes, wheels spinning at 10,000rpm and the lateral forces created by side winds and steering input. It’s essential that every component in the car is perfectly balanced to keep it heading down the desert in a straight line.

With the suspension acting as a vital component to the success of the project, not to mention the safety of Andy Green, it was imperative that the Bloodhound engineers create a platform on which they can build up the assembly with absolute precision. One of the factors that made the process possible was an angle plate that was supplied to the team from WDS Component Parts Ltd., an official sponsor of the project.

Complete traceability and quality

Mark Elvin, Engineering Lead for Mechanical Design on the Bloodhound Project, comments: “When the project was still in its infancy WDS approached us and offered to provide support in the shape of fixturing equipment and components from their massive product catalogue. The success of the project relies upon such sponsorship, and WDS has a clear pedigree in producing similar parts for F1 teams and the aerospace industry, so we were very happy to accept the offer.

WDS worked in consultation with us to design two angle plates which will be used during various stages of the car’s build, including the front suspension. The company was able to manufacture the parts in-house, giving us complete traceability and the quality of the finished product has helped us to keep to our tight schedule.

The bespoke built angle plates were manufactured by WDS for use as assembly jigs for the front and rear suspension to ensure that the vehicle is constructed with absolute precision. WDS used its in-house facilities to cast and machine the angle plates with accuracy of up to 5µm to the meter.

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