After Thursday's success - and Friday's lie-in - the ThrustSSC Team have been back at work preparing the car for the next stages in the quest to go supersonic on land. A number of details on the car are being dealt with to enable ThrustSSC to continue increasing speeds in small Mach number increments. The car is being checked over too - to make sure there are no undiscovered problems.
On the 728mph second run damage to the body panel under the parachute bins was experienced due to the enormous forces inflicted by the airflow - a new panel is being fabricated and fitted. The mountings have been supplemented to prevent similar damage in future, leading to workshop manager Nick Dove spending a lot of time on his back underneath the back end of ThrustSSC with his TIG welder.
The panels are fixed by a combination of specialist adhesives from Permabond, and aviation-grade rivets. Quite a number of those fasteners are required to fix the panel - which led to a problem for Operations Manager Martyn Davidson on Saturday: we needed more CherryMax rivets than we had in stock. He called round the various suppliers within range, but at all of them all he got was weekend answering machines. Even the manufacturers had an answering machine. Eventually, late on Saturday evening, our friends at Western Nevada Supplies in Reno found Dave Seashore at Aviation Classics who thought he could help. First thing the next morning Dave was on the desert in his kit-built RV4 aircraft to see Nick. The easiest way to check he had what we needed was for Nick to take a look - so they flew back down to Reno before returning in no time with the essential fasteners.
The telemetry data has shown more changes to the car's aerodynamic settings to be desirable. Ron Ayers has asked for the downforce distribution to be moved forward, so the rear of the car is being raised to increase the front downforce, while the tailplane is being adjusted to reduce that at the rear. The flexibility Glynne Bowsher and Jerry Bliss have built into the active suspension system is proving hugely beneficial, but some new spacers were still needed. Glynne gave the drawings to Bert Skidmore at Intrepid Motors in Reno on Saturday evening - Bert had agreed to make them for us. Sure enough, at 1000hrs the next morning he was at the Desert Pits with the parts - he'd stayed up late to do the machining...
These stories are just typical examples of the sort of help ThrustSSC is getting out here in Nevada - the locals are tremendously excited about what we are trying to do, and the support they are giving us is hugely appreciated. Many people are just calling in to say 'Hi!" - including John Batto in his beautiful T28 Trojan on Saturday. The stunning ex-US Navy trainer attracted enormous interest from the team and spectators.
Back in the Aireshelta some new deflectors have been fitted to protect the parachute equipment from the fierce reheated exhaust of the Speys. Even though it is recessed into the back of the car, the top strops was showing signs of scorching, while the petals on the parachute bags have suffered similarly - the exhaust was getting round and precautions have been taken.
As before the panels are being bonded and riveted - essential to ensure that they hold fast under the unbelievably harsh conditions of the engine exhausts. The vibration and heat levels are simply staggering - and a great deal of research was undertaken before the car was even built to make sure that the bodywork would take the environmental conditions.
Underneath the car a panel has been refitted to make sure it is sitting flush - any protrusion that the airflow could get behind could rip it off at 700mph like a sheet from a desk calendar. Long standing volunteers from the Mach 1 Club, Alan White and Bill Whitehouse have been seeing to that job - as aircraft technicians for British Airways, they are well qualified to see to that job.
Mike Horne has been looking after the rest of his bodywork - in particular the change required to the tailplane pitch angle. The tailplane is designed to be adjustable, so the front mounting bracket is being reset, while the fairing underneath is being replaced by the correct one for the pitch angle required - there are eight different ones for different angles.
Support equipment has not been neglected, everything has been checked over, from the Palouste air-start units to the Pegasus Quantum microlights. We are in a changeover period with our microlights - with such a long stay out here we arranged for two sets of pilots before leaving England. John Fack and Simon Baker who have done such sterling work on partrolling the desert during operations are returning home, while Bill Sherlock and Richard Meredith-Hardy are taking their place.
So what is the plan? ThrustSSC will be ready to run again Wednesday - and to continue the development program towards the Sound Barrier.
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