Bloodhound: From illusion of design to finished product

Mark Chapman | Chief Engineer | Bloodhound SSC Project

Mark Chapman graduated from Bath University in 1992 with a BEng in Aeronautical Engineering. Having worked for Babcock, Ricardo Aerospace, Boeing and Rolls Royce Chapman joined the Bloodhound project full-time in 2008. He took on the chief engineer position in 2010

The start of the year always seems hectic. This year, which saw the launch of the Design and Make packages at Autosport International with the support of the Motorsport Industry Association, seemed especially so. Design and manufacturing businesses in the UK were invited to quote for Bloodhound work packages to design and or manufacture some of the 3000+ components that we need to complete a rolling chassis by the end of this year.

This is a hugely important year for the project with the car starting to take shape piece by piece. The difficulty we’ve faced, is that from day one we’ve always had fantastic images of the car, which gave the illusion of a finished design. To be fair, the external shape hasn’t changed significantly for well over a year. However, the real difference is in what’s been happening underneath. Over the last year there has been a huge leap in the maturity of the design – in the New Year I wound back through the CAD data to see where we were at the start of 2011, and for such a small team the differences are startling. For a start, it’s clearly evident that Brian Coombs, the engineering lead for mechanical design, now has a dictionary that includes the words “swaged hole” and “rivet”. As we release the next update of the Genome online in the next few months, you’ll be able to see the progression yourself.

Aside from the interior of the car being much more complete (down to every last rivet), parts are now arriving both into the Bloodhound Technical Centre and being built up on the chassis tooling at Hampson Industries.  Where there was a conceptual space claim a year ago, there are now finished parts, and after so much effort to get to the final design that’s a huge boost to the team.

Bloodhound’s chassis starts to take shape

As the emphasis in the office changes from scheming and concepts to detailing and manufacture, we had a very successful recruitment drive at the end of the year with three new members joining the team. They should help us to prevent the delivery of drawings and models to manufacturers becoming a bottleneck. To keep the momentum as the year progresses, we are still looking for additional highly skilled designers and stress support specialists to join us by Easter.  If the start of the year felt hectic, then for Bloodhound this is just an exciting taste of things to come. 2012 is the year we deliver the world’s fastest racing car.