Bloodhound SSC Team member Jas Thandi has been running a rocket car club at Heathland School, Hounslow for almost a year and a half. Here is his report of what they were all building up to ...
After 16 months the journey has come to an end and The Heathland School have taken the model rocket car record from Joseph Leckie.
The day started early as we had some last minute testing (yes it happens to us all) to do on the firing and stopping procedures. We had only been able to find a viable stopping system two days before launch even though it proved a success we had worries about the cable breaking, which was a big risk. To counter the cable issue we purchased 12 lengths of steel cable each one being 125m enough for all the runs.
Also supporting us on the day were several members of the Bloodhound Team and product sponsors. Olympus were on hand to film the runs and provide backup to our timing gear, CISCO had brought over various laptops and gadgets to run the live WEBEX to the world. The Falcon Project also arrived early to conduct the Health and Safety assessment of the run and to provide support to us in firing the rockets at the same time.
The first run was with the test car, which had already been timed at a speed of 135mph, however, the car had crashed on each run, but our build team were able to repair it each time. Thank you Mr Cook! The cable was tightened and the stopping system was deployed, which consisted of 4 duvets lined with fire blankets (idea of Samvir).
1100 arrived too soon for Carol and I, we looked at each other nervously closed our eyes fingers crossed.
As the countdown commenced it was too much to watch and both if us turned our backs fearing to watch. The familiar sound of the rockets and the thud of the car ramming into the duvets was greeted with cheers. Rushing to the stop line we were relieved that the car had stopped, but as suspected the cable broke!
We had secured one end of the wire to a strap and ratchet system and this had served us well during all our test, but this time it failed!! Time was ticking fast and Carol Black made the call to not use the ratchet and to tie the cable by hand to the post! We were just glad that this was the test run!!
The cable was tied and the duvets were placed back on the line ready for the first car, The Nashmobile!!
The countdown began and the now familiar sounds informed us that the car had stopped, but again the wire failed. As we had made allowances by having extra lengths on both sides this was not a great issue. Nerves were kicking in as we tried to find the car within the duvets, finally to our relief the car was found and as suspected the front axles were damaged. We had 1 hour to repair the car and send it back out, Anna along with the pit lane team rushed the damaged car to the repair tables. As the line was prepared for the next car the speed was announced 128mph, we were half way to the record.
The Foster car was next and raring to go. The Foster car as the name suggests was an unwanted car which the previous owner failed to complete. The core members of the team felt kind of sorry for it and decided to get it ready for the record, the car was only completed on the day of the record!!!
Whoosh, thud, cable break and Foster car reached a speed of 149mph, but again the axles were damaged. Pit lane to the rescue!!
The clock was now against us and the plan of running the cars in one direction had to change, Nashmobile and Foster car were now against the clock, they had to be repaired.
Finger nails were reducing in length and the team were getting on edge, the line was repaired and the teams awaited The Nashmobile. With 10 minutes to spare the car appeared on the line with the wheels just about good for one run.
MR COOK, DANIEL HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 minutes left and the rockets were armed again, this was it no third chance.
The record was ours average speed was 128mph!!!!!!!!!
From there on the pressure was off and we could enjoy the day, Foster car next on the track and whoosh took the record of the Nashmobile 149mph.
After this we broke for lunch and the track was prepared for the 3 rocket cars, first up was Hawk King which reached a speed of 154mph, one more run like this and the record would be broken again.
Next up was the ultra light, ultra fragile Mobius (pictured right), we all knew that this had potential of 190+ but were worried about the strength of the car.
The car had suffered severe damage, Pit lane to the rescue, but they had their work cut out this time!! Could the team pull it out of the bag????
The final car was now on the track, but due to the rocket mounts being damaged and for safety, we decided not to run the car.
The Pit lane crew had again performed their magic and Hawk King was ready to go 5,4,3,2,1 the car took off but was clear that there was a malfunction one rocket failed to fire and one fire later than the other. Hawk King only reached a speed of 122mph an average of 141mph, not the record but still a brilliant run.
As Hawk King was taken off the track the pressure was on the pit lane team to fix Mobius, the team were given a deadline of 1505hrs otherwise it would not be able to run due to the time taken to set the car up. With 1 minute to go Mobius appeared and took its place for the final run of the day.
5,4,3,2,1…………………whoosh thud and it was fast!!
As we ran to the finish line there was nothing left of the car apart from the rocket mounts and 3 wheels it had been smashed to pieces, but the speed was……………………………….210mph giving an average of 205mph, WHAT A WAY TO GO!!!!
The record was smashed 3 times on the day and even before the day had finished we had plans for the next record.
WATCH THIS SPACE
[pictures: Stefan Marjoram]