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Andy Green Diary: Meet the Goat's Head

2014-06-27 07:32

THE GOATS HEAD: A key component in the construction of Andy Green's Bloodhound Supersonic car. Image: Supplied

Andy Green

...the Fastest Man in the World

A British team is developing a car that will be capable of reaching 1000mph (1610km/h) at Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape in September 2015. Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, the Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car) will mount an assault on the land speed record.

British Royal Air Force Wing Commanger Andy Green is writing a diary for Wheels24 about his experiences working on the Bloodhound project and the team's efforts to inspire national interest in science and engineering. The Goat's Head is the team's nickname for the front suspension of the car; that, the engineers who designed say, is simply what it looks like.

Here's what Andy Green has to say about the latest developments ahead of the land-speed record attempt:

Watchmaker Rolex has designed and made two key instruments for the Bloodhound cockpit and in May 2014 we unveiled them in public for the first time.


Rolex was intrigued by our requirements for a precise and fail-safe cockpit speedometer, together with a chronometer/stop-watch. After three years of work the company has produced the most accurate and reliable instruments to be fitted to a land-speed record car.

The speedometer is an essential back-up for Bloodhound to make sure I can stop the car safely at any stage. If the speed readout fails I need to know exactly how fast the car is travelling so that I can put the air brakes or drag chutes out at the correct speed. Deploy the chutes too fast and they will simply tear off, leaving BLoodhound SSC to run off the end of the track. Deploy the chutes too late, and there will not be enough desert left to stop, and once again the car will run off the end.

The chute speed limit is nearly 1126km/h so they could be deployed at any stage. However, Bloodhound's top speed of 1000-mph makes slowing down a problem and the chute deployment speed is critical. Hence the need for the Rolex speedometer.

The speedometer has its own GPS sensor driven by an internal battery to provide a precise and reliable speed readout. Why use an analogue dial, rather than a digital readout? Simple – because it’s the easiest type of display to read.

Jet fighters have analogue back-up instruments for exactly that reason.

The Rolex Chronometer has a wider range of uses. The FIA world land-speed record requires two passes through the measured (1.6km), in opposite directions within one hour. However, keeping track of the time during our record attempts will be useful, as we get ready for the return record run.


I’ll also be timing various systems on the car. For instance after a high-speed run, the jet engine needs between twp and five minutes at idle to let it cool before I shut it down. I’m betting that two minutes should be enough, while Rolls-Royce has been more cautious and advised five.

Like so many other details, this is something we’ll test once we start running to find out exactly how quickly the engine cools.  If the Rolls-Royce team is reading this, then I promise we’ll stick to your figures to start with.

These four main parts will be joined by 268 bespoke components which make the main assemblyonto which we’ll bolt the outboard wishbones, uprights and so on.  Almost all of those parts are in hand and the first mock-up assembly will start soon.

The steering rack process will turn three tonnes of aluminium into a total of 75kg machined structures.The skins will add another 30kg to the finto produce a structure more than two metres tall.

Read more on:    usa  |  cars  |  racing

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