Main sponson-arm: Development update
Considerable effort was devoted to the design of the main sponson-arm some time ago, including determining the optimal cross-sectional shape, windtunnel testing it on a tenth-scale model of the boat, then undertaking computational airflow analysis (CFD) in verification. Finite-element structural analysis (FEA) and related work was also done, but at that point we backed away to concentrate on other aspects of the boat's development. We have recently picked up on the sponson-arm work again, with a view to getting it built as soon as we possibly can, and to this end Mike Coulthard and Dr Tony Maddison are busy resolving the remaining issues.
The main sponson-arm is a critical element of the boat, in that it joins the three hulls together. It is an all-aluminium structure, with bonding employed extensively in its construction. When completed it will be bolted to the main hull spaceframe, then the sponsons will be bolted onto each end. Three box-section BSI 6082-T6 aluminium spars make up the arm's primary load-bearing span. These will be encased in a symmetrical-section aerofoil ‘shell’ that contributes additional stiffness and strength. The precise shape of the aerofoil was decreed by Mike Green, our chief aerodynamicist.
Loyal, longstanding sponsor Radshape Engineering Ltd. is helping us build the sponson-arm, but we have quite a lot of work to finish off first. Prior to actually assembling the arm from the parts it's composed of, various items of purpose-made hardware need to be designed and built to treat each individual part to prepare it for bonding. Meticulous preparation is everything where bonding is concerned, so special facilities are needed. Radshape has vast experience in this field, as does Tony Maddison, so the skills are there. It's 'only' a matter of doing it all!
In the CAD image above, it can be seen that there is a secondary sponson-arm sited behind the main arm. The secondary arm – which is actually two separate arms, port and starboard, so as to leave space clear inside the hull for the engine – will not be required for the initial trials on water, so there are no plans to manufacture it at the present time.
Dr Maddison visited Radshape with Nigel Macknight on 3rd July to view progress and discuss the next steps. The latest work on the main sponson-arm has centred on establishing the accuracy of the parts that have been manufactured thus far. Unilathe, our sponsor in Stoke-on-Trent, will be contributing some machining time to us shortly, and Manchester Metrology has been measuring components at Radshape with their specialised laser equipment. No photographs are being released at the present time.
Images © QWSR Ltd.