Outer hull progress: January 2017 build update
– a peek at the pattern
Patternmakers Eddie and Shaun
The key focus for us for some considerable time now has been the outer hull structure. Much of the activity has been conducted behind closed doors, with no photos released, as there are aspects of the task that are as-yet confidential. However, we want to offer a glimpse into some of the work involved, so to that end we've released several images exclusively to this website. What is shown here is the pattern – otherwise known as the 'buck' or 'plug' – for a major portion of the outer hull structure. The shape of the bottom and sides of the boat can be clearly made out.
When composite materials are to be used in construction, as they will in this case, either a pattern or a mould – or in some cases both – must be made, to serve as a foundation upon which the materials can be ‘laid-up’ in the desired shape. In this case, it's the shape of the underside and flanks of the boat, extending from the tip of the bow to a point some 30 feet aft. This region of the boat is delineated by the red line in the CAD image at the foot of this page, which also shows the positions of the main-hull spaceframe, the Rolls-Royce Spey engine, the air-intake module, the main sponson-arm and the foredeck.
Our top-of-page photo was taken when the pattern was still being built, back in August. Made entirely by hand, timber has been used throughout. With all of the longitudinal stringers in place and the exterior fully-skinned, the weight of the completed pattern on its integral base is estimated at one tonne.
The construction of this pattern was but one of many major tasks standing between us and completion of the outer hull structure, and all manner of activities have been keeping us gainfully engaged as we strive towards that goal. They have ranged from conceptual design at the very outset to determine the ideal outer-hull shape, to windtunnel testing, computational hydrodynamic (CFD) and structural (FEA) analysis, a lot of other CAD work, including some very specialised complex-surfacing, then on through the various stages of selecting and sourcing appropriate composite materials, followed by the manufacture of small sample-panels for bending tests and impact testing. During this time we also manufactured the first element of the outer hull structure, the foredeck, a task that required not only a pattern to be made beforehand, but also a fibreglass mould. With the mould completed, carbonfibre skins were laid-up either side of an Airex structural foam core, to create a very strong yet lightweight sandwich panel that will be joined to the rest of the outer hull in due course.
Specialists who've contributed to different stages of the outer hull's development include Lorne Campbell, Mike Coulthard, Mike Green, Mark Evans, Tim Harrison, Simon Hart, David Johnson, Ed Lupton, and Jeff White, while industrial support has come from 3A Composites SA of Sins, Switzerland, Competitive Carbon Composites in Nottingham, Trident Foams Ltd. of Furness Vale in the High Peak district of Derbyshire, Wessex Resins & Adhesives Ltd. of Romsey in Hampshire, and others.
We'll be issuing further images and information on the outer-hull build presently. Next time, we’ll reveal what the completed outer-hull pattern looks like, then we’ll show you the composite materials being laid-up on it. After that will come the tricky task of separating the composite structure from the pattern. One wrong move at any stage can cause the whole lot to be damaged beyond use, so we are proceeding with care.