24 December 2008 03:22

Pat's Column - December

Category: Pat´s Corner
By: Pat Clarke

Well, the 2008 Formula year is finished. Last weekend saw the final event of the year, FSAE-Australasia.

Stuttgart dominated FSAE-A finishing with 961 points from an available 1000 to finish a very successful year on a very high note. We have to consider Stuttgart the Formula Team of the year with wins in Italy, UK and Australia, a second place in the US and the nearest of near misses in Germany. Congratulations to all concerned.

I have enjoyed the performance of Stuttgart this year because they have shown many teams that there is no need for all sorts of tricks to win or even to impress the judges. This has been a problem I see raising its head in recent years, teams making more and more complex cars thinking this is the way to win. In fact, the teams learn less as they get frustrated and invariable do not get the car finished in time to test and then usually have a demoralising event due to the resulting lack of reliability. In Australia 2008 we had the worst reliability record for many years and the most complicated and misunderstood cars in many years. I think there is a correlation. There is now so much information around for the students to study that they know all the answers! Trouble is that very few actually know the questions! They can present all sorts of logical explanations for what they have presented but cannot answer the question ‘Why?’  What has gone wrong?

RMIT Electric Racer.
One cannot report on FSAE-A 2008 without mention of the Electric car from RMIT. This car was allowed to run in some dynamic events as a demonstration.

The RMIT E-Racer is just that, and electric powered car, not a Hybrid and so it is not covered by any current FSAE rules. It runs a total loss battery system, running at about 100 Volts and needs the batteries replaced or recharged between runs. There is no form of regenerative battery charging. One set of batteries permits about 20 minutes of competitive running. Powered by two banks of Lithium Polymer batteries, one in each side-pod, the car started life as the very successful 2004 FSAE car. The mechanical, cooling and fuel systems have been stripped out and the car given a coat of green paint.

Surprisingly, the batteries, switching gear and the motor have not made the car as heavy as might be imagined. The car scaled at 188kg, some 20kg or so heavier than when powered by a Yamaha 450cc single engine. The removal of the fuel tank, cooling system, battery etc helped mitigate the weight gain.

On the track the car is eerily quiet, above the whirr of the motor the brakes and tyres can be heard working.

The car proved faster than I imagined. In their endurance run, the car was lapping at 56 seconds, a lap speed somewhere in the middle of the field. The fastest lap was a 49.8 by UWA and Stuttgart, who won that endurance run, lapped at 50 seconds. Considering the RMIT E-Car had 30kw at most and had not been properly set-up, their time was very impressive.

The contentious 2009 templates made their first appearance in Melbourne.
Regardless of what one thinks about the templates, they are here for the 2009 year at least. I have spoken before about the reason the templates exist, though my personal opinion is they are a very complicated answer to the dangers posed by having the steering rack in the footwell.
My thoughts are that a simple “The steering rack must not intrude in the footwell space” rule would have sufficed. However, back to the templates!

Several of the cars in Melbourne were built to suit the templates as these teams anticipate a possible 2009 event with the cars. Auckland and RMIT looked quite neat, but others, including UWA looked a bit clumsy. As far as I am aware, there was no compliance issue with the ‘template’ cars, although the templates used were simple corrugated cardboard cut-outs with taped edges. Such templates would quickly become damaged, so something more permanent like sheet aluminium or even carbon fibre will be needed for the major events.

Blast from the Past
Whilst doing some research I came across a project car that Honda made about 10 years ago. It seems to me that a nice FS car could be made to a similar design and still meet the 2009 template requirements easily.

It was called the Honda ‘Side by Side’ and was supposedly first sketched up on a restaurant napkin, as so many great designs have been, including the original Mini and the Lotus 25 monocoque Grand Prix car. The idea was for a fun track-day car and was powered by a side mounted XRV750 engine developing about 45kW

Supposedly, the car was to be put into limited production and would be available for rent at Twin Ring Motegi. Maybe a reader can confirm whether this happened?

Well, that’s it for 2008 si seasonal wishes to all in Formula Student land and I hope we all have a happy and prosperous new year.

I look forward to meeting up again in August at Hockenheim.


Pat’s Design Error of the Month

Seeing as we are coming up to holiday time, I thought I would set a quiz to amuse you all.

In 1972, a Dutchman named Arno van Dyjk designed and built his own Formula 1 car. Well, it was supposed to be a Formula 1 car but the engine was actually a Ford 5 litre pushrod V8. The car was also called an Arno and there are some pictures below.

The first shows Arno sitting in his Arno and the last one shows the car as presented.

The quiz is this.

Name as many design errors as possible. I include construction errors that include things that Ulf would not approve at Technical Inspection.

I counted 18, so have fun.

Incidentally, the Arno never completed a single lap.

See you next month.

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