Over the past year I have been involved in designing, manufacturing and building a bespoke steering wheel and electronic dash display for a formula student car along with other members of the UWE Racing team. After taking the majority of our designs and manufactured components to this year’s Formula Student event at Silverstone to be judged. Although we achieved an 8th place finish, we were surprised with some of the feedback from the judges regardling simple principles and major oversights.
Work has now begun using the information gained from the event to modify, refine and improve our designs for the car that will be built over this coming year. I will be recovering all of the decision making and design work for the steering wheel and display from the last year, in order to design and build a much improved version.
The start of the design process started with making a comparision of steering wheels available on the market and a feasible product that could be manufactured and assembled within University. The design of our steering wheel evolved in shape, size and complexity from the standard Momo design (1) to the final design we used for the prototype (9). This was due to tailoring to our needs in terms of; available cockpit space, driver ergonomics, loading requirements, material selection and positioning of the electronic display components.
Since September, a group of us have been in the process of restoring a 1600cc Formula Ford Kent which is owned and run by our former course leader’s company Speed Factor.
The Restoration work was initally started by students of the formula student team UWE Racing and was carried out in their free time. Unfortunately this was not enough to complete the work required and so the car was moved to our garage for a complete overhaul of all of the body panels and preparation ready for racing.
The majority of the panels needed minor adjustments and repairs to ensure correct fitment and minimal bodywork gaps as the car had previously acquired damage when last on track.
The nose cone had taken its fair share of abuse and had been repaired numerous times but not always with care! We decided that this needed all the previous attempts as repairing ( copious amounts of filler applied haphazardly) to be removed and instead sections replaced with new glass fibre.
The existing engine cover ( not in great shape) was deemed unusable as the air filter had been relocated to behind the driver’s head instead of the side port and alterations were required inline with the Formula Ford Kent regulations in order for the car to compete at race tracks such as Castle Combe. The decision was made to make a new engine cover out of glass fibre reinforced resin using an existing mold that we modified.
The engine required rebuilding as two of the valves had collided with the pistons and caused damage to the cylinder head. The work is currently being performed by Speed Factor and we are eagerly waiting on news that the car is yet again running.
Over the next few weeks we will post about the restoration and race preperation work that we accomplished including engine cover and nose cone fabrication, spraying and detailing and general maintainance. Hopefully the work over the past few months will cluminate in the car being tested on a track day soon and being entered in a championship in the near future.