Monday, August 25, 2008

It's No Mistake Why They're "The Best in the Desert"

As Jay has already mentioned in his blog, the vehicles that enter this race from the dirt bikes, to the quads, to the Pre-runners, all the way up to the Trophy Trucks are the real deal. Especially in the case of the Trophy Trucks, these vehicles are as purpose-built as they come. Although we will not be trying to directly mimic the construction and as a result, the performance of the Trophy Trucks in our first vehicle, it was great to see what the top notch, function over form, best in the game trucks incorporate for drivetrain, suspension, interior, chassis etc.

Despite this fact, the mission of our trip was accomplished since now that we've seen how these trucks are made first hand and spoke to the guys that design, build and race them. What I mean by this is that although our vehicle will have to take a different route in terms of construction due to other parameters we need to meet that the Trophy Trucks do not (FMVSS standards, mass production - think thousands, not millions, but not only one either, visibility, comfort, etc.), we can still use some of the properties incorporated into the construction of the trucks to manufacture a vehicle like no other on the market, and one that may not be able to demolish one of these trucks out in the desert, but run with the pack. And from what we saw this weekend, just running with the pack and being able to finish says a lot.

One excellent example of a feature that proves these vehicles leave nothing behind when it comes to being built for performance is a certain element of the chassis that is a minor detail, but one that allows big performance gains. It's also something that we could incorporate into our chassis for better performance, without limiting our goals of efficient production (both in cost and time). It's something I hadn't noticed in the pictures I had seen on the internet, but found it to be common on just about every truck that I saw on the tech inspection day.

You will notice in the photos below that around each bolt is a piece of round tube used as a gusset (center of the photo as pointed out by the arrow). In the case of the rod end mount, there is a tube welded to the gusset and then to the spindle for added bracing to handle the intense loads the suspension will see as the truck flies across the desert at an average of 70 mph (sometimes reaching over 120 mph) traversing some of the toughest terrain you can think of.

As for the control arm bolt in the second picture, the bracket that welds to the main portion of the chassis that the bolt goes through could be braced by a single piece of steel at the top or the bottom, but you can see that instead, a round piece is welded to the bracket, around the hole for the bolt, then it is gusseted by sheet steel (Lower end of photo, near center as pointed out by the arrow). This allows for an incredibly strong mount, and because the stock is a round piece, you can still get a socket onto the nut/bolt.

Again, in the critical areas, this is a subtle detail found on the best performing trucks in the world that could easily transfer to the LM vehicle to adapt as much of the performance of a Trophy Truck into the vehicle as possible, without hindering our other manufacturing goals to a fault.


Unknown said...

Great post Mike... Very informative!

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