Fast cars play a big part in Brian Coombs’s life. Not only is he the chief of engineering for mechanical design at Bloodhound SSC in his spare time he is rebuilding a replica of the classic Ford GT40 sports car.
First launched in 1963, the car packs quite a punch with its tuned, five litre V8 engine, however the gearbox in Coombs’s replica has a tendency to fail under the power it has to handle. “A suitable replacement gearbox is very expensive. So as part of the project to rebuild the car and at the same time upgrade some of the engineering aspects of it, so it is better able to handle the power, I decided to build my own gearbox using the internal parts that I had from of an old Reynard Indy racing car,” explains Coombs.
“It meant I could be confident that what I was doing in the virtual world would work in the real world on the car” says Coombs.”
Having set up a machine shop at his home in Ireland and with access to Siemens NX software, he set about creating a CAD model from which new parts could be manufactured. However, the gearbox design presented something of a challenge. How was he going to ensure that the redesigned gearbox would fit into the available space in the car’s engine bay and that it would align correctly with the car’s other components? He could build a physical mock-up, maneuver it into place manually and take the measurements needed. But this would be very time-consuming.
The answer came from the UK office of 3D scanner manufacturer Solutionix. Using one of the Solutionix scanners, the gearbox casing could be quickly scanned. Then Geomagic Wrap 3D imaging and reverse engineering software was used to create an accurate 3D CAD model of it from the scan data. Thanks to its near-automatic scanning process, the whole process of scanning the gearbox casing and creating an accurate 3D digital surface model took only about two hours from start to finish. Consequently, it ensured that when it came to physically installing the new gearbox, it would fit perfectly. “It meant I could be confident that what I was doing in the virtual world would work in the real world on the car” says Coombs.
The whole process of scanning the gearbox casing and creating an accurate 3D digital surface model of it took about two hours from start to finish. As Coombs explains, “I don’t have a lot of spare time to spend on my GT40 rebuild project. So the near-automatic scanning process using the Solutionix scanner and turntable, along with the automatic processing of the scan data provided by the Solutionix ezScan and Geomagic Studio 3D imaging and reverse engineering software, most of which is accomplished with just one or two mouse clicks, saved a lot of time.” He was impressed with the resolution and accuracy of the scan data and also the way in which the digital surface model could easily be incorporated into the CAD model. “It meant I could be confident that what I was doing in the virtual world would work in the real world on the car,” says Coombs.
Obviously, with his love of fast cars, when all the work is complete Coombs plans to enter his reengineered and rebuilt Ford GT40 replica in the occasional race.