Unison supports World Motorcycle Land Speed Record Attempt

PUBLISHED: 22 Sep 11

A mock-up of the streamliner cockpit, with project founder Gabriel Uttley (kneeling) and BBC commentator Steve Parrish demonstrating its cramped conditions
A mock-up of the streamliner cockpit, with project founder Gabriel Uttley (kneeling) and BBC commentator Steve Parrish demonstrating its cramped conditions

The tube bending machinery specialist Unison is helping the Angelic Bulldog Project - an attempt on the world motorcycle land speed record - by creating the roll cage for the streamliner bike. Unison's work included the manufacture of custom tooling to accommodate the unique shape of the bike, together with the bending of various tube sections on a precision all-electric bending machine.

The Angelic Bulldog Project was started in 1996 by Gabriel Uttley, the former Manx GP racer. Since then, it has grown to include a team of over 65 volunteers - many from prestigious engineering companies - and a huge number of supporters.

According to Gabriel Uttley, "We knew of Unison's excellent reputation in metalworking machinery and initially approached the company's MD, Alan Pickering, for advice about the fabrication of the roll cage for the streamliner, because some of the bends are very application specific and we lacked the necessary resources. After some discussion, during which it emerged that standard tooling wasn't suitable, Alan decided that the simplest way was for Unison to make the necessary tools and bend the cage's components on one of its all-electric tube benders."

The streamliner bike is designed specifically for forward speed; it measures 6.6 m in length, with a height of 0.8 m and a width of just 0.6 m. The engine is a twin supercharged 8-cylinder 2.3 litre unit, rated at 700 bhp, and is intended to propel the bike at over 400 mph. The bike's roll cage is constructed from high tensile aerospace grade T45 steel tube and has to be manufactured to extremely tight tolerances. It is designed to fit very closely around the rider and tightly within the bike's envelope, so that once the cladding is applied the entire structure is highly aerodynamic.

Although the roll cage was designed with standard bends of 5- and 6-inch centre-line-radius, the need to allow for material spring-back meant that they were not accommodated by off-the-shelf machine tooling, requiring Unison to design and manufacture a custom set. Furthermore, the roll cage was needed urgently by volunteer team members who give up their own spare time to work on the project, so Unison personnel worked through the night to create the necessary components.

After verifying the tooling, Unison fabricated the roll cage on a Breeze 90 machine, one of the latest additions to the company's range of all-electric tube benders, capable of producing the high torque levels necessary for accurately bending T45 steel. The Angelic Bulldog team used Solidworks' CAD software to develop the roll cage, and the model was transferred straight from the laptop to the bending machine's CNC system.

Alan Pickering stated, "We are delighted to be involved with such a worthwhile project. Aside from attempting to return the two-wheel land speed record to Britain, the project's aims include promoting British design and engineering skills worldwide, and helping young people maximise their potential and consider careers in these important disciplines - which are aspirations we support wholeheartedly."

The frame and engine of the streamliner bike will be shown at Scarborough Engineering Week 2011, which runs from the 10th to the 12th October. The event is organised by Unison and other leading industrial businesses based in the area, together with regional educational establishments and public sector agencies.

A video showing the roll cage tubes for the streamliner bike being produced on a Unison tube bending machine can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/user/AngelicBulldogProjec

Unison Ltd, UK
Tel: + 44 1723 582868
Email: sales@unisonltd.com
Web: www.unisonltd.com

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