In 1998 we were testing Woomera I at remote Lake Gairdner, some 240 kilometres from Port Augusta and 550 kilometres from the South Australian capital, Adelaide. It was an enormous effort getting all the equipment to the Lake as it is situated in the remote and arid outback of South Australia-this included 12,000 litres of water accumulation and food supplies for four weeks. A doctor had to be on stand-by for every run as did rescue and fire crews. Due to the enormous cost in this exercise we lacked all the spares and infrastructure we needed to run the vehicle. This is identified in the Project financial report available in Project Future. We had four major problems attributed to lack of finance and vehicle preparation:
1. No spare fuel pumps;
2. We had a faulty fuse holder in the covering which was damaged during the travelling:
3. No onboard data acquisition system;
4. Lack of funds to complete the task;
Despite this the team worked hard to make the exercise a success and without their dedication we could not have done it. We needed to test the car and the only way to do that was just "do it !
I must stress the problem was not the fault of the transmission, The Allison transmissions performed flawlessly.
"On 29/3/1998 we ran 223 m.p.h. in second gear, which was Our Fastest run at the lake. Roger and Paul placed the canopy down and I primed both engines. We started the front one first - 1,900 rpm. down to 1,100rpm, 400 kpa oil pressure, rear engine started - 1,300 then 1,100 rpm Running alright but DO NOT SHIFT" again! We had to stop. Paul came over and re-taped part of the wiring loom. We re-started engines and I moved off. Eased on the throttle, nerves gone, focused on driving. About half a mile into second gear at about 3,000 rpm., "DO NOT SHIFT" again. I tried to shift to third gear but could not. I wanted to shake the wiring but assuming we could get another run I used this run to learn about driving the vehicle. I drove about 1 1/2 miles and could see the timing traps. The car was positioned well, it has excellent stability. I am learning to trust it (I must thank the designer). I added a little more power to 3,600rpm. I was sure I was still in second gear but I had the shifter in 3rd in the hope it would shift up. All things considered it was an excellent run . The car maintained a constant 3,600rpm. for the run, in top gear, this translates to approximately 500 m.p.h. It could have easily achieved the 400 m.p.h. pass we intended- if it had only up-shifted. The rear motor had leaned out and burnt the body in the shape of the air flow".
It was the support and dedication of the volunteers that helped us in getting to the remote and spectacular Lake Gairdner and achieve the successful testing of Woomera 1. With the right sponsors and support we shall be out there again.
The end of our run, more season opening rain than they had in 16 years, it left 12" of water on the lake in the morning.
go to history 6