Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Aug Sept 2015 Issue 88 Contents 44
and can use easily, access the information
they need or the switches they need without
having to think about it. It’s obviously got to
be second nature to them.
“Certainly in 2014 there was a lot of dia-
logue about things we needed to improve
and that was something that just evolved
over time. It is a very fluid environment.
We use the open office space that we have
got to be continually talking about things.
It is really just a continual review and not a
formal process that we follow. If it comes up
in a meeting or a general chat, you flag it and
put it on the design list.”
James Courtney and new signing Tim Slade
provided feedback that the existing steering
wheel was quite busy because it contained
14 controls and functions, including the
dash and the gear shift lights.
It was agreed a redesign was needed. The
task was split in two and handed to two
engineers; Ty Anderson, who looked after
layout and electrics, and James Stone, who
was responsible for computer-aided design
(CAD). Both men performed these tasks in
addition to their racing duties. Anderson was
in charge of data acquisition in 2014 and
now works at Motec, while Stone is working
on Slade’s #47 Supercheap Auto entry.
The design brief included moving non-
critical switches to the console and ensuring
their location was user-friendly. Courtney
and Slade also pushed for the dash and
shift lights to be hard-mounted behind the
wheel on the steering column, so they didn’t
move with the wheel. However, Tander
and the other 2014 team driver Nick Percat
preferred to stick with an in-wheel dash and
lights, so WR was committed to developing
two steering-wheel designs.
With switches being moved from the
wheel to the console, the decision was also
made to press ahead with the design of a
new switch panel (or console), moving from
aluminium to composite housing and from
traditional rocker switches for the majority
of functions to a much easier to wire and
programmable keypad module (referred to
as a jelly pad within the team).
“We felt that was one area just to make
the cars a bit nicer and lighter and easier to
make,” explains Nilsson.
Anderson was charged with also sorting
the electrics on this project, while Terry
Kerr, who is now working on the #2 and #22
entries, handled CAD. While a relatively easy
design in itself, the console’s location was
a trickier proposition: it had to be located
to the left of the gear lever but required
clearance to the passenger ride seat. And all
drivers had to be able to reach it from the
seat with belts fastened.
“Making sure it could stay in with the ride
seat fitted is something not crucial to our
racing activities but critical to what we do
commercially,” explains Nilsson. “There are
all sorts of design briefs that are part of it.”
Button layout on the keypad also needed
to be organised in order of priority, based on
frequency and importance of use.
“Ty’s first brief was to sit down with the
drivers and find out what they wanted on
the steering wheel,” says Nilsson. “Then we
had to decide what we needed on the steer-
ing wheel and out of that we established
what was going to be on the steering wheel
and what was going to be on the jelly pad.
“And there was the matter of the layout
and how they wanted it presented. It’s as
simple as the hand-size of the drivers, how
they hold the steering wheel, what they can
reach with their thumbs and operate easily
with a glove fitted.
“The key ones normally are where do they
want the radio because the radio is the most
common button they use. Pit speed is the
other one. They are the critical locations.”
After “quite a bit of back and forth”
and review of some screen images, Stone
designed a wheel and housing which WR’s
rapid prototyping facilities printed in ABS
M30 material (a thermoplastic polymer).
This design went through at least two revi-
sions as different drivers sampled it and its
switch positions and gave their feedback.
Once a layout was agreed, the first oper-
able steering wheel was designed and pro-
duced. There were now eight functions oper-
ated by the driver on the wheel.
By now the decision had also been made
to purchase a dash from Triple Eight to
mount on the column. This suggestion came
from Burgess, who was of course familiar
with this item from his time at the rival.
“If there is an existing part out there that
teams are willing to sell then you don’t need
to reinvent the wheel all the time,” explains
Nilsson. “It worked quite well, Adrian obvi-
ously had experience with their installation.
“So we were able to purchase those from
The previous version of Walkinshaw Racing’s steering wheel, described by
some of the drivers as “quite busy”.
The new version of the steering wheel with in-wheel dash and lights.
V8X88 p42-46 Parts.indd 44
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