17 August 2009
An innovative exhibit designed and built by Manchester-based company EDM – allowing visitors to quite literally walk through a Formula 1 racing car engine – was officially opened on Saturday at the legendary Nurburgring motor-racing circuit in Germany.
EDM, the interactive exhibits and training simulation specialist, located at a modern facility in Newton Heath, won a competitive bid to supply a range of exhibits for the RingºWerk action museum at the Nurburgring.
Visitors to the new exhibition will be left in no doubt what extreme forces and complex mechanics play out inside a Formula 1 racing car – for they will be able to walk through the engine and see for themselves.
The EDM manufactured ‘see-through’ engine measuring seven metres by six metres by five is complete in parts to the finest detail, is a highlight of the RingºWerk action museum.
The walk-through engine is the latest and one of the largest exhibits ever produced by EDM, which draws on 38 years of experience designing, producing and installing innovative interactive exhibits and complete exhibition, museum and gallery displays to educate and fire the imaginations of visitors of all ages.
In tendering for the RingºWerk project, the company had to develop a creative solution that included not just the oversized F1 engine, but also three wind-tunnel interactive models and an historic driver’s cockpit. Following an exhaustive bid process that began in 2007, the contract was finally awarded in the third quarter of last year. All of the exhibits were delivered to Germany earlier this summer.
After entering the engine underneath its two-metre diameter cooling fan, visitors can take a close-up look at the internal workings as they pass along a slowly moving piston, crankshaft, valves and camshaft to show how the four-stroke combustion cycle works.
Clever use of lighting indicates the flow of intake, exhaust and the spark of combustion, and the multi-sensory experience is completed by typical engine sounds throughout the journey. Many external features have also been fully modelled, including the manifold, rocker covers and exhaust pipes.
The company’s workshop team admitted that one of the major challenges had been the sheer size and scale of the exhibit. During build, the EDM craftsmen needed to fashion some innovative manufacturing solutions, and even had to produce custom-built platforms to enable total access in and around the engine framework. Components such as the pistons – which one person would find virtually impossible to lift – required moulding from multiple layers of fibre glass.
The three wind-tunnel models visualise the complex air flows affecting aerodynamic performance. Visitors can manipulate the profile and angle of front and rear wing to witness the effect these subtle changes of car body shape have on an F1 car, which is so heavily reliant on a combination of smooth air flow and down force to maximise grip around the track.
The final interactive exhibit going on show touches on motor racing history by allowing visitors to climb into the seat of a 1950s Alfa Romeo F1 motor car that raced around such famous tracks as the Brooklands circuit in the UK. Compared to today’s cars and their systems, which are progressively optimised for greater driver efficiency, the controls, steering wheel, gear changes and pedal pressures will demonstrate just how different it was to drive a Formula 1 car half a century ago.
EDM’s talented team utilised skills ranging from traditional hand crafts to the very latest in computer-aided design technology to bring the exhibits to life. The company’s in-house capabilities include a comprehensive workshop accommodating high-precision crafts including joinery, machining, metalwork, toolmaking and fabrication. The factory also incorporates a full paint-shop, electronics laboratory, foundry and welding bay.