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Does Anyone Know How Carbon Brakes were developed?


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#1 MarkWill

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 17:43

Hi,

I have read Doug Nye's McLaren F1 book (excelllent - well worth it, and a pleasure to own), and it covers some aspects of the brake design for the car, which originally were intended to be carbon fibre barkes. It seems that carbon fibre was first used on F1 cars by Gordon Murray, who took the idea from a design used on Concord. Who came up with the idea to use it on Concord?Also, according to what I read, these brakes were not very successful when first tried out - so who was the first team to successfully emply them (was it still Brabham, or was it another team like Mc Laren?).

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#2 ehagar

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 18:15

From a book of mine... C-C Composites by Gary Savage

Something like 63% by volume of the carbon-carbon produced in the world is used in aircraft braking systems. Carbon-Carbon brake materials were originally developed by the Super Temp Division of B.F. Goodrich Inc. in the USA. Their process was licensed to Dunlop in the UK. Dunlop were the first company to manufacture abd fit carbon-carbon composite brakes into regular service.

Trials were carried out in 1973 on a VC10 aircraft the following a year later by standard fitment to Concorde SST.....

Carbon-carbon brakes were introduced into Formula 1 racing in the early 1980s by the Brabham team



#3 Doug Nye

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 20:20

Gordon's first attempt at carbon brakes on the F1 Brabham-Alfas involved individual carbon 'pucks' set into a disc. Where carbon brakes worked so well on aircraft was that in comparison to cast-iron or steel discs the weight saving is huge, and for one big application on landing a 100-ton-plus airliner they work fine.

However, the incredible heat generated by a continous cycle of applications around a racing circuit caused all kinds of problems, heating up the wheels and exacerbating high temperature problems in the tyres, melting grease in the hubs, causing such gross expansion and distortion that bearings seized, boiling the brake fluid - I vividly recall Brabham-Alfas smoking into the pits at Nurburgring with the pucks actually on fire.

John Barnard vividly described one of McLaren's earliest successful tests with carbon brakes at Donington, explaining how the session ran well into the dusk, he was standing behind the bank at Coppice Corner watching his car run and in the gloom a great glow switched on within the wheels like a light bulb as his driver braked, and then just as abruptly was quenched and went out as he came off the brakes and back onto the power. At last they were getting the heat away quickly - the brakes were becoming usable. All kinds of tricky machining placed cooling airways in the hubs, around the calipers, everywhere...

In the McLaren road car carbon brakes failed simply because they didn't work worth a darn until heated through. As a manufacturer, McLaren couldn't risk a high-rolling owner driving his car gaily out of the garage first thing one cold morning and sailing clean across the street into his neighbour's garden as the brakes apparently failed... The latest from that particular stable will have carbon brakes - the temperature range problem has been fixed, I'm told, by mixing carbon with other materials to broaden the heat range across which they offer a respectable coefficient of friction.

DCN

#4 MarkWill

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 02:09

Thanks for the info. Is it possible that this development was an offshoot of a military or space program? I'm trying to settle a discussion at work - one of my co-workers claims it was a British Aerospace (or whatever it was in those days) program which spawned the original idea.

Didn't Michael Andretti try racing with cast iron brakes on his race car, instead of carbon fibre ones? I don't recall what drove Ron Dennis' team to try it out, especially if there was a weight penalty to pay???


re. The McLaren F1 road car, does anyone know if there's the intention to upgrade the brakes to new carbon composite ones? Surely that would give the F1 another five years at least as the best car in the world?

Is there another Mclaren car planned, or does it begin and end with the F1?

#5 Doug Nye

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 11:00

Since cessation of F1 production McLaren Cars have been engaged in development and prototype manufacture/development of the forthcoming new Mercedes-Benz supercar...

DCN

#6 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 11:51

Carbon Fibre was originally developed by the RAE (Royal Aircraft Establishment - since DRA, then DERA and now QintetiQ) at Farnborough. Its original application was to be in the construction of lightweight fan blades for large high bypass turbofan jet engines. The first production engine to which the new technology was to be applied was the Rolls Royce RB211 which had been designed for the Lockheed L1011 Tristar airliner. Unfortunately, carbon fibre proved to be not the right material for fan blade construction and all RB211 fans were consequently made from more conventional steels and titanium. The problems with the RB211 bankrupted Rolls Royce which had to be nationalised by the British government to ensure the company's survival. The Tristar fell behind schedule and lost potential sales to its great rival, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Lockheed lost so much money on the Tristar that, when production ceased in 1983, they never built another airliner.

#7 MarkWill

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 15:46

I fear that the merc supercar is going to arrive in the same economic climate as the F1, which will once more be a real shame.

The RB211 story seems to be the root of my colleagues claims. I wonder if it wasn't a case of..well, now we've got it and we can't use it on the engines, where CAN we use it?

#8 ehagar

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 17:45

:confused:

But... who made the first material for the specific use in aircraft brakes. Who was the first to use the isothermal CVD process? I think it is BF Goodrich Super Temp division that did that. No, not the guys that make the tyres (although they did that...), these guys: http://www.goodrich.com/corporate.asp

They have an aviation division that specialized in brakes since 1937.

They sold/licenced the process to Dunlop Aerospace UK in the 70s, where it was used on actual aircraft.... sucessfully too. These guys:

http://www.dunlop-av...king/index4.htm

I would be more inclined to say they were responsible for it being used for braking material.

Maybe Dera/Qinetiq were the first to putter around with the stuff, but I wouldn't think they could take credit for braking applications.

#9 ehagar

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 18:18

Heh... my C-C books tend to focus on the material properties and applications in current use, rather than historical perspective... but here is a bit that I could gleen out of two of my geek books:

Carbon fibres have been produced inadvertently from natural cellulosic fibres such as cotton or linen for millennia. The first recorded purposeful transformation of cellulose to carbon fibres was by Thomas Edison in 1878. He was using them as filiments for incandescent lamps. After 1910 the lamp industry changed to the use of tugsten.

Intrest was renewed in the late 50s with jet propulsion which caused the development of faster and larger aircraft. Laboratory testing of graphite whiskers was being done and there was promise in the material as it superior tensile and specific modulus over the current state of the art, Aluminum and titanium.

Under sponsorship from the USAF, Union Carbide Company started experimenting with fabricating carbon fibres.

In the 60s they managed to demonstrate hot stretching made higher modulus. The fibres were released commercially under the names Thornel 25, 50, and 70.

During the same time period... A. Shindo (Japan) and his colleagues were investigating polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibres as a precurser for C-C composites. They demonstrated that it was a superior starting material for composites.

The PAN fibres increased in importance when... English workers sponsored by the Royal Air Force at RAE Farnborough showed that high strength fibres could be made by oxidizing the PAN fibres while under strain.... without the need of stretch forming (which Union Carbide did)...

So there you go. They made PAN fibers more useful, and they are now the standard used in the industry.

I don't know the rest of the story after that.... prehaps Eric knows... But I think it would be a mighty stretch to suggest that they invented C-C brakes. Maybe this should be in the technical forum :p

#10 MarkWill

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 00:24

You're right, the application as a braking material isn't obvious. Still, our colleague wins his arguement based on the presentation of the fact that the present carbon-fibre comes out of GB. He only gets half marks though because we still have no idea as to how the development of Carbon fibre brakes came about (Google search not helpful).

#11 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 09:13

That's about the extent of my knowledge on the history of Carbon Fibre development without doing any further research. The newly (semi-) privatised QintetiQ (what an awful name) are trumpeting their past achievements in an effort to attract potential investors. They are therefore boasting about their involvement in the development of Carbon Fibre at the moment.

#12 Bladrian

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Posted 28 September 2002 - 06:50

Originally posted by MarkWill
Didn't Michael Andretti try racing with cast iron brakes on his race car, instead of carbon fibre ones? I don't recall what drove Ron Dennis' team to try it out, especially if there was a weight penalty to pay???


I don't know about Michael Andretti, but I remember that Alex Zanardi was never comfortable with carbon brakes - to the extent that they actually fitted his car with steel brakes for an event.

He was still slow.