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Friday, April 20, 2012

Tom Meade Update: April 2012 -Part 6

On the Thomassima IV

Tom Meade comments on the pending Thomassima IV project: “The independent rear suspension of the Thomassima IV is of the F1 ‘pushrod’ type, formed of carbon fiber, with a rear transaxle. The gearbox with clutch, ring and pinion, will weigh 280 lbs. And actually the entire front and rear suspension is pressure molded carbon fiber. This will allow for the lightest unsprung weight possible.

“Everybody around me is sworn to secrecy to prevent information leakage. I am employing techniques and publicly unknown materials in working with Cal Tech’s metallurgy department. A large percentage of the materials used in the Thomassima IV are new. The bearings, some of the structural geometry, axles, are made of titanium or ‘300M,’ a material that is as strong as titanium but can be machined thinner and compete with the lightweight characteristics of titanium.

“For example, the YF-22 Raptor fighter plane has landing gear made of 300M. Los Angeles is the perfect location to work on the new car as it is a center for aerospace corporations. For example, certain parts of the car employ the same materials found in the Space Shuttle. For secrecy and intellectual property reasons, I can’t disclose at this time which parts on the car have these experimental materials.

Above: Front Suspension (this is a general layout for example purposes only, it is not an actual Thomassima IV suspension diagram): 1. Rocker Arm, 2. Coil-Over Dampers, 3. Bearing/pivot, 
4. Lower A-Arm, 5. Anti-Roll Bar
“The engineering characteristics and functionality have been R&D’d and proven to perform. The tires are being developed by Pirelli and are composed of proprietary compounds. The Brembo brakes are likewise bespoke and unique to Thomassima IV, being lighter than carbon ceramic compounds used in present-day discs.

“The car has a 3 ½” ground clearance in the front, 4 ½” in the rear. The front lifts up when needed to clear driveways and curbs. Not one component of this car has been bought off the shelf. For example, in my own kiln, I am making the glass emblems and lenses. I have found the glass makers in America to be incompetent, while the Italians are the glass making masters. The windshield is handmade and polarized to cool the interior temperature from UV.

“Every part has been given unbelievable consideration. It is for posterity and my legacy as a result of years of bloody hands and broken fingernails. It is a definitive mark of sweat equity, something that the il figlio di papas (sons of the rich fathers) have no clue about. The modern pupils of today, the new engineering students, have never worked on a car in their lives, never had blood and oil on their hands from working on an exotic car.

“Modern book and classroom training creates engineers who design things that require one be a Houdini or contortionist to fix. The parts inside cars today are now inaccessible and nearly impossible to work on.  The modern car is now hostile to the owner/user/mechanic both technically and financially.

“Charging the owner $150/hr or $8000 or more odd dollars for a major service, including having to change idiotic timing belts, is highway robbery. But it is known the owner will pay it as they bought the car in the first place. And the risk of destroying the heads, if the belt breaks, is too fearful an idea. So the wallets open.

“But this is why I’m using timing chains in the Thomassima. They are superior in durability and nobody ever complained back in the ‘60s over having timing chains. I could forego chains altogether and drive everything with gears only but this would be a bit too noisy. It is still a road car."

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