The experience gained in building wooden-framed aircraft was put to good use, and the first car was available in 1920. Two versions were made, a 15.9 hp with a Dorman 2614 cc engine and a larger 20 hp model with a 3308 cc engine of their own manufacture. A 4" high brass Lincoln imp radiator mascot was an optional extra! The cars were very well made but also very heavy, being built on a 9" chassis. This design made the cars extremely expensive - they cost between £440 and £1000 and they could not compete effectively with the lighter and cheaper models made by other established car producers who had adopted mass-production methods to turn out cheap family cars in very large numbers, weighing only 3//4 ton and costing around £120 to £200. Production ended in 1925 after around 1500 cars had been sold.
Until recently traditional methods have been used to restore the cars but what do you do when parts no longer exist? The engines and major components remain in fairly good shape but there's a problem - many of the small ancillary parts and running components are no longer available from 1920 and much of the old manufacturing information has been lost! For example - the Steering Box on one of the cars was significantly damaged and in several pieces. We could have a new part machined from solid metal but we had no drawings! Added to that is the fact that most machine shops don't want to manufacture a one-off part due to lengthy design and set-up times which prove costly.
The challenge: Using the latest scanning technology could it be possible to digitally 'glue the parts back together' again by creating a working scan model which can then be 3D printed? This was the challenge for the team at Siemens Materials Solutions (recently acquisitioned) who have 12 years' experience in Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing using metals including steel, titanium and nickel-based super alloys for industries such as aerospace and power generation, where components are needed in hot environments. The answer was yes! The team were able to scan the parts of the original steering box and turn it into a working 3D model. They then turned to the latest 3D printing technology, using a metal powder that is welded into layers by a laser (around a 1000 layers in total!) to produce the new high quality part and taking just five days to print - that's around two and a half years quicker than going to an open market. Using this advanced manufacturing technology a part which is more accurately produced than using the original tooling processes and more robust because it is engineered as a single piece.
Later in the year one of the cars will be test run at Cadwell Park, the famous motor racing circuit in Lincolnshire and also put on display at the prestigious Festival of Speed event at Goodwood. Not only does the restoration of the cars demonstrate our commitment to celebrating the past, preserving our engineering heritage and engaging with the community, the project is also about inspiring the next generation of engineers - this is a great example of how a 100 year old car can get back on the road with the help of cutting-edge technology!
The Ruston Car is a fantastic showcase of how new engineering techniques can be applied to very old technology with wonderful results. Ideal for vintage fairs or historical events, the Ruston Car is available for display at your business or show in the local community.
Using Additive Manufacturing we are subsequently able to directly create a near- finished part from the 3D model. This method can be applied to almost any part and was utilised in the remanufacture of two of the Ruston Car parts - a Steering Box and a Hood Imp.
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