Ohlins 7-Post Shaker
Öhlins' 7-Post Shaker Rig in North Carolina
Öhlins USA, a division of Öhlins Racing AB of Sweden,
began American operations in 1995 from an office in Chicago,
Ill. Working closely with Motorsports Spares International of
Indianapolis, IN; Öhlins developed the TT-44 damper, which
are now mounted on the majority of open-wheel racecars in the
U.S. With the goal of expansion into NASCAR and other stock-car
racing series, Öhlins USA established a permanent facility
in Hendersonville, North Carolina in early 1998. A motorcycle
racing research and development facility also resides at this
In 1999 Öhlins added a 7-post dynamic testing rig at
the Hendersonville location. Mats Hedlund was hired from the
BAR Formula 1 team to run the shaker rig as manager of the Vehicle
Dynamics Group. Claes Hesling develops software and serves as
test engineer for the shaker facility.
Öhlins USA added a new building to house the shaker including
a seismic mass to isolate the instrumentation from random vibrations.
This is a photo of the Ohlins Facility. The shaker-rig room
is at the far end. There's room in back of the building for a
hauler to park while a racecar is unloaded. A roll-up garage
door back there allows the car to be pushed into the test room.
I got there early as usual and no cars ruined the view.
MTS Systems supplied the dynamic test hardware and computer
control system. Öhlins developed their own measurement system
and software for analysis and data presentation. A separate room
in the new building houses the hydraulic pump and a 100-horsepower,
water-cooled electric motor.
This is a view of the test room. The control-room window is
at the back right. The swing-up doors in the foreground allow
access to the hydraulics under the floor. You can see the four
pads the tires sit on.
This is Claes Hesling and Mats Hedlund in the control room.
They're looking out into the test room.
Seven hydraulic actuators with fluid accumulators and control
systems sit on the seismic mass about seven feet below the shop
floor. The four tire pads are topped with three highly accurate
load cells each and readings from these sensors are averaged
to give the instantaneous load on each pad. These pads are a
fabricated laminated construction using aircraft-quality birch
and aluminum sheet for high shear strength, light weight, and
Mats scrambles around among the hydraulic comonents lining
up the actuators and fixing them to the car.
Three other actuators are movable to accommodate chassis mounting
points on different types of racecars. For open-wheel cars an
adapter is bolted to the front of the chassis to accommodate
the mounting of two actuators. A single actuator controls the
rear of the car.
These three actuators add forces to the car to simulate aerodynamic
or weight transfer forces that would be seen on the car at the
track and in the corner being simulated. The control system moves
these actuators to maintain the desired forces as the wheel input
actuators work the car. "In any seven-post rig there is
some measurable force error from these downforce actuators,"
said Mats Hedlund. "But we tune the controllers to make
these errors small and out of phase with the wheel posts so there
isn't any added artificial damping. The error levels here are
the smallest I've ever seen on seven-poster. That's very important
for accurate analysis."
The Goal of the Test
Mats Hedlund describes dynamic testing, "Information
from the test should give a race team more mechanical grip but
also less motion in pitch. Pitch is a disturbance to the driver.
The driver will have better feedback about the handling if the
car is pitching less into a corner. The driver might interpret
that as the car being loose [oversteer] or tight [understeer].
We try to explain that to the teams and use our test rig to come
up with a setup with less pitch and more grip.
"Open-wheel racecars like Champ cars tend to have higher
spring rates but less damping than the big stock cars which have
lower spring rates [as low as 150 or 200 lb./in. at the rear.].
Open wheel cars need less damping at low damper-shaft speeds
while stock cars have more, giving sharper force/velocity curves
on damper dynos.
"Stock car setups are dominated by driver comfort but
lap times are the real determining factor. Long races in the
NASCAR series make driver comfort even more important. Most of
the time the setup is a compromise between grip and pitch. We
spend a lot of time explaining our process and data to the teams.
How the data transfers to the team depends on how the driver
and crew chief or engineer interact. In the end the driver has
to feel comfortable with the setup that comes out of our test."
More on the test set-up and data from the test in later
Contact Ohlins in No. Carolina at 828-692-4525.