Design Projects Past and Present

Case Study 1 - Reduction Gear Assembly

A number of critical components on the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine reduction gearbox have been reverse engineered by the Retro Design Office to facilitate the manufacture of new parts. The OEM parts for these engines, much in common with all engines of this age are coming to the end of their safe working life and spares are either in very short supply, or no longer available.

Within the reduction gearbox, critical parts included the pinion, driven gear and propeller shaft, along with its interference fit tapered bolts and nuts. Onto the propeller shaft is fitted the propeller spider, which is also a high life component. The manufacture of these components necessitates the generation of a significant suite of design data, from detailed engineering drawings to inform the use of specialist manufacturing processes, to tightly controlled heat treatment specifications for the aerospace grade high tensile steel material.

Case Study 2 - Distributor Rotor

The magneto distributor rotor is a vital part in the operation of a warbird piston engine. This particular example consists of 30 individual components, originally embedded in Bakelite. Due to the lack of availability of this phenolic material to an aircraft standard, a suitable modern alternative material was required.

Following an exhaustive process of research and development, the Retro Design Office identified a high performance grade of a two-part epoxy resin for this application. A vacuum casting process was developed in-house, along with a multi segment mould tool, in which the embedded components were located and secured during the vacuum casting process. The finish machined distributor rotor has then been subjected to a rigorous mechanical and electrical testing schedule, to support the underwriting of the component in a design report, approving it’s use in flying aircraft.