So that was the clock radio alarm set with the watch alarm as a backup. I didn't want to be miss this day. In the end it didn't matter as I found it difficult to sleep and I was up before either alarm went off. Leaving the house armed with buckets, sponges, cloths and sandwiches I wondered if I had left enough time for the journey as it included the M25. No problem - it was practically empty.
As I drove I reflected on the last couple of weeks. I had been avidly following the progress of ThrustSSC on the Internet as it completed the test runs at Farnborough and the tie-down tests at Boscombe Down. It was clear that the Team would soon need a longer test track and would therefore soon be heading for Jordan. Being a Mach 1 Club Gold card member I hoped there would be an invitation to see ThrustSSC run at Farnborough before they left. Sure enough there would be such a run combined with a major Press Day and I e-mailed Jeremy Davey to see if there was a chance I could help out in any way. Jeremy's quick reply was "if you can use a bucket, hose, brush, cloth and bottle of polish - I can use you!"
So we arranged a day - Saturday October 12th - and it wasn't long before I was pulling up outside Jeremy's house. I had a quick look at the latest updates on Jeremy's computer while he gathered together items of equipment he needed for the day. Soon I was following him in my car as we drove the short journey to the Farnborough base. After checking in at Ively Gate we soon arrived at Q Shed. I followed Jeremy though the small gap in the main doors and there she was - ThrustSSC with at least a dozen people working on her and under her. The shed was full of the noises of people working - fixing panels, tightening nuts, adding logos, filing metal, sanding fibreglass, hanging logos, moving crates, and packing the parachutes. I could sense that everyone was in high spirits after the successes of the previous fortnight by all the smiling faces.
The Internet Truck was parked at the other end of Q Shed and I helped Jeremy move all the monitors off the desks and on to the floor for safety before he drove the truck outside. I collected my cleaning items from my car and moved to the front of the Truck. It dwarfed me. At this point I realised exactly just how big this truck really was! It was going to be a long day. So I started in the traditional manner with a steaming hot cup of coffee provided by Dee Campbell-Coombe.
Two hours later I had cleaned and polished half the front of the cab as far as I could reach - about halfway. I needed a break so went and found Jeremy and helped fix an item for the cable to the satellite. Back to the cab and cleaning and I soon had a couple of visitors - Nick Chapman and Brian Palmer. Now it was time for sandwiches and a chance to look over ThrustSSC more closely. There were still people working on her - even more than earlier. Seeing her with her tail and most of the panels it was clear from her shape that this was one fast car! She was being readied for a test run later that day. Great! My first chance to see her run. Filled with the thought of seeing this I quickly finished my sandwiches and got back to my cleaning. Soon all the rear of the truck - tanks, side panels and wheels were complete. I was almost feeling part of the team particularly when some of the guests present that day started to ask me questions!
Shortly an enormous bang emanated from Q Shed. As the car was being prepared for the run there was a problem with the hydraulics system. Not a big problem. It just meant that there would be no run today and I would have to wait another couple of days till Press Day before I would see her run. So it was back to work and soon everything on the cab I could reach was clean and polished.
I found Jeremy and we set off in search of a step ladder which we quickly found. Now I could finish the top half of the truck. "I don't think I can reach the roof though " I said to Jeremy. "No problem" he replied "you can reach it through the sunroof!" Sure enough the truck has it's own bed above the drivers seat, reached by a small ladder, where there is a bed light, control panel for doors, windows, air conditioning, locks and a sunroof! These Scania trucks are certainly quite impressive.
Soon the upper half and roof were complete and Jeremy came round to see my work with the man himself Richard Noble who thanked me for given up my time to help out. It was certainly no problem as I thanked him for allowing me the opportunity to help out. By now it was getting dark and I started to help Jeremy pack up the truck. He had had a successful day installing the telephone system. Now it was possible to reach a telephone anywhere via the satellite link. He demonstrated this by handing me his mobile and dialling it from the phone in the truck. It soon rang and as he was only six feet away it was strange hearing him in one ear and the same words from the mobile in the other ear half a second later due to the time it took to arrive via the satellite. With all this technology in the truck the Team may well be out in the desert but they will be as good as back home in Blighty! There was certainly no doubt about being able to follow the runs in Jordan on the Internet.
Although it was now gone 7pm Q Shed was still full of people with half a dozen engineers working on ThrustSSC and being refreshed with hot drinks as I left the shed and followed Jeremy out through the Main Gate. "See you on Monday then" I shouted to him through my open car window. "Yes, look me out and thanks for your help". As I drove back along the M25 I realised that athough I was very tied after only a days work there were still people working in Q Shed and Jeremy was going back to spend a few hours updating the Internet site. I had seen the Team at close hand and they are certainly putting in a considerable number of hours into the project. As I awoke on the Sunday I was reminded of the prevoius day with an ache in my right shoulder but I know that the memories of the day will last much longer and already I couldn't wait for the Press Day with the chance to see ThrustSSC running on full reheat! But that's another story...
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