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  • Writer's pictureArizona Contractor & Community

Ride & Handling – building the perfect sleigh

Okay, it might fly – and who doesn’t love reindeer power – but Santa’s sleigh could really do with better Ride and Handling characteristics. So, his friends at Timoney have imagined the perfect sleigh upgrade to ensure that he Never Stops Moving on the 25th.

Elf & safety

As if having an open cab wasn’t bad enough, Santa’s sleigh has almost no protection from the elements or the terrain he rides over. This is bad for a 10-hour shift – but Santa works for 24 hours – so he needs comfort if he’s to arrive back at The North Pole fit and well. Cushion mounted cabs and a sprung seat would help – but these primarily only protect against vertical vibrations: most lower back injuries and muscle fatigue occur from lateral vibrations. We’d dump the sleigh’s beam axle and adopt independent suspension – separating what happens on the left skid impacting the right one, and stopping the sleigh oscillating from left to right. Independent suspension means the individual skid takes the load, not the chassis or the cab. This keeps Whole Body Vibrations at safe levels – and stops the presents flying off too.

Stop here Santa!

With presents for the world’s children on board, Santa’s sleigh is the ultimate heavy-duty vehicle. Steering is the key element to keeping presents and Santa safe. Using his reins, he’s a long way from the reindeers, so how does he know how the sleigh will react when he makes a steering input? Neutral steering is the goal, but most heavy-duty vehicles suffer under or oversteer. Without the right design the skids might scrub or slip, so getting the steering geometry right is key. The suspension geometry can also be optimised: add in a bit of positive camber to improve cornering and maintain traction. And when they are on the ground, braking is also improved. Good steering, suspension and braking will bring Santa home safely to Mrs. Claus after a hard shift.

Never stop moving Santa!

With the whole world to get around in just one night, Santa can’t afford to lose a moment. Keeping him comfortable is one of the best ways to increase productivity. With good ride and handling characteristics, Santa can carry heavier loads and will be confident at taking corners at speed, thereby shortening load cycles. Bad ride characteristics – and all the rattles and shakes that go with them, reduce Santa’s confidence, and consequently means he travels a bit slower. Reducing Whole Body Vibration is a big factor here, by optimizing the suspension to achieve the ideal spring mass frequency of 1.4 hertz, means Santa stays comfortable for longer.

Santa’s suspension wish list

No matter how deep the snow, we can help ensure that Santa’s sleigh never gets stuck. Reducing unsprung mass and keeping the weight as close to the vehicle’s centre of gravity will help and getting all those presents securely distributed over the springs will keep the load safe. The more presents on board the harder it is to maneuver the sleigh, so independent suspension will improve control and help with steep inclines and tight turns, meaning Santa can park the sleigh even on the trickiest of roofs with confidence. All-skid drive – as well as the right skid size – will help improve tractive effort, and more presents can be delivered per hour.

Keeping costs HO! HO! LOW!

Even Santa has to be careful with money nowadays. And if his sleigh isn’t responding to his inputs or shakes him to pieces, then he’s going to pay for it. It will go slower, break more often and lead to higher maintenance costs. Our Timoney sleigh for Santa will have every component fit for purpose, fatigue levels carefully measured and reduced downtime guaranteed – with far fewer breakages for the elf technicians to fix. Our simulations stress the whole ride and handling system – so they are good to go for at least 100 North Pole round trips on Christmas Eves without fail (or failing.)

From everyone at Timoney, season’s greetings to one and all!


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