A heavy-duty clutch was needed for a massive storm simulator at the University of Florida.
The new simulator is a unique machine that creates dynamic simulated Saffir-Simpson Scale
Category 5 pressure events that produce rapidly fluctuating, positive and negative pressures
on a test specimen to determine at what level failure, if any, occurs. The material specimens,
including both sectional and roll-up garage doors, entry doors, windows, curtain walls, siding,
shingles and soffits, are mounted into a 20'-5" tall x 26'-6" wide x 4'-8" deep air box.
A clutch was required to provide a frictional interface which brings an 80" diameter fan up to
the same RPM as the driving diesel engine. The engine is coupled to a drive shaft and the clutch
couples the drive shaft and the fan shaft.
Wichita Clutch, together with their distributor partner, Torque, Inc., were called in to help determine
an ideal clutch solution for the project. After studying the HP and torque curves of the Caterpillar
12-cylinder, 1800 HP engine, they recommended engaging the clutch at a very low idle RPM to limit
initial heat buildup.
Wichita designed and manufactured a modified Standard Ventilated clutch with 3 plates to meet
the unique performance expectations. The relatively small, 21" diameter unit was able to rotate
at the high 1,750 RPM of the engine. The clutch was dynamically-balanced and featured a
torque rating of 350,000 lb.in. and 1,086 in2 of lining area with special high-energy linings, a
custom bored hub, high-speed hoses and a high-speed air tube and steel pressure plate.
While competitor clutches could not handle either the excessive heat nor the high speed
requirements, the Wichita Standard Ventilated dry friction clutch is designed to stand up to the
massive inertia of the 17,000 lb. blower fan assembly while providing smooth controlled starts.