Military Development on Diesel Motorcycles



I'm told that prior to the RMCS / HDT collaboration on the KLR there was indeed another such project given to producing a diesel motorcycle for the Army.

In 1990 Norton Motors, Shenstone, were given the task of creating a water cooled Classic and Krauser Commander for the NEC bike show. These (petrol) bikes were completed but the show was a failure with heavy snow not helping attendance.

The team responsible for these bikes was then due to start work on an Army version of the (petrol) machine with a Diesel version to follow shortly there after.

These engines were to be mounted in Endruo/off road style frames. Wolfgang Rauen was given the task of getting a single rotor 294cc Norton Wankel Rotary engine to run on Diesel and succeeded in doing this.

He spent many hours on the dynamometer sorting out the fueling only for the company to run out of money which lead to the whole Army project being canned.

The R&D people were laid off and the company wound up Christmas 1990.

The original Norton diesel project was for a portable marine fire pump. Compression was too low to ignite the fuel oil so ignition plugs were fitted into the spark plug holes.

After the first few seconds the engine was hot enough to combustion ignite and ran like a diesel should.

Being that the project was at a very early stage when it finished no photos or drawings exist but David tells me the Diesel Wankel ran for many hours proving its durability.

Latest from the 2009 Hamm rally report:-

Amongst other gossip, I also heard (with growing amazement I must say) that someone had managed to unearth one of the original Norton Rotary Diesel engines that are mentioned elsewhere on this website. It was thought at one time they may be used to power a Military motorcycle but most (petrol) versions ended up powering target practice drones. Apparently this engine still runs, after a fashion, and the owner is looking for a Norton motorcycle to put it in. Hopefully, if it's done in time, this could be the main attraction at the anniversary 10th rally next year? I look forward to seeing this engine 'in the flesh' as it were. Great stuff!


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