Rover Gas Turbines
During world war two (WWII), Rover worked on experimental gas-turbines and jet engines. Rolls-Royce became the largest British manufacturer of these new devices after the war, and went on to become a major builder of aircraft jet engines, but Rover kept an interest in automotive gas-turbines.
Rover fitted gas-turbines to a number of experimental and prototype
The Science-Museum in London holds the first,
T3 (top right) could have formed the basis of an acceptable production car; it is rear-engined and has four-wheel drive, perhaps to keep a light front-end under control.
The gas-turbine Rover T4 strongly resembles the Rover P6/ Rover 2000/ 3500. The Rover 2000 was fitted with a two litre four cylinder engine in production, and later, as the 3500, with the ever-green 3.5 litre V8, but the story is that the 2000's unusual front suspension is designed to make a wide engine bay so that the gas turbine could have been fitted.
A Rover-BRM gas-turbine coupe was raced at the 1963 LeMans 24 hour race, driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther. It averaged 107.8mph and had a top-speed of 142mph down the Mulsanne straight.
It ran again in 1965, averaging 98.8mph fitted with a 126 h.p. Rover gas-turbine. Maximum revs were 60,000! The lower speed in 1965 is attributed to damage to the turbine blades early in the race, limiting power output.
This gas-turbine is fitted with a heat-exchanger to try to improve fuel efficiency which was and remains the main problem with automotive gas-turbines, unless you believe in the conspiracy theories. The race car is now held at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT).
Rover gas-turbines were manufactured for a variety of stationary applications. One hoped-for market was in emergency pumps, e.g. in marine use; a gas-turbine is light and can be run quickly up to power.
The example (below) was one of a number built for educational and training purposes, and is connected to a dynamometer and test-rig to measure pressures, temperatures and fuel consumption against revs, torque and power. The fanciful blue/grey trumpet is the air inlet. Air flows down the black "horshoes" to the gas turbine. The compressor is a single centrifugal stage. The high-pressure air is taken up and sideways to the reverse-flow combustion chamber (lower right). The hot exhaust gases pass back down to a single-stage axial-flow turbine mounted on the single shaft or ``spool''. The shaft drives the compressor, and also the external load via reduction gears.
A plate on the combustion chamber casing reports:
Thanks to AJM and LA.
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