We recently had a request for Whitworh socket head caps for a 1955 Rolls Royce meteor tank engine. In fact it is two tank engines, for a tractor puller shown below. Amazingly we had some in stock!
The Rolls meteor engine was developed from the merlin aircraft engine of Spitfire and Hurricane fame. The ministry was trying to source a tank engine and it seems rolls had a number of merlin engines rebuilt from crashed aircraft, but not suitable for air use. The merlin is a V12, so the meteor was essentially 2/3 of the merlin, with supercharger etc. removed.
Rolls successfully managed the development of the meteor, which subsequently drove the centurion tank (to speeds of 50mph) as well as the Antar tank transporter. The story takes a further twist, when the Rover Company got involved, this in addition to making cars and designing the new Land Rover! Rover over took over Meteor production from Rolls and the Government made Rover responsible for development of military engines. In this role, Rover continued the development and production of the Meteor and various derivatives. Rover finished in 1964; having built around 9,000 engines. I guess whilst building tank engines was remunerative, it will have taken resources away from Cars!
Checking Google it seems meteor engines are fairly popular in tractor pulling, as they are cheap to buy, reliable as well as giving phenomenal power and torque. What I’ve been unable to ascertain is what the engineering of placing TWO engines next to each other requires in terms of final drive. You would think that the sheer power of the two engines mated together would demolish most gearboxes or final drives!
So an interesting story, we were very happy to help the tractor puller owner in his quest for these bolts, however, this is the first time we’ve come across either the application OR the meteor engine.