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Harley's New Water Cooled Engine?

In the July 2012 Cycle World Magazine there was an article by Kevin Cameron describing a possible future for water cooled Harley-Davidson engines. For those riders that follow the forementioned magazine, they will be familiar with Cameron's enginering analysis and his all to often references to 20-50 year old technology.

Not that you can get away from old technology when dealing with Harley-Davidson engines, but Nightrider was hoping for a lot more from Harely-Davidson in its water cooled project. Riders might be surprised to know how much Nightrider and TuneYourHarley is actually aware of what has been going on at MOCO over the past couple of years in the area water cooled engines. We can show tell and show you a lot more about what H-D has been doing with water cooling.

Nightrider has strong circumstantial evidence of HD's testing of the forementioned water cooled engine back to July 2011 based on reports from sightings at various Government test labs. I also have the detailed engineering drawing that show the cylinder head cooling, water pump placement, radiator design and placement and side views of the engine. These drawings are available at: http://tuneyourharley.com/biketech/v/riders/administrator/HD_Water_Cooled/.

 Harley-Davidson Water Cooled Head Engine

While Kevin Cameron at Cycle World seems to have some praise for Harley-Davidson's meager efforts at upgrading the current Twin Cam engines from air cooling to air cooled with a water cooled exhaust valve, I find the effort laughable. It does little to resolve the issues that its current customers are complaing about, engine and exhaust heat. From an engineering perspective, water cooling the exhaust valves allows HD flexibility in maintaining stochiomentric fuel mixtures and cooling the heads to prevent exhaust valve issues, but does not resolve the rider comfort situation from the heat. Only adding a water jackets and making the engine a proper water cooled engine is going to allow Harley to manage the heat is such a way to direct the heat away from the Rider.

The situation of heat from the exhaust is not going to change because of the stochiometric fuel mixture which burns quite hot and the large displacement engines that Harley customers demand in the large cruisers. The only possibility of cooling the the exhaust pipes is going to a double wall headers. THe potential for innovation in exhaust headers to decrease heat does exist. The inherent design of the 45-degree V-twin puts the engine and exhaust in very close proximity to various body parts of the rider, which is going to make them uncomfortable with the 100 CID engine sized that are so common in todays cruisers. Riders signed up for this, so they have to understand that high heat, to some extent, is the norm.

As far as the catalytic converters in the exhaust goes, the heat is these are dictated by the catalytic reaction. Modern three way converters have an surface operational termperature of 950F per the Bosch Automotive Handbook. This temperature assumes that the fuel mixture remains within fairly tight tolerances during normal operation. If the fuel mixture gets richer than 13.8:1, it is well documented that the conveter temperature will increase. TuneYourHarley and Nightrider have already written about converters on the Harley's. All we will add to this is that modern three way converters are not a huge performance bottle neck. It is just a matter of time before riders will be in compliance of maintaining the converters in their bikes the same way they do in their automobiles. It is not a matter of "IF", but more a matter of "When".

Nightrider thinks that Harley-Davidson is trying to take the easy way out with this simple water cooled head for the existing engines. I know for a fact that they have a series of very well designed water cooled engines that were designed in Europe for them by their V-Rod partners. These engines had the capability of variable cam timing, meaning the engine could be reconfigured in software. The average Harley shop or aftermarket shop would not be able to reconfigure the Motronics ECM used in the test engines. But power potential on this engine was up to 1.5HP per cubic inch while still meeting emissions regulations. There was testing done on this same European designed engine with a fixed cam and Delphi ECM making 1/HP per CID. This simpler design engine would be more Dealer friendly while producing more power than the average performance air cooled engine built today does.

Harley-Davidson is well known for its red herrings it throws to the market place as it gets ready for changes in products. I am hoping the water cooled head is such a red herring, and the motor from Europe or similar design is the real thing for the Twin Cams.




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