Riding a relic: World War II-era German sidecar rig rebuilt by MSU military…

13 Мар 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Riding a relic: World War II-era German sidecar rig rebuilt by MSU military… отключены
BMW Other Military sidecar rig

Riding a relic: World War German sidecar rig rebuilt by MSU science teacher

ROBERTS In October, Bob Clement test a piece of history.

As motorists to catch a better view, cruised along Highway 212 of Roberts on a World War II German with a machine gun mounted to the and a cartridge belt of bullets from the breech.

Technically, the BMW R75 is a sidecar rig.

It’s not a It’s not a motorcycle, said a mechanic who works on vintage BMW and owns Bob’s Motorwerks Roberts.

For 15 years, the bike’s Maj. Darren Purcell, of has pursued the bike’s resurrection. figures there are fewer 25 of the bikes in the U.S.

Of those, about 10 are actually running, he

Purcell, 42, teaches military through the ROTC program at State University in Bozeman. He the bike’s value at more $50,000, but he has no plans to sell it.

The thing’s a treasure, said who is one of a string of mechanics on two continents who to restore the World War II machine decades of disuse.

Last on a preliminary test drive, an high school coach the sheriff’s department when pulled into a gas station in Fortunately, Clement had alerted a County deputy sheriff and the Highway Patrol that the machine gun was permanently disabled.

The odyssey to Roberts began in the

Purcell spent a year in and then was stationed in Heidelberg, for four years. Back Purcell already owned a BMW motorcycle from the 1970s. In he marveled at the advanced engineering of the bikes.

During the war, the had two drive shafts, one connected to the wheel and another to the sidecar’s

After the fall of the Third many of those BMWs up in Poland or the Soviet Union.

platoon sergeant’s girlfriend put him in with a somewhat unsavory gang in St. Petersburg, Russia. The led to a treasure trove of World War II era and parts.

Most of the bikes were cases, he said.

Purcell a German mechanic to rebuild the BMW and another to rebuild the engine. Purcell left Germany, the goods he shipped home four motorcycles and a huge of motorcycle parts, which he sold.

In 2001, Purcell the bike to Peter von Sneidern, a BMW dealer in New Hampshire, Purcell’s state. At the time, the bike of a rebuilt engine, rebuilt and the rear drive. The rest was in

It was like a giant model car kit no instructions, said von Sneidern, who on vintage BMWs.

For nine von Sneidern worked on the bike in and starts. At times, he slapped a over it to keep from it with a sledgehammer. A friend did the work.

It’s a huge of accomplishment to take a bucket of and save a piece of history, von said.


The bike, built for military is sturdy and tough.

It’s a tractor of a motorcycle, Clement It’s not a coast-to-coast interstate

The bike can go up to around 60 mph, but the rebuilt engine was broken in, the spot was slightly below 40

The bike has four speeds, with a high-range and low-range

In the low range, it can go along with troops without overheating, said.

The bike is two-wheel utilizing one drive shaft the transmission to the rear wheel and drive shaft to the sidecar’s It has a differential, just like a but it also has a lever that it into direct drive, so wheels turn at the same to help it get out of mud or snow.

Because the is so heavy, a reverse gear in maneuvering it.

BMW Other Military sidecar rig

It’s a workhorse, not a showpiece, said. A few ripples and dents intentionally left in the bodywork.

It was like the German soldiers got off the thing and went in to have a or something, Clement said.

World War II, the motorcycles helped messages and do reconnaissance. They also grouped into motorized infantry assault especially during Hitler’s across Europe, and saw service on major front. Cycles the color of desert sand involved in Rommel’s North campaign.

After the war, police painted the bikes a greenish color. Purcell’s which is not original, showed of the blue-green paint.


While von worked on the bike, Purcell to Germany for another five In 2009, he moved to Montana and in of 2010 he brought the bike to

The first time I went to it, I kicked it through a few times and I know these are low-performance, — but there was nobody Clement said.

Slowly, Clement redid the and got the generator working. The rebuilt had dropped an exhaust valve Luckily, it hadn’t wrecked the but fixing the damage required the exhaust system, carburetors and the cylinder head.

By spring, could start the engine, but it quit when it got hot. The was with the magneto, which the voltage needed to fire a plug. Two replacement coils Germany and a rebuilt coil Chicago failed to cure the After troubleshooting every component in the ignition system, realized the glitch was an internal in the magneto.

At the end of September, a replacement arrived from Germany and once again began to drive the bike.

In mid-October, gave Purcell a lesson on the sidecar rig. Then brought the BMW back to Bozeman on a

The first day he drove it, a policeman him over. The officer made the machine gun was disabled, then a photo.

Within a week the disabled machine gun was banned the MSU campus in Bozeman. Purcell to keep driving the sidecar minus the machine gun mount, to his on campus. He also plans to it available for use in war movies.

Another a 1942 Harley-Davidson that he in Russia for $2,500, appeared in the movie Pearl Harbor he sold it.

Contact Donna at dhealy@billingsgazette.com or 657-1292.

BMW Other Military sidecar rig
BMW Other Military sidecar rig
BMW Other Military sidecar rig


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