Birth of a Dream

The air blast injection building inspired by a classic German powerhouse at Cool Spring Power Museum becomes reality.

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by Dr. Paul Harvey
After a long wait, the excavator moved in on May 24, 2021, and the dream began.

What is a dream? No, I don’t mean the fleeting ones during sleep, but a real vision of doing something special – for me and everyone else to behold. A project that I can do and no one else has accomplished. The dream comes from diligent work and a long time spent planning. Visits to vintage sites and observations of classic engines formed the dream. It’s both wonderful and meaningful. This the story of my special dream.

CPM has three great German diesel engines: the Augsburg, the Benz, and the Graz. They are all from the early 1900s. What better to display them than to erect a classic German powerhouse? What should that building look like? That was a big job involving discussions, advice, searches for photos, and more. That dream is becoming reality.

black and white illustration of a building with a gas engine out front

The vintage structures that housed these engines were beautiful, their details complementing the equipment inside. The buildings and the engines were in perfect harmony with each other. They were a pleasant addition to any setting. Typically, the outside walls were red brick with arched windows and doors. The roofs were always red tile. Floors were a characteristic black and white tile arranged in interesting patterns. The walls displayed a glazed tile wainscoting. Illumination was provided by carbon arc fixtures that brightened every nook of the building. Wherever located, these installations were well accepted, with industry complementing the environment.

Are you curious what’s inside? Let’s have a look.

tall black Graz steam engine close up of a blue Benz steam engine

First engine is the Augsburg, donated to the museum. Built in 1903 in Augsburg, Germany, it is the oldest operating diesel engine in the world. It is 12hp and air blast injected, coupled to a Siemens dynamo that provided power to the elevator on the island of Helgoland. In the 1920s, it was acquired by Henry Ford for his museum. When auctioned off, it went through several owners before being donated to CPM in 2016 by Tom Stockton. This engine started the dream.
The second engine is a 12hp Graz, built in 1904 in Graz, Austria, under the Augsburg patents. It drove a dynamo that produced electricity for a monastery and a hospital in that city. After being in a private collection since 1983, it will become part of CPM.

black and white photo of a black diesel engine

The final engine is a 12hp Benz that represents about 15 years of German diesel evolution. Interestingly, it drove a crude oil pump near Lodi, Ohio. Although it isn’t air blast injected, it will be a significant addition to the building.

As with any important addition to CPM, much planning was needed and a site selected. Consideration had to be given to what was already buried – gas and water lines – as well as proximity to access these. Finally, last fall the site was chosen for a new building 30 feet wide by 40 feet long. We had long discussions with our contractor over both the interior and exterior designs, as well as what materials would be used. Decisions were made and drawings were created. The construction started in spring of 2021.

building construction site with wood boards around a concrete foundation construction site with a building foundation laid out and an orange dump truck

The original carbon arc lights posed a problem, as very few are available. The solution was to create our own. Glass globes are available, and with the help of many others, a typical base was created and will be molded from a special plastic resin. Add a LED bulb and they will be set.

Many other tasks need to be completed in conjunction with the main project. Soon, a water well will be drilled to supply the cold water for the compressor intercoolers for the air blast engines. The well will also supply a small restroom in the future. An elevated steel tank is being restored to hold the circulating cooling water. Then, a concrete sump tank and pump will be installed to complete the water circulation. All is arranged and will happen soon.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the MAN powerhouse, and that you’ll come to take a look at our progress. Help me make this dream come true.

black and white photo of a large gas engine

black and white photo of a gas engine in a room with a spotted floor


Dr. Paul Harvey, founder of Coolspring Power Museum, is a regular contributor to Gas Engine Magazine and can be emailed at engdoc8@gmail.com. For more information on the Coolspring Power Museum, visit coolspringpowermuseum.org.

Would you like to help preserve the history of early combustion engine technology for future generations and contribute to CPM’s dream? Visit coolspringpowermuseum.org/Contribute.htm.

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