×
×

European Memories

Author Photo
By Alex Skinner | Feb 1, 1997

1 / 16
The Dufaux 20 (5x4) cylinder Aero engine at the Swiss Transport Museum.
2 / 16
3 / 16
Ursus tractor. After WWII the Polish used the likeness of the Lanz Bulldog to produce these tractors.
4 / 16
5 / 16
The Belgium Moteur Moes built in 1920 proudly displayed in front of the Machine Museum Zwolle.
6 / 16
7 / 16
8 / 16
9 / 16
10 / 16
1931 Rapid Type L and a 314 Motor Pflug Gravely is shown on the right.
11 / 16
Czechoslovakia made L. Benz & Company engine in Willi Hoffmann's collection. The engine's estimated value is between $5000-7000.
12 / 16
13 / 16
14 / 16
1954 F1566 Xavur Fendt & Co. diesel tractor at Hohenheim Motor #22/6989.
15 / 16
16 / 16
This impressive display of engines is from the William Van Schazik collection.

20 Maddoxford Lane, Botley, Southampton, England S032 2DG

Last fall, GEM sponsored a European Tour arranged by Arena
Travel which included Switzerland, Germany, Holland and England.
GEM staffer Judy Whiteside participated in this venture and was a
contributor to this article.

It seems not too long ago that I was busy assembling information
and getting packed for what promised to be an exciting tour with
the prospect of making new friends and meeting quite a few from
previous trips.

On Thursday September 7, ‘the team’ from Arena Tours
assembled at Felixstowe, England and boarded the cross channel
ferry ‘Pride of Norfolk’ for the overnight sailing to
Zeebrugge, Belgium. The weather was far from encouraging with gale
force winds and quite a rough sea, I mention this because contrary
to expectations the ship was rock steady and the only evidence of
being at sea was the occasional sledge hammer like blows of waves
crashing against the hull. To me this was a real tribute to the
effectiveness of the stabilising system. After a good night’s
sleep we disembarked and drove in our coach through Belgium and
France down to Zurich, Switzerland so as to be ready on Saturday
morning to pick up the first arrivals. It was good to see a
sprinkling of familiar faces, including those of Charles and Sheila
Wendel.

To get the tour under way and distract everyone from the effects
of jetlag, a trip was taken on the ‘Grindelwald to First’
chair lift in Switzerland. Fortunately the weather was perfect for
viewing the magnificent Alpine scenery, and to give an engine
related interest the manager gave a conducted tour of the cable
driving machinery. This is the longest cable car in Europe and
replaced its predecessor in 1991. Three hundred gondolas, each with
six seats, populate the system and all are stored each night within
the four station buildings. Control is by a computerized system
which updates every three seconds using fibre optics embedded in
the cable for data transfer from the various sensors. The system is
5226m long, is supported on 43 pylons and can convey 1200
persons/hour over an altitude change of 1105m.

Our visit to the Swiss Transport Museum in Luzern really excited
railroad enthusiasts, with steam powered rack and pinion engines, a
number of electric locomotives and numerous high quality models. In
the aeronautical collection a number of rotary engines aroused much
interest as did the Siemans and Halske in which both the cylinders
and crankshafts rotated but in opposite directions. Another early
solution to the quest for power with minimum weight was the Dufaux
motor with five tandem in-line cylinders. Each cylinder was
double-acting so it corresponds to a conventional 20-cylinder
engine. It was interesting to compare this engine with a Junker
Jumo 207 opposed piston six cylinder diesel standing close by.

Before leaving this superb museum we walked past the steamship
‘Rigi’ now standing on dry land and used as a restaurant.
Constructed in 1847 by a London company, this ship served for 105
years and had an oscillating twin cylinder steam engine which drove
feathering side paddles. This was a forerunner to the steamship
‘Unterwalden’ which we boarded on leaving the museum for
our cruise to Brunne. This side paddler has a 2-cylinder cross
compound steam engine. She entered service in 1902 one year after
her sister ship ‘Uri’ which passed us going in the opposite
direction with a good deal of hooting and waving from the Captains
downward.

Other paddle steamers seen were Schiller (1906), Gallia (1913),
Stadt Luzern (1928) and Wilhelm Tell (1908). Luzern boasts a
covered dry dock which enables these priceless old ships to be kept
in regular service with a level of reliability that satisfies
precise departure times in keeping with traditional Swiss
practice.

At the Swiss Federal Agricultural Research Station in Tanikon,
we were given the opportunity to view both their regular activities
and their superb collection of antique tractors and agricultural
equipment (over 700 items from the past 170 years) stored in a fine
old barn which was part of a former convent.

Our next stop was to Stuhlingen and to the marvelous collection
of Roland Porten. His collection of 25 years filled every nook and
cranny of five rooms plus a loft. Roland, despite a serious health
problem with bypass surgery arranged for the following day, pulled
out all the stops to make his fine collection available for all to
see. Everyone, including Roland demonstrating high speed hands-off
tractor runs, really enjoyed themselves. The collection consisted
of around 100 tractors, including 30 Lanz Bulldogs and other makes
such as Bautz, Fahr, Fordson, Hanomag, Hur-limann, Kiva, Kramer,
Lanz-Aulendorf, Man, Meili, Porsche, Ursus, Wahl to name but a few.
There were a large number of engines and other pieces of farm
equipment.

To provide yet another contrast we visited the German Clock
Museum in Furtwangen. This excellent museum contained wooden clocks
from 1640 onwards as well as more recent ones using metal
components. Of particular interest were the displays of tools and
machinery used in the clock making industry.

During this part of the tour we were fortunate to be joined by
Walter Reiff of Bulldog Services, a well-known trader in books and
models, etc., based in Eberdingen. Walter’s good knowledge of
English was most helpful, as was his ability to hold a very
humorous and entertaining conversation with our knowledgeable guide
at the clock museum.

A rare tractor made in Germany. There are only two known to be
in existence. During the war, these tractors were used in Africa to
pull out trucks stuck in the sand. Production of the Kramer stopped
after the war.

After that we were ‘just in time’ to visit the
‘Vogtsbaurenhof’ Black Forest open-air museum.
Unfortunately it rained, but we were able to view several of the
houses and get a good impression of Black Forest life in days gone
by.

Through the persisting rain we made our way to Willi
Hoffmann’s home in Ehninger. Because of the weather much of the
collection and the excellent refreshments had to stay inside but
this made for a very friendly evening with excited group members
discovering engines and tractors in abundance, not to mention the
host of other farm implements and artifacts.

Among his collection we saw some gas producers of the type used
on cars, tractors and lorries during WWII when liquid fuels were
unavailable except for military use. We had previously seen one of
these in Roland Porten’s collection, and not being able to
examine it closely, had guessed it to be a refrigeration
compressorjust how wrong can one get when you ought to know better.
During World War II the Germans began a gigantic fuel-saving
campaign. The need for 575,000 barrels a day in Hitler’s Europe
was a bare minimum figure sufficient only for maintaining an
economy of peace. A nation at war would require a doubling or
trebling of oil requirements. To help with the effort, large
numbers of cars, trucks and tractors were converted to use
‘gasogenes,’ wood or charcoal-burning units that generated
combustible gases. Methane gas was also used as an alternative
fuel. The gas is produced by a fermentation process. Raw materials
could be waste by-products such as farmyard manure and slurry or
cereal straw. As supplies of coal and oil became plentiful again,
the research and the gas conversions were abandoned.

I noted the following makes of tractors in the Hoffman
collection: Fahr, LHW-Stumpf (a crawler), Hanomag, Lanz, Allgaier,
Zanker, Farymann, Fendt, Deutz, Schluter (complete with its gas
producer) and examples of the Polish made Ursus. It was hard to
believe that this magnificent collection could be located in the
middle of this village.

At Hohenheim is Germany’s oldest agricultural university
which was founded in 1818 by a Russian princess. A German
agricultural society based on the same lines as the British Society
was founded about the same time. Today the university is in the
midst of a major industrial area with land values as high as 1500
to 2000 DM/square meter being quoted. A central part of the
university is the exceptionally fine German Agricultural Museum
housed in two halls covering more than 2550 square meters.

The museum traces the history of agriculture with extensive
displays of farm equipment from the days of hand held tools. Over
50 tractors and hundreds of ploughs are displayed. A very exciting
feature of the museum is its collection of nearly one thousand
models of old farm implements and machinery. All these models are
to the same scale and were made to a very high standard in the
model shop attached to the museum. To properly appreciate the
exhibits in this museum would take at least a week, so we were all
very reluctant to leave such a fine display. I listed over 15 makes
of tractors in this collection including an Ursus (this means Bear)
which was copied after the Bulldog Lanz after WWII.

From Hohenheim we moved on to the Mercedes-Benz Unimog trials
and demonstration grounds. During the introduction we were told
that conventional tractors with large rear and smaller front wheels
are known as being Kangaroo designs while those with equal size
wheels all round like the Unimog are to the Horse design. (I am
still trying to work out where that leaves the Ursus). After a very
spectacular demonstration several members, including some of our
ladies, took rides of a lifetime and sampled the delights of 45
degree inclines as well as water lapping the windows when wading. A
feature of the Unimog is its continuous tire pressure monitoring
and the means to adjust tire pressures when on the move to suit
operating conditions.

1928 Mercedes Benz 1 cylinder multi-drive tractor with
evaporating cooling system and front axle suspension. It was
changed from three forward gears to two so anyone could drive it.
Model was manufactured between 1926-28. Out of 150 made, only 3
still exist.

Located in Mannheim is the John Deere plant, currently building
the new 6000 series models. The 6200, 6300 and 6400 are imported to
the States. Hans Hetterich, Marketing Services manager, gave a
presentation of Lanz and John Deere backgrounds. Heinrich Lanz
started his business in 1859 by selling farm machinery and
importing locomotives which he later started to manufacture. He
claimed that his design for a tractor with a single cylinder
2-stroke diesel engine was a world first. When J.D. took over in
1956 Lanz had a 45% market share in Germany but could not afford
the necessary re-equipment of the factory which was extensively
damaged during the war. It is now Deere’s largest plant outside
the United States and their third largest worldwide. There are
3,000 employees making about 20,000 tractors a year. We were told
that you can buy a John Deere painted any color you may desire
provided you are prepared to pay the extra cost. (Shades of Henry
Ford!) It is also possible to buy a John Deere made by the Czech
company, Zetor.

The next stop was to the magnificent Automobile and Technology
Museum at Sinsheiman exhibition that will thrill and fascinate you!
Well it did that easily with its 300-plus exhibits featuring
engines, cars, tractors (50), aircraft (60) and railway engines.
Features that enhanced the exhibits were life-size models in
realistic poses and the opportunity to see many items work by
inserting a few marks in a slot. Certainly worth a whole day’s
visit and a must for the future.

After a long weekend in Heidelberg, Rudesheim and Cologne, we
drove to Langenboom in Holland to visit the William Van Schazik
private museum. This semi-retired agricultural dealer had an
impressive display including over 80 tractors, 140 stationary
engines, model steam traction engines, and a scale model fair.
Among the engines is a single cylinder marine Kromhout, a DeDion
Bouton, 2 Claeys (Belgium), a Dutch Thomassen, an Italian Vellino
and an Austrian Jenbach. Outside a number of engines were running
with perfection to everyone’s delight. Some tractor makes noted
were Holder, Wahl (Germany), Kramer (German), Fiat, Landini
(Italian), Guldner (German) and Howard (British). The Van Schazik
family can only be described as being totally dedicated to their
fabulous collection with plans already approved to build a large
new 2,200 square meter exhibition and display museum.

We then drove through the interesting and well-farmed
countryside of Holland to visit the I.R.D.F. Woudogemaal
steam-powered pumping station near Lemmer. This is a showpiece from
bygone days which are not yet over, since these steam pumps are
still responsible for discharging 7% of Friesland’s surplus
water. It is the only remaining steam pumping’ station working
in Holland The plant generates power equal to 630 HP each and has a
capacity of 4000 m3 water per minute. The heartbeat of the pumping
station is produced by four tandem compound steam engines with
single high pressure cylinders which work on overheated steam of
320 degrees Celsius and 14 kg per cm2 overpressure. They’ve
been working without fail since 1920. The steam engines each drive
two centrifugal pumps that pump the water from the Friesland outlet
pool to IJsselmeer Lake. During our visit, the summer maintenance
program was still going on so it was possible to look inside one of
the huge centrifugal pumps.

While at Lemmer we were joined by Ronnie Sohilstra, a member of
‘De Vrienden Van De Krukas’ (Friends of the Crankshaft
Club). Ronnie acted as a much appreciated navigator on the route to
Zwolle and explained that members of his club were also coming to
the Machine museum Zwolle with a little surprise. That was a bit of
Dutch modesty for we were indeed surprised to arrive in a road
lined with engines and tractors on either side, complete with puffs
of blue exhaust and flags flying along the hedge rows. What a show
this was including a Moteur Moes Semi Diesel (Belgium), a
Titan-Halloy C’Liege, Moteur Japy, Nelson Jumbos, 1911 10 HP
Stickney (USA), and Water Motel (Hampton Wick UK). Another engine
drove a portable workshop via flat belts, while across the road,
members took turns driving a superbly restored Lanz Bulldog that
could do 40 kmph. Another interesting feature of this Bulldog was
the removal of the steering wheel to crank-up the engine. In
addition to all this fun, there was an outstanding museum to be
seen. Among the numerous exhibits were a Neufeld and Konkwe, a
Stuart with polished copper water jackets on each of its two
cylinders, a 3-cyl-inder Stork (Dutch), a Bolnes 3-cylin-der
diesel, a 2-cylinder hot bulb Hollandiamotor, a 20 PK (HP) hot bulb
Bromhout motor and a 16 PK hot bulb Industrie. However to me the
Brons engines symbolized Dutch achievement in engine design. This
make was represented by a 1924 engine and a 1908 28 PK air start.
Many engines in the museum were running for the occasion with some
magnificent sounds and smells to be savoured. To conclude this very
memorable visit the museum curator, Reel de Boer, Ronnie Sohilstra
and all their enthusiastic helpers were warmly thanked for their
exceptional, efforts and generosity.

This blue engine with a brass oil tank incorporating duplicating
feed adjusters to the cylinder and timing gears is a typical
example of the standard to which the engines in the Van Schazik
collection are restored.

The following day we went to the Polder Museum which tells the
story of living and struggling against water. This outstanding
museum contains a wealth of information on land reclamation, dyke
construction and developing the polders to produce a valuable
asset. It also enabled us to appreciate the significance of the
pumping stations such as the I.R.D.F. Woudagemaal visited earlier.
Close by is the Batavia spice ship which a few members visited.
Unfortunately I did not have time for this but it looked a fine
opportunity to see what an East Indiaman was really like. In the
afternoon we briefly relaxed with a sightseeing boat cruise in
Amsterdam.

A number of model enthusiasts then went on to Groot Ammers for
an evening visit to Donald Van Schaik’s model collection.
Donald is a dentist, who for relaxation, goes driving heavy earth
moving machines every Friday afternoon! Together with a friend he
has also assembled the largest collection (3,800 items) of model
trucks and construction equipment I have ever seen. The collection
is superbly displayed in illuminated glass cases and in some cases,
complete with appropriate scenery. Pictured below is a fully
detailed gold-plated Model Sixty Caterpillar.

On our last morning in mainland Europe we made our way to
Calais, France and the Channel Tunnel. After a smooth uneventful 35
minute trip we were in England and spent the early afternoon
viewing the Eurotunnel Exhibition Centre at Folkstone. When one
sees the massive tunnel boring machines (pictured) and views the
huge model of the railway layouts at either end, then some
appreciation of this monumental achievement is apparent.

On to London. On our final morning some went sightseeing, some
shopping; about 30 came with me to the Science Museum. We saw
models, full size engines, and a host of other engineering items
most the sole surviving originals 200 or more years old. An
excellent book shop enabled us to acquire information on the
exhibits and some enjoyable reading for a cold winter’s
evening.

For our final visit we went to see Brian and Anita
Thompson’s Brattle Farm Museum at Staplehurst in Kent. They
have a very fine collection of engines, tractors, and farm
machinery. Members of the UK Two-Cylinder Club joined us and
brought exhibits. We were able to see a magnificent pair of oxen at
work and some lucky members even got a ride on a Sentinel steam
lorry. After a very fine barn dinner, shared with a number of
British collectors and enthusiasts, we were entertained by a small
musical group and everyone joined in the open air singing on a very
pleasant autumnal evening. All that then remained was to say
‘Au Revoir’ and wish everyone a safe journey home with all
their many memories, treasures and souvenirs.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines