In May 1994, the Braunschweig Museum of Agricultural Machinery at Gut Steinhof, which is run by a non-profit organisation, purchased a traction engine. At the end of last year, this historic machine was temporarily moved to BMA Braunschweigische Maschinenbauanstalt AG (BMA) for repair. Corrosion in the lower part of the firebox had made it necessary to renew the welding of the boiler walls. No great surprise, as the ZL type traction engine made by Heinrich Lanz (of Lanz Bulldog fame) in Mannheim is more than 100 years old – built back in 1907, to be precise.
The engine had come to the right place for repair, as BMA is one of only a few companies certified to weld pressure vessels. BMA's main business is as a well-known supplier of state-of-the-art machinery and equipment to the sugar and food industries, for complete process steps or even whole plants. This puts BMA firmly in the age of the third, sometimes on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. Whereas traction engines clearly date from the first industrial age. Put into service over 100 years ago and still in working order, these machines nevertheless hold great fascination for the expert plant engineers in Braunschweig. Once the welding was complete, the engine passed its final inspection by TÜV Nord on 25 January of this year – mission accomplished.
It was then taken back to the museum on a low loader, with the kind support of GS-Gabelstapler Service GmbH from Lamme near Braunschweig. The traction engine has an impressive tare weight of 5.5 tons. Its boiler holds around 800 l of water and at an operating pressure of 6 bar, the engine has a power output of about 16 PS.
Between 1879 and 1925, more than 50,000 of these ZL type traction engines were built by Lanz AG for agriculture and industry. The fuel used was coal or wood, but only 6 % of the heating energy was effectively transferred to the pulley, compared to about 30 % for modern combustion engines. Such a pulley has a flat belt that can drive a range of machines, such as the threshing machines frequently used for separating grain from stalks and husks. Traction engines are not mobile themselves, they are more like engines on wheels. Historically, horses would take these portable machines to their destination.
The traction engine can next be seen in operation at the "Dampf-Modelle-Schlepper" event hosted by the Museum of Agricultural Machinery on 5 June 2016.
Gut Steinhof would like to take this opportunity to thank BMA and GS-Gabelstaplerservice for their kind support.