Stationary engines in Germany 2000 - 2002

It came as something of a surprise a few years ago to find, by chance (due to Nick getting lost), a steam winding engine still in everyday use in Germany so myself and Nick Kelly have done some digging into what else may survive with the following results.  This is an update of my original 2000 report based on repeat visits in September 2002 and one (non winding engine) discovery.  These visits took place on a trip mainly meant to find the remaining working (fireless) locomotives in Germany (see separate report) .

Engines visited

The engine we first saw is at the Grube Warndt - Grube Luisenthal combined mine, on a subsidiary shaft located at Grube Velsen. This is in the middle of nowhere between Petit Roselle in France and Völkingen in Germany. As the site is no longer used for extraction the engine house is outside the main gates and we were able to visit without difficulty. The engine (Dingler 4986 of 1916) is huge - we don't know the cylinder dimensions but it is reputed to be 5000Hp which must make it the largest still in service (or does anyone know better?). Our repeat visit (2-9-02) found the shaft out of use for repair and (although we had permission to visit) we were unable to get in.  The engine remains in service.

Dingler 4986

The staff at this engine told us that there were others on the Saar coalfield still in use and pointed us to the pit at Grube Duhamel at Ensdorf. The engine house is inside the security fence at this site, so official permission to visit was obtained. The engine house turned out to contain two engines, both of which are still in everyday use. The older one (Dingler 5012/1918, Duhamel schact östl) was installed after the completion of the shaft (begun 1913) to level 12 in 1916. In 1935-6 the shaft was deepened to level 14 and widened to allow installation of the second engine (Dingler5980/1935, Duhamel schact west). The shaft was further deepened to level 16 (1030m) in 1965. The 1918 engine has cylinders 905mm x 1800mm and is 3000Hp, the 1935 one has 1100mm x 1800mm and is 4780Hp. Both engines are two speed: 8m/s for man-winding and 16m/s for materials. This mine uses a drift to extract the coal. This information was taken from a board presumably done for an open day that the staff ceremoniously extracted and dusted off for us.  Our visit on 3rd September 2002 found the 1918 engine working but sadly the 1935 engine is now out of use (conserved in working order) having ceased work in July 2002. 

Dingler 5980

Dingler 5012

All three of the above engines are two cylinder simples and are in superb condition. Both sites have modern boilers, that at Duhamel being a coal gas (from the coke works some miles away) burning device looking more like something from the star-ship Enterprise than a colliery. The Grube Velsen engine has clearly had a period out of use (in the 80's?), the restored driving position is a huge mahogany and glass palace where the driver sits on what is best described as a throne. There is also clear evidence of repairs (done to a very high standard) on the valve gear and some of the auxiliary equipment. The Grube Duhamel engines on the other hand are in a condition showing many years of continuous dedicated care by their operators. All the engines are fitted with (1960's?) electric controls and depth indicators in addition to the original mechanical ones but are still operated by means of bell signals.

Duhamel boiler

From a photographic point of view these engines are problematic, they are in typical tall narrow mine engine houses that make getting far enough back very difficult. Similarly video tends to be of the 'hose-pipe' variety as it is difficult to do them justice from a fixed vantage-point.

All the above mines were part of Saarbergwerke AG until the formation of Deutsche Steinkohle (DSK) in 1998. DSK took over all the hard coal pits both in the Saar and (from Ruhrkohle AG) in the Ruhr as well as one private anthracite mine (see below). The total of 13 sites (pits and combined mines) has already been reduced to 9. The working life of these engines must be limited by pit closures or changes underground rendering them redundent rather than modernisation.

'New' machines visited in 2002

The ex-private anthracite mine at Zeche Ibburnburen has a winding engine (no 4025 LH cylinder and 4026 RH cylinder) built in 1913 by Maschinenfabrik-Bukau.Akt still at work on Von Oeynhaussen I Schact.  This engine was second hand in 1928 from a potash mine (Kalibergbau Elisabeth Gewerkshaft Wilhelmshall at Oschersleben, near Magdeburg).  We visited this pit on 2-9-02 and saw not only this engine but the colliery's private museum (occasionally open to the public although we got a personal guided tour).  The museum is housed in the former power station generating hall and contains much other equipment including the 'Kaiser Machine' - a bizarre device used to wind submersible pumps up and down the shaft, supplied by the Kaiser personally after a disastrous flood caused by breaking into a flooded iron mine in 1894 threatened to shut the colliery.  The machine was self propelled on rails so it could move away from the shaft and was walled up and forgotten in 1898 once the flood was cleared. Rediscovered many years later it has been restored and is demonstrated (along with a wide range of mining equipment) using compressed air.  We also visited the main coal winding shaft - from the rate coal was being produced the claimed annual output of 3 million tons of anthracite seemed if anything an understatement.

Maschinenfabrik-Bukau 4025 (LH cylinder)/4026 (RH cylinder)

The 'Kaiser Machine' (near impossible to photograph!)

A visit to Sodawerk Strassfurt Gmbh (near Sonderhausen) to see their fireless locomotive turned up a most surprising discovery - on asking what was in the shed from which a most odd noise was emanating we were told 'dampfmachine'.  This turned out to be three steam compressors of unknown make (they carry no plates at all) built with the works in 1936 - two were in steam and the third under repair. Although the fireless locos here have been reported many times before these have not been mentioned and, of course, this begs the question what else survives in Europe that has not been reported.

One of the unidentified engines at Sodawerk Strassfurt

Recent losses

There was another (Dingler?) engine at Grube Reden that finished in 1997, the mine is now closed (September 2000), but the engine is not thought to be under threat of scrapping. A 1922 Gutehoffnugshutte at Grube Anna I (at Allsdorf near Aachen) worked until 1992 and has been preserved on site.

There are other engines preserved on both the Saar and Rhur coalfields, does anyone know if any are still working on the Rhur?



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