Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gottlieb Daimler Memorial

I mentioned in my last post about how Stuttgart is a car town. Mercedes and Porsche were both founded here and still have their headquarters in the city. What I didn't know was how Stuttgart was key in the development of a lot of different types of motor vehicles and their component parts. One day last week I went to visit the original workshop where Gottlieb Daimler and his buddy Wilhelm Maybach developed the first "universal" vehicle motor. These two would later go on to create the company that would later form part of what is now known as Daimler Benz (Mercedes).

The workshop was a garden shed and green house before Daimler and Maybach got a hold of it. Daimler had originally bought the estate and his future workshop because of its proximity to the famous baths in Bad Cannstatt, which he liked to visit to help relieve medical problems he experienced. When I first walked up to the small building, it reminded me of how HP (Hewlett Packard) similarly got its start in a two-car garage in California's Silicon Valley.

Daimler and Maybach developed their first four-stroke, high-speed motor at the shop in 1883. It ran an amazing (for the time) 600 rpm and produced about 1/4 horsepower. Their next generation of motor produced twice the horsepower (1/2hp -- still less than your gas-powered lawnmower) and became known as "the grandfather clock" because of its "upright" and compact design. With this new design, the pair had achieved their goal of creating an engine that was small and portable enough that it could be used in a variety of vehicles... the world's first gas-engine motorcycle, which they built in 1885 with a version of the motor above:

They later adapted the motor for use in other vehicles like the first gas-engine motorboat in 1886:

...and the world's first self-powered airship in 1888:

The shed and tour don't really seem like much until you realize that the motor Daimler and Maybach designed and developed here is a key part of the foundation on which today's (modern) engines are based.

It's interesting to me how different cities have different types of things to visit. While in Barcelona, it's really about the architecture while here in this part of Germany, it's all about motor vehicles and their history. I liked visiting the workshop. There was a very nice tour guide, all the information was presented in both English and German, and, best of all, it was free!

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