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Striking Heads

1832 – 1891

He originally had a commercial training and from 1853 onwards worked as a travelling salesman in Cologne, but soon started to concern himself with combustion engine technology. In 1862 he started experimenting with a four-stroke engine of his own design, but because of the explosive way in which the fuel burnt it did not achieve the desired success. Otto came to know the Cologne engineer and sugar manufacturer Eugen Langen. He gave up his job as a travelling salesman and, together with Eugen Langen, in 1864 founded the firm of N. A. Otto & Cie in Cologne, the world's first factory devoted solely to the production of combustion engines and the forerunner of the present-day DEUTZ AG. An atmospheric gas power engine developed by Otto and Langen was awarded a gold medal at the 1867 World Exhibition in Paris as the most economical drive engine for small trades. In 1876 Otto created with his four-stroke engine the combustion engine with the greatest development potential in the world for all kinds of fuel and all applications. In 1882 he received a great honour; the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Würzburg awarded him, together with Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, the honorary doctorate of doctor philosophiae honoris causa.

With the invention of magnetic low-voltage ignition, a prerequisite for making a combustion engine independent of the mains gas supply, Otto completed his work on the combustion engine. He passed away in Cologne on 26th January 1891, only 59 years old. To this day a tombstone on the Melaten cemetery in Cologne honours the inventor of the four-stroke cycle.

As part of the celebrations to mark 100 years of motor history in the USA Otto, together with Wilhelm Maybach was accepted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit. He is thus numbered with the personalities who earned the highest acknowledgement worldwide for his services to the motor industry. As a further honour on 5th March 2002 he was accepted into the European Automotive Hall of Fame in Geneva.

1833 – 1895

Born in Cologne on 9th October 1833, he studied engineering, mechanics, and chemistry at the Polytechnikum in Karlsruhe from 1850 onwards. In 1858 he became part-owner of his father's sugar factory in Cologne. His first noteworthy invention was a high-level grid for making more economical use of brown coal (lignite) for generating energy. This was followed by a new system for regenerating animal charcoal, which was used as an aid in the purification of molasses in sugar production.

In 1870 he and a group of friends established the firm of Pfeifer & Langen, which started up its first factory in Elsdorf, near Cologne. He soon gained a worldwide reputation as the great technical reformer of the sugar industry; his method of refining sugar in a centrifuge and then processing it into cubes came to supersede the old purification method that resulted in a sugarloaf. His invention of an overhead track for lifting gear in the factory in order to transport sugar and other ingredients became the prototype on which the Wuppertal overhead railway was built. He also played an essential part in the creation of German patents law. He often took a helpful and decisive role in the establishment of new companies and banks and the restructuring of existing ones.

Another great success was his collaboration with a businessman by the name of Nicolaus August Otto. In 1863 they jointly founded the firm of N. A. Otto & Cie in Cologne, the world's first engines factory and the origin of the present-day DEUTZ AG. We owe it to Eugen Langen that Nicolaus August Otto was able to work in peace on the development of his four-stroke engine, which gave birth in Cologne in 1876 to the motorisation of the whole world. Eugen Langen passed away on 2nd October 1895 at his country mansion, Haus Etzweiler near Elsdorf, and he was buried in the family tomb on the Melaten cemetery in Cologne.

1834 – 1900

Born on 17th March 1834 in Schorndorf, near Stuttgart, Gottlieb Daimler attended the local school and was first apprenticed to a gunsmith in his home town. He went on to a four-year practical training course at the Elsässer engineering factory and to a two-year degree course in the Polytechnical College in Stuttgart. At the age of 27 he decided to perfect his knowledge and abilities by travelling abroad: to Paris, Leeds, Manchester and Coventry. On his return his career took him through positions in Geislingen and Reutlingen, also in the Stuttgart area, and then to an engineering company in Karlsruhe.

On 10th March 1872 he came to Cologne to work for Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG. As Technical Director he took charge of the workshops and the drawing office as well as the materials and human resources management. One of his first personnel decisions was to appoint his friend Wilhelm Maybach as the manager in charge of the drawing office. Over the period of almost ten years during which he worked for DEUTZ his influence on the burgeoning development of the firm was considerable. He built the new factory on the right bank of the River Rhine and set up the series production both of the atmospheric engine and later of Otto's four-stroke engine. The good financial results produced by DEUTZ were largely due to this faultless and efficient manufacturing. At the end of 1881 he and Wilhelm Maybach both left DEUTZ. The exclusive production of engines for stationary use and Daimler's ideas for a smaller engine that could also propel vehicles were no longer compatible. In 1882 the two men set up their own workshop in Bad Cannstatt, on the edge of Stuttgart, and from then on concentrated on the development of a small, fast-running benzene engine.

Gottlieb Daimler died on 6th March 1900 in the bosom of his family.

1846 – 1929

Wilhelm Maybach was born in Heilbronn on 9th February 1846 as the son of a master cabinetmaker. His parents died while he was still young, so he went into a charitable home in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart, where penniless youngsters were given a basic education and training. During his engineering apprenticeship he demonstrated an unusually great talent and went on into a scientific education. He became a draughtsman in the engineering factory attached to the charitable home, the management of which was taken over by Gottfried Daimler in 1867. For many years after that he remained at Daimler's side as his closest assistant, and in 1872 this same Gottlieb Daimler fetched him to Cologne for the position of drawing office manager at Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG. Over the years that followed, Maybach brought not only the atmospheric gas power engines of Otto and Langen up to series production but also the four-stroke engine that Otto had invented.

When Daimler left Cologne in 1882 Maybach went with him to Cannstatt, on the edge of Stuttgart. He was the design engineer behind the development of motor vehicles, from the first motor bicycle in 1885 and the "Reitwagen" to the first Daimler motor car in 1886 and the first "Mercedes" (named after Maybach's daughter) in 1901.

In 1907 he left the Daimler Motor Company and two years later, together with his son, founded Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH in Friedrichshafen, at the eastern end of Lake Constance. His great work in the further development of engines and motor vehicles met with widespread appreciation, and medals, titles, and an honorary doctorate from the College of Applied Science in Stuttgart bear testimony to his creative power. In 1922 the VDI, the German Engineering Society, awarded him its highest honour, the Grashof memorial medal.

Wilhelm Maybach died in 1929 at the age of 84.

1858 – 1913

He was born in Paris on 18th March 1858 as the son of German parents. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 his parents left Paris and moved their place of residence to London, but sent their son Rudolf to Augsburg to attend the college of trade and industry. He took a degree course from 1875 to 1880 at the Polytechnicum in Munich; one of his teachers there was Carl Linde, whose lectures inspired him to occupy himself in particular with the problems of heat engines. His aim was to achieve a higher level of efficiency than the steam and gas engines of the day had been able to achieve, which was only 12 and 20 percent respectively.

On 27th March 1892 Diesel applied for a patent under the heading of "Working process and mode of construction for combustion engines", which formed the basis for the engine he later called the "self-ignition combustion engine". Only a month later he submitted a written offer to Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG (GFD) in Cologne under which they were to take over his idea, but Eugen Langen turned the idea down. In 1893 he was granted this patent under the no. DRP 67207. After a discussion in Berlin with Eugen Langen likewise ended with no agreement, the invention was licensed to Maschinenfabrik Augsburg (now MAN), Krupp, and the Sulzer brothers. In 1897 work finally proved successful at Maschinenfabrik Augsburg in constructing the first diesel engine that worked properly and was capable of use. Its efficiency level was 26.6 percent! This prototype engine can be seen today in the German Museum in Munich. The first diesel engine for practical use was delivered in 1898, and in the same year GFD managed to produce the first diesel engine of its own without a cross-head. Diesel's patent expired in 1907, and then series production started at GFD of diesel engines with outputs up to 400 h.p.

Rudolf Diesel lived to see the days when factories and power stations converted from steam to diesel engines, the first diesel locomotives ran on the railways, and big passenger liners were equipped with diesel engines, at the early age of 55 he lost his life in a tragic fall from a ship crossing the English Channel between Antwerp and England in 1913.

1861 – 1942

Robert Bosch was born on 23rd September 1861 as the eleventh of twelve children in Albeck, near Ulm, and went to school in Ulm from 1869 to 1876. After that the underwent a three-year apprenticeship as a precision mechanic, followed in 1879 as a "journeyman", travelling from place to place to gain more experience. Cologne, Stuttgart, New York, and London were just a few of the stops on his educational journey. Returning to Germany in 1886 he opened up a workshop for precision and electrical engineering where, in 1897, he built a magnetic ignition device very similar to one developed but not patented by the Cologne firm, Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG. He recorded this point in his memoirs: "At that time, in the summer of 1897, the proprietor of a small engineering company came to me and asked whether I could construct a device for him such as Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG was using in its petrol engines. He told me that a device of this kind could be seen in Schorndorf. I went there and found a low-voltage magnetic device with a tear-off attachment. I enquired carefully at DEUTZ as to whether this device was perhaps patented. I found no indication anywhere else either that the device might be patented, and therefore constructed one of my own…" This copy of a magnetic ignition unit from Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG may well have been one of the most important foundation stones of the present-day Bosch electrical and electronic engineering corporation.

Robert Bosch died at the age of 80 on 12th March 1942.

1876 – 1939

Born on 1st February 1876 in Beirut. Descended from a Huguenot family in the south of France. Came to Germany at the age of 12. Technical training at the Charlottenburg Academy in Berlin, degree with diploma in 1900, whereupon he became an assistant in the thermodynamics department. After military service and a short period of employment in Ilsenburg, in the Harz Mountains, his technical career started in 1904 when he became a trials engineer for large-sized gas-powered engines at Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG (GFD) in Cologne.

In 1908 he succeeded in designing an engine with a split combustion chamber, the basic idea behind the later non-compressor diesel engine. It led to Patent no. DRP 238 832, applied for on 22nd July 1908, granted on 3rd 0ctober 1911 - but GFD never made any use of it.

On 1st October 1908 L'Orange moved to the position of Chief Engineer at Benz & Co., Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik in Mannheim and was appointed to the management board in 1912. After a short period of war service he was called back to the company in order to develop U-boat engines in particular. On the basis of his experience during his time in Cologne he developed the pre-chamber and thus achieved the final break-through to a diesel engine with no compressor.

The company was split in 1922 into "Motoren-Werke Mannheim AG," (MWM) formerly "Benz Stationärer Motorenbau" and "Benz & Cie., Rheinische Automobil- und Motorenfabrik AG" and he became general manager of Motoren-Werke Mannheim AG (MWM). In 1926 he left this company and set himself up in business with research and engineering design work.

In 1932, together with his sons Harro and Rudolf, he established the firm of "Gebrüder L'Orange Motorzubehör" ("L'Orange Brothers motor accessories"), which specialised in the development and production of injection systems. On 11th January 1939 L'Orange was honoured by the Technical Academy with an Honorary Doctorate, but died in Stuttgart soon after, on 30th July 1939.

The company remained in family hands until 1978 but then belonged to the ITT Group for seven years before being taken over by MTU in 1985. Today L'Orange GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary company of MTU in Friedrichshafen and thus part of the DaimlerChrysler Group.

1881 – 1946

It all started at the Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG in the Deutz district of Cologne, the company now called DEUTZ AG, with the four-stroke engine created in 1876 by Nicolaus August Otto that became the basis for the vehicle engines that were developed later. In 1886 Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler presented the first vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

About 3,500 cars were produced in Germany as long ago as 1906, but German manufacturers were unable to meet domestic demand completely. This caused Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG in 1907 to undertake an analysis of the motor vehicles market. The hope of finding sufficient sales particularly on the domestic market were thus well founded and the opportunity was gladly seized of recruiting a promising design engineer, one who even brought the complete plans for a vehicle with him: Ettore Bugatti. Bugatti, born on 15 September 1881 in Milan, initially worked in his home city but then moved to Alsace (part of the German Empire in those days) to work for the Maschinenfabrik Grafenstaden under Baron de Diederich. The situation he found there, however, apparently did not offer him the prospect of any great success so he decided to accept a position with Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG in a place then called Cöln-Deutz, because the financial conditions must have been enticing. Bugatti's investigations appear to have produced highly favourable findings, with the result that a contract was signed on 1st September 1907. The four-cylinder in-line four-stroke engine designed by Bugatti with its overhead camshaft driven by a king-shaft and its suspended valves was far ahead of its time. Vehicles were to be built with chain and shaft drive in the Berlin branch works of Gasmotoren-Fabrik DEUTZ AG.

Co-ordination difficulties between Bugatti and company management, and problems in producing the vehicles economically, led to the contract with Bugatti being terminated in 1909, although it had originally been set to run for five years. Production ceased after only about 50 of these cars had been produced. Car production at DEUTZ was thus fated to become nothing more than a brief episode. Ettore Bugatti set himself up in business in Molsheim. The oval logo formerly used for vehicles produced in Cöln-Deutz with the DEUTZ lettering from then on bore the name of BUGATTI.

Ettore Bugatti died in France on 21 August 1947.