Gottlieb Daimler acquired an estate in Taubenheimstrasse in Cannstatt in 1882. The greenhouse on the premises was converted into a workshop where Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach set out to make their vision of individual mobility come true – a vision of a light, universal engine for vehicles on land, on water and in the air.
This is where it all began
The greenhouse with its workbench and smithy became the refuge of the two engineers. Daimler and Maybach worked day and night and in complete secrecy. Even Daimler’s family and domestic staff had no idea of what was going on in the greenhouse. A suspicious gardener even called the police, believing that the greenhouse was a money-counterfeiting workshop. It was to everyone’s great surprise that the police found nothing but tools and engine components in a night-time search. From then on, Daimler and Maybach were left alone to continue their work.
1883: the first high-speed engine comes into being
All engine components had to be individually designed, built and tested. Daimler and Maybach initially tried to solve the ignition problem by means of glow-tube ignition, and where the operating principle was concerned, they opted for the four-stroke mode. Their test motor with a horizontal cylinder had a displacement of 176 cubic centimeters and was extensively tested from August 1883 on. At the end of the year Daimler and Maybach reached an important target: their engine ran at sensational 600 rpm and developed 0.18 kW.
Their second test engine was the subject of a patent that publicly announced Daimler’s vision on 3 April 1885. The so-called “grandfather clock” had an enclosed crankcase on which the air-cooled cylinder was mounted in upright position. The intake valve operated automatically, the exhaust valve was actuated by curved groove control, an invention of Gottlieb Daimler. The configuration was completed by a float-type carburettor. The single-cylinder engine weighed a mere 60 kilograms (132 lbs), had a displacement of 264 cubic centimeters and developed an output of 0.37 kW at 650 rpm. Thanks to its low weight and its compact dimensions, it was suitable for installation into vehicles. They tested it first in a two-wheeler, the so called “riding car.” The vision of a lightweight, high-speed universal engine operating on petrol had become reality.
1886: motorised carriage and motor boat
As early as November 1885, Gottlieb Daimler’s son Adolf had travelled the three kilometres from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim on the “riding car” – the world’s first motorcycle – without any problems. In the summer of 1886, Daimler and Maybach fitted the engine into a carriage in which they performed successful trials between Esslingen and Cannstatt. At the same time, the engine powered the world’s first motor boat, the “Neckar.” The greenhouse soon proved to be too small. In July 1887, Daimler moved into a factory on Seelberg.
Single-cylinder Daimler engine in upright version
From the horizontal engine of 1883, Daimler and Maybach developed the upright single-cylinder unit, the so-called “grandfather clock,” whose crank mechanism and flywheel were for the first time encased in a crankcase sealed against oil and dust. This configuration served as a model for all engine designers at a later stage.
Gottlieb Daimler Memorial:
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