The Benz Story
By Paul Harvey
Way back in the early 1970s, while chatting with John Wilcox one day, I learned that the Buckeye Pipe Line Company of Ohio experimented with many different brands of engines. Buckeye's approach was unlike the practice of Eureka of West Virginia and National Transit of Pennsylvania, both of whom standardized on one or two brands. Buckeye used DeLaVergne, various types of Bessemer, St. Mary’s, Kleins, Ruston, and various farm engines. Surprisingly, Buckeye imported three 12 hp Benz Diesels for their Parent, Homan, and Clark stations. The Clark engine experienced a catastrophic accident and was lying in their Blackrun tool yard. John had acquired the Homan engine, but the Parent engine was still available.
Parent and Homan stations were in the Lodi, Ohio, area and pumped crude oil to the bigger Lodi Station, which had the remains of a 65 hp DH DeLaVergne. Although the building was gone, many interesting items were lying about.
After some phone calls, my Uncle Bruce and I were on our way in the faithful International pickup to retrieve the engine. It turned out to be a difficult project with its one large flywheel and rounded marine-style base. Finally it was happily on its side and secured in the truck bed. Uncle Bruce and I safely arrived home after enjoying a good dinner along the way.
Benz engine at CPM, Fall 2020 .
Upon getting it home, I built what I intended to be a temporary base for it so I could lift it out of the truck vertically with the John Deere 2020 tractor and mount it for display and restoration. It lived this way in various locations for about 50 years until the fall of 2020 when Gordon Jones adopted it for restoration to be displayed in our proposed MAN building along with the MAN and Graz. It would represent 15 years of German Diesel evolution.
Karl Benz was born November 25, 1844, in Muhlburg, Germany. His father passed away when he was two, but his mother, although poor, was able to provide a good education for him. He was a brilliant student and graduated from the University of Karlsruhe with a degree in engineering at age 19! He then moved to Mannheim and found work as a draftsman. Not satisfied, he then teamed with August Ritter and opened the “Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop.” Here, he developed a two-stroke cycle engine that was successful. Receiving a patent on June 1880, he continued to design both two-stroke and four-stroke cycle engines.
In 1883, he founded the new “Benz & Companie Rheische Gasmotern-Fabrik,” commonly known as Benz & Cie. Here, he started to produce stationary engines. In 1885, Karl introduced the “Benz Patent Motor Wagon,” using a very unique four-stroke cycle engine.
Benz Motor Wagon and Motor
Wagon engine .
CPM’s Benz Diesel was built in the Mannheim shops about 1918. In 1926, Benz & Cie became Daimler-Benz after a merger. The first Mercedes Benz automobile was built that year.
Benz Factory in Mannheim .
So, just what is the significance of the Benz engine at CPM? One must recall that Dr. Rudolph Diesel placed his first air-blast injection engine on the market in 1897. Yes, that was over 20 years later than Otto’s first successful gas engine. But the Diesel introduced a new means of ignition and efficiency. It was here to stay! Our Benz engine represents 15+ years of evolution. It will be installed in the new building to accompany our 1903 MAN Diesel and the 1904 Graz. It is a typical German Diesel, being vertical and with a single large flywheel.
The author with Dr. Diesel’s first successful engine from 1897 at
the MAN Museum in Augsburg,Germany .
The CPM Benz definitely shows signs of a rather rough life in the oil field. Several modifications were made that included a water-cooled valve to pump compression pressure back into the starting air tank. It was also provided with a huge hand crank for manual starting! Besides the nice German oiler on the governor, a hand pump Lunkenheimer Alpha oiler was added for pre-lube. Good idea! Gordon Jones adopted the Benz and took it to his home shop to restore over the winter.
CPM Benz before leaving for restoration .
Our engine has two brass tags, one being the German Benz & Cie. and the other from the sole distributor in New York City.
Benz nameplates .
Gordon has been very dedicated to the restoration, and it is progressing well. So much has to be repaired or reproduced, and I have been able to do smaller parts in my home shop. I have made so many gaskets, and Olson Gasket reproduced a fantastic copper gasket to seal the injector into the head. Gordon had to repair almost every part!
Benz restoration photos .
Our good friend Dr. Friedrich Busch of Hof, Germany, who is probably the world’s expert on air-blast injection Diesels, kindly provided me with copies of the appropriate Benz literature. Note that CPM's Benz is a Type R which were produced from 1915 to 1923. I would guess that ours was built in 1918 as that is about when Parent Station was erected. The chart depicts that they were available in configurations from one cylinder to six cylinders. That would place CPM’s Benz 21 years after Dr. Diesel’s first successful engine of 1897.
Benz literature .
Our great friend Adam Smith reproduced and designed many parts for us. The fittings are carefully done to decipher the thread types. Being German, it has some metric, some Imperial, and other strange thread types, probably Benz. The frustration this must have caused for the Buckeye mechanics is evident by all the chisel marks on nuts that they did not have a wrench for. Adam's work is fantastic!
Adam’s handiwork reproducing a fitting .
So we have this neat German engine. What are we doing with it? Well, it will be the third engine in our upcoming ABI (Air-Blast Injection) building! It will also house our 1903 Augsburg (MAN) and the 1904 Graz which is still in Germany because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully it will arrive this summer. The ABI building is an exciting project that is becoming a reality.
Sneak peek at CPM's ABI Building .
I certainly hope you have enjoyed this brief visit to CPM’s Benz engine. Stay tuned because next month will be about the fantastic new building and what it will house.
Think Benz! Think Air-Blast Injection Diesels! Think CPM!
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