Pioneer Wilhelm Maybach

This talented man stood at the origins of creating an internal combustion engine for a car.


Drawing by Alexander Krasnov

Wilhelm Maybach was born on February 9, 1846 in Heilbronn - a town on the Neckar River, the land of Baden-Württemberg. His father was a joiner. For ten years the boy remained an orphan and was brought up in the Brotherhood House of the then-famous pastor Werner. At fifteen, he began his technical education at an engineering plant in Reutlingen, associated with the Brotherhood House. During the day, he passed practice in the workshop and design bureau of the plant, in the evening he took lessons in drawing and science in a city school, and later in mathematics in a city real school. By that time, Wilhelm had already carefully studied the three-volume textbook of Julius Weissbach on technical mechanics and took up English. His abilities, perseverance and determination were noticed in time.

In 1863, Gottlieb Daimler became the technical director of the Reutlingen plant. After working here for three years, he moved to Karlsruhe, to the post of technical director of Deutz, owned by N. A. Otto and E. Langen. At that time, she was building stationary internal combustion engines. In 1869, Daimler remembered a talented and able-bodied young man and invited Maybach to Karlsruhe. Having met, they became interested in the idea of ​​a transport internal combustion engine, which would be lighter and smaller than a stationary engine produced at the plant. Langen supported the idea, but Otto was categorically against it. Much later, in 1907, the Deutsche company nevertheless began to build cars - first cars, and later - trucks, tractors, buses, but by that time there were no pioneers of ICE for transport here.

Having not found understanding with the management of the company, Daimler decided to open his own business in Bad Cannstadt and persuaded Maybach to leave with him. In 1882, an agreement was concluded between them, according to which Maybach took over the technical design, and if it came to the commercial implementation of the development, he received a fixed sum of money, like a bonus.

In August 1883, the first stationary Maybach engine of its own design was ready. The motor weighed 40 kg and worked, as was customary then, using light gas. In December of the same year, the following model appeared - a working volume of 1.4 liters, a capacity of 1.6 hp. Along the way, Maybach proposed a new ignition system. In stationary engines of that time, the mixture was ignited by an open flame, he also designed an incandescent tube, which was heated by a red-hot burner. A special valve, opening and closing, controlled combustion in the combustion chamber. Such a system ensured stable operation at the smallest number of revolutions.

From the very beginning of his independent activity, William Maybach was distinguished by the desire to constantly modernize the design, use new patents, and achieve perfection. At the end of 1883, another of its engines was tested - a single-cylinder air-cooled engine that developed 0.25 hp. at 600 rpm An improved version (0.5 hp, 246 cm3) was built in 1884; the designer himself called it the “grandfather clock” - the form was indeed quite unusual. Later, technology historians noted that Maybach achieved not only a reduction in engine weight, but also its purely external grace.

The next, extremely important for all further ICE designs, was the development of an evaporative carburetor, which made it possible to use liquid fuel instead of light gas. And finally, in the fall of 1885, the Maybach engine set in motion a two-wheeled crew! This, without any discounts, was a revolutionary event in technology. A motorcycle, or, as they said, a motor bike, had two small wheels on the sides for stability. 0.5 hp engine rotated at a constant frequency, a two-stage belt transmission allowed you to move at a speed of 6 or 12 km / h. November 10, 1885 passed tests in which together with Maybach participated his son Karl and son of Daimler - Paul.

Not everything, of course, went smoothly. A year later, Maybach improved the engine by increasing the diameter and stroke; the working volume increased to 1.35 liters, but tests have shown - the motor is overheating. An attempt to apply water cooling did not give the desired result, and this engine had to be abandoned.

For the world's first four-wheeled car, an engine with a working volume of 0.462 liters was made. They installed it on a ready horse carriage purchased by Daimler - in a hurry. The first tests were carried out on March 4, 1887, and four weeks later a motor boat with the same engine appeared on a lake near Bad Cannstadt. With great care, Maybach collected and systematized the results of all tests, perfectly understanding how important this is.

In 1889, the Paris World Exhibition was held, and Daimler at all costs wanted to be a participant. Especially for this event, Maybach developed a new car with a new engine. But how! On the "Daimler-Stahlradvagen" (in translation - "with steel wheels") was the first ever V-shaped two-cylinder engine with a camber angle of 17 °. At 900 rpm, the engine developed 1.6 hp, the wheels were driven by a gear instead of the previous belt. The author essentially developed a conceptual design, but it brought commercial success. For the construction of the car took the bicycle factory "NSU" in Neckarsulma. The French Arman Peugeot and Emil Levassor bought a patent for the engine and gears, pledging to put the Daimler brand on the engines they produce.

The money earned for the patent allowed Daimler to create a separate workshop for his talented employee, where the research was in full swing, this at least somehow eased the friction with the shareholders on the basis of promising developments that so occupied him and Maybach.

In 1893, simultaneously with the Hungarian Donat Banki, Maybach developed the first spray carburetor with a syringe-type nozzle, the next he received a patent for the design of hydraulic brakes, and a year later his two-cylinder in-line engine “Phoenix” appeared. He initially developed 2.5 hp. at 750 rpm, but the design was gradually improved, and in 1896 the power reached 5 hp. The new radiator of the original design made it possible to improve the performance of the engine, and in 1899 the four-cylinder Phoenix was built, with a working volume of 5900 cm3 and a power of 23 hp. The engine was installed on a racing car commissioned by the Ambassador of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Nice, Emil Jellinek, and on March 21, 1899, he won the Nice - La Turbie mountain race on this car. Jellinek performed under the pseudonym Mercedes. It was the name of his daughter, who soon became a trademark of the Daimler plant.

In 1900, Gottlieb Daimler died and Maybach's situation worsened. An engineer who gave himself completely to work, not very healthy, was forced to write humiliating and unrequited petitions for an increase in salary. Perhaps the new leaders of the company remembered how in disputes with them Maybach always sided with Daimler …

Meanwhile, the development of technology went on as usual, the “Phoenix” model was replaced by the “Simplex” of 1902, which was already produced under the brand name “Mercedes”. On it stood a four-cylinder engine with a working volume of 5320 cm3 with a capacity of 32 hp. at 1100 rpm and a four-speed gearbox. The Mercedes racing car of 1902 was equipped with a 40-horsepower (6550 cm3) engine, and for the then-popular Gordon-Bennett races (1903) a car was built with a four-cylinder engine with a working volume of 9.24 liters and a power of 60 hp. at 1000 rpm

In 1907, Maybach left the company, the fame of which was largely created by his talent and efficiency. In the sixty-first year of his life he was fascinated by the idea of ​​creating engines for the Zeppelin airships that were famous at that time. Having found support from Count Ferdinand Zeppelin, Maybach and his son Karl founded the Maybach Motorenbau GmbH motor-building company in the city of Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Baden. The company was led by Karl Maybach, and his father was a leading consultant and stopped working only at a very advanced age, after the First World War. Wilhelm Maybach died on December 29, 1929.

The enormous significance of Maybach’s activity is that he, perhaps the first, realized that a car is not a wagon with a motor. The talent of an engineer, his rich experience in designing and testing convinced him that a car is a complex of all its components and it is from these positions that it is necessary to approach its design.

Already contemporaries called Maybach "the king of designers." In 1922, the Society of German Engineers awarded one of the fathers of a modern car with the title of "pioneer designer." So he was. And a year earlier, when the seventy-five-year-old engineer was no longer working, the first car of the famous Maybach brand, subsequently glorified, was built at the factory in Friedrichshafen under the leadership of Karl Maybach. But that's another story.

Mercedes, 1900-1901

The engine, called Maybach "grandfather clock".

Racing Daimler with a Phoenix engine.