No mu­seum piece, ‘Bull­dog’ has power to spare

Cape Argus - - NEWS - Adrian Pheif­fer

AS EN­TRIES for the 2017 Kil­lar­ney Mo­tor Show on Oc­to­ber 15 con­tinue to flood or­gan­is­ers’ desks, the 58 hectares of motorsport real es­tate seems cer­tain to house the big­gest ex­hi­bi­tion of its kind in the Cape.

The Lanz trac­tor fac­tory in Mannheim, Ger­many, be­gan pro­duc­tion of its “Bull­dog” in the 1920s. It ac­quired such a rep­u­ta­tion that a farmer on the West Coast in 1935 bought two crawlers to as­sist with the har­vest­ing of his crops.

One was sold to a dealer in Lam­bert’s Bay, who even­tu­ally ex­ported it, while the other re­mains the prop­erty of the farmer’s grand­sons, the Koege­len­berg broth­ers, in Clan­william.

Be­lieved to be the only Lanz crawler in South Africa still in work­ing con­di­tion, the sib­lings’ ve­hi­cle will be on show at Kil­lar­ney next month, where it has been en­tered into the trac­tor tu­gof-war com­pe­ti­tion.

So, what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Bull­dog and more con­ven­tional trac­tors that per­form the same type of work? Well, the Lanz Bull­dog is pow­ered by a huge sin­gle cylin­der, hor­i­zon­tal, two-stroke mo­tor.

The orig­i­nal en­gine was a 6.3 litre, 12-horse­power unit but as the Bull­dog evolved and gained in pop­u­lar­ity, its en­gine was grad­u­ally in­creased to an awe­some 10.3 litres and 55 horse­power.

Imag­ine the size and weight of that sin­gle, gi­ant cast-iron pis­ton. But then it only revs to 750 rpm, and has a max­i­mum speed of just 7km/h.

But those are not the most un­usual fea­tures of the unit. The mo­tor starts by means of a hot bulb that is heated with a blow lamp. Once the tem­per­a­ture is hot enough, the steer­ing wheel and its rod are re­moved and the lat­ter is in­serted into the cen­tral cav­ity of the large ex­ter­nal fly­wheel.

The driver – who is usu­ally also the starter – then cranks the steer­ing wheel un­til the en­gine fires. This could some­times take quite... a long while.

How­ever, the starter/driver must be suf­fi­ciently ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore he is en­trusted with the job, be­cause the mo­tor can be started to re­volve clock­wise or in the op­po­site di­rec­tion of ro­ta­tion.

In other words, giv­ing it the same speed back­wards as it has go­ing for­wards. The prob­lem is that the oil pump is not op­er­a­tional in re­verse. Which, ob­vi­ously, is ter­mi­nal if not at­tended to very quickly.

While the hot-bulb en­gines were crude, they were easy to main­tain and could burn a wide va­ri­ety of low grade fu­els and lu­bri­cants.

This proved a huge ben­e­fit to the farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties. The story goes that the Koege­len­bergs have al­ready been of­fered R20 mil­lion by a for­eign buyer for their unit. They po­litely re­fused.

Don’t miss see­ing this Bull­dog in ac­tion at the Kil­lar­ney Mo­tor Show.

VI­SION­ARY: Dex­ter Davis, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of D Street Me­dia

PIC­TURE: COLIN BROWN

RELIC: A 1935 Lanz Bull­dog crawler trac­tor will be in ac­tion dur­ing the trac­tor tug-of-war com­pe­ti­tion at the 2017 Kil­lar­ney Mo­tor Show.

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