From steam to diesel – How Dresden engineers wrote railway history

Fluid drives are constructed in Dresden until 1995

Today the former chief designer lives in Neuhausen in the Ore Mountains. The times when he and his colleagues developed fluid drives are unforgettable for the 90-year-old. They meet regularly and reminisce about the turbine factory, which is later renamed the VEB flow machines. Until 1995, they constructed fluid drives for diesel locomotives, power plant turbines or underground conveyor belts in potash shafts in Dresden. Your ideas are in demand wherever a lot of power is transmitted.

Former VEB turbo machines in new splendor

“Current of the times” is the name of the extensively renovated industrial site now. In addition to an exclusive classic car trade, small and medium-sized companies have settled here. Every now and then Udo Spiegel comes by and takes a look into the former hall of the turbine factory. It was 60 years ago that he was one of the senior engineers here.

We knelt fully into it. We were of course a team that was relatively young. It was the generation of those who still experienced a war and they were all inspired by the will to rebuild.

Udo Spiegel

Aircraft designer know-how

We then also had wonderful test benches there. We had the opportunity to set up the entire drive system, to have it blown out in a hall with a diesel engine and outside.

Udo Spiegel

At the same time, however, they also plague material shortages, which Rolf Hengst almost pays for with his life.

We didn’t get the materials we need for the labyrinth seals, for example. They were high quality bronzes. We had to make do with brass. So we also had two accidents.

Rolf stallion

A locomotive derailed on a test drive in 1963.

My two train drivers, they stood pale next to me. One said: ‘My dear Rolf, we have a creepy pig that we are still alive.’

Rolf stallion

Fluid drives are exported to China

In spite of all adversities, their fluid transmissions later work reliably on thousands of locomotives. They are exported as far as China. One wish, however, remains unfulfilled. The engineers are not fast enough for the “ICE of the East”. Voith gearboxes were used in VEB Waggonbau Görlitz until 1968. When the Dresden engineers are ready, production of the SVT, which is still legendary today, is stopped.

I didn’t just want to ride in the SVT, I would have liked to have a gearbox in there.

Rolf stallion

As a consolation, there is the certainty that his gearboxes are still running reliably on shunting locomotives like the V100.


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