Advance into the five-ton payload category: In 1898 Daimler presents a new five-tonner


Extensive practical testing
Systematic further development of the truck concept

Stuttgart, May 01, 2008 - Output ranged between four and ten hp, payload between 1,500 and 5,000 kilograms. Hardly had Gottlieb Daimler's first truck been supplied to England in 1896, when the first truck range, comprising as many as four different models, was offered by Daimler from September 1896. It is true, however, that the design was still heavily oriented to Daimler's belt-driven car which had been developed for passenger transport and was suitable for carrying higher weights only to a limited extent.
Still in 1896, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach moved the two-cylinder Phoenix engine from the rear to underneath the driver's seat on the six hp (4.4 kW) vehicle, together with the four-speed belt transmission. However, this solution still left a lot to be desired. One year later, the truck finally acquired a face that distinguished it clearly, and for the first time, from passenger cars – a design that was to pave the way for ever increasing output and payload capacity: the engine found its place right at the front, ahead of the front axle, and transmitted its output of up to ten hp (7.4 kW) to the iron-clad rear wheels via four-speed gear-only transmission, full-length longitudinal shaft and pinion.

Tubular radiator and magneto ignition

Gottlieb Daimler had improved this vehicle decisively – not only the powertrain but also the engine itself. The glow-tube ignition had been replaced by new low-voltage magneto ignition from Bosch, igniting the mixture in the pistons of the 2.2 liter two-cylinder engine, and the radiator, too, was designed according to a completely new principle. In April 1897, Wilhelm Maybach had completed his tests with the tubular radiator and thereby achieved a crucial improvement for the cooling system.
This new cooling system consisted of a water reservoir containing a large number of small brass tubes through which the cooling headwind was channeled. With this design, Wilhelm Maybach had for the first time succeeded in configuring the three elementary factors for cooling – cooling surface, air and water speed – in such a way that cooling was no longer a stumbling block in opening up new performance dimensions. With this achievement, a major step ahead in the direction of higher output had been taken not only for trucks but also for passenger cars.

Practical testing on brickworks premises

However, Gottlieb Daimler hesitated before presenting his new five-tonner to the public – more likely than not because of the large number of new features. The approach he adopted for what was an ultra-modern vehicle at the time is today known as "customer trial operation". For months, Daimler subjected his new five-tonner to the day-to-day trials and tribulations of operation in brickworks in Heidenheim, systematically eliminating all the weaknesses that became apparent in the process.
But then, Gottlieb Daimler didn't mind setting out on the long journey to pulsating Paris to drum up support for his new product. In Paris, a "motorized vehicles for urban traffic" competition, organized by the French automobile club, was followed by a motor show in the Tuileries Gardens, at which Gottlieb Daimler presented his new five-tonner as well as a four hp (2.9 kW) belt-driven car. "Large crowds, many vehicles of all types, great appreciation for our truck and taxi," Daimler's wife Lina noted down on June 15, 1898.
The extraordinary sight a gasoline-engined truck presented at the time is illustrated by a glance at the entrants in the competition prior to the motor show. Out of the total of 16 vehicles entered, 15 featured electric drive. The only gasoline-engine competitor was a Peugeot – a coupe with luggage-carrying roof – and although it was one of the first to reach the finish, it did not receive a prize. "Operating costs which are too high compared to electrically driven vehicles," was the reason stated for acknowledging the coupe but refusing to give it a prize.

4.5 kilograms of gasoline per hour

The issue of the costs and economic efficiency of such a gasoline-engined truck also occupied the journal "Der Motorwagen" ('The Motor Vehicle') which came to the following conclusion as early as April 1898: "...vehicles of this type, carrying construction materials in the southern Black Forest on an eight kilometer route with seven and eight percent inclines consume 4.5 kilograms of gasoline per hour, translating into costs of 70 – 80 pfennigs per hour at the current level of prices." On the subject of speed, the journal reported: "Unladen vehicles reach speeds of eleven to twelve kilometers per hour, laden vehicles eight kilometers per hour, depending on the condition of the road and the inclines to be climbed."
In spite of this, the contemporaries' reservations concerning trucks with internal-combustion engines were to prevail for a long time to come. It was generally believed that internal–combustion engines were appropriate for passenger cars, whereas commercial vehicles should be driven by steam or by electric motors. In competitions, steam-powered trucks indeed proved to be superior to gasoline-engined commercial vehicles until around 1900. It was not before 1901 that a 10 hp (7.4 kW) 1.5 ton truck from Daimler emerged as the winner from a competition in Liverpool.

Great demand from breweries

In Germany, however, steam-powered road-going vehicles were less widely used than in England. In the German Reich, the machine-driven industrial form of goods transportation was largely restricted to the railways which linked the industrial centers with each other. Transportation to smaller towns and villages was then handled by horse-drawn carts. And yet transportation by animal power was not without drawbacks, either: a single horse, for instance, cost as much as 1,500 marks, and another 1,000 marks had to be spent on a horse's upkeep per year.
It was just a question of time before the truck conquered the realms of short-radius and distribution transport. Breweries were among the first to discover the benefits of the new technology for themselves and opted for trucks on a major scale. The new five-tonner of 1898 was particularly popular among breweries. A 1899 leaflet reported that of a total of nine five-tonners entered in the order books, seven were supplied to customers as "10 hp beer wagons".

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