Benno Orenstein and Arthur Koppel started the engineering works, Orenstein & Koppel (O&K) in Berlin, in 1876. O&K today, 140 years later, is one of the largest makers of mining machinery, but little is known in Australia of their tractors.
O&K began tractor production back in 1938, with a range fitted with 2 cylinder engines in a ‘V’ design, with a bore of 115mm and a stroke of 170mm, giving 30hp. After World War Two, to meet the need to clear bomb sites, O&K developed the multi-purpose Kompressor tractor.
The talented team of restorers at the Dardanup Heritage Park, near Bunbury, in Western Australia, have restored one of these rare and remarkable tractors. It is a Type UK1, No. 3419, from 1951, with a V4 engine which can have the diesel cut off to two cylinders, enabling them to become an air compressor. The air is cooled before going to a pressure tank, which can be used for jack hammers and air tools. An electric DC 800 amp generator for welding and power tools, a winch power take-off, and a drawbar have been fitted, as well as oxygen and acetylene cylinders mounted on top of the mudguards, which have storage lockers for the tools.
The Heritage Park tractor has an interesting history. It was found standing in a very sad state, in a paddock at Grass Valley, by David Waddell, and was owned by Claude Meurier Esq. Claude had ordered the tractor from Dortmund, West Germany, in 1951, and it was delivered to Tahiti in February, 1952, as this is where Claude was working at the time. It was put to work as a compressor and welder for many years on different building sites, including on the island of Ratatea.
In 1969, it was loaded on board the SS Monterey , of the Lurline Shipping Co., and shipped to Sydney, Australia. From there, the O&K was railed to Perth, and then transported by road to Mullewa, WA. Once in Mullewa, the tractor worked on Claude’s farm until 1982, when it was railed to Grass Valley.
During its time in Mullewa though, the water pump failed and parts were ordered from Germany. However, during transport to Grass Valley, there was an additional problem when the pump housing was lost. The plan at the time was to replace the lost housing with a water pump from a Perkins 354. An interface between the engine block and the Perkins pump would have to be designed and built, but this was never done, and the poor old thing lay in a paddock for the next 30 years.
When we took delivery of the O&K, the water pump was missing, however, a water pump overhaul kit was included. Claude also passed on a multitude of hand workings and drawings of components to us.
Heritage Park has a very well-equipped machine shop, and some very talented restorers, so by using the drawings and computer-designed patterns, one of the men was able to design a new water pump housing and pulley for the fan. We were also able to melt down old alloy parts and cast the new parts. These were then machined to accept the impeller and shaft from the water pump kit.
Having been exposed to the weather for many years, the engine had seized up, but did not require many new parts. We had to replace some of the rings that we had broken, but the bearings were all good and, although the bores had some corrosion, they cleaned up really well.
The same could not be said for the injector pump and fuel lift pump. We spent many months encouraging it to come apart, and to get it operating properly. While the machine shop was doing that, the rest of us did the panel work. The bonnet and fuel tank were made from new material, but the mudguards were patched and repaired. Gradually, all the parts were re-assembled, the engine was started and ran, and the changeover to the air compressor was checked over and worked. Sandblasting, painting, and final assembly completed the job. We now have one very unique and special piece of machinery.
*Story by Hugh Cawdell and David Waddell. Photography by Peter Griffin
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