PS Neuchâtel

English version of the article by Andrew Thompson
History of the engine builder
Maffei of Munich

Between 1851 and 1926 the famed locomotive works of Maffei in Munich built over 40 paddle steamers as turn-key products, replete with steam engines. In contrast to its massive output and manufacture of locomotives, the ship business was but a side job for the company founded by Johann Anton Maffei. Most of the assembled paddle steamers where at first delivered in the mid 19th century to the Danube and Inn rivers, in later years then mainly to the Bavarian lakes, including also the Lake of Constance. The most famed Maffei ships of that era undoubtebly were the "Luitpold" from the Chiemsee, as well as the "Zähringen" and "Lindau" from the Lake of Constance. All of those ships were unfortunately scrapped in the 1950s and 60s.

The Maffei steam engine Nr. 576, which the Swiss non-profit organization Trivapor was able to purchase in June of 2004 for future use in the currently engine-less Escher Wyss steamer "Neuchâtel" of 1912, was originally built in 1926 for the Bavarian steamer "Ludwig Fessler" on the Chiemsee. As such the steam engine was the very last ship engine that Maffei produced and delivered, as in the very same year the company decided to end its ship business altogether. Just a few years later in 1931 Maffei was then also taken over by the other large Munich based locomotive company of Krauss & Co, and the two merged to form the well known conglomerate of Krauss Maffei.

As the last Maffei built ship engine, engine Nr. 576 carries the classic handwriting and signature style of its manufacturer, much like the legendary Maffei steam locomotives S2/6 and S3/6 of the same era. The ship engine is very graceful and refined in its design, and shows hallmarks of typically classical elegance and a high quality of construction. Thanks to its relatively low-lying crankshaft the engine is a perfect match and a perfect fit for the hull of the low-built "Neuchâtel."

The steam engine is of interest for Swiss standards, as it is fitted with classic Stephenson control gears and has the engineer's stand located on the side of the engine. Virtually all Swiss paddlers have Gooch gear as well as the engine stand at the end of the engine, opposite and no next to the cylinders.

The 2-cylinder compound engine is very compact in its physical dimensions and capable of producing an output of 360 horsepower. With about an average performance of anywhere between 50 and 60 revolutions per minute the engine was able to propel its original ship in Germany with a top cruising speed of 24 kilometers per hour.

For Switzerland the engine will be a welcome and varied new attraction once it will be in operating condition on a revived "Neuchâtel", while for the famous manufacturer from Munich the engine will be the only example of a once again operational Maffei paddle steamer engine.

Everyone is welcome to support this significant project and undertaking !

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Updated - Lakes Brienz, Geneva, Luzern, Thun, Zurich, Konstanz, Maggiore, Como, Garda 10th November 2004   e-mail   (c)2004 John B Bird