09/14/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2020 03:00
Stuttgart. Almost silently, the huge cage of the crane system in the atrium of the Mercedes-Benz Museum lowers its valuable freight from the top level down to the ground floor seven storeys below. The spectacle is a majestic one to behold and is perfectly suited to the high-gloss, deep-red Mercedes-Simplex 60 hp touring saloon that dates from 1904. The entire, riveting procedure takes barely five minutes. This was the climax of a technical masterpiece lasting several hours, which experts from the museum and the special logistics company Scholpp completed in mid-August.
This Mercedes Simplex 60 hp is the oldest original car amongst the 160 vehicle exhibits in the permanent exhibition that has ever left the museum for an extended period. The top-of-the-range model produced by the former Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) was once a key object of enthusiasm in the highest social circles. The owner of this particular luxury touring saloon was none other than Emil Jellinek, the inventor of the Mercedes brand name. Until the end of the current year, that magnificent car will be the star of an exclusive event at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach near Stuttgart, which will focus on the history of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Prior to that event, the experts at the Mercedes-Benz Classic workshop will examine the car meticulously.
State-of-the-art crane technology
The Mercedes Simplex 60 hp is normally to be found in its allotted space at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in the room bearing the title Legend 2: Mercedes - Birth of the Brand. In that location, the touring saloon is presented like a priceless jewel on a faceted, shiny black inclined surface, where it attracts many delighted visitors. Preparing its journey to the new location was a logistical challenge. This was because the luxury vehicle weighing around 2.2 tonnes had to be lifted from its four steel support points without putting any strain at all on the surface of the slope. 'This was the first time we have used a mobile mini-crane from Scholpp to manoeuvre the car out,' says Benedikt Weiler, curator of the Mercedes-Benz Museum, explaining the procedure. The compact lifting gear is mounted on rubber tracks and can move up to eight tonnes.
On the day the touring saloon was moved, the special-purpose lifting gear was first raised to the level of Legend 2 using the museum's permanently installed crane system. The hooks of the twelve ropes were visible in the ceiling of the atrium. In line with the desired orientation, four of the cables were lowered and attached to a huge transport cage. The cage had previously been moved on air cushions from the museum depot into the atrium by the team. To prevent damage to the terrazzo floor, robust rubber mats were additionally used. The crane system was originally planned and built especially for the museum and can lift 40 tonnes with the transport cage. The crane cage is 15 metres long, 4 metres wide and weighs around 20 tonnes. This leaves a maximum payload of around 20 tonnes - which is sufficient even for the large buses and trucks found in the museum.
'The crane system is the heart of our vehicle logistics activities. When the museum was opened, we used it to move all the vehicles, including the large touring coach, into the museum. And since then it has been used regularly around two dozen times a year,' explains Benedikt Weiler. The crane operations always take place on Mondays, because that is when the museum is closed to visitors. 'This gives us a maximum time frame from 6 p.m. on Sunday evening to 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning,' the museum's curator continues. The 60 hp Mercedes Simplex also left the museum on a Monday.
Careful planning and meticulous implementation
Once the mobile mini-crane and other lifting gear had arrived and been set up at the Legend 2 level, the tricky part began: following a carefully choreographed sequence, a special lifting device, consisting of two parallel steel tubes, was locked in place under the rear wheels of the Mercedes Simplex 60 hp, while the front axle was attached to a powerful forklift truck by means of sturdy straps. As the crane carefully took the load, the forklift raised its forks in minute increments. Centimetre by centimetre, the touring saloon was lifted off its stand and floated freely in space before being moved about five metres to the side and carefully deposited on the museum floor. The preparations in the depot, at the stand and around the car took about eight hours. The actual lifting and lowering procedure of the touring saloon was completed in only ten minutes. 'Like clockwork - just the way we had planned it,' says Benedikt Weiler happily.
After that, it was only necessary to increase the air pressure in the tyres, then the team carefully wheeled the valuable classic onto the large crane cage, suspended on four ropes, that was docked onto the parapet of Legend 2. The specialists from the Scholpp company wore white gloves - which is part of the careful handling of this unique, historic car. Conservation issues have top priority every time a vehicle is moved.
Then followed the five-minute crane ride down to the atrium floor, as described above. An enclosed van was waiting in front of the museum to take the touring saloon to the Classic Centre in Fellbach, which is just seven kilometres away. At the beginning of 2021, the vehicle logistics specialists from Scholpp, together with curator Benedikt Weiler, will be back in action again to transport the touring saloon in the tried and tested manner back to its home location at the museum.