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The flight pioneer's steam engine

Lightweight wall mounted steam engine No. 137 of 1889

Otto Lilienthal's Engineering works for steam boilers and engines
at Köpenicker Straße 110/113, Berlin


For the last century or so, historians engaged in research with the life and accomplishments of Lilienthal had come to the conclusion that, apart from the few preserved gliders, probably no original product of the Lilienthal machine works has been preserved. That's why it was a big surprise when the museum got to know a few years ago that a Lilienthal steam engine existed in Australia. Its owner, Frank Tynan from New South Wales, asked the museum in a letter if the manufacturer of his engine was the well known Otto Lilienthal or someone else with the same surname. Checking the few known pictures, patent papers and other documents known in the museum and comparing them with pictures sent from Australia gave the result: the engine in Australia was the one and only known preserved engine out of hundreds produced in the Berlin factory between 1881 and 1914.

Frank Tynan visited Anklam in 1998, but did not give the museum any hopes of acquiring the engine at any time. That's why the later stated intention of Tynan, meanwhile of advanced age, to sell his collection in an auction in Great Britain was a big surprise for the museum. However, the museum showed a great deal of interest in the engine which caused Tynan to make the museum a separate offer in advance. The kindness of this offer by him and the engine's national importance, enabled the museum to buy the engine with the help of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the "Kulturstiftung der Länder".

The Engine - technical details

Manufacturer: "Otto Lilienthal - Maschinen- und Dampfkessel-Fabrik" (factory for engines and steamboilers)
Production number: 137, year of construction 1889

Dimensions (mm): length: 1220; width 660; height 700 (horizontal operation)
Base frame (mm) length 1000; width 400
Weight (kg) 245
Flywheel diameter (mm) 660
Stroke (mm) 150
Cylinder diameter (mm) 105
Power (PSeffective) ca. 3,5 - 5

The engine is described in detail in a museum publication (German only).

Foto: WienkeThe engine on exhibition in the museum,mounted on the wall. It is possible to power the engine, by simulating steam by compressed air.


The machine manufactured by the "Maschinen-Fabrik O. Lilienthal" represents a stationary, double acting single cylinder steam engine, which could be operated as a wall mounted steam engine or, after small technical changes, also in an horizontal position. With its documented dimensions, the machine belongs to the category of the 'small' steam engine. Control is realised by a eccentric driven flat slide valve. The engine works as a full-pressure-machine without an additional expansion valve.

With it's year of construction being 1889, the machine belongs to the older preserved stationary engines of the German "steam age". This rare machine is in a remarkably good technical condition and after some restoration it is now fully functional.


Particularly impressive is the harmonious design of the machine, which can be seen on different constructional details. Lilienthal himself formulated this in his works sales brochure with the following words: "the design makes a strong impression together with an obliging exterior ".