Diesel Centrale CPM Exhibit

The Coolspring Power Museum volunteers are embarking on a very exciting project to restore our MAN air-blast diesel engine to operation and to provide an appropriate display area for it.  It will be the oldest operating diesel engine in existence.  Diesel Centrale CPM, our new display area, will be the home to the MAN engine and several other historic diesel engines.

We need your support to complete this important project.

MAN Diesel Engine

The MAN is a diesel engine in that it uses air heated by compression in the cylinder to ignite fuel injected directly into the cylinder.  Modern diesel engines use "solid injection" where liquid fuel is directly pressurized and sprayed into the cylinder.  Before the successful development of solid injection, the MAN and early engines like it used high-pressure air to inject and atomize the fuel.  This class of engines became known as "air-blast injection" engines.

MAN Engine Nameplate

The MAN air-blast diesel engine is serial number 185 and was built in Augsburg, Germany, in 1903. It was sold to Siemens and Halske of Hamburg, Germany, to be fitted with a direct current generator.  Please read our detailed description of the engine for additional information.


On March 16,1903, it was shipped to the North Sea island of Helgoland where it powered a lift, or elevator, to take passengers from the southeast coastal plain and beach to the higher central part of the island.

Helgoland Lift  Helgoland Lift

The height of this lift was 50 meters. In the photo on the left note the staircase for scale.  The MAN and its generator were housed in a building at the base of the lift.  It served faithfully until 1928, when Henry Ford purchased it for his museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Helgoland Lift Ruins

It was fortunate that the engine and generator found a new home in Michigan.  During World War II, Helgoland was the target of an intense bombing campaign by the British Royal Air Force in April 1945.  The lift and much of the surrounding infrastructure were badly damaged or destroyed.

The MAN was proudly displayed at the Henry Ford Museum for many years until it was de-accessioned by the museum.  It went through several collections, including a period at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Rockland, Maine. Then a benevolent donor placed it at Coolspring Power Museum.

MAN Building

Our goal is to bring this historic engine back to running condition for the education and enjoyment of our visitors.  In addition refurbishing the engine, we will be constructing a “period correct" building to house this engine.  The drawing above shows a concept for the building.  In fact, there will be three additional museum-owned engines added later as expansions to the air-blast injection engine exhibit continue.

You can participate in the funding of this project in several ways with your tax-deductible donation!  Please consider making a financial contribution to support the MAN project.  Visit our Contribute page for more information on financial contributions and to obtain a copy of our Contribution form.

We offer the option to contribute to the MAN engine project via PayPal.  Click the Donate button below to begin your donation transaction.

We also offer the option for you to make a contribution via our GoFundMe MAN Project account.

MAN Brick Poster

We are also offering you the opportunity to contribute to the project by purchasing donor bricks engraved with your personal message that will become part of the new building.  Bricks are available in 4x8-inch format and in 8x8-inch formats with denominations from $100 to $10,000.  Please use these links to obtain the printable order form for your choice of brick:

Support the project by purchasing Coolspring Power Museum beverage mugs, hats, and shirts.  We have a number of items for sale online through our affiliation with Sew Vivid Designs.

CPM ABI Merchandise

Please visit the Sew Vivid Designs CPM Merchandise Page for information on products and to place orders.

Help make our MAN diesel run by purchasing photos related to this engine.  Proceeds from sales of the photos support the MAN engine project.  Please see our MAN Photos page for further details.

We thank you for your generous contribution.  Please support and follow this exciting project as it develops!

Diesel Centrale CPM Progress Reports

Progress Report - November 2020

The MAN/ABI project is moving forward after the preliminary work has been completed.  The site selected for the building will be just north of the water tower on the hill near our Pat's Place and Exley Station exhibits.  This location will afford a pleasant approach.  The plans and building design are coming along nicely.

The building will take on the appearance of a German power house from the turn of the 20th century.  Architectural details will include wide eaves, a gable roof with composite tiles to mimic the German terra cotta tile, large swing doors with big hinges, and arched windows that are narrow and tall. The interior will feature a period ceramic tile floor with a wainscot wall area of tile behind the engines, just as a power house should have. Of course, the building will include brick pavers with the inscriptions of donors, present and future.  The exterior is to be brick while the interior is post and beam construction.

The foundation drawings have been submitted to the contractor awaiting insertion in their schedule. 

When the building is complete, we will have an exciting, world-class power house exhibit. It will first house our MAN air-blast engine.  Next year we will receive a Graz air-blast engine to include in the exhibit.  Finally, we will add a Benz engine.  Together, these three engines will represent twenty years of Diesel evolution.

The museum is offering for sale a professionally-produced photograph of our MAN engine at Coolspring Power Museum.  The photograph is available on our MAN Photos page.  Please join us in our enthusiasm for this project, support the project, and follow our progress!

Progress Report - December 2020

We listed the architectural details of the MAN/ABI building in November 2020 report.  Our goal is to have the building resemble the appearance of a German power house from the turn of the 20th century.

MAN Building Elevation

Here is the latest set of elevation views of the building.  You can see how it has evolved from the earlier concept shown on this page.

Trusses and Roof Deck

The photo above shows what we will be trying to achieve with the post and beam construction, roof trusses, and roof decking.  At this point in time we are working to finalize details of the building design before moving on to foundation work.

Progress Report - March 2021

Planning work for the building continues.  Our architect refined the details of the building and produced these new drawings.

ABI Building 2021 Feb 18

Note revisions to the front and right-side doors.  Also, a round window now adds a touch of visual interest to the right-side gable.  It should also introduce some light to the post and beam roof trusses.

ABI Building Interior 2021 Feb 24

Details of the interior also received attention.  This view shows the placement of the engine, details of the tile wall treatment, and concepts for installation of lighting fixtures.

Progress Report - April 2021

Be sure to read the April 2021 edition of The Flywheel, our online history series.  Paul Harvey tells the story of the museum's Benz Type R engine that will be located in the MAN/ABI building.

Benz at CPM  Benz Restoration  Benz Parts

Progress Report - May 2021

In the May 2021 edition of The Flywheel, Paul Harvey provides an update on the site preparations and design work for the MAN/ABI building.

    ABI Site  ABI Plan

Progress Report - June 2021

Take a trip to Germany in the June 2021 edition of The Flywheel.  Paul Harvey tells the story of the historic Graz engine that will be part of our air-blast injection engine exhibit.

Dr. Busch  Dr. Busch at Air Compressor

Progress Report - August 2021

The dream is becoming a reality.  Construction of the MAN/ABI building has begun! In the August 2021 edition of The Flywheel, Paul Harvey provides an update on the status of the building project.

ABI Building Foundation 

Progress Report - September 2021

Sump Tank 

A 1,250 gallon sump tank has been buried.  It will collect the engine cooling water to be recirculated to an overhead tank.

Graz Foundation 

The Graz foundation has been poured.  It required 26 1/2 yards of concrete.

Tank Columns 

These four concrete columns will support a 1,000 gallon overhead tank for cooling water.

ABI Foundation

The foundation cleaned up and ready for the upcoming work.  Fourteen inches of top soil and debris have been removed, and now the floor work begins.

Progress Report - October 2021

Radiant Heating

The building will have underfloor heating.  All the hydronic heating tubing is in place and tested.  Now the contractor is awaiting a nice day day to pour the floor.  Also, note in the background that the tank for engine cooling water is installed on the concrete columns.

Progress Report - December 2021

ABI Building Floor

Our contractor poured the concrete floor for the building on November 24, 2021.  To prevent winter damage, the concrete block wall was filled with concrete.  With those tasks done, the area around the building is being back graded.

To the right, this photo also shows the overhead cooling water tank for the building.

Progress Report - January 2022

The ABI Building project now has an official name:  Diesel Centrale CPM

This name is inspired by the Diesel Centrale powerhouse in Austria that holds several Graz engines.  Diesel Centrale provided electricity for the surrounding industry and operated from the early 1900s until the 1950s. It remains intact.

Diesel Centrale CPM Logo  Diesel Centrale - Austria

The floor and foundation for the Diesel Centrale CPM building are now covered and prepared for the winter.  Construction activities will resume in the spring.

Floor Covered

Progress Report - July 2022

This month the focus of the project shifted to the city of Hof in the Bavarian region of Germany.  Mike Murphy, Tom Stockton, and Jonah Close of CPM traveled to Hof to work with Dr. Friedrich Busch and several local engine collectors to document, disassemble, and pack the Graz engine for shipment to Coolspring.  Following a final run of the Graz, the crew went to work.

Dr. Busch and Graz  Preparing Top End 

Dr. Busch and the Graz as disassembly begins.  Local engine collectors also assisted, shown here working on the top end of the engine. 

Timing Gear  Cylinder Lift

The lower end of the engine shows the beautiful machine work on the parts as well as the excellent condition of the engine.  Removing the cylinder from the engine was just one of the delicate, heavy lifts required for the disassembly and packing operation. 

Cylinder Off Base  Engine Base on Pallet

With the cylinder moved aside, the engine base and crankshaft were exposed.  Initial packing involved strapping large components to pallets.

Cylinder Head on Pallet  Lifting Flywheel

The cylinder head and camshaft now on a pallet.  A flywheel half was another heavy lift.  The forklift proved to be handy for this work.

Cylinder and Base on Pallets  Truck Loaded

With most of the engine components boxed or on pallets, it became apparent just how many parts make up the Graz engine.  The shipment occupied much of the floor of the truck. After final packaging, the Graz engine will be on its way to its new home in Diesel Centrale CPM.

Progress Report - August 2022

Diesel Centrale Walls Up

Back in Coolspring, our construction crew has been busy!  The walls of the Diesel Centrale CPM building are now up.  The next step will be to add roof trusses.

Diesel Centrale CPM First Roof Trusses

Speaking of roof trusses... The first two trusses for the building arrived on site.  Paul Harvey's classic International West Coaster expedited the delivery.

Progress Report - September 2022

Roof Trusses

Thanks to Stewart McKinley and Paul's West Coaster, all eight roof trusses are now on site. 

Roof Truss Preparation

The trusses are fabricated steel with wood attached to them to carry the roof panels. 

Roof Deck

The building is taking it final form with the trusses in place and roofing materials being installed.  The roof system should be sturdy and will give the interior of the building an interesting, industrial ambience. 

Roof Weatherproof

At last, the building has a complete, waterproof roof.  The roof system gives a clear span with plenty of free height beneath.

Roof Tiling

Although they resemble classic terra cotta roof tiles, the tiles being installed are actually a lightweight synthetic made from recycled materials. 

Progress Report - October 2022

The building now has a complete roof and we received a much-anticipated delivery.

Roof Complete

The roof tile installation is complete.  This building will have a very distinctive appearance at the museum.  Trim details are soon to follow. 

Graz Arrives

On October 5 a truck arrived in Coolspring with a very precious cargo aboard.  The Graz engine was finally here!  It took several years of planning, and a long wait through the COVID-19 pandemic, but the engine completed its 4000+ mile journey from Hof, Germany, to Coolspring.

Graz Unloading 1

On a beautiful, sunny morning, the crew stepped into action and began unloading crates of engine parts from the truck. 

Graz Unloading 2

Once offloaded, the crates were moved into storage for the winter.  The forklift definitely got a workout on this delivery. 

Graz Storage

The Graz engine components were well-packaged before shipment.  They will remain in storage until the Diesel Centrale CPM building is ready for them.  It's a great relief for all involved to see this shipment at its destination!

Progress Report - April 2023

Construction of the building is resuming after a break for the winter.  Windows were recently installed.

Diesel Centrale CPM with Windows

Also, the door openings have been framed for the doors that we selected. Doors will soon be installed, followed by insulation and masonry work.  Preparations are under way for installation of electrical components.

Progress Report - May 2023

The brick exterior of the building is complete and doors are installed.  It's time for a tour!

Brick Installed

Adding the brick really enhances the appearance of the building and gives it character.  It has warmth even on a cloudy, rainy day.

East Wall

The doors provide the scale of the interior and the elegant windows are inspired by the arch-top windows of the original Diesel Centrale.

Roof Trusses

Steel roof trusses give the building an appropriately industrial ambiance.  We're looking forward to seeing how they complement the interior finishes and lighting.

Benz Foundation

The foundation for the Benz engine is the simplest of the three foundations in the building, but is substantial nonetheless.

Graz Foundation

Massive, deep, and complex, the foundation for the Graz engine is in the center of the building.

Augsburg Foundation

The Augsburg/MAN engine will be installed on this foundation in the not too distant future.

Progress Report - June 2023

Building Exterior

The building really shines on a sunny day!  Also note that exterior lighting fixtures are installed.

Benz Engine in Diesel Centrale CPM

First engine in the building is the Benz.  Compare this photo with the restoration photos from April 2021, above.  Placed temporarily for now, it will soon be fastened to its foundation.

Progress Report - October 2023

Drywall and Paint

With the building exterior nearing completion, it's time to concentrate on the interior.  Drywall is in place and first paint work is under way.  The drywall will provide a "canvas" for any future finishes.

Benz Engine

The interior is now much brighter!  The Benz engine will have a good home and will be well displayed in this corner of the building.

Progress Report - November 2023

Graz Nameplate

It's been a long journey.  Parts of the Graz engine are being unpacked after their trip from Germany.  This photo shows the engine's nameplate on the cylinder.

Graz Base

The base, crankshaft, and cylinder are staged in temporary storage and are being readied for installation in the new building.  The piston and connecting rod are already secured in the cylinder.

Graz Flywheel

Last seen suspended from a forklift in Germany (July 2022, above), the halves of the Graz flywheel await their turn to be reinstalled on the crankshaft.

Progress Report - December 2023

Diesel Centrale at Night

The lights are on and it's time for some "night shift" work.  This night's job was to move parts of the Graz engine from temporary storage into the Diesel Centrale CPM building and stage them there for assembly.

Carrying Graz Flywheel

Each half of the Graz flywheel made a short trip from temporary storage via forklift. 

Graz Parts

This photo shows the Benz engine (left) and some major parts of the Graz, including the flywheel halves, cylinder, and base with the crankshaft.

Graz Parts

The heating system in the building is now operating so that engine assembly and installation can proceed through the winter months.

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