Electrical drilling machine

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Traffic & Transport
Bridges and Tunnels
1900 - 1909

Austria’s topography is such that the construction of railway lines is always a very complex undertaking, which is why the first tunnels were built by specialists from abroad.

Blasting has been used since the early 17th century to drive adits in tunnel construction and drift mining. Holes were bored into the rock by hand and later by machines and then filled with explosives. After the explosion the blast material was cleared away and the next set of blast holes were drilled.

The drilling machines were driven by compressed air, pressurised water and electricity. Below ground there is always the risk of explosive gases, also known as firedamp, which is why sparking on machinery has to be prevented. Electrically powered equipment must therefore always be fully encapsulated and sealed in design.

The electrically powered percussion drilling machine by Siemens and Halske around 1900 was designed in this way. Portable machines with an external 800 W motor were used in mining. In tunnelling up to four more powerful drilling machines could be mounted onto a drilling jumbo or rig. Each of these machines had a permanently attached 1500 W motor. They were used for the construction of the Karawanken Tunnel, the Wocheiner Tunnel and the Saarstein Tunnel, among others. With this arrangement a daily advance rate of 6 to 7 metres could be achieved.

A pavilion at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 was a showcase for the Austrian Railways. The dioramas, models and archives were subsequently bequeathed to the Historical Museum of Austrian Railways. That is how the working model of the electric percussion drilling machine has been preserved at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) to this day.

Inv.Nr. 42766

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