• FA-120427 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Energy & Mining
Mechanical Engineering
1800 - 1849

Cut-away model of two water-column machines

Why boil water when it will work without steam? Water-column machines work in a similar manner to steam engines.

Instead of steam, motive water moves a piston in a cylinder. The movement is transmitted to a pump. Water-column machines can produce a high power output with a small amount of drive water.

The Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) has two cut-away models of water-column machines. One shows a machine constructed in 1828. The pump was driven using a chain drive. The machine was used for draining a silver mine in Banská Štiavnica (Slovakia). In the other machine, by Georg von Reichenbach, the working piston and pump piston sit on a shared piston rod. To control this simple water-column machine, the taps usually used previously were replaced by pistons.

The original, constructed in 1817 in Ilsank, was part of the Berchtesgaden-Reichenhall-Rosenheim brine pipeline. It could convey 2.6 litres of brine per second. In this section, the liquid was lifted 355 metres. The necessary energy was provided by driving water with a pumping head of 109 metres. The original of this machine can be found in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In addition to its dimensions, its endurance is very remarkable: this machine ran for 110 years with no serious problems.

Manufacturer (model): Samuel Bollinger
Date of origin (model): 1837
Previous owner: K.k. Polytechnisches Institut Wien (Imperial and Royal Polytechnic Institute, Vienna)

Inv.Nr. 20217
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