Rare ship's engine recovered

The Swiss Museum of Transport has added yet another exhibit to its collection. The engine of transport vessel Flora was recovered from Lake Lucerne and taken to the Navigation Hall. This important item of engine history represents the perfect complement to the collection.

It was on Saturday, 9 December 1899 that the MS Flora, a freighter on Lake Lucerne, left Buochs at four in the morning and headed for Seeburg laden with building materials. The sand or gravel she was carrying were destined for an extension being built onto the Hotel Seeburg. A strong northerly wind was blowing across the lake that day. On reaching the section of the lake featuring an underwater sill known as the Kreuztrichter, the vessel ran into difficulties and sank. All five crew members were drowned.

Milestone in the history of engineering
For the Swiss Museum of Transport, the recovery of the engine represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an important artefact in the history of engine construction. The kerosene engine is of immense interest, in that its engineering represents the transition from the steam engine to the petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine. Kerosene-fuelled engines were regarded as more economical than the 19th century's tried-and-tested steam engines: less manpower was required, and less fuel, since there was no need to keep a boiler heated. MS Flora, which sank in 1899, was fitted with a Saurer 12 HP two-cylinder kerosene engine.