Stuttgart. The diverse permanent exhibition of the Mercedes-Benz Museum presents 160 vehicles and a total of 1.500 exhibits. The “33 extras” are a special component: They bring mobility history and automotive culture to life using the example of often surprising details. The Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside newsletter series draws attention to the "33 extras" and brings their stories to the point. Today's episode is about the car wash and its technology.
20/33: The car wash
Clean appearance: If you value your car, you not only drive it, but also look after it - the body as well as the interior. Numerous tools are available for car washing and cleaning. This also includes the “plumeau spécial pour automobiles”, one of the “33 extras” in the permanent exhibition of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. This frond of ostrich feathers gently removes dust as early as the early 20th century. Back then, it lays on the paintwork while driving over the mostly unpaved roads. A practical detail: the wooden handle can be unscrewed so that the utensil can be stowed in a cardboard tube to save space.
Car wash with sponge and water
Ritual: A car wash with a sponge and water helps against stubborn dirt. It developed into a real ritual in the Federal Republic of Germany, especially in the 1960s. Since the "economic miracle" of the 1950s, more and more people have been able to fulfill their dream of owning a car. This not only changes individual mobility, but you are also proud of your new possession. On Saturday afternoon, the car is carefully hand washed and polished to a shine. The ritual is perfect when there is also a football report on the car radio.
Principle of the assembly line: In the United States of America, mass motorization begins earlier than in Europe. The first car washes are also being built here. Frank McCormick and JW Hinkle are considered to be their pioneers. In 1914 they opened their first car wash in Detroit. You can look at the principle from the assembly lines of the automotive industry: a clear division of labor between different stations along a production line. However, the system is not yet implemented mechanically. Instead, employees first push the vehicles through the system, where the individual work steps are also carried out manually.
Automation: Today, machine washing systems have long since established themselves. In 1962, the German inventors Johann Sulzberger and Gebhard Weigele applied for a patent for such an “automatic vehicle wash system”. The cleaning technology revolves around the car with two rotating brushes on rails. There are still similar cleaning units in modern washing systems. However, they are no longer covered with bristles, but work more gently with textile or foam strips.
Portal or Street: There are two strategies for automatic car washing: Either the car stands in a gantry system on the spot while brushes and nozzles pass over it, or it is pulled mechanically through a car wash. During this trip through the car wash, you sit in the vehicle and can experience the process through the windows. This is made even more convenient, for example, by the Mercedes-Benz car wash function, as it is in the GLS and GLA. With just one command, the exterior mirrors can be folded in, the side windows and sunroof closed, the rain sensor switched off and the air conditioning set to recirculation mode. When driving out of the car wash, the automatic resets all settings as soon as the vehicle accelerates to more than 20 km / h.
Complete program: Over the years, there are more and more work steps involved in washing, for example drying and, above all, preserving. Hot wax protects, among other things, the beautiful car paint after cleaning. Nowadays you don't have to worry about the environment, even with premium care with all the extras. Because the current technology largely recycles the water used and filters out critical substances such as oil.
Do it yourself: Many car owners still wash their vehicles by hand today. There are a few things to consider. For example, the ADAC warns that car washing on the street is prohibited in most German municipalities. And on your own property you may only clean with clear water and a sponge or brush - in addition, the waste water produced must not enter the sewer system or waterways. It is therefore best to choose special wash boxes for thorough hand washing, such as those offered at petrol stations and car washes. Coarse dirt can also be removed with the high-pressure cleaner and the paintwork can then be washed with car shampoo. In addition, retailers and workshops offer a wide range of care products.
Service: For authorized workshops, car washing is one of the maintenance and repair services. Historical photographs from the archives of Mercedes-Benz Classic show how the technology installed for this in the brand's branches and authorized workshops has continuously developed over the years.
Museum: Cleanliness and care also play an important role for the 160 classics in the Mercedes-Benz Museum. They are cleaned of dust every day. Soft cloths are used here - and feather dusters like the “plumeau spécial pour automobiles” from the “33 Extras” series. Especially on Mondays, when the museum is closed to visitors, there is time for the more complex care and polishing. In the oldest vehicles, in addition to the paint, the brass is also brought to a high gloss.
Of course that had not happened yet!
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Cleaning technology over time!
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