Bizzare Rituals Of A German Factory Cult

A turbocharger would fit in your hands if you pulled it off a car. The same part on an ocean liner’s engine is big as a studio apartment. Even if you understand the scale, this look at where some of the world’s biggest engines are made is just jaw-dropping to behold.

MAN Diesel And Turbo builds engines for all kinds of things from construction vehicles to commercial trucks, but those look like Lego toys compared to the massive machines that power ships like what we’re seeing assembled here.

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If you think the piston at 00:23 is huge, the crankshaft ten seconds later will blow your mind. My favorite is the turbine wheel at 02:35 and whatever that spinning thing everybody’s torching at 01:45 is! Is it weird that I’ve watched this like six times?

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Hat tip to Anthony!


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.

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DISCUSSION

I actually work for a company that does industrial turbomachinery repair so I can shed some light on what’s going on.

The rotor at 0:43 is a steam turbine, and a big one at that. Most aren’t this size. At 0:48, it’s hard to tell but they’re either machining a steam turbine on a CNC lathe or the rotor is in a balance machine (similar to how they balance wheels at Discount, just way more sophisticated).

At 0:55, that’s a combined axial/radial flow compressor. Flow is from left to right, so the wheel on the right is the last stage of the compressor. Looks like they’re doing final assembly of the whole machine train.

At 1:03, that is the bottom half of a steam turbine case. Given how it’s arranged, the steam turbine will most likely be driving the compressor just previously shown.

At 1:05, it’s a steam turbine case. You can see the stationary blades in the foreground. They are installing what looks to be the radial bearing.

At 1:12, they are broaching blade slots for an axial flow compressor.

At 1:16, the guy is machining a combined axial/radial flow compressor. I can’t see the cutting head so I don’t know what exactly he is machining.

At 1:27, the guy is installing steam turbine blades into the rotor body. All steam turbine blades have to be installed by hand. From his motions, he is checking to make sure he has no gaps between the blades with feeler gauges, and is also installing wedges underneath the blades to preload the blades against their hook fits.

At 1:40, it’s a pretty impressive view of several process trains being assembled. These are most likely destined for a process plant of some kind (chemical, petrochemical, etc.).

At 1:42, they are removing the balance drum from a multistage centrifugal compressor. The balance drum (and all of the compressor wheels) are held onto the shaft by interferences fits. They are using torches to heat up the balance drum and it will eventually fall off. It looks as if they have also cooled the shaft to help the removal process (the white color is all the condensate).

At 1:48, I’m not sure what that is. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a gas turbine train.

At 1:57, they’re showing the inside of some process plant. Everything else up to this point as been in a repair shop. The bright blue machine train that they focus on is a centrifugal compressor (with its top lid off) attached to a gearbox. I can’t see the other side of the gearbox so I don’t know what’s driving the whole train.

At 2:04, the guy is working on a small, high pressure centrifugal compressor.

Not sure what the guy is lowering in place at 2:09.

At 2:19, the guy is lowering the top half of the compressor case onto the bundle.

2:33, they are machining a huge open-faced centrifugal compressor wheel.

And finally, at 2:52, they are moving what looks to be a fully assembled centrifugal compressor.