"Aue" Motor barge fit for permanent use

The "Aue" barge is back on the Alster following extensive restoration work, during which the substance of the museum boat, built in 1926, was thoroughly overhauled and rebuilt. As a result, it can now been preserved for posterity. The work was carried out by the Hamburg-based youth training association Jugend in Arbeit e.V., at their boatyard in Harburg Binnenhafen.

The "Aue" is the last barge on the Alster. It is relatively low and shorter than the other boats on the Alster. This makes it flexible enough to be used on the Alster, the Alster canals, the Fleete canals and the Bille canals around Hammerbrook (City Süd). The ATG wants to start up new trips in this area.

The "Aue" belonged to a fleet of eleven barges used commercially by Alster shipping after the First World War. The barges were built at the Johann Oelker boatyard in Hamburg-Neuhof and were the first motor vessels on the Alster. A century ago the Alster boats were still a quite usual means of local transport in Hamburg. They carried commuters across the Alster virtually round the clock. However, the steamboats in regular use until the Second World War eventually became unprofitable, whilst modern trams, underground railways and buses attracted more and more passengers. In response, Alster shipping, which was run at the time by the Lütgens & Reimers shipping company, improved its provision. Half-open barges had for a long time been conventionally used in the port of Hamburg, and these were now deployed on new lines and at specific times. These motor vessels were inexpensive and could be operated flexibly. In addition, Alster shipping used them for daily tourist trips to the Stadtpark and Ohlsdorf.

After the Second World War, Alster shipping brought four more barges into service, mainly on lines with few transport links. In 1960 the "Aue" - like the "Kollau" barge a year previously - was extensively modernised at the Dutch Neerlandica shipyard in Hillegom, where it was given its present-day appearance. It then became one of the first Alster boats to be equipped with docking magnets, which meant it could be used for low cost one-man operation. It was in regular service until 1989, lastly as a reserve boat. In 1990 the Alster steamboat association acquired the "Aue" on loan as a museum boat. In 1998, it was due to be scrapped because of its poor condition. However, Hamburg's monument conservation office recognised the boat's value and the ATG decided to preserve it for posterity.

 Aue Galerie 1

Conservation of monuments

The "Aue" has been restored to its 1960s condition. From the monument conservation office's point of view, the vessel is noteworthy for its close ties with the city's history. The "Aue" was built and - until its refit in Holland - modernised by traditional Hamburg firms. It was a typical barge, in constant use on the Alster and a testimony to the time when the Alster shipping line still played a part in local transport in Hamburg. The slight alterations are said to have been necessary to improve efficiency.

There are four stages to this historically valuable structure: the hull in1926, the engine built by Jastram in Bergedorf in 1951, the superstructure in a design typical of the times in 1960 and the docking magnets in 1962/65. Engines by Jastram were widely used on Hamburg barges due to their reliability. Refits were routine for Alster boats. The refits of the "Aue" are typical for the time in question and for many alterations to other Alster boats. Thus, the "Aue" is a monument to engineering heritage of great relevance to Hamburg. The monument conservation office believes the preservation of the vessel to be in the public interest, as it is of historical significance and it embodies unique characteristics of the city of Hamburg.

However, the vessel's advancing years had taken their toll. After some enquiries, it was possible to win the services of the "Jugend in Arbeit" association for the restoration of the "Aue", with partial financing and backing from the Hamburg Authority for Economy and Labour. "Jugend in Arbeit" had plenty of experience of working on old vessels and engines. The "Aue" was towed to the association's workshop in Harburg boatyard, where it was completely taken apart. This revealed the overall extent of the damage.

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Serious damage to the hull

First and foremost the hull had to be thoroughly cleaned up and extensively rebuilt. The cause of the damage went back decades: instead of being permanently welded, the underside of the rubbing strake running round the boat had been "cemented" with putty. Splash water had got in behind it, causing the framework supports to corrode. As a result, the plates on these crossbeams of the boat had rusted away. Although well preserved at the core, the plates could not be saved. In the same way, the entire ship was rebuilt for safety reasons. On the other hand, the superstructure and the seats were in good condition and were simply repaired. A toilet and a pantry with refrigerator and sink were installed at the rear of the passenger cabin for enhanced comfort as an excursion boat. The monument conservation office and the Museum of Work were on hand to ensure that work complied with monument conservation requirements.

Most of the original old 3-cylinder engine was kept, although it had piston seizure, a tight bearing and a broken-down frozen cylinder. There were no regular replacement parts, so "Jugend in Arbeit" removed and refurbished the parts from an old 6-cylinder engine of a similar design, including the larger cooling water pumps. The engine, which had previously been cooled directly by seawater, was thus converted to a more environmentally friendly system with two water cycles. Passengers can see the engine in its glazed enclosure, chugging away like it used to. A good understanding of past technology is needed to drive it; not everything can be done at the touch of a button. Firstly, the cylinders have to be preheated and then the engine is started up with compressed air. The "Aue" engine produces this compressed air itself during the journey, as one of the cylinders can work as a compressor, storing the start-up power in two containers.

The work took five years in the end, as "Jugend in Arbeit" often had no suitably qualified workers. The training firm quickly found them in the first labour market: jobless young people, often with no qualifications, but older unemployed people as well. This made "Jugend in Arbeit" a success in terms of its core skills, but meant the "Aue" had to wait. The waiting paid off: the result is a professionally restored museum boat.

Aue Sitzplan

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Technical data

  • Built in 1926, constructor's number 452, by the Johann Oelker boatyard in Hamburg-Neuhof
  • Modernised 1960 at the Neerlandica boatyard in Hillegom near Amsterdam
  • Overhaul / restoration 2004 by Jugend in Arbeit Hamburg e.V.
  • Length over all: 15.95 m
  • Breadth over all: 4.12 m
  • Draught: 1.42 m
  • Highest point above waterline: 2.37 m
  • Displacement: 33 m³
  • Empty weight: 7.3 t
  • Tonnage: 25.7 t
  • Authorised number of passengers: 100
  • Top speed: 14.5 km/h (up to 8 km/h is permitted on the Alster)
  • Engine: 3-cyl. 4-cycle diesel engine, built by Jastram 1951, model KRW3
  • Engine capacity: 55 kW at 580 rpm
  • Transmission: model Konus by Jastram, gear reduction: 1:1, manual reverse gear lever
  • Propeller: 3 blade, 750 mm diameter
  • Rudder: one blade manual rudder with tie rods and chain

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