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MOTOREX Magazine 201296 EN

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MOTOREX Magazine 96 E WEB

Report Photos: public

Report Photos: public domain/M. Gemperle/H. Wyss Off the road, the Schilter TR 1500, like many of its brethren from the Stans manufacturing plant, was a true jack-of-all-trades. Its versatility won the hearts of Switzerland’s alpine farmers. Over 110 employees, full order books, innovative engineering and annual output of 1,000 vehicles – a few facts and figures from the heyday of Schilter Maschinenfabrik & Co. in the late 1960s. Even today these legendary vehicles are treasured workhorses of mountain agriculture. Some 6,500 Schilters are still believed to exist, witnesses to the revolutionary mechanization of the mountains driven forward by the manufacturer from central Switzerland. Thomas Schilter (1930–1999) There is no question that the genetic makeup of father Alois Schilter (1885–1956) included a healthy measure of mechanical and engineering talent. He was trained in the then-newfangled trade of electrician just as electrification was getting started, an occupation that later brought him to central Switzerland together with his wife. A gifted tinkerer, he patented a refrigerator and warming cupboard as early as 1928. His large family – he had three daughters and six sons – faced a hard struggle during the Great Depression between World Wars I and II. In the late 1940s the family settled in Stans with the help of son Josef. 10

Father Alois Schilter was responsible for the electrical outfitting of Schilter machine tools. Alpine farmers were quick to adopt the Schilter Junior into their families. It was thrifty, handled challenging terrain with aplomb and was child’s play to operate. Shortly after the original Schilter was patented, Thomas Schilter was already testing an all-wheel-drive version in the spring of 1959. THOMAS SCHILTER, VISIONARY Born in 1930, Thomas was the family’s second-youngest child. He took a keen interest in his father’s activities in his small home workshop and could often be found there. It was he who one day brought an old one-cylinder engine home from school. Unfortunately, when he tried to start the engine on the parlor floor, it ignited with a bang and broke in two, spilling motor oil across the floor to the great (dis-)pleasure of his mother Lydia. Young Thomas’s technical observations and bold assertions puzzled his teachers more than once. Following his apprenticeship as a machinist and basic military training, he founded the Schilter Brothers Mechanical Workshop in Stans with brother Josef (1916–1998) in 1952. Along with father Alois, the youngest brother Karl Schilter (1933–2005) became the fourth family member to join the business two years later. In addition to various repair services, Thomas oversaw production of the great BF 50 boring mill. Initially intended for in-house use, it was soon available to order, and a coordinate-guided version was even developed. The company was gaining momentum. IDEAS FALL ON FERTILE GROUND Thomas Schilter was always drawn to vehicles. The predominance of agriculture in the local area prompted the 28-year-old to propose an idea for a self-propelled transporter vehicle for mountain agriculture to his brothers. “In 20 years the Americans will be driving a car around on the moon.” T. Schilter, 1944 A rear-wheel drive prototype was built and successfully tested. It was an uncomplicated, easily repaired vehicle with low maintenance requirements. With its nine-horsepower, one-cylinder gasoline engine, young Schilter sought to replace the single-axle motor mowers with drive-axle trailers that were in widespread use at motorex Magazine I July 2012 11

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