Shutdown - turned off

Initially, we had no idea how to handle this season at all. Having just returned from Düsseldorf, we, the Lanz Bulldog Team, immediately started our preparations for this year’s Sinsheim Patrimony Days and the corresponding parades and festivities.  In June, this year’s Agri Historica would have taken place, for the first time in cooperation with the Lanz Bulldog Tractor Convention which had been relocated from Speyer to Sinsheim. In August, the Sawing Machine Convention was planned. In addition, tractor conventions such as the so-called “Dreschfest” of our friends in Dühren or the cosy Palatine-style Vintage Car Convention of our friends in Römerberg were scheduled. Various events. Additionally, we had planned to showcase some of the Bulldog types that had not seen the sunlight for a while. We were excited as always when a new season starts. In May, the annual BRAZZELTAG with its spectacular ferry ride near Brühl would have been on the agenda.

I remember very well how, last year, we were driving down the access ramp to the Rhine at crawling speed in pouring rain. While keeping a close eye on the ferry’s wet and slippery bulb plate as well as the attached shepard’s wagon, we were wondering if the combination of factors, especially with the hard tractor tyres, would eventually turn into a disaster. Just shortly before, at Rhine kilometre no. 387 near Rheinsheim, people had been searching for Germany’s oldest steam locomotive which had sunk in 1852. In vain. At least, it would have been easy to find the HR8 from 1938, be it on the bottom of the river or hanging on the bow of an oil tank passing undeterred.  In German engineering language you would say “µ = about 0.2”, which describes the minimum friction coefficient of rubber on steel, wet as I said. But what now? Suddenly, as if we were in a surreal dream, both Lanz, the D8506 driven by Walter in front of me and the HR8 driven by me, drove backwards. At the same time. Backwards? By themselves, as if by magic. 

Maybe they do exist after all, those evil spirits of the locomotive that sank in 1852. Or were the Lanz Bulldogs scared of water? Had those veterans, produced before the end of war, already been equipped with rain and lane departure sensors? You wish! The reason were most probably their intimidated pilots, who continuously reduced the idling speed in order not to – well, we’ve already talked about this – until eventually, the Bulldogs changed the rotating direction of their engines. That happens faster than you would expect. In fact, the two-stroke hot-bulb engines don’t care at all if they turn the right or the “wrong” way around. In the short run at least. What I mean is: they don’t care if you use the forward gears to actually drive forward or not.

“Come on, just keep driving, dear god...,” the ferryman, talking in a strong German dialect, also seemed to be very thrilled about our plan to board the ferry. We, however, were busy trying to get our rumbling hot-bulb engines to turn in the right direction again. At least, on the way home, I was told – also in a strong German dialect – “Man, you always organise such awesome things, that’s really great. On the Rhine with a Lanz, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” Proudly, we accepted Helga Schäfer’s compliments, who also came in a vintage vehicle, of course.

That was in 2019. In 2020, we all have other things to worry about. Since, in a way, the virus is absolutely fatal, but then again, it is not all that scary, except for the fact that it has turned into a global catastrophe. Masks are absolutely useless, but then again, they save lives. All large-scale events are cancelled and all shops are closed, except for the ones that are open. And apparently, this distance keeping seems to be a thing, 1.5 m they say. But that is politics. Controversial. At least, they are planning to reopen the museum in Sinsheim on May 6th and the one in Speyer on May 11th. For the museum and our visitors, I hope that we will soon have open doors and halls full of happy faces again, with the necessary precautions and the respective mindset, of course.

This leaves me with only a few words left to say: stay healthy, dear fans. And most of all, as Walter Röhrl would say in his dialect: stop complaining, go into your garage to get your car (and your Bulldog) ready. In 2021, you will hardly be able to make excuses such as “I never have time, I just haven’t been able to do it yet” ...

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