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An O&K RH 120 at work stripping overburden at a Britsish Coal open cast site in 1988, operated by Budge

Orenstein & Koppel (normally abbreviated to "O&K"), is a major German engineering company, and was founded on April 1, 1876 in Berlin by Benno Orenstein and Arthur Koppel.

Originally a general engineering company, O&K soon started to specialise in the manufacture of railway vehicles. The company's other specialisms included heavy equipment and escalators. O&K pulled out of the railway business in 1981, and sold its escalator manufacturing division to the Kone Corporation of Finland in 1996, leaving the company to focus primarily on construction machines. The construction machine business was eventually sold to the FIAT Group and have since been sold to Terex.


After the turn of the century, O&K built bucket chain trencher, first from wood and after 1904, completely from steel; these were propelled by steam or oil engines. O&K also made a railway trenchers for work in heavy soils. In 1922 they manufactured their first caterpillar crawler steam shovel. From 1926 steam engines were replaced by diesel engines, with earlier steam units converted to diesel power as the need arose.

O and K merged with a kerosene engine builder, which were sold under the O&K banner. In the First World War, O and K built engines and cars of all sizes which were essential to the national goals. Strangely, all the combatants used 60 cm gauge light railways on the Western front. (See Decauville, and Railway Operating Division.)

With the collapse of Imperial Germany in November of 1918 and seizing all army Feldbahn engines as per the terms of the Versailles Treaty which ended the First World war, the Allies put further restrictions on German manufacturing and military capacity.

This treaty also removed access to the export markets so much that at the end of 1925 work stopped for three months. Business recovered later however and up to 1935 produced 5,299 locomotives and altogether 9,371 units up to the last delivery in January 1942.

Steam locomotives of the Series 50 type were produced in the 1930s also standard rail gauge vehicles; besides the Feldbahn contracts. Notable items built in this period were cutting edge diesel locomotives and Series 44 and 50 Steam engines for the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft or German national railway company.

O&K Cranes

The company was notable manufacturer of early steam cranes used in quarrying and on the railways. These developed int rope operated excvators.

The emphasis on the heavy engineering manufacturing starting from 1949 lies with the Building of railroad cars and with construction machines, in particular Excavators.

O&K Tractors

O&K built a number of tractor models from the 1930s through till the end of the 1950s.[1]

The Hydraulic excavator years

A mighty O&K RH 120 from the rear with Land Rover parked next to it to indicate the scale of this 290 ton machine

An O&K RH 9 face shovel used for cleaning up and coal extraction on the smaller seams. At a UK open cast site in 1988

A O&K RH 30-D Excavator with short dipper and heavy duty undercarriage for heavy duty quarry work. A Cat D250B ADT is parked behind. Both on overburden removal at a British Coal open cast site in the 1980s.

In 1961 O&K manufactured for the first time in Europe a series of fully hydraulic excavators. They have manufactured over 55.000 hydraulic excavators so far, of which more than 700 are of over 100 tons service weight, also the largest Hydraulic excavator of the world at 900 tons service weight, an engine performance of 2984 kilowatts (4055 HP) and a shovel capacity of over 52 Cubic meters. Beating the previous record held by Demag with the Demag H485 and revised version the Demag H485SP weighing in at over 700 ton. Both the O&K RH400 and the Demag H685SP are working in Syncrude's Oil-Sands operations in Alaska.

In 1986 O&K bought FAUN who built a range of off highway Dump Trucks that went up to a 100 ton capacity, to compliment the excavator range. FAUN also manufactured wheel loaders and owned the Trojan Industries line. But by 1996 O&K was selling Terex built dump trucks. Terex bought O&K out from Fiat, and the Faun on highway and Heavy Haulage business was sold off.

The escalator-manufacturing division was sold to the company's majority shareholder at the time, Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, in 1996.[2] The construction-equipment business was sold to New Holland Construction, at the time part of the Fiat Group, in 1999.[3][4]

The O&K Mining brand and factories, which passed to the Terex group, have now being sold on to Bucyrus were they complimented the large rope shovel lines for mining and quarrying.

In 2010 Caterpillar Inc. of the USA bought Bucyrus to expand it coverage in the growing quarrying sector were they were the No.1 supplier of dump trucks.

Model Range

A pair of O&K RH 6 machines parked up at side of road

Early Machines

1980's Mining Machines

  • O&K RH 40 105 Ton
  • O&K RH 70 122 Ton
  • O&K RH 75 (unknown size) ?
  • O&K RH 90 172 Ton
  • O&K RH 120 287 Ton
  • O&K RH 170 394 Ton
  • O&K RH 200 525 Ton
  • O&K RH 300 530 Ton Discontinued
  • O&K RH 340 547 Ton
  • O&K RH 400 MkII 965 ton 4,600 hp (the worlds largest Hydraulic shovel to date)

UK Machines

One of the earliest customers for the biggest mining machines like the RH 120 and RH 200 was UK coal operator NSM (Northern Strip Mining Ltd) in the 1980. Other opencast operators such as R.J.Budge and successor company UK Coal have had large fleets of the RH 200 for the biggest jobs but after completion these machines have been sold abroad as the UK market has contracted in that most of the super size reclamation / open cast sites on former Underground pit sites have finished now. The latest super site in Wales has opted for Komatsu excavators.

  • There are a couple of RH 200's parked up at the Waverley site (Orgreave) at Catcliffe near Sheffield.

See also

Reference / sources

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
O&K Terex O&K Product line O&K Engines List

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