Wirtgen: Over 30 years and still going strong
The good old milling machines are still around. Although no longer youngsters, they are still functioning and as reliable as when they were new. Day after day, an SF 1000 C, built in 1991 and owned by Borkowski GmbH in Langerwehe, proves that Wirtgen milling machines keep their promise of enduring quality.
Strong and powerful
Everyone who sees the pristine paintwork and wonderful condition of this bright blue treasure when she rolls out of the company’s garage is absolutely amazed. In comparison with today’s ergonomically designed milling machines, this massive lump of steel has something of the rugged, almost unfinished, looks of a little, old-fashioned diesel locomotive. There’s no cabin roof, and no trace at all of assistance systems, cameras or high-tech equipment. Helmut Borkowski, an independent contractor since 1990, and the proud owner of this little gem, is used to hearing such reactions. ‘We once took the old girl to the Wirtgen plant, and everyone was called out of the workshops to see her. When we take her out on a job, people sometimes make fun of us when they see our SF 1000 C being rolled off her trailer. But she still does exactly what she was built for and works just as well as she did 30 years ago.
The first new
For Borkowski, the SF 1000 C was the first machine the only recently founded company bought new. Since then, the machine has clocked up over 7,000 operating hours, and her absolute milling record was 3,200 m² in a single day – pretty impressive performance in the early 1990s. Today, the machine is primarily deployed on relatively small sites of around 300 to 400 square meters. Although her milling depth performance is no longer what it was (8 cm instead of 10), customers appreciate her maneuverability and speed and order her specifically for their projects. ‘Customers often say: bring out the old machine – you can take the conveyor off it and you can mill at a 90° angle to the direction of travel – you can’t do that with one of those big machines.’ In this respect, the SF 1000 C actually has a competitive edge over a modern W 50.
The milling machine whisperers
Not only Helmut Borkowski, but also his colleagues Marco Mosebach and Udo Lehwald have worked with. ‘She’s a real classic – if she was a car, she’d have to join a vintage car club’, says Marco Mosebach. So it’s no wonder that the company’s three ‘old hands’ are the only ones allowed at her controls. ‘The old machine-operator adage still holds true’, says Marco with a smile. ‘Look at me and look at the milling drum, then you know who you’re dealing with.’
Udo Lehwald, recalls an emergency call-out to a snowbound motorway in the middle of the night. The fuel tank of a truck had burst, and gallons of diesel oil had spilled out and soaked into the road surface. ‘I wouldn’t have been able to make it there on my own, so a quickly organised convoy of a snow plough, a road sweeper and a gritter cleared the way for me and the SF 1000 C from here to the scene of the incident.’ It all went well, and the machine showed her particular talents again.
Since the beginning, Helmut Borkowski has always attached great importance high-quality features and equipment for his machines – and the SF 1000 C was not left out. When automatic pivoting of the right rear wheel became standard, the old milling machine was naturally on the list. Although the machine is not equipped with the latest dust extraction systems, Borkowski was one of the first to upgrade his entire fleet of front loaders with this cutting-edge technology.
Best spare parts service – always available and always solutions-oriented
As qualified car mechanics and machine fitters, Marco and Udo know all the little ailments of their classic machine, and exactly what to do when they appear. It helps enormously that Wirtgen genuine spare parts are still available. And, in the rare case that they aren’t, as happened recently when the pump broke down, the Wirtgen service team checks the maintenance part, overhauls it and sends it back in no time at all.
Lehwald grins as he recalls an incident where a hydraulic hose ruptured during milling at night and left the SF 1000 C stranded across two tram tracks. Fortunately, he had a replacement hose in the toolbox, remained calm and collected in the hectic race to clear the tracks, and had the machine out of the way and working again in around 45 minutes. These days, if a machine breaks down on the project site, Wirtgen Spare Parts Service is on the spot almost right away.
No reason to look back – today’s technology from Wirtgen impresses across the board
Nostalgia is all well and good, but the Borkowski team certainly appreciates the benefits of the latest generations of Wirtgen milling machines. ‘The most important thing’, says Helmut Borkowski, ‘is that the operator’s job is made easier with every new generation. The numerous different assistance systems make it easier and easier to deliver good results. The operator’s workplace is bigger and more clearly structured, the rear crawler unit is steerable and the hourly performance is higher.’
Borkowski has grown along with the Wirtgen Group portfolio – also because of increasing demands and tighter completion deadlines. The customer has a fleet of ten Wirtgen small milling machines, four Wirtgen compact milling machines, three Wirtgen large milling machines and a Vögele mobile feeder that are all in service and ready to go at any time. These days, the once common modifications are a thing of the past and more or less limited to changing the milling drums – and even that is now much easier, thanks to the quick-change system.
Whether for pavement removal, profiling, surface rehabilitation, or cutting joints – the spectrum of applications is enormous. And, if you keep your eyes open, you might catch a glimpse of a classic milestone from the history of cold milling – a bright blue Wirtgen SF 1000 C.