Tuesday, January 7, 2014
The Framo company was originally founded as the Frankenberg Metal Works factory by DKW founder Jorge Rasmussen, and his business partners, Paul Figura and Richard Blau. The factory, originally housed in a disused military barracks, turned out metal fittings for DKW motorcycles and cars. In 1924 the factory began building light commercial vehicles. Their first vehicle was a simple tricycle rickshaw powered by a single-cylinder, air-cooled 150cc DKW motorcycle engine. It was a very conventional machine but it did the job and orders began to flow.
Similar in construction and conception to dozens of other delivery trishaws, such as the Brennabor and Tempo. It was manufactured from surplus DKW motorcycle and Lomo scooter parts.
In 1926 Framo released its new transporterwagen. The TV300 was a more substantial vehicle than its predecessor, but remained extremely primitive. It was built entirely of wood with a rear carrying tray. Powered by a 300cc DKW stationary engine mounted atop the single front wheel with a two speed gearbox. It retained tiller steering. A variety of body styles and engine sizes were offered. By 1928 the Frankenburg plant had built 1000 tricycles and employed some 700 people.
In 1930 the transporter was modernised with a simple wooden cab and a three speed gearbox. Designated the LT300, it was still fairly primitive and retained its old fashioned tiller steering.
1933 the transporter was completely modernised receiving a more powerful engine, three speed gearbox with reverse and a fully enclosed cab. The LTH 300 'Liechertransportwagen mit haube' (light transport truck with cab) closely resembled its contemporaries and rivals - Tempo and Goliath. http://tempohanseat.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-history-of-vidal-sons-tempo-werkes.html
A brochure of the LTH range.
Later model LHT range.
An LHT passenger wagen. Customers were always able to order passenger versions of the three wheeled commercial vehicles.
A 1939 prospectus for Framo dreirads. "As strong as a bull... in a class of its own." http://tempohanseat.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/1939-framo-prospect.html
In 1934 Framo released its first four wheeled commercial, the HT600. Powered by an 18 horsepower DKW two-cylinder, water-cooled, two-stroke engine, it was capable of carrying a payload of almost a ton. 1200 were built between 1934 and 1937.
A larger version, the HT1200 was also built, powered by a 1.2 litre Ford four-stroke engine. Although capable of carrying a larger payload, it was more expensive and consequently less popular. Only 250 were built.
Framo V500 & V501
In 1938 the Nazi's implemented a comprehensive rationalisation of the automotive industry. The Schell Plan, named after its author Colonel Adolf Schell, determined which company could produce what. Framo's tricycle and passenger car production was stopped and they were permitted only to produce their new V500 and V501 light truck. Powered by a 500cc DKW two-cylinder, two-stroke engine, in either air-cooled or water-cooled versions. Almost 6000 were built during the war years and served with the Wehrmacht in all theatres.
Framo's Hainichen factories escaped war damage but was systematically stripped by the Soviet engineering corps. Every single item of value, right down to door frames and light switches, were removed, packaged up and shipped off to the USSR. Nevertheless, the factory struggled back into existence building hand carts, wheel barrows and horse drawn wagons. In 1947 some trucks were built from pre-war and war-time stockpiles of spare parts.
In 1948 the new East German government nationalised the factory, which was renamed IFA-Framo. In 1949 the first new trucks began rolling off the production line. The new model, the V900 was externally similar to its predecessor, the V500/1, but featured the new 900cc three-cylinder, two-stroke motor designed for the 1939 DKW F9. This engine was also used in the new IFA F9 which was also unveiled at the Leipzig Motor Show the same year. The engines were built at the former BMW works at Eisenach.
Between 1948 and 1957 Framo improved and enhanced the V900, such as improving fittings and increasing the horsepower of the engine. Production facilities at Hainichen were however limited so some production was transferred to a newly rebuilt factory at Chemnitz. Production of the V900 ceased in 1961 after some 29,000 had been built.
1956 saw the release of a substantially redesigned variant of the Framo V900. Goritz' patent narrow track chassis was employed to allow a low floor platform, while the 900cc two-stroke engine was lowered and moved forward. The cab was also moved to a forward-control, cab-over engine position. The new van was named the Barkas (spark). The company was also changed from IFA Framo to VEB Barkas and a new company logo was established. http://heinkelscooter.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/barkas-prospect.html
In 1961 the old Framo V900 was retired and the Barkas received a new 1000cc two-stroke engine and was renamed the Barkas 1000B. The Barkas would remain in production until 1991 as East Germany's sole light commercial vehicle. The Eastern equivalent of the Volkswagen Transporter, the Barkas was a remarkably versatile vehicle that could carry extraordinary payloads - up to four tons, far more than its little engine would imply! It came in a wide variety of body styles - minibus, enclosed van, drop sided truck, tipping tray - the combinations were endless. In 1990, Volkswagen bought into VEB and began replacing the two-stroke engine with a 1.3 litre four-stroke engine. The attempt to modernise the Barkas, like that of the Trabant, failed and VEB Barkas closed its doors in 1991.
The late model Barkas with a four-cylinder, four-stroke Volkswagen engine.
Information about Framo and Barkas in English is very scarce but they have dedicated followings in Eastern Europe in much the same way as the Volkswagen Transporter has elsewhere. Here are some links-