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De La Vergne compressor

The De La Vergne company was founded in the USA by a Frenchman, hence the name of the company, which means ‘alder’ in the French region of Limousin. It specialised in refrigerating devices for breweries, but also in ice block factories, which were still widely used before the invention of fridges.

The company would then be taken over by Baldwin, which focused on producing diesel engines for locomotives and tanks.


The Wielemans brothers, who were very keen on innovation, found out about this compressor during a study trip. This machine has been purpose-built for Wielemans, and has been transported into small parts.The quality of this machine is exceptional, especially at a time where computers did not exist!


The De La Vergne compressor was deactivated in the 1920s. It seems that it was not producing enough “cold”.


The restoration will aim to set the compressor in motion again, so that the flywheel and the crankshaft can rotate again. Then we will clean the machine with soap and a hand brush, thus removing the dust and anything that does not adhere to its surface. We will then take off the rust by hand as well. We will only bring back to the naked metal the outer part of the flywheel with a metallic brush, while preserving the existing slots.


We will rebuild the ladder to access the upper platform; it will be identical to the one that existed previously.


We will carry out a study to set the engine back in motion at a slow pace with a small electric engine. If the results are conclusive, we will apply the results to the compressor.

The illustration shows the “steam” part, which was removed around 1935 to be replaced by the Ingersoll Rand compressors. The Sulzer compressor was operational since its installation in 1905.

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