Type 69-M-6/1 bending machine: built around 1973

Reunion: hydraulic bending machine from 1973 at Röthlisberger Haustechnik

It was only by chance that we heard about one of Jorns’ first hydraulic bending machines; it had been installed in the former Röthlisberger tinsmith’s workshop in the neighbouring village around 50 years ago. And it’s still there today. No wonder we wanted to take a closer look.


The machine can be found in Bützberg at Röthlisberger Haustechnik AG, which is now being run by the third generation of the Röthlisberger family, Roman Röthlisberger. Roman proudly told us that his grandfather had purchased the machine around 1973. According to some old prices lists, it probably cost 25,800 francs – a small fortune in those days. However, for many years it made the company the only tinsmiths in the surrounding area who were able to bend thin sheets very accurately on a hydraulically powered bending machine: up to a thickness of 1mm and over a length of 6m.

The bending machine in question is a type 69-M-6/1, which means: this type of machine was originally developed in 1969 and is one of the first generation of bending machines from Jorns in Lotzwil in which a parallelogram was used as a bending linkage. But thanks to further improvements, a hydraulically-powered version of the machine was already available by 1973, and included electric shears.

Built with no machine frame
One of the big problems in those days was getting the machine to the customer. The machine’s design at the time had no machine frame that would have given it the necessary stability for transportation and installation. Instead, the stands, arms as well as the clamping tools and bending tool were delivered separately and assembled on the customer’s premises. This meant that the machine stand was placed directly on the concrete floor, underlayed with metal plates, aligned and bolted directly to the floor. As was the case 50 years ago here in Bützberg.

The hydraulic bending machine is still here. It is only used rarely in daily work because Roman now concentrates more on sanitary engineering than on tinsmith work. But he still remembers bending 6m long bending profiles as a small boy with his grandfather, and later with his father.

The hydraulic bending machine from 1973 starts up straight away
The hydraulic pump started straight away when we switched the machine on. The machine can be operated with two levers: one to move the clamping tool up and down and one to move the bending tool up and down. Driven by a side pull, the bending tool’s bending angle is shown on a separate box. The mounted roll shears were already electrically-powered. Of course, they cannot be compared to today’s electric shears, which run on a linear unit and have a servo drive. Oh no; a shears profile in which a chain was tensioned, similar to a bicycle chain, was used 50 years ago.

Wow, a cable reel with automatic feed
The powered shear head, which was fitted with an electric motor, pinion and cable reel with automatic feed, was mounted on a separate shears station to the left of the bending tool. Wow, that was really something in the day! A hydraulic bending machine controlled by hand levers that looked like those on an excavator and electric shears with an automatic cable feed.

It may seem funny to young people nowadays, but this was state-of-the-art not too long ago, before the next generation of bending machines could be fitted with not only a machine frame but also a back stop. But there are still hundreds of old hydraulic bending machines in use, most of them in small, family-run businesses. It’s here that they carry out their daily work, helping give people a roof over their heads.

Measurements are still taken with a folding rule
And that’s enough. Because minimum deviations are of no concern in an industrial hall, for example, where profiles are installed at a height of between 6 and 8 metres above the ground. But alongside a folding rule and the simple hydraulic bending machine, today’s manager always has a mobile phone close at hand, be this to issue instructions for the building site or to read a construction profile he has been sent by an employee directly form the building site. On this old machine, this unfortunately cannot be read into the machine’s control system, like it can today. But for any tinsmith work that is needed in Roman’s company, this hydraulic bending machine still works accurately and reliably.

Thank you, Roman Röthlisberger! For this revealing reunion with the hydraulic bending machine from 1973. And for an exciting insight into the history of the firm of Röthlisberger. More info: https://www.roethlisberger-hau...

Maybe you have a type 69 hydraulic bending machine too? We’d love a photo of it! Especially with information about the type. We will be raffling off 69 surprises - out of all entries.*
*The judge’s decision is final.

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Reto Staeger

Reto Staeger
Head of Marketing & Sales

Phone +41 62 919 80 50


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