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Very unusual fire engine


keninman
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I found this picture last night. I am the child on the left on top of the Ford fire truck. The picture was taken at Bicknell Indiana I believe the parade was on Labor Day 1969 for their centennial. This would have been on my 4th birthday or the day after. Directly behind the Ford fire engine is a very unusual fire truck. I wish I could zoom it more but it doesn't get any clearer. Does anyone have any idea what it might be?

bicknell parade antique fire trucks.jpg

bicknell parade smaller.jpg

Edited by keninman
I am on the left not the right (see edit history)
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It’s a 1920’s Ahrens Fox four piston pumper. Neat truck, but not unusual.......it was their standard set up. Google it.

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They were a very high end and good machine, particularly cherished by their fans.......they have a unique look. 

Maybe I should add they consider them the “Duesenberg” of fire trucks.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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4 minutes ago, edinmass said:

They were a very high end and good machine, particularly cherished by their fans.......they have a unique look. 

Bicknell, IN was a booming community in the 1920s with a population of about 7600. Coal mining and agriculture provided most employment. Of course over the years the coal has petered out and ag doesn't need as many workers as it use to. Bicknell's population when this pic was taken had fallen to abt. 3700, today it is around 2800. BTW the Ford I am on was purchase new by the Sandborn volunteer fire department in 1969. It doesn't even have any lettering on it yet in the picture. 

 

I sure appreciate your help in identifying the truck behind us. I would really be interested to know what became of it or the one that is bringing up the rear. 

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On the front of the engine was a piston pump to pump the water onto the fire. That chrome ball was an air cushion shockabsorber that softened the punch because of the extreme pressure the pump put out.

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7 hours ago, sagefinds said:

On the front of the engine was a piston pump to pump the water onto the fire. That chrome ball was an air cushion shock absorber that softened the punch because of the extreme pressure the pump put out.

The piston type pump put out extreme pressures that could propel a water stream 4-5 stories (maybe more?)  A huge advantage if your community has tall buildings. 

Other fire pumpers (Not actually "trucks" those carried the ladders) used centrifugal pumps. A good solid stream but not enough for a tall building. 

 

The chrome ball evened out the pressure strokes, without it, the hose nozzle would have a kickback like firing a huge gun. 

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There was one in the Huntington long island area . This is on the north shore on long island sound. They used to drop a line in Huntington Harbor and pump the water out up the hillside to put fires out! Extreme pressures - Yes indeed.

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I encountered this 1924 Ahren-Fox T54 receiving its first post-restoration fill-up in Oct 2014. Owned by  Doug Klink, who operates the non-profit Reliance Fire Museum in Estes Park, Colorado.

 

af1.jpg

 

af2.jpg

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I would say chrome on that one now because of the harder surfacing and it looks like chrome. In 1924 I think chrome was at least starting to come into favor. The 1928 Cadillac headlights were nickeled,1929 were chromed if memory serves. I've been down to Doug Klink's shop and museum just down in Northern Colorado,in fact I bought one of those big chrome? or nickel? balls from him,thought I couldn't live without one,if I see him again I'll ask him. I think mine is nickel. It's brass over heavy steel,pretty weighty and awkward to move around.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Oddly enough I discovered a TV series about restorations and their 1st episode is one of these fire trucks. I bought the season on Amazon since it looks good and I don't usually watch TV.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B071GMTCGJ/ref=atv_dp_season_select_s1

 

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/apr/02/ultimate-restorations-ahrens-fox-kansas-city-treas/

 

 

Edited by keninman (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

The City of Providence kept their Ahrens fox pumper at the Fire Barn on the south side of the city for years after it had been officially retired. That pump was the only one in the city that would reach the taller buildings. The City of Pawtucket had one also...I would pass it every day on my way to school (this would have been in the late 50s and early 60s). In warmer weather they'd leave the door open so we could always see it.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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