Feature Vehicle of the Month
1927 Ahrens–Fox Fire Truck
In March 2015, our local PBS television station (WUCF, Orlando, Florida) aired an 8 part television series called “Ultimate Restorations” ( UltimateRestorations.com ) where they restore “forgotten treasures” like a train, yacht, airplane, church organ, etc. For me, the best hour long episode deals with the restoration of the Kansas City Fire Department’s 1927 Ahrens–Fox fire truck.
Back in 1920’s, the Ahrens–Fox was the finest, most expensive fire truck “ever conceived or built” and was referred to as the “Rolls–Royce of fire engines”.
Ahrens–Fox started in Ohio in 1910 and initially built horse–drawn steam fire pumpers. They built in–house their own chassis, engines, transmissions, differentials, bodies and pumps. Production ended in 1977 with roughly over 1,500 fire engines built.
This fire truck is a right hand drive model with a T–head monobloc six cylinder overhead valve motor. Each cylinder is a separate casting. According to the show, the fully assembled engine weighs almost 3,500 pounds!
The front (water) pumper has 8 pistons (4 on top and 4 on the bottom). It could still be turned by hand after being retrieved from long term storage. According to the show, this piston pump was one of the most powerful units at the time. It could shoot water up 40 stories!
The TV show follows the restoration along as each piece is rebuilt or custom made. There are some tense moments as the magneto fired engine is brought back to life after many years asleep. The engine & front mounted pump are bolted together as one unit which makes any major service of the engine more difficult.
The large chrome sphere on the pumper (at the front of the vehicle) holds air and smooths out (dampens)the outgoing water pulses from the piston driven water pump. Today’s modern fire engines use a centrifugal water pump which do not require this.
Next Club Meeting...
The Florida Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America meets the 2nd Monday of each month at 7 P.M. at the Kress Memorial Church of Seventh-Day Adventists, 746 Formosa Av, Winter Park, Florida 32789. Located 2 blocks south of Fairbanks Avenue.
Next Club Activity
July 13, 2015 (Monday)