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Hand & Horse Drawn Apparatus


The listing below contains information on seven of the the museum's major holdings of hand and horse drawn apparatus.  Return to the Hand and Horse Drawn Apparatus Main Page for other pieces of apparatus.

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American Hydraulic Co.




American Hydraulic  Company  “Coffee Grinder” Rotary Pumper.  Ca. 1825. 



John Cooper of Guilford, Vermont built dozens of these rotary vane pump engines between  1825 and  1835.  They were used in New England and the Middle Atlantic states.    Cranked by 8 to 10 men, the pump could supply a large volume of water at low pressure.  At high pressures (using a nozzle with a small orifice) the cranks became very  difficult to turn. This shortcoming hurt the demand for rotaries, despite their simplicity. This engine was probably used by a volunteer company in New York or Pennsylvania.  

Bates / Jeffers





Jeffers  Philadelphia Style Pumper.  American. 1844. 







The Philadelphia firm of Joel Bates built this engine in 1844 for the Rhode Island town of Pawtucket.  Four years later  Pawtucket fireman William Jeffers rebuilt it. Its design dates from about 1800 with the engines of a Philadelphia blacksmith named Pat Lyon. With two sets of pump handles manned by  fifty firemen, it can pump over 250 gallons per minute.  

Used by the volunteers of Pawtucket until about 1870, it was retired and successfully used in "musters" of firefighters in pumping competitions with teams from towns all over New England.  It was probably at this time that the engine was modified to be pulled by horses.  Firemen rode on the horses, since the engine lacks a seat.  The art on the rig's "condenser box" is original.  It portrays Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, at a well;  St. Euphemia, a patron saint of firemen; the State Seal of Rhode Island, with the state motto ("Hope"); and a New England sachem.

William Jeffers’ success in rebuilding the engine led him to begin to manufacture his own line of pumpers, including manual and steam powered engines.  


Howard & Davis




Howard and Davis Hand Drawn  Pumper.  American. 





Howard and Davis was a Boston clock making firm which manufactured a few fire engines. It built this one for the Massachusetts mill town of Grafton, which named the engine for the town's power source, the Blackstone River.  

The engine is of the so called New England  design popularized by the Boston firms of Hunneman and Thayer in the 1790s and early 1800s.  The design is identical to the pioneering Dutch fire engines of the 17th century.  A two cylinder single acting piston pump, with an air chamber to ensure an even flow of water, was anchored within a sturdy copper "tub". The pump was supplied by either a suction hose or by a bucket brigade.  The tub was mounted on a sturdy chassis.  The American versions were manned by crews of twenty or thirty men who pumped the brake handles at either end of the pump.  This did away with rocking and freed up the tub for the receipt of water from buckets or from hoses.  The engine's crane neck front end allowed the front wheels to be rotated 90 degrees, allowing the engine to be turned up to 180 degrees on its rear wheels.  The H & D's resemblance to the Hunneman and Thayer style engine is marked.    Engines of this type were sold all over New England as well as a few other parts of the United States until the end of the hand pumper era.

This engine was fully restored by Don Hale here at the Hall of Flame.  Like most American apparatus, the engine was equipped to be pulled to fires by its crew.  American volunteers made every effort to avoid the use of horses because of the expense of upkeep and training.  




Hunneman Hand Drawn Pumper.  American. 1852. 





Built in Boston for the New Hampshire town of Exeter, this engine  later served the nearby town of Walpole.  William Hunneman was an apprentice of Paul Revere, as the copper work of the engine's air chamber demonstrates.  He began making engines in 1790, and his firm built over 800 hand pumpers during the next 83 years - more than any other maker. Hunneman built the "New England" style engine. (see the description of the Howard and Davis engine above).  The rig was recently brought back to its original decoration by  Hall of Flame restorer Don Hale.  






Hunneman Hand Drawn Pumper and Hose Cart.  American. 1866. 





Form follows function in this engine, which carries its suction hose "squirrel tail" style on a graceful crane neck frame. The pre-connected suction can be put to immediate use, and the front wheels can turn at right angles to increase mobility.  The elegant curved design of the pump lever allows firemen to work the pump handles closer to the ground.  The attached hose cart, called a "jumper," provides several hundred feet of hose.  

Capacity is about 130 gallons per minute. The "Pacific," and an identical Hunneman called the "Atlantic," were purchased in 1866 and used by the nearby towns of Rockport and Camden, Maine.  Since Rockport was four miles west of Camden, its engine was named the "Pacific." The motto "Be Early and Cool" is still used by the Rockport Volunteers.  






Button Hand Drawn Pumper.  American.  1855.  




The Button Manufacturing Company built this first size engine for the town of New London, Connecticut.   A crew of fifty men pulled the rig to a fire and manned the pump's brakes  (this is an archaic term for  pump handles, but the handles also served as brakes to stop the rig).  It  can pump about 200 gallons of water per minute.  





Rumsey Hand Drawn Pumper.  American.  Ca. 1865. 




This village pumper was used by the Badger Volunteer Fire Company of Centerville, Wisconsin.  In 1871 the Company, with its little Rumsey, moved by train to Chicago to help fight the terrible fire that destroyed a third of that city.  The "Badger" is called a "piano box" style engine because of the shape of its tank and pump housing. 

The Rumsey Fire Engine Company of  Seneca Falls, New York was probably the leading maker of manual engines.  Its line of engines, hose carts and wagons, and ladder trucks were extremely popular until the company’s absorption by a larger company during the 1890s.   


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