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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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Horse drawn Chief's Buggy.  Probably used in New England.

This carriage was purchased from an antique dealer in Amesbury, Massachusetts who claimed that it had been a chief's buggy in nearby Newburyport.  The Newburyport Fire Department never had a chief's buggy.  We have consulted many carriage maker trade catalogues and made inquiries to various carriage museums but have learned nothing about the provenance of the carriage.  Its chassis is of unusually strong construction - more like a wagon than a carriage.  There is a large platform on the rear that could easily handle a thousand pounds of weight.  However, it was built to be pulled by only a single horse.  We would welcome any additional information about the carriage.

Anderson Coupling Co.
Horse drawn chemical wagon. Ex - Phoenix, AZ


In May of 2005 Don Hale began a complete restoration of one of the museum's chemical wagons - a 1908 engine that was used by the volunteers of Phoenix, Arizona from 1908 to 1914.  The maker was the Anderson Coupling Company of Kansas City, Missouri.  The company specialized in hose and hose couplings, but sold a range of other fire appliances.  The copper chemical tanks are of the Champion style.  The wagon looks very similar to those sold by the Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company of Chicago.  It is possible that Anderson simply placed their manufacturer's plate on a FEMCO machine.  Where the wagon spent the years from 1914, when it was retired in favor of a couple of Seagrave chemical cars, to 1938, when it was purchased by  Phoenix firefighter George Simpson, is unknown.  

Firefighter Simpson, who later became chief of the department, loaned it for use in parades.  For a number of years he loaned it to Gene Autry's museum in Orange County, California.  In 1969 his widow sold the wagon to museum founder George F. Getz, Jr.  Mr. Getz had the rig refurbished, and it was displayed in that form at the Hall of Flame.  Don Hale completed its restoration  in 2006.  

Fire Extinguisher Mfg. Co.

Champion / Christie Water Tower.  1897 - 1915. 


Water  towers came into use around  1880 to fight fires in multi-story buildings. Improved water supplies and steam pumpers made them possible, since they were designed to pump between 1,000 and 3,000 gpm.  This one was originally horse drawn.  The Toledo, Ohio Fire Department purchased it in 1897. Water towers were used only for large fires.  The  lack of hydraulic power to raise and extend the tower made it unwieldy and difficult to maneuver. Most departments preferred to use aerial ladder trucks equipped with play pipes attached to the end of the ladder to play water on fires in tall structures.  

Although aerial play pipes could only handle a water flow at about 15% the capacity of a tower pipe, the aerial was much easier to maneuver than a tower. It wasn’t until the 1960s that hydraulically powered water towers, called snorkels, Squrts, or Quints, made the water tower a truly useful firefighting tool.  In 1915 Toledo motorized its tower with a gasoline fueled tractor built by J. Walter  Christie, a noted automotive engineer.  It remained in service until 1950. 


Waterous Hand or Horse Drawn Pumper.  1918. 



The Waterous Pump Company of St. Paul,  Minnesota was the first American maker of gasoline engine powered pumpers, introducing their first model in 1898.  This model appeared in 1906. It is a transitional engine spanning the steam powered fire engine and the motorized engine.  Waterous connected one of their excellent rotary pumps, rated at 350 gallons per minute, to a Wisconsin four cylinder gasoline engine.  It was light enough to be pulled to a fire by either men or a team of horses.  The gasoline engine was much easier to maintain and operate than a steam engine and boiler, and weighed several hundred pounds less than a steamer of similar pumping capacity. The engine needs no radiator.  Instead, water from the pump is circulated into  the water jacket and discharges on to the ground. This engine was built in 1918 for the town of  Plainfield, Wisconsin. It was restored by Don Hale. 

Hand drawn 2d size manual fire engine. Ex - Bay City, MI.

The Michigan volunteers who bought this engine probably commissioned the maker to paint it.  It's a good example of the level of decoration that volunteers favored, and which carried over to the rigs of the professional fire service.  This is the largest size pumper made by Rumsey, supplying two discharge hoses with up to 150 gallons of water per minute.  To achieve this output, a company of about 30 men would have to work the pump handles at 60 strokes per minute. This pace  couldn't be maintained for longer than a few minutes.  At a more practical 50 strokes per  minute, output was 120 gpm.  Firemen pulled the engine with ropes mounted on reels below the tow bar.  Two firemen steered the tow bar.  They stopped the rig by grabbing the pump handles.  

Hand or horse drawn manual fire engine.  used in Eldred and Carollton, IL. 

Benjamin Howe’s first engine was a novel horse drawn unit that sold poorly despite its superior design. Undaunted by the limited success of his rotary sweep pumper , Howe introduced this more conventional engine around 1890. It was a great success and remained in production until about 1915.  Although not as stylish as other hand pumpers, it offered a lot of practical advantages.  Its double acting pump could deliver up to 100 gallons of water per minute.  Its 50 gallon water tank allowed firemen to get water on a fire at once, while others connected its suction hose to a water source.  Yet the engine was still light enough to be pulled by hand. This pumper was used by the volunteers of Carrollton and Eldred, Illinois.  It successfully fought a house fire in 1941. 

Hand drawn chemical cart.

The Boyer Fire Apparatus Company built a highly regarded chemical cart for use by small towns and factories.  Its 40 gallon tank was easy to operate and refill, with room for tools and extra soda and acid.  This cart was never sold but was used as a sample piece of apparatus by Boyer.  It was donated by Mr. Henry Armington. 


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