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Jeffers Philadelphia Style Pumper

Jeffers-Philadelphia-Style
American. 1844. Acquired in 1975.

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.

 

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