The roots of Ahrens-Fox go back to 1904 when Chris Ahrens — whose Ahrens Manufacturing Company had merged with the American Fire Engine Company in 1891 — established The Ahrens Fire Engine Company. Joined by his sons John and Fred, as well as sons-in Law George Krapp and Charles Fox, initial production focused on steam power, but the firm gradually made the switch to reliable and user-friendly gasoline. When Fox assumed the presidency in 1908, the company name was changed to Ahrens-Fox.
Long known for the highest quality fire apparatus available, even in 2023, the name is still alive as the top-tier brand produced by the HME Ahrens-Fox corporation. Whether steam or gasoline-powered, Ahrens-Fox equipment was beautifully engineered, powerful, and built to last. During 1918, Ahrens-Fox innovations included the signature spherical chrome air chamber, which dampened the action of the pump to reduce the vibration transmitted to the business end of the hose on a pumper, like this six-cylinder Model M Pumper.
The Model M was fitted with a 750 GPM (gallons-per-minute) four-piston pump, Ahrens-Fox’s own mighty six-cylinder monobloc engine, and a stout chain-driven rear axle via a three-speed gearbox. Mounted out front, ahead of the engine, the pump and its trademark chrome sphere dominate the view.
Truck 858 was first delivered to the Mount Vernon Fire Department in Westchester County, New York. The engine served loyally for many years, and to keep it in service longer, at some point, the original artillery wheels and solid rubber tires were replaced with more modern steel wheels mounted with pneumatic tires, massively improving on-road performance and giving a less punishing ride for all those aboard.
Papers on file show that Mount Vernon Fire Department appeared to have traded it to Seagrave Corporation in the early 1950s after it was retired. Car enthusiast and “horse trader” Mr. Stuart Sears of Milford, CT, acquired it from Segrave for $100.00 and sold it in 1953 to Chief John Tweed of the Branford, Connecticut, fire department. The truck was a fixture in the Branford community for many years, and it remained in the Tweed family ever since, passing to his son, who restored it and owned it until his recent death.
This Model M has quite a presence in its gleaming dark red paint. Well detailed, most of the striping and markings are in gold leaf, and there are plenty of brightly polished fittings and fixtures. Outfitted as a “quad combination,” it is equipped with ground ladders, a small chemical tank, a hose bed, and, of course, that massive pump out front. The accessories are in excellent condition and primarily period-correct, including the dual wooden ladders, new hose for the rear-mounted reel, and period-style brass extinguishers for the running board mounts.
Overall, this wonderful old Model M pumper is a very collectible and desirable early Ahrens-Fox that can be enjoyed in various manners, including parades and exhibitions. While indeed an imposing presence, it is of a manageable size for most collections and is relatively straightforward to drive. The powerful Ahrens inline-six produced an ocean of torque while emitting a distinctive big-bore, six-cylinder bellow. It will surely put a smile on the face of even the most jaded collector!
More than 100 years after it first responded to a fire alarm, the fantastic Ahrens-Fox still exudes quality and can rightly be called the Rolls-Royce of fire apparatus.
Offers welcome, and trades considered
Stock number 7553
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