American LaFrance Steam Fire Pumper

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Larry, your work is beyond spectacular! 11 years of building on a piece of machinery and all of it beautiful. As a retired 42 year firefighter that spent most of those years fighting fire off of American LaFrance engines, your steamer has found a place in my heart. The Phoenix (Arizona) Fire Department, where I was a firefighter, had two steamers back in the day. One was a two horse rig and the other a full on three horse rig and lovingly cared for through their lives. Unfortunately, when World War Two came along, they were surrendered to the scrap drive and all that’s left are pictures…

John W
 
Larry, I just came across this thread it. What great craftsmanship! I have always wanted to build this model but now Coles Power Models is out of business. Do you still have the drawing set, bill of materials, etc. Would you be willing to sell them or a copy of the drawings?
Regards, Jim Karol
 
Larry, I just came across this thread it. What great craftsmanship! I have always wanted to build this model but now Coles Power Models is out of business. Do you still have the drawing set, bill of materials, etc. Would you be willing to sell them or a copy of the drawings?
Regards, Jim Karol
Yes, I will be glad to help out anyway I can. Shall I get a cost estimate of all the paperwork for you ??
 
Larry, your work is beyond spectacular! 11 years of building on a piece of machinery and all of it beautiful. As a retired 42 year firefighter that spent most of those years fighting fire off of American LaFrance engines, your steamer has found a place in my heart. The Phoenix (Arizona) Fire Department, where I was a firefighter, had two steamers back in the day. One was a two horse rig and the other a full on three horse rig and lovingly cared for through their lives. Unfortunately, when World War Two came along, they were surrendered to the scrap drive and all that’s left are pictures…

John W
Sir John, you are very kind with your words. When I read your post I got chills running up and down my back. Being able to share the talents my Lord has blessed me with is what my model making is all about. Then to help bring back fond and very special memories for someone through my creativity makes it extra special for me. Again, thank you for your kind comments and God Bless,
Larry
 
Sir John, you are very kind with your words. When I read your post I got chills running up and down my back. Being able to share the talents my Lord has blessed me with is what my model making is all about. Then to help bring back fond and very special memories for someone through my creativity makes it extra special for me. Again, thank you for your kind comments and God Bless,
Larry
Question: the hose that the firemen used to fight the fire, how was it transported ??
 
Gentlemen;

As a Retired Career Firefighter, from the Antipodes (a.k.a. Australia,) We tend to do things a bit differently, down here.

However, in my retirement, as an Archivist / Researcher, for the Fire Services Museum of Victoria, I can offer the following:

1./ The hose was carried on a seperate Hose Wagon, or Reel.

2./ Depending on the era, the hose being used would have been stitched and riveted leather, later replaced by woven canvas.

3./ The steamers, due to weight, were horse drawn, by between one, and three horses, depending on size. The three horse hitch was largely a North American practice, most other places using the two horse hitch.

4./ The hose wagons / reels were drawn by one, or two horses. Although smaller reels were located in out stations, and manually drawn to fires, as required.

One of these days, when I catch up to all my other projects, I might get back in to my shed, and complete my Shane Mason Steamer model.

Respectfully

Ian Munro A.F.S.M., M.I.Fire.E.
Senior Station Officer - Retired.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade
Melbourne.
 
Great. First you show me how to make the wheels and now the hose fittings. I’m still puzzled as to how to make the hoses. From the photos I’ve seen on the Fire King there is a hose permanently connected to the pump which runs down the side of the engine and round the front.
Bob
 
Gentlemen;

As a Retired Career Firefighter, from the Antipodes (a.k.a. Australia,) We tend to do things a bit differently, down here.

However, in my retirement, as an Archivist / Researcher, for the Fire Services Museum of Victoria, I can offer the following:

1./ The hose was carried on a seperate Hose Wagon, or Reel.

2./ Depending on the era, the hose being used would have been stitched and riveted leather, later replaced by woven canvas.

3./ The steamers, due to weight, were horse drawn, by between one, and three horses, depending on size. The three horse hitch was largely a North American practice, most other places using the two horse hitch.

4./ The hose wagons / reels were drawn by one, or two horses. Although smaller reels were located in out stations, and manually drawn to fires, as required.

One of these days, when I catch up to all my other projects, I might get back in to my shed, and complete my Shane Mason Steamer model.

Respectfully

Ian Munro A.F.S.M., M.I.Fire.E.
Senior Station Officer - Retired.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade
Melbourne.

Ian,

First and foremost, hello Brother from a 42 year retired firefighter!

Here in the states, they still use hand-drawn hose carts for competition. The “Muster” is a series of competitions consisting of hose cart race, bucket brigade, “make and break” (lay out the hose, charge the line, knock down an object with the hose stream, and break the couplings), ground ladder raise, and many many more events. These events are very competitive because, as you well know, firefighters would rather take a beating than lose at anything, so lots of injuries of course!!!

These gatherings are also where departments roll out their antique apparatus to show off, sometimes a steamer will show up, and the operating ones always draw a huge crowd.

Do you folks do anything similar?

John W
 
Ian,

First and foremost, hello Brother from a 42 year retired firefighter!

Here in the states, they still use hand-drawn hose carts for competition. The “Muster” is a series of competitions consisting of hose cart race, bucket brigade, “make and break” (lay out the hose, charge the line, knock down an object with the hose stream, and break the couplings), ground ladder raise, and many many more events. These events are very competitive because, as you well know, firefighters would rather take a beating than lose at anything, so lots of injuries of course!!!

These gatherings are also where departments roll out their antique apparatus to show off, sometimes a steamer will show up, and the operating ones always draw a huge crowd.

Do you folks do anything similar?

John W
Some years ago my wife's uncle was a fireman with the Long Beach, California Fire Department and he invited us to a "Muster" held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. What a hoot! Huge crowd - lots of water on everybody. Thanks for the memories.
 
Thank you to all who have shared some great information and stories of past musters. Some time ago a gentleman from New York shared a story how an American LaFrance shot water higher and further than any of the modern day fire fighting equipment on hand. Thank you again for your input. Spent this afternoon and evening finalizing the plumbing of the pump body. Sure glad I keep notes. What I did many years ago sure did not make much sense at first. But my notes and sketches came through for me. The pictures below shows the jungle of pipes and valves. I will make up a sketch sometime that will explain all the valves function and piping runs. Till later, Larry
 

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a41capt & LorenOtto;

Apology, for the delay, I don’t trawl the form every day, then see something, I’ll reply to, but get distracted.

Yes, in Victoria, and some other States, Reel Running is a summer competition. Although, there is a slow move to include motor events, in tandem.

The various Districts run competitions throughout the summer, leading to the State Championships, in March. There are also parallel Junior, and Rural Championships, as well.

The actual events vary from a one day picnic, to a weekend carnival, but rarely a full on “Muster”, of the type you are familiar with. Most of the Championships usually also include a “Torchlight” parade, in the evening of one of the days.

Respectfully

Ian
 
Gentlemen;

As a Retired Career Firefighter, from the Antipodes (a.k.a. Australia,) We tend to do things a bit differently, down here.

However, in my retirement, as an Archivist / Researcher, for the Fire Services Museum of Victoria, I can offer the following:

1./ The hose was carried on a seperate Hose Wagon, or Reel.

2./ Depending on the era, the hose being used would have been stitched and riveted leather, later replaced by woven canvas.

3./ The steamers, due to weight, were horse drawn, by between one, and three horses, depending on size. The three horse hitch was largely a North American practice, most other places using the two horse hitch.

4./ The hose wagons / reels were drawn by one, or two horses. Although smaller reels were located in out stations, and manually drawn to fires, as required.

One of these days, when I catch up to all my other projects, I might get back in to my shed, and complete my Shane Mason Steamer model.

Respectfully

Ian Munro A.F.S.M., M.I.Fire.E.
Senior Station Officer - Retired.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade
Melbourne.
a41capt & LorenOtto;

Apology, for the delay, I don’t trawl the form every day, then see something, I’ll reply to, but get distracted.

Yes, in Victoria, and some other States, Reel Running is a summer competition. Although, there is a slow move to include motor events, in tandem.

The various Districts run competitions throughout the summer, leading to the State Championships, in March. There are also parallel Junior, and Rural Championships, as well.

The actual events vary from a one day picnic, to a weekend carnival, but rarely a full on “Muster”, of the type you are familiar with. Most of the Championships usually also include a “Torchlight” parade, in the evening of one of the days.

Respectfully

Ian
Ian, great read. Thank you. Sounds like the gatherings we have here in the states of old tractor and steam traction engines and anything else that is steam related. I looked up the “Stand Mason” steam pumper. What a great looking piece of equipment. Glad to see that it is well documented. I do hope you can get back to your model of it soon. I know it will be awesome. Till later, Larry
 
First, I want to say thank you to all for your interest and kind comments on this build. Once again I am back at it and hoping to get this project completed by Spring. I had targeted this past thanksgiving to have the engine pumping water, but that just did not happen. To many other obligations. As mentioned in my last post, I have attached a picture of the pump assemble with notions.. The following are the explanations of the various pipes and valves.
A] is the boiler feed water line.
B] is the suction hose connections. There is one on each side of the pump body.
C] is a discharge valve. There is one on each side of the pump body and one in the middle.
D] controls the water flow from the makeup water storage tank locate behind the seat.
E] is the feed water pump.
F] is the water pump bypass valve. Closing this valve forces the water to go to the discharge valves and subsequently threw the discharge hoses. I need to make sure that valve is open before opening the steam valve to the engine.
G] is the boiler feed water control valve. Closing this valve will force water into the feed water pipe “A”..
2E145D9F-113A-448C-A3C1-C5A2ED25477F.jpeg
 
Greetings all, well I have been in the process of disassembly the fire engine over the past few months as time allows starting with the water pump and its associated pieces. Some parts will be painted red, some I would like to be bright nickel finish and some will be polished brass. The only problem with this scheme is I am not willing to put the parts I want nickel plated into someone else’s hands. So I went to YouTube to see how I might be able to nickel plate at home. There was several video on how to Make nickel plating solution using vinegar and a strip of pure nickel.. I had no success with that process. So I bought some nickel plating solution already made up.. The instructions on the bottle gave the temperature the solution should be, voltage to be used and soak time of the piece part. I started out using a glass beaker for the plating process. After the solution had reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, I placed the beaker on a magnetic stirrer to keep the solution in motion. Then the positive side of a DC power source was attached to a pure piece of nickel and placed it in the solution. This becomes the “anode” of the process. Then the negative side of the DC power supply was attached to the piece I wanted plated. The piece part becomes the cathode. Then the magic begins to happen. After 90 seconds the part was pulled from the solution and rinsed off with distilled water. After a few success, I graduated to a 1-1/2 gallon bath as shown in the picture. One of the key items to a great plating job is the cleaning process of the piece part and have a good polished surface to plate. My cleaning process consist of polishing the part with 320-400 grit wet/dry sand paper, a good rub down with “Simichrome Polish”, then wash with “Acetone” using paper towels. Then there is a final wash using a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and hydrochloric acid, then rinse with distilled water again. Of course this is all done wearing rubber gloves.. If anyone has questions, I will be glad to answer if I can. I have included a couple of pictures of some of the parts I have nickel plated.
Till later, Larry
 

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Greetings all, well I have been in the process of disassembly the fire engine over the past few months as time allows starting with the water pump and its associated pieces. Some parts will be painted red, some I would like to be bright nickel finish and some will be polished brass. The only problem with this scheme is I am not willing to put the parts I want nickel plated into someone else’s hands. So I went to YouTube to see how I might be able to nickel plate at home. There was several video on how to Make nickel plating solution using vinegar and a strip of pure nickel.. I had no success with that process. So I bought some nickel plating solution already made up.. The instructions on the bottle gave the temperature the solution should be, voltage to be used and soak time of the piece part. I started out using a glass beaker for the plating process. After the solution had reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, I placed the beaker on a magnetic stirrer to keep the solution in motion. Then the positive side of a DC power source was attached to a pure piece of nickel and placed it in the solution. This becomes the “anode” of the process. Then the negative side of the DC power supply was attached to the piece I wanted plated. The piece part becomes the cathode. Then the magic begins to happen. After 90 seconds the part was pulled from the solution and rinsed off with distilled water. After a few success, I graduated to a 1-1/2 gallon bath as shown in the picture. One of the key items to a great plating job is the cleaning process of the piece part and have a good polished surface to plate. My cleaning process consist of polishing the part with 320-400 grit wet/dry sand paper, a good rub down with “Simichrome Polish”, then wash with “Acetone” using paper towels. Then there is a final wash using a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and hydrochloric acid, then rinse with distilled water again. Of course this is all done wearing rubber gloves.. If anyone has questions, I will be glad to answer if I can. I have included a couple of pictures of some of the parts I have nickel plated.
Till later, Larry

As you can see by the photos that a lot of parts are in small containers to keep the various assemblies together. Also is a picture of the drawing rack for the painted parts. Maybe one day soon, it will all come together as a completed model.
Till later, Larry
 

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Well, I have started the final assembly of the LaFrance engine. Here are a couple of pictures to show you where I am at in the process. Since I could not find anyone to pinstripe the model component parts, I am using gold colored sticky back vinyl cut into 1/16” wide strips. Still looking for some fancy scroll designs that might work on the model.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a Big Thank You to all of you that has been following this build and to those who shared personal experiences with full size pumpers. They sure were great stories. Certainly do not want to forget those that have given me suggestions and constructive criticisms. All of you are the best of the best. Till later and God Bless all of you. Larry
 

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Your attention to detail is fantastic! As a young firefighter, and later fire engineer, I spent many hours under our older fire engines (early 50s Seagraves, American LaFrance, and others) cleaning and degreasing/regreasing I found much evidence of the love and care of our engines. Those earlier engineers and firefighters not only waxed and polished the paint down to bare metal on the topside, but also went so far as to pinstripe and decorate the underside as well as what was found on the topside.

Frame and suspension members, pump components, unexposed engine surfaces… all beautifully striped and cared for with pride by dedicated fire engineers of the past. I’ve also been under modern engines, and have found no such decoration. Modern engines are called upon to respond dozens of times per day leaving no time for such undercarriage decoration. As a Fire Captain/Paramedic on a busy engine company (15 to 24 calls per 24 hour shift), we seldom had time for a meal, let alone time to embellish our principle tool that had been tasked with a mission of saving lives and fighting fire. I miss the days of seeing those pieces of long gone artwork, and I celebrate your dedication to the promotion of the beauty found in my past career. Thank you sir, I salute your dedication and careful work celebrating our history.

Perhaps my favorite quote says:
"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine". ~
Kurt Vonnegut
 
Thank you Kurt for your kind words and the insights to times gone by. What great memories you have. Thank you for sharing. You and others that have shared so many memories has made this project a true blessing for me.
Till later, Larry
 
Thank you Kurt for your kind words and the insights to times gone by. What great memories you have. Thank you for sharing. You and others that have shared so many memories has made this project a true blessing for me.
Till later, Larry
Actually, Kurt Vonnegut is a famous American author. My name is John, a not so famous retired professional firefighter (42 years, finally retiring as a Fire Chief in 2017) and a lackluster home shop machinist apprentice!

John W
 
Greetings, I just found this awesome website. There sure is a lot of great items being built and a wealth of information available. So I thought I would jump into the middle of the pond and share what I have been working on for the past 16 months. I purchased the drawings and castings from Coles Power Models for the American LaFrance Steam Pumper. The attached picture is where I am at in the build. Since I am not a purist at heart, I have taken some liberties as to the overall look of the unit. I have seen several full size units and have several reference books. So I am taking those items of interest and incorporating them into my custom made Fire Pumper. I will be glad to post additional pictures and building techniques I use as time permits and if interested. By the same token, I am very open to constructive criticism and will be glad to read any comments. Larry

there was a time when I was a member of AAW and webmaster for a nearby wood turning club (GWG), we made that exact fire engine out of wood as an entry in the annual contest and won first prize. My part was the seat - that was fun, there was a lot of wood bending in the seat and the supports under it
 

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