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Fire Engines Photos

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Old Bess
Fire Engine Photos
No: 37208   Contributor: Terry Yip   Year: 2012   Manufacturer: Seagrave   Country: Canada
Old Bess

This parade unit was photographed in 2012 and is the former Pumper #1 in Thorold, Ontario. "Old Bess" is a 1937 Bickle Seagrave with a 600 GPM pump and 80 gallon chemical tank.
Picture added on 04 February 2014 at 08:13
add commentComments:
The above photo sure looks like an Ahrens-Fox VC pumper.

Added by Dan E. Boyd, (former chief) on 05 March 2014.
Two questions:
1- The oval tank behind the seat was the gas tank on most of this generation of pumpers - so where is the chemical tank?
2- By 1937 the booster system was pretty much universal, and chemical tanks were a thing of the past, so did it really have a chemical tank?

Added by Rob Johnson on 05 August 2014.
from (2012) - p.32 of 168 pdf May 1 2012

"Old Bess"
In 1937 the Town of Thorold purchased a Bickle-Seagrave, Underwriter Triple Combination (Pumper, Booster & Hose) Fire Truck from a supplier of the same name located in Woodstock. This truck was number 3. Eleven fire trucks were built that year and it is understood #3 is only one of two remaining. The sister truck is located in Cambridge, Onto Old Bess served the Town of Thorold for 40 years - from 1937 -1977, with 15, 000 miles recorded! After being sent to the Ontario Fire College for their museum, in 1988 the truck was returned and the lengthy job of restoration commenced
(Very similar photo showing apparatus)

Added by Bklyn Phil on 18 June 2017.
More info -, 9178.msg81816.html#msg81816 - Ed Hass says Bickle entered an agreement w/ Ahrens-Fox and built 81 AF Customs from 1928 to 1939. That would account for the style of the apparatus shown.

2. Walt McCall has an extensive history of Bickle at
See page 2 of 9.

Added by Bklyn Phil on 21 June 2017.
Rob Johnson is absolutely correct - - this rig does NOT have a chemical system. The 80 gallon reference refers to an 80-gallon booster tank for water.

Added by Dan E. Boyd, Past Chief on 21 June 2017.
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