A Trainload of Fire Apparatus.
On May 29 there was forwarded from the works of the American-La France Fire Engine company, Elmira, N. Y., probably the largest single shipment of fire apparatus ever made to one city. It consisted of twelve large pieces, as follows: Two first-size, 2 second-size, 5 fourth-size steam fire engines, and 3 85-ft. American-automatic aerial trucks. With the acquisition of the above equipment Philadelphia’s department will be considerably strengthened, as the most advanced ideas are imbodied in the construction of the engines as well as in that of the aerial trucks.
Five of the steam fire engines are of the Metropolitan type, which has met with such a remarkable sale since its introduction not many years ago. The general construction of the Meropolitan engine is known through its record in actual conspicuaus service. Several new features, however, have been added, which, it is freely acknowledged, are a decided improvement over old practices, and largely enhance the already very high reputation of the Metropolitan engine. The four Silsby steam fire engines, included in the shipment, were remodeled, being fitted with the celebrated Fox water-tube boiler. Other changes were also made, so that they now represent new engines of modern construction. The 3 85-ft. Americanautomatic aerial trucks are of the spring-raising design. The ladder is operated by simply pressing down the foot-lever, which releases the springs, bringing the ladder to a vertical position without any manual assistance. This truck can be handled more quickly and with less men than any other of older design. To meet the necessity for a strong and positive brake on a truck of this length, it is fitted with the “American-La France” Internal Expanding Ring Brake, which is the most powerful device of its kind, and the only one fully equal to the very severe service likely to be required on an apparatus of this character. In the steering gear a radical departure is made from the rackand-pinion design. The ordinary steering gear is subject to many objections. The fifth wheel and platform gear, with steering rack, occupy much valuable space, compelling high nesting of the ladders: there is difficulty in turning the rear wheels, as both wheels and axle must swing through a long arc: while to hold the wheels in position, there must be provided a tiller-dock, which is at the best of uncertain action and the source of many accidents. The American-La France steering gear forms in itself a wide departure from previous types. It is non-reversible and selflocking in all positions of the road-wheels, requiring no tiller-lock. The axle is stationary, the action of the steering levers being directly upon the wheels, which swing through a short arc upon pivotsteering-knuckles, thus obtaining a wide angular range of the road-wheels. This construction entirely eliminates the usual fifth wheel and platform-gear—making it possible to nest the ladders very much lower, close to the axle, so that the ladders are easier to handle and the load is brought closer to the ground. By this arrangement the possibility of overturning the truck is entirely eliminated. The tillerwheel is carried in its usual position in the centre of the truck, the tillerman’s seat swinging out of the way when the aerial ladder is to be raised.