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1933 American LaFrance V12

1933 American LaFrance

1933 American LaFrance

This rig was made in 1933 and put into service in Maryland in 1934. Its rotary gear pump would throw a minimum of 750-gpm. Owned by Will Brooks of Ottawa, bringing the engine back has been a true labour of love and provided Will with the engine he has always wanted to own.

A bore of 4 inches and stroke of 5 inches combined with a piston displacement of 754 cubic inches delivered a maximum brake horsepower of 240. The engine was a marvel of its day with 4 distributors and 4 coils all supplying the 24 plugs (2/cylinder) to create the redundancy expected of a first-rank fire engine. Please do not ask Will what it costs to fill the gas tank or how long the fuel lasts!

The artist, Pierre Tardif, of Quebec City gold leafed and hand painted every decoration of the ALF.

Pierre at Work

Pierre at work

Pierre striping the front chassis beams. Note the # 2. The original rig had a plaque identical to this, but it was broken when the mechanical brakes failed and the engine had a front end bash! The replica was made from drawings and photos. It was cast in Merrickville, Ontario.

Pierre removes the excess gold leaf after application to sizing which holds the gold in place

wooden ladder

Wooden ladder

The wooden ladder gracing the engine came from California. It is a product of the Alaco Company, the last North American company to fashion wooden ladders for the fire service. Most fire departments which use wooden ladders are in California where many high tension wires create a hazard for other materials and the firefighters using the ladder. Some ladders in service in San Francisco have been in use for 30 or more years although the repair shop fixes over 100 ladders a year.

To see the original American LaFrance as accepted by the fire department, look in Fire Engines by Rob Leicester Wagner. The book was published in 1996 by MetroBooks.

By Dr. Will Brooks
Founder and Past-President
Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation
June 2009

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