Often the body was painted an expensive color while the wheels and running gear (which got worn and dirty) were painted a cheaper color. The iron work included most of the moving parts. It got the most handling and was often painted black. The fire department could touch up most scratches by only keeping some black varnish available.
more Hand Tubs
Restoring the gold leaf decoration
on antique hand engines...
These early engines were decorated in many different ways. The wheels and iron work were striped in the same traditional patterns that a commercial wagon or fine carriage would be. The tub body was where each engine was given a unique ornament. Some had landscape paintings of local sights. Some had geometric patterns, others had painted flowers, a portrait, an allegorical scene or whatever the firemen requested.