Packard chenical truck with crew.

Motorized Engines

Restoring the gold leaf decoration
on gasoline powered fire engines...

The early motorized engines were decorated beautifully. The large sheet metal surfaces gave the painters plenty of room to show off their skills. The major manufacturers each had their own distinct styles of ornaments. As the years passed, the scroll work and pinstripes became simpler, but there were still gold leaf stripes on the majority of engines.

Two restorations by Firefly Restorations1926 Maxim restored by owner, Dave Brown. Displayed at Owls Head Transportstion MuseumFire Gold shop interior with American LaFrance frame and pump.American LaFrance restoration in progress. American LaFrance hoods set up to pin-stripe.1920s Seagrave wheelsAhrens-Fox and American LaFrance wheels from the 1920s.old photo of FDNY engine 68 with gold stripes and letters on huge hood.

    The transition from steam to gasoline powered fire apparatus began with steam engines being pulled by motorized tractors. By 1910 motorized fire engines were being produced by all the major manufacturers. Fire apparatus evolved and improved along with other gasoline vehicles. Fire engines needed to be large, heavy and fast. Several mechanical innovations were developed first on fire engines and then later used on commercial trucks.

Maxim style fleur-de-lis details on frame.Bangor Maine fire dept photo with three decades of engines 1922 Brockway before restoration. Boston chief's car with black edge stripes and ornament on hood. 1922 Brockway restoration at Firefly Restoration being reassembled. Hood of 1922 Brockway restorationHose body close-up of 1922 Brockway restoration1922 Brockway wheel decorationAsphaltum shading being applied to gold leaf scrolls.1922 Brockway decoration on pump, chemical tank, gas tank, hose basket and hose body.Hose basket on 1922 Brockway restorationRancine FD with horses still in service.
Factory photo of a 1916 Seagrave chemical fire engine.

    When this 1921 Seagrave engine arrived for restoration it had many coats of varnish on top of the original paint job. The varnish had darkened over eight decades. It appeared to be a dull khaki green with gold and brown stripes. When the varnish was removed, we found a light gray body. The brown stripes were actually a lavender-gray color. What a surprise. I gilded and painted the stripes and lines on this vehicle. The fancier ornaments were done by Ken Soderbeck.

1921 Seagrave fire engine wheel stripes by Peter Achorn. 1921 Seagrave fire engine restored by Firefly Restorations. Warm gray body of 1921 Seagrave fire enginelittle girl learning mechanics.Gray body with gold leaf and purple stripes.1921 Seagrave fire engine gold stripes and thin red lines.1921 Seagrave fire engine with lettering and scrolls by Ken Soderbeck and stripes by Peter Achorn. 1922 Seagrave factory photo of Peoria engine.
1921 Lexington Fire DepartmentRestored 1922 Brockway engine in Mebane firehouse. 1922 Brockway fire engine hood. Wheel on a 1922 Brockway fire engine. Hose body of 1922 Brockway fire engine restorationRestored pin-stripe detail on 1922 Brockway fire engine.
1922 Brockway chemical engine being reassembled at Firefly Restoration. Gas tank on 1922 Brockway chemical engine.
Detail of hose body line work from 1920s.1920s parade of fire vehicles.
1932 Fore fire engine front fenders with black stripes.Mebane name on hose body of 1932 Fore fire engine 1932 Fore fire engine before restoration. Cowel stripes on 1932 Fore fire engine Hoods in Fire Gold shop with black stripes being applied. Hood of 1932 Ford fire engine. Notice gold outline on black stripes with a silver line running beside.badge of Stonington CT Fire Dept. FDNY high pressure engine no. 72Old photo of Bangor Maine Garford fire engine. Garford fire engine stripes and scrolls. Bangor F. D. restoration on Garford fire engine in Fire Gold shop being decorated. Ahrens-Fox restoration on way to owner.Firemen standing in front of their engines.

Click on the names or logos below to see pages showing restorations of these separate brands of engines:

American LaFrance
Maxim Motor Co. logoAmerican LaFrance logoAhrens-Fox logoL.A.F.D. fire dog posed in driver's seat.
All photos, artwork and information are copyrighted by Peter Achorn and Fire Gold.  © 1999-2015 all rights reserved.
Any perceived copyright infringements are unintentional and will be removed upon request.