more Hand Engines


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 with traditional patterns similar to ones used for commercial wagons and fine carriages. The tub body of each engine was given a unique ornament or elegant lettering. Some had landscape paintings of local sights. Some had geometric patterns, others had bold gold scroll work, painted flowers, a portrait, an allegorical scene or whatever the firemen requested.

Front end of 1860 Cowing hand engine restorationFront end of 1860 Cowing hand engine restorationBefore restoration photo of Button & Blake hand fire engineCompleted restoration of 1860 Cowing hand engine 1860 Cowing hand engine restored for WallKill NY at Firefly Restoration Gold leaf scrolls and lettering on Wallkill NY 1860 Cowing hand engine by Peter Achorn Front end of 1860 Cowing hand engine restorationFront end of 1860 Cowing hand engine restoration Fifth wheel stripes by Peter Achorn on 1860 Cowing hand engine

Lady Washington, Engine Company No. 40, New York City.
built by James Smith of NYC in 1832.
shown above at the Bowery Theater fire of 1835.

Front end of 1860 Cowing hand engine restoration

Wheels often must be repaired and repainted before the rest of a fire engine needs work. Below are two engines that only needed the wheels restored. The green engine was built by Sellers & Pennock of Philadelphia. The faded green was a hard color to match with modern paints. Many old pigments have ingredients that are no longer available to painter makers, such as sulfur, mercury, lamp black and blood.