March 13, 2018


Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Co. (1911-1953)

Cincinnati, Ohio

C.D.Beck Co. (1953-1956)

Sidney, Ohio

This is an Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem (c1940-1950s)     mjs
Size: 105mm wide 70mm high       MM: D L Auld

The Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company was formed by John P Ahrens, whose family had built horse-drawn fire pumpers since 1868, and Charles H Fox, assistant chief of the Cincinnati Fire Department. Ahrens-Fox built pumpers and tractors for articulated aerial ladder trucks, hose trucks and other fire-fighting equipment.

Following prototype testing in 1911, the first Ahrens-Fox motor fire engine was a piston pumper powered by an 80 hp six-cylinder engine and was delivered in early 1912. By the end of 1912, Ahrens-Fox had decided to cease production of horse drawn fire apparatus.

In 1913, Ahrens-Fox produced a 44 hp six-cylinder automobile called the Battalion Roadster, which was equipped with some fire fighting equipment but intended for use by fire chiefs. However, only six of these roadsters were built.

The Ahrens-Fox piston pumper was a successful fire engine and acquired an excellent reputation for performance and durability. In 1915, Ahrens-Fox introduced its Model K pumper, which had a single, spherical brass air chamber mounted in front of the radiator. This characteristic style would continue in use until into the 1950's.  In 1917 an Ahrens-Fox pumper was the first to drive water over the then tallest building in the world, the 60 storey Woolworth Building in New York City. New models were introduced through the 1920's but the Great Depression resulted in very few units being produced in the period from 1931 to 1936.

In 1936 the company merged with the Le Blond-Schacht Truck Company. This arrangement continued until 1951 when Walter Walkenhorst bought Ahrens-Fox. The company was sold to the C D Beck Company in 1953 when the production of fire engines was transferred to the Beck plant in Sidney, Ohio. In 1956 Beck was purchased by Mack who discontinued the Ahrens-Fox name.


The Ahrens Fire Engine Company nameplate shown below is from an Ahrens Continental horse drawn steamer made before the formation of the Ahrens-Fox business and is extremely rare:

Ahrens Continental nameplate (1907)      cmfem

The Ahrens Fire Engine Company emblem shown below was attached to part of the fire apparatus:

This is an Ahrens Fire Engine Company emblem (1907)      cmfem

The following large brass Ahrens-Fox radiator top nameplate appears to be early and is extremely rare. Please let me know, if you can confirm the dates of use of this emblem.

This is an early Ahrens-Fox radiator nameplate (date unknown)      mjs
Size: 445mm wide 80mm high

The Ahrens-Fox Model K pumper in 1915 displayed the Ahrens-Fox name on a large nameplate under the pump equipment at the front of the chassis. This nameplate continued to be used in this location on Ahrens-Fox pumpers for many years, see example below:

This is an Ahrens-Fox pumper showing front nameplate (c1927)     ms

This is a close up showing the Ahrens-Fox front nameplate     ms

From the mid-1920's, the Ahrens-Fox name also appeared on a nameplate located on the outside of the body under the drivers cab on most Ahrens-Fox fire engines, see example below:

This is an Ahrens-Fox side nameplate (1920's)    ms

Also, in the 1920's, Ahrens-Fox fire engines without the front mounted pumper equipment displayed the Ahrens-Fox name on a nameplate attached to the radiator tank top. I do not have a close up photo of these nameplates but they may be similar to the cast aluminum Ahrens-Fox nameplate shown below:

This is an Ahrens-Fox nameplate (1920's)      mjs
Size: 174mm wide 56mm high

In the 1930's Ahrens-Fox vehicles without the front mounted pumper equipment carried enamel radiator emblems, see examples below and above at the top of this post. 

The Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem shown below was attached to the top of the radiator and was used in the mid-1930's. This Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem finished in enamel is extremely rare: 

This is an Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem (c1934)      mjs
Size: 80mm diameter     MM: Fox

The enamelled Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem shown above at the top of this post was either attached to the radiator top or to the radiator grille using a special mounting clip and was used from about 1940 and continued in use on some models into the 1950s, see Ahrens-Fox advertisement shown below. This Ahrens-Fox radiator emblem is very rare.

Ahrens-Fox ad showing emblem (1954)  ms

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