April 26, 2018

AMERICAN LAFRANCE

American-LaFrance Fire Engine Co. (1904-1927)

Elmira, New York

American-La France Truck Co. (1923-1929)

Bloomfield, New Jersey

American-LaFrance & Foamite Corp. (1927-1955)

American LaFrance Div., Sterling Precision Instrument Corp. (1955-1966)

American LaFrance Div., ATO Corp. (1966-1981)

American LaFrance Div., Figgie Intnl. (1981-1985)
Kersey/American LaFrance, Figgie Intnl. (1986-1994)
American LaFrance Corp. (1995-2014)
Elmira, New York

This is an American LaFrance passenger car radiator emblem (1908-1914)    mjs
Size: 76mm high 76mm wide     MM: None

American-LaFrance Fire Engine Company was incorporated in January 1904 from a group of smaller companies. The name came from the two largest of these companies, American Fire Engine Company and the LaFrance Fire Engine Company.

The first American LaFrance fire engines were horse drawn and steam powered. The company was aware of growing pressure from competitors to use gasoline powered motorized fire engines, but American LaFrance took their time to experiment and build prototype motor fire engines. 

Between 1908 and 1914, American LaFrance built about 22 racing-style passenger cars of varying designs. These cars were mostly built to order and are sometimes called "fire chief's cars" but were genuine passenger cars with big and powerful engines and were marketed by Sidney Bowman in New York. 

The first American LaFrance motorized fire engines came into production in 1910. These were known as the Type 5 Motor Combination Hose & Chemical Cars and were powered by American LaFrance 70 hp four-cylinder T-head engines that were rated at 50 mph maximum speed. 

Some commercial trucks were made by American-La France intermittently from 1923 to 1929 in sizes from 2-tons to 7-1/2-tons. A new factory was set up in Bloomfield, New Jersey for truck manufacture only. The factory remained in use until 1929 when the truck business was merged with Republic to form the La-France Republic Corporation (see La-France Republic).

But the main business of American-La France remained the production of vehicles and apparatus for dealing with fires. Fire engine designs developed and improved over the years. Six-cylinder engines were introduced in 1911 as well as American LaFrance's first automobile pumping engines. Over the next decade, as competition grew, American LaFrance introduced larger and more powerful designs and types of motorized fire apparatus.

In 1927 the Company acquired the Foamite-Childs Corporation. In 1931 one of the most important innovations in American-La France's history was the development of a 240 hp V-12 engine, which was used in the larger fire engines. One of the most advanced fire engines of the 1930's was the Metropolitan Duplex Pumper, which had two large V-12 engines, one to drive the wheels and the other to drive the rear pump. The Series 500 fire apparatus was introduced in 1938 and the revolutionary Series 700 in 1945.

Further innovations were introduced and the Company became the leading manufacturer of fire engines, airfield crash trucks and other fire apparatus in the US and continued in production until 2014.

For more detailed information about American LaFrance vehicles, see "100 Years of American LaFrance: An Illustrated History" by Walter M P McCall. 

Emblems

The early American LaFrance prototype motor fire engines did not carry a radiator emblem but were decorated with the insignia of the Fire Departments for which they were built.

The American LaFrance passenger cars built between 1908 and 1914 carried a red and black painted brass radiator emblem, see example shown above at the top of this post. This American LaFrance radiator emblem is extremely rare.

American LaFrance motorized fire engines from about 1915 used the blue, white and red enamel radiator emblem shown below. This American LaFrance radiator emblem was used on some models into 1917 and is very rare.

This is an American LaFrance radiator emblem (1915-1917)      mjs
Size: 78mm high 78mm wide     MM: Unknown

The red, blue and white enamel American LaFrance emblem shown below was mounted on the radiator grille and is believed to have been used in 1916 and 1917. This American LaFrance radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is an American LaFrance radiator grille emblem (1916-1917)     mjs
Size: 105mm diameter    MM: Greenduck

The following red, white and blue enamel American LaFrance radiator emblem was in use from about 1918 and is believed to have continued in use until the late teens. This emblem was most frequently displayed on the radiator grille. This American LaFrance radiator emblem is scarce.

This is an American LaFrance radiator emblem (c1914-c1918)      mjs
Size: 75mm diameter    MM: None

The following American LaFrance radiator emblem is a variation on the previous example with the underline removed from the words "American LaFrance" and a slightly different laurel wreath behind. This radiator emblem is believed to have followed on from the previous emblem from the late teens until 1926. This American LaFrance radiator emblem is also scarce.

This is an American LaFrance radiator emblem (c1919-1927)    mjs
Size: 75mm diameter     MM: Unknown

The commercial trucks built by American LaFrance at Bloomfield, New Jersey between 1923 and 1929 carried an American LaFrance name plate on the sides of the hood, see example below. This American LaFrance hood side nameplate is scarce.

This is an American LaFrance truck hood side nameplate (1923-1929)     mjs
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The large black or dark blue painted, cast aluminum radiator emblem shown below was introduced in mid-1926 on the new American LaFrance 100 Series Metropolitan. This emblem continued to be used on American LaFrance 100, 200, 300 and 400 Series fire apparatus through 1938. The same emblem was also used on the rear of units produced for the 500, 600 and 700 Series fire apparatus through the late 1950's and on the hoods of commercial chassis pumpers, including Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge chassis, built in the 1940's and 1950's.  

This is an American LaFrance radiator emblem (1926-1938)     ms
Size: 120mm wide     MM: Unknown

The cast aluminum American LaFrance nameplate shown below was used on the rear bodies of American LaFrance fire apparatus from the late 1920's through the 1935-1938 400 Series.

This is an American LaFrance rear nameplate (late 1920's-1938)     mjs
Size: 191mm wide  40mm high   MM: None

The cast aluminum Cosmopolitan radiator emblem shown below was used in 1927 on units built using a Brockway truck chassis. This American LaFrance Cosmopolitan radiator emblem is scarce.

This is an American LaFrance Cosmopolitan using a Brockway chassis (1927)   mjs
Size: 186mm wide 63mm high     MM: None

The Brockway chassis based Cosmopolitan was replaced later in 1927 by the larger GMC-based Type 99/199 Cosmopolitan, which carried the radiator emblem shown below: 

This is a GMC-based Cosmopolitan radiator emblem (1927-1931)    ms
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

The cast aluminum American LaFrance Foamite radiator emblem shown below was used in Canada from 1927 through 1957:

This is an American LaFrance-Foamite nameplate used in Canada (1927-1957) 


In 1938, American LaFrance introduced the 500 Series, which used an American LaFrance Foamite vertical radiator emblem until 1946, see photo below:

This is an American LaFrance 500 Series with a vertical radiator emblem (1938)   wmcc 

This is a close up showing the vertical ALF Foamite radiator emblem (1938-1946)    wmcc
Size: 230mm high 80mm wide     MM: Unknown

The American LaFrance 700 Series introduced in 1947 used a horizontal American LaFrance Foamite radiator emblem, see example below. This emblem was also used on late-production 700 (1956-1959) and 800 Series, as well as on 900 Series units from 1958-1963.

This is a horizontal ALF Foamite radiator emblem (1947-1963)    mjs
Size: 230mm wide 80mm high     MM: Unknown




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