Auctions and Brokerage
Renowned for its legendary ability to produce 1,000 gallons of water pressure per minute, the Ahrens-Fox is instantly recognizable by its giant chrome sphere pressure equalizer mounted front and center.
Chris Ahrens was apprentice to Alexander B. Latta, who built his first steam-powered fire engine in Cincinnati in 1852. In 1910, Ahrens and his son-in-law, Charles Fox, created their own fire truck enterprise and, while the fledgling partnership continued to build a few horse-drawn steam fire engines, it also developed four-wheel gasoline-motor driven units – the forerunners of the NS4.
This Ahrens-Fox was one of two engines ordered on February 10, 1925, by the Nashua fire department of New Hampshire. It provided years of faithful service but was eventually retired and purchased by Benny Snyder, a Nashua bandleader. According to legend, Mr. Snyder and Arthur Fiedler (conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra and renowned fire truck enthusiast) would drive their fire trucks to various performances together and create a spectacle. This Ahrens-Fox still bore the “Benny Snyder Orchestra” insignia on the hood when paint was stripped of during restoration. Mel Clark of North Hampton, New Hampshire, bought and stored the fire truck in a boxcar on his property and eventually sold it in the early 1990s to Jeff LaVerdiere of Maine, who immediately dropped the pan, cleaned up the engine and gearbox, and rebuilt the carburetor. The pump was soaked in water overnight to rehydrate the leather seals, and the engine was successfully fired up.
LaVerdiere then completed a comprehensive restoration under the guidance of Andy Swift, Ahrens-Fox guru of Firefly Restorations in Hope, Maine. A new bottom end and block were acquired from a barely used 2,000-mile Ahrens-Fox service ladder truck to repair the engine. The body was finished in Grenadier Red and Titanium White, and the original headlights and spotlights were repaired with later housings. Even the faces of the gauges were carefully preserved and repainted rather than resurfaced.
This Ahrens-Fox NS4, meticulously and accurately restored, is an extraordinary example of a New England service fire truck and deserves pride of place in any display.