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The Birnbeck Fordson Fire Engine Rebuild

CDD121 is a 1937 Fordson E27N Fire Engine, fitted with a 500 gallons per minute Drysdale Pump. After being bought at an auction in 1970, it then spent approximately 10 years on Birnbeck Island, before being put away in a garage for almost 20 years, and then into warehouse storage until fairly recently.

Birnbeck Fire Engine #1

This machine was originally commissioned by R A Lister & Co of Dursley, Gloucestershire. It remained largely unused in their large factory premises for several decades, which it never left until just before these closed around 45 years ago. During its time on the Pier it only travelled some 17 miles, having only ever been driven approximately 1370 miles in total.

Birnbeck Fire Engine #2

The Fordson is now being completely restored by its most recent owner, Mr Gary Pritchard, who has owned it since March 2013. Progress can be followed on his Facebook community page, 'Fordson Fire Engine Re-Build'. We are currently in discussions with Mr Pritchard, who is keen to visit Birnbeck with CDD121 once the restoration is complete.

Birnbeck Fire Engine #3

Birnbeck Fire Engine #4

Birnbeck Fire Engine #5

Birnbeck Fire Engine #6

(Photographs courtesy of Gary Pritchard)

The original 1930's Fordson commercial vehicle catalogue illustrated the various body types that were available at that time.

It states that the Fire Engine was built on a 2 ton 157 inch wheelbase Fordson chassis. It continued, offering 'normal' controls with a modified engine sump to ensure adequate cooling of the lubricating oil under all expected conditions, and a modified transmission to provide drive for the pump.

Birnbeck Fire Engine #7

(Photograph BRT Archive)

The purchase price of the vehicle when new was then £865, this being nearly three times the cost of the standard Fordson 'General Purpose Van' or the 'Luton Body Van'. It was powered by a Ford V8 engine, and normally carried a crew of six firemen.

The technical specifications for the fire-fighting modifications were as follows - it was fitted with a 500 gallon two-stage self-priming Drysdale pump driven by an auxiliary gearbox with twin duplex chains for the main drive. The pump was designed to deliver 500 gallons per minute against 112 lbs per sq inch pressure operating on a suction lift of 12ft. The air-exhauster for the water-ring pattern was arranged for continuous operation. The suction pump had a 4 inch bore and four 8 ft lengths of 4.5 inch hose were supplied. Fittings were made in polished brass and included an 8 inch carillon bell.

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