Monday, June 05, 2017

Pirsch, a fire truck company I'd never heard of until I found one at the Friends of Steve McQueen annual car show this past weekend

Peter Pirsch was the son of a pioneer Wisconsin wagon builder who patented a compound trussed extension ladder in 1899 and went on to make hand- and horse­drawn ladder trucks. His first motorized ladder truck was on a Rambler chassis, and this was followed by others based on Couple Gear, White, Duplex, Nash and Dodge. In 1926 came the first complete Peter Pirsch fire engines; these were 150 to 750gpm pumpers, chemical and hose trucks powered by 6-cylinder Waukesha engines. In 1928 came a pumper with fully-enclosed cab, the first of its kind from a major US manufacturer, and in 1931 a one man operation hydro-mechanical aerial ladder hoist used on an 85ft articulated ladder truck.

 By this time Pirsch were building mostly on their own chassis, although others occasionally used were Sterling (1933), International (1936) and Diamond T (1937). Cabs were bought from General Motors for many years. In 1938 came the first 100ft aluminum alloy closed lattice aerial ladder which became a Peter Pirsch specialty and is still used today.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s a wide range of fire engines, including articulated ladder trucks were made, with power coming mostly from Hercules or Waukesha engines. All these had their engines under hoods, and the first cab forward model came in 1961 with a flat-fronted cab which is still used today. Conventionals and cab­-forwards were made through the 1960s with little change

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