The Silsby Steam Engine Company was a fire engine company in Seneca Falls, New York. Our Silsby was donated to the Museum by the Ward Kimball estate. This was put into service in the village of Cedarville, Ohio.

It is not known exactly how long it was in service, but probably until 1920 or so. This small fire engine was not pulled by a horse, it was pulled by firemen to the fires. Small communities did not want to incur the expense of having horses, so their firemen were used to pull the steamers to the fires. Usually small communities with very little fire activity had these types of pumpers.

On this Silsby Steam Fire Engine, the fire pump and the steam motor are of a rotary gear design. This means it does not have a piston pump. This is the only rotary gear pumper that we have in our collection.

Sketch of Jiminy CricketIt is in remarkable original condition, other than having been repainted by Ward Kimball. The vehicle has never been disassembled and it still retains its’ original nickel plating. It still has its’ original Silsby nozzles,  Silsby gauges, Silsby relief valve and whistle. Of note is the hard suction hose that is on it. This hose remains attached to the pump. When the pump was in action, it would be pulled to a body of water.  Once there, the 20 foot hose would be pulled off and the end would be dropped in to the body of water.

Since this vehicle is over 125 years old the original rubber hose has solidified. It is completely petrified, it is as hard as a rock. It would be very difficult to remove it from the vehicle now without breaking it. Don’t worry, we won’t do that!

This is a very rare piece of history to have in our collection. We continue to thank the Ward Kimball Family for their very kind donation to the Museum.

Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney’s famous animators.


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