Tuesday, March 6, 2012


While preparing a new exhibit on the two “hats” Rev. Yale Lyon wore as Scoutmaster of Troop 1 and as Chaplain of the H.Y. Canfield Hose, Hook and Ladder Company, we learned of the availability of an Ajax Chemical Fire Engine, essentially a large hand-drawn chemical fire extinguisher on wheels that could shoot a powerful stream of water and carbon dioxide gas into a fire that starts in grease and oil, tar, paint or turpentine. The Ajax operated by breaking a glass bottle of sulfuric acid into a canister of bicarbonate of soda, all inside a large steel tank. The resulting 80-foot high-pressure stream was touted as the equivalent of 9,000 pails of water.

An Ajax Fire Engine was often one of the first pieces of mechanized fire-fighting equipment within the means of a small town fire department. Unadilla’s Ajax may have been purchased and put into service by the Unadilla Fire Department as early as 1910 but perhaps as late as the mid-1920s.


It is the Unadilla Historical Association’s intention to acquire this fire engine, restore it to its original condition as a project for the Unadilla Fire Post No.1 to use in parades and firematics demonstrations. Because of the danger of chemical burns, we intend to install a modern fitting on the unit so it can be operated with compressed air.

Project Restore Ajax begins this month as soon as weather warms and our young firemen rescue the unit from its weedy fence-row grave and send on its way to get a new set of “fire engine red” clothes. You can follow our progress of restoration toward the “reveal” on Flag Day June 14, 2012 on this blogsite: http://trp1bsaunadillanyhist.blogspot.com. While you are here you might want to read a related story on Rev. Yale Lyon’s 1915 “Splendidly Equipped Scout Fire Auxiliary” posted below.

If you want to do more, why not consider a cash donation toward this project. We estimate the cost of the project at $1,200, which covers the full restoration, pin-striping and decals, and a new parade banner for our Scout firemen of today.

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