The Great Midwestern Handtub Fire Engine Exposition & Pumping Competition
Saturday, June 26th, 2004 • Aurora Regional Fire Museum • Aurora, IL

The Aurora Regional Fire Museum and Handtub Junction thank all who attended the Great Midwestern Handtub Exposition and Competition, and we invite you
to see some pictures of the day in our
Handtub Expo Photo Galleries.

Handtubs attending the
Great Midwestern Handtub Fire Engine
Exposition & Pumping Competition

The Joe Naper
Naperville, Illinois
In 1874 the citizens of Naperville, Illinois purchased a hand pumper, hose reel, and hose for $1,752.50 and organized their first fire company. The engine called "Joe Naper" after the town's founding father, was manufactured by Button & Sons of New York.

Although the Joe Naper Fire Company disbanded in 1881, the engine was preserved. Restored by the Naperville Firefighters Association in the 1970s, it is now on display at the Napersettlement Museum.

The T.W. Lane
Mystic, Connecticut
Originally called Neptune No. 3, and delivered to Greenville, South Carolina, the T.W. Lane was built in 1883 and bears Button serial number 688. In 1903 the East Manchester, New Hanpshire Veteran Fireman's Association purchased the engine and renamed it Thomas W. Lane after a former Manchester Fire Chief.

The East Manchester Vets had some success with their new engine. In 1906 they established a record stream for the engine of 256 feet, 1 1/4 inches. By 1908, they had competed in eighteen musters and won eight prizes totaling $900.

In 1920 the engine was sold to Waltham, Massachusetts and it's name changed to Major. Records show it attending only for musters from Waltham, not faring well in any of them. In 1922 the engine was sold to Troy, New Hampshire. Troy used it sparingly as it already had two other engines &endash; the Uncle Sam, a Button engine, and the Hamilton, a 6 inch Hunneman machine.

The B.F. Hoxie Engine Company No. 1 of Mystic, Connecticut bought the Major in 1967 and it's name was changed back to T.W. Lane. Since arriving in Mystic, the T.W. Lane has been a constant and successful competitor on the New England League Muster circuit. It 1980 the engine broken it's own record pumping a stream 280 feet. Over the years, it has won over $20,000 in muster competition prizes, one of only a handful of engines to do so.

The Young America No. 2
Aurora, Illinois
The Aurora Regional Fire Museum's 1850s Button hand pumper was purchased in the fall of 2000 from Jim Carew, an Illinois local fire apparatus collector.

When the Old Central Fire Station &emdash; home to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum &emdash; closed for renovations in 2001, museum volunteers restored the engine back to its original appearance and operating condition.

As few clues remain to track down the engine's origional name and origin, it has been dubed "Young America No 2" in honor of Aurora's origional "Young America Fire Company"

Tiger No. 1
Newmarket, New Hampshire
Built by Leslie in 1852, Tiger No. 1 remains owned by the Newmarket, New Hampshire Handtub Association. The Tiger has won over $33,692.50 in muster competition prizes and its best shot was 262 feet 5 3/4 inches.

Winner, New England League Class B Championships 1964, 1965, 1966, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1984, 1985, 1997

The Pheonix No. 6
Newmarket, New Hampshire
The Phoenix No. 6 was built in 1840 in Boston, Mass. by the Thayer family, which operated in competition to the well known Hunneman company of Roxbury, Massachusetts. The Thayer builders plate is still attached to the machine at the top of the tool box at the rear of the machine. From 1840 to 1854 the history of this machine is unknown. In 1854, the engine was purchased by a group of private individuals in Brattleboro, Vermont, and renamed the Mazeppa. It provided fire protection in the first as an independent fire company, and later as part of the municipal Brattleboro Fire Department.

Edwin Putnam, local machinist and member of Brattleboro's Phoenix No. 6. fire company, took great pride in his engine and completely rebuilt the machine in 1867 &emdash; the rebuilders plate can be seen in the center of the back tool box, complete with the accidental misspelling of the city name.

s steam fire engines, and the municipal department evolved in the eary 1900s, the Phoenix No. 6 handtub was moved to reserve status and then sold to Londonderry, Vermont. The engine served as one of the two handtubs protecting Londonderry until the early 1930s when it was sold for $50 to Mr. Franklin Reed (an early handtub collector). From that time until 1991, it had been stored and owned by several groups and individuals in the Hingham, Massachusetts area.

The Phoenix No. 6 has been restored to the exact color and condition of the 1867 rebuild. With a forty person crew, the Phoenix No. 6 will pump water 160 to 200 feet through a 2 1/2 inch line.

Southborough, Massachusetts
Built in 1868, the Falcon, is the 700th out of 717 hand fire engine manufactured by the William Hunneman Company of Boston. 

Although origionaly delivered to Franklin, Massachusetts (and named, Franklin No. 1) little is known about the engine's first 28 years of service. After two large fires destroyed parts of Southborough, Mass. in 1896, a town meeting appropriated funds, and Hunneman # 700 &endash; later renamed the Falcon &emdash; was purchased second-hand for $150.

The Falcon was retired from active service when Southborough purchased motorized fire equipment and reorganized its independent fire companies into one department in 1921. The old engine was purchased by Francis Dexter Newton, a town selectman. Upon his death in 1927 the Falcon was donated back to Southborough where it sat idle in its former station in the rear of the Fayville Village Hall.

In the late 1950s the "Francis Dexter Newton Veteran Fireman's Association" was formed, and the Falcon was entered into handtub musters. It originally competed in the "Class B" division with dismal results. Its 4 inch cylinder size was no match for the larger machines of its class with 6 inch cylinders.

In the early 1960s a "Class C" division for engines with cylinders less than 4 1/2 inches was attempted. Three contests were held &emdash; with the Falcon winning all three &emdash; however the division faded away due to lack of participantion.

Since the revival of "Class C" contests in 1983, the Falcon has racked up an impressive record. It has won twenty-eight of the thirty-seven "Class C" musters it has attended and won the North American Class C Hand Engine Championship fourteen times. The Falcon has become one of the most traveld handtubs &emdash; racking up over 12,000 miles and attending musters in ten states. Its best stream (172 feet, 4 inches) was shot in in 1960.

Chemical No. 1
Newmarket, New Hampshire
Manufactured in 1867 by by Gibbs and Gordon of Boston, this engine is commonly called a "kettle pumper" due to its configuration. The theory of the mechanism is that soda from the side boxes was placed on the top of the screen in each of the "kettles" and water was then added in order to create a better extinguishing agent. The kettles needed to be filled manually by buckets, by hose attatched to a hydrant or by another hand engine.

Little is known about this engine's history before being acquired by the Granite Handtub Association from a private individual in Massachusetts in 1997. It was restored in 2003 by Rob Saucier in South Gardiner, Maine.

Chester, New Hampshire
This hand-powered, rotary gear, fire engine was purchased second-hand by Daniel Rodman in 1845, and used for fire protection at his Moorefield, Rhode Island cotton mill.

It was later presented to Edaville Railroad by Robert Walker of Wakefield, Rhode Island. In 1993 the engine was purchased by Jim Hoffman of Chester, New Hampshire.

It has an impressive list of winnings and awards including: the George Sinclair Award, New England Small Engines Championships 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and it won its class in the first ever Atlantic-Pacific Playoff Championship 1997.

Gerry Junior
Kokomo, Indianna
The Gerry Jr. is a miniature working replica of the Gerry, a Class B handtub built in 1845 by Hunneman and Company of Boston and used to protect Marblehead, Massachusetts from fire until 1891. The full-sized Gerry remains in Marblehead today and frequently competes in musters, winning the Class B League Championship in 2001.

Nearly a dozen miniature replica handtubs were built and competed at New England Leauge musters in the 1950s and early 1960s. These miniature engines were typicaly pumped by children of the crew members operating their full-sized counterparts.

The Gerry Junior was built from scavenged materials in 1951 by A. Clifford Small of Marblehead, Massachusetts at the request of Mr. Symonds for his son. It has one inch cylinders and for many years, held the miniature engine class record when it pumped a stream of water 66 feet 6 inches at a fire engine muster in Warner, New Hampshire in 1960.

East Greenwich, Rhode Island

And the tropies go to...

Models & Replica Class

“Renigade” -- E. Greenwich, RI


50ft. 10inches


“Gerry Jr.” -- Kokomo, IN

1951 Clifford Small

47ft. 1inche


Small Engine Group

“Rodman” -- Chester, NH

1845 Jenks

95ft. 6inches


“Chemical No.1” -- Newmarket, NH

1867 Gibbs & Gordon

76ft. 8inches


Class C

“Falcon” -- Southborough, MA

1868 Hunneman

138ft. 2inches


Class B

“Phoenix No. 6” -- Newmarket, NH

1840 Thayer

168ft. 9inches


“Tiger No. 1” -- Newmarket, NH

1852 Leslie

167ft. 8inches


Class A

“T.W. Lane” -- Mystic, CT

1883 Button

197ft. 3inches


“Young America” -- Aurora, IL

1850s Button



“The Joe Naper” -- Naperville, IL

1874 Button



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Aurora Regional Fire Museum • PO Box 1782 • Aurora, IL 60507
Phone: (630) 892-1572 • e-mail: