The 1951 Mack LS 85 Fire Truck

When you see a Mack truck you’ll surely see the company’s “bulldog” logo on the front of most of it’s trucks. The “bulldog” trademark originated from World War One when the British government bought Mack AC models to use on the front lines. As it turned out the Mack truck performed so well and was so durable that it reminded the soldiers of the toughness and strength of the British Bulldog.

1951 mack fire pumper truck
1951 mack LS 85 Fire Pumper

Mack Trucks of Allentown Pennsylvania has quite a history of building fire trucks and other fire apparatus. Like so many of the early automotive companies, Mack had it’s roots in the horse drawn carriage trade. This was the history of the Studebaker brothers as well. The Mack brothers built their carriages in the late 1800’s and went on to build their first motorized vehicle in 1902.

The company began building fire fighting equipment in 1911. The company built thousands of fire trucks up until 1990.

Mack Trucks built many types of vehicles of course in addition to fire trucks. During the late 1930’s and early 40’s the company built a total of 290 trolley buses.

The L Series of Mack fire trucks, of which our featured fire truck is a part of, were produced between 1940 and 1956. The Mack L models had attractive new styling while having a rugged look. The LS models were built in many different configurations which means that the historian and collector will find a good many unique models.

Many like our 1951 Mack LS 85 are on display at museums all over the U.S. In addition to this you’ll also come across a variety of Mack fire trucks from the 1950’s for sale to collectors and restorers.

controls on fire pumper truck
Side controls on fire pumper truck

The 1951 Mack LS 85 Fire Pumper Truck shown in this article was capable of pumping 750 gallons of water per minute. Some of the LS 85 models pumped 1,000 gallons per minute.

The tank on the truck of this model year might contain 300 to 500 gallons. The new truck price in 1951 would have been around $15,500.The first Mack L fire pumper models sold for about $7,800 in 1940.

For collectors today this same 1951 antique fire engine might be priced in the area of $6,000 to $8,000 depending on the condition.

All pumper fire trucks are made to pump water whether from a tank on the truck or from a source like a fire hydrant. Pumper trucks carry water in case a hydrant is unavailable at the scene of a fire and are generally the first trucks to respond. Hoses can usually be attached to several places on the truck allowing many firefighters to operate at one time. On this model there were two discharge ports on the driver’s side and one on the opposite side. Suction intakes were on each side of the truck and on the rear. Some pumper trucks also carry firefighting chemicals.

1951 mack fire engine
1951 Mack Fire Engine

You might remember the early horse drawn carriages with a tank attached. The modern pumper fire trucks are complicated machinery that are typically built to order. Today the fire pumper truck is also referred to as a fire engine company whose sole purpose is to get water on a fire. For comparison sake a ladder company is sent to a fire to gain access to the structure, typically a multi-storied building. While you’ll find fire departments around the country employing many pieces of equipment, the engine company (pumpers) and the ladder company are the main two components. The third component is generally the rescue vehicles of fire departments.

The 1951 Mack LS 85 Pumper shown in this article has pumper controls on the side of the truck. Top controls however give firefighters a 360 degree view.

1951 mack fire pumper
1951 Mack Fire Pumper

The Mack LS 85’s which were known as semi-open cab models were built with a Mack 707A engine. This was a 707 cubic inch engine delivering 225 horsepower. This was a straight six engine.

The common transmission on the Mack LS 85’s was a four speed manual.

The 1951 Mack LS 85 had a 750 gallon per minute two stage Hale centrifugal pump.

The LS 85’s had a wheelbase of 182 inches and an overall length of 25 feet.

See our AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

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mack fire pumper truck
1951 Mack Fire Pumper

Visiting the San Antonio Fire Museum

When visiting San Antonio Texas and enjoying a stroll along the Riverwalk and a tour of the Alamo, there’s another very interesting venue located behind the Alamo grounds. The San Antonio Fire Museum is located at 801 East Houston St. in downtown San Antonio.

This museum located in the old Central Fire Station not only exhibits fire trucks but also a large collection of artifacts and photos that highlight the history of San Antonio fire fighters and the city itself. You’ll find the museum staffed with retired fire fighters who are volunteers. They are very knowledgeable and will give you plenty of good information regarding the exhibits. This is a gem of a fire museum and is a must stop when visiting San Antonio Texas.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)