Canadian Jeep Fire Engines

Sterling Machine and American Marsh


Sterling Machine and Mfg.

Sterling Machine & Mfg. Co Ltd. was started by George Hindman in Owen Sound, Ontario, after the Second World War. The company fabricated metal items such as snowplows, trailers and hose reels, and in 1947 moved into building complete fire engines, including Willys Jeeps. They were in the fire truck business until 1952, using Barton pumps from American Marsh in the U.S., and possibly Barton pumps built in Canada under license by C.E. Hickey and Sons of Hamilton, Ontario. (Fire Wiki)

Jan Morrison gave CJ3B.info some further background on Sterling Machine: "They produced fire trucks for Canadian customers using designs licensed from American Fire Apparatus Company of Battle Creek, Michigan. The trucks were marked Sterling Machine & Mfg., but were identical to those produced by AFA in Michigan for the US market. AFA's parent company was American Marsh Pumps, also of Battle Creek MI."

Sterling CJ-2A This Sterling Jeep has survived in very complete condition. I don't know where it was in service or who owns it now, but there are some good, big photos showing details.

They reval that it is very similar to the "factory" fire engines made by Howe and Boyer in the U.S., although the front bumper configuration is a bit different. I don't know whether AFA or Sterling had agreements with Willys to sell their fire engines through Willys dealers.

The back end is also a bit different, with the hose bed above the water tank, rather than extending down to the floor.

This Jeep was retired from service and owned by the original department until 2015, and is still complete with most of the fittings and equipment in the storage compartments on the right side and left side (160K JPEGs).

The odometer reads 3300 miles. A Sterling Machine builder's plate (70K JPEG) reading "Genuine Willys Jeep Equipment, Model F1, Sterling Machine & Mfg. Co. Ltd." is on the dash.

Sterling trailers (120K JPEG), have a similar builder's plate (80K JPEG).

The 400 GPM, 150 PSI pump manufactured by American Marsh in the U.S. is badged as a Barton Fire Pump (60K JPEG).

A couple of curved pipes stowed above the cab appear to be fog nozzles for grass fires, perhaps to be mounted directly to the pump.

Thanks to Glenn Fry for these photos. See a few more Sterling Jeeps in More CJ-2A Fire Engines on CJ3B.info.

American Marsh Pumps (Canada) Ltd.

One factor in Sterling Machine's decision to get out of building fire trucks in 1952 may have been the fact that American Marsh Pumps opened its own Canadian division and manufacturing facility in Stratford ON in 1951. It was called American Marsh Pumps (Canada) Ltd.

Saskatchewan Willys Alan Dillman photographed this 1959 American Marsh Willys truck at the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

This pumper was owned by the Valley View Centre mental health facility in Moose Jaw until 1996, when it was transferred to the Moose Jaw Fire Dept. where it was on the in-service roster until 2007. It was then donated to the museum.

1951 advertisement Jan Morrison told CJ3B.info, "Starting with the 1951 model year, American Marsh produced AFA trucks in Canada. All the trucks built by the Canadian division are marked with chrome trim saying "American Marsh Pumps (Canada) Ltd. Stratford, Ontario". The US trucks were plated for American Fire Apparatus Co. The U.S. parent company was sold to new owners in 1960, and they closed the Canadian operation in 1965."

This advertisement in the 1 October 1951 issue of the insurance industry trade publication Canadian Underwriter describes the multi-stage pumps being put into some of the new plant's trucks, allowing both high and low pressure lines. It also mentions that American Marsh still had a relationship with C.E. Hickey & Sons in Hamilton, who acted as their distributor.

1955 The Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw, seen here when it opened in 1955, was considered one of the most modern mental health facilities on the continent at the time. It was almost a self-contained community, and had its own 250,000 gallon water reservoir and an elaborate fire alarm system. These features, as well as the Willys, helped save lives in 1977 when a $2.3 million fire broke out, apparently started by a tape recorder. (Valley View Centre, Moose Jaw, 2012)

The facility stopped accepting new residents in 2002, and its closure was announced in 2012, but in 2017 the closure date was extended for the second time, to December 2019.

Badge Most of the American Marsh trucks were badged just above the pump control panel, but the Willys had a badge mentioning the company's home of Stratford, attached on each side of the hood.

Pump The pump is identified on its builder's plate as an American Marsh, rather than a Barton.

Rear Apart from the suction hose and a token ladder, there is no accessory equipment left on the museum's Willys.

The truck is part of a huge collection at the Western Development Museum, Moosejaw of automobiles, snowmobiles, railroad cars, aircraft and boats.

Thanks to Glenn Fry and Alan Dillman for the photos. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 9 September 2017 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond