1924 Buffalo Fire Truck
This is a a Type 50 1924 Buffalo fire truck with a main 500 gallon water tank and a 75 gallon booster tank. It is one of the busiest and most popular items at the Texas Transportation Museum. We use it to give rides around our large property plus it is a regular in parades large and small across San Antonio. This fire fighting ladder truck was built by the Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation of Buffalo, NY, which went out of business in 1931. While it is titled as a 1924 vehicle, probably because it is based on a 1924 GMC built chassis, it was purchased by the Alamo Heights Fire Department in late 1927 for $6,125.00, the equivalent of $76,221.81 in today's money. You might say the AFFD got their money's worth, however. It stayed in active service until the early 1970's when a Texas law was passed forbidding such ancient equipment. Fitted with an in line six cylinder engine, with four forward gears and reverse, almost certainly not it's original engine, it was donated to the museum not long after. While it has had any number of modifications over the years, including diamond plate steel bumpers, it still has its original two (rear) wheel mechanical brakes. It gets about 3 MPG. It also has its original "arm strong" unassisted steering, and a four speed manual transmission without synchromesh, which makes driving the old girl quite a workout.
1924 Buffalo Fire Truck at Alamo Heights Fire Department

1924 Buffalo fire truck in 1939 at the Alamo Heights Fire Department.
1924 Buffalo fire truck in the snow in San Antonio, around 1926.
Newspaper clipping image from 1971 announcing the retirement by the Alamo Heights Fire Department of its 1924 Buffalo fire truck after 47 years of service as a ladder truck
Alamo Heights Volunteer Fire Department volunteers using their 1924 Buffalo as a parade vehicle.

1924 Buffalo fire truck manufacturer's tag
Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation badge on this 1924 Buffalo fire truck
Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation advert
1927 Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation contract with Alamo heights for additional fire fighting equipment
Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation advert for fire fighting equipment

1924 Buffalo fire truck returns to Alamo Heights to help the city celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2012
1924 Buffalo fire truck returns to Alamo Heights to help the city celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2012
B1924 Buffalo fire truck returns to Alamo Heights to help the city celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2012
1924 Buffalo Fire Truck at Texas Transportation Museum

T.T.M. acquired the 1924 Buffalo fire truck from the Alamo Heights Fire Department in the early 70's. Then museum board chairman Phillip Knight-Sheen, founding member Bill Boyd and soon to be chairman, A.D. Zucht are pictured with it at TTM.
2002 board chairman and current museum manager Hugh Hemphill, driving the 1924 Buffalo fire truck past the Alamo, on his way back from a Fiesta 'King William' parade.
1924 Buffalo fire truck in Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas
Using the 1924 Buffalo fire truck for pleasure rides is common at TTM, depending on the weather and the state of our unpaved roads

1924 Buffalo fire truck giving rides at the Texas Transportation Museum, San Antonio.
The 1924 Buffalo fire truck takes part in several parades every year.
Texas Transportation Museum manager Hugh Hemphill, with the much loved San Antonio Spurs mascot, the Coyote in the 1924 Buffalo fire truck.
1924 Buffalo fire truck gleaming in its new paint in a parade around 2004
1924 Buffalo fire truck looking handsome with gold striping, and lettering that once said "Alamo Heights Fire Department."
The venerable 1924 Buffalo fire truck was repainted by our friends at S.M.T. Truck Lines. Roy Gilbert, the owner of SMT, can be seen on the left of the snap.
Our 1924 Buffalo in 2001, just after it's refurbished return from our main S.M.T. truck lines, of San Antonio.
1924 Buffalo Fire Truck at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio.
Museum visitors about to enjoy a ride the 1924 Buffalo fire truck, March 4, 2012, the day after it returned to the museum
Museum visitors about to enjoy a ride the 1924 Buffalo fire truck, July, 2012
1924 Buffalo fire truck
1924 Buffalo fire truck at TTM, with Scott Fenn at the wheel and John Serold riding shotgun, November 2012
1924 Buffalo fire truck at TTM, with Scott Fenn at the wheel and John Serold riding shotgun, driving aroung the back forty, Feb. 2013
1924 Buffalo fire truck at the 2013 Battle of Flowers parade
Young man "driving" the 1924 Buffalo fire truck at the 2013 Battle of Flowers parade
Zip Zepeda driving the 1924 Buffalo fire truck in the 2013 Flambeau parade
1924 Buffalo fire truck at a children's party outside north Loop 410, June 2013
1924 Buffalo giving rides at the museum, August 2013
1924 Buffalo in the 2014 'Battle of Flowers' Fiesta parade
1924 Buffalo in the 2014 'Flambeau' Fiesta parade
1924 Buffalo with 1928 Ford Model A fire truck at the Tejeda Middle School History Faire, March 2015
1924 Buffalo with modern SAFD fire trucks and fire fighters at the Tejeda Middle School History Faire, March 2015
Brake Repairs - 2012

It became obvious during the 2011 parade season that the Buffalo's brakes needed attention. The vehicle only has brakes on its rear wheels, which are mechanically operated as opposed to hydraulic. A preliminary inspection suggested that oil had leaked from the axle into the brake drum on one side, effectively reducing the braking effort to just one wheel. Finding a place that would even consider taking on the project was daunting in itself. Our friends at SMT had a look but realized that the project had the potential to drag on almost indefinitely, hogging up one of their busy repair bays for an unacceptably long period of time. Fortunately, museum member Clint Bitterly found International Brake and Clutch in Kirby was willing to "git 'er done, and the vehicle was transferred to their facility in December 2011. The big problem turned out to be simply removing the hub from the axle. TTM chairman, Pat Halpin, finally set the guys at IB & C straight: "Don't force it. Use a bigger hammer." In other words, it took an inordinate amount of brute force to even get the hub to begin to move. Once the hubs were off, it was relatively plain sailing from then on. As often happens when vehicles are in the shop, a couple of "might-as-well" projects crept into the mix. It's quite likely the hubs had not been off the wheel in at least forty years. "Might-as-well" make sure everything, such as the bearings, were tip top, because it just might be another forty years before they come off again. Clint Bitterly drove the truck back to the museum at the beginning of March 2012. he has also volunteered to drive it in the upcoming "Battle of Flowers" parade. In the mean time, it's wonderful to able to give the public rides around the museum once more.
The wheel hubs on the 1924 Buffalo fire truck proving difficult to remove
The exposed - finally! - tapered axles on the 1924 Buffalo fire truck were a sight for sore eyes
Industrial Brake & Clutch employees sit on the 1924 Buffalo fire truck in March 2012 just prior to it leaving their establishment after some excellent work that will allow the vehicle to run another 88 years.
Clint Bitterly preparing to drive the 1924 Buffalo fire truck from Kirby across the city back to the museum
Clint Bitterly driving the Buffalo fire truck in the 2012 Battle of Flowers parade in San Antonio just after its brake repairs were completed. Note the museum's 1929 Ford Model A truck in the background

 

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