1886 Silsby-Manning Steam Fire Engine


Silsby Registration No. 853

Manning Registration No. 118

Horsepower: Three real horses

Pumping Capacity: 750 gpm


This one-of-a kind 1886 rotary steam fire engine was originally built by the Silsby Manufacturing Company, Seneca Falls, N.Y., for the Detroit Fire Department. In 1894, the steamer was sent to the American Fire Engine Company where the Silsby-style super heaters in the boiler were replaced with a LaFrance nest tube system. In 1894, Thomas A. Manning, Jr. & Company replaced the SIlsby rotary steam engine and pump with a vertical piston steam engine. This pump has eight-inch diameter steam pistons with an eight-inch stroke and four-and-a-half-inch diameter water pump cylinders. It will pump 750 gallons per minute. Known as the Detroit Fire Department’s Engine 6, it weighs nearly 10,000 pounds. Typically, three horses would be required to pull the large engine. Its art nouveau gold-leaf decoration is typical of Seneca Falls built apparatus. On July 1, 1930, the steamer was sold to Henry Ford Museum. From 1985 to 1995, it was in a private collection after being purchased at a museum auction. This steamer has been meticulously resorted to its original 1897 condition by Kenneth F. Soderbeck of Hand in Hand Restoration of Jackson, Michigan.