Vintage SCR Fire Engine wins prestigious Challenger Trophy

The Vintage John Morris Fire Engine, manufactured in the year 1914, which was originally used by H.E.H Nizam State Railway in the city of Hyderabad and now a prominent exhibit at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi added yet another feather to its cap. The Fire Engine participated in the prestigious 53rd Statesman Vintage Car Rally held yesterday i.e., 10th February, 2019 in the National Capital, New Delhi and secured the Challenger Trophy.

John Morris Fire Engine was the oldest participant in the rally which saw around 160 Vintage vehicles taking to the roads. Grabbing attention of the huge Sunday crowd of Delhites who thronged to witness o­ne of the most prestigious Vintage car rally event in the country, the John Morris Fire Engine completed the full rally distance of 45 kms. Only about 60 vehicles could cover the full length, while 100 dropped enroute owing to mechanical failures. For the John Morris Fire Engine, the Challenger Trophy it bagged, marks a proud come back, since it earned the honors after a gap of 5 years. It had first won the trophy in its centenary year in 2014.

The story behind John Morris Fire Engine is interesting. The Vehicle is over 100 years old, having been procured in the year 1914 by the H.E.H.Nizam State Railway for use in Hyderabad. John Morris and Sons’ first motor driven “first-aid motor fire engine” was built in 1905 for Cape Town’s Metropolitan Fire Service. It was fitted with a 30–40HP Belsize engine and provided accommodation for six firemen. The first motor-driven fire-pump built by John Morris and Sons was for the Bury Town Council. It was built in 1909 after Morris and Sons had already turned out from its works a large number of motor-driven first-aid engines, tenders, and fire-escapes. Their Ajax petrol-propelled motor pump was fitted with a 70 b.h.p. engine which drove a special form of turbine pump which, it was claimed by the makers, had advantages over similar existing apparatus of other makes as well as over various types of reciprocating pump which were also being offered. The pump was extremely compact, leaving room for considerable first-aid plant including a 50-ft. sliding-carriage escape, a 30-gallon chemical tank complete with reel and hose, and stowage capacity for 2,000 ft. of hose and all the other standard equipment suitable for such a turnout. The capacity of the standard pump offered by this maker was rated at 350 gallons per minute although an alternative 450-gallon pattern was also available.

It is the o­nly Vehicle in the World fitted with the original Shrewsbury and Challenger Solid Tyres and still retains all the original parts of its fire equipment. The Fire Engine graces the precincts of o­ne of the best Railway Museums in the World, the National Rail Museum at New Delhi. However, it is the SCR’s team of Technical personnel from Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda who are the experts in undertaking its regular maintenance.

The John Morris Fire Engine had participated in the car rally last year too, but could not complete the full distance owing to the engine condition. This year, during the process of restoration of the John Morris Fire engine, private agencies were consulted who quoted an amount of Rs. 50 lakhs for the restoration work. But an 8-member team of Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda who are experts in the maintenance of the John Morris Fire Engine took up the challenge and restored the vehicle using the resources available in-house and spending an amount of just Rs. 2.3 lakh. This fantastic job of the team earned recognition with the Ministry of Railways declaring an award of Rs.50,000/- for good maintenance.

Shri Gajanan Mallya, General Manager, SCR congratulated Shri Vijay Kumar, Chief Workshop Manager, Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda for the laurels the Vintage John Morris Fire Engine brought to the Zone and Indian Railways. He was also appreciative of the 8 member maintenance team which successfully ensured that the Fire Engine takes to the road without any glitch. The team was lead by M. Sandeep Kumar, Sr. Section Engineer/Transport Department, Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda.

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