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New Bedford’s Electric Aerial Ladder Trucks

Updated: Aug 22



New Bedford, Massachusetts, operated four of these straight-frame aerial ladder trucks that were built by the Ahrens-Fox Fire Engine Company using battery-powered 

front-drive tractors from the Couple-Gear Freight-Wheel Company.  


Ahrens-Fox was a leading builder of motor pumping engines during the early part of the motorized era.  In the late 1920s Ahrens-Fox became a leading builder of hook and ladder trucks too.  Before this is the late teens, Ahrens-Fox built several unique electric powered ladder trucks, four of which served in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  



These ladder trucks were powered by Couple-Gear electric drive systems.  These were built by the Couple-Gear Freight-Wheel Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Couple-Gear was founded in 1906.  The company manufactured trucks and tractors that used individual electric-powered motors in the hubs of the wheels.  These were powered by a bank of batteries.  These batteries held enough charge for about 40 miles of operation.  These were controlled by a streetcar type controller, which had three forward and two reverse speeds.