Maxim Motor Co. - 1888-1989 - Middleboro, Massachusetts


This well-known producer of fire apparatus entered vehicle production with a light assembled truck, but after a few had been sold they concentrated on fire engines. The first of these had been built on a Thomas chassis in 1914, and in 1916 came the first on Maxim's own chassis with 6­cylinder triple ignition engine and worm drive. By 1918 there was a complete range of motor pumpers, combination, and hook-and-ladder trucks, which was continued through the 1920s and 1930s. There were also some specials such as the 6 X 4 pumper-tanker for unmade roads supplied to Falmouth, Mass. in 1938. Also in 1938 Maxim planned to re-enter the commercial truck market with a highly re-worked 2-ton Ford chassis (stronger frame, heavy-duty Timken axles, oversize tires) to carry 3 to 5 ton loads. It was the same kind of vehicle as the earlier Ford-powered Grass-Premier. At least one was built but production never went ahead.

In 1946 came a line of pumpers (750 to 1500 gpm), ladder trucks and quad combinations with open and closed cabs, and a new V-grille which lasted until 1961. In 1952 Maxim acquired the license for the German Magirus rear-mounted aerial ladder which they built on their own chassis. They sold aerial ladders to competitors such as Ward La France and Mack, in rigid and articulated form. The Seagrave Corp acquired Maxim in 1956, but the Massachusetts firm continued to operate independently, building all their own apparatus and major components including bodies and aerial ladders. Maxim's first cab-­forward models, the F Series, came in 1959, though con­ventionals have continued to be made up to the present day, and are now the only American fire engines to use this layout. In 1960 came new short wheelbase con­ventionals known as the S Series with a hood design which has also lasted up to the present. These two basic series are still made today, in a wide variety of pumpers and ladder trucks, rigids and articulateds, with open and closed cabs. Engines are Waukesha gasoline or Cummins or Detroit diesels, and transmissions Spicer synchromesh or Allison automatics.

© 2004 Howard T. Smith -


The Maxim Motor Company was formed by Carlton Maxim in 1914. Carlton was a member of the Middleboro Fire Department. In 1912, the Middleboro Fire Department received a Knox fire truck. In 1914, they were looking for an additional truck and Carlton, unimpressed with the Knox, felt he could build a better fire truck. He was given the opportunity and the new truck was delivered to the department. They were more than satisfied and soon, word was out. Other departments were aware of Carlton Maxim's skill and ingenuity and requests soon started coming in that he build fire trucks for their department.

Maxim expanded several times and until 1989, were a well know fire apparatus manufacturer in the northeastern United States. Although, Maxim trucks could also be found on the west coast, the midwest and in many foreign countries. Their most popular product was their reliable aerial ladders. These ladders were so reliable, that other fire apparatus manufacturers, used them on their chassis.

During the 1980's, Maxim found it difficult to keep up with larger fire apparatus manufacturers. They declared bankruptcy several times and with several new owners were able to overcome these tremendous obstacles. Unfortunately, the economy of the late 1980's brought Maxim to it's knees and it was forced to close it's doors for good in 1989.

© 2004 Howard T. Smith -



For more information please read:

Howard T. Smith - Maxim Fire Apparatus 1914-1989: Photo Archive

Howard T. Smith - Maxim Fire Apparatus Photo History

Walter M.P. McCall & George H. Dammann - American Fire Engines Since 1900

Fred W. Crismon - Fire Engines

Bob Dubbert - Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus

Donal M. Baird - A Canadian History of Fire Engines

Phil DaCosta - One Hundred Years of America's Fire Fighting Apparatus

Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

Hans Halberstadt - Fire Engines

T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines: Motorized Apparatus Since 1900

Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

Paul Barrett - Heavy Rescue Trucks: 1931 - 2000 Photo Gallery

Larry Shapiro - Aerial Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Fighting Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Hooks and Ladders

Larry Shapiro - Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines

Donald F. Wood - American Volunteer Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Big City Fire Truck 1900-1950

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: 1951-1996

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Motorized Fire Apparatus of the West, 1900-1960

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - New York City Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Volunteer & Rural Fire Apparatus Photo Gallery

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department engines: Sixty years of motorized pumpers, 1912-1972

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department hook & ladder tractors, 1914-1971

Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

John Rieth - Jersey Shore Fire Apparatus: Classic Thru the 60's

Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

George Klass - Fire apparatus: A pictorial history of the Los Angeles Fire Department

John A. Calderone - Wheels of the bravest: A history of FDNY fire apparatus, 1865-1992

Peter Aloisi - Apparatus and fires across America: Featuring former FDNY apparatus

Scott Schimpf - Fire Apparatus of Philadelphia

Harrold Shell - Past and present: A history of Phoenix fire trucks

Leo E. Duliba - Industrial & Private Fire Apparatus: 1925 Through 2001 Photo Archive

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus


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