Let me start with wishing all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2018. Keep driving and enjoying the sites. Today I am discussing about my third Fire Engine. This is a 1950 Mercedes Benz TLF 15. This was a water tender built on a Mercedes Benz L 3500 chassis. This chassis was also manufactured in India by then Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO), now Tata Motors; as the Tata 1210. It was the workhorse of Indian economy as well as the military. I have many lovely memories of traveling to school in 1210 Army Trucks modified as school buses.
The L 3500 chassis were between 5,570 mm (219.29″) to 8,730 mm (343.7 “) long, 2,220 mm (84.4″) to 2,300 mm (90.55″) wide with a wheel base measuring from 3,600 mm (141.73″) to 4,800 mm (188.98″). The TLF 15 was built on the shorter 3,600 mm (141.72”) chassis. These vehicles had a carrying capacity of 4.5 tons (9,920 lbs) to 5.8 tons (12,786.8 lbs). These trucks had a modular ladder frame chassis. The front and rear rigid axles were supported using double elliptical leaf springs. The rear axles carried twin tyres to be able to carry more load. Telescopic shock absorbers were also provided on the front axle for a more comfortable ride for the driver.
The TLF 15 came with a twin cab cabin so that the firemen could travel safely and comfortably as against the earlier practice of hanging on to rails on foot-boards. These fire engines could carry a crew of 8 people. This water tender also carried a short extendable ladder, which could reach up to the top floors of most of the buildings in the 1950s. They had a manhole on top for filling water into the tank and a cope points at the back where fire hoses could be connected. They could carry 2,400 litres of water. They carried a pump which could discharge 1,500 litres of water per minute. In addition these vehicles were used as foam carriers. The TLF 15 in particular was manufactured by Metz.
These trucks were powered by the OM 312 engines. These engines were developed in the post war period. They comprised a series of very successful diesel engines for commercial application and were installed in a wide range of medium duty trucks manufactured by Mercedes Benz spanning 50 years of production. The OM 312 was a naturally aspirated 4,580 cc (279.48 Cu-inch) six cylinder inline diesel engine. They breathed through one inlet and exhaust overhead valve each, generating 90 BHP at 2,800 rpm and 265 N-m (195.45 ft-lb) of torque at 1,600 rpm. These engines were equipped with one counter-weight for each cylinder and a vibration damper to minimise vibrations.
As these trucks required to be driven at high speeds through city traffic they were provided with excellent braking systems for their time. They comprised of hydraulic brake servoed pneumatically. There were drums brakes provided on all the wheels. Also, the TLF 15 were built on 4X4 versions of the L 3500; the same trucks which carried me to school.