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Obenchain - Boyer

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An Obenchain-Boyer fire truck is ready to be shipped off to it's new owner. This photo was taken in front of Harrington Studio on 5th Street in the 1920s.

The first business venture by John T. Obenchain and Stephen B. Boyer was as operators of the Logan Flouring Mill. Stephen was the president of the company until 1885 when he joined forces with Obenchain and they became the mills owners. The mill was located in a large brick building at the south end of 7th Street in Logansport. It was destroyed by fire, but the men wasted no time in rebuilding on the same grounds, this time embarking on the manufacture of chemical fire extinguishers.

In 1888, the partners had begun a new business that was incorporated under Obenchain-Boyer. The business began making automatic boiler cleaner and a chemical fire engine.

In 1897, Obenchain invented the Stationary Chemical Fire Engine and the chemical fire extinguisher. These became the forerunners of the Obenchain-Boyer Fire Apparatus Company that built fire engines and other fire fighting equipment. The company shipped trucks all over the United States and Canada, as well as exporting their device to China, Australia, South America, and the West Indies. Their trucks were also used locally.

After the death of John Obenchain in 1909, Stephen Boyer became the sole owner of the factory. The company was then renamed the Boyer Fire Apparatus Company.

Boyer knew knew that the growth and stability of the company would come from motorized pumpers. The Boyer fire engine of the 1920s was an economical workhorse. Boyer decided to stick with chassis builders for which he knew every fire department could easily find parts and service. Some of the main chassis lines offered came from Ford, REO, Graham, International, and Chevrolet. After the death of Stephen Boyer in 1927, the Boyer Fire Apparatus Company did experiment with custom chassis.

In later years, Boyer would become Universal Fire Apparatus and sold fire trucks and equipment to nearly every state in the Union before the company was sold in 1988.

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