Morestone Clockwork Fire Engine
with Ringing Bell
Issued c.1948 Length 135mm
Morris & Stone (Morestone) planned to add three Fire Engines to their catalogue from 1948-1950 but only the first model (Fire Engine with Extending Ladder) became successful. Stocks of the last one, the Small Fire Engine, were destroyed by fire before they left the warehouse, and the second, this clockwork version, must have had problems because very few appear to have been made. As a result, the Clockwork Fire Engine in its original box is the rarest of all Morestone Series models.
The body was a one-piece hollow casting inside which was set the clockwork mechanism which drove the vehicle along. There was also a large ringing bell. The design of the Fire Engine was a detailed representation of an old-style vehicle and was painted red on the outer surfaces with silver trim on the grille, front bumper, lights, hoses (top, rear and side), the little windscreen and the small cast bell situated on the left of the screen. Inside and underneath the model was unpainted.
The diecast historian Robert Newson has attributed the manufacture of the Clockwork Fire Engine to Agasee who also made a similar model (without mechanism) in their own right. Agasee made firemen figures for their model and as the Morestone box clearly depicts firemen with the Morestone Series version, similar figures were almost certainly included in the box. On the side of the model was a nozzle to which a rubber hose could be fitted.
A detachable wheeled ladder completed the model. This rested on a support behind the seats and little pegs at the back. It included an extension section and was unpainted metal except for the wheels which were coloured bright yellow.
One feature of the Clockwork Fire Engine was the inclusion of 'MORESTONE SERIES' under the body casting. This was the first appearance of the Morestone name on any diecast model and it did not appear again until 1954 on the Bedford Dormobile, although it was widely used by then on boxes.
The body casting of the Fire Engine included a hole for the key to have access to the clockwork mechanism at the rear of the model underneath. When the motor was wound up and running, the wheels turned and the vehicle was driven forward.
The motor was held in place by an unpainted bar rivetted onto the body. The rear axle with its unpainted wheels was part of this motor and not connected to the body. However, with small wheels and a heavy model the motor must have had to work quite hard to move the Fire Engine fast enough to ring the bell.
To overcome this, it seems that Morestone later issued a 'push-along' variation without a clockwork motor. For this version, the rear axle was fitted to the body through holes in both mudguards and the slot for the key was filled in, although models exist which still have a key hole but no motor and the rear axle fitted to the body. The bell and clapper remained so it still rang when pushed.
The bell was a large item positioned in the centre underneath. It was rung by a lead-weighted metal clapper fixed to a post near the front axle. Because the axle was curved or cranked, the clapper arm, which ran above the axle, was raised and lowered as the axle rotated so when the model moved forward the clapper repeatedly struck the bell.
There were two versions of the end-flap box which Morestone made for the Clockwork Fire Engine, one included the word 'Clockwork' for models with motors, the other omitting it for models without motors (see pictures below). Red and brown drawings of the Fire Engine, complete with several firemen, were printed on all four sides, two in reverse. The end-flaps were plain.
The boxes were also interesting because they were the first to carry the words 'A "Morestone" Series' on any of the Morris & Stone boxes.
Establishing details of the Clockwork Fire Engine is difficult because of its rarity. The boxes are certainly among the rarest.
Morestone Clockwork Fire Engine with Ringing Bell
All models: RED body, UNPAINTED ladder with YELLOW wheels, firemen figures and hose
1) Clockwork motor (integral axle & wheels), Bell & Clapper, 'Morestone Series' box ('Clockwork' in title)
2) NO motor, rear axle fitted to body, Bell & Clapper, 'Morestone Series' box (NO 'Clockwork' in title)