Hand tubs were simple pumps "on wheels" consisting of a center pivoted lever connected to two pistons located in the water reservoir. Volunteers from the firehouse muster provided the power to move the pistons up and down using bars connected to the pivot lever. Mechanical valves working in conjunction with ballast tanks served to smooth the pressure applied to the water stream at the output. A picture of the "Carroll" hand tub is shown above.
Because the hand tub chassis was rigidly mounted and the overall weight was in access of one ton it could not be safely drawn by horses. Rather, it had to be pulled to the fire by members of the muster. Hard work indeed.
Upon arrival at the fire scene, large intake hoses were placed in a local source of water. Once the tub was primed and filled, up to
Volunteers from the WHS restored a number of antique fire-fighting pieces used in Wolfeboro dating from the mid 1800's. Two of these are "hand tubs" built by the Hunneman Company in Boston Mass.
The Firehouse Museum also displays two restored hose carriers dating from the 1800's. One of these was hand drawn and carried up to 300 ft of hose. The other was horse drawn, carried up to 1000 ft of hose, and was fitted with either wheels or skis.
Also at the Museum, on loan from Q. David Bowers, is a restored Amoskeg horse drawn fire engine. This engine uses a wood/coal fired burner to convert water to steam thereby providing a source of pressure to pump water though an output hose directed at the fire. This engine is truly a magnificent piece of machinery. While it was never used to fight fires in Wolfeboro, it is only one of 75 still in existance and it's exhibition alone is well worth the trip.
1000 ft of output hose was deployed to direct the water stream at the fire. Hand tubs were used in Wolfeboro through the 1800's and up to the early 1900's, minimizing the losses to many homes and businesses.