Wednesday the weather was perfect. I was off work and needed to "try out" the firetruck to make sure it'd make it through the upcoming Christmas Parade.
This belongs to the local museum.
Its been stored at the museum for nearly two decades, but the city was being wishy-washy about ownership. Things got rather ugly as the city was claiming they still owned it and wouldn't let the museum people touch it. Most all the older firemen have retired or passed on and the younger firemen had no connection to the truck or its local history so it sat being ignored in a building on museum property that isn't generally open to the public.
I am on the museum board of directors and am one of only 4 people insured to drive their vehicles.
The truck wasn't operable, needing some minor repairs and maintenance, and the museum wasn't going to spend one cent on it if it still belonged to the city.
There it sat - for several years.
Last year the museum president told the city to either officially donate it to the museum or get it out of our building.
The city came and removed the truck.
For 4 months the truck was stored at different city departments - with none wanting it around. This caused a big riff about what to do with it.
Finally a former city councilman stepped forward and told the current council that the city offically donated the truck almost 20 years ago when he was part of the council. No records of the donation could be found by either the museum or city. Someone at the local newspaper then found an article where it was donated way back when sealing the deal. With the city having nowhere to store the truck it was returned with official word from the city of "its yours"
The main reason it wouldn't start was the starters bendix gear was about 1/10 ground off and the flywheel ring gear was about 1/2 gone in both of the two spots where the engine stops every time. The museum tried to find someone that would pull the tranny to put on a new flywheel ring gear. No local shop would touch it because it still has the pump and all the related plumbing to deal with on a tranny removal.
Once I studied the problem I noticed it had a spacer between the starter and bell housing that could be planed down so the teeth would get more bite. AT BEST this thing only had 1/2 of its teeth width meshing when it was being used and was allowed to run like that for years accelerating the wear. I took the starter off and took the spacer to the local machine shop. Told the guy to plane 3/8 of an inch off the spacer. $25 later we had a starter that would actually turn the engine.
The oil looked like roofing tar so I changed that complete with a diesel fuel flush, and new canister style oil filter. Fires right up but still not hitting on all 12 cylinders. I rigged an electric fuel pump and sucked 7 gallon of brown nasty gasoline out of the tank. Put in new gas [with Stabil] hoping the new gas would make it hit on more cylinders. Starts easy, idles great and running good enough to pull itself for now. I'm going to check into the ignition system a little farther and also do a compression check some day soon but at least I know it'll run through our Christmas parade.
Wednesday afternoon, with permission, I drove it all over town. People really wave at a fire truck!
Two people followed me around for quite some time and one of them flagged me down in an attempt to purchase the truck. I parked and gave him a complete walk around tour.
1957 American LaFrance model 700 pumper
526 cubic inch V-12 gas engine - 24 spark plugs.
2 distributors - both with dual points and condensors.
2 starter buttons with 2 seperate solenoids w/each having its own 12 volt battery.
4 speed tranny - single speed rear end - hydraulic brakes
Now for the good stuff!