SPIRITO HISTORIC FIRE DEPARTMENT
ENGINE NUMBER 1
FIRE TRUCK PURCHASE AND RESTORATION
Shortly after joining the Lake Park Fire Department (LPFD) I got the bug to purchase my own fire truck. I had already restored a 1935 Ford pickup truck and I was ready for another adventure.
Even a small fire truck is a big piece of equipment. I needed one small enough to fit into a one-car garage. I ran a want add in one of the fire equipment trade publications that basically said I wanted a truck that would fit into a garage thru a door x-inches high and x-inches wide and be no more that x-feet long.
A week or so later I received a call from a fire truck broker in Central Florida. He said he had a truck with a good history that would indeed fit into my garage.
He sent me some photos and the following weekend my father and I drove to Orlando to take a look.
You can see by the photos it fit without any room to spare. Only inches at either end.
Visually the fire truck was in very good condition. I only repainted the wheels and the running boards. The rest of the body and the upholstery are as I purchased it.
Mechanically it needed a lot of work. We started the engine and it ran okay. I turned it off and later when I went to restart it the starter was dead and the engine would not turn over.
The electrical wiring was a mess and looked as though it would short out any second. I agreed to come back another weekend when the truck was again running and I could take it for a test ride.
I received a phone call a couple of days later. The problem with the starter was a broken spring that held one of the starter motor’s brushes in place. I had spare parts on hand from restoring my 1935 Ford pickup so I FedEx’d a pair of replacement springs to Orlando the next day.
The following weekend my Dad and I drove the three hours to Orlando again. This time the truck was in the front yard and the water tank was filled. We were able to operate the pump before taking it for a test ride.
The test ride started out great. I was already certain to buy the truck. After several stops the brakes got harder and harder to push to stop the truck. Finally as I pulled into a gas station for fuel the brakes locked up in the parking lot and the truck would not move at all.
I opened up the master cylinder and the brake fluid was thick and brown like chocolate pudding. Not a good sign. We had already made arrangements for a flat bed truck to haul my “new” fire truck home. While waiting for the flat bed to arrive I borrowed some tools and quickly backed off the brake adjustment on all four wheels thus permitting the truck to roll again.
Once home the restoration began. New brakes, tires, and a complete rewiring would get us back on the road again.
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