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Leonardtown, Maryland



Owned by Jesse Walter
Bolter # 22471
Millsboro, Delaware

05 November 2011
# 2920

More pictures of my old fire truck

From Jesse :

I got my two-car garage completed about the 20th of October.  Put the 8 foot slatwall around the garage and hung a lot of things up. [ Pictures of this are in the Bolt Bucket linked above. ~ Editor ] Really nice area for working in there.  If you ever visited "Linens and Things," their stores were lined with slatwall.  I had 22 4x8 panels and used all but one panel.  My garage walls are lined with them on two sides.  I have four milk crates full of hanging accessories, too.  I paid $10.00 per panel, and they are highly finished, and the slatwall tracks are aluminum lined.  All the shelves and workbenchs are on rollers. So if the garage is empty, you can "re-arrange the furniture" pretty fast.  I moved the garden tool rack around to the side so that I could gain a foot or so forward of the front mount pump.

Tuesday, I called Jeff Fletcher, the Hurlock, MD, rollback guy and met him at his shop. We went and picked up my acquisition -- a 1964 GMC 2500 / F.L. Anderson Fire Truck.   F.L. Anderson, in located in Baltimore, MD. Anderson built about 37 fire trucks from the late 1930's to 1964 when this truck was delivered.  My truck is F.L. Anderson's last fire truck. Charles Underwood said that there was not a big decision process that told them to stop. They just moved on to other things. They did mostly front mount pumps for rural departments, and that market was not growing. They did a lot of machine work for the Baltimore Fire Department as well as others in the area. Their shop is still there on Russell Street. You can buy a photo-history book from them, if you are interested.  

My journey to pick up the fire truck was pretty easy -- 50 miles from my house. We stopped at the scale and weighed the truck and rollback - 23,300 pounds, and rollback weight was 14,500 "+- 500 lb of chains."  So my 8100 GVW truck weighs in at 8,900 pounds with no water, and no hose and empty everything.  I wonder what it weighed fully equipped? It had a 300 gallon booster tank, and they had 1000 feet of four inch hose on it when it was last in service. You can see it in the photo.  Water (2,800 pounds) and hose at another 500 pounds, could raise the gross weight to 12,000 pounds.  No wonder Prince George's County (where Jesse use to live ~ Editor) is always weighing fire trucks and ambulances. 

The fire truck started right up after we unloaded it. We drove it around a bit and it seems like 4wd is engaged. So I'll have to see what is going on down there. My 1967 Chevy was a bear to get back out of 4wd. The best method was to coast downhill and put your foot on the lever, and it would disengage.  We noticed that the muffler was pretty well gone and you could see from side to side in a number of spots. The exhaust (engine to muffler) was pretty solid so I figured I'd saw it off and put a new one on.

The fire truck fits in the garage, and I can walk around it. That's a nice plus.

I made my first big mistake on Tuesday. I picked up a Delaware transport tag (five days max) to get it to inspection. Since the owner said all was well and it should pass, and I had a handle on the exhaust, I didn't think it would be a problem. 

Well, when we got home, we found that the windshield wipers would not work. Since I don't have a manual, I went looking for the 1967 wiper motor under hood. No, it is under the dash. I removed the cowl to vacuum out about 100 or so dead wasps, and two wasp nests (it spent the past summer outside). Problem with wipers was a disconnected wiper motor plug. The truck has a new aftermarket wiring harness and plugs seem less robust than those old ones, but the new wire is flexible.  The president of Neck District Fire Company told me that the truck got rustier sitting around at the previous owner's shop for three years, than it did sitting around the firehouse for 40 years.

We went over to Manlove Auto Parts in Millsboro for my first trip. Got wiper blades and ordered a muffler. We read the directions and put the wipers on while there at the counter.  A guy in line starts chatting: he runs a small body shop and restores old Chevy products. He lives about a mile from me. So, I might get some work from him if I want to put the red nose back on the truck.

Thursday I put the new muffler and ten-inch tailpipe on the truck. This truck does sit up in the air a bit, so it is easy to wield a sawzall under there. Whole muffler replacement, including new radiator hose clamp on the muffler, took about 45 minutes.

Spent another hour taking the beacon ray off the roof, and removing the siren from the front bumper.  If I was an organized, or recognized Fire Department, I could run through inspection with the light and siren on the truck.  The Chief Inspector told me that "Dover" never clarified permissible equipment for antique fire trucks in private hands. Then the Chief Inspector told me, "The Delaware inspection process lasts from that white line out there to the back door.  If you want to stop in the parking lot and put the light and siren back on, that's just fine with us."  They no longer check any trucks for mufflers, just system integrity.

When I took the siren off, I disassembled it a bit because the wire was wiggling. The original wire inside the siren is cotton-insulated "rag wire" that was completely bare in about a two inch length - I'll fix that before reinstalling the siren. The siren has nice new wire going to a joint at the base of the siren.  Siren has a wonderful sound, not a Federal Q, but not a "peanut whistle" either. The beacon ray junior is missing its bottom gasket, and water had leaked into the cab. The six holes where the newer light bar had been did not help either. Truck has a radio antenna on it and I have parts of two radios that I will mount in there again.

Thursday night I checked all the lights about 9:00 PM and noticed that the brake lights were not working.  Traced the wire to the steering column turn signal switch where it quit letting the electrons flow.  Since I had a deadline, I was on a mission.

Friday morning I went to auto parts store for more stuff. I then ran a wire from brake light switch output to under hood area.  Hooked up the wire through an isolation relay so the draw from the lights was not going all around and through the brake light switch.  Ran a new wire along the frame to the back step of the fire truck.  It was 11 am and I had a 4:30 Friday deadline.

There is a new accessory tap on the fender where all the fire stuff is hooked up. It uses modern-day fuses and has about 15 extra slots in there. Noticed that alternator is a 150 amp Leece / Neville with a 2003 date on it. So not too old, since they quit running the truck in 2004 or so.

Took one of the Signal-Stat metal tail lights from the tub of fire truck stuff and started to hook it up. The mounting stud must have been corroded, as the threads from the light body were on the mounting stud.  Re-assembly was not an option.  

Off to Manlove Auto Parts again. The counter guy looked up a Grote metal stop / tail light that was an equal to the ones on the truck originally.  Lights will be here 8:00 am Saturday morning.  They were $36.00 each list, $27.00 each with my senior citizen discount.  Fire trucks can always use more red lights on the back.  

Since I used a 20 foot piece of four conductor trailer wire for the brake light, I hooked up my magnetic tow truck lights and I had temporary brake lights.  Cleared all the stuff from around the truck - fire trucks have all that built-on shelf space. Started right up! I have not owned a manual choke in a while. No seat belts in this thing, either. Backed it out and made few laps of the neighborhood to get the feel of things.  Brakes were re-done, and they worked fine. Steering is manual, so not much to go wrong, just have to keep moving if you are in a tight spot.  I'll have to drive it farther to find out if all the bouncing is just the 30 year old 10 ply nylon 7.50x17 mud/snow tires. 

So, I took my prize possession up Plantation Boulevard, around Belmont Circle, and out Belmont Drive to Godwin School Road, past Ingram Pond, made a right on Sheep Pen Road, and another right on Hardscrabble Road (DE 20) and into the local BP.  Put 10 gallons of gas in the in-cab tank (looks to be a new tank.)   Got my receipt and came back out to truck to find a puddle of gasoline under the truck, sort of running out the door. 

The gasoline appeared to be dripping out of the tank. I wiped up some of it with paper towels and headed back to home so I could put a bucket under the problem.  Got home and the cab was dry. After sitting outside on the concrete driveway, no drips were evident. 

At 10PM I decided to put it back in the garage, and put the other two trucks in the driveway. I think I need to order a service manual on this thing because there are things that predate even my 66 years.  Gas vapor is still emitting from the truck.  I have garage door open about 10 inches to keep things circulating in there.  With 12 mph winds we should have good circulation.   

Now for the observations. The paint on the truck is probably a good paint job, but there are some spots where prep work was not very good. Little details that I can fix.  Color is Sherwin Williams White 2003 Dodge Pickup Truck.  Body on the truck is solid - even down inside the cab corners, and fender corners.  Frame and underside have some rust on them.  I suspect that was a result of the three years it spent undergoing its reassembly process.  Radiator and cooling system appear to be fine - pressure checked fine - really nice to have something to use the pressure checker on.

I think there are five or six leaves in the front springs, and they look like typical GM 4X4 front springs from that era. In the back, there are two stacked sets of springs. One is the main spring, about NINE leaves and above it is another set of overload springs of about SEVEN leaves.   There are four shocks on the rear axle. One of them is a set of coil-over springs shocks.

After four days of sitting on my painted garage floor, the truck has not dripped out any spots. There is some evidence of leaking around gaskets on anything that has oil in it.  I'll fill them up with the appropriate fluids and see if the dripping improves.  Gasket sets for the front axle are about $35 and I have done two 4wd's in the past.

During my brief run, I noticed that the fuel gage does not work. The oil pressure goes from 30PSI up to 80PSI. I'll have to find out what is normal - the oil pressure gage looks like a water gage on a fire truck. There is a nice voltmeter in the dash that works fine. Original truck had oil pressure light, and it goes on and off at the appropriate times.

Doors shut pretty solidly for 46, 47 years.  Three different people have told me that the truck has less than 9,000 miles on it. Speedometer says 9,173. Rear view mirrors are the ones that were on it when it was delivered. Cab is basic truck, one sun visor, and no inside rear view mirror. Heater control is a fan switch and a lever under the dash. Seat is original and does not have much wear on it.  I abuse it a bit getting in and out as it is a healthy climb up there. Needs a running board and a grab handle. 

Fire pump and associated equipment will be something to do in the future:

Fire pump was rebuilt by one of the FD members at his shop in Baltimore.  He has promised to send me the manual for the pump - Hale will be quicker.  Primer pump is there and works, but is not connected to the pump.  Hale pump governor is there, but frozen and the pressure tank and throttle knob are missing. Drive shaft for pump is disconnected, radiator requires work to clear the pump driveshaft. Booster reel is not connected and does not have a nozzle or a crank.  I sure hated the Hannay cranks, but I never tossed one away.   There is a new booster tank in the truck, but it is not connected to the "tank to pump" line, and I cannot find a vent pipe or outlet on it. 

We are missing a vital 30 inches 2 1/2 inch pipe and fittings.  Looks like it was built at a hardware store - even all the original work.  Line from pump to riser for reel is a piece of 1 inch booster line. 

There is a vacant space ahead of the tank, and behind the cab, like where a mid-ship pump would have gone.  Old 300 gallon (about 2800 pounds) tank filled the space up, I'd like to use the space for storage.

It is now Saturday and I'm waiting for the votive candles to find the gas link.

Too much truck; too little time. This is a good thing.


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