CAN OLD FIRE APPARATUS BE SUCCESSFULLY REMODELLED?
The Question Is a Debatable One— W hat the Pasadena Fire Department Has Done in Making Over Old Apparatus
THE question as to the desirability or feasibility of remodelling old fire apparatus is an interesting one. The following article treats the subject in a practical manner:
It does not seem advisable to remodel motor pumping engines that have been in active service tor a period of ten years or over, as the pumping engines of today are much more efficient, and the expenses would not warrant the results to be obtained, but the better plan would be to replace them with new apparatus, and place the older equipment in reserve or some less important territory.
They should be thoroughly overhauled and made as serviceable as possible. Their condition, of course, would depend on the amount and kind of service they have been subjected to, and also, the care they had been given during their life. This applies to standard makes of fire apparatus and not the assembled kind.
When it comes to fire apparatus other than pumping engines, I am convinced that standard fire apparatus ten years old, and older, can be successfully, efficiently and economically remodelled and will give many years of additional service.
Must Get Along with the Best They Have
In most of the combination old machines the engines were less efficient and in some cases unreliable. The ladder, chemical and small equipment was not placed to the best advantage. All these things can be taken into consideration and made just to your individual ideas and the equipment can be made standard with your present modern apparatus.
If the frame, axles, wheels, transmission, breaks and body etc., on an old standard make machine are serviceable, then It is more economical to buy a new engine, remodel and rebuild your old apparatus than to junk or sell it.
Some cities are in the happy position of being able to replace all their old apparatus with new, which of course would be the best course to pursue, but many of us must be content to get along without new apparatus and make the best of what we have.
Must Have Efficient Shop and Good Master Mechanic
In order to successfully rebuild old apparatus you must have two things. F’irst. a well equipped shop, and, second, a competent and resourceful master mechanic who has ideas and the ability to carry them out.
Our experience thus tar has been satisfactory in remodelling old machines, but will admit, that as far as looks go, we can not compete with the factory-made equipment, as we hae not the facilities at hand, and have had to economize in every way possible, but, on the other hand, our remodelled machines are giving satisfactory service, which is the most important factor to be considered.
What Has Been Done in Pasadena
As an example of what can be accomplished, may I refer to our 75-foot aerial ladder truck at our Central Station. This machine is of standard make and was purchased in 1912. It was equipped with an air cooled motor which gave good service for many years. Two years ago we decided to replace the engine with a water cooled motor, the balance of the machine being in excellent condition. If sufficient funds had been available, we would have installed a new factory engine, but as they were not we purchased a Pierce-Arrow 6-66, 5×7 motor and installed it in our shop, at a total cost for motor, radiator and installation, of $710. This machine has given perfect service ever since and is good for many years to come. Our records show that during the past two years this machine has not been out of service at any time for mechanical troubles.
This installation was so satisfactory that we remodelled two combination machines and have one more to be rebuilt at a later date. In the case of the combination machines we used Pierce-Arrow 6-48, 4*4 x 5 engines.
We keep one engine complete, including radiator, starter, transmission, etc., in reserve ready to install in case, of accident or breakdown, and if through accident an engine was completely put out of commission we could replace it in approximately one day’s time.