City Service Truck With Tiller
A couple of surplus 2-ton trucks, placed back-to-back and welded together, are giving U.S. Fleet Activities of Yokosuka, Japan, increased fire safety and are providing an apt testimonial to the Seabee ingenuity of the Base Public Works garage. Cruising about the base is the Fire Department’s pride and joy, a ladder truck “built” entirely by Navy Seabees. It is answering a long-felt need for a truck long enough to carry 60-foot ladders—ladders capable of reaching the top of lofty base warehouses.
Chiefly responsible for the achievement was a pair of Seabees, C. R. Edwards, and J. E. Jones. Edwards is supervisor of the Body and Fender Shop and Jones, who has since returned to the States, was supervisor of the Rehabilitation Shop. They put their plan before Public Works Transportation Officers, Commander A. J. Riley, Lt. C. J. Champion, who finally agreed that the job could be done and gave the project the go-ahead.
A pair of junked 2-ton trucks were selected by the Seabees and along with 8 Japanese body and fender men, 4 mechanics, and 2 painters, they set to work on a rough, experimental model. They welded together the rear of the two trucks, bracing it along the middle with four supporting beams. Three days later a strange unpainted contraption with one man steering in front, another steering from the back, was chugging about the base. This was the engine’s preliminary test for road traction and maneuverability. The main problem was the steering mechanism in the tail of the truck. Because of the length— slightly more than 36 feet—it was necessary to steer the vehicle from both front and rear wheels to negotiate corners. It also required front-wheel drive. A conventional drive shaft extending from the motor to the rear wheels would never have stood up under the torque.
With the steering problems eliminated, the crew further rehabilitated their creation. The old chassis was closely inspected and new parts installed where needed. The chassis was set up with a water-tight compartment housing breathing apparatus, asbestos suits, hats, a fire chute and other gear. Provision was made for the truck to carry four 60-foot ladders, two 12-foot and two 25-foot ladders, and the regular fire fighting equipment such as, lanterns, fire axes, crowbars, wrecking bars, plaster hooks, and an extinguisher.
Fire Chief R. G. Eiffer said, “Public Works showed tremendous ingenuity. They came through when no other ladder truck was available to us.” (Hook and ladder trucks are unavailable in Japan and prospects of latching on to a Stateside model looked dim when the Fire Department first came up with the idea of building one at the base.)
Acknowledgement: From CEC Bulletin. Published by the Seabees.