FireTruck Diary

My experiences restoring and playing with a 1960 Ford C-850 Fire Engine

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   Friday, August 02, 2002
Incremental acquisition progress and turmoil...
Well, the package delivery fairies have been very good to me. In the last two days I've received:
Fire Boots
75' 1 1/2" fire hose with brass nozzle
1 1/2" adjustable GPM stream/spray nozzle with cutoff
B&W low light camera with 60' cable
4" Playstation One color LCD screen with A/V inputs
Yellow Full-brim hard hat
50' 2 1/2" fire hose

It's been really interesting as I try to explain to people that I don't want to get a full firefighter costume to go with the truck. Most folk seem to expect that I want to dress up and pretend to be a firefighter. That is a really unappealing prospect to me. I'm not a firefighter and it somehow feels disrespectful to try and pretend to be one. I do feel like there is a good outfit to wear while operating the truck and pump, for me it's fireboots (steel toe, waterproof, great tread), either turnout gear pants or just heavy rain gear pants (waterproof, tough), any old shirt and a hard hat. Folks seemed to think that I'd really want a fire helmet. I do want head protection, I'm a bald man and have more than enough evidence of my habit of collecting head blows, but a hard hat does that job without looking like a wannabe.

I see myself more as a pump operator rather than a fake fireman. I have ideas about what to do with the pump and none of them involve putting out fires (I'm not against it mind you, but I'll leave it to the professionals any time I can.) I'm thinking more along the lines of mini-portable water park. Visquine (plastic sheeting), sand bags and 500 GPM of water have real potential...

I suppose that this is all an aspect of my turmoil regarding art-truck vs. restoration. I never really wanted to 'restore' a fire engine. I really wanted to explore the potential of re-purposing a fire engine into alternative uses. I'm in love with the engine, its history and all that I feel it represents. Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs was once quoted as saying something along the lines of 'I try to look at old farm and industrial machinery and ask it, what do you want to be now?' Granted, Pauline often hears the answer 'I want a cruise missile engine and a flamethrower strapped to me so I can bash up other machinery' and God knows, I respect that answer, but the answers I hear have a more whimsical trend.

I don't want to be shunned by the fire engine restoration community. I fear that a hot rod paint job or somesuch will offend some purists. But I really truly feel I can be fully respectful of the engine and the firefighting service even while tarting the thing up. I want DeTruck to turn heads in a new way, to inspire and excite people. I really want to explore context as an artistic medium. Robert Wilson (the set designer/artist who often works with Philip Glass) once said "A candelabra on a grand piano is one thing, a candelabra on a rock in the middle of a field is another." A fire engine is one thing, a fire engine with hot rod flames is another. (My apologies to Robert Wilson.)


Index of Post Titles:

Vital Statistics:
1960 Ford

534 cid
5-speed Gas
277 horsepower

27000 lbs. GVW

Young Fire Equip.

1000 gal. tank

500 GPM Hale
Midship Pump
Type QSHD-2,

Ferrell Fire Co.,
Ferrell, NJ

Buchanan VFD,
Buchanan, TX