FireTruck Diary

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

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   Friday, July 12, 2002
Motor news
I've determined that the truck has a Ford 534 cid V8 Super Duty gas engine. This is actually interesting for the sake of trivia, the 534 was the biggest engine Ford made. They made it as a competitor to the up and coming diesels that were starting to dominate the heavy truck market.

534's were used in almost all the fire trucks that were built up from Ford C-series chassis. Many believe this was the single most popular fire truck chassis and engine combination ever used. Tens of thousands were made between the late fifties and early eighties. An amazing number are still in service.

I got the 1960 Ford Truck Shop Manual from, an excellent resource for, well, ford trucks. At first, it was an exciting and pleasant read (yes, I derive pleasure from sitting around reading technical manuals.) But soon, as the awareness spread throughout my brain that I was likely to have to DO some of the things displayed in graphic parts-blowout horror, I felt the cold hand of fear. My reading pleasure was constantly disrupted as I made guesses as to how much the mechanic's bill would be to do anything I was reading. Gulp.

Standing on the edge of the money pit, I'm just trying to enjoy the view....


A little more progress...
I have insurance! I decided to go with the only company that would respond to me with a quote. How's that for careful shopping :-)

$279 in one lump sum will buy you $100K liability, $300K personal, and $100K property protection (if you have my driving record, credit history, facial hair, etc.) I bought the coverage from Progressive, a officialy 'big' company. Other 'big' companies and quite a few small ones were completely flummoxed by my request. Now I have to do battle with the Travis County Tax Assessor.

In Texas I can register the truck as an antique (more than 25 years old, freaky that a 1976 vehicle is an antique.) this means that "The vehicle must be used exclusively for exhibitions, club activities, parades, or other functions of public interest and in no case for regular transportation." I can live with that. Especially since I started the 'club' that will be having activities :-) TXDOT was marginally helpful over the phone, but left me with the sinking feeling that I wasn't getting the whole picture somehow.

My gut sank to my ankles when the woman from the Tax Assessor's office told me that the registration would be based on the Gross Vehicle Weight. Ouch. It broke my heart to have to say "27,000 pounds". This means that I get to pay the state $275.40 a year. I'm now looking at around $550/yr to keep the vehicle unless I can get cheaper insurance.

I searched Ebay yesterday and determined that I could get about:
$160 for the beacon ray light on top
$200 for the Federal Siren on the front
$300 for the booster hose reel.

I'm not too thrilled about stripping DeTruck for parts, but I can't legally run the lights or siren so maybe I'll cash in on them. If the pump doesn't work then I'll sell the hose reel since it will be of no use.

I need to get creative and figure out a way for the truck to pay its own way and make me about $500/yr. How hard can it be? ;-)


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