EBay, no way!
One night: "Connie, do we still want a Fire
A few minutes later, the bid was placed. $1,200 later and we
now have a fire engine located in another state.
Now it is phone calls, airline tickets, find insurance........
Finally, Charlie and Bob decide to drive out on Sunday, assess
how much trouble we are in, and drive the trouble home on Monday.
You may want to view the E-Mail linked on
more info before moving down this page...just a
Fire Engine Update at page bottom..
Day #1- It is Sunday June 12 2005, It took 5 1/2 hours to drive from
Moorpark to Phoenix. We viewed the truck and located some filter numbers. The
engine sounds good but the hoses are all pretty hard and brittle. We plan to
check the tires, add fluids, fix the brake lights early tomorrow . At 9 am we
will go change out the title and get the temporary registration. Hopefully by 10
am we will be on the road to Malibu. Best wishes and prayers accepted
Day #2 - Monday June 13 2005. I slept poorly as did Charlie. I
had picked a hotel based on location proximity to the fire truck. It turns out
that the Hampton Inn that I picked is across the street from a major hospital
with a nice Air-Ops budget. Copter traffic would swoop over us, too often.
I got up early and abused the free breakfast. Charlie had a coffee and yogurt
and we are off! As one might expect, Charlie has the equipment planning and pays
attention to detail. I am a quick and dirty kind of guy who takes my good luck
for granted. (In the real world, my good luck is in the form of Charlie.)
We gather what filters, parts and comforts we can from a local NAPA store. A
case of coolant a case of engine oil ETC. (I got a fabric seat cover and a
cup holder, Charlie bought a fuel filter.) We meet the seller at his "junk
yard?" after a few calls to his cell phone, he stumbles out to open the gate.
(he was sleeping). The seller gives me great directions and good paperwork on
the truck, I give him the remaining $700.00 for the truck. I go to get the temp
registration locally while Charlie services the Fire Engine. Charlie is
under/all over the truck, checking differentials, filters, belts, oil and
lighting. Some fluids, and couple of wiring fixes and that bad tire finally
filled and we are on our way. (Charlie managed to bond with the seller (better
than I could do) and got use of his power, sink, soap and whatever we needed.)
I got back with the paperwork and not so patiently helped as Charlie
finished the equipment check out.
We hit the road (man I have to pee). We drive 300 feet to a Circle K (screw
the gas cost I need a head). Gas is flowing into the fire engine and
Charlie is filling spare cans as I head inside. No bathroom. Gears grinding
literally as I try to learn to drive this transmission. No syncro. just the real
deal, a high torque fire engine. We go a few blocks and I stop and actually find
a very disgusting bathroom. It is times like this that I thank goodness that I
am a man, and do not need to touch anything.
We head out to highway 17 S and with the gears grinding, oil smoke pouring
out the back, we are on the road! Darn, Charlie pulls in front of me and
signals me to stop at the next exit. I pull into the gas station and Charlie and
I check out the pool of oil forming under the truck. Charlie wants me to look at
stuff and I can only think "Is it leaking too fast to drive home adding oil as
we go or do I have to leave it here." We decide to eat at a fine Jack in
the Box and as I stare at my Iced Tea, Charlie calls his brother, an expert in
fire engines. He suggests that we continue, adding oil as necessary. We decide
to go on, with most of my attention while driving the fire truck on the oil and
temperature gauges that appear to be working. Forty minutes out I can see the
oil pressure slowly drop, but not too fast. When we stop to fuel and change
drivers, a pool of oil drips onto the ground. Add 3 to 4 quarts of oil, gas, and
get refreshments, lets go....
We left Phoenix at 1:30 PM after all the delays. We arrived at Buzzards
Roost at 10:30 PM. Most of the drive occurred at full throttle, governed to
60MPH in 98 to 106 degree weather. No Air Conditioning, no syncro's, no air
seat, no radio, no..... fill in the blank. We are better men for the trek.
Connie and Jenny greeted us. Little did they know that we had lost our
headlights and still negotiated the treacherous freeways of Los Angeles, they
were just happy to see us, and we them.
OK, Eco freaks! I left a lot out, this is just the highlights as I
view them. We (meaning Charlie) cleaned up all of the oil when we stopped, at
each and every stop. We left no oil pools behind. Really, would a park ranger
and the owner of a recycling company leave pollution behind? Not even on a bet.
Enjoy this 10% of the story. No one wants us to tell the whole story!
OK: Insurance is a nightmare at best, $1200 to buy the
truck, $1,700 (Note, 130% of purchase price) to insure it for a year! Liability
only? Wholly cow!
I painted one door, checked the gauges, ETC, now it is off to the shop. I
transfer the title to California and pay the $200 to DMV. (Note 15% of purchase
E-Bay Buyers, get all your other ducks in a row. E-bay is great, my seller,
fine, the extras are hell.
I found another Fire Engine a few years newer and better condition, so I may
used these photos for restoration purposes if my engines pumps are OK.
1970 American La France,
*** Prior to our Alaska
adventure my mom and I took the Fire truck into a shop (highly recommended and
used by Ventura County Fire Department) for repairs.
The fire truck had a bad front engine seal as
The vibration damper is bad and there are
Mine is being custom rebuilt. Repairs are
underway and we will test the pumps after the vehicle code inspections are done.
Insurance news: After shopping around, I now
have a new quote for liability insurance, the quote? $49.85 a year. Same
coverage for over $1,500.00 less.