Friday, April 30, 2010

Pictures, a Phone Call, and Getting Over It

We're actually going to do those in reverse.

After re-reading the last post, seeing once again the oft-repeated apologies aimed to the Tacoma guys of days past for being essentially crazy back in the day near the end of it, I felt like those comments derailed the post. It's over. I'm just not going to do that any more. It was over twenty years ago. I was an idiot, I was lucky, some of the guys helped me, I'm way past it, and am now a veteran firefighter who has by now paid it all back. No more apologizing about it.

OK, then.

Last night I got an email from the current owner of one of 17's identical sisters in Florida. You can see a picture of that pumper in her new life here. It seems they might be willing to assist me in the work by sending along photos of their pumper, which theoretically has not been modified or abused as much as 17, so I can set things right and obtain proper matching equipment to replace missing things. That was Good News.

But that was just a precursor to today's out-of-the-blue phone call from the Tacoma Fire Department. Apparently.... apparently.... they may still have one of the other identical sisters in storage somewhere after all. The person I talked to thought TFD's was at the old Station 12, but I was at old 12's about a month ago on my own for this very purpose, and saw no apparatus in the building (though the old Truck 3, a 1980's Mack CF, is sadly rotting away in the weather out back). Still, the figurative door is open a crack that there may still be one of 17's sisters around, and now I know for sure that someone is checking into that for me and will help me arrange access to it -- if the rumor proves true. This may end up being Great News. We shall see. Fingers crossed.

Finally, another batch of pictures. The thumbnails are small because there are so many. Click on any of them for a big version.

I forgot to grab a picture of these before, but for some reason all of the tailboard clearance lights were removed except the corners. All three off the center, and both of the side lights. Did these disappear when the upper lights went away and someone put those amber ones on? Weird. Guess I'm looking for five proper-vintage red clearance lights now.

I was about to back her up from being out today, and asked my wife to spot me since the kids were around. Then I remembered all of a sudden the back-up horn buttons in the back. Before OSHA and whoever else declared the end of tailboard riding - even for backing into quarters - these pumpers had small horn buttons on the back for a riding spotter to signal the driver. How well I remember as a kid, Engine 8 would pull up, the officer would get out and go into the station, while the jumpseat guy would go back and jump onto the tailboard. the engine would pull forward across the road into position, the tailboard guy would give three honks to signal OK to back up, and the driver would acknowledge with three quick chirps of the air horn. When backed in, the tailboard guy would honk once for stop. If the tailboard guy needed you to go forward again, it was two honks, but that was rare.

Anyway, the memory suddenly splashed into my awareness and I went to check for them. Unsurprisingly, the buttons are gone. The picture above shows the hole on one of the sides in back where they used to be.

Here's the little speaker that the current parade siren is hooked up to. You can see that it is positioned effectively to freak out the guy in the jumpseat.

Another loose wire that went somewhere for something.

I thought one of the airhorns wasn't working, and checked the air lines, but they seem all intact. So I had one of my sons test the horns while I stood on the front bumper. To my chagrin, after reporting one of the horns disconnected, I have to report my error: They both work. But they are still out of tune and sound like delivery truck horns.

Another shot of the air line under the cab roof in back. This puzzled me. The air line is tapped here, but the tap is capped off now and goes nowhere. I cannot for the life of me figure out where a third line from the air horns would have gone, or why. To be clear, this is after the valve, so the capped tap shown would only get air while the horns were being blown. Anyone???

I have no idea what this access panel is for, there does not appear to be anything useful that can be seen or manipulated through here. But you get another view of the dashboard, including a better shot of the dash-top gauge with the broken housing.

I have no idea what this is for, either. It involves moving air for something. Another cooling air intake? It seems like every time I poke around on 17 I find something else I don't know about. This is a symptom of being a long time firefighter, too. After five years on the job, many think they know it all, but some of us spend every year realizing how much we still don't know, and it the more you learn the more you again realize you don't know. Seventeen years of this now for's kind of scary and sobering, actually.

And my parting shot, fueling at the local country store up the road from my place. Always creates a minor stir there when I bring 17 over for fuel. The owner is a firefighter himself for a neighboring district, so we always seem to chat about the latest goings on.

Thanks for coming along on the ride. What else will we realize that we don't know before the day is over?


  1. on the airline. could they have installed another airhorn and taken it off????
    can you access the oil dip stick throuhg the access panel???? or the tranmission dipstick????

  2. Wow, that brought back memories. I forgot all about that spotting system with the horns and all. I miss the good ol' days. :) (well, some aspects from then anyway.)

  3. QUESTIONS: 1. What is the current engine; I assume a 671N Detroit Diesel (meaning a straight, and N for natural induction and not having a turbo..)

    2. Could it have been re-powered at one point? I ask due to that access hatch and the intake. If they are not currently used for anything, perhaps it was re-powered. On most older rigs like that, the access hatch up there was to get at the radiator cap/fill for daily level check purposes prior to the days of the sight glasses. And the intake box looks vaguely like a Farrar air cleaner.