Fairview Fire Department

Old Engine 45 Pictures

April 29, 2002

Old Engine 45 is a 1934 Chevrolet Fire Engine that was "home built" by members of the fire department and community. I’ve been a fan of this engine since I first encountered it back in the late 1980’s. Back then, it was a charming wreck – sitting in a corner of the fire station at 7040 West Lake Road. Since then, some dedicated members of the department have set about restoring the engine to operational status.

Keep in mind that this is an unfinished work. Like the original construction, this restoration is being conducted by members of the fire department. They have no real budget to work with, no overall plan, and very little information about the original truck to go on.

Some of the folks responsible for this are known to me, others work quietly in the wings drawing very little attention. I mention some of them here because I know about their contributions. If I fail to mention somebody, please don’t take offense! I’m not even a real member of the department, just an interested bystander.

There are others involved, I’m sure. Other contributions came from local businesses that donated time and materials. Other members of the fire department have helped transport the truck, cleaned it, and provided mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic expertise. Additions to this list are welcome. Now, on with the pictures!

Engine 45 in its bay at the Fairview Fire Department, Station #53, 7040 West Lake Road, Fairview Twp, Pennsylvania.

On the Ramp at Station #53.

A View of the Driver’s Side. Note the "chopped" 34 Chevrolet Cab, the Waterous pump under the seat, the mid-ship mounted 280 gallon water tank, the 1" booster reel, and the rear hose-bed.

This mechanism is the actual "Engine" we speak of when we talk about a "Fire Engine." If you need a better explanation, check out the dictionary... By the way, this pump works extremely well; moving about 700 gallons per minute from a draft.

This particular pump is a positive-displacement gear pump that requires no external vaccuum pump to pull a prime. When originally purchased, the pump was rated at 350 gallons per minute. Back in the 1960's, the pump was overhauled by machinists at Parker White Metals. According to the Chorneys, they were able to effectively double the pumps total output by increasing the stroke volume and by maintaining tighter overall tolerances within the pump housing.

Here’s another "engine." In this case, the prime-mover for both the "fire engine" and the "truck." It’s a stock Chevy "straight-6." with a displacement of 350 cubic inches. The long black cone on the left side of the picture is the horn. The air cleaner is presently "missing in action." If you have a spare oil-bath air cleaner for this type of engine, consider making a donation to the cause.

Not a very good picture, but you can at least see the operator’s controls from this angle. The oversized wheel is a necessity – no power steering. The transmission is a four-speed with reverse and PTO. The starter button is on the floor to the right of the gas pedal. The foot mounted switch on the far right is for the siren. The hand brake is mechanically interlocked with the foot brake. Both are purely mechanical with no hydraulic or vacuum assist. The box mounted on the steering column is for the turn signals (presently non-functional) The black knob to the left of the steering column is the hand-throttle, used when pumping the truck.

These guages are modern replacements for the (unfortunately) broken originals. The guage on the left is the engine pressure guage – telling the engineer his water pressure on the discharge manifold of the pump. The guage on the right is a compound vacuum/pressure guage reading the relative vacuum or pressure on the intake side of the pump. When drafting from a static water source, you need to pull a vacuum on the intake side to draw water up into the pump through the hard-suction hose. When taking water from a hydrant, or other pressurized water source, the compound guage reads the water pressure available from that source.

The business-end of this fire engine is the booster reel. Although modern fire-fighting techniques concentrate on the use of larger diameter attack hose, this was the first line to typically attack the fire. We’ll leave the "high-pressure" VS "high-flow" holy wars for another time and place!

Finally, this photograph shows the rear of the apparatus. The black tank mounted above the hose bed is the gasoline tank. The racks on either side of the hose bed are meant to hold ladders – a wooden extension ladder, roof ladder, and attic ladder. The wide "beaver tail" at the rear of the truck was meant to accomodate two or three firefighters in a standing position. The short "drums" on either side of the beaver tail held fire extinguishers for smaller fires. The black pipe extending from the opposite side of the truck is the hard suction.

Micheal H. McCabe
April 30, 2002