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Out Of Fire: 1923 American LaFrance Type 32

Based on the tanks under the seat and the lack of pumping equipment, this appears to be a chemical hose wagon. Early fire trucks like this one used the pressure from a combination of chemicals, usually sulphuric acid and bicarbonate of soda, to pump liquid onto a fire. In the 1920s mechanical pumps began to replace the chemicals used to create water pressure. This old fire truck is listed on eBay in Payson, Illinois with an unmet opening bid of $9,900. The engine runs, but it has not been driven in years.

An interesting instrument panel was added at some point. The rest appears very original, including the upholstery, which needs to be redone, but at least it wasn’t eaten by rodents.

This is the LaFrance four-cylinder engine. It runs but will need lots of attention to make it run well.

After being retired from firefighting this fire engine was used for parades. It has been stored for many years and is ready for its next life. It’s smaller than most old fire trucks, so perhaps someone will find a use for it. Perhaps there are more parades in its future or perhaps it will be rebuilt into an interesting truck or even a speedster.

Comments

  1. Mark S.

    I say strip off all that fire gear and make it into a speedster much like the ones seen on Jay Lenos garage. I’d also put in a cumins diesel and modern 5 speed. The other option would be to turn it into a period looking pickup. Still with cumins diesel and five speed. You should be able find a period cab and when the fab work is done paint it a off white or maybe a cream colour with metallic navy blue fenders and running boards. Shine up the brace works, what a cool and functional vehicle it would become.

    • Luki

      Mark S. seriously?
      How about some aluminum siding for the White House?
      It would save the American taxpayers a bundle and probably improve the insulation properties. Colonial Williamsburg is ripe for redo as well.

      • Don Waits

        I agree. This apparatus needs tlc and parade use. My towns fire dept runs a 1917 Le France pumper in parades. It seriously needs cosmetic restoration. The department personnel purchased new tires for it last year. 6 28″solids @$1700 each wasnt cheap but worth it.

      • Mark S.

        It’s your White House if you want to put aluminum siding on it I’d be ok with it. As for the fire truck you have to understand when they are decommissioned they’re pretty much useless so why not make it into something functional. Beats letting it sit around rotting away. Luki maybe you should check out the three different ones shown on Jay Lenos garage they are fantastic, and a lot more fun than just an old fire truck.

      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Sorry Mark, I have to go with Luki, ( not the siding thing) and others that would like to see it preserved,as is and why interest in vehicles like this is fading. It was never intended to be a “speedster”. History fades with every generation, I’m not blaming you for that, but historically, this machine represents a very important milestone in fighting fires, something younger generations may not have any connection to. Honestly, I wasn’t much different. But as I got older, I began to appreciate how we got to this point, and modern fire engines would blow this thing over, but this is how it started, and I hold that stuff dear.

  2. dirtyharry

    For heavens sake, this should not be altered. Perfect patina as-is, just clean it up and get it to run correctly. It is what it is and will likely be worth more in the future if left unmodified. This would be a real winner in any “survivor” class. A great attention getter in front of your business. It has the look.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I agree, it looks cool as is. Can you imagine when THIS was the best they had? Probably saved a lot of basements.

  3. William Ward

    There have been a couple of these enterend in past Peking to Parris Rally’s. That, if a pile of money were available, would be my choice.

  4. Van

    I live 5 miles from work. I’m thinking daily driver. Change one tank to compressed air for your water show.

  5. Rare As

    Mark S, why would you want to vandalise such authentic and rare beauty!?

    Either option you present would destroy all value that this amazing vehicle has.

    Imagine surviving fires, and almost a century, only to have all of its amazing features destroyed to create the current trends.

    Either option you present would make this car as “valuable” as reproduction furniture 🤢🤢🤢

  6. Bill K

    Saw one of these that had been converted to a Speedster about 25 years ago on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Story was the owner’s mechanic was clocked in excess of 100+mph. and vehicle wasn’t licensed, titled or insurred. Trooper threatened to empound if seen again on public roads. Went back to garage with its multiple Bugatti, Rolls, Stutz, Jaguar and Hispono-Suiza stable mates.

  7. JunkFixer

    I had a chance to buy a ’15 American LaFrance chain-drive truck a while back. It had their famous 14.5L 6cyl with 3 spark plugs per cyl (a magneto fired 6 of them, the others being fired by 2 coils). The truck was rough and I didn’t buy it.

    I still regret that decision.

  8. Rex Member

    I’d install a platform, put Granny and her rocker up there, and head for Beverly. Hills that is……

  9. BronzeGiant

    I’ve said this before but what the uneducated don’t understand about fire apparatus is that each one is a one of a kind. With the exception of bulk orders by such municipalities as New York or Philadelphia each piece of apparatus is built to a specific set of specifications set down by the purchasing entity to meet a certain set of criteria and therefore each piece is different and unique. To have one serve a community faithfully for many years and then to have it cut up to become a speedster or a car hauler is a slap-in-the-face to all those who served on that rig thru out the years. An old friend, deceased now, had a prophetic saying, he said, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where’e you’ve been.”

    • glen

      When you think about it, this has lasted longer than a lot of the people that used this. It should be restored, as a tribute to them.

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