Ready to Fight: 1974 Ford Fire Truck

When I was a young boy, I had a pedal car that was a fire engine. It had a little ladder, a little hose, a bell, and the whole works. I have never really grown up, and fire-fighting appliances still fascinate me to this day. That makes the whole idea of being able to purchase a complete and operational retired fire-fighting appliance a tempting proposition. If you feel the same as I do, then you can fulfill this desire for a mere $4,300. Located in Stillwater, Minnesota, you will find this fully equipped 1974 Ford C-Series fire-fighting appliance listed for sale here on Craigslist.

While it might be showing its age a bit, a lot of time, a lot of patience, and an awful lot of polish could see this Ford really shine. The body looks to be in really nice condition, and all of the fire-fighting equipment also looks like it is in quite good order. The basic Ford C-Series was originally shipped to General Safety Equipment (now Rosenbauer), in North Branch, Minnesota. There it was fitted with all of the necessary equipment, pumps, and plumbing to do its job. General Safety Equipment was founded in 1929, and their reputation for quality has reached the point where they are now the 2nd largest supplier of fire-fighting appliances and equipment in the US. When I say that this one is fully equipped, I’m not joking. Everything is there from the ladders, to all of the required hoses, jackets, pants, boots, helmets, the whole lot. I can feel the inner child in me stirring right now.

The interior of the Ford is also fully equipped and ready for work. It does appear to be in good condition, although I doubt that the cover that is currently fitted to the seat is original. It doesn’t look like the sort of material that would respond well to wet and sooty fire-fighters climbing on board. Otherwise, the rest of it looks pretty well spot-on for a fire-fighting appliance of this vintage.

This is a big, heavy vehicle, so it needs a big engine. What you get is a 534ci Ford Super Duty V8, which was the biggest production V8 engine that Ford ever produced. This engine is not about horsepower, but sheer torque. While it produces 266hp, it is the 490 lb/ft of torque that gives this truck its muscle. This is sent via a 5-speed manual transmission to a single-speed rear axle. The owner does say that the truck runs great, so it’s all ready for some fun. He doesn’t tell us what sort of motor powers the pumps on this one, but it all looks quite impressive, and in good condition. There are certainly no indication of water leaks.

The reality is that this Ford’s days of serious fire-fighting are probably behind it, so that begs the question of what would someone do with it. There is no doubt that if it was all nicely polished, it would be a great addition to any parade or truck show. It could also still perform its intended purpose to a certain extent on a rural property, or certain industrial sites. Or you could be a big kid like me, and just love to idea of owning a big, red fire truck.

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Another old fire truck turned out to pasture. Well I know where they’re coming from because as of tomorrow, I’ll be turned out to pasture (or maybe all the way to the glue factory). They were a common sight even 20 years ago, before the modern stuff took over. I sure hope that this gets preserved and enjoys its retirement. Those old Super Duty engines; I worked on a few of them over the years. Ford always said that you had to set the tappets hot–with the engine RUNNING. Have you ever tried to set rocker arms while they’re bobbing up and down? We found out it was easier to get it hot then remove one valve cover and quickly set the tappets on that bank. Get it running again, and then set the other side. It might not have been quite as accurate but it did the job.

    Like 11
    • Adam Clarke Staff

      Are you off to retirement, sir? My father used to say he was retired. He was tired yesterday, and he’s retired today. If you’re about to retire, then enjoy it. I must admit the I did try the hot tappet adjustment on an Australian Holden 6-cylinder engine. Never again!

      Like 6
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Yes, it’s kind of a bittersweet day for me today. I’m driving to the shop to load up my tools and my coffee cup and I’m done. Well, I’ve got a couple of old trucks in the back of the yard that I’ll have to come back for when they get the way cleared. But as far as the shop is concerned, I’m done. The retirement is good but the timing is horrible. But I guess you can’t have both…

        Like 12
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        It gets easier every week, my friend,, :)

        Like 5
    • NotSure

      @geomechs Congratulations on making it to the pasture!

      Like 12
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Thank you, NotSure. It’s a day I’ve worked toward for 48 years. I guess it’s just time. However, I’ve still lots of irons in the fire so I sure won’t be sitting on my backside. My wife has already got a ‘Honey-Do’ list that’s about the size of a Chicago phone book…

        Like 12
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Congratulations, geomechs!!!! At 48 years, you’ve no doubt passed along your wisdom of your craft to many a deserving apprentice-well done, and the rest of us thank you.
      The next chapter will no doubt be just as interesting, as you don’t seem to be one who is inclined to grow roots into the front room couch!

      Like 5
    • On and On On and On Member

      You will love retirement, it’s a natural course of events. Keep working, but now you work for you and your family. Most rewarding. Congratulations.

      Like 3
    • Jay E.

      After 40 years of flying I retired 3 years ago. Flying and fire was my life but something was telling me it was time to go. I had the job and the position that only a lifetime of experience could offer and missed it terribly. The first year was brutal. I think I had a late life crisis. It wasn’t until this year before the fog lifted and life became fun again. There are so many things I had put off to work, it just takes a while to find value ( besides a paycheck) in those activities. Find a BIG, life long legacy project, eventually you will see some progress and also the realization that a job would just interfere with it. And joy will return. I don’t envy your next 12 months though. Honey do’s are thankless and build resentment. Be careful trying to fill the void with them. Learn to manage your health, that becomes a full time job in itself. A good retirement is earned and I wish you the best.

      Like 1
  2. Boatman Member

    The truck’s engine runs the pump.

    Like 4
  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Geomechs
    I hear you on the bitter-sweet retirement. I went through that last September. Went into the office one day and was told the GM had to have a meeting with my group. Went on about how great a job we’d been doing and oh by the way, our jobs were being outsourced to India. A year earlier than planned (planned to retire this August) and something we had not expected.
    Hope it turns into something good for you and everything goes your way. It messed my plans up but you have to roll with the punches, and that was a punch to the gut for me.

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi 86 Vette. I guess it never happens at a convenient time. I was hoping to ease my way out and be finished by the end of the year. But maybe this way is for the best. The way it looks I’m merely an RIF so they aren’t planning on a replacement.

      Being outsourced to India? Now that would be the ultimate insult. I’d have half a mind to knock that manager into the middle of next week for even saying that. Maybe they’ll have to learn the hard way like B&D which is coming back stateside.

      Like 6
      • Bill Member

        Geomechs.
        Took my retirement abruptly about a year earlier than planned. Dived in to my side business and have grown it quite nicely over the past 2 1/2 years. Pretty nervous at the time but turned out to be a great decision. Oh, and the 210 days of sick leave and vacation I never used came in handy to bridge the gap. Best wishes in your new endeavors.

        Like 3
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Thanks for sharing your story, Bill. I have to say that I was a little surprised when I was RIF’d sooner than expected but, like you, I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire, and the more I think about it the more it makes sense to start now. And I’m starting—now.

  4. MFerrell

    Old fire engines “age out”, at least around here, and can’t be certified as fire engines anymore. But they are good, well equipped service trucks, usually well maintained, and can be had for cheap.

    Like 3
  5. Jon G

    Happy and relaxing retirement to you fine sir. I always enjoy your posts. Hopefully the list isn’t big enough to keep you from commenting!

    Like 6
  6. TimM

    Would make an awesome flat bed tow truck!!

    Like 3
  7. Buckskin

    We had 2 Ford cab-over rollbacks. A 63 C-600 and a 68 C-850. Seeing the interior pic with the heater and its manual doors and the instrument pod took me back.
    I remember the mystery shifter (due to all the universal joints) for the cab-over tilt. Ours had 2 speed rears. The 63 made a trip to Montana from Pa. with 2 55 gallon drums specially fit for gas stops.
    My cousin downshifted the 68 one time and spit the clutch fan off the crank into the radiator. The process of towing the truck back to our shop involved a 64 GMC dump truck, a chain, and a driveshaft cut off on both ends to run the chain through. Since the brakes were poor without vacuum assist (motor not running) the drive shaft helped keep the Ford from running into the back of the GMC. There was only one Pa. mountain to climb and descend.
    If you are looking for a 73 L-900 with the medium size motor (477 cubes) I have a dump truck for sale. It runs and drives.

    Like 4
  8. Jason

    Growing up in the 70s and 80s, it seemed like those Ford cab-over trucks were everywhere.

    Like 3
  9. Wayne

    geomechs, congrats on retirement. (First hurdle is to make it there. Which you have accomplished!) I used to hear guys say that now that they are retired that have never been so busy. I would say that they did not know how to retire. Now that I have been retired for 2 years, I have never been so busy. You now get to do what you want to do ( finances may limit that somewhat) when you want to to it. The problem is (at least for me ) is that I want to do it all NOW! I am still having a blast and go to bed almost every night dead tired.
    I hope that you enjoy your retirement. Maybe you will travel out west on a trip. I would like to meet you.

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Thanks for the well wishes. I definitely plan to hang around but I’ve got lots to do. I’m going to pace myself and budget my time. I would love to hook up in the future. Need to get organized then get out and about.

  10. NICK OWEN

    are we forgetting, the 1100 c.i. ford ohc v-8??? lots used in early tractor pulls, i tx irrigation…be blessed, grateful, prepared…

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      The museum in Polson, MT has the smallest (V8-60) and largest Ford V8 (1100) side by side. It’s something to see…

      Like 1
      • Chevy Guy

        I lived about an hour from polson growing up. I visit The Big Sky Country about once a year but have never been to that museum. I will have to go someday! Where are you from GEOMECHS? Somewhere in MT?

  11. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I also was forced into an early retirement. I was a CDL driver at a concrete plant when my heart decided to stop working properly. Something they called bundle branch blockage with enlarged right ventricle. So they put a pacemaker/ defibrillator in me. In Texas you can’t have a defibrillator and hold a CDL. It’s been 8 years now, had to have the battery replaced this last January. I used my 401k to buy a small sand and gravel trucking and road building company. That was great until my wife got sick and lost her left leg to amputation resulting in the failure of her kidneys requiring dialysis three days a week. Now it’s my full time job just taking care of her. I just turned 72 last Friday and I’m going strong even with a bad heart. So fret not my friend, life has its way of taking care of your needs.
    God bless America

    Like 4
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      God bless America, and God bless YOU, John.

      Like 2
  12. Chevy Guy

    GEOMECHS, can you post a picture or a link to a website for the Ford GAA (1100 ci V8) next to the v8 60? I searched for half an hour and could not find anything on it.

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Chevy. I knew someone would want a pic. It was one of those VERY few times when I didn’t have the camera with me. I was with my friend and he snapped the pic. I’m trying to locate the pic from my friend’s son (my friend passed a few years ago) and I’ll post it. Oh, and I grew up 20 miles west of Sweetgrass…

      Like 1
  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    Thanks to all for the well-wishes. I’m finding that the actual retirement isn’t nearly as terrifying as the thought of retiring. Had a great day yesterday and looking forward to another one today (looks like another busy one as well). I know that little announcement I made diverted the thread of conversation off the topic but diversion is one of the things I like about this site and keeps me coming back. Thanks again.

    Like 4
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      With your credentials, you can derail a thread anytime, pal. Early retirement is great, keeping busy later on is the key. Besides, nobody actually wants an old fire truck, and if you were to derail any post, it may as well be this.

      Like 2

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