Sunday, June 13, 2010

TROPHY!!! (& sweat!!!)

The Hatfield Fire Company, of Hatfield, Pa. (Montgomery County) marked their 100th anniversary yesterday with a parade and celebration. Hatfield is an old railroad crossing town, just outside of Philadelphia. In it's heyday, it was an industrial manufacturing town- all kinds of steel, woodwork, and textiles were produced here and shipped out via the railroads. Nowadays, Hatfield is a bedroom community, with some heavy industrial still remaining and some light commercial.

It is a 24 mile ride one-way from the house. Going there is mostly downhill, down Pa. Route 309 through Quakertown. My original intent was to wake up around 7:30 and be out the door by 8:30, but I woke up around 6:45...figured I would try and get 45 more minutes in, but kept staring at the ceiling. So I jumped in the shower, had an english muffin, packed the cooler with some drinks, and was out the door and on the road by 7:45.

The forecast for the day was 85 degrees/partly sunny with some humidity. I should mention a peculiarity that the truck has: on extremely hot days, she looses coolant. I don't quite know where it goes. I do know where it does NOT go- into the crankcase (and by the way there is no oil in the radiator, either.) I kind of suspect that since it only happens on extremely hot days (85 degrees and humid) that perhaps there is a crack in one of the heads, and when she gets real hot, maybe it flexes enough to allow coolant to pass through????? I dunno....It sounds good. But like I said, no coolant in the crankcase and no oil in the radiator, so guess what....It aint broke so I aint fixing it!!!! Just keep your eye on it and have coolant and water on board to add on long trips!!

So heading south I made two stops, one at WaWa, to top off the gas tank ($25.00 worth @ 2.57, just a little under 10 gallons..) and then I stopped at Auto Zone to buy a gallon of coolant, which I had run out of some time ago. Remember, you just can't keep adding straight water, as you run the risk of boiling it off. Always make sure you occasionally add some coolant. Keep a hydrometer on hand to measure the cooling and boiling point levels of your coolant. She ran good heading S/B on 309. I always like getting her out on the open road- I suspect she has the soul of a road tractor, because when you shift her into 5th gear and put the hammer down, she loves to run.

In 1958 when she was built, "driver comfort" and things like ergonomics were not a consideration. The interiors of trucks were spartan affairs (apologies to Spartan Motors, Inc. a popular modern-day fire apparatus chassis manufacturer) and the thought of the driver being comfortable ended at a bench seat that was adjustable forwards and backwards. As a result, there is no insulation on the firewall (remembering that the engine is out in front of you, this is important!!!) Climate control ends with a flap, on the center of the back of the hood, just in front of the windshield, that you can open or close. There was a heater in the truck once upon a time, but it was removed long ago for unknown reasons. I have never replaced it for 2 reasons- I rarely take the truck out in the winter, and when I do, the heat coming off the engine and the exhaust manifold and pipes is plenty enough to warm the cab quite adequately!!!)

I arrived at the registration/judging area, and signed in. Dad (who was bringing over the 2007 Spartan/Toyne pumper by the way....) was running late (as usual) so I got in the judging line. As I was waiting for the judges, I quick went over her with a towel and some spray wax (remove the water spots) and I touched up the tire shine (I like Meguire's Hot Shine, thanks Captain Gonzo!!!) A note about Fire Department Parade Judging: I wont get into fine details, but around here, cleanliness is godliness. Judges around here are hell bent on finding the smallest amount of dirt or grime, usually an easy thing to do on a firetruck. Tools are checked for dirt, proper paint, etc. This all goes along with looking at equipment and how it is set up, but clean = happy judges. So when the 2 Antique Judges arrived, I flat out told them that "this is not a clean truck. It's privately owned, by me, without the benefit of a fire company's budget or the manpower to clean her to parade standards." I then handed them the three-ring binder I keep on board of all the factory documents (everything from original sales orders, to the telegram sent to the salesman stating "The truck is ready for pick up, come get it." They appreciated seeing the factory documents, and stated so. They did walk the truck, opened compartment doors, asked some questions, and did remark about the dirt and some rust here and there. I just politely reminded them that I was a one-man band with two ankle biters at home that had this obsession with eating and needing a roof over their heads. They did again mention seeing the factory documents helped me. So I parked the truck off to the side, and waited for Dad to show up, which he eventually did. After he had the newer pumper judged, we headed over to the line-up point, and the parade did manage to step off promptly at 1300 (rare for a parade to start exactly on time.)

So, on a hot, 85 degree day, you can imagine it gets kind of, just a wee bit, and a little warm in there. Going downhill most of the way, when the engine isn't working that hard, at 55 MPH it isn't quite that bad. But when you are in a parade going at a snail's pace, it gets downright unbearable in there!!!! I can't tell you the last time I ran the truck in a parade, but now I remember why I don't do it more often!!!! It gets (pardon my french) fucking nasty ass HOT in there! Anytime throughout the parade route that I stopped, I would open the driver's door, open the cooler and grab the bottle of water and take a gulp, and then wipe the sweat off my face and neck. The temperature gauge (the 1958 temp gauge may I add) rarely went above 160 degrees. The few times that it did, I would just shift down into the lo-hole first gear, which would raise the RPM's, and she would cool back down.

It was a nice parade route, through an old historic town, with lot's of friendly people who were appreciative of all the firefighters who came out to help the Hatfield Fire Company celebrate 100 years of service.

We arrived at Hatfield's sub-station on the outskirts of town, which is on a large parcel of ground, right next to Hatfield Meat's enormous processing/packaging plant. Here they had a small carnival set up for the firefighters and their families, and of course the usual end-of-parade activities. Occasionally, the wind would blow samples of aroma over from the rendering plant, but it was not all that bad. Dad hung out for a while, and then took the Toyne back to Bryn Athyn. I hung out for about an hour and a half, which was spent talking to old friends and watching the sights, which were plentiful. Finally the trophies were announced, and I walked away with "Second Place, Privately Owned Antique." I lost out to an absolutely breathtaking 1949 Ward LaFrance. When first place goes to a truck that you drool over, it's not hard to accept second!!!

Now for the fun part...Heading home, back up Route 309, up the mountain I had just come down....with the engine working hard going back uphill....making lots of heat......


  1. Randy, Congrats on a job well done..... Now you know why my Pierce Fleet is all Air Conditioned...... (ReHab you know) BTW, how did Sam do with the Toyne??

  2. Congratulations. Fun story and I wish I could have been there to watch the parade!

  3. Nice story Randy, I know why I don't take mine out either, same story, nasty ass hot with vinyl seats...not my idea of fun.