1948 American LaFrance 700
Mike Turcott of Tenino, WA. My first piece of classic fire apparatus is a 1948 American LaFrance 700 series built for Weyerhauser Timber Company in Longview, WA. The model is 710-PJO which means: 700 series, 1000 gpm pump, pumper, J-motor, open cab. I found it in February 2014 rotting in the weeds at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Mineral, WA. I suspect the rig finished its useful years up on the logging roads because the undercarriage was full of mud and grass.
Details are fuzzy, but the legend says the truck was destined to be restored and displayed in a logging museum in Eatonville. Restoration never happened. Instead, it sat outside for 25-30 years. Somebody came along, pulled the motor and picked off the oil pan, distributors, radiator, and a bunch of body and trim parts, leaving the rest behind.
I brought it home in August 2014 and found that it was really in pretty good shape for sitting outside. This speaks to the quality of fire apparatus construction in that era. I acquired another J motor from an eBay seller (paid too much) and a bunch of parts from 700 collectors including Katrina Nelson in Morristown, IN. (Free radiator, just come and get it.)(I did), and Larry Zotti, in Granite City, IL. I’ve discovered there is a tremendous network of good people in SPAAMFAA, willing to help with parts or technical info, or both.
As of August 2017, the Weyerhaeuser ALF 700 is down to its frame and on its way back up with fresh paint, new brakes, wiring, etc. I’m hoping the putting back together goes faster than the taking apart.
1948 American LaFrance 700
Mike Turcott collection continued: Since one fire engine isn’t enough, in May of 2017 I responded to a Craigslist ad and purchased another 1948 American LaFrance 700 and a 1960 900, both of which were original Sumner, WA rigs. Both were purchased surplus from the Sumner FD by a former volunteer and stored in Puyallup, WA for many years. The owner passed away in 2016 and the trucks were put up for sale by his son. I got both rigs at a fair price, and a bunch of extra parts including a NOS gasket set for the model J motor and the 700’s original operator’s manual.
The 48 700 is a 775-PJC (700, 750 gpm, pumper, J-motor, closed cab). The body is in better shape than my Weyerhaeuser rig but the motor sat for years with the carburetors removed and has an oil pan full of water. The 60 900 is a 1000 gpm rig with a K-motor (aka Continental R-6602). A little tinkering with the motor and some guidance from Pacific Northwest SPAAMFAA members John Brown and Bill Hall and it roared to life.
Mike Turcott’s 1947 700 Series American LaFrance pumper:
Mike Turcott’s 1960 900 Series American LaFrance pumper: