Recently while I was visiting my kids in Marble Hill, MO, my son and I were goofing off and stopped at the local Ford dealer where, out back, sits a 1974 American La France Pioneer pumper. And, it is for sale, too! (They're asking $5850. Contact info: Call Tee at Lutesville Ford, Marble Hill, MO, (888)419-6762 www.lutesvillemotor.com) The neighboring fire district recently received a newer apparatus, and don't have room to keep this one, so it was sold.
The pumper is a 1974 American La France Pioneer, 1000 GPM dual stage pump, 500 gallon booster tank, a 30 gallon foam tank with a preconnected foam line, Detroit Diesel 6V92, Allison automatic transmission, and a 5kW gasoline powered generator. From my very quick and general look-over, it appears to have been very well maintained and is in decent shape. From talking to Jeff, one of the mechanics at the dealership and a local volunteer firefighter, he has driven and operated this engine and he says it runs like a dream!
I think my son had fun watching me light up as we poked around. He asked if I thought I could operate it. I said I think so, give me a few minutes to look it over. He accompanied me as I was doing a 360, commenting on what I saw.
There is no siren on the pumper, although it appears a mechanical siren was bolted
at the front of the step under the officer's door.
Fairly standard cab, but no air ride seats. Behind the transmission shifter in this photo you can see a bit of the light bar.
It's a Federal TwinSonic, but it's shortened with no speaker housing. Yeah, that dates me, I know what a TwinSonic is.
Driver side shot, shows added on high-sides. Room for 3 SCBA in the front high-side, and a shelf in the back one. Dual six inch squirrel suction lines and telescopic quarts lighting are visible.
1000 GPM two-stage American La France pump. Has a governor vs a relief valve.
Note the friction loss chart to the left on the door to the transverse compartment.
Close up of the gauges.
Close up of the discharges and inlets.
I tried to get the pump chart, but I think I got more of me!
Jump seat area. There were two SCBA brackets back there, but they've been removed.
The light chargers appear to still be hooked up.
Passenger side panel. Note the missing discharge: The #4 discharge has been angled so as to feed a preconnected 2.5" line off the back of the pumper. The only drawback is it is 2" piping with a couple 90o bends, but I think adding a few psi to the discharge pressure would overcome this if one were needing to pump a larger flow.
The ladders appear to be in decent shape.
In the dunnage area, the booster line has been removed. Sad times, I know. However, you can see the fuel tank for the generator, and a spot to mount a deck gun. I like that the valve to control the deck gun is right there at the discharge.
You can also see the foam system - the foam tank is right behind that bulkhead. When you need foam, simply turn the ball valve to open and re-route the proportioner to activate the venturi. Remember to pump it at 200psi!
Sorry for the shadows - the sun was high, and I had a lot of glare to contend with. At the front of this hose bed is the hook-ups for the 1.5" Right Rear Preconnect and the 2.5" preconnect.
The main hose bed. I believe they had 5" supply hose.
That's the foam tank up front. Inside those tubes are 3" suction hoses.
Again with the glare! At the front of this hosebed is the outlet for the Left Rear Preconnect, which is the foam line.
Close up of the two 3" suction hoses.
The tailboard. My son was AMAZED that there are two 1-STOP/2-GO buttons.
"People used to ride the tailboards? WOW!" Yes, son, we did. He laughed at me when I told him in foul weather it wasn't uncommon to climb up under the hose bed cover and ride in there.
The tailboard compartment is quite spacious, and is actually 1/2 transverse - it opens into the passenger side rear compartment. Plenty of room for what ya need! Even a place to transport rookies!
So, to answer my son's question, well, by the time we finished a lap of checking it out, my son restated his question, and answered it for himself. "Yeah, I think you can operate this pumper, Dad." Yeah, I am quite confident I can. And, I'd have a LOT of fun doing it too!
Like I said above, this pumper is for sale. Sighhhh..... I don't have the cash for it right now, and even if I did, I don't have a place to put it. Some day... So, to all of you who are reading this, if you know a collector, or know of a small fire department that needs a pumper, this one wouldn't need too much work to become restored and/or operational. The paint and body is in pretty good shape, only a little bit of rust noted here and there, most notably at the fuel filler. If I had the money, this article would be about how I am embarking on a restoration project rather than just a treasure find.
Thanks for reading.
Stay safe and God bless!