Our “New” truck, was a 1934 Ford. I understood that it had been a farm truck hauling cotton in the south. That it had been used to move someone out here, and had been purchased by White Salmon and made into a fire vehicle. Somewhere along the line the engine had been replaced by a 1937 Ford engine. It had a four-speed transmission, a very high-speed rear end, a long wheelbase, and of course mechanical brakes (more about this combination later.) As a rural fire truck it left a lot to be desired, as it only carried 225 gallons of water.
The truck hadn’t been used for several years and was in pretty bad shape. We moved it to Husum, put it in Willis Grosses old shop, where the men of the community began patching, fixing and sanding. When we had it ready, Alger “Dobie” Cox painted her.
She now looked better but still needed a lot of work, and was still a tired old lady. During this time, Bonnie and I had the Store and Service Station. As there was nowhere else to keep it, we housed the truck in our lube room until we had a building for it in the falls of 1957. As we had no heat in the lube room of the service station Bonnie and I kept heat lamps and electric heaters on the tank and plumbing all the winter of 1956 to keep it from freezing. As you can imagine, this did wonders for our electric bills. This is also where our meetings were held for over a year.
One afternoon, Art Moore, Clell Black (our first chief), Bud Aplin, and the Asst. Chief (me), took the truck our for a test run. We were checking our sites to get water, and were at what used to be the water hole on the Gilmer grade above BZ Corners. We put the suction hose into the water, put it in gear, gunned the engine and threw a connecting rod through the block. Just that quickly we were out of business.
Art Moore and his partner Chet Teaque were in the logging business and had a 1952 Ford truck they had just put a new short block into. They had, had the old engine rebuilt as a spare, and very generously donated this engine to us. This fire department would never have survived the first couple of year had it not been for the generosity of people like Art Moore, and others in the community who helped out, and the original members of the department who when we needed something, a hose nozzle, etc, took up a collection and bought it out of their own pockets. It was over a year before we got our first dime from the fire district. Our next task was to fit a 1952 engine into a 1934 Ford truck. It was surprisingly easy, but did require a cutting torch and some modification of the 1952 engine with a hacksaw. As the 1952 engine was a short block, we used the heads from the 1937. We also used the 1937 intake manifold as the generator had to sit on top of the engine (there wasn’t room for it anywhere else.) I recall that I had a hard time finding a fan belt to fit this critter, but finally with the help of a hacksaw, a fine and some prying, we were back in business. From that time on, I always thought of this truck, as our 1937 – 1937 – 1952 Ford.