We weren't kidding when we said the size of this thing was intimidating. When customer and close friend Jim Finn approached me about restoring an old Fire Truck for the LAFD Museum I knew I had to get involved. My father was a fire fighter for 35 years, I grew up respecting the work firefighters do everyday of their lives. Even if I didn't make money on this build, I felt like I was giving back in restoring a huge piece of American History.
American La France was founded in 1873 when the company produced its first model, a horse powered fire engine. The business quickly flourished and American La France became the largest producer of fire rescue vehicles in the country. Over the next century they produced more than 100 unique models of fire truck, until the company declared bankruptcy in 2008 after losing major investments in the tech bubble.
When it comes to size, this was the biggest build we had ever done. From the parts, to the labor, to the amount of paint used, it was a massive build that we had a short amount of time to complete.
There were a lot of pieces missing and since this was such a rare vehicle we had to recreate them from scratch. The interior door handle was missing, all wood in the rear was rotted and needed to be replaced, the entire water pumping system needed to be restored and functional.
All the drama you saw on TV was REAL LIFE DRAMA! Kirk had to fix all the rusted pieces he fell thorough and the pinstriping job was the biggest nightmare we had encountered.
At the end of the day I was really proud of what we accomplished to get the Fire truck done in such a short amount of time. I'm looking forward to seeing it every time I visit the LAFD Museum!