Press-Republican

October 2, 2012

Chazy fire truck running top-notch

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — CHAZY — The Chazy Volunteer Fire Department is taking its fully restored 1934 Buffalo pumper fire truck to the Super Wheels Showdown in Boston.

It was a long road to get to where it is now, though.

The pumper was part of the original Chazy Fire District, purchased by the department in 1934 for $5,265. It was actively used until 1977.

"We kept it all these years," said Dick Carpentier, a department member for 54 years.

Over the years, the truck was occasionally brought to parades, and it often received prizes in the Oldest Fire Apparatus category. 

Built by the Buffalo Fire Appliance Company and stamped the job number 1307, the reborn truck has all of its original parts. The department even has all the original documents, including the operating manuals.

RESTORATION PROJECT

In 2003, Paul Parent, a volunteer firefighter for 36 years, decided he wanted to restore the old truck.

"I said I want everyone involved. It was a department project, for sure."

Parent, body-shop manager at Phil's Chevrolet in Ellenburg Depot, was named project manager.

"He's a professional body man," Carpentier said.

When they started work on the pumper, its body was old and its color had faded, but it didn't have much rust, Parent said.

He commended everyone who had a hand in the project, which took the 34-member department at least 2,000 hours to complete. Ninty-five percent of the restoration was finished for the Fire Department's 75th anniversary in 2009.

The truck was worked on only in the summer because there is no heat in the original Fire Station, where the truck is housed, Carpentier said.

Leonard Smart did the gold leaf and lettering, Jack Provost of Deco Chrome in Ormstown, Quebec, supplied the chrome, Cliff Engleharte did the leatherwork, and Jim Mayo did the upholstery work.

Last but not least on their thank-you list were "all the wives that put up with us," Parent said, laughing. 

PAINT MATCH

Parent found a spot on the truck that still had the original paint and had the shade of red matched at Saratoga Auto Body Supply. He did all the painting.

Now, the truck is fully functional and even pumps water, Carpentier said.

The project was a complete body-off restoration, which means each piece of the vehicle was removed and restored separately, then the truck was reassembled.

The work was funded by donations from a total 18 individuals and businesses and with some funds from the department's treasury.

ENGINE TROUBLE

In the midst of restoration, a piston blew out on the way to a show in Cadyville, so the engine had to be sent to Philadelphia to be repaired by those familiar with antique vehicles.

Retired workers rebuilt the engine, Carpentier said.

Once the department had the engine back, former firefighters had to help the younger members start it, said firefighter Dennis Pilon.

As the truck was well on its way to full restoration, the department continued to bring it to local events.

It earned first place in the Champlain Valley Classic Cruisers Memorial Day Car Show in 2009 and also won Top 20 and Best in Show Pre-World War II twice at two Great Adirondack Car Shows in Plattsburgh.

"We went to every parade around the county, just about," Carpentier said.

BOSTON CAR SHOW

Perhaps the most exciting and anticipated competition is an event coming up this month.  

When the crew brought the truck to Malone Auto Club's 33rd-annual Car Show in July, they didn't know the event was a qualifier for Cruisin' New England magazine's Super Wheels Showdown in Boston this coming Saturday.

"That's when we hit the big time," Carpentier said.

Parent had always wanted to bring the truck to the Malone show, but it usually was on the same day as the annual Fire Department picnic.

He had brought home a first-place award from the fifth-annual Malone Car Show in 1984.

The truck took yet another Best in Show there this year, and Chazy Volunteer Fire Department will be representing the Malone Auto Club in the Boston show, which features 100 Best in Show winners from across New England, New York and New Jersey.

Four department members will travel to Boston, their vehicle towing the truck on a trailer acquired for its use. Boston's fire commissioner approved an overnight stay for the truck in a historical fire station close to the show location at City Hall Plaza, Chazy Fire Chief Michael Cahoon said.

"That's going to be a pretty cool deal."

The department will bring T-shirts and patches to trade with the other firefighters they meet there, a kind of tradition, the chief said.

Restoring a piece of the town's history has made the Chazy Fire Department very proud, Parent said.

"I think it's good for morale that the department kept this truck for all these years."

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FUND DRIVE COMING UP

The annual Chazy Volunteer Fire Department Calendar Drive will be held the week of Oct. 14.

To make donation, go to www.chazyvfd.com or mail donations to Chazy Fire Department, P.O. Box 116, Chazy, NY 12921.