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Firefighters aim to save history

This bright-red fire engine is definitely a keeper.

With its plush, black seat in the front, wood-paneled floor and shiny brass bell – the siren of the time when it was built in 1926 – the engine will soon make a prime centerpiece for a firefighter museum in Grass Valley.

“It is such a cool-looking fire engine that many people think it is already restored,” said Grass Valley volunteer firefighter Greg Porter. “It needs a lot of work.”



Porter is spearheading the effort to restore the department’s oldest engine, a 1926 Seagrave truck, for the Grass Valley Firefighters Association. He said the truck needs about $30,000 to be restored to its original glory.

The department got the truck new in 1927. It was retired from active service in 1953.




“After that, it went through a series of barns – it was in storage,” Porter said. At one point, the truck was sold, but the city bought it back in 1970.

Since then, it has been making regular appearances in city parades, carnivals and car shows. The truck was on display this summer during Grass Valley Friday Markets and will next be seen at the Roamin Angels Car Show on Sept. 11 and 12 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

“This is a kid magnet,” Porter said. “The kids love it, and the adults’ eyes light up.”

The engine runs, but several changes have to be made to return it to its original look. It currently has a six-cylinder Chevrolet engine, but Porter recently found and bought an original Continental engine from an Auburn resident. The water pump is broken and cannot pump water through the minuscule 55-gallon tank.

Porter said he will eventually want to strip the truck down to its frame to make sure everything is in pristine condition.

“She’s a beautiful engine. We are going to make her as pretty as she was off the factory line,” he said.

The Owl Grill and Saloon will be holding a fund-raiser for the Grass Valley Firefighters Association Friday, and Porter said this will be a first big step to raise the money needed for the fire engine. Ten percent of all sales at the restaurant that night will go toward the restoration project.

Restaurant owner John Soares said he personally approached the firefighters association about organizing a fund-raiser to recognize the deeds of firefighters.

“In remembrance of 9/11, I thought we could put the Seagrave in front of the restaurant Friday night before it goes out to the car show,” Soares said. “We shouldn’t forget; we should always support the people that support us.”

While the truck does not have power steering or power brakes, it is still a pleasure to ride in.

“It’s fast; it’s not what you would think,” firefighter Rob Penn said. “Sometimes I will cruise around the block in it.”

The engine is being saved for more than its parading ability.

“We are doing this to preserve history,” Porter said. “Fire service is based on its history.”

KNOW AND GO:

What: A fund-raiser for the Grass Valley Firefighters Association

Where: The Owl Grill and Saloon

When: Friday. Bar opens at 4 p.m.; restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Closes at 9 p.m.

Why: 10 percent of all proceeds will go toward restoring the 1926 Seagrave fire engine

Information: 274-1144.


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