MIDLOTHIAN — Midlothian Fire Chief David Schrodt updated members of the Midlothian Area Historical Society on the restoration of a 1918 Howe Model-T Firetruck during its Feb. 4 meeting.
Schrodt hopes to have the truck back by the summer. The restoration of the truck is being done in Dallas at the Texas Fire Museum.
“This truck, as I understand, was purchased for the city by W.W. Majors, who was a philanthropist and a man in the community. He purchased it and they lettered the hood W.W. Majors Fire Company. Obviously, if you buy somebody a fire truck, they will let you call it your fire department. So that is the way the truck came (to Midlothian) and, over the years, there were some things on the truck that were upgraded and changed,” Schrodt said.
“The neat thing about the museum is that they are really particular about taking a truck and redoing it as it should be – as it came out of the factory. I think that you are going to be really pleased when we get it back,” he said.
Schrodt said the restoration has been from the ground up. The museum’s staff has stripped the truck down to the frame and is restoring everything piece by piece, he said, noting that the motor and transmission were shipped to another group to repair as that would be cheaper than having museum staff work on it. Once completed, a 35-horsepower motor will power the firetruck.
While most of the firetruck will stay the same, there will be some changes made to make it easier to maintain. As an example, in place of a generator, an alternator will be substituted but will be made to look like a generator.
“They are suffering a little bit on the weather. They can prime the pieces on the firetruck that need to be painted but they can’t do the finished painting until the weather warms up,” Schrodt said. “Some of that fancy scrollwork is going to be hand created again. There is a guy at the museum that I just stand there with my mouth open and watch as he sits there with his brush in his hand and just does wonders.”
One of the parts Schrodt was concerned the museum staff could not repair was a three-stage piston water pump. The housing on the pump cracked several years ago because of the presence of water in it and the truck being left in an unheated room, he said, noting that the museum was able to weld it and it will be able to pump water.
“We are going to put (the firetruck) in the bay in the fire administration building that we have converted and where the panel doors swing open to allow access. Currently, we are not sure what we are going to use for flooring yet,” he said.
“We told them that when we get it back that they are going to have to give us a lot of instructions on how to maintain this truck since it is so different from what we use today,” he said. “They told us that they would give us a complete lesson on it.”
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