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1969 American LaFrance Series 900 open cab pumper

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{I pulled out some old pix to post elsewhere, so I thought I'd put up an 'Under Glass' post just to prove I do occasionally build.

Okay, so I built this one 35 years ago!

PS: I have built a couple of models since this one.}

My oldest surviving build is from my second return to my favorite hobby.

Built in 1977, this is a replica of the first-in engine I served on as I began my firefighting career in '75.

Manitou4001-vi.jpg

It's a replica of a 1969 American LaFrance Series 900 open cab 750gpm pumper. Roof removed from an AMT kit. Kitbashed beacon and some scratchbuilt appliances.

Manitou4003-vi.jpg

More scratchbuilt appliances, including the wye fitting on the compartment body shelf. Shoelace hose lay, and electrical wire booster lines.

Manitou4002-vi.jpg

Yep. Individual letters cut one at a time from the AMT decal sheet. There weren't aftermarket decal purveyors, ALPS printers, custom decal techniques with home printers, or any of the things we take for granted today. The ALF emblem was dry-brushed with silver bottlepaint.

Manitou4004-vi.jpg

More dry brushing (gauges).

I still have this rig in the depicted condition. I occasionally drag it out for a model show, just for kicks.

It still excites the kids and fire buffs!

B)

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Posted · Report post

This build is awesome. Great work! Hope you don't mind if I use it for reference when I build my kit.

By far the best build of this kit that I've ever seen. :wub: I love it.

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Posted · Report post

That's fantastic.

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Posted · Report post

Great looking rig Danno, Love the old open cabs. Atleast in those days, everyone froze on the way back to the station on those cold winter runs :)

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Posted (edited) · Report post

It would be very nice detail work even with today's available materials.

Edited by BigBad

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Posted · Report post

Love the look. Great detail. A true survivor.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks, guys! I truly appreciate your kind remarks.

I almost forgot that this one was pre-bare metal foil. All the trim is Testors bottle Chrome Silver and very fine-point brush. I do everything BMF these days, but I'm suprised at how well the old chrome-silver has held up.

I also noticed the handle of the hose clamp is long gone. I don't know whether to make a new one or leave it as it is ... to commemorate the model's survival.

B)

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Posted · Report post

Very nice Chief, I almost fell outa my chair to see a build posted by you :lol:

I say dont try to replace the missing part, leave it like it is

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Posted · Report post

That is a nice job, I haven't seen to many built as an open top. I didn't know you built red shiny things I thought you came from the black & white end of things. :lol:

Some day I want to build the San Francisco Turbo Chief, their open top jet engine (Boeing gas turbine) powered ALF.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for the comments!

Stay tuned, Grasshopper.

Aaron, I've harbored (no pun intended) the same notion about the Turbo Chief for quite a while. I understand the powerplant from the rare AMT Titan 90 Turbo kit would replicate the Turbo Chief's motivator pretty well, but I've never had the opportunity to snag one. It would go well in any of the dozen or so AMT ALF kits I have in the stash.

And, by the way, a side note about this build. Since I failed to make mention of it in the original post, FYI, this is not the 1/32nd scale Aurora / Lindberg kit. As Aaron pointed out, it is a conversion of the 1/25 AMT American LaFrance Custom Pumper kit.

PS: Aaron, I split my time between B&Ws and the Red/Wet stuff. Ten years cop, 22 years firefighter, 34 years fire/arson investigator. Simultaneous, not consecutive. I'm NOT THAT old, despite what Jonathan thinks! I was a volunteer firefighter (Certified FFII & Instructor) with a couple of busy departments while I copped for pay. The two hats evolved into one as I became an Origin and Cause investigator (Certified, National Fire Academy, Court Qualified Expert). After retiring as a firefighter and moving to AZ I still played at it ... I volunteered at the National Hall of Flame for 7 years ... polishing red and brass, restoring and caring for and driving the vintage rigs. Highlight of that was when Rescue 51 came to live with us for a year.

B)

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Posted · Report post

Very nicely built my friend. It easily passes the "test of time"

G

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Posted · Report post

I dont think I have asked you this before, but what did you enjoy doing more? FF or LE?

I am pretty sure after all that time you have a lot of story's to tell, I know I have heard a few already

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Posted · Report post

Great rig, Danno. I was a vol for a few years myself and have the bug to build some engines myself. I am just now taking the time to look back in time and enjoy those open cab rigs, I have been looking at some gorgeous LAFD Crown's that you likely have driven. Here's the question I have, though: What was the intent of having an open cab in the first place? Were they just intended for fair weather places? Or did you just rough it in cold weather? I can't imagine making a long response in sub-freezing weather - then again, I can't imagine riding tailboard to a call like that, either!

Again, great rig!

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Posted · Report post

Thanks, guys!

Joe, I think the open cab thing was just one of those tradition things ... a carry-over from the early days of motorized apparatus when most trucks were topless. In fact, closed cabs were luxuries.

We ran this 1969 American LaFrance ("Engine 4") in the moderate climate of the Front Range of Colorado. We had cold winters, but quite mild springs and falls. Our service area was basically small geographically, so the open cab just didn't seem to be a big thing.

Our older pumper, a 1965 Ford Ward LaFrance ("Engine 5") was a closed cab C600. Prior to that we had a closed cab 1953 Chevy Darley ("Engine 3"). Prior to that was an open cab 1934 Ford BB V-8 Chemical/Hose Truck. Before that was a 1921 White, also open cab.

In 1977, this "Engine 4" was totaled when the airbrakes bled off (leak) and the truck rolled down a steep hill for a city block and crashed into a 200-year old tree with about an 8' diameter trunk. Since the open cab "Engine 4" was our first-in primary pumper, American LaFrance sold us a floor-model demonstrator, a 1250 gpm closed cab Century pumper. By the way, the replacement was also designated "Engine 4." As a result, we referred to them as "Old Engine 4" and "New Engine 4."

Interesting point: We salvaged the big, old fashioned Federal Q mechanical siren from "Old Engine 4" and mounted it on the front bumper of "New Engine 4" as a nostalgic remembrance.

There have been no more open cab apparatus in that department since the death of "Old Engine 4."

As to tailboarding ... back before it was outlawed, I tailboarded our Engine 5 several miles to a fire in Colorado Springs (we ran as mutual aid) at a large candle factory fire in the dead of winter in the middle of a very cold night. I do not miss that. It took days to thaw out my face.

B)

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Posted · Report post

Awesome job Danno!

Sure has held up well over the years! B)

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Posted · Report post

Thanks, Jeff.

She's a keeper.

B)

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