David Allen Rich the I, II and III, all of Morgan, are fired up about a goal they have been working on for the past few years.
The trio has a burning desire to restore a 1941 Ford Howe Fire Truck to its original state. While it is a work in process, they have made great progress and they showed off their efforts at the Morgan 4th of July parade. They plan to enter the antique truck in the fair parade this summer.
In 1965, a young Dave Rich I went on his very first fire call. He took the Ford Howe truck to a barn fire on Young Street near East Canyon Creek. The Ford Howe was retired after only a few years and replaced with a 1967 La France; unlike Rich who has dedicated nearly 50 years of service without being retired or replaced. Through the years of service to our community and working with different engines, Rich still fondly remembers that first truck above the rest.
Dave II knew his dad wanted the old truck that the county and city still owned; but these entities previously were not ready to part with the piece of history. He approached the county in January of 2010 about purchasing the relic, but he didn’t let his dad know. He spent the next few months working out the details, paperwork and titles.
After all the work it was finally time to reveal the truck.
Dave II’s wife Angie and his sisters DaNae and Dixie set up an elaborate scavenger hunt for Father’s Day. The culminating clue led to the fire truck. The eldest Dave was completely surprised. It took a minute for it to sink in that the truck was his.
“He was a little kid on Christmas!” Dave II said of his dad.
“I was just totally elated!” Dave I euphorically related. “I just appreciated what Dave did.”
They showed the truck in several parades before pulling it apart and beginning to work on it. They intended to work on the body first. After removing fenders, hood and bumper from the front, the two men decided it would be the best time to work on the engine as it was easily accessible.
Sticky valves were fixed, different parts were added, and modifications to new parts were made as they worked on the restoration. The truck is a 9 volt positive ground, which is very different from what is seen today. This requires different parts and tools to fix it up since everything from gauges to electrical are different.
Dave knows where to look to find the parts he needs because they are not easily accessible at stores like newer parts. Magazines and catalogs are used to reference and order the parts they need.
Fire trucks’ classic red may seem like the only color a fire truck could be. However, the original color was white and green pinstripe with gold lettering. The truck is currently white with faded green; however, it will be remodeled to its former image.
“I’ve had people tell me to leave the outside the way it is and put a clear coat,” Dave I explained. “I think it ought to look new.”
He has already started working on getting the stripes and gold lettering figured out.
The next part of the project they plan to work on is to repair the interior, which will feature a green seat, just like the one Dave I drove around in all those years ago.
The extensive restoration plans go so far as getting the pump to work. The truck’s water tank holds 150 gallons of water and it had a flow rate of 300 gallons per minute. One of the newer trucks holds 2,000 gallons of water and can spray 1,250 gallons per minute.
They have already invested a sizeable amount of time and money into the project and they feel it is worth every penny and minute. “Very much so,” Dave I added. They have a lot of work ahead of them before the project is complete. “We’re just going to try and work on it little by little,” the father and grandfather said. “It’s going to be a while before it’s all done.”
While the majority of work has been kept in the family, others have definitely added to the cause. Allen Carrigan, who ran with the fire crew, helped to get it started. Pete Larson also worked with the Morgan fire department and he is working on machining a special piece for the fire truck.
“I need to give Terrace Muffler some credit,” Dave I said. He explained Morgan native TJ Gale took the engine down and modified headers and worked on the exhaust system. “He did a really good job.”
There are others the Rich men have utilized to progress their goal.
One of their favorite helpers is David A. Rich III, who recently turned 7 years old. They use him to work on smaller pieces. His young hands are put to good use. His favorite part is ‘”putting the screws in.” He was also one of the first people to start the engine.
“You just can’t ask for anything better,” Dave I said about working alongside his son and grandson. He enjoys working together alongside them and figuring out problems.
Catch a glimpse of the historical fire truck in the Morgan County Fair Parade on July 26.