NORTH ADAMS -- Eight years in the planning, the city’s effort to restore a 1941 fire engine is "really picking up," according to Fire Director Stephen Meranti.
Meranti, Mayor Richard Alcombright and T&M Auto owner Mike Milazzo viewed progress on the truck at T&M Thursday, where workers have been performing all the body repairs and repainting for the past three weeks.
"From my perspective, I think it represents an era for the city and the Fire Department," Alcombright said. "We can be thankful for our current technology, and meanwhile have this truck for events and for kids to go see at the firehouse. It’s a work of art."
The truck, a 1941 Mack LS80, had been stored at the firehouse since being taken out of the reserve rotation during the 1980s. Its restoration includes considerable body work and painting, the installation of a new engine and exhaust system, metal replacement, front tires, reupholstering and new running boards.
The project comes at no cost to the city because the North Adams Fire Department, local businesses and C.H. McCann Technical School donated all the materials and labor needed for the project.
"The biggest thing is the way the community came together for this project," Meranti said.
Alcombright was impressed by the work that’s gone into the truck so far because many of the parts needed are no longer manufactured and have to be remade from scratch.
Meranti is aiming
"It’s also going to give the North Adams Fire Department some exposure," Alcombright said. "This vehicle is completely unique to the city, and it’s going to look great at events in Pittsfield and Troy."
Berkshire Valley Auto donated the paint, Deans Quality Auto installed the exhaust, students at McCann replaced metal and performed engine repairs, Berkshire Carpet Inc. installed the running boards, RIBCO Supply donated metal trim, Sanford and Kid and Mary Ann King are responsible for reupholstering, Danes Auto Parts LLC donated materials and the fire department performed engine and interior work.
Once repainting is finished, the truck will be lettered in gold leaf by Berkshire Signs. Meranti lined up all contributing businesses over the eight-year span.
Alcombright also suggested establishing a side account to accept donations for more costly expenditures -- such as re-chroming -- being considered for the vehicle.
The truck was originally put into service Nov. 6, 1941 -- when John E. Saulnier was fire chief -- at Engine 1 on Union Street. The price of the vehicle was $10,000. Today, a new pumper runs upwards of $425,000.
"I don’t know what I’m going to do with my spare time once this project is done," Meranti joked. "This truck has been with us the whole time."