KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – An 80-year-old fire truck that last saw action on the Klamath Indian Reservation more than 60 years ago will make its first public appearance in the May 29 Memorial Day parade in downtown Klamath Falls.
The truck has been sitting in storage at the Klamath County Museum for at least 20 years, and probably a lot longer.
“This is not the most beautiful fire truck in the world, but we’re glad to have it running again,” said museum director Todd Kepple. “We regard it as a tribute to firefighters who tackled blazes in days gone by.”
The 1942 International brand truck has the words “Klamath Agency Fire Dept” painted in stencil on the sides. A vehicle identification plate indicates it was likely used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before being transferred to the Klamath Agency.
Aside from that, there’s no information available on the truck’s history, or how it came to be at the museum.
“It has been sitting in storage for so long that no one in our organization can remember how it got here,” Kepple said. “We’ve been working around it all these years, and finally decided it was time to either dispose of it, or else see if it would run. We were skeptical whether the engine would even turn over.”
Terry Sandusky, a museum volunteer, connected a battery to the truck’s starter, and was surprised to hear the engine crank.
Sandusky and another volunteer, Vince Wachter, gave the flathead six-cylinder engine a tuneup with a new carburetor, and installed a new water pump. The truck also got new brakes, new wiring and an upholstery job on the seat.
“Fortunately, the tires were in reasonably good shape,” Kepple said. “We considered a new paint job, but for now we’re planning to leave the overall appearance as is.”
The museum will enter the truck in the parade along with several other antique vehicles, including a 1970s Schwinn Stingray bicycle, complete with the banana seat and a 1971 Klamath Falls bicycle license.