Maureen Kyle and Jeff Reidel, WKYC 4:02 p.m. EDT July 21, 2014
MANSFIELD, Ohio — Old fire trucks evoke a sense of community pride and heroism. They have that cool factor that is hard to ignore. The Mansfield Fire Museum preserves that feeling and history by seeing the possible in trying something they have never done before.
“We call it a working fire museum,” said Paul Johnson, co-director of the museum. “We try to keep the stuff original, if we can. It all runs and we get it out once a year and exercise it, drive it and take it to parades and so on.”
The latest addition to their collection is a 1927 Pirsch fire engine that needed a lot of work. It was donated to the museum after being torn apart, sitting in boxes for decades.
“It’s a challenge to try to take something that is old and make it work again,” said Johnson.
This is first time the museum has done a total restoration. That is why it is nice to have restoration expert and museum friend Russell Sprang heading up the project.
“After sitting 25 years torn apart, it’s a challenge,” said Sprang.
Calling it a challenge is an understatement. The fire engine is being reconstructed piece by piece only using pictures a guide.
“Plus we got some parts that came with it that were for a different fire truck so that’s confusing,” said Sprang. “But basically it only goes together one way.”
Sprang estimates he will spend about a thousand hours restoring the old truck. And that does not include all the bodywork, painting and finishing done by other companies. But Johnson and Sprang say it’s not what this group puts into it; it’s what they get out of it.
“You have to enjoy what you’re doing, or you are not going to do it,” said Johnson.
“That’s what I like about it. Taking something that is somebody else’s junk and making look like came out of the factory,” said Sprang.
With some luck, you could see this fire truck on the road by next summer.
“I want to drive it again because I have driven it when it was together. That’s what the ultimate goal is, I want to drive it one more time,” said Johnson.
The Mansfield Fire Museum has 19 working pieces of fire equipment dating back to 1837. The museum is located at 1265 West Forth Street and is open weekend afternoons from mid-May through mid-October.
From more information on the Mansfield Fire Museum, visit their website at MansfieldFireMuseum.com
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