1964 American La France
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This 1964 American La France fire Engine was purchased by Gary Bergenske on February the 8th, 1991 in Jacksonville, Florida. She was driven back to Orlando on that cold evening. The fire engine has a Continental straight six gasoline engine, with a four speed standard transmission. When you say, " This one has all the bells and whistles," it could not describe this truck better. The old Engine can make enough noise to wake up all of Magic Town. This fire Engine is fully operational and has many lights and beautiful chrome and brass.
When this Fire Engine was found by Gary Bergenske it was rusting away in a field at Jacksonville, Florida. She had been stripped of all her glorious glitter and glamour. Gone were the fire axes, the ladder, the lights and the large chrome bell. The brass nozzles and handles, and old fire extinguishers were all stolen, and this beautiful old fire engine was in a state of distress and near ready to die. It was at that time Gary Bergenske purchased the old engine, and brought it back to Maitland to begin bringing her back to life. Many hours were spent sanding, stripping, cleaning, and painting this glorious old Fire Engine.
Then began the mission of trying to find the equipment needed to make her look authentic and proper for the correct year of her service. Auctions, flea Markets, government sales, and Historic Fire Engine Clubs were ways many of the parts were found.
Today this 1964 Fire Engine looks as she might have nearly 40 years ago. She sports all the glitter and glamour again, including the gold pin stripping, and Gold Leaf name of J & J Metro Van lines, which is now where she sleeps each night. She received a new interior in red, white and black that makes the inside look great. This is a tremendous improvement from the way Gary Bergenske found her one cold February day dying of rust cancer in a field in Jacksonville, Florida.
This American La France Fire Engine originally did service in Titusville, Florida. Now that she was all fixed up and in retirement, it was time to go back to work. She was to old to fight fires anymore, so it was off to doing some modeling at antique fire engine musters, parades, TV shows, and even a couple of movies.
This Engine has won some nice awards now that she looks so attractive at shows. The most exciting adventure in her retirement was playing with Wesley Snipes in the movie "Passenger 57". A picture of her and Wesley Snipes was used nationwide in all newspapers advertising the coming of the movie "Passenger 57" to a movie theater near you. This same photo was used in magazines, and can be found on the back jacket if you rent the movie from your local video store.
This old Fire Engine was also in the movie "Matinee" and the TV series "Fortune Hunter". Other activities include annual Christmas Parades, and volunteer work with the Orange County Fire Dept. and Historical Museum, and for the Bahia Shriners of Orlando Florida.
In 1999 she received a completely rebuilt engine and currently has less than 1000 miles on it. It is defiantly an attention getter. When Gary Bergenske is asked why he would buy and redo something like this, the answer is simple. "When I was a little boy, my mother would never buy me a fire engine".
France Fire Truck
A History of Innovation, A Tradition of Excellence
Since its beginnings in 1832 with the manufacture of hand-pumped fire engines, American LaFrance has maintained a clear focus in its dedication to provide the safest and most effective fire apparatus possible for firefighters around the world. As technologies evolved during the last century, the company’s forerunners were pioneers in the development of innovative fire engines, extension ladders and other firefighting equipment.
In late 1873, the LaFrance Manufacturing Company built the first rotary steam fire engines. With this breakthrough technology, invented and patented by Truckson LaFrance, the company reorganized as the LaFrance Steam Engine Company to manufacture steam fire engines incorporating a unique rotary nest-tube boiler.
Other innovations in fire apparatus followed quickly. In 1882, the company signed an agreement with Daniel Hayes to begin production of his remarkable screw-driven extension ladder truck. Extending 85 feet above the ground, the Hayes aerial amazed firefighters of the day with its ability to meet service and rescue requirements.
In 1884, LaFrance introduced a new engine design, a piston steam fire engine, and by 1888 was advertising this engine’s superior power with the phrase, "We guarantee 80 pounds of steam in five minutes from cold water."
"Liberty" 1911 American LaFrance Type 5, Serial #30
The Shift to Industry Leader
Competition in the manufacture of fire trucks and equipment changed significantly in the late 1890s with the creation of a fire engine monopoly. The ambitious plan faltered in 1903 and the principal companies were reorganized as American LaFrance Fire Engine Company. As American LaFrance, the company continued to drive the development of increasingly more powerful and safer firefighting equipment. A new quick-raising aerial ladder truck was introduced using a spring design that dominated the industry until the advent of hydraulics. Other apparatus, including water towers, fire boat piston pumps and flood lighting trucks, took their place in the firefighters’ arsenal.
Self-Propelled Fire Trucks
"Automobile" steam fire engines, using steam for both motive and pumping power, began to appear in the early 1900s as American LaFrance incorporated new technology into firefighting applications. Early experiments with this new design led to the 1910 introduction of the company’s first gasoline-powered "combination car" capable of delivering both chemicals and hose. Larger engines, more powerful pumping apparatus and water delivery systems, and the American LaFrance reputation for building rugged, dependable fire apparatus continued to be the hallmark of the company’s new products. In 1931, the company introduced a 12-cylinder "V" block, 240 horsepower engine which increased their pumping power to 1500 gallons per minute. A major breakthrough in power plants, this engine was incorporated into buses, generators for electric trains, and armored tanks for the U.S. Army.
"Cosmopolitan" 1904 American LaFrance Steamer, Serial #2959
In nearly every year of its long history, American LaFrance introduced innovations and improvements aimed at making the hazardous task of firefighting safer and more effective. Following World War II, American LaFrance continued refining and redefining the design of fire apparatus with turbine engines, rear-mounted aerial ladders and custom pumpers.
|Engine||Continental straight 6, 600 cubic inch|
|Transmission||Manual 5 Speed|
|Water Tank Capacity||700 Gallons|
|Pump||750 GPM @ 150 lbs.|
|Tire Size||10.00 - 20|
|Batteries||2, 12 Volt Positive Ground|
|Hard Suction Hose||2|