Williamston Antique Fire Engine

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Antique Fire Engine

The Williamston Fire Department has restored Williamston’s antique fire truck.

Engine #1 was put into service in the town in 1936 and remained in service until 1962.

Department firefighters have worked numerous hours to restore the appearance of the Chevrolet, Fire Chief Steve Ellison said.

The restoration effort on the truck so far has amounted tomore than $8000, the chief said. The local firefighters have done most of the work

 themselves, he said.

Volunteers rebuilt the truck’s motor, making the majority of the parts themselves. “Chevrolet has obsolete parts available back to 1929, but for a fire truck, we pretty much had to just make everything,” Ellison said.

Workers went by a pattern, then cut out metal and wood for the seats, Ellison said. Ellison said he fashioned the running boards for the truck at Jimmy Jeanes’ sign shop in Pelzer.

David Spruell at David Harvell’s Old Time Body Shop painted the truck. Firefighters refinished ladders and shined up original brass fire extinguishers and hose fittings.

A major expense, which had to be done by professionals, was rechroming the grill, rails, and other parts. The process cost the department about $3600. A chrome bell has been mounted on the vehicle.

The firemen have a chrome spotlight which will be added when a new pump is put in place. The spotlight mounts on the tank for the pump, Ellison said.

The fire truck restoration project also preserves a part of the town’s history.

The vehicle replaced a wooden wheeled hose carrier which was pulled behind a car, Tommy Walker, former fire chief, said. That antique contraption is still stored at the department.

The 1936 truck was used to fight several memorable fires. The truck was used in 1956 at the largest fire the town ever had, which burned Mark’s Dept. Store, a shirt manufacturing operation, and an old theater building used as a warehouse on Main St., according to Walker.

The truck was also used earlier to fight a fire at the White Swan Laundry and Dry Cleaners and in 1950 when the auditorium of the Williamston First Baptist Church was destroyed by a blaze.

After the old truck was taken out of fire service, it was used for parades, festival rides, and to transport Santa Claus to the opening of the Christmas Park.

It is also used at the Spring Water Festival to offer rides to the public, with proceeds going to continue restoration and upkeep on the vehicle.

The fire truck was featured on the 1999 festival t-shirt.

Due to the skill and dedication of Williamston’s firemen, the old truck is now in mint condition.