1942 Seagrave Fire Engine

Originally purchased by the city of San Diego, this engine was a product of the war years.

About 1975 the '42 was purchased by the California City Fire Department from the San Diego City Fire Department. San Diego had used it for many years as a reserve rig and California City intended to do the same. The '42 served in that capacity until about 1983. Shortly before its retirement it pumped its last big fire and was then sold to Bob Clayton. Clayton ran a fire extinguisher business. He later sold the engine to the Lancaster Rotary club as a parade vehicle. In 1995 the old Seagrave was found languishing in a storage yard.

The hose-bed was shortened with a wooden bulkhead and two benches were added for riders. Although originally equiped with a "Squirrel-tail" suction, the factory delivery photos also show the suction trays pictured here on the left side of the vehicle. The hose reel ends are brass, but they were painted at the factory, as was almost all of the brass on the vehicle.

Its paint was badly weathered from sitting unprotected in the sun, wind and rain. The gasoline in the tank had turned into something akin to kerosine and it took a couple of days work to get the engine to start. The corner of the "Sweetheart" grill shows in this photo but not enough to see the heart shaped namesake feature.

The powerplant is a 906 cubic inch Seagrave V-12. It has redundant ignition systems. On the right side of the engine is a twin-rotor distributor that fires half of the 24 spark plugs. On the left side of the engine are twin magnetos that fire the remaining 12 plugs. They are currently lacking plug wires as shown in the picture. The plugs were originally seated on the top of the head where the paired stop-plugs are now. One of San Diego's chief's discovered that moving the plugs down to the level of the valve inspection/adjustment ports would give better ignition and mileage. They remain in that location today.

Carburetion is achieved through a MONSTER single-barrel unit mounted atop an intake manifold reminiscent of the USS Nimitz. Its primitive, but it NEVER refuses to start. Just in case it ever does, the vehicle is equipped for hand-cranking. (Macho men ONLY!!)

The doors were stripped off by San Diego as a result of door failure during cornering. The doors provided false security so the Fire Chief ordered them removed. In their place were either pipes like this or split-pipe-and-panel devices similar to this. Both the pump panel and the "pressure regulator" are shown here.

The gauges in the center dash panel are in pretty good shape and all the original switches are there. A patch of the original paint can be seen to the right of the dash panel.

Soda-acid extinguishers like this were original equipment in 1942. They remained in use state-wide almost as long as this Seagrave did.

The vehicle was delivered in "San Diego Red", but was later repainted to something close to "L.A. County Red". The original color was a deeper, darker red. Some of it shows through in places. Although the original paint code is known, the DuPont company is unable to match it back to a known formula. The local auto paint store has done a color match that will be used for restoration.

LINKS: Post Clean-Up Photos