Completed: 1942 International fire truck restoration

By: Lyndsay Whittle


Completed: 1942 International fire truck restoration Completed: 1942 International fire truck restoration
Completed: 1942 International fire truck restoration Completed: 1942 International fire truck restoration

In the fifth and final chapter in Lyndsay Whittle’s epic 1942 International fire truck restoration project, he takes a look back at the project and its highs and lows.

There we were, with only two weeks to go until the old fire engine had to be on the road to thrill the children, young and old, by carrying Santa and Mrs Santa in the Glen Eden Christmas Parade.

For the benefit of those who have been following this story, you’ll probably have noticed that I sounded nonchalant about the prospect of having an only partially completed truck on the road in 14 days.

I’m sure though, that the officers of the Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade were having secret meetings to discuss a Plan B should the silly old bald-headed coot not prove to be good to his word and have the machine ready on time.

Strangely enough I didn’t lose a wink of sleep thinking it might not happen, naïve and all as that may sound, I never thought for a moment that it wouldn’t happen.

I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with any misplaced perception of my own ability but it was more because of the faith I have in the ability of those around me to help me out when I’m in a tight spot.

Anyway, with the philosophising parked for a moment I look back on the position the restoration was at by mid-November after approximately four months of restoration.

Here’s a reminder of how it had panned out so far….

September 2015

  • Titirangi VFB deputy chief Evan Taylor (better-known as the Colonel) asks me to carry out the restoration job.
  • The truck looks nice on the outside and everyone wonders why the hell we’re pulling it apart in the first place.
  • We remove the water tank and find the back of the cab is rusted out and will need to be replaced.

October 2015

  • The locker module is lifted off by ex Titirangi chief Gordon Latham, using his Hiab.
  • The COMOCO pump is removed and the chassis is water-jetted prior to painting.
  • Finish coat is applied to chassis and ancillary parts are cleaned and painted, ready for replacement.

November 2015

  • Rear of cab has been replaced.
  • The water tank and locker module have been repaired and placed back on the chassis.
  • Light buckets have been re-chromed but still need to be fitted as is the case with the suction hose.

Fire Resto Done3

We still have a list as long as both your arms, of little bits and bobs that still need to be buffed, primed and finish-coated before they can be replaced on the truck, despite having only two weeks to go.

It really was a case of eating the elephant one bite at a time and in many cases it was two steps forward and one step back.

Every night before heading off to bed, I’d sit down at the computer and make a list of twenty items that I thought we could realistically knock off the following day.

Some days we’d get all twenty done and the next day we’d be lucky to knock five off the list, but we kept at it and by the time we only had three days to go we probably still had 1001 things we could make ‘just that little bit better’ we had to be realistic and call time, in order to get the truck back to Titirangi Fire Station to have it dressed for its role as Santa’s taxi.

As a final finishing touch to the job, Titirangi’s chief arranged for pin-striping wizard, Charlie Allen, to add some pin striping to give the old truck a little bit of bling.

Life has a funny way of icing the cake in many instances and the restoration job on Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade’s 1942 International was completed for me when the brigade members saw to it that I had the privilege of driving it in the 2015 Glen Eden Santa Parade.

However, the story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t give well-deserved credit the guys who really did the hard yards with the restoration.

Thanks to:

  • John Walker provided valuable historical information on the truck’s life prior to its long tenure with the Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade.
  • Dean Southey set me on the path of getting the project underway and helped with engineering advice throughout the project.
  • Murray Firth on whose property the restoration was carried out and who was always on hand with his expertise, advice and comradeship.
  • The Colonel who on his weekly visits to check on progress, brought the coffees along – a welcome relief on many a frosty Oratia morning.
  • Also a big thank you goes to John Terei of Terei Brothers Platers and Polishers who did a fabulous job at far less than the projected cost and to John Pearce, Boot Maker who has owned his shop in Glen Innes for half a century, who supplied and made the leather straps at cost price, Also to PSL for their help in sourcing new suction hose.

As for the next restoration job… I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

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