(first posted 1/14/2012) There are not a lot of uses for a used fire truck. Sure, a smaller fire company or city will buy an older unit from a bigger Department, and some really old ones are kept by larger Departments for parade duty. But once a truck ages out of the firefighting business, what do you do with it?
I love big old vehicles, but they come at a cost. They are much harder to garage, and they can be more expensive to feed if you drive much. Now, take this dilemma, multiply by ten, and we have today’s subject.
The Mack CF series came out in 1967 to replace the older C series. When new, these were the crown jewel of many fire departments. By the time the design was retired in 1990, it had become Mack’s most popular firetruck of all time.
There is an awful lot that I do not know about old fire apparatus. Several books worth, actually. For example, I am fairly mechanically inclined, but I would hate to be put in charge of this bank of gauges and controls at a fire scene. But I do know that for those of us around the mid century mark, this was the prototypical modern fire truck for most of our lives.
Fortunately for me, the good people at Mack were thoughtful enough to identify the year, make and model of this truck right on the label.
Of course, even without the label, I got the Mack part right away.
When writing about an unfamiliar vehicle, I like to spend a little time reading up on whatever sources that may be available online. Here, however, there is not a lot of information out there other than many ads advertising similar trucks for sale.
From what I can gather, the CF600 series was well thought of by fire crews all across the country, and that it was a durable, reliable unit. Alas, these are leaving active service regularly, replaced by newer equipment. Even the smaller fire companies are moving these out of their fleets. It seems that a number of firefighters miss these old Macks, despite the five speed transmissions that required some skill to shift smoothly.
So, even the best old fire equipment has to find something else to do, eventually. This particular truck reached that point in its career in 2001. About that time, some fans of the Indianapolis Colts football team decided that this old Mack would make a great vehicle to show support for the local team. Sort of a rolling pep rally. I guess that an old firetruck can be a star attraction at tailgate parties. Think of it as a really big centerpiece.
This group has its own ambulance too – the Fanbulance. Maybe I will catch up with it one of these days. I know a lot more about old Ford Econolines than I do about old Mack trucks.
I was driving through a parking lot late last summer and found the big blue pumper parked behind the tavern that serves as one of the local hotspots for the home team. Although I knew absolutely nothing about Mack firetrucks, it was clear that I had to stop and shoot some pictures.
I am a casual (at best, and in fair weather) sports fan. My poor football-loving father and grandfather got me, who could only think about cars. So, as sort of a turnabout, my own son is a sports fanatic who could undoubtedly rattle off the name of the quarterback for a visiting team who played in the third quarter of a game in 1982, and probably which hand he threw with.
I will also confess that I started this piece near the beginning of the NFL season late this past summer, but just could never muster the enthusiasm to finish. If you follow the NFL (and the play of the Colts in particular this year), then you will have some idea why I have been so lacking in enthusiasm.
But, with the NFL season ending (certainly for the Colts), it was time to dust off the old Mack and put it out there for the CC faithful. After all, even if its team did not do so well this year, an old Mack Bulldog is always worthy of some respect.
Unlike in some other recent years, the big blue Mack has not been tooting its airhorn all that much recently. Colts fans have been sort of, well, blue this year. But even in a bad year for the team, the old Mack pumper has been out there to rally the faithful. Although I am not superstitious about football, maybe this old Bulldog will bring Luck to the team.
More Mack material at CC:
Mack B-61: Resting After Its Many Exertions PN
Mack R Series: Rock Solid Since 1966 PN
What a waste of a good old fire truck!!
I’ve seen this thing around town. While I’m always delighted to see something like this preserved, I just can’t get used to the blue.
I’ll take this as a good omen for the Pats tonight. 🙂
“My poor football-loving father and grandfather got me, who could only think about cars.”
Funny how that works, JP. My grandfather ran a garage but had no real love for cars – he preferred sports and carpentry and working in the garden. My dad is a gearhead who hates gardening, overstates his carpentry chops (shhh) and knows nothing about sports. Somehow I share all their enthusiasms but lack most of their skills!
From a Houstonian, you have nothing to complain about. You have been very luck y fans this year.
Fooled me at first; I thought it was a fire truck from Pennsylvania, or other parts east, where not all fire trucks are red or (s)lime green.
Chapel Hill, NC, home of the Univesity of North Carolina, runs light blue fire trucks as the school’s colors are light blue and white. I was there over the weekend, and they never fail to catch my eye.
Red, while traditional, is not a high visibility color, that is why (s)lime green is so popular with airport fire departments. Before that, it was “school bus yellow”. Can anyone explain low-vis tan as shown below?
Here is a yellow one from the 1970’s. One is now on display at the LAX Flight Path museum.
Jim; it probably won’t come as a surprise to hear we share a similar level of interest in sports.
Interesting timing on this Mack truck. I shot a similar pumper a couple of months ago; not a Mack, but a Ford, and the cab sure is mighty similar.
I don’t really get the watching sports thing. I love to play soccer Sunday mornings with my buddies and I really enjoy basketball with the kids, but sitting in front of a TV all day watching beer commercials doesn’t do much for me.
The last time I spent my hard earned cash to see a professional sports event, I was disgusted that all it was about was getting drunk. It was such a drunk-fest I have never bothered since. I’d rather go for a walk.
Nice truck, too!
Oh yeah, the old tilt cab C series Ford. In production from 57-90. They are also very well respected and missed by many.
There are a few still around. I’ve seen recent photos from smaller rural fire outfits that still have 80’s vintage C-series units in service, plus the odd commercial truck (there is some sort of specialized truck doing bridge repair work right now in my city that is C-series based.)
Our biggest user of the C series around here was Roadway Transport. They used ’em by the bushel for local LTL freight. All powered by the Ford 300.
Ford really screwed it’s Fleet users by selling off the medium duty line to Sterling , who at the time , said ‘ we’ll always support these popular C Series medium duty trucks ‘ .
Then not two years later they discontinued making parts , it took a decade before there were no parts left .
C Series Fords were the best ever and I’m a die hard Bowtie Guy .
We had a 1967 Mack RSL700 spilt boom tow truck , it was fabulous and we took very good care of it , rebuilt it on the Taxpayers dime adding lots of chrome etc. so of course a year later it got salvaged out and sold for a very few thousand Dollars .
What threw me at first is that I thought the blue truck was an N Series Mack truck, which actually did use the same stampings (by Budd) that Ford used in their C-Series trucks. Here’s one:
For a couple of years, I was a volunteer for the local rural FD. We had a 1965 Howe engine, originally from, er, Salem, then passed on to Chiloquin (bigger town, 20 miles north of Klamath Falls), then passed on to us. It got scrapped after I left, but most of it was still running. The Howe looked similar to the Mack. We also had a Ford, like Paul’s photo, though in Lime yellow-green. Simpler, though it was a challenge to drive.
The panels look horrible, but generally aren’t that bad. You have to select the water source (hydrant versus internal tank, and sometimes which feeds to use for hydrants) and there would be several lines that can be run. Lots of pressure gauges; one for each relevant part of the plumbing. (intake pressure, master output and one for each main circuit)
The Howe had two pumps, one PTO driven for max flow and pressure, and a smaller one running off the driveshaft for pump-and-roll use. Being rural, we usually used other engines for the pump and roll stuff.
Keeping the old beast running was a challenge. IIRC, it used an International V8, Mid engine, 5 speed manual, and the linkages were gummed up with decades of grease and dust.
Just posted a 1972 Dennis pumper to the Cohort page
This pumper would have to have been based in a larger city originally, the info sheet only listed the last couple of towns it was based in (rural NSW along the Murray River)
The small town in NZ where I grew up had a Dennis pumper the oldest still in use 1910 or something it was replaced when I was young and gifted to a museum who allowed it to crumble away
I can’t recall seeing another Dennis – most rural fire engines I can recall are Isuzu or similar, before that they were IH Acco or D-series. There were some different trucks used in hilly/steep areas, eg ex-army Acco’s.
Ex-fire trucks when they finally do get sold off are pretty popular as they are low mileage & well looked after. On the other hand when my grandfather bought a new(er) truck for his farm he put a water tank and pump on the old one, to use as support if necessary (he was in the volunteer fire brigade for 50 years or so)
This Mack, in it’s hayday serve a very good purpose for the town of Coaldale, Pennsylvania…..Being born and raise there I am very proud of this truck and the use it had… I am so glad to see it is still on the road…….Good luck to the people that own it…
Not bad, but those pro boys are amateurs when it comes to tailgating.
This is how you tailgate out of a fire truck. Note the grill and barstools.
Can’t really see the truck well in that shot though, so here’s another…
Thats a nice truck,wish i had one.
Ahh Macks! Seattle had fire truck that were unusual to many. Theirs were Kenworths and Macks, conventional cabs. They were still in use when I was last there in 1990…
The Colts were partial to Kenworths too……
Here’s a use for an old pumper (Sydney Australia):
The rust/corrrosion on the front mascot and bumper seem to indicate a lack of care about the trucks condition/appearance.
It’s called “Patina”. A reminder of a hard working trucks long ago duty. And a badge of honor to savior in its golden years.
That control panel is no mystery to those successfully trained on them. But in most departments they could differ, especially if the equipment came from different sources. To qualify as an Engineer, you had to know them, and the individual characteristics of each engine. But once qualified, you could run the panel rather than go into a burning building,
Our department’s fire trucks in the 1980s were WHITE. So were our police cars. That was the preference of the City Manager. Once he was gone, the police cars became black and white, and the fire trucks red, as God intended.
No matter what they may think, City Managers are not God.
I hope our current one, thin skin and all, reads this. But at least he owns a home in his own city. The prior one rented an apartment. He left for what he thought were greener pastures but within a year, God spoke, the grass turned brown and he was fired.
Very nice but Macks basically don’t exist west of the Rockies.
That might have been the case in the 1950s or 1960s, but that’s hardly the case in more recent decades. Macks may not be very common over-the-road trucks, but for other uses, like dump and concrete trucks and such, they’re plenty common enough.
Good point, MichaelG. Tgere were exceptions. San Francisco rostered hundreds of Mack buses. Other big customers for Mack buses was Portland, OR., which also had a fleet of Mack trackless trolleys, the only group “west of the Rockies”…
Really cool in blue and white Colts colors. I always loved the bulldog mascot. I want one to mount on a wood or marble base for the man cave.
” Very nice but Macks basically don’t exist west of the Rockies.”
Pretty much every day I drive past a long row of parked Mack cement trucks in Pasadena, Ca. and think of this comment .
Mack had an assembly plant in Hayward, CA in the ’60s and ’70s that built mostly lightweight over the road trucks for the western states. It was the sole source for several of Mack’s OTR models during that period. The “vocational” models and fire apparatus came from Pennsylvania regardless of where they ended up.
I noticed a huge number of Macks in the Southern states. Mostly Alabama.
There’s one thing NYC trash haulers and East Texas lumber companies seem to have in common – absolute loyalty to the Bulldog.