Curbside Classics: Dodge LCF And Mack U-Series Trucks – Two Big Gnarly Firefighters

I’ve been admiring these two handsome old trucks sitting by the side of Highway 101 about ten miles north of Port Orford. I finally got around to stopping and shooting them, and they are even more splendid close up. They’re water tankers, for fighting forest fires or rural fires where there is no available water, and belong to the Sixes Rural Fire Protection District, a volunteer fire department serving the area in the vicinity of the Sixes River.

The red one is Dodge LCF, the other a Mack U series. Both have huge water tanks, full. They’re old, but ready to roll if needed.

Here’s a look at both of them from the front. The Dodge must be a 1966 or later, given the big single headlights set in their pie dishes. The Dodge LCF (Lower Cab Forward) was built from 1960 to 1967.

The Dodge’s cab is the same one as used on their pickups until 1961

The LCF had a rather unique way of opening up the hood for access to its engine. The LCF range covered medium-duty and heavy-duty versions, and with gas or diesel power. Several brands (Cummins, Detroit Diesel, and Caterpillar were available, although the Cummins seem to be most common. The two rather skinny exhaust pipes exiting behind the cab are the tell-tales that this one has a gas engine, almost certainly the 413 V8.


I’m a bit perplexed by this badge on its side. Consolidate Diesel Electric Company apparently built gensets, so I’m not sure what the application would be here. Likely it has to do with this truck’s life before it became a tanker.

I do know what’s backing up the powerplant: an Allison 6-speed automatic. Makes sense, so that it doesn’t take an experienced truck driver to drive it. I drove a few big Ford Super Duty’s with this box; it’s a tough one as it bangs out the full throttle shifts day-in, day-out. The instrument panel is rather sparse.

The Mack is a diesel, obviously. The vertical exhaust stack confirms that, but I’m quite sure Mack had stopped building gas engines by this time. And it’s a U-Series, a variant of the very popular R-series that has its cab offset to the driver’s side. These was commonly specified for urban use, as the hood was shorter.

The Mack has a shifter for an Allison too, backing up its six cylinder Thermodyne diesel.

The tanks on these trucks are huge; I’m curious as to what they weigh. Water is such heavy stuff, and it’s clearly weighing down the rear springs, as there’s very little clearance left over the rear tires.

The license plate says it all.

The two guardians of the forests.


Related Reading:

CC Dodge LCF

CC Mack R-Series