>Manufacturing Plant


After yesterday’s post, I emailed Chief Birch at the Black Canyon Fire Department to let him know of my plans for this piece. After all, it is his truck, and he takes pride in it. To my pleasant surprise, he replied by granting me permission to use a sketch of his truck to create a beaded replica, and he included this very interesting press release, as well…

Black Canyon Fire Department
Black Canyon City, AZ

January 13, 2005

Black Canyon Fire Truck Holds Secrets

Chief Birch of the Black Canyon Fire Department first attempted to research the origin of the Community’s first fire truck in 1999 when the truck was restored for the 30th anniversary of fire service in Black Canyon City. At that time, the Chief’s research produced very little on the 1943 Chevrolet/Mack Fire Truck; the frame and cab made by Chevrolet and the body made by Mack Trucks. The truck that is parked outside the Black Canyon Fire Department in Black Canyon City was purchased by the community from Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, in 1969; little did Jack Harmon and Winston Burrows know they had just purchased a piece of military history.

A few weeks ago, Chief Birch attempted his search again on the Internet using the military model number for the truck, MS 4403, and found a match. According to the Department of Defense website http://www.dodfire.com, there were only 100 Chevrolet/Mack 4×2 military fire trucks built between 1942 and 1944 with the Hardie LCXA high pressure pump. As the Chief dug more on the Internet, he came across the website http://www.welovenh.com where he found pictures of another fire truck just like Black Canyon’s First. He wrote to the webmaster which led him to two World War II Veterans, one in New York and one in Hawaii. The Chief communicated back and forth with them and gained a wealth of knowledge about the truck. It appears the truck was originally assigned to the Army Corp. Of Engineers who assigned one MS4403, also known as a Class 125, to each platoon. These trucks were never stationed over-seas; the 4×4 version known as a Class 135 was sent over-seas. Unfortunately at the outbreak of the WWII, the War Department confiscated all civilian commercial-chassis trucks so it is difficult to find where any of the trucks were specifically assigned.

Another source consulted by Chief Birch was the website http://www.vehicleofvictory.com, which is operated by a group of Word War II Veterans dedicated to historical information about WWII era Chevrolet and GMC trucks. According to their website as of October 17, 2004, only three of the Class 125 4×2 fire trucks had been located; since then, the Chief has learned that three others have been located, including Black Canyon City’s truck.

Chief Birch is proud to finally know the secret Black Canyon City’s First Fire Truck has held for so many years. He now has factory photographs of a similar truck brand new, specifications for the truck and for the Hardie High Pressure pump, a list of all equipment that originally came on the truck and he knows where to find a replacement motor, transmission, chassis and body parts.

Chief Birch has spoken with several of the original firefighters and none of them knew the historical value of the truck they once used to protect the lives and property of those living in Black Canyon City. Jack Harmon told the Chief he “thought we just had another old fire truck.” Now, Jack and many of the other original firefighters beam with pride.

Chief Birch plans to restore the”old fire truck” from the frame up once the new fire station is built. A garage will be built at the new station to properly protect and preserve the truck. In the interim, the Chief is able to begin looking for the equipment originally on the truck; he has purchased three of the original nozzles through a donation from the Albins Family. He will continue to hunt down the original items that were part of the truck so that when the truck is restored, it can be unveiled exactly as it was when it rolled out of the factory in 1943….. And by the way, Chief Birch advised that “No, the truck is not for sale and never will be for sale. It will remain a part of Black Canyon City’s history for many years to come.”

It’s true – every vehicle has its history, although you may never be lucky enough to discover it. Chief Birch found out that this truck did more than just serve its community. This old fire truck served the country=:)

After reading that press release, I started to feel very good about the art that I’ve been doing. I guess I sort of found my niche in creating Realism. Each of my subjects has had a story behind it. And, even if I don’t know it at first, I can learn its true story, and tell it to the world:)

This evening, I began work on my piece. At first, I didn’t know how to begin. After thinking about it for a very long time, I made a photocopy of my sketch. I use photocopies to cut out templates from. Then, using a paper template, I cut out the base piece of felt for my truck. The base piece is actually 2 pieces, because the image is so large, so I stuck the 2 pieces of felt onto a piece of Pellon interfacing with a tiny bit of Elmer’s glue. Next, I began tracing over the parts of the image that should stand out the most. I made many tracing paper templates, which I used to create more felt shapes. Then, using tiny amounts of Elmer’s glue, I stuck them all into place. There are 6 layers of felt at the thickest point. The layers will eventually be stitched down with seed beads.

I think I’m about halfway done with my felt foundation. The photo below shows you what I’ve accomplished so far….

11 thoughts on “>Manufacturing Plant

  1. >LB, another great adventure begins — both for you and for us. Thank you for sharing the Chief’s research and great story to go along with the fire truck. I read it to my hubby and he was very interested. As long time collectors of many things — we find that anytime there is a story to document something it is so much more interesting. (And valuable LOL)

  2. >Wow! you are fast. I find at 65 I move at a slower pace anymore. In fact, I’m trying to get some lanyards out of the way in order to get to my head! Way to go!I liked that you got a story to go with the picture as well as permission. Isn’t it great how people let you use their stuff if you just ask! I love that.

  3. >My grandfather was a fireman. Maybe he drove a truck like the one you will be beading. I love that you have a story behind all your pieces.The truck is going to be great!

  4. >The story! The art work to be! So wonderful! The base alone has me excited to see how this one will turn out. Don’t forget the adventures along the way. Maybe another appearance of ZZ Top. Or maybe David Bowie! LOL!

  5. >The history behind the fire truck is great. The beginning of your project is just as exciting as the completion. I am going to enjoy watching this one progress as well. My husband was a firefighter for about 8 years before we moved to New Orleans. I remember the fear standing on the side watching them go inside a burning building. Holding your breath and waiting to breath when they exit unhurt and the fire under control.

  6. >This is going to be freakin’ awesome!!! That history is SOOOOooo cool!!I LOVE the way the one wheel is turned; it gives it more life, and it is just pleasing to me, I don’t know why!Six layers, o my!On a fruity note, I should take some felt, and then stiffen it w/this pellon stuff? I’ve got some fusible interfacing somewhere around here, is that the same kinda stuff? I was thinking my strawberry might have two layers; best to keep it simple for a noob!But the green leaves top to the strawberry; that’ll be its own layer; depending on how large I make the strawberry (roughly 1.5″ in one direction, to maybe 2″?) cause if I’m gonna wear a strawberry, it’ll be one of those that really catches your eye at the store; large shape with some interesting features, maybe. To emphasize the curve to the strawberry, I thought part of the front red&seed part should also either have a 2nd layer of felt, or just a second layer of beads, I dunno.I’m gonna try to “pick” an interesting strawberry, from some generic but nice berry photos online. Try to find one with a limited creative commons license, and stuff.Anyhoo, lemme know what you think if the felt and facing will work as a base for me.I’m not quite ready to make a blog post on my own blog about it, however, but soon . . . after I find a pic!For some reason I’m picturing hex cuts as the seeds, for the added flash. Or maybe charlottes.I can’t WAIT to see how this truck (and dalmation!) turn(s) out!I love the nostalgia of old vehicles.

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