The SOHS Library is OPEN to the public at 106 N. Central Avenue in Medford, with FREE access to the SOHS Archives, from 12:00 - 4:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Appointments are not necessary. Please contact, or call 541-622-2025 ex 200 to ask questions or request research.


Steering Gear, Ladder, Instruments, and Headlights

Submitted by Truwe on
Fire engine ladder

Joe Davis and Dave Delmue of Morgan Hill, California are the heroes of the week

Jun 23 2018 - 12:08pm

Our regular Tuesday work session saw us not at the usual garage but at Joe Davis' shop scratching our heads over the steering gear. Joe manufactures mufflers for Model A Fords right here in Medford, on West Jackson.

The steering gear parts had arrived, but Joe and Jim Martin figured out that the root problem--that destroyed our steering gears forty years ago--concerned a part that we couldn't find: The bearings on the sector gear had self-destructed, causing the sector to seize and create excessive wear on the worm gear. What to do?

Fortunately, Joe has a friend Dave who rebuilds steering gearboxes. We overnighted the sector to him, and Joe just now relayed that Dave has already replaced our shattered bearings with a steel bushing, and will have the sector gear in our hot little hands on Monday. And when Joe explained the project to Dave, he decided not to even charge us!

Joe Davis and Dave Delmue of Morgan Hill, California are the heroes of the week. Thank you both.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, our instrument cluster languishes. When we sent the gauges six months ago they promised to ship them back June 21. When I called three weeks ago they said they were on track to ship them June 21. When I called on June 21 they said they aren't done. (Personnel problems, apparently.) The owner promised to work all weekend to get them done and shipped to us on Monday. Somehow I'm skeptical.

Still, once the steering is fixed next week the gauges will start to look like a very small issue. We can always temporarily wire in some aftermarket gauges.

Ben Truwe

Beautiful new ladder!

Jun 11 2018 - 9:10am

Using nothing more than some donated lumber, 100-year-old hardware and about fifty hours of his time, SOHS Board Member Greg Applen fabricated an authentic reproduction extension ladder.  It isn't only a beautiful piece of work, it really dresses up the right side of the vehicle.

Thanks, Greg!

Fourth of July in Ashland?

Jun 8 2018 - 10:09am

Work on the fire engine is slowing down as there's less and less to do on it.

Tuesday of this week Mike Trump noticed the headlights weren't working anymore, so he rerouted the wiring so the wires won't pull off the switches again. He also wired up the back spotlight, wiring in a red indicator light on the panel so we'll know when it's on.

While Mike was doing that, I spent the day getting in his way installing the seat belts--which was a lot more involved than it probably sounds. Do you know why fire trucks have red seat belts? It's so you don't go flying through the windshield if you stop suddenly.

I called the company in Arkansas that's rebuilding our instrument cluster. They're painting the gauges now and swear they'll be ready to ship the 21st or so. That should be in plenty of time to install them by parade time July 4, but it's cutting it close and isn't doing my nerves any good.

Even more nerve-wracking is the steering box situation. The fire engine is running and otherwise just about ready to go, but we've pulled the steering box so it's currently undriveable.

The truck wasn't really driveable before we pulled it--you had to turn the steering wheel about 120 degrees either way before the tires started to turn. Not terribly safe, and even less safe for a parade.

A parts company in California has been telling me every day for a week that they're moments away from locating all the steering gears, seals, gaskets and bearings we'll need, but so far nothing definite, no parts on the way. If they do get any parts in our hands in the next couple of weeks (assuming they're the correct parts) we'll reassemble the box with whatever parts fit.

I don't relish the idea of reassembling the steering box without any new parts at all, but it could be done. The idea of herding a firetruck down the middle of Main Street in Ashland isn't a pleasant one, but that's the fallback. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

We have paid our $50 entry fee for the Ashland Fourth of July parade, so we've committed to being there. We've been promised a place on the Plaza to park it after the parade, so people can climb on it while we talk historical society at them.

If you haven't visited the fire engine yet, we work on it every Tuesday at least 11-1:00 (and sporadically and unpredictably on other days, when parts come in). You can find us at 3263 Biddle Road, Medford, in the back.

Ben Truwe