Reunion I

When I was a young recruit, we trained a lot on our reserve engine. Engine 3 was a 1963 International/Howe with a 750 GPM pump and 500 gallons of water. She was a legend in our department.
 
When delivered in 1964, Engine 3 provided an 88% increase in the department’s pumping capacity. Although only rated at 750, she was documented to pump 1100 GPM on multiple occasions. She was physically our largest engine until 1987, even dwarfing 1979’s Engine 1. I learned my chauffeur’s trade with her. She had a Waterous pump with a rotary gear primer. You had to pull a switch to drop the clutch, shift the primer transmission in, then release the clutch to raise water. Pumping required reversing the procedure.
 
Driving her was equally interesting. She was cold and unhappy in the morning. Of course, as a fire engine you had to learn to drive her cold. She had a constant mesh (non-synchronized) transmission which required double clutching all shifts. Shifting up was hard; shifting down near impossible. Missing a shift meant coming to a complete stop and starting over. Legend has it that a synchro-mesh transmission would have cost an extra $17 in 1963. Ahh, small town politics.
 
By my day, Engine 3 ran as our third-due pump and as a tanker to support the brush trucks. In that capacity, I drove her a few times in my first four years. By modern standards she was a bear, but she had character and style, and she was reliable.
 
When she was replaced in 1993, no one wanted to see her go to a collector or to scrap. We eventually sold her to our sister department in rural Vermont. The most they could scrape together was $3000.
 
This week I was contacted by a collector. Our beloved Howe has been in his care for a few years now, but he could no longer afford to keep her. He offered her to me for the grand sum of $3000.
 
You can bet I scraped it together. 
 
The saga continues in part 2.

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