Apparatus Feature

"From California to Florida"

Article By Mike Britt

Photos: Frank Hutton and Nationwide Auction.

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After 31 years serving the California beach town of Carmel, here is new Tampa, Florida resident, Crown S/N F1730, a 1975 Firecoach with a 50-foot Telsqurt, staged on the apron of the Oldsmar, FL, Fire Deptartment.
Over the years, several Crowns have gone from California to the midwest and east coast. Some were ordered new by departments in places like Illinois and New Jersey, others were purchased used from their original fire departments and given second and third careers in departments in states such as Connecticut, Virginia and Tennessee. Others were bought at auction by truck dealers and sent to places like Lousiana and Oaklahoma often to rust away and be scrapped in the end. The lucky ones have been purchased by collectors, driven and hauled back east where they have been proudly driven, pumped and displayed at SPAAMFAA events along the eastern seaboard.

New CFE member Frank Hutton of Tampa, Florida, is the latest SPAAMFAA member to transplant a California Crown from the beaches of the Pacific to the shores of the Atlantic coast. On December 8, 2006, he was the winning bidder at Nationwide Auction in Benecia, CA (near San Francisco) for Crown Firecoach is S/N F1730, a 1975 500/1500 pumper equipped with a 50 foot Telesqurt. It served 31 years with Carmel By The Sea Fire Department, located just south of Monterey, CA on the California coast, not far from the famous Pebble Beach.

S/N F1730 at Nationwide Auction Co. in Benecia, CA in December, 2006. The red lights have been taped but a lot of equipment, ladders, Federal-Q siren, as well as all the FD markings, were left on the rig.
Frank explains "Before I moved to Tampa in August, 2005, I spend 18 years in California ( Carmel Mountain area) and during my time driving around I've seen and really began to appreciate the Crown Firecoach."
"I always wanted to own, take care, and maintain one of these Crowns, maybe some day when I lived in California, but would've never thought once I moved out of state I would be able to buy one. When I saw the Telesquirt come available, I knew this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity."

The Crown arrived in Tampa on December 18, 2006, on-board a big rig with a step deck trailer. That load must've turned some heads as it headed cross-country!.

After he had the Crown safely in Tampa, Frank enlisted the help of fellow members of the local SPAAMFAA Chapter, the Dalmingo Society (the name is a cross between a Dalmation and a Flamingo!). "We have a member who is sort of our in-house mechanic that handles our "light" maintenance work and a we also have a member who is a state certified EVT ( Emergency Vehicle Technician), says Frank. "Both of them went over the truck, just to make sure there were no issues with the pump, trans, engine, and the Squirt electrical/hydraulics. All checked out fine. The mechanics gave the Crown an overall grade of B.

A few days later, Frank and a fellow Dalmingo member who owns a 1972 Mack CF pumper, took the Crown out for a pump and squirt test. He says "Both rigs performed perfectly - what a sight to see the Squirt in great operating condition." 

Frank's Crown with his friend's 1972 Mack CF pumper. Frank says "Both ran and pumped great and so we flushed the Crown out good. Then Jimmy ran his Mack to the hydrant, then his Mack to the Squirt. We ran his deluge gun and the water cannon off the Squirt and both performed very well."
Frank contacted CFE Historian Don Croucher who sent him some photos and information from the CFE archives about S/N F1730. "The pictures show the Crown when it was an open cab, then after it was closed.. Also he sent paperwork from the preliminary specs on the truck, through about the first 2 years of troubleshooting and repairs. Absolutely amazing stuff." Franks adds, "Don Croucher and everyone with CFE has been very helpful and I appreciate it very much."

Frank also contacted the Carmel F.D. who were equally friendly and helpful.

"I've heard that when a fire dept. disposes of a fire truck they are either very helpful or could care less. Well the Carmel FD has been awesome. I sent them a letter after I won the auction and asked them for manuals, copies of any service records, and if they could throw in a T-shirt or two for parades, static displays, etc. And I enclosed a check to the fire dept. and told them to put the money towards a Christmas dinner for the firefighters, or donate it to their favorite charity."
A few days later, Frank received a package from Carmel. "It contained blueprints and specs of the original layout of the Crown, and also a pump and air-system blueprints, says Frank. Also enclosed were copies of some service records, which included when the Detroit Diesel was rebuilt and when the Squirt was rebuilt, and best of all, a Crown Firecoach owners manual. "It's cool to read and it almost looks like it was typed off a typewriter, not as now with computers and all. It's really interesting," says Frank.

Recently, Frank took his Crown to the Oldsmar, FL, fire department for some photos. "I sought their permission to take some pics of the truck in one of the bays and then out on the apron. Without hesitation they said yes." He adds, "It was a nice run down to the Oldsmar F.D. and back. The Crown is doing very well and is a real head turner."

Lastly, Frank states "I want to assure CFE that I will maintain the Crown to the best of my ability. I know the Crown is a well loved fire truck in California and surrounding states, and this one is a piece of California fire apparatus history. It deserves to be cared for, both for the sake of the truck and also our mutual clubs, the CFE and the Dalmingo Society."

Don't worry Frank, we are sure with your Crown Firecoach and your enthusiasm, you will be a great Crown ambassador there in Florida!

©2007 Crown Firecoach Enthusiasts.

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