Featured Rig

September-October 2003

1960 Crown Firecoach Pumper

owned by CFE member Robert Guildig, Seattle, WA

Article by Mike Britt

This pumper was the third Crown Firecoach out of a total of 51 units which were built by Crown for fire agencies in the state of Washington between 1959 and 1982. For 40 years it served a total of three departments in two different counties before being retired from public service in 2000. The third owner, Kachess Ridge FD surplused the Crown after the clutch and transfer case were damaged. Current owner Bob Guildig spent over $2000 to have the transfer case and clutch repaired to put the rig back in working order, extending the rig's life and making it the showpiece it is today.

This rig is a good example of why all owners of Crown pumpers should inspect the gear oil in the transfer case on a regular basis (for example with the preventive maintenance that should be done annually) and visually inspect the bottom of the transfer case after each time the pump is run for any sign of overflowing gear oil.

As many owners of older Crowns are aware, there is a weakness in the design of the cooling system used in the transfer cases of older pumpers. To keep the transfer case (sometimes known as the pump transmission) from overheating, the system takes water from the pressure side of the pump and runs it through a copper tube into the transfer case, then out the other end and back into the pump. The flaw in this design is that when you put steel and copper together in a liquid it will eventually cause a chemical reaction that eats a hole in the copper. When this happens, water leaks from the copper tube into the transfer case (the lowest point in the system), and water being heavier than oil settles to the bottom and pushes the oil to the top. This not only leaves the gears without lubrication, but will cause them to rust. Enough water will actually push the gear oil out through the top vent hole of the case. If the problem goes undetected, the gears will seize and you'll have a lot of broken teeth.

In the case of F1173, the FD was aware the transfer case needed to be repaired, and the rig was parked outside of the fire station "out of service." The cold Washington winter compounded the problem because the water that had leaked into the transfer case froze and cracked the housing. When the fire personnel tried to move the rig, they made things even worse and damaged the clutch (trying to move the seized gears).

CFE members Mike Britt, Ron Dierkens, Bob Guildig and Mike McDonald have all dealt with the transfer case problem on their old Crowns. Talk to any of us and we'll tell you about our experiences and what it took to fix! The worst case scenario is the removal of the a transfer case and installation of a longer, single driveline - meaning your rig can no longer pump. Luckily, F1173 was spared this fate.

(Click on photos to see bigger images) 

Above, Crown F1173, in the 1970s in service as Engine 11 with theYakima County
Fire Protection District No.1, Cowiche Fire Department. Note the Federal Rotoray

"gumball" light and the hand painted apples on the front and sides of the cab. Current
owner Bob Guildig says the leaves on the apples are in multiple shades of green.

Manufacturer: Crown Coach, Los Angeles, CA 

Model: Firecoach pumper (CP-100-81)

Year: 1960

Serial No.: F1173

Powerplant: 817 c.i. Waukesha gasoline

Transmission: Spicer 5-speed manual

Pump: Waterous centrifugal, rated at 1000 gpm

Tank Capacity: 750 gallons

Original Owner: Cowiche FD, Yakima County FPD#1 (WA)

Second Owner: Easton Vol. FD, Kittitas County FPD#3 (WA)

Third Owner: Kachess Ridge FD, Kittitas County FPD # 9 (WA)

Fourth Owner (First Private Owner): Joe D. Grennan, Seattle, WA
(Purchased November, 2000)

Fifth and Present Owner: Robert Guildig, Seattle, WA.
(Purchased June, 2002)


Above left, Crown F1173, as it appears today, including Federal Twinsonic lightbar.
Above right, F1173 in the Edmonds, WA, 4th of July Parade in 2003
. The signs are for CFE member
Ted Hikel's father who was running for re-election to the Lynnwood, WA, City Council.

Above, rear view of F1173. On the tailboard at left is a Sierra large diameter Hose Clamp, and
at right is Humat hydrant valve. The hose compliment is as follows:
Far left section: 100 feet of preconnected 2-1/2" hose with a straight bore nozzle.

Left center hose bed: 650 feet of
2-1/2" hose, reverse lay, with a fog nozzle.
Right center hose bed: 500 feet of 3-1/2" hose, connected to the Humat valve.
Far right section: 150 feet of preconnected 1-3/4"hose with a fog nozzle.

Above left, F1173 at the United Fire Equipment, Emergency One dealer. Bob says 'They were able to get me
two brand new door handles." Above left: F1173 at Bob's favorite watering hole "Su Casa's Mexican Grill"
in Issaquah, WA. Bob sores the rig in Issaquah, about 15 miles from his home in Seattle.

Above left, in Issaquah, WA where F1173 is stored, shown next to a 1948 Lincoln Continental owned by a
friend of Bob Guildig. Above right, Bob writes: "August 3, 2003, I took the Crown to church for pot-luck
at Arbor Heights Community Church in West Seattle. 'We' get around!"

F1173 with "friends:"Above left, with F1027, ex-Vernon, CA E33, now owned by Bob Carson of Bothell, WA.
Above right, with1971 Kenworth-Heiser,1500 gpm/400 gal tank, 6V71 Detroit Diesel, ex-Seattle FD E26,
now owned by CFE member Ted Hikel III, of Lynnwood, WA.

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