Featured Rig


Crown Firecoach "Super Tender"
(Custom conversion from 1975 aerial ladder truck)

Super Tender Specs:

 Owner: CFE member Mike McDonald, Escondido, CA
Conversion By: McDonald-Western Heavy Equipment, Valley Center, CA
Tractor Power: Cummins Diesel
Pump: 2000 GPM
Tank: 8,500 gallons

Original Crown Firecoach Specs:

Owner: San Diego Fire Department
Manufacturer: Crown Coach, Los Angeles, CA 
Model: Firecoach Aerial (CF-100-85D)
Year: 1975
Serial No.: F1753
Powerplant: Cummins 855 Diesel
Aerial: 100’ Maxim, rear-mounted

This unique Crown Firecoach conversion was originally conceived by Mike McDonald over 5 years ago with the tractor design based upon one originally constructed by Crown Coach for the Los Angeles City Fire Department (see photo below). That 1960 Crown was the only 3-axle tractor unit ever made by Crown (all aerial ladder tractors were 2-axle). It was destroyed early in its career by a vegetation fire and never replaced by L.A.F.D.

The Super Tender tractor was constructed from a 1975 Crown Firecoach 100 foot rear-mount ladder truck (S/N F1753) which originally served the San Diego Fire Department (see photo below). The ladder and body were removed, the frame was cut down, and a fifth wheel was added. The pump, pump-panel, hose reels and compartments came from a 1969 Crown pumper (S/N F1608), ex L.A. County FD (originally from the old Azusa FD). To complete the tractor, a 18,000 lb. front axle was added, along with a hydraulically operated Stang monitor. Large diameter flex hoses connect the 8,500 gallon polished aluminum tank to the tractor-mounted monitor, pump and tank fill. The unit has five 2-1/2 inch discharges and two side and two rear air-actuated sprays. It is capable of pumping 2000 GPM from the PTO pump. The tank can be filled from the top, rear inlet, or the pump panel. Polished aluminum wheels and custom graphics complete the unit.

The Super Tender is fully functional fire-fighting apparatus available under contract to both the California Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service. It is numbered "9349" and given the local designator of "Super Tender 7-2", for San Diego County CDF Battalion-7 (Monte Vista Ranger Unit, Valley Center Area).

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Above, Chuck Madderom's photo of Crown Firecoach S/N F1753, shown in service as San Diego F.D. Truck 8. It was one of two identical trucks with 100-foot rear-mount Maxim ladders purchased by San Diego in 1967, the sister rig being Crown S/N F1754. F1753 was acquired by Mike McDonald in 2000.
The idea for the Crown Super Tender tractor came from this 1960, 3-axle tractor (S/N F1223) used by the Los Angeles City Fire Department to pull a “lowboy” transport trailer. It was mostly used to haul one of the LAFD’s fire bulldozers, but could also be called to transport a broken down fire vehicle if one of the departments tow trucks could not manage it. The Crown fire-dozer transport met an untimely end at a brush fire when it was overrun by the flames and destroyed.
Above, left and right: work on the conversion first began in May, 2000. The first step was to remove the aerial ladder from the truck (Mike Mcdonald still has it if anyone is in need of a 100-foot ladder). The front bumper was also removed for rechroming. Typical of most surplus San Diego rigs, the unit was in poor cosmetic condition.
After being put on the back burner for some time, the project was finally completed in late 2003. Above left, the Firecoach cab with a fresh coast of paint. Above right, final work is underway on the tractor.
Above left, the body of the former ladder truck now sits in a field with other parts-rigs. Above right, the pump, compartments, hose reels, etc, used for the Super Tender came from this parts donator Crown, an ex-LA County/ex-Azusa 1969 pumper (S/N F1608).
The Super Tender made its CFE debut at the Code 3 Toy Run in Los Angeles in December, 2003.

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