Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 3, 2013

Not ready to retire yet

ACTC seeks to restore 1960s fire engine

Mike James
The Independent

SUMMIT — The battered fire engine in a workshop at Ashland Community and Technical College’s Summit campus has seen better days.

Its once-red paint job has faced to a shade more like old brick. There is some rust around the fenders and running boards, and the front-mounted pumps also show some corrosion.

The frame is sound, however, and under the hood, the engine is still in good shape. In fact, put a battery in and it would start right up.

The 1960 International already has had two full careers, but it isn’t ready to retire yet. Originally, it belonged to Kentucky Power Co., which used it at its Big Sandy plant. In the mid-1990s, the power company sold it to Ashland Community and Technical College, where students in the applied process technologies program used it in their study of pumps and refinery plumbing.

When the program acquired more up-to-date pumps, the engine was mothballed and for more than a decade was parked outside, where until recently it sat, huddled in the rain and baking in the sun.

Now, it is poised to embark on a third career as a showpiece. ACTC officials hope to restore the engine for use in parades and other promotional functions.

Recently, diesel mechanics instructor Shannon McCarty and some students pushed the truck into the workshop, where he installed a battery, pumped in some fuel and tuned it up. “It started right up. It runs phenomenally well,” McCarty said.

Since then they’ve done some rewiring and McCarty is planning a brake job. Once it is in good running condition, the truck will be ready for full restoration.

With nothing in the college budget to pay for it, the project will require help from outside. McCarty is hoping for financial benefactors and also people with the appropriate skills to help with the restoration.

“It is absolutely restorable,” said Herschel Collier, who retired about two years ago from ACTC and remembers receiving the truck from Kentucky Power.

He used it to teach students the mechanics of pumps, which are an integral component of refineries. Because the truck has a water tank, he could also use it to demonstrate the spray patterns of various nozzles. “A lot of students found out how a pump really works on that thing,” he said.

Potential benefactors may call director of advancement Frank Salisbury at (606) 326-2092.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.