WELCOME - The Welcome Fire Department has held onto its 1929 fire truck. Not only is it an antique, it's a piece of Welcome history as the first fire truck the department owned.
"It is a big part of our history and town history," said Rod Nelson, a Welcome firefighter involved in the truck's restoration. "My father was a firefighter here, and there are some still here who have seen that truck pump water. I think it's a way to honor the previous firefighters of our department, and preserve their legacy."
The truck was used in parades until about four years ago when the engine finally stopped working.
Welcome firefighters hope to restore their 1929 truck to honor past firefighters.
"I've been on the fire department since 1984, about 27 years," Nelson said. "Even then people were talking about restoring the truck, but all that was done was we kept it running."
After the engine died, the question was to rebuild it or consider that moment the end of the line.
"If we were going to go through the trouble of rebuilding the engine, why not restore it completely," Nelson said.
A committee of Welcome firefighters began the disassembly of the truck last year, piece by piece.
"Right now, all that remains at this point in time is a bare chassis," Nelson said. "All the body parts have been sandblasted and primed. The engine was taken to mechanic shop in Granada and has been disassembled and is in the process of being rebuilt. ... Once everything has been put back together on the chassis, then the truck will be taken to a body shop for painting."
Other than mechanic Butch Rowan, all the work is being done by volunteers.
"Some of us have a little experience, but none of us have restored an antique car or truck," Nelson said. "We've been gaining experience and knowledge as we tap into this."
Finding parts also is a challenge. The group still needs to find chrome shops to chrome many of the original parts. It also needs gauges restored and rebuilt, as well as antique truck tires.
"We need to find a body shop that is interested in working on an old truck," Nelson said. "Most of the body shops work on newer automobiles that have been involved in accidents and are repaired by insurance claims. Not many body shops want to work on old vehicles."
Nelson said the group originally thought the truck would be ready to go back into the parade rotation this summer, but now it believes that completion will be around summer 2013.
There is also the price tag for the project, estimated at $25,000.
"We have been very upfront with the fund-raising, and no other fire department funds are being used," Nelson said. "When we have our fund-raisers, it is known the money being donated is specifically earmarked for the restoration. No public funding money will be spent on the truck."
Fund-raisers include pancake breakfasts, such as the one being held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Welcome Legion. Pancakes, sausage and beverages are available for a donation.
"We think this truck is an important link from the past to the present," Nelson said.
For more information or to donate, Nelson can be contacted at (507) 764-2693.