AUGUST 2015: 1961 MACK C-125 FIRE TRUCK—AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE BUILT IN HOUSE

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Vintage fire trucks are a natural crowd pleaser at any car show. Most of them are visibly red, they are imposing vehicles and if they don’t get your attention they can light up the sirens and lights to seal the deal. No Corvette can match them as a people magnet. This 1961 Mack C-125 is definitely a people magnet. It’s a part of the Sukanen Ship Museum in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Evan Davis was happy to explain the story behind this piece of firefighting history.

 

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Evan pointed out how Mack fire trucks were all built in-house instead of subbed out and they had an excellent reputation in the field. This particular truck was originally part of the Edmonton, Alberta Fire Department (Pumper 651 Bravo) and then it moved to service in Candle Lake, Smeaton and Shelbrook—all towns in Saskatchewan. This truck was taken out of service around 1980 so it had a lengthy career in the field. Evan was the guy who picked up the big Mack for the museum and he was brutally honest about the trip back to the museum.

 

This was a 400K (240 mile trip) and it was far from a limousine experience behind the wheel. Evan admitted, “it’s a brute to drive and it does about 35 miles per hour plus you feel every bump but it never missed a beat”. There was an added bonus because the temperature was smoking hot that day so he cooked inside the cab. This could have been a lot worse on a cold day because Evan pointed out the jump seats on the truck and they are open air in the summer and winter. Saskatchewan winters are notoriously brutal so the rookies only had engine heat in -40 weather.

 

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Despite the heat and leisurely pace Evan said it was still “a lot of fun” to drive the truck and he loved the attention he got on the road. The fuel bill was an attention-getter though–it came in at 300 dollars for the one way trip.

 

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Evan was most impressed with the engineering behind this workhorse Mack because it was built with heavy duty applications right from the factory. He explained how this brute has wheel cylinders with a 2” bore, dual ignitions in case one of them fails you can switch to the backup plus it has an electric fuel pump. Surprisingly, this Mack also runs a 6-cylinder gas engine.

 

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This truck was also over engineered for the field because it has massive pumping capacity. The Mack was often used in what Evan called a “relay truck” role for water pumping and its capacity tended to overpower newer trucks down the line.

 

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There is little doubt Mack was proud of what it built for commercial trucks and this ’61 C-125 easily matched the best firefighting equipment out there. Evan sees this truck as an essential piece at the museum because it is such a huge draw in a very impressive lineup. One of the factors is simple—everything works on this truck including the sirens and lights.

 

That’s how you draw a crowd at a car show.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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