Vintage firetruck from Yukon restored in Blenheim
A dream 25 years in the making.
More than two decades ago members of the volunteer fire department for Dawson City, Yukon decided they wanted to restore their horse-drawn steam pumper from the 1890s.
For many years it just sat outside the fire department. They chose to save the money they would receive to fight a fire in order to get enough funds to restore the pumper back to its original state.
It's taken 19 months and $250,000, but soon their No. 2 steam fire engine will be back in Dawson City. It was among the first vehicles ever used by the fire department.
"Absolutely amazing," said Dave 'Buffalo' Taylor, the acting fire chief for Dawson City.
He and another member of the fire department came to Blenheim, Ont. to do the final checks on their steam fire engine before it's shipped back home.
"It far surpassed what we thought it would look like," Taylor said.
About 30 people work for the Dawson City volunteer fire department. He said there were a few donations, but "fire fighters themselves have put into this, about 99 per cent of the money to restore it."
Taylor says engine No. 1 has gone missing. The second one came in 1895 and was used until the 1930s.
"A lot of departments don't have what we have," said Gerry Crayford, the senior captain of the Dawson City fire department.
He's worked for the department for 42 years. He said he almost couldn't believe what he saw when he looked at the restored steam pumper.
"Awesome. That was my first thought, absolutely awesome," said Crayford. "You don't think it's going to look like that."
Word got around after Stan Uher refurbished a 1927 fire truck for the town of Ingersoll. Uher has been restoring vintage vehicles for 37 years.
After getting a call from the fire chief in Dawson City, Uher said he went up to see the horse-drawn steam pumper in August 2015.
"They liked what they heard and I loved what I saw," said Uher, owner of Classic Coachworks in Blenheim.
It arrived in January 2016 and Uher has been working on it ever since. He said he's worked on refurbishing it for about 1,400 hours.
Unlike modern-day vehicles, the pumper has all of its mechanics open to the elements, so it constantly needs oil. There are spots on the vehicle that hold oil cans.
Uher said it was probably drawn by two horses, but could be drawn by four.
For it to pump water, it had to be near a water source. Luckily Dawson City sits on the Yukon River. The pump only had hoses about three metres long, so there was an additional hose cart that could hold up to 300 metres of hose or more.
"This is among the most detailed of these surviving in the world and it's just an amazing opportunity for people to see it," Uher said.
The truck will return to Dawson City next week. The department plans to find a couple of horses to pull the pumper in a parade next month. Then it will find its home with other vintage vehicles in a Dawson City museum.