October 9 â Mifflinburg Hose Company turns 125 in 2022 and when it celebrates this milestone, a piece of its past will be proudly displayed.
The Volunteer Fire Company has ordered a complete restoration of an 1899 hand-drawn ladder car built by the American LaFrance Fire Engine Co. in Elmira, NY
The results are astounding. Isaac Reiff and his sons from Vicksburg Buggy Shop carefully photographed the 16ft steel frame wagon before starting their work. It seemed difficult to fire members of the company, said Mifflinburg Hose chairman Chuck Klose, but Reiff said he was in fairly good shape.
âWe tightened the wheels. Otherwise it didn’t require any repairs. It was just a matter of cleaning up, removing all the paint and with those good photos we were able to get it (to its original appearance). ) as close as possible, âReiff said on Friday inside the station where the wagon was resting next to a modern fire engine.
The wagon was sanded, much of it by hand, and sprayed with a candy apple red paint. Reiff has hand reproduced the detailed stripes and lettering in metallic gold, straw gold and black. It took the longest time. In total, the restoration of the wagon and its three original ladders required more than six months of work.
Klose and Loren Martin, deputy fire chief, said little was known about the wagon’s history. Klose said he was commissioned for the Mifflinburg Fire Company in his early years. It had been exhibited at the Mifflinburg Buggy Museum before being preserved.
It wasn’t doing well in storage, and company members didn’t want to see it fall apart. So they contacted Reiff.
âWe just felt like we had to have it restored,â Klose said.
The wagon has an extended arm at the front with two sets of handles – two firemen on each side. There are two spools at its front end where the ropes can be unwound, allowing 10 other firefighters to help move it.
There are hooks to carry around 20 leather water buckets. There are also spaces for helmets, axes, a hook, lanterns, and a toolbox. A cog on the rear wheel rotates to trigger a fire bell when the car has been set in motion.
âIt’s basically prehistoric,â Klose said when asked to compare it to modern equipment.
Retired Life Member and Deputy Fire Chief William Yohn, who died in 2006, left money in his will for the company to build a showcase for the wagon, Klose said. Company members will take on the project this winter. The plans are to build it in a space above the engine room.