Not to be confused with the nickname sometimes used for the early prototype jeeps of World War II, "Blitz Buggy" was a small company in New York state which built fire apparatus in the 1950s using stripped-chassis trucks from various manufacturers, including Willys. According to H. Paul Koert's Blitz Buggy history, "The original Company when formed in 1949 was called 'Hi-Pressure Fog Equipment Company, Old Forge, NY' and built the first 19 trucks under that name. In 1954 the Company was reorganized and renamed 'The Blitz Buggy Company' and built the next 19 trucks. There was a total of 46 trucks sold by them, 38 built in Old Forge."
Saint Remy Volunteer Fire Department Station 2 in Union Center NY, is seen on 25 May 1964. Chief Charlie Gaston is standing next to the 1954 "Blitz Buggy" Willys pumper, and George Winslow next to the 1948 International tanker. Thanks to Jim Fairweather for finding the photo.
Bill Myers now owns the 1954 Blitz Buggy truck seen above, built when the company was still operating as Hi-Pressure Fog Equipment. He says, "The information that I have shows that there were 11 Willys trucks built by the company in Old Forge NY. Mine is #7 of the first eight early generation Willys.
As of 2017 Bill has restored and repainted the truck in yellow. He brought it to the Great Willys Picnic in Pennsylvania in June 2017. Thanks to Bob Westerman for the photo.
Bill says, "My truck was last in service in St. Remy NY. It then went to a local construction company that painted it orange/yellow (right). I bought it from them. This truck was originally painted red. I also acquired the remains of another truck that was also red. I don't know how the others were painted."
H. Paul Koert's list of apparatus built by the company describes this truck as a 1954 Willys 4-cylinder 1-ton, built as a demonstrator with a Hale 150 GPM pump and 200 gallon tank, and originally purchased in 1956 by the Rifton NY Fire Department.
Bill has an interesting story about the truck: "When I purchased it, the lights and siren were gone and it had a snow plow mounted. Some time later I was at a swap meet and I recognized a gauge panel on a table that was identical to my truck. When I questioned the vendor he told me that it had all come off a Willys truck and that the cab and chassis was gone. He had all the equipment. I asked him if I could buy what was left and he refused, so I purchased the panel. The next year at the same show we came to an agreement and I met him in Lake George NY to pick up the remains including the lights and siren.
"When I got home I put the lights and siren on the roof and dropped the bolts into the existing holes. Perfect fit! As there were only 8 trucks like mine built, I find this amazing."
In addition to now being complete with the Hale pump, hose body and railings, booster reel, siren and the two Trippe flashing lights, Bill's truck has the Blitz Buggy emblems (50K JPEG) mounted to the body.
H. Paul Koert's list identifies the truck which provided the missing parts as one of two Blitz Buggy Willys trucks sold to Massena NY.
Michael Eddy in western New York sent this photo in 2017, and said, "I have a sneaky suspicion that I now own the 'donor' truck that Bill eventually got the equipment from. I purchased a 1953 Willys pickup in Colton (30 miles south of Massena.) This truck has a 4-cylinder F134 motor and 3-speed transmission, with a rear PTO take-off on the transfer case, but no rear shaft or shift lever in the cab for it."
The rear body has been replaced with a stock WIllys pickup bed.
Michael continues, "It has an hour meter under the hood. It also has a throttle lock and a button marked 'siren' on the dashboard (60K JPEG), and extra springs (120K JPEG) above the rear axle. More importantly, there are still holes in the roof (70K JPEG) that I believe would perfectly fit a set of Trippe lights and a Federal or Sterling light/siren combo unit.
"At the time of purchase I was told it came from an older gentleman who supposedly got it from a fire department somewhere in the Adirondacks in New York."
It would be nice to confirm whether these details match Bill's truck.
Gene Kelso sent a photo of what appears to be a blue Blitz Buggy, but he didn't have a chance to get any further information. It may be the truck described by H. Paul Koert as a 1956 Willys 1-ton given the model name "Little Demon", with a Darley 500 GPM pump and 200-galllon tank, purchased in May 1956 by Pilot Knob NY.
Bill Myers comments, "The blue one is #1 of three later generation trucks. I don't know how many Willys trucks are left besides mine and the blue one. With the parts I bought that is 3 out of 11. Maybe another will show up on CJ3B.info."
Although most of Blitz Buggy's apparatus was sold in New York, two of the Willys trucks apparently went to Texas. H. Paul Koert mentions a similar 1954 Willys 1-ton with Hale 150 GPM pump and 200-gallon tank delivered December 1954 to the Aluminum Company of America facility in Point Comfort TX, in service until 1992.
This Blitz Buggy was sold in 2014 on eBay, where it was described as a 1951 3/4-ton truck with 6,048 miles, used at the Alcoa Aluminum works in Badin, North Carolina. It's not clear whether it was christened the "Blitzwagon" by Alcoa; the lettering appears to have been applied over an earlier name. It has a 6-volt electrical system, PTO pump, two Hannay manual hose reels, and 2-1/2" fill and discharge lines.
See also the right side and the cab interior (260K JPEGs).
Thanks to Bill Myers, Gene Kelso, Chief Dale Barker of the Edwards NY VFD, and H. Paul Koert. -- Derek Redmond
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