Valley Fire Truck Co. of Bay City, Michigan built this nice 1965 truck, now owned by Andy Harvey of Pennsylvania, and lettered for his personal "Pagsanjan Fire Brigade."
Andy has added some touches which are not original to this Forward Control FC-170, including the bell, bumper guards, and 1950s-style glass lenses in the front parking lights.
The photo was taken in Ohio at the Spring Willys Reunion 2018.
The same truck is seen here shortly after delivery to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania as Pumper 4. It served as the primary responder for 11 years in an area with many streets and alleys too narrow for a full-size engine, and was finally sold as surplus in 1992.
The story goes that the little pumper was bought after four children died in a fire which the larger pumpers could not reach due to parked cars. Citizens were outraged and the city council told the Fire Chief to find something that would solve the problem.
The FC-170 is believed to be the last Jeep FC conversion done by Valley. In a photo of the delivery day ceremony (60K JPEG) on December 28, 1964, it is labelled as a "Darley Pumper." Valley was connected with W.S. Darley of Chicago, and this truck has a Darley Champion 500 GPM centrifugal pump.
It carries a Valley builder's plate on the left side just below the pump controls, and a Champion Pump serial number plate (140K JPEG) from W.S. Darley & Co. on the discharge manifold.
Valley also used the "Champion" name for its pumper built on the Willys pickup truck chassis.
The company apparently built only a small number of FC conversions, although they did promote them aggressively, as seen in this advertisement with specifications including 500 GPM Class A pump and 200-gallon booster tank. Maybe they were shooting for the Civil Defense market, since they recommend the truck for "emergencies, disasters, floods, bombings!"
See the factory photo (60K JPEG) used for this ad, and a factory rear photo (70K JPEG), both from Andy Harvey's collection.
The ad also mentions an 8,000-pound GVW rating, which was achieved by "plating" the frame to reinforce it. The truck is powered by a 226 Super Hurricane flathead engine.
Andy's "Pagsanjan Fire Brigade" is named for the town of Pagsanjan (Pag-sang-han) in the Philippines, where he lived for several years. The illustration on the door of the truck is the famous Pagsanjan Arch (Wikipedia.)
The Wilkes-Barre (Wilks-berry) lettering was removed when the FC-170 was sold to a scrapyard. It was soon rescued, repainted in white and red (with aluminum grille), and purchased by Andy in 1999.
The deck gun was added by Andy, as were additional beacon lights front and rear.
The deck gun is supplied from the 2-1/2" side discharge.
The pump is powered from the center PTO, and is protected by a skid plate added by Andy after he replaced the drain plug with a ball valve. He also added the safety loop around the driveshaft.
An interlock lever behind the driver's seat prevents operating the pump while driving. Andy added the lock, and the electric fuel pump and battery disconnect switches, and his latest project in the cab (400K JPEG) is a visible brake fluid reservoir on the dashboard.
The original wheels were 15-inch split rims, well suited to the heavy truck. But Andy found he could no longer obtain 7.50-15 tires, so he installed 16-inch wheels, with 7.50-16 military NDT tires.
The truck also features a Bendix Hydrovac brake booster.
Andy had a custom tarp made to protect the 2-1/2" hose loaded in the bed.
See more photos of the former Wilkes-Barre Pumper 4 at the Spring Willys Reunion 2018.
Thanks to Andy Harvey for his assistance and enthusiasm. Note that he is also still looking for information on a Mystery Fire Jeep from Minnesota. -- Derek Redmond
See more Forward Control Fire Engines.
See also the Champion Willys pickup truck conversion by Valley Fire Truck Co.
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