Fourth of July in Ashland?

Work on the fire engine is slowing down as there's less and less to do on it.

Tuesday of this week Mike Trump noticed the headlights weren't working anymore, so he rerouted the wiring so the wires won't pull off the switches again. He also wired up the back spotlight, wiring in a red indicator light on the panel so we'll know when it's on.

While Mike was doing that, I spent the day getting in his way installing the seat belts--which was a lot more involved than it probably sounds. Do you know why fire trucks have red seat belts? It's so you don't go flying through the windshield if you stop suddenly.

I called the company in Arkansas that's rebuilding our instrument cluster. They're painting the gauges now and swear they'll be ready to ship the 21st or so. That should be in plenty of time to install them by parade time July 4, but it's cutting it close and isn't doing my nerves any good.

Even more nerve-wracking is the steering box situation. The fire engine is running and otherwise just about ready to go, but we've pulled the steering box so it's currently undriveable.

The truck wasn't really driveable before we pulled it--you had to turn the steering wheel about 120 degrees either way before the tires started to turn. Not terribly safe, and even less safe for a parade.

A parts company in California has been telling me every day for a week that they're moments away from locating all the steering gears, seals, gaskets and bearings we'll need, but so far nothing definite, no parts on the way. If they do get any parts in our hands in the next couple of weeks (assuming they're the correct parts) we'll reassemble the box with whatever parts fit.

I don't relish the idea of reassembling the steering box without any new parts at all, but it could be done. The idea of herding a firetruck down the middle of Main Street in Ashland isn't a pleasant one, but that's the fallback. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

We have paid our $50 entry fee for the Ashland Fourth of July parade, so we've committed to being there. We've been promised a place on the Plaza to park it after the parade, so people can climb on it while we talk historical society at them.

If you haven't visited the fire engine yet, we work on it every Tuesday at least 11-1:00 (and sporadically and unpredictably on other days, when parts come in). You can find us at 3263 Biddle Road, Medford, in the back.

Ben Truwe