Aiken SC Man Restores Fire Apparatus

Chief Deputy Dwayne Courtney, of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, restored a 1943 Chevrolet fire truck after he started working at the Aiken Department of Public Safety in 1983.

The truck originally belonged to the U.S. Army Air Corps, which was housed at the current Aiken Municipal Airport during World War II, according to Courtney.

“It was a rust — it was just in pretty sad shape,” Courtney said of when he first saw the truck. “I loved old fire trucks, and did some paint and body stuff as a second job anyway, so I went to Chief (Carrol) Busbee and said, ‘I would love to restore this truck for the city, and I would volunteer my time and effort to do the work if the city would fund it, like the paint and the re-chroming. It wouldn’t cost them anything as far as the restoration — the actual physical labor. So, they agreed.”

Courtney and a friend, Jerry Flowers, co-owner of Flowers Paint and Body Shop, set to work.

The truck was still fully functioning, and most of the work was cosmetic. The sandblasting was the most time consuming part of the process, Courtney said, because it warps the metal.

“I think (Jerry) really enjoyed watching me with a water hose in one hand and a piece of sand paper in the other for hours and hours,” he said. “The sand blasting actually pits the metal, so you have to put on a layer of primer and then sand it back off. You put another layer and another layer – a layer of primer and sanding, a layer of primer and sanding, until you get all those pits filled and all the uneven spots filled and ready for paint so it’s very smooth and slick. We painted it back a real fire truck red instead of white, like the city had gone to with the fire trucks.”

After about eight months of work, the truck was restored to its former glory.

Courtney said the 1943 truck could carry about 50 gallons of water and pump about 500 gallons per minute. A modern day engine can carry more than 1,000 gallons of water and pump between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons per minute.

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