Antique Fire Truck Readied for Museum Display

ROCHELLE PARK, NJ — Four antique fire apparatus scheduled for future display at the upcoming New Jersey Fire Engine & Equipment Museum (NJFE&EM) at Allaire State Park are undergoing complete refurbishment and spotless detailing this week in Howell, New Jersey—just in time for the 21st Annual Tri-Counties Fire Apparatus Show and Parade on June 24 at Thompson County Park in Jamesburg, New Jersey.

Retired Jersey City police officer Harry Sandwith of Dirty Harry’s Detailing has called together a team of the country’s finest high-end detailers to help. Sandwith and his son Joseph, an active duty Jersey City police officer, have invited mentor and professional detailing authority Renny Doyle of Attention to Details in Big Bear Lake California; Jason Pollock of Detailing Inc., on Long Island, New York; Robert Weiner of Finer Details in West Long Branch, New Jersey; Christopher Evangelista of East Hanover’s new Noble Elements; and Fred Topinka of Alternative Car Storage in Rochelle Park; to join them in this prestigious, pro bono endeavor.

Three of the trucks, a 1947 and a 1976 Ford chassis built by Woodbridge Township, New Jersey’s own TASC Fire Apparatus; and a 1950 GMC chassis built by Detroit, Michigan’s General Fire Truck Company belong to the Naused family, a private collector and long-time members of the Tri-Counties Antique Fire Association. “Eventually they will probably find a permanent home in the New Jersey Fire Museum, but right now, we enjoy displaying them at events throughout the community for the kids,” says Bill Naused.

Already promised to the new museum, its fire safety education center, and New Jersey Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial when it is completed, the fourth truck, a 1974 Young, was still active until a couple of years ago. Under the care of Ed Burdge, a member of the Board of Directors for the NJFE&EM, it has a trailer hitch used to move other equipment and engines like the museum’s hand-drawn buggy style, around to firefighter-related community events.

“I first saw the trucks a few weeks earlier at a Knights of Inferno event, which was raising funds for the museum,” Sandwith explains. “It took me back to my grammar school days when teachers took you down to the Firehouse at Ferry Street and Central Avenue, and the firefighters let you climb around on the trucks and ring the bell. I spoke to Bill about how our team could bring out the maximum shine on these historic vehicles.”

Due to his generational relationship with police and fire rescue throughout the Jersey City area, the project lends itself to the very best of Sandwith’s own detailing specialization in reconditioning high-end automobiles, boats, motorcycles and other big boy toys. The entire team received their professional detailer’s certifications from Doyle’s Attention to Details training program, and several members of the team traveled to Seattle’s Museum of Flight last summer to detail the celebrated Air Force One presidential airplane and a selection of other classic museum pieces including a WWII B29 Bomber.

Each team member brings his own niche to the project and they will use a variety of specialized tools and products utilizing meticulous application techniques to protect the fire engines’ original shine. Dirty Harry’s European steam techniques promise an eco-friendly, water-based deep interior cleaning to remove deep-down grime and interior odor and bacteria removal, as well as headlight and taillight restoration, dark-colored paint correction, seat and headliner cleaning, and careful polishing of all paint, metals, plastics and fiberglass to remove oxidation and restore the original shine.

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