According to a report from Reading Eagle, retired Reading, Pennsylvania, firefighter Bill Stoudt Sr. spotted a grey pickup truck turning onto South Fifth and Laurel Streets, pulling a trailer carrying a familiar friend—a 1931 Buffalo 1,000-gallon-per-minute pumper engine Stoudt Jr. drove as a newly hired firefighter in 1963 until it was replaced by the city in 1966.
The owner of the engine, Peter West of Virginia, recently sold it to the Reading Area Firefighters Museum.
Stoudt walked around the vintage truck, admiring the piece he spent three years of his career. He then climbed aboard after it was started up, instructing West where to drive it next. West then pulled the engine in front of the Liberty Fire Station and prepared to back it into its original bay. Stoudt continued to instruct West on the do’s and don’ts of driving the Buffalo.
The museum discovered that the engine would be put up for sale and knew immediately it had to get it. The museum will not divulge who paid for it and what it cost. However, museum Bill Rehr said that an anonymous donor bought the truck and donated it to the museum, noting that the donor said he “wanted it to come home.”
The city of Reading bought the engine for the Liberty Fire Company (LFC) in 1931. It was retired in 1966 and later served at the Reading Regional Airport. It then went into service in Robesonia. A private citizen bought it, and it was eventually sold to West, a fire engine collector. West then conducted an off-the-frame restoration, making the fire engine look as if it just rolled off the factory floor.
Rehr started working for the LFC in 1959 and said he remembers seeing the Buffalo engine at fires. He said the museum will keep the Buffalo as West delivered it.
The engine will be on display at the Reading Area Firefighters Museum, located at 501 S. Fifth Street.