Jim Trundle can start the engine of a 1924 Graham Brothers fire truck with the push of a button, a feature that replaces the need to use the front crank — though Trundle swears the old red machine can still crank up.
Trundle is a flathead engine specialist with 60 years of experience working on classic cars, getting his start at 17. That skill landed him the job of creating parts to fix an old Woodbridge fire engine this year.
The “Johnny Popper” fire engine, which began its life as a Yellow Taxicab, fought its last fire in 1972 and quit working while it collected dust in the Augusta Way firehouse.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Trundle demonstrated that he could make its engine purr.
Woodbridge Fire Lt. Lawrence Richards said the truck has been with the department since its beginning and hasn’t ran since he joined the department seven years ago.
As president of the Fire Association in Woodbridge, Richards said one of his top priorities was to get the old engine running, but he couldn’t locate the refurbishers who tackled the job the first time, so he called Vintage Reserve Garage at 121 S. Cherokee Lane, where Trundle works.
Vintage Reserve Garage, owned by Mark Lange, put about $600 into the project, and is going to return the vehicle to the Woodbridge Fire Department free of charge.
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