Restoration for Vintage New Albany (KY) Fire Apparatus

A 1921 American LaFrance fire truck, an iconic piece of New Albany (KY) history, is being restored.

Jeff Rider, a Friends of the New Albany Fire Museum board member and restorer of antique fire equipment, plans to make the truck operational again.

Rider will fabricate new, period-appropriate covers for the running boards, upholster the driver’s seat, replace the headlights with originals and move some pieces of the truck back to their original locations. “It will look 100 percent different six months from now,” he said.

A replacement engine was located in Texas, and the Peters spent Memorial Day weekend driving to New Hampshire to fetch four original tires donated by an individual collector.

The truck became famous during the 1937 Ohio River flood. Newspapers and movie theater newsreels around the world were filled with images and stories from the devastated areas, and a photograph of the truck floating on a raft in downtown New Albany was shown repeatedly.

The fire truck was purchased new by New Albany and used until 1941, when it was sold to Leavenworth (IN).

The museum has owned the truck for about a year and a half, having received it as a gift from the town of Leavenworth. A slightly battered tank above the driver’s seat still bears the New Albany Fire Department insignia from its original stint in the city’s service.

Leavenworth loaned the truck to New Albany in 1963 for the sesquicentennial.

Once the restoration work is finished, the truck will make its way back to the museum, currently housed in the 400 block of East Spring Street in New Albany.

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