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Restoration project 1928 Boyer Gramm Special fire truck


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Hello to all.  I'm a newbie here and have enjoyed reading all the forums, what great info. I'm in the process restoring a 1928 Boyer Gramm Special fire truck. I first started by removing removing it from a learning center in June 2017 where it had been since 1995. kids played on it and acted like real firemen. It was up on jack stands. 2 of the 4 tires were flat. I was able to put a lot 30 psi of air in 3 of 4 tires. The 4th had a broken off valve core. It took about 10 of us to get it out the door and onto a rollback. It then was hauled to the fire department I'm on and unloaded. I've been a volunteer firemen for 29 years now. The engine was free. I pulled the plugs and started with navel mystery oil in the cylinders. In September, I pulled it home with the help of my daughter Maggie and a friend. Mags and I cleaned out a bay in the garage to put it and it just fit. It's about 7' wide and 24' long and weight about 6 tons. It took about a month to the radiator to hold water. It had a crack in the lower tank. Fortunely Mgs is a welder at a weld shop and was able to weld up. Well after hand cranking for months, I hooked a battery (6 volt)  and started cranking with no plugs. Cleaned carb and added some gas th the tank after removing toys from it. Installed the plugs and hit the starter button and the starter would hardly turn it over. Time to pull the starter and see what's going on. Cleaned and lubed up. Reinstalled and the same thing. What else could it be?  Well I do have copies of the build sheets from Boyer and it did say the battery was 8 volts. A quick call to my brother, and he told me to check the coil and see voltage it had on it if any. 12v was on it so the next day after work I stopped and picked up a battery, cables and a starter solenoid. After hooking everything up, I hit the button and it turned over great. Another problem solved. Turned the ignition switch on and hir the button again. The look on my face must have been priceless when it fired up. The kids did a number on the dash gauges so I hooked up a oil pressure gauge and fired again. You guessed it, no oil pressure. Time to pull the pan and see what's going on. The engine is a Contental 15 H straight 6 flathead. After cleaning the pan and oil filter housing of sludge. The sludge was about an inch and a half deep. Reinstalled the pan and 5 gals of oil and tried again. No luck, no oil pressure. Pulled again. Pulled oil pump apart and looks good. Found a pin on the oil pump drive shaft had broken. Replaced and put it all back together. Fired up and 30 psi oil pressure. Next is filling cooling system and check for leaks. Started and water poured out the exhaust. Shut down and checked to see where it's coming from. After a compression test, number 2 cylinder is dead. Pulled the head and found a crack down the cylinder about 2.5" long and across to exhaust valve. After a couple of calls to friends and J and M Machine, the engine lost the water pump and got too hot. Another set back. Continental engine used a aluminum oil pan and crankcase with a cast iron Blockand head. It's gotten too cold in the garage to work anymore this year so it will have to wait till spring and warmer times. Meanwhile it's time to do some reasearch. I'm also a member of spaamfaa. The pictures make it look good, but it has 5 coats of paint on it and very little rust. A friend of mine is going to do the body work and painting. The first picture is after it came to the fire department and the rest are when it was at the learning center

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Since it got warm enough to work in the garage, I've got the blocked separated and to the machine shop. Like all machine shops, they are covered up. At least it's there and is in line for repair. Meanwhile, I got the rest of the engine pulled so I can degrease it and the frame. I've spent a lot of time this year outside and not much time working on the truck. Degreasing the frame (from the front bumper to the fire pump took a lot of time. Pulled apart the front springs to clean. All the spring and King pins look great. Won't have to replace any of them. Got frame primed and sanded. Just mother nature would cooperate with me, too high humidity to paint the frame. Been working on stripping paint from front fenders while I'm waiting on the weather. Talked to the machine shop and he said it was his winter project and would let me know when he was going to start. I helped my brother strip paint on his 54 ford truck and now remember how I hate stripping paint. Woo hoo, Finally got the frame painted and it looks great.  Even my body man thinks so. It's been many years since I used a spray gun and I purchased a hvlp gun. It's was like riding a bike, you just never forget. Again is gotten too cold to work in my garage so will be waiting for next spring. Meanwhile I have the cowl assembly in the wood shop so I can replace some of the wood. Hoping to have it done and ready to put back on next spring. 

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  • 2 months later...

Just a quick update. Got a call from the machine shop earlier this week. After a quick chat over the phone, I stopped by. He had planned on pinning the crack. After he had cleaned it, it is worst than he thought. As you can see in the picture, the crack goes around the inside under the valve seat. There are 2 of these cracks and several other smaller ones as well. He recommends it be welded. So now I'm going to have to look for someone that can do this or try to find another block. Either way, it's going to be a challenge. Mike

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Do NOT weld that block. From the looks of it it will need sleeves also. Firetruck engines usualy are not very expensive. I would try for a good engine first, then stitch that one. I would NOT take it to just anybody or any machine shop, I would take it to a guy who does sticking full time. Best bet it to take your time, figure out your options, and then proceed. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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the block does need sleeved and new valve guides and seats. With that said, I'm just looking at my options. I've found a company that specializes in welding it by furnace welding and can do the machine work also. It's about a 2 day round trip. Been looking for a metal stitcher company and a replacement block. The ladder is going to be quite hard to find. There isn't much info available for 1928 continental engines on the web. I really need to locate a cross reference book since it seems that some forklifts used them. Thanks for your input, Mike 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Morning to you all. Just an update on the engine issues. I picked up the engine block from the machine shop in late January. After hot tanking, the block is far worst than anyone thought. There are 8 different cracks that need to be fixed. All cylinders will need sleeved, new valve seats, valve guides replaced, new valves, and new Pistons made. All this work comes at a hefty price of 4-6 grand and doesn't include any work on the head or low end. If all the the work is done to completely rebuild the engine is in the 7-10 grand. I've have been spending lots of time searching the web for a replacement engine with no success. So it's time to find a newer different engine setup that will work. And something I can get parts for. It's justall takes time to do the research. Mike 

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It seems hard to believe you can't find another engine...if it is a Continental it was probably used for multiple applications or - the basic components were and the model number adjusted to fit the precise application. I think I would continue to pursue that angle before trying to adopt something else - a contemporary engine should not be difficult to find.

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 I've spent quite a lot of time on the phone talking to a machine shop that specializes in old engines. At some point the water pump had been removed and reinstalled with silicone. It also has newer type grease zirks. We think the water pump went out and it overheated which caused the cracks. 

As far as finding an other block, I've also spent lots of time on the phone and Internet with no help. Everyone has said good luck. The only other option is to have a new one cast, but it would cost more than fixing what I already have. 

Im probably going to repower with somethings newer. Just don't know what that will be yet. Mike

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That'ss interesting. I was actually thinking that the same block may have been used for some sort of industrial application and, as such, might be below the radar for the average engine machine shop.

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I've had the same thoughts and so far no luck. As you can see in the picture, my engine is a multi piece engine. What I'm calling the block is the cylinders. The area where the crank and cam is is called the rotating assembly. Also the rotating assembly is cast aluminum as well as the oil pan. The head is cast iron. Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the day off yesterday. I was going to spend the day working on my honey do list, but 40s with a strong north wind, I stayed inside and done some more research on the repower idea. 

I have found a source for a gas continental r6602 engine. I've been also looking for a picture of the phisical dimensions of ther6602, but no luck yet. The only issue a can see using the 602 is the starter is on the left side and may interfere with the steering box. 

I did talk to a company the can rebuild the clutch I have for about 2K. Ouch. They believe they have the nessary parts is stock and will take about a month turnaround. I've been also looking for a adaptor plate and found a local company that I didn't know about that is interested in making a custom plate. I don't know time frame on that yet. So the 602, clutch rebuild and adaptor plate looks to be about 4-5K which is about half that of fixing my old engine. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, after lots of web searching and reading forums here and others, I have found the answer. Repower ping with a international rd450. I have a guy that has 1 and he is going to get it running before and removed from the semi that it is in before I go pick it up. It looks like may or June before I can take that road trip with the wife. I can't wait till then. Thanks Mike 

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Terry, I agree. These old vehicles are ment to be driven and enjoyed. 

 

I was to work outside yesterday, but Mother Nature had other plans. Cold and rain means I got to stay inside and work on my truck. Its amazing how how satisfing it to do something small and feel great. I've been wanting to get the front hubs and tires back on so it can be movable. That way I can clean up before I pick up the newer engine. With the tires back on, I got the steering gear box almost ready to put back in. It won't be in long as it has to come out to install the engine. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finally got a chance to go pick up some lumber for the cowl. Most of the wood is dry rotted or rotten from water. When I got home from work today, I started taking it apart. Defentaly a pain to take out all the nails. The only question I have at this point is what to put on the wood to seal it? It looks like some of the pieces were primed with a gray primer and others a just bare wood. I'm planning to prime all the metal with expoxy primer, both sides, just don't know what would be best on the wood. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got a chance to go to the lumber yard to pick up some white oak. I always buy hardwoods rough sawn so a cam mill it good and flat. It makes projects go a lot smother. I've been making the firewall and the the frame opposite the firewall. Both of them had rot and lots of holes drilled in them from all the previous owners that made them weak. With them done, I started removing the paint off of the covering metal. Most of the truck has 4-6 coats of paint on it. I've tried several different paint removers. I've found that a good stiff and sharp putty knife works the best. It for the most part, it just chips off. I'm planning on fixing the unneeded holes and expoxy primering both sides. The first picture is what it looks like to start. 2nd is just a couple of minutes worth of work. 3rd is what it looks like after paint removed. 4th is a close up of work in progress. You can seethe layers of paint and primer

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got almost all the paint stripped. After doing that, I decided to remake most of the sheet metal. There are a lot of holes that were filled with putty that you couldn't see. I spent most of the day working on getting the wood structure built up and ready for the metal parts. Cross bracing to keep square and straight. 

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Mike, seeing since you’re repowering, I would also use the trans that fits the new engine. It will be much easier and cost effective than fitting the original trans and fixing that original clutch. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well after much discussion on repowering, I purchased an international RD450. The engine was located in Colorado. Well the wife and I took a road trip that started Saturday. We even got a bonus as the Cubs were playing in Denver at Coors Field. We are big Cubs fans. Bummer they lost on Monday, but was a good game. Then it was off to pick it up on Tuesday. Once we got it loaded it was time to head home. We had never driven out west and enjoyed the trip. Did get into some rain on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Other than stopping every couple of hours to stretch and use the restroom, all in all not a bad trip. Got home Wednesday about 8 pm. We made good time. We spent some time doing some time cleaning up the garage then time to unload. It's going to take some time to get it cleaned and mounted in its new home

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After trying to pick up the engine with my father in laws tractor unsuccessfully, I just couldn't wait. Spent the day gathering material to make motor mounts and fitting in the new engine. I did get the rear engine mount, but will need to make a new bracket to mount it to the frame. I did get it where it needs to be side to side and I think front to back as well as up and down. It really took more time than I thought it would. I have started to make the front mount, but will need to get some more material. It does sit lower than I thought also. 

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After a long dat at work, Maggie and I tacked up some pieces for the motor mounts. I held the pieces and she tacked them. She is a whole lot better than I am at welding as that is what she does for a living. I spent the rest of tonight getting the angles figured out so she can take to work and cut them. We are planning on welding the up on Saturday. 

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Sunday afternoon, mags and I met at her work so she could weld up the rear mounts as well as part of the front one. I spent the rest of the day cutting angles and tanking the front mount together. I have the rears in, just not bolted to the frame. The last two nights I was able to get the front all tacked up. Mags is going to weld it up tomorrow. Then it will get put back in so I can check the front to back location before I bolt it in. I'm getting closer to hearing it come to life

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Today Maggie stayed after work and welded up the front mount. She also a added some gussets. I think it looks great. Mags really done a great jod making it look like something that would have been made back then. It's been about a year and a half since there has been a good engine between the frame rails. It won't be long now before I can hear it run. I've been thinking about how to mount the clutch and brake pedal. 

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Last night I got the front engine mount installed. I needed to check the front to back alinement, so I installed the firewall and the radiator. I'm planning on 2" of clearance between the fan and radiator. I had to move the engine about an inch forward. I also need to check the hood alinement next. That will be tomorrow. Then it will be time to drill the frame and bolt the mounts in. 

I also got the pillow block in the mail. They will be used for the clutch and brake pedals. Just need to finalize the design.  I talked to a buddy to get the name of a person/company who can modify the drive shaft to work with the newer engine and transmission. I just need to finish up the mounting of the mounts so I can pull some measurement. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just an update. After a short work week, the holiday and camping and fishing with my family and another long, hot work week, I was able to get the radiator plumbed up and filled. It took about 10 gallons to fill the radiator and engine. I also cleaned the needle and seat because there was a gas leak. I started it up to see if I was going to have to make it a pressure system. After running it for a while I checked the temp on the engine radiator outlet at 163. Then checked it at the bottom radiator outlet at 84. These were taken with the engine at an idle. I'm pleased with the results. I'm going to rebuild the carb. It does sound good, but can tell it had sat for sometime before I got the engine. It doesn't have a good throttle response to it. 

I also have been working on the brake and clutch. I've got the brake hooked up, but still working on the clutch

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had a good day. I sealed the driveway and with the family gone for the day, I finally got a chance to do some work on the truck. Since my last post, I've been able to get a working clutch and brake pedals.so today it was time to get the floor board in. I made a pattern for the area around the pedals and steering column. I think that by the time I get the rubber mat down and make or buy something to make up the area that's around the pedals and gear stick and e brake it will look really good. The next thing is to figure out the accelator linkage and get the needed measurements for the drive shaft so it can be modified to work with the new trans. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I've been quite busy at work so not much has happened on the truck. Saturday I was able to drop off the drive shaft to have it modified to work with the newer transmission. Sunday, I got to spend some time on it and worked on getting the fuel line installed. I would like to install a shut off valve in line and have just started looking for one. I ran 3/8" steel line with a short section of rubber hose at the engine. I'm not going to test it until I get the shut off valve installed. I also worked on stripping some more paint off one of the fenders. Hopefully I can spend some more time on it before I gets too cold out

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