Posts Tagged Mid-America Truck Company

Chicago Ward LaFrance/Ranger/EONE (part 3)


The following is the third of a 3-part series from Dave Weaver, organizer of the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show

Details about the Engine 17 rig developments are being discussed on the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show Facebook page. Interested potential buyers can send a private message to or to the comments section of this post.
Chicago Fire Department engine from the movie Backdraft

CFD Engine 69 with numbering for both Backdraft Engines 17 and 51. Tom McCarthy photo

Where they went…
  • 80-287/D-372 E126 – rehabbed to E122 – Crushed in Blue Island in 1994
  • 80-288/D-373 E73 – to E103 4/2/81 – (not rehabbed) – Crushed at Cicero Iron in 1984
  • 80-289/D-374 E8 – rehabbed to E17/51/69 – Sold to Erickson Trucks-n-Parts 8/28/96
  • 80-290/D-375 E106 – rehabbed to E113 – Sold to Erickson Trucks-n-Parts 9/4/96
  • 80-291/D-376 E22 – rehabbed to E46 – Sold to Erickson Trucks-n-Parts 9/9/96 (crushed)
  • 80-292/D-377 E113 – this rig then saw a lot of action as a Shop’s spare at T61, O’Hare, E34, E19, E109, and E72 – rehabbed to E14 – Sold to Erickson Trucks-n-Parts 8/29/96
  • 80-293/D-378 E49 – rehabbed to E34 – Sold to a private party – Sold to PA FD
Chicago FD engine used in the movie Backdraft

Engine 17 on 4-4-2004.

E17’s current condition…
  • The owner estimates that 75% of the rig is there with 20% of the parts needing to be purchased and 5% of the parts needing fabrication.
  • It has a complete Cummins NTF 365 Turbo-Diesel (365hp @ 2300 rpm).
  • It is missing an Allison HT70 6-speed overdrive transmission.
  • It is missing $1,100 worth of copper radiator cores – originally Mesabi radiator of MN
  • It has a Hale Q-2 2,000-GPM pump that is non-functional, but comes with a replacement PTO gear box, some pump valves and pump gauges stripped from E14 that can be rebuilt by SPAN gauges in WI with period correct backings for $30/ea. and a new pump gasket set from Hale.
  • It has a 500-gallon water tank and a 140-gallon foam tank that was added during the refurb.
  • It has a 50-gallon diesel tank.
  • It is 35′ long with a 178” wheelbase.
  • The original grille was stripped from the rig but replaced by a top-notch reproduction.
  • It has its’ original deck gun.
  • It needs diamond plate and steel work but comes with the refurb blueprints from E-ONE.
  • It has original Imron paint but could be repainted with a close matching 68-69 Dodge red.
  • It includes 500 feet of 5-inch LDH.
  • It includes functional lights, sirens, horns, and a period correct Motorola radio.
    Chicago FD engine from the movie Backdraft

    Engine 17 photographed 9-15-2012.

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Chicago Ward LaFrance/Ranger/EONE (part 2)


The following is the second of a 3-part series from Dave Weaver, organizer of the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show

In 1990, X-Engine 8 (D-374) along with its sister rig X-Engine 106 (D-375), were part of the 2nd set of rigs sent to be rehabbed. They were the last two rigs to come back in June of 1990. D-374 and D-375 were both leased to the production company that created the movie Backdraft. D-374 was marked as Engine 17 from 7/90-2/91 and as Engine 51 from 10/90-2/91 (the rig whose hose bed saw “action” inside Engine 8’s house). During filming, the Engine 17 interior shots and the majority of the exterior shots were done using X-Engine 8. X-Engine 106 was also marked as Engine 17 during certain scenes. A way to tell the difference is that Engine 8’s interior had diamond plate and was painted gloss black, while Engine 106 had a flat black interior with no diamond plate. Another difference is that X-Engine 106’s siren speaker was mounted higher up in front of the windshield glass.
CFD engine from the movide Backdraft

The cab interior.

When filming was completed, D-374 was assigned to Engine 69 at 4017 N. Tripp Ave. Engine 69 was responsible for pumping out the basement of City Hall during the Great Flood of 1992.  It was part of Chicago’s short-lived super-pumper program, which carried four hard suction lines and 1000′ of 5″ LDH. Its’ 140-gallon foam tank was installed with expressway responses in mind. Engine 69 was taken out of service on 6/13/95. Engine 69’s transmission/PTO box was removed in order to keep Engine 34 in service after they blew out their gears while driving. On 8/28/96, Engine 69 was sold at auction and purchased by Erickson Trucks-n-Parts.  It was first shipped to their yard in Sturtevant, WI and it eventually arrived in their Jackson, MN bone yard in 1997. It was discovered there by its current owner in 1999. He eventually purchased it in 2003 and began its restoration.
CFD Engine from the movie Backdraft

Backdraft Engine 17 on the day it was purchased.

After filming, X-Engine 106 (D-375) was assigned to Engine 113. It also eventually was sold at auction to Erickson Trucks-n-Parts and made its way to the Jackson, MN bone yard to sit alongside Engine 69. Engine 113 is currently in the hands of a friend of Engine 69’s current owner, but it is in very rough shape and might possibly end up as a parts rig for the Engine 17 project. Engine 14 (X-E113) also ended up in Jackson, MN. It was completely stripped of salvageable parts, had its cab chopped off, and then shredded.
CFD engine from the movie Backdraft

December 20, 2003.

Engine 34 (X-Engine 49), which never saw time in Backdraft, was made into an Engine 17 clone before being sold in 1999 or 2000 to the East Norwegian Twp. PA FD where, until recently, it had been incorrectly touted as authentic. That rig was spotted for sale online stripped of it markings a couple of years ago and its current whereabouts are unknown.
CFD engine from the movie Backdraft.

Rear jump seat behind the officer.

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Chicago Ward LaFrance/Ranger/EONE (part 1)


The following is the first of a 3-part series from Dave Weaver, organizer of the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show

Chicago Fire Department Engine 17 on the set of the movie Backdraft

Chicago Fire Department Engine 17 on the set of the movie Backdraft. (X-Engine 69).

Engine 17 from the movie ‘Backdraft’ is for sale. A private collector in Minnesota has decided to let his project go for $6,000 with the condition that it receives a Chicago homecoming in the hands of the individual or group that is most capable of completing the restoration, and willing to make the rig available for parades and shows such as the Chicago Fire Academy Muster and the Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show. As of 9/19, there are several potential buyers who have offered to take on the project, but nothing is finalized yet.
 During the course of researching the history of this rig I have put together some notes…
Chicago purchased seven, 1970 Ward LaFrance engines on the P80 Ambassador chassis. These carried WLF VIN#s 80-287 to 80-293. They were shipped from Elmira Heights, NY on 6/30/70, and arrived at the CFD shops on 7/2/70 to begin prepping for assignment.
1970 Ward LaFrance Ambassador pumper assigned to Chicago Fire Department Engine 8

Steve Redick photo

 The engine with VIN# 80-289 was given CFD shop #D-374. It was originally marked as Engine 103 and delivered for service on 12/8/70, but the doorway was too narrow for the massive engine to pass through it without folding back the mirrors. It was reassigned to Engine 8 the next day at 212 W. Cermak Rd. in Chinatown, where it served until 1982.  It went to the CFD Shops for rehabbing from 9/2/80 until Feb 1981. In 1982, D-374 became a Shop’s spare.
 In 1989, the CFD sent the first set of 1970 WLFs to be rehabbed. They were sent to Able Fire Equipment Co., an Emergency-One dealer, in Frankfort. (Able later became Mid-America Truck in Elmhurst) The front of the engines received a Ranger cab manufactured in Rhode Island (now out of business). The back half was a classic E-ONE job.
Chicago Fire Department Engine 69

CFD Engine 69 after the rehab in 1995.

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