Nov. 11th 2013
My dear colleague Chris S. send me an e-mail showing "Big Red" advertised at Fenton Fire http://www.fentonfire.com by Bob O.
A full equipt 1970 American LaFrance / 1000 Fire Engine. Something I was looking for a long time.

Nov. 19th 2013
first E-Mail contact with Bob O. advising that the truck is at Raleigh, N.C., USA.
Further he stated:

Condition is excellent- All of the hoses are included - 5 inch; 2 1/2 inch; New booster hose on reals; Roof ladder;  35' ft. extension ladder; Generator/ 4 years old; Portable Pump - original; 1000 gallon tank -- currently full of water;  Gauges and discharges work; Pump works excellent;  Warning lights work as does headlamps and directionals; Paint in excellent condition;  Waxed and shined; Diesel Engine - sounds great and works great; Fire extinguishers; Small tools
This truck has always been well maintained and kept inside in a heated  garage.
The Truck's original owner was the Lyons Fire Department, Lyons, N.Y.  I also have  two other trucks from that Fire Dept.

Wow, this sounds like my dream.

Nov. 23th 2013
Chris flew from Atlanta to Raleigh and had a close look at the truck.
Pictures he took you can find in the photo gallery.
At that day I was out for dinner and couldn`t wait for his report and pictures.
Chris confirmed that truck is in very good shape and engine sounds perfect.


Nov. 25th till Dec. 13th 2013

checked with TÜV in Germany about the requirements to run a truck like this on German roads. Since the truck is 43 years old, we call it an "Oldtimer" and special rules apply. But still, the break system (one circle to two circle) has to be changed, headlights must be changed and some other minor things.

The shipping aspect had to be though of. Since I`m in logistic myself, but mainly with freight all kind and automotive spare parts, our experience in shipping cars and trucks, was not that intense. But at the end easy. The plan was to ship the truck on Wallenius from Charleston S.C. to Bremerhaven Germany.


Dec. 14th 2013

signed bill of sale with Bob. We both were so excited.

What a Christmas present.....;-)


Now time to make the plan when to ship.

I decided to fly to the US and pick up "Big Red" myself together with Chris.

A good friend and colleague of mine, Karsten M. from Munich Bavaria had to do some work in Atlanta and could therefore also attend.

We scheduled the pick up for Jan. 10th 2014.

Till than, Bob managed to have some maintenance done on the truck.

1. Change Oil and Filters; 2.  Change Anti Freeze; 3. Grease - including drive shaft; 4. Grease Punp; 5. Check Tire Pressure; 6. Replace 2 Battery's; 7. Check lights; 8. Check Brakes; 9. Any other misc. needed; 10. N.C. Inspection.


Jan. 8th 2014

I flew to Atlanta on British Airways. Arrived at 18:30 H. Surprise: my luggage did not make it ! 

Actually not really a surprise....it is not the first time that BA lost my luggage....

We (Chris, Karsten and myself) left same night from Atlanta to Greenville Spartanburg. We had some meetings with customers on Jan 9th.

By the way: "How about insurance for driving the truck from Raleigh to Charleston Port ? " 280 Miles....

To get insurance for a truck with the age of 43 years old, and a german driver was not so easy. Friends from our sub contractor RPM in Greenville,  helped to get in contact with the right insurance company.

A lot of questions had to be answered and docs to be signed. The cost was about 600,00 USD.


Jan. 9th 2014

left from Greenville to Raleigh. After 3 hours drive arrived and booked a hotel via price line for one night.


Jan. 10th 2014

Final confirmation received from insurance company.

At 10:15 H arrived at Bob`s house. Finally we were able to meet personally.

Bob drove "Big Red" out of his private Fire House, were he was hosting the 1970 ALF and a 1953 ALF.

My first thought: "What a cool sound - it looks so beautiful"

Since we are all volunteer fire fighters, we need to know how the pump works.

George L., retired Chief of Bay Leaf Fire Dept.  http://www.bayleaffire.com came by to show us how the pump works. 

Since there was an issue with the handle to be pulled in the cabin to get the pump working, we had to investigate the problem in detail.

We took also some time and visited Station 1 of Bay Leaf FD. It was just opened on Oct. 20th 2013.

They call it the Taj Mahal of George L.... It took him 13 years to plan, get the funds and finally build it.

During our tour a guy showed up from a maintenance company. We asked him for help in regards of our pump problem. We took "Big Red" to Bay Leaf FD Station one and the young kid immediately checked everything and went under the truck. Result: we are trying to work the right handle, but somehow it does not work. 

Back to Bob`s house and further investigation. WD 40 always helps ! We got it to work and the pump works. 

It was already too dark to leave for Charleston and there was an other little issue with the taillights.

The maintenance guy was planed to come again on Saturday Jan 11th at 08:00 H.

So we went out for nice dinner with Bob and is lovely wife Leslie.


Jan. 11th 2014

08:00 AM we were at site again and found a work around solution for the taillights.

At noon we left Bob`s place and started our journey to Charleston. We lift right in time, since a Tornado was heading towards Raleigh. Bob reported power outage from noon till next day evening.

Half an hour after we left Raleigh, heavy rain started.

First stop to secure the tarp. second stop to take of "Keep Back" cover from ladder.

Engine wirkt fine and speeding at 65MpH.

After 3 hours late lunch back. Still 150 miles to go.

Slowly it became dark and we questioned what to do when arriving in Charleston. Especially where to safely park. We checked closest Fire Department and located Charleston Fire Station 12. http://www.charleston-sc.gob/index.aspx?NID=1077.

The guys were very helpful and allowed us to park in the back yard.

Time to look for a hotel again. Quick dinner and time for a nap.


Jan. 12th 2014

08:00 AM arrived at Fire Station 12. Big Red was smiling and in good shape.

We started to strip all hoses and anything that could be taken off easily. Also we took of the siren and the bell.

Everything loaded on a U-Haul trailer.

Noon. Time to leave to harbour since we had a pre-arranged meeting to drop Big Red.

Driving through Charleston down town was so great. A lot of people turned around and even took pictures while we had to stop at signal.

When arrived at pot, come to find out that person we had pre-arranged the appointment with, was not there and no operation at all. Guard: "Please come back monday morning 07:30 H".

We went back to Fire Station 12. "We are back !". no success in delivering Big Red at Port.

No problem for the guys from the FD and we were allowed to park again in the back yard.

We made use of the time and did some further maintenance on the truck.

At 09:00 PM we booked a hotel again. Had a light dinner and a short nap till next morning.


Jan. 13th 2014

07:30 AM back at Fire Station 12. Bir Red still smiling...Even though that we took off the bell, e.t.c.

Ready to go to the port. At the port I was escorted by Michael C. from Charleston Port on the terminal. He helped me to get the paperwork done and finally I parked "Big Red" and had to say good by and see you in Bremerhaven.

After that we went to Charleston Customs House and roped all the export docs incl. the original title. which was send back to us few days later the export confirmation.


Feb. 3rd 2014

"Big Red" arrived at Beremerhaven Port on the vessel Turandot from Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line.

Now time to get the customs clearance done. Since Jan. 1st 2014, German customs has a new regulation, that any historic car or truck (older than 30 years) which is still in original shape, can be cleared for an all in tax/duty rate of 7%.

Customs worked on the clearance. Requested copies of all docs. We also forwarded a picture. I guess they got excited and advised they will have personal look at it.


Feb. 6th 2014

Customs confirms clearance.

I went to the LBV (like DMV) in Hamburg and applied for a 5 day license plate. Ttl. cost about 30 Euro incl. the plates. In addition to this insurance premium.


Feb. 7th 2014

06:00 AM 3 guys from my local FD (FF-Lemsahl Mellingstedt) www.ff-lemsahl-mellingstedt.de, Knut, Michael B., Bene and myself departed from Hamburg. Took some tools and my GoPro.

At 08:30 AM we arrived at Bremerhaven Port. Since all docs had been well prepared by my colleague Hans-Peter F., the terminal was aware of us and quickly let us in.

Time to see "Big Red" again. In good shape, but a little sea sick. Taillights working but Breaklights not.... Left the terminal put on the plates.

Get some fuel at the gas station and some air on the tires.

Now time to see customs for final release and to get the "Unbedenklichkeits-Bescheinigung" stamped.

They checked the VIN Number on the truck and compared it to the docs.

Than one of the customs officers saw some foreign cigarets in my car. Now the bad story starts...

He questioned how many cigarets I`m carrying and if I have more than 10.000 EUR with me.

He screened the whole car and even checked my baggage. Also I had to give him a full report about my business trips of the last few weeks. I saw myself behind bars...

But finally they let us go.

10:30 AM on the road to Hamburg

Arrival in hamburg at 03:00 PM.

We took some nice pictures at our FD.


Feb. 9th 2014

Take "Big Red" to our logistic warehouse for safe and dry parking.

Now it is time to get prepared for first inspection by registration office.

After that further maintenance and changes.


Apr. 17th 2014

We had an appointment with Mr. Tappert from TÜV Nord. 

Mr. Tappert issued a list of items to do like:

- Head lights changed to EU standard

- Positionlights on left and right side to be added/changed

- KmH to be added to speedometer

- windshield has to be changed 

- lense hood to be added

- cooling water system / hoses to be renewed 

- VIN Number to be stamped into chassis

- Air Break System to be replaced to a two or three way system

- Engine Suspension to be replaced

- light for rear license plate

After receipt of this report and paying 328,00 EUR we drove Big Red to Auto Wichert. 


Auto Wichert offered their expertise to work on all above items.

In addition the following things we added to the list:

- all lever of pump to be inspected and made for easy work.

- whole electric tested and partly exchanged

- add fuses (original no fuses)

- fan belt replaced

- light switch to be renewed

- spotlights

- alternator to be replaced (got exactly the same as the original from Fink & Bliese. www.fink-bliese.de

They are able to service the Detroit Diesel Engine in this truck.

- lighting on switchboard to be repaired

- Windscreen wiper water tank to be replaced

- install rear view camera


Feb. 22nd 2015

Auto Wichert reports: "Big Red is ready". 

My friend Bene and my self arrived at Auto Wichert at 07:30 PM and had planed to drive to two party`s and show the truck. When started the engine, come to find out that the air break system does not hold enough air pressure. We found the reason but could not solve the problem same night. 

Result: we had to cancel our party appointments.


Feb. 23rd 2015

My friend Knut and myself arrived at Auto Wichert and the chief of garage Mr. Almstedt helped us to solve the problem with the loss of air. 


We took the truck to CNS Nutzfahrzeug Service GmbH. They had to take care of the engine suspension   and the replacement of the air break system. 


Mar. 24th 2015

Mr. Tappert from TÜV came by at CNS and did a kind of pre-inspection. Some minor issues had to be taken care of. CNS fixed them all.


Mar. 27th 2015

My friend Ole from our FD and myself picked up Big Red at CNS and we drove to our Logistic Warehouse, where all the accessories like hoses e.t.c. are stored. 

We put back the fast attack hoses, suction hoses, ladders and fittings.

Than we drove to our FD. As always a real attraction.


Mar. 28th 2015

Some minor electrical issues raised again. Older cable had to be replaced because lights on the tail did not work as they where supposed to. Easy fix. I`m getting used to it and I´m trained now enough.

Also did some cruising with my little son. We swing by at FD F16 where a friend of mine works. 

It is so funny to see the people taking out their phones to take pictures and movies. People stop by and ask if they can take pictures. I love it !


Mar. 30th 2015

Time to bring Big Red for final inspection to TÜV (Mr. Tappert). We left at 06:00 AM and arrived at 08:00 AM. Rain and heavy rush hour was taking a lot of time. We left Big Red with Mr. Tappert.


to be continued.....