As many of you know, life can get in the way sometimes. Work demands a lot of our time away from our families and our friends. When we have free time, it is spent catching up with the people we love. As it should be. However, what happens to all those projects that we are working on? The ones that we are (in some ways) equally passionate about? This weekend, I made it a point to set aside time to get down and dirty with my 1965 Crown Firecoach.

1965 Crown Firecoach: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

Crown pictured on the left.

When the Crown first arrived, it did so on the back of a truck carrier. It hailed from Texas, and driving it over the road over 1000 miles was going to be taxing on the old, and as yet unproven bits. The truck moved and drives under it's own power and was one of the biggest reasons for purchase. The biggest reason for hauling it was cost and the unknowns. The truck had been sitting, uncovered in the Texas heat for about 3 years. That's killer on any vehicle and we weren't certain of the brakes or the rubber bits.

Originally from Modesto California this truck has the ghosted images of engine numbers past all over the paint. It has a rich history as one of the best build engines of it's time and is a beauty to behold. 4 speed on the floor and a diesel engine. These were the fire trucks that were built of the same type of bones that the old Califormia Crown busses were built from. They were over built and reliable.

1965 Crown Firecoach: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

Thus, my family's desire to bring it back to what it once was and hopefully add a little more of ourselves to it's history as well.

Fast forward to this last weekend and I have cleared my schedule for enough time to turn some wrenches. First? The oil drain plug. All the fluids must be drained, new filters, hoses and new fluids returned. My dad tells me to be careful because when the plug finally comes out, the oil could shoot for about 8 inches. OK, I said. Thankfully, it just fell into the 5 gallon bucket I had sitting here (1 of 2 required for all the oil in the big diesel).

1965 Crown Firecoach: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

It's a brave new world underneath this big red land barge. The bits under here have been sitting for a while and are frozen. Not frozen due to cold, frozen due to not having moved in a very long time. This particular truck had band aid hoses on top of degrading hoses affixed with duct tape. Yeah, it was great.

Once I removed the duct tape and band aids it was time to remove the hoses themselves. Secured by clamps, I thought it would be as easy as the drain plug. Un-screw and remove the clamps and the hoses should just come right off, right? Well, the top radiator hose did exactly that, the bottom radiator hose decided to put up a fight. A fight I both won and lost all at the same time.

1965 Crown Firecoach: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

That hose right there was snaked up and over the front axle (very little room for my fat fingers and a stubby screw driver). Once I removed the clamps I started to wiggle the hose in every direction to get it to loosen. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed no additional coolant leaking out of the radiator. Good, we got it all! That was my comforting thought anyway.

What I didn't account for was the settled coolant inside the hose. Yeah, I know, I am not smart. Many minutes went by of cursing and wiggling, wiggling and cursing until finally, POP! The hose came off completely, dousing me, the very hot drop light, and the floor with coolant. I took some to the face as well. That was fun.

1965 Crown Firecoach: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

That picture there is of me (headless, because it's not pretty) after the coolant spill. One entire side of me is drenched. Was it worth it? Hell, yes. We now have all the fluid filters, their part numbers, and all the fluids drained. We are making progress. It's slow but it's a labor of love. The truck won't be 'pretty' for a long time but to me, it's already the most beautiful piece of machinery.