1954 WIT/THIBAULT PUMPER
West Vancouvers 'Old 31' Open Cab Pumper Truck
We were contacted by the curator of the Central British Columbia Railway and Forestry Museum of Prince George in the fall of last year. They had a few old fire trucks they wanted to sell and wondered if we were interested.
When we received the pictures of the trucks we were excited to see they had one of the same make and model as 31. Discussions began as to if the society wanted a project of that size, and whether not we could complete such a huge endeavour.
There was also the thought that the truck might not be 'Old 31', current records stated old 31 was sold to Port Hardy Fire Dept., we didn’t think that the pictured rig was 31. With some research we found that Port Hardy did in fact purchase a used engine in the same time period. It however, had a roof.
When we were comparing the picture sent to us with a picture Scott took just prior to 31 being sold we noticed that the right front tire was the exact same one! Now we knew we had to bring her home!
About 'Old 31"
Old 31 started its life as the demonstration model at the 1954 Fire Chiefs Convention in Vancouver. Chief McKim cut a deal with the Thibault dealer on the convention floor.
It is a 1954 AWIT/Thibault pumper. It has a 1050 GPM pump and a 170 gallon tank. 1050 pumps in the 50’s were quite rare. Thibault built only 22 of that model and 16 were delivered to the Canadian military.
Old 31 was brought to the old #1 Hall on Marine drive and then moved to the New #1 on 16th.
It was placed in reserve in the early 70’s and was sold to Northwood Pulp in Prince George in 1978.
When it outlived its usefulness Northwood donated it to the Central British Columbia Railway and Forestry Museum in 2000. We are so lucky Marie Martins the curator of the PG museum reached out to us. Because we had provenance it is being donated to our society.
The plans of the actual restoration haven’t begun yet. Right now we just want her home. We are working on the logistics to flat deck 31 to West Vancouver. The cost will be at least $2000.00 so we need to raise funds to help us absorb that cost.
Special Thanks to Scott MacKenzie for preparing this article