Batavia CTE students restore 1934 fire truck for Conesus volunteers
When Jeff Fronk was approached by a member of the Conesus Fire Department regarding a project, he never thought that the venture would take on a life of its own. Fronk is the Collision, Custom, and Restoration (CCR) instructor at the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center.
Dale Eddy is the assistant fire chief and vice president for the Conesus Fire Department. He contacted Fronk last spring with the hopes of having the CCR students work on a 1934 Dodge firetruck that was in dire need of repair.
“The truck had been stored since the '70s when it was put out of commission. It was in very bad shape, even trees were growing out of it,” Eddy said. “We contacted Jeff and hoped he would be willing to take on this project. He showed great interest because he saw the potential for the truck. We were hopeful that he could complete the extensive overhaul that the truck needed.”
“I knew this would be a big undertaking because the truck was in such disrepair,” Fronk said. “It had sat idle for many years; there were parts and pieces missing.”
Fronk inspected the truck and decided to tackle the project. Fronk and the CCR students delved into restoration and uncovered how much work that the truck required. Learning the scope of the work needed, Fronk called upon some of the other Batavia CTE instructors for their assistance, as well.
“The Conservation students milled the wood for the truck bed flooring, and then pre-drilled these oak planks for installation, the Welding students fabricated the side panels and fenders,” Fronk explained. “My CCR students repaired the body pieces that were salvageable, sandblasted the exterior, then primed and painted the exterior. The students even polished the brass bell that’s on the front of the truck.”
Due to a Conesus Fire Department event, the project was under a tight deadline. The entire restoration took place within a four-month period so the firetruck could be used during the summer months. When school ended in June, the truck was not fully completed, so Fronk, along with the help of some fellow CTE teachers, completed the project.
Eddy and the other fire department members were in total awe of the project when the truck was delivered to the fire department in July.
“I knew this was a project that the students could take on," Eddy said. "I completed the Auto Technology Program at the Mount Morris Center, so I’m a BOCES graduate.
"But when all of us saw the finished truck, we were amazed at the quality of the work that the students and instructors completed. That truck was, and still is, smiling from fender to fender.”
The finished truck was recently displayed at the Batavia CTE Center so the students could view their work. Fronk noted how students reacted to seeing the restored truck.
“When the students saw the truck, their jaws dropped and eyes were so big; they were in disbelief! They are so proud of their work,” Fronk said. “This was an incredible project for the students to complete. I’m sure that they will never see a project like this again; I know that I never will!”
The truck is now showcased at the Conesus Fire Department and is used for special community events.
Awesome job! The truck looks beautiful. I can only imagine what it used to look like.