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1952 Mack L Truck - Engine 1

'52 Model L Mack Fire Pumper

Dan Ward
Dec 1, 2009
Photographers: Dan Ward
In a line of work where we get to make people's dreams come true by publishing enthusiast's custom trucks, this is the first time I had the pleasure to print a restored automotive classic that has actually saved lives. This '52 Model L Mack fire pumper served the firefighters of Phoenix for 20 years. An iconic symbol, when anyone sees a bright red fire engine, thoughts of pride, courage, and heroic acts come to mind. For this reason and because he loved his life as a firefighter, Chief Alan Brunacini, of Phoenix, purchased the Mack at a public auction in 1977. Some 32 years later, he and fellow retired firefighter, Assistant Chief Bob "Hoot" Gibson, put the final touches on the completely-restored piece of Americana and called it complete.
Photo 2/19   |   1952 Mack L Truck left Side Angle
Arriving at Alan's house in Phoenix, we couldn't help but notice a large garage built next to the home. This structure was designed in the likeness of a fire station, complete with large accordion doors, bell, and station placard. Opening the large powered doors revealed the glory of two men's passion for over three decades. To say this Mack L fire pumper is fire engine red is a true understatement, as it literally defines the vibrant hue. Original down to the working Buckeye Roto-Rays rotating warning lights, this isn't your typical Concours d'Elegance restoration. Blood, sweat, and tears ooze from every nook and cranny, as each piece of brass was polished to a spit shine, each piece of gold leaf freshly spun from the brush, and every safety tool in place and ready for action.
A mechanical marvel, the '52 Mack L is powered by a running 1,000ci Hall-Scott straight-six engine that looks better than new. The huge engine rumbles to life with an occasional backfire, scaring all but the two retired firefighters who get a kick out of watching people run for cover. Besides the mammoth engine, Alan and Hoot also added 2,000 feet of 21/2-inch hose, 600 feet of 11/2-inch hose, restored the three large polished brass deck guns (water cannons), and put into place era-specific wooden ladders and safety tools. With an onboard pump that can send 1,500 gallons of water per minute to any burning structure, the Mack fire pumper stays true to its name.
The interior, with its huge steering wheel so many young firefighters tried to hold on to, looks both functional and elegant. The seats were recovered in red leather and all the gauges and switches were put back to good working order. Even the odometer reads 9/10 of a mile on it. Attention to detail is impeccable and everywhere you look. Pulling the fire pumper out of the garage for this photo shoot, people couldn't help but give the thumbs up, stop and stare, and even pull over to take their own photos. This truck stirs emotion deep within, especially for the two retired firefighters who, in their younger years, served their community on it everyday. In service as Engine One, the truck was referred to as "1489", its equipment number. However, the number one seems more applicable as this is quite possibly the finest example of an early-'50s fire engine in the world. Because of two men's love for the brotherhood of firefighters and their perseverance to see this '52 Mack get back to its glory days, they have unofficially raised the bar for early-model operational restorations to incredible heights.
Alan would like to thank Hoot for working beside him since they were young firefighters, his wife Rita for her 32 years of understanding during the restoration, his daughter, and Wayne Gibson, Hoot's son, who performed the gold leaf, lettering, and pinstriping throughout the Mack.



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