1928 American LaFrance Pumper
Lawrence, Kansas Fire Dept

Before we started the restoration ...

.. a better view from the side

Some remnants of the original gold leaf survived an earlier repaint, and provided a few clues to the proper restoration. Investigating a truck's
history is an exciting time to find out everything we can about
bringing the truck back to it's former glory, accurately. 


Doug is applying the gold leaf to the rear of the fender. The gold comes on sheets that are 3 1/2 millionths of an inch think, and when lifted from their paper carrier will break up and fly away if not handled properly.

Dale is striping the edge of the fender,
consistent with the original decoration of the truck.

The fender striping is complete, and the pounce pattern has been made for the gold leaf size. Although barely visible in the photo, the decorator has created a pattern, then perforated holes along the lines of the pattern, then laid it in place and tapped a white powder through the holes and onto the metal, creating a pattern to paint the gold size on and
subsequently lay the gold.

The finished fender scroll makes the struggle to get there all worthwhile! Using 23kt gold, lettering enamel, asphaltum (shading) and clear coat the decorator (Doug Klink) created this beautiful scroll- it was one of 6 scrolls on the truck. Doug took more than 3 hours on this scroll alone, broken up into small segments of time as the size or paint dried.

Some scrolls were optional on early LaFrance fire trucks.  While the hood and hose bed scrolls were a standard item, seat, fender, toolbox, and frame scrolls were not.  They could be ordered by the fire department as an added item.  Hood lettering was also special ordered for each rig but was included in the base price of the truck. 

The gold size is setting up to be leafed (the shiny area). Gold size is similar to paint, but is clear. Depending on the type of size used, the decorator must apply the size, then continually check for the proper tack that will hold the gold onto the vehicle before it is clear coated. Although gold doesn't have to be covered, it generally is for fire service applications because of the high degree of abrasion and use, to preserve it as long as possible. Gold leaf has been known to outlast a vehicle if applied properly.

Hose bed in paint booth with reference photos attached. The 23kt
gold has now been laid, but there are no other decorations, yet...


Now, the details have been added, ready for clear coat. The stripe at the bottom of the bed is split where the fender will be positioned. Gold is not laid unless it will be seen and appreciated, thanks to the time and cost involved with hand laid gold leaf.

Detail of the corner scrolls. White outline and two tone green
detail paint is added last.

The restored crankcase has been installed into the frame.

After installation of the cylinders and accessories.

An open view of the pump before installation

Leafing and striping the pump housing before installation

In the paint booth awaiting a clear coat. Note the radiator in place
as well as brake and transmission controls

Once the cowl was in place, the pump could be lifted in as well

Ready for the bed to be added


The hose bed is finished and mounted in place

Close up of the scroll work and bed decoration

Leafing/striping of the suction hose tray & fuel tank.
The engine cowl is from different project (top right).

Seat/steering wheel installed. Seat is not completely finished yet

The front fenders are done with the rear fenders awaiting a coat of clear before mounting. The seat, dashboard, fuel tank, pump, and engine are all complete. The hood is awaiting lettering and a coat of clear and the running boards need to be installed but it's getting very close to being ready to hit the muster circuit this summer.  

The dashboard of the ALF is finally done. Wiring is the next step.  The speedometer is not functional because the wheels had been switched from wood spoke to cast steel. This was common since the wood wheels didn't stand up well to heavier loads and high speed turns. Unfortunately, the steel wheel kit available from ALF didn't include a speedometer drive gear.
However, the steel wheel kit included a new front axle and
front brakes, which were badly needed.  

The hood lettering and striping is complete. Note the 2 different fonts used on the hood (letter styles), which is reproduced as shown in the factory photo. 

Top view of the beautiful hood panels and fenders.