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Community & Business

1 April, 2021

Old Truck has new lease of life

A fire engine that saw duty in Cairns for over three decades has been stripped back to bare metal, painted in original ‘fire engine red’ and is now ready to re-enter service at the Historic Village Herberton.

By Phil Brandel

Craig Kimberley From the Historic Village Herberton with starter Mark Jarman and the freshly painted Dennis Fire Engine

Old Truck has new lease of life A fire engine that saw duty in Cairns over three decades has been stripped back to bare metal, relieved of some major dents, painted in her original ‘fire engine red’ and is now ready to re-enter service at the Historic Village Herberton. 

Village owners Craig and Connie Kimberley said the 1945 Dennis Fire Engine had been restored when it first arrived at the Village in 2013 but this latest makeover took it back to how it would have appeared on the streets more than 70 years ago. “It is wonderful to be able restore this old fire truck, preserving an important piece of local history,” Craig said. 

Back in the 1940s, the ability of the Cairns Fire Brigade to quickly extinguish fires improved immediately when this Dennis Fire Engine from England was added to its fleet, the original hoses and fittings are all still on the truck. Atherton Tablelands panel beater and spray painter Zac Jarman of Dog House Industry had the task of stripping the truck back to bare metal, removing the bigger dents and priming and repainting it in its original shade of red paint. 

“The reps at JKW Allpaints Cairns did a lot of research to find the original colour code for the paint,” Zac said. “It is coach built with timber interiors and steel folded over the timber. I found a lot of markings that people had stamped into it. I tried to keep them as best I could. It was interesting to see the weld marks and the old school workmanship that had gone into it. “They wanted to keep it original, so I just took out the big dents and left the small ones, there are a few knuckle marks in the doors so we left them.” 

Zac’s next makeover project for the Village will be a 1937 Bedford Fire Truck from Ravenshoe. 

But for now, the restored Dennis Fire Truck is having all its brass polished in house before it goes on display this month. 

Zac’s father, Mark Jarman, is the official starter at Historic Village Herberton. “I maintain all the machines in the village and talk to the guests about the history of the old machines that I start – everything from motorcycles to tractors,” he said. “Do they think I have the best job in the world? They do, and I have.”



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