Waconia’s ‘3 Retired Firemen’ bid farewell to pumper engine

The 3 Retired Firemen and their wives — from left, Jerry and Chris Weiland, Mike and Sharon Hoen, and Don and Cheri Moldenhauer — stand by the fire engine that brought them and many others so much joy over the past eight years. The group purchased the engine from the city of Waconia after the engine was retired in 2006. The engine was recently purchased by a gentleman in Wisconsin. (Submitted photo)

The 3 Retired Firemen and their wives — from left, Jerry and Chris Weiland, Mike and Sharon Hoen, and Don and Cheri Moldenhauer — stand by the fire engine that brought them and many others so much joy over the past eight years. The group purchased the engine from the city of Waconia after the engine was retired in 2006. The engine was recently purchased by a gentleman in Wisconsin. (Submitted photo)

For more than 50 years, the Model F2-1028 pumper engine from FWD Corp. in Clintonville, Wisconsin has served the Waconia community well. For 47 years, the engine was a valuable firefighting tool for the Waconia Fire Department. When the department retired the engine in 2006, it ended up in the hands a trio of retired Waconia firefighters dubbed the “3 Retired Firemen” and provided fun, faithful service for many years.

It’s been a great ride but now, it’s time for the engine to go home.

Since acquiring the engine in 2006, the “3 Retired Firemen” and their wives — Mike and Sharon Hoen, Don and Cheri Moldenhauer, and Jerry and Chris Weiland — have used it for a variety of functions, from parades to rides for the grandchildren and other youngsters to even transporting teens to prom.

All good things come to an end, however, and the group is selling the engine to a gentleman who plans to return the truck to Clintonville. For the “3 Retired Firemen,” saying good-bye to the engine has been bittersweet.

“We hate to see it go but we weren’t using it anymore and we didn’t want it to start deteriorating,” said Jerry, who noted that the truck is still basically original. “When the city decided to sell it, the three of us put a bid on it. We decided we didn’t want to see it get cut apart so that’s why we purchased it.”

“It was a neat old truck,” Don said. “It was rare because it’s a two-wheel drive. Most FWD trucks had four-wheel drive but this one was a two-wheel drive. I personally hate to see it go because I ran it a lot when I was a firefighter and it was a unique truck but as long as I know it’s going to a good home, I’ll be all right.”

The “3 Retired Firemen” estimated that outside of the purchase price, they’ve put a couple thousand of dollars (not counting labor) maintaining the truck, which gets about two miles per gallon on the road. Although the engine wasn’t a money maker for the “3 Retired Firemen,” turning a project was never the goal.

“It was mostly for fun and enjoyment,” said Don, who spent 20 years on the Waconia Fire Department. Jerry retired after 22 years on the department and Mike served the department for 23 years.

“We just had fun with it,” Chris agreed. “It was just a good time. We enjoyed it and the grandkids had fun. I hate to see it go because these guys are really attached to it but it’s going to a good home and we’ll go visit it sometime.”

The engine is being purchased by Daryl Schroeder of Clintonville, whose family has a long history of employment at FWD Corp. Schroeder said it’s possible that family members actually had a hand in building the engine back in 1959. Schroeder plans to use the engine in parades and for education purposes. Eventually, it’s possible that the engine could end up being displayed at the FWD Museum.

“It’s a beautiful truck,” said Schroeder, who learned about the engine being for sale last fall. “I like the old trucks. It’s fun for me to have these things and show people how fire apparatuses have changed over the years.”

Schroeder loves that the truck is still original and the uniqueness of being a two-wheel drive engine when it was produced by FWD Corp., which pioneered the development of four-wheel drive. Schroeder said that the engine had to be specifically ordered to have rear-wheel drive as opposed to four-wheel drive.

The city of Waconia purchased the engine in 1959 and took possession of it in 1960.

According to longtime Waconia firefighter and former fire chief Randy Sorensen, the engine cost around $49,000 and was very reliable for the 47 years it served the city. Sorensen estimates that the engine logged 20,000 miles of work, which is a combination of actual distance traveled and use of the pumps.

Sorensen said the truck responded to a lot of calls during its time with the city and was used at many of the notable events in recent decades, such as the Cologne Mill fire in the early 1970s. The reason the city retired the engine is because its pumps no longer met the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association.

With the engine gone, is there any chance the “3 Retired Firemen” will buy another fire truck?

“I don’t think so,” Don said. “I don’t think the wives would go for that anymore.”

 

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

 

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