Historic Kissel Engine Restoration

Kissell photo

The Kissel Engine in 1912

Thank you for all your support! The grant for the State Historic Fund was submitted Wednesday, October 1, 2014. We could not have submitted this grant application without the donations and outpouring of help we received. The State Historic Fund will be announcing grant recipients on February 1, 2015. Stay tuned for more information!

F & 3rd

The 1911 Kissel heads down F Street during a 4th of July parade; circa 1920.

Fire dept b

The 1911 Kissel leaving the Fire Department (still in current location on E Street) on way to Salida 4th of July parade, circa 1920.

On September 27, 1912, Salida City Council approved the purchase of a 1911 motor fire truck at a cost of $5,300 from the Anderson Coupling and Fire Supply Company. This apparatus was a combination hose and chemical car.

The chemical car did not have a pump, but rather functioned much like a gigantic soda acid fire extinguisher. Acid, mixed with an alkaline water would generate carbon dioxide (CO2), creating pressure within the tank that would be used to pressurize the fire hose. Once the water was expelled, the truck would need to be refilled and the process repeated. By today’s standards it was inefficient; similar fire extinguishers are no longer in use.

In 1926, the apparatus was retrofitted with a Waterous 300 GPM pump which is basically how all modern fire apparatus operate.

The Kissel was in service from November 1912 until April 1942 when it was replaced with an International Howe (which the city still has). The Kissel was then relegated to the City Water Works on Little River.

In the 1960s, the Salida Volunteers and paid staff, under the direction of Chief Jack Henderson, retrieved the Kissel in pieces from the city water works and restored the apparatus. It became the pride and joy of the firefighters and became a parade favorite. During the 1970s, the firefighters competed in hose laying events at the annual state convention, which was held in different towns around the state. To kick off the state convention, a parade would be held in the host town.  It was common practice for the firefighters to load the Kissel onto a trailer and take it to the host town’s parade.

In 1997, former Chief Pete DeChant took great interest in the Kissel. Pete was a good mechanic and was able to get the truck running more smoothly. Pete was able to locate and purchase a new set of Michelin tires that fit the wooden spoke wheels. The Kissel continued to be a parade favorite as well as a draw at the annual Angel of Shavano Car Show. In 1998, The Kissel was featured in the Society for the Preservation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America’s (SPAAMFAA) quarterly publication.

Unfortunately, around 1999 the truck began to overheat in parades. There was a concern that the engine block could be cracked but never verified. The truck was again taken out of service and has not been driven since.

Today, the Kissell has been landmarked locally. The local landmark designation allows the Fire Department to apply for the Colorado State Historical Fund Competitive Grant. Currently, additional funds are required to meet the $20,000 minimum match, which is the 25% match for the State Historical Fund Grant needed to fully restore the truck.

Known Problems/What needs to be restored or worked on:

  • The Kissel needs the original updraft carburetor.
  • The steering is very stiff and needs work.
  • The Engine needs to be inspected and freshened up.
  • The wooden steering wheel is held together with tape.
  • The body is in great shape but needs paint.

For your donation of $500 or more you will receive a plaque of recognition on the Kissel truck. Send the following form: Kissel engine flyer and your check (of any amount) to:
Salida Fire Department, P.O. Box 86 Salida, CO 81201

___Yes, I would like to donate to the Kissel Restoration Fund
In the amount of: $ _______
Name/Business Name: ____________________________

*All are welcome to donate and see the Kissel Engine at the Fire Station,
124 E Street Salida, CO 81201

Photo of a fully restored circa 1911 Kissel engine:

Restored Kissel engine