Oct. 16, 2006
Delano firefighter restores 1932 truck with hopes of preserving it for future generations
By Cullen Schultz
Gary Zitzloff has a long history in the Delano Fire Department, and he has added to its history by restoring one of its first engine water pumpers, a 1932 Nott.
Zitzloff has been a member of the fire department for 20 years, and is a captain for the department. His family has been associated with the department for many years, starting with his father, Art, who a was firefighter for 34 years, and his brother, Dave, who has been on the department for 27 years.
The Nott was built in 1932, in Minneapolis, and arrived in Delano that year. It was the first engine-powered water pumper that the Delano Fire Department owned. The truck was is in active service for the department for 31 years.
“It was taken out of service in 1963,” Fire Chief Bob Van Lith said.
The Nott was still serviceable after ‘63, making numerous trips in parades until 1986.
The idea to restore the Nott originally was for the fire department’s centennial in 1996. Members of the fire department dissembled the Nott, put the pieces into boxes, but never got around to restoring it. The pieces stayed packed away for years, until Art retired in 2000, and started to chrome and polish parts of the truck, piece by piece.
“Everything you see that is shiny, my dad did,” Zitzloff said.
In 2006, Art was sick with cancer, and Zitzloff helped take care of his father. Before he passed away, he told Gary that he should finish restoring the truck. Zitzloff didn’t think much of it at the time, but after he passed, Zitzloff decided to take on the project full force.
“I did it in memory of my dad,” Zitzloff said.
Zitzloff started the restoration in May, and found the Nott in rough condition, just a frame with four wheels. All the parts were dissembled and still in boxes.
Since the fire department members who took apart the Nott were not around anymore, Zitzloff had to figure out how to put it back together. He found two old photographs of the truck, and used them as a guideline. He also talked to his nephew, Brad, who is a member of the Buffalo Fire Department, because their department also has a 1932 Nott.
Zitzloff went there six or seven times to look at the truck and take pictures to use as a reference.
Although Buffalo’s Nott was a 1932, it was not the same truck as Delano’s, because each Nott was personalized in the shop, making each truck different, and Zitzloff’s job harder.
Zitzloff started working on the Nott everyday after work for three weeks. A machinest at Graco for 28 years, he would come home after work and then put in three to four hours working on the Nott; five hours on weekends.
His wife, Jeanne, helped him by assembling the pieces, and finding where the pieces should go.
“It was one big puzzle, and Jeanne is excellent at puzzles,” Zitzloff said.
Zitzloff had some other help in restoring the Nott, as well. Mike Munson did some metal work on the project, including brackets for the hose wheel. Van Lith worked with the auto mechanic portion, and Delaine Lindquist did upholstery.
“It was my mission; nothing was going to stop us,” Zitzloff said.
Lindquist was actually on board for the original restoration before the project died 10 years earlier. Zitzloff contacted her about working on it again, and she gave him a nice surprise. Lindquist still had the original seat cover that was given to her, along with the horse hair stuffing inside the seat, which she refurnished and returned to Zitzloff.
Roughly 99 percent of the material on the truck is from an original 1932 Nott. There are a few exceptions such as the brackets on the hose wheel and some nuts and bolts, which Zitzloff bought from True Value in Delano. He also bought two original Nott fire extinguishers off of E-bay, to help finish the project.
“Tried to keep it original,” Zitz-loff said.
It took Gary and Jeanne three weeks to finish the Nott, completing in the second week in June.
The Nott returned to the parade route on the Fourth of July, in Delano. It was put on a trailer and pulled by a truck from the fire department; Gary and Jeanne rode on it with Gary’s brother, Dave and, his, wife Dorothy.
The Nott is now on display in the History Room at the Fire Hall in Delano, and everyone is encouraged to come and see it.
“It is part of the history of Delano, and I would like the town to see it,” Zitzloff said.