The Comstock Firemen's Museum's committee invited the SFFD Historical Society to take part in their 2009 Virginia City Firemen's Muster. They asked if it would be possible for us to bring along the Protection engine, as this year the muster would feature hand engines.
The Society's Board of Directors gave their approval to take the Protection as well as a competition hose cart. The restoration and preservation committee knew that it had been nearly twenty five years since the Protection has been paraded, displayed and pumped in a muster competition, and that no museum preservation practices had been applied to the engine since 1991. In preparation for the trip to Virginia City, Nevada, the pump needed to be inspected and tested. The inspection revealed that leather gaskets and seals which had been installed in the 1979 restoration were broken or cracked beyond repair. This was not at all surprising since no one had been maintaining the 200 year old engine for almost twenty years.
In the foreground, observe the hand forged circa 1820 iron square top bolts located at the rear end of the wash box. The inlet piping has been changed from the original to allow for a direct hydrant or water tank supply to the pump. The Protection is one of the first New York side stroke hand engines built. Its small overall size can only take a crew of about 15 firemen. The cylinders, however, at 7 inches, are very large for size of the machine.
Derek from Pacific Belt and Supply came to the workshop to measure and diagram the necessary replacement gaskets. Within two days the gaskets were made and returned. The pump was put back together and tested for proper working order. The test was successful.
On Thursday, the 16th of August, the Protection was transported to Virginia City inside an enclosed trailer in order to arrive safely at the sanctioned muster of the California Firemen's Muster Association. The Protection would compete in the Class IIA Hand Engine Class division which is composed of engines that have cylinders between 4 and 7 inches in diameter and a 2 ½ inch discharge. In this class there are engines that could have been built 40 to 80 years after the Protection. These newer machines are larger in size and built to handle a pumping crew of 40 to 50 firemen. The Protection's crew size is 15 or less. The SFFD Muster Team would have a great challenge in front of them.
On Saturday afternoon, the Muster Team was ready for the competition. Thanks to the new tight gaskets and a foreman who knew how to manage his crew in time with the hose cart team, the Protection won first place in her class with a time of just over 34 seconds.
Muster chairman Steve Frady, a former Chief of the Virginia City Volunteer Fire Department, presents to Paul Barry, SFFDHS, president, the first place prize for the Protection's Class IIA win. The SFFDHS Team also won 2nd Place in the over 40 open hose cart competition.
For a photo view of the Virginia City muster click here.