Historic Kankakee Fire Department truck finds new home at Seagrave Museum

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KANKAKEE, IL – Firefighters Local 653 announced Monday evening they have donated a 1928 Seagrave Tiller truck to the FWD Seagrave Museum in Clintonville, Wisconsin. 

The 93-year-old vintage truck once served the City of Kankakee and was owned by the firefighters’ association. The firefighters had been storing the truck in hopes of restoring it, but the decision was made to donate it to the museum for proper restoration and public display. 

The Seagrave Tiller model 6WT was originally manufactured in Columbus, Ohio, and boasts a six-cylinder engine, 1,000+ cu. in. displacement (115 horsepower), three forward speeds, one reverse, a top speed of 55 mph, and an empty weight of 17,000 pounds.

The FWD Seagrave Museum and Vehicles location showcases over 70 vehicles, including a model truck collection, a Kuester Gauge exhibit, FWD/Seagrave exhibits, and an FWD Eliason Motor Toboggan. The museum, a 503c3 organization, is continuously working to preserve and share the histories of FWD, Seagrave, and FWD Seagrave. The Seagrave Company was founded in Detroit, Michigan, in 1881, and produced ladders of a truss design, which were sturdier than solid beam ladders. In 1891, Seagrave moved to Columbus, Ohio, and called it home for 70 years.

The FWD Foundation acquired the second building on 15th Street in Clintonville, Wisconsin, in 2016 to allow for additional displays and exhibits and space indoors for over 80 trucks. While FWD/Seagrave trucks are the main focus, other rare trucks are displayed as well. The museum is also a research and archival resource library. The FWD Foundation began with the original Machine Shop, the site of the Machine Shop Historic Museum, where mechanics Otto Zachow and William Besserdich invented and patented the first successful four-wheel-drive concept automobile.

Seagrave is dedicated to providing highly engineered heavy-duty vehicles, cabs, chassis, bodies, aerial ladders, and other products with superior lifetime value for customers by concentrating on innovation and continuous process improvements. 

As a single-source manufacturer, Seagrave integrates design, construction, and assembly under one roof. The result is an apparatus built for the best lifetime value that operates under the most severe conditions. One of Seagrave’s unique manufacturing distinctions is its life-saving “safety cage” cab design, which has earned it an unmatched reputation for dependability under the toughest of conditions. The cab’s cage design is the hallmark of occupant safety.

The Seagrave Tiller truck has a rich history in saving lives and was an important part of Kankakee’s firefighting apparatus. Its donation to the FWD Seagrave Museum in Clintonville will ensure that its historical value is appreciated for years to come.

At the time of its release, the 1928 pumper was $12,500.  Today the cost of a used fire truck can range anywhere between $15,000 and $500,000.

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