By Barett Poley
Duncan, British Columbia — May 16, 2017 — The Cowichan Valley Shriners Club has received a generous if somewhat unorthodox donation from CSN-Cowichan Collision, in the form of a 1946 Dodge Fire Truck. The truck restoration took the staff at CSN-Cowichan nearly a month, 18 years after the facility first restored the same truck. The rare vehicle has been retrofitted for modern use by the Shriners, who use it for public appearances, parades and charity events.
The restoration wasn’t an easy one, but the results are astounding. It’s actually the second time that CSN-Cowichan has worked on the fire truck, according to Ron Mellson, owner/operator of CSN-Cowichan Collision.
“This is the second time we have donated work to this specific truck. About 18 years ago was the first time we did it,” says Mellson. “This time we did a complete exterior refinish on it and we had two guys working on it for three weeks.”
More remarkable is the condition of the 71-year-old truck. “The truck is all original except the transmission, which has been updated to a modern automatic for its 6-cylinder engine,” says Mellson. The body panels, lighting, original pumping mechanisms and firefighting tools are all also original. Alongside the modern transmission are some other modern comforts to complement the truck’s classic styling, such as seats for children to ride in during parades.
According to Mellson, the modifications have been made by CSN-Cowichan to optimize the charitable potential of the ’46 Dodge. “This Fire Truck is only used for parades at this time, so it’s not out fighting fires!” says Mellson. “And it’s been modified with extra seating for the parades. The lights and sirens still work on it and it even still sprays water!”
Shriners Club 27 in the Cowichan Valley was formed in 1964, in line with the mission of helping children who had suffered birth defects, injuries and other medical issues. Just one year later in the Cowichan Valley, CSN-Cowichan Collision was founded, and it’s been family-owned and operated ever since. The two were a natural paring. The Shriners, as an organization, are famed for automotive displays of fun and silliness for children, in the form of vintage vehicles, small, comedic cars and parades. CSN-Cowichan knew that their time and effort wouldn’t be going to waste.
A side effect of CSN-Cowichan Collision having existed in a community for over half a century is a great sense of community-mindedness.
“The reason why we chose to donate to the Shrines is because of the work they do with the Children’s Hospital and what they do for the kids,” says Mellson. “We feel like it is important to stay strongly involved in the community because we have been in the community since 1965 as a family run business in the Cowichan Valley.”