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Old Fire Truck Earns a Toast
Reprinted From The Herald-Mail
Article by Kimberly Yakowski
Vintage items are given new life at city shop

When Curtis Kauffman spotted the 1958 fire engine in the corner of an old building in Niagara Falls last year, he knew he just had to have it.

"I knew I could something with this, "he said.

Kauffman, who owns Memory Lane Restorations in Hagerstown, had traveled to the Niagara Falls are to buy antiques for his business when he came across the American LaFrance fire engine.

The engine had been cut in half horizontally and Kauffman purchased the front end. "I thought it would make a good bar, "he said.

Kauffman, 39, and his associate Steve Pryor, 30, hauled the front half of the fire engine to the East Franklin street shop, where they restore such things as vintage refrigerators, soda machines and candy machines and build sofas out of classic cars.

Without so much as putting a design on paper the men set out to create a retro bar. "It was all in our heads, "said Pryor who along with Kauffman has picked up a variety of mechanical and carpentry skills over the years.

Four months of restoration work later, the shiny red hood of the vintage fire engine makes up the main section of the bar, which comes complete with a slide-out, adjustable oak work surface, refrigerator and 24-karat gold leaf inlay.

Drinks can be passed through the fire engine’s windshield, from which the glass has been removed.

The original chrome bumper makes a good foot rest at the base of the hood and the headlights flash along with a fiber optic light strip set on the bar’s edges.

The object d’art has attracted a lot of attention from Hagerstown’s fire community, Pryor said.

So many people stopped in to check it out that the men eventually covered a portion of the store window with sheets to conceal the fire engine/bar so that could get some work done, Kauffman said.

The bar was sold to Mike and Sue Helmick, whose names have been engraved on a plaque placed on the inside wall of a bar shelf. The Helmicks paid $10,000 for their one of a kind conversation piece, which they will place in their hot tub room and use for entertaining.

"I was blown away when I saw it" said Mike Helmick, a Jefferson, MD contractor.

Helmick said he collects 1950’s . it’s a bygone era, Helmick said.

The couple had previously purchased several restored refrigerators, soda machines, fire boxes and candy machines from Kauffman.

Sue Helmick said she was impressed with Kauffman’s attention to detail.

"We’re very happy with the quality of Curtis’ work, "she said.

Kauffman and Pryor, both of Maugansville planned to deliver the 700 pound bar, which they called their crowning achievement in restoration work, today.

"It’s the nicest piece we’ve ever done," said Kauffman.

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