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What's up with that old fire truck?

Matthew Lane • Nov 11, 2018 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — An old fire truck has been parked in front of the 2 Ton Tattoo Gallery the past couple of months.

It’s not something you see every day, and at least two or three times a week people will stop by and ask about it or take a picture of it. Or even offer to buy it.

That’s OK, because the owners just might take someone up on it.

The fire truck is an American LaFrance 750 pumper that was shipped to Greeneville on Dec. 8, 1955. Founded in 1873, American LaFrance built fire engines, fire aerials, and other emergency vehicles until 2014, when the company ceased operations.

The owners of this particular fire truck — Alice Cupp and her husband, Chance Minnick — purchased the vehicle about two to three months ago from some people in Knoxville. At the same time, the couple purchased some equipment for a new restaurant they’re planning to open.

They thought it would look good sitting outside their restaurant, plus it could be used for promotions and events, maybe even in parades. The only problem was the parking lot wasn’t really large enough to hold the vintage vehicle. The solution? Ask a friend for help.

“They asked if they could put it out here,” said Robert Jarrett, owner of the 2 Ton Tattoo Gallery. “It’s Americana, like the theme of the shop, so I said sure.”

Though the vehicle is more than a half-century old, it is in good shape and was driven in an event this past spring.

“They said it’s runnable. It was running earlier this year. It just needs an oil change and new spark plugs,” Jarrett said.

Since the truck arrived at 2 Ton, Jarrett said folks come in two or three times a week asking about it, taking pictures and even hopping in the driver’s seat for a minute. Just to be safe (and head off any thievery), Jarrett removed the ax, hoses and pumps from the vehicle.

The owners have been too busy getting the restaurant open to bother with the fire truck, though they do plan on fixing it up, and maybe even parting with it. So if you want to get a closer look at a vintage fire truck (or maybe even own one), stop by 2 Ton and check it out. It should be worth your time.

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