LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE MUSEUM COLLECTION
1923 REO Obenchain-Boyer
In the foreground is the firewall and fuel tank
of the REO. In the background, resting on the seat,
is a photo of an LA County REO in service.
Currently, as of February 2023, this apparatus is the center of attention in our restoration shop. Of the four different makes of apparatus first purchased for the Fire Protection Districts that eventually would form the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the REO Obenchain-Boyer rigs were the least expensive and thus the least powerful. They were purchased for the less affluent districts that could not afford more expensive engines. We suspect our REO was purchased for the Clearwater-Hynes District (Engine 31). We hope its identity will be confirmed during restoration.
Seven REOs were purchased during the first two years after the Fire Protection Districts were formed. They served in the following districts: Walnut Park (Engine 24), Puente (Engine 26), Temple (Engine 27), Flintridge (Engine 28), Baldwin Park (Engine 29), Artesia (Engine 30), and Clearwater-Hynes (Engine 31).
These engines actually were the product of two companies. The chassis and running gear came from the REO company of Lansing, Michigan. REO stood for the initials of the company’s founder, Ransom E. Olds, who was also the namesake of the Oldsmobile. The REO Model F chassis was then sent to the Obenchain/Boyer Company for the addition of firefighting equipment, including a Hale 350 Gallons Per Minute pump.
During World War II, due to a shortage of parts, the four-cylinder F-head REO engines were replaced with six-cylinder Chevrolet powerplants. The REO in our collection was in need of total restoration. Utilizing our important in-house expertise, our Museum president Paul Schneider, and his brother Howard, have already restored a 1922 REO pumper, this piece of equipment is undergoing a total restoration. We also had the opportunity to observe our then Vice President, Jim Page, restore a 1924 REO chemical/hose wagon, which was the City of Monterey Park’s first fire apparatus, in the year 2000.