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San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation Buick Fire Patrol Car

The San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation, first formed in 1895, provided electrical power to seven counties in the San Joaquin Valley, a vast inland area located in central California. After several mergers, the Corporation became a part of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that today services much of the northern portion of the State. The photo of this near new San Joaquin Light and Power 1924 Buick roadster was taken in Fresno, California, with the San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad Depot visible in the background.

  • Illustration of the 1926 Buick “Valve-In Head” six-cylinder engine “The Automobile” January 18, 1924.

It is assumed, but correct us if we are wrong, that as the car was being used for PG&E Fire Patrol services where power and speed are necessary, the roadster apparently is a Model 24-Six-54. The Buick is powered by a 255 c.i. “Valve-In-Head” six-cylinder engine with a 3 3/8 x 4 3/4-inch bore and stroke; it is backed up by a multiple plate disc clutch and a three-speed sliding gear transmission. The Buick is equipped with a conventional style chassis of the era with semi-elliptic springs in the front and cantilever-mounted semi-elliptic rear springs in the rear, and came equipped for the first time with four-wheel brakes in the 1924 model year.

Tell us what you find of interest in this image and also what special equipment has been added to it for fire service. The photo is via the Michael J. Semas Collection and is courtesy of the PG&E archives.

24 responses to “San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation Buick Fire Patrol Car

  1. Well that is a nice looking Buick.
    Equipment boxes on the running board, but the hinges are on the outside. I assume that means they had to be pulled to open them. Does anyone know?
    Also a visor, siren, spotlight with rear view mirror and a really nice motto meter.

    • I would guess that by hinging them on the outside and letting them hang open you still had access to the car doors. I would also guess that the weight of the lids kept them closed.

    • If the boxes were hinged at the inside the lids would have banged into the body as they were opened. I have a feeling that when that goodly sized siren was engaged the car actually slowed down.

  2. Interesting that no spare tire(s) is(are) visible on the back of the car; also there appears some type of storage box, with outside hinges, has be added to the running-board.

  3. A friend of mine who recently passed away left 2 Buick roadsters similar to the one in the photo. One is a 26 & the other is a 28. Both are restored & running. The family plans on selling both of them.

  4. Is that a drip tray bolted to the oil pan rail under the carburetor? Interesting if it is. Speaks as to what they thought about the carburetor on these units. Also, it appears there are two crankcase vents. One in the front and one in the rear of the block.

  5. Could that be the fire house in the background? The doors in that large archway look like they could be opened partially or all the way across.

  6. Looks like a 4-cylinder car to me.

    Notice no hole at the bottom of the radiator for the engine crank as the bigger cars would have. Also, the painted shell and the trim bead along the radiator opening. I’m calling it a model 24-four-34.

    The rear springs would be semi-elliptic, just as the front. Cantilevers in the rear were for the 6-cylinder cars only

    Buick made a 4-banger from 1922-1924, and never again, going thereafter exclusively with 6s, then to 8s, then to V8s. The next 4 banger would be in the 1980s.

      • Mark and Father Buick, Thanks for determining that the roadster is a four-cylinder car.

        Was the engine in the four down-sized by two cylinders w/the same bore and stroke, was it about the same size as a Chevrolet?

        • The bore was the same at 3 3/8″ but the stroke was longer – 4 3/4″ vs 4 1/2″ for the six. Just how much on the way of parts was shared I don’t know but I think very little.

  7. 1924 was the last year for the 4 cylinder engine. less than 5000 4 cylinder roadsters were built. 24 was also the first year of the Packard styled radiator. The 4s had painted shells. The engine is a Buick design. In that era Olds used a Chevy 4 with a 3 port Olds designed head.

  8. The drip pan under the carb I believe was a safety feature that dealt with reality that the carb float and needle didn’t always curtail the fuel flow to the float bowl and “flooding” would occur. This car would have had an oil drip pan under the engine/transmission area. Flooding carbs draining into a drip pan was the source of catastrophic fires. The carb drip pan and drain pipe would have routed the more volatile fuel thru a hole in the side of the oil drip pan. The oil drippings in the drip pan are far less likely to ignite if they aren’t diluted with gas. I have several mid -teens Buicks and oil drippers they are but none of them were equipt with the carb drip pan. I can understand that not many of either of the drip pans survive. Most of them didn’t get back in place after the first time they came off.

  9. The accessories are typical for Fire Service related “apparatus” A.) The External 6 Volt Spot-lamp 21 to 32 C.P. , positioned with a wooden handle behind the reflector. Spot lamps had no diffusing lens to allow for: Spotting an street sign, an address , or an arsonist. B.) Two Spot (Emergency) lamps with “Red Filter” Glass. C.) An “efficiently designed” 6 Volt Siren with large “Exponential Horn” for increased sound . D.) A Running board steel case (s) for Tools & Fire related equipment . E.) The car also has “Kelsey ‘s nuts” — Demountable Rims — for rapid tire change , probably two spare tires for “redundancy ” (just in case) during emergencies. This is most likely a Fire Chief’s car. Edwin W.

  10. This Buick’s radiator front and surround was an obvious attempt at trading on Packard’s established styling. This lasted well into Buick’s models of the 1920’s. Great photos, and it’s an interesting subject. Thanks for posting this one.

  11. The siren looks like a Hedberg Super siren from Burbank district of San Jose, Ca, My Seagrave fire engine from San Diego had one on it when originally ordered and I founs a replacement at the Turlock swap meet. They are fairly rare. It could also be a CAM brand…..

  12. The building at the rear of the Buick is not the San Joaquin and Eastern RR depot. It is the old San Joaquin Valley Railroad depot at First and Tulare Streets in Fresno. The SJVRR depot was built in 1891, long before the San Joaquin and Eastern was even thought of. Equipment headed to the San Joaquin and Eastern certainly passed this spot, which was on the SP Clovis Branch at the time of the photo. The San Joaquin and Eastern began at El Prado, which was located on a spur off of the SP Clovis Branch near what is now Copper and Willow Aves., near Friant, Ca.

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