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A tribute to 9-1-1 firefighters: Local man creates hand-carved fire truck

September 13, 2012
By Dorothy McKnight ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - When Richard Blixt of Escanaba created a wooden fire truck on a 36-inch base, he had a definite purpose in mind. His intent was to dedicate the truck to the firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.

Using a set of pre-drawn plans, Blixt said he completed the fire truck using all raw lumber and created all the details of the truck - many of them working parts - right down to the wheels from a variety of wood. Blixt used red wood eucalyptus along with white aspen for much of the body of the truck. The tires are made with walnut and paddock was used to create the hubs. The trim was made using yellow heart wood. The seats were created using tamarack because of its natural striped wood-grain.

"I generally pick whatever wood I think is best," he explained. "Some of the wood isn't available locally; you have to order them from craft suppliers."

Article Photos

Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press

More than 100 hours of labor went into the creation of a hand-crafted wooden fire truck by Richard Blixt of Escanaba. When completed, Blixt dedicated the truck to New York City firemen, many of whom lost their lives after the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Because they are less apt to snap than wood, Blixt used slim brass rods to make the dowels that are holding on the exterior rear-view mirrors and hand rails.

Although 80-year-old Blixt is a retired machinist for Harnischfeger in Appleton, Wis., he is also an accomplished carpenter.

"Once I got started (on carpentry), I fell in love with doing it," Blixt stated. "I've done a lot of carpentry work, including complete sets of kitchen cabinets. I once made a split-log stairway with a 180-degree turn at the top."

He also made a back-hoe crane with a four-foot boom that stretched out. Blixt said he made the tracks for the crane from chains from a printing press using wooden hinges. He sold it at a craft sale in Crivitz, Wis.

"You really don't make any money on things like this," he said. "They are very time consuming to make, but I really enjoy working on them."

His recent truck is the second that Blixt has created. He received the plans as a Father's Day gift from his daughter in Washington.

"I made a much smaller truck that was an older model one for a relative of mine," he said.

Crafting the truck in his home workshop, Blixt said this latest project took about 100 hours to complete using about $200 worth of materials. Although he would like to eventually sell the truck, as in previous projects, he hesitates to put a price on it because of the intricate work involved in its creation.

Blixt said he would like to construct a second truck using the same plans but in the mean time, he continues to make custom cabinets and intends to "make all kinds of different stuff."



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