I have the opportunity to purchase an 87 Oshkosh P19. How exactly is the p19 reliability wise? Are there certain things I should look out for when viewing it? Its an auction so you can't start it, so are there anythings I should especially keep an eye out besides rust, etc?
I have been looking over the design a bit and could put in some changes. How do they drive? This will be used as a contract engine for wildfires, just tossing this idea out there.
Is it a straight crash model or a USMC/Air Force P-19B with a structural panel? Manual roof turret with hatch will prove it a USMC rig. Without the structure panel, your only handline will be a booster reel.
The P-19 is a maintenance nightmare, and this one is 26 years old. The USMC trucks were refurbed in the early 2000s, and have been falling apart for years. Ours were extremely unreliable and in/out of maintenance constantly. If it still has the original Champion pump, expect to replace it. Don't EVER let it cavitate or leave a discharge open without water flowing, the pump will fry. The way it goes into pump is by throwing a switch to water or foam, we had constant issues with the transmission/pump shift. Good chance some of the pump piping is rusted out, depending on how it has been stored awaiting auction. The electrical system is terrible, expect to replace all the wiring and light fixtures.
If someone else has a better experience, I hope they will chime in.
I was a civilian CFR FF on a WiANG base and we got a P19 in the late 90's from another base. I can't say we had the issues you did, but then again I don't remember the age of it or the miles or pump hours anymore. My guess is it had a softer life than yours.
Frankly, I just don't see this as being a very good continuous off road type of vehicle. It is heavy and unless there are better tires out there I just see it getting buried in soft terrain.
We assist the military in covering the wildland side of a very large Air Force base, and they use their P-19s for wildland operations on a regular basis with some very good success.
From my observations they are quite nimble and get around very easily.
Can't comment on the maintainence side however.
The P-19 was one of the last CFR designed by the Air Force. The maintenance side would be my big concern. The Air Force designed apparatus often used special components that were never used in civilian apparatus. The manufacturers produced these components as per the contract and then stopped production. Some parts will probably be hard to locate and very expensive. You should also make sure you have a complete set of manuals (tech orders) so you can operate and maintain the vehicle.