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  1. #1
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    Default Recieved Grant for Tanker- Automatic or Standard Transmission

    We recieved Grant for new tanker. We have several members that do not want to go for an Automatic transmission citing cost. What are the advantages (if any) of Automatic v. Standard Transmission on a fire service tanker?


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    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wvfc10 View Post
    We recieved Grant for new tanker. We have several members that do not want to go for an Automatic transmission citing cost. What are the advantages (if any) of Automatic v. Standard Transmission on a fire service tanker?
    The primary advantage, and what is usually cited for the reason, is more members can act as drivers of the truck as many departments have members who do not or will not operate a manual transmission.Did you not state what type of transmission in your grant application because if you specified auto transmission based upon the above arguement, then you probably have to stick to that choice.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Question Auto vs manual

    Congtats on your tanker grant! My take on the topic is that AFG is awarding truck grants to put the most up to date, easy to operate, and don't forget safe to opperate vehicles in the hands of firefighters. Emergency service drivers allready have too many jobs to do, let alone looking for gears enroute to a call. Twenty years ago 90% of our firefighters we truck drivers or farmers by trade. Today 50% are people that have never driven a manual transmission pickup let alone a large truck. My point is that times are changing and the members you have now will be gone by the time your new tanker is taken out of service. Another point is that the chassis builders are building most of the trucks for fire service with automatics, so there could be a delay if you request a manual. We were awarded a tanker (AFG 2006) set up with a International 4400 2dr, 330 HP, automatic trans and it handles the 2000 gallon of water we haul with ease. The truck drivers we still have on the department love it. Good luck with your truck!

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    We just received our new tanker from our 2007 award. Go automatic. You wll be glad you did. AND you don't have to buy from the big manufactures. Check out Freedom Fire Equipment. Quality and workmanship is excellent, secont to none.

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    Let me speak from an operator's position, totally by-passing the people driving little car vs big truck arguemnt ( that has been a topic all it's own on these forums).

    Today's automatic transmissions are far smarter than those of us who have ground through the gears in the past. Shift points are calculated to give maximum torgue vs load; low speed vs higher speed ratios are pre-determined resulting in better, more efficient fuel consumption; the shift is much smoother than a human can manage.

    In my village, from the #1 station, every way out of town is up a hill or grade. We have transitioned our entire fleet in the past few years to automatics.....even the duce+1/2 brush rig is automatic. I can honestly say not one of our drivers would go back to a standard shift and none of us have ground or missed a gear since.

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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    My take on this is that the fire service is unique in heavy trucking with it's transition to automatic transmission. Yes it allows more people to drive heavy class 7 + 8 trucks that have no experience with manual transmissions. I don't know that this is a good thing. Water tankers are are one of the more dangerous vehicles to operate safely due to shifting weight balances and an automatic that shifts too 5th or 6th gead at the push of the "D" button do not have the hold back of a manual transmission when decending hills . We have an engine with an allison and there is much more likelihood of a non truck driver jumping in pushing D and not realizing that they should'nt be cruising along in the gear choice that the tranny selects as they approaach the big downhill twisting corner . When I drive it I manually select 3rd or 4th to go down the road safely. Yes you can have the electronics set to start in a lower gear but then the less experienced drivers won't know when they should up-shift.
    Our newest truck a heavy rescue ,which is a twin to the engine chassis except for the tranny is a 6 speed manual is much easier to rely on the hold back effect of a lower selected gear. this truck drives and handles like a dream compared to the engine which can have a scare the crap out of you feeling, as it rolls through a corner requiring heavy break usage to maintain control .

    Yes I have years of driving heavy trucks over the road and know how to shift and select the proper gear range for conditions, but many of the newer members do not have any experience with a clutch or a manual shift.
    We have a 5+ 2 speed in our current tanker and there are only 3 or 4 of us that can make that truck work properly by split shifting. It has lead to many a clutch smoke show when a newer member tries to operate it.

    Personally I would have standards in all trucks , but I guess I am considered a dinosaur.
    Why are so few over the road tractors using automatics? less fuel milage and reliability has been an issue. Plus the much higher initial cost of the auto. along with higher maintenance cost over the long run. I have driven tractors with over a million miles on the original clutch and transmission. Don't know if that would be the case with an auto.

    These are only my personal feelings and probably are just the ranting's of an old truck driving dinosaur.

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    Islandfire 03 as and old OTR driver I agree, but as a firefighter I would have to side with the auto people.
    We have a 4wd 2000 gal tanker (or tender as its known in these parts, 05 AFG) That went beyond the call of duty on the Alabaugh fire last year here in South Dakota. Life threatening conditions and extreme terrain and it performed well. (This fire was part of the wildland refresher this year) I am sold on automatics. A fellow dinosaur.

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    With so many departments fighting the lack of volunteers you have to be able to use every available body whenever you can get them. What is that department to do if you are out on an OTR trip?If they can;t get the water to the fire,they can't save the lives and protect themselves either.
    Kurt Bradley
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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    As I said above there are many ways to analyze this question. There is definatly a case to be made for having a heavy class 7 or 8 truck that even folks who have never driven anything bigger than a pick up can operate down the road. This as Kurt says allows response when the professional drivers may not be available. But is it the best and safest way to operate these heavy trucks ???
    Yes we can hold annual driver training and make sure all qualified drivers are well versed in the dangers of operating these trucks , especially in emergency mode. They still take a chance of increased risks of not being fully aware of how easy it is to be at the edge of control of these trucks when the tones go off at 3 am and they might not be thinking 100% clearly.

    One of the leading causes of deaths of FF's are due to "ACCIDENTS" where less experienced drivers find them selves in over their heads in operating a heavy vehicle they are not intimately familiar with . .

    After watching the video in another thread under vehicle operations here it's easy to see how these accidents could become more commonplace.

    besides if you don't need both feet and hands to drive it gives you more chance to play with the sirens and air horns and all the other useless cr@p that are finding their way onto apparatus nowadays.

    Again as i stated earlier, these are just the observations of an old dinosaur !
    I don't think my feelings will change the trend towards making heavy fire apparatus easier for less experienced folks to drive.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled thread, sorry for the diversion.
    Ed

    PS. Congrats on your new tanker grant WvFc
    Last edited by islandfire03; 06-19-2008 at 08:48 PM. Reason: added the congrats to the OP

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    Actually one of the mini-studies showed that in less-experienced drivers with manual trannies they spent more time looking at the gearshift than the road since they were unfamiliar with the shift pattern. Definitely a bad thing.

    And I'm with you on the toys, driver shouldn't be playing with anything other than the horn when needed. Turn on the siren and leave it go, horn should be the center of the wheel, and if there is someone else in a seat then driver does nothing. All vehicles are the same, they're only as safe as the driver since drivers get into accidents with vehicles. Vehicles don't get drivers into accidents. Lack of maintenance and poor design are other human errors. Call me an old dinosaur but lack of personal responsibility is one thing dragging this country down, ever since that it takes a village crap came out it's gotten worse.... Sorry, right rant, wrong location.

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    BC I will second that motion for sure, personal responsibility will be the downfall of us all. IN 26 years of traffic homicide investigation and accident reconstruction back in my law enforcement days, distracted drivers, impaired drivers, sleep deprived drivers were the LEADING cause of traffic accidents and fatalities. In short, operator error, was the causitive factor. As I used to tell my officers, you have to arrive alive when repsonding to a call, to be of any help!
    Kurt Bradley
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    How many qualified operators do you have right now?

    How many will you have next year?

    What about 5 years from now?


    It seems to me that fewer and fewer members are qualified to correctly operate a Tanker/Tender let alone incorporate a manual transmission. Transmissions are of course getting much easier however why take the risk.

    On the apparatus fabrication side I haven't seen a manual transmission in a new apparatus as long as I have been around (yeah, I haven't been around long) there isn't a terrible cost for an Automatic....

    Go for Auto!

  13. #13
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    All excellent replies! Thanks guys. I am in favor of the automatics, having seen one of our own roll one in 1985. Experienced driver on a turn with microphone in hand and trying to shift. You never can tell when fate is about to strike.


    Thanks again to all that took the time to reply!

    Brian

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    The US military went thru this transition 30years ago. Besides the obvoius benefits mentioned above regarding increase in driver pool. The Army researched and found a substantial reduction in overall cost of ownership for automatics in heavy trucks. Reduction in maintenance costs for clutch repairs due to wear/damage caused by inexerienced drivers and the cost of wrecks due to distracted drivers greatly outweighed the increase in equipment cost and fuel usage. The Army and the fire service typically both operate a low # of miles so a good comparison.

  15. #15
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Neiowa :
    Hope you survived the flooding this past week safe.

    I was a member of the Navy from 72-92 with a primary job of Equipment operator {EO 2} in the Seabees. I was licensed to operate just about every piece of motorized equipment both wheeled and tracked in the US inventory, from jeeps up to 100 ton crane. I can count on one hand the automatic vehicles that i encountered during that time. and those were in cars not heavy trucks.
    The air force had a bunch of them {but they were zoomies and couldn't count to four to shift and chew gum at the same time}.

    there were a bunch of deuce & 1/2 's & 5 ton that came through with autos but they were even more of a POS than anything seen in the inventory and most were quickly shipped off to civil defense use or sold to unsuspecting fire departments to be put in the junk storage mode. They were true to life death traps. AM general multi fuel engines , really bad automatic tranny that wouldn't down shift and air over juice brakes that won't stop a loaded truck without a 3 mile long run off.
    The army has them in large tracked armored vehicles but not many otherwise, I'm not talking about a few stateside civilian garbage trucks or supply trucks but true military vehicles.

  16. #16
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    Have you looked into an autoshift?

    Eaton and Meritor are the bigger manufactures of autoshift transmissions, which are a standard transmission that has been automated. You select the gear to start out in and let out the clutch. Press down on the fuel pedal and everything is done for you, no need to let off the fuel to shift.

    It is as simple as let out the clutch, and drive like an automatic. When stopping the transmission downshifts to aid in engine braking and just as you are coming to a halt, push in the clutch. The shift selector allows you to hold a gear for climbing hills, downshift at a push of a button if you want to override the trans, or have the highest engine rpm's for maximum engine breaking.

    These autoshifts have gained much popularity from those looking at an automatic but don't trust the trans to hold up for a half million miles, or just didn't like the price. The autoshift was cheaper ( by how much I'm not sure, I havent looked at one for many years now ) and more reliable, as it was the same "bulletproof" 10 or 18 speed with some electric add-ons bolted to it to make it shift on it's own. This is a over simplified statement, but true. Take off the electric shifter doo-hickies ( another technical term ) and what you have is the same standard trans as anyone else out on the road had.

    Now, the autoshift has it's ups and downs like every thing else mechanical has, so please don't think I'm trying to sell you on one. Eaton and Meritor have many configurations to consider.

    Eaton was the most popular big truck standard trans, with Meritor following far behind, but Meritor has emerged as ( by opinion ) the best autoshift.

    Such a transmission might be accepted better by those on your dept who don't favor a full auto trans. I think the Allison or Cat full auto trans is a better pick for fire apparatus, but you may need to compromise.

    Good luck. Let me know if I can help with more info.

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    Are they running those on fire service duty chassis? International looks like it's Fuller sticks and Allison autos up through the 7400, have to run up to the 7600 or 7700 for the Eaton but 7400 is the highest they seem to put in the emergency service line. Looks like Freightliner does Eaton on both M2 models recommended for the service. Even mention something about a steering wheel mounted shifter for the autoshifter tranny. For hilly areas that would be a good option.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    Are they running those on fire service duty chassis? International looks like it's Fuller sticks and Allison autos up through the 7400, have to run up to the 7600 or 7700 for the Eaton but 7400 is the highest they seem to put in the emergency service line. Looks like Freightliner does Eaton on both M2 models recommended for the service. Even mention something about a steering wheel mounted shifter for the autoshifter tranny. For hilly areas that would be a good option.
    I have only seen 1 autoshift in a tanker to the north of us, all other apparatus that I see for this area is equiped with an allison auto.

    The autoshifts have been gaining much popularity over the years and I have seen many start to appear in quad axle dump trucks ( 73,000 lb gross weight ) around here as well. ( Including my company ) They have held up very well doing all the heavy construction work. We used to run them in our tractors but one of the owners liked the 13 speed Eaton better, as it is very heavy duty and as fail-proof of a trans as you can get for our heavy hauls. Well except for the 18 speed, but not everyone wanted to shift that much.

    I would still endorse an Allison or Cat auto for fire service use because it is so easy, but the autoshift would be a good compromise if people insist on a standard.

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    The Allison 3000 & 4000 series autos are proven performers.

    For a tanker, I say go with the wide ratio 3500 or 4500 model.

    If you're not going with a midship pump, make sure they sell you a model programmed for 6-speed operation, and get a Ring&Pinion ratio that allows you take full advantage of it.

    Cat is offering some autos, but since they're getting out of the Over The Road engine market, what's the point?
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

  20. #20
    Forum Member HSFDChief600's Avatar
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    As a driver of an ultrashift I can tell you its not for big hills. It cannot downshift fast enough and usually goes down to the lowest gear and starts over. IMO not a good fit for the fire service.
    Forrest Gregg
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    District 10 Director
    AAVFD
    IAFC
    www.holtvilleslapoutfd.org

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