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  1. #1
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    Default Type I Ambulance Chassis Options?

    We're looking at a new replacement bus this year and currently we run three Ford F350 4x4 type 1 units. Needless to say, the Ford end gives us endless troubles. We normally run the units 9 years, replacing one every three. We're looking at shortening the life as they tend to be beat by year 9.

    My question is this: Are any of you using the smaller Chevy or other chassis's for Type 1's? We do not have the ability to move up to the larger size chassis. Also, it seems many builders are pushing for us to spec an F-450 vs. the 350 in the Ford line due to weight, but my sense is that builders should be using less material and lighter ones at that? The larger Ford makes the units taller and of course more expensive.


  2. #2
    Forum Member Fyrtrks's Avatar
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    Default C4500

    I would not recommend the C4500 we have one at work. The unit has been nothing but problems, now mind you the basis for the problems have not been diagnosed by me. 1 The unit had a loud clunk in the front end it took months to find the problem, 2 The unit is horrible at highway speeds, this maybe from the factory or maybe because of the air suspension, or our mechanic's modification to it. Our sales group had a unit with this same drifting problem and the units front axle was 3/4" out of wack. The axle was reset and the problem went away.

    We have had several problems that were module manufacturer related. Our mechanic wanted something larger than the F 350 also. He was concerned about brakes but we use one of the heaviest boxes made and load it with alot of stuff. In my opinion I think we should have gone to the 450 or 550. The C4500 has air horns but with the air suspension on a 450 or 550 we still could have had that.
    Fyrtrks

  3. #3
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    Question C4500

    Has anyone else had a problem with ambulances built on the 4500 chassis that could be attributed to the chassis and not mods made by builder? Any 4x4 on this chassis?

  4. #4
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    Have no experience with either the Ford or GM chassis, we run Internationals. You may want to contact these guys as I notice they build on F350, 3500 and the C4500's. They also have a couple 4x4 chassis on their website. www.arrowmfginc.com I'm not endorsing them, just found them on the web while surfing but you may be able to contact them and see if they'll provide you with a list of users that are running the chassis your interested in. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Default

    We have an older Chev chassis and we have had problems with the Duramax motor (fuel pump mostly) and the brakes not holding up the the steep grades.
    Our neighbors (that run a lot of calls and long transport times) went with the Dodge chassis and Cummins motor 2-3 years and go. They have 40-50 K miles now on theirs and they have been holding up the best.

  6. #6
    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    Default

    If your dead set on keeping with the smaller chassis, then I'd suggest either the GM/Chevy or Dodge. Both diesel powered.

    GM/Chevy with the Duramax has for the most part eliminated the fuel/power and reliability issues. The Dodge with the Cummins engine is also a good runner, and dependable.

    To pick one over the other, with no bias to either, I would really look at the GM/Chevy option.

    FM1

  7. #7
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    We have just gone through the research process while looking to spec a new amb.
    The chassis options available out there are:
    Ford f-350 /450 All 1 ton chassis are at the limits of gvw when considering todays equipment loads and have smaller brakes /axels drivetrain components.
    450 price is about 6=8 k over 350 but gives heavier gvw & better brakes suspension and payload. Rear loading height is 2 1/2 ' higher but can have air dump susp on rear. There is a new one between us on the midcoast we looked at. Very nice but , $$$$$ ka-ching
    The 6.0 was a disaster but the new 6.4 is looking better.

    Chev/gmc 3500/4500. the 3500 is not going to meet the needs of what you want it to do . soft suspension and weak transmission & brakes. the 4500 is at heart a landscapers dump truck chassis. harsh ride even with the air ride pkg. and noisy . Lots of sound transmission /reverberation into the box. the duramax has been an ok design with a few issues. Camshafts and injector pumps. 4500 is higher $$ than e-450

    dodge As we didn't like the design of the cab we didn't spend a lot of time with them . in talking to folks who own them suspension is hard and they've had transmission issues repeatedly . the cummins power-plant has been good.

    sterling : nothing more than a pricier cosmetically change dodge..

    International & freightliner Medium duty large trucks. Cant see getting them around your streets. $$$$$$$$

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    ..................

    International & freightliner Medium duty large trucks. Cant see getting them around your streets. $$$$$$$$
    Not pushing any specific chassis because they all have pros/cons, just a comment or two related to your's............

    The EMS I work at has a mix of chassis, a F-350 4x4, a F-450 4x4, 2 Freightliner FL-50s and a new International 4300(?).

    The pt modules on the medium duty trucks and the F-450 have very similiar overall dimensions, but the 3 medium duty trucks will out turn and maneuver the smaller chassis units. They may not be right for some locations, but they aren't necessarily the clumbsy beasts that some think they are.

    They may cost more upfront, but from my experiences, they hold up a lot better in the long run so they might not actually be any more expensive to operate in the long run.
    Last edited by FireMedic049; 01-03-2009 at 03:41 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default We have all Fords

    We have 2 - F350 Ford / Horton Ambulances (2003 & 2006) We also have a 2008 F-450 4X4 Ford / Horton.
    We keep ours about 9 to 10 years. We put about 100,000 miles on them. Each unit responds to about 350 call a year. (We rotate units to keep mileages down) We also purchase evey three years just like you. We have had Fords since 1985 with no major problems. The only time we changed was in 2000 when we purchesed an International 4300 / Horton. That unit was a POS. The ride was terrible, and no one wanted to use it. With our newest unit (F-450) Ford has a motor governer that will not let it go over 85 MPH. This can not be over ridden or it will void the warranty.
    I don't know what your problems have been, but it could be related to the manufacture of the box its carring or to the copmany that services your truck.
    As I stated we have had no major issues with any of our units.

    You can see them at our web site www.bvar19.com

    nc
    Last edited by nc1130; 01-03-2009 at 04:26 PM.

  10. #10
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    Not pushing any specific chassis because they all have pros/cons, just a comment or two related to your's............

    The EMS I work at has a mix of chassis, a F-350 4x4, a F-450 4x4, 2 Freightliner FL-50s and a new International 4300(?).

    The pt modules on the medium duty trucks and the F-450 have very similiar overall dimensions, but the 3 medium duty trucks will out turn and maneuver the smaller chassis units. They may not be right for some locations, but they aren't necessarily the clumbsy beasts that some think they are.

    They may cost more upfront, but from my experiences, they hold up a lot better in the long run so they might not actually be any more expensive to operate in the long run.
    I didn't mean to state that they don't have their pluses along with their minuses. I rode with a service that has a GM 4500 chassis, and all I could think of in the box was it felt like riding in a dump truck. Just awful over the frost heaves and gravel roads.
    I know the roads & small streets in the original posters town , and they can be challenging in a van let alone a type 1 or 3 chassis. The medium duty chassis don't ride as well and are physically bigger than the ton & ton 1/4 chassis. The medium duties available with 4 wheel drive will add a lot to the original purchase price and won't give the same cost per mile expense to operate them over the expected life of the chassis.
    In areas with big paved city streets and good roads they do well, but that is not the type of roads we deal with here. Add in a few 5 foot snowbanks on the sides and the streets get very narrow and hard to maneuver on. I actually liked the IH 4300 chassis.
    Just not what will work for us in rural service duty on the coast of Maine.
    We have a new E-450 type III PL Custom on order with delivery due in the spring.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    I didn't mean to state that they don't have their pluses along with their minuses. I rode with a service that has a GM 4500 chassis, and all I could think of in the box was it felt like riding in a dump truck. Just awful over the frost heaves and gravel roads.
    I know the roads & small streets in the original posters town , and they can be challenging in a van let alone a type 1 or 3 chassis. The medium duty chassis don't ride as well and are physically bigger than the ton & ton 1/4 chassis. The medium duties available with 4 wheel drive will add a lot to the original purchase price and won't give the same cost per mile expense to operate them over the expected life of the chassis.
    In areas with big paved city streets and good roads they do well, but that is not the type of roads we deal with here. Add in a few 5 foot snowbanks on the sides and the streets get very narrow and hard to maneuver on. I actually liked the IH 4300 chassis.
    Just not what will work for us in rural service duty on the coast of Maine.
    We have a new E-450 type III PL Custom on order with delivery due in the spring.
    I understand and wasn't debating what they should be using since I don't know their needs. I was just commenting in general regarding the big trucks. Lots of people look at them and think "wow, thats big" and can't get past that. The E-450 is pretty popular around here and what many don't realize is that the module itself on our medium duty trucks is pretty much the same size as what you can get on the E-450 chassis, but we can out maneuver them with our bigger trucks.

    Our roads are horrible around here which will make any chassis ride rough, but you can get a decent ride out of our big trucks if the driver doesn't drive like an idiot.

  12. #12
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    Default

    We'll see how it pans out. Most of our issues are with the chassis side of things, and we've not had much luck with Ford service between three dealerships. If we stay with Ford's we'll likely try to cut the life expectancy to 7 years vs. the current 9 which seems to end up with the unit being out of service for it's last 6-12 months (that's what's happened to the last 3). Maybe we'll cost out the difference between the Fords and anything else and figure the monthly costs and go from there? They do about 5-600 runs each per year, as they rotate monthly from front line to second due then back line, though lately the backline trucks' been out plenty too. Thank god I'm not on the bus anymore!!

    Obviously the money is a partial issue, but since EMS is a money maker we tend to have no issues getting what we need. So GM or Dodge may be in the running. Our runs are rarely longer than 4-5 miles. Only M/A runs take us further from the hospital and we don't do any transfers. We cannot go larger due to floor space, not maneuverability. The predominant third service EMS provider in our area has had a few medium duty chassis's but all our EMS wh*res that moonlight there say they hate the ride in the back on local runs, so we have both physical and mental barriers to the medium duty route.
    Last edited by RFDACM02; 01-03-2009 at 11:15 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    .......... so we have both physical and mental barriers to the medium duty route.
    That's cool, I like our F-series ambulances too.

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    Question

    I have heard that you can change/upgrade the rear suspension on a C4500 and it drastically improves the ride? Air ride maybe? Anybody out there had experience with this?

  15. #15
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Adam,You need to take a ride.I've told you this before.Naples has a C4500 that I can get you in if you want to see what it can do.Or you can always go back to the station wagon,hehe T.C.

  16. #16
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by viperfire1 View Post
    I have heard that you can change/upgrade the rear suspension on a C4500 and it drastically improves the ride? Air ride maybe? Anybody out there had experience with this?
    Yes the C4500 has an air ride rear suspension option. It then rides like an air ride dump truck. The service I visited had the air ride package with air dump to Lower the rear for loading /unloading and it still was twice as rough a ride as our current Ford with spring suspension package. It has to do with the suspension geometry and the travel when rebounding off rough roads and frost heaves.
    Not saying it won't work for some folks , just not what we expect for a comfortable ride for our patients and crew.
    To put it mildly our roads suck on a nice warm summer day , never mind when winter comes and the rivers of frost-heaves arrive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeepsterdufus View Post
    Have no experience with either the Ford or GM chassis, we run Internationals. You may want to contact these guys as I notice they build on F350, 3500 and the C4500's. They also have a couple 4x4 chassis on their website. www.arrowmfginc.com I'm not endorsing them, just found them on the web while surfing but you may be able to contact them and see if they'll provide you with a list of users that are running the chassis your interested in. Good luck.
    stay away from arrow we bought a remount and it has been nothing but a pain in the a**
    nrz2334
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