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  1. #1
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    Default fire apparatus construction methods

    How about a discussion about various methods of fire apparatus construction: 1) extruded vs bent and bolted and 2) steel vs stainless steel vs aluminum vs composites? Cost, serviceability, weight, storage space, ergonomics, etc.

    This is a general question and it is not aimed at or away from any apparatus manufacturer.

    I do not currently sell fire trucks although I have in the past and I have my own preferences.


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    I am partial to Extruded bodies. Stronger than formed. Look at it like a house....it's build with framing (extrusions), now take that same house and flod up sheets of plywood to build it, it may hold but won't nearly be as strong as the framing.
    As far as material....Stainless is nice, but depending on how long you plan on having the rig is it realy worth the extra $$ and weight. Pluss most of them are bolted together....not so crazy about that either. How many loose nuts,bolts and screws have you found on your current rig? Now multiply that number with some of those being the ones that hold the body together...just doesn't sit well with me.
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    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    Cabs are aluminum, no brainer there.
    Bodies are stainless steel. With some older rigs with aluminum.

    I've had and seen more problems with welded SS and aluminum bodies than I have with bolted ones. As well, the cost of repair (if not under warranty) is much higher with the welded boxes than it is for the bolt on's. I do have to say though, I have not found a missing or loose bolt yet on the bolted boxes.

    I'm all for SS bodies. Vote is still up in the air over welded/extruded vs bolted.

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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    I am absolutely convinced that aluminum and galvanneal (sp?) both SUCK.

    Mark my vote for stainless all the way, cab and body.

    As for bolted vs. welded, the jury is still out.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Whats wrong with aluminum bodies? it works for cabs.

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    Nothing is wrong with aluminum. What is wrong with SS is you can't extrude it. Must be a bent sheet body. Fine for a tool box or refrigerator.

    An extruded AL cab or body (if on a commercial chassis) will provide tremendous improvement in FF safety. A quality extruded body provides rollover protection to the crew. That alone is enough reason to buy one. Compare rollover photos of a bent body (that squishes down to the engine block) with a extruded body.

    When Pierce invents and patents extruded Al bodies this debate will be history. As they have now invented Al ladders we're all making progress.

  7. #7
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    I wondered how long this thread would take to steer away from the original question and begin to bash Pierce.
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  8. #8
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ledebuhr1 View Post
    Whats wrong with aluminum bodies? it works for cabs.
    Ask every major city fire department who uses a particular brand of fire apparatus about their compartment interiors falling apart due to inadequate construction vs. bad roads and heavy useage.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Default construction vs materials

    To FWD:
    Seems that you refer to construction rather than materials:

    "falling apart due to inadequate construction vs. bad roads and heavy useage"

    I do think there might have been some problems with earlier aluminum bodies - probably due to usage of wrong alloy. Most of the bigger builders are now using a marine grade metal that resists oxidation. This will probably solve the "falling apart" issues. I suppose there have also been some learning curve issues over the years as well.

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    Speaking with a body man, he said that aluminum is easier to repair than stainless in the event of an accident. Again, I am not now, nor have I ever been a body man......well, not a metal body man anyway , so its not my opinion. Just a point brought up in discussion.

    Aluminum bodies seem to hold up pretty well on EMS vehicles. I know Cleveland EMS has done quite a few remounts on new chassis. And they beat the heck out of their rigs.
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    Default alum corrosion

    And the good apparatus builders are being very careful about contact between dissimilar metals, fit-disassemble-paint-reassemble issues, use of ECK, etc. I think most aluminum corrosion issues are behind us - with major brands anyway.

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    I wondered how long this thread would take to steer away from the original question and begin to bash Pierce.
    It sure didn't take long did it Box?


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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Ask every major city fire department who uses a particular brand of fire apparatus about their compartment interiors falling apart due to inadequate construction vs. bad roads and heavy useage.
    we have and have had for some time all Al cabs and bodies keeping them for 20 years and we've never had a compartment interior fall apart, and we're in southwestern PA, an area that dumps slat on the roads regularly and has the worst roads.
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    Default other aluminum extrusion

    Many other types of vehicle builders use aluminum extrusions to form their bodies: beverage haulers, water suppliers, battery delivery, etc.

    I know some folks might try to make a case stating that they are not as mission critical as fire apparatus, but you won't make that delivery driver who runs his truck daily to complete his route believe it. His livelihood depends on safety and reliability - day to day reliability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ponebutton2 View Post
    I know some folks might try to make a case stating that they are not as mission critical as fire apparatus, but you won't make that delivery driver who runs his truck daily to complete his route believe it. His livelihood depends on safety and reliability - day to day reliability.
    You are right. We keep talking about how rough we treat our fire apparatus. Yet there are many over the road trucks and buses with well over 1/2 million miles on them that dont use stainless cabs, bodies or trailers.
    I have only 2 allegiances, to my country and to my God. The rest of you are fair game.

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    Thumbs up Aluminum Construction

    Just pictures of aluminum contstruction. Nuff said!
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    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Aaah,you didn't get an aluminum vaccumn tanker.Then I could of said Aluminum sucks,hehe T.C.

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    T.C.

    I hope you're going to have better stuff than that this weekend!!!!

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    Ah Tony,you are alive. We gonna hook up this weekend? T.C.

  20. #20
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    Talking Aluminum Construction

    Rescue101:
    Now's your chance!
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