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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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    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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    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.

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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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    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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    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!
    Attached Images Attached Images     

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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.

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    Talking Aluminum Construction

    Rescue101:
    Now's your chance!
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    THANK YOU! Aluminum SUCKS! At least this one does,Hehe T.C.

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    I'll lob one over the plate....

    What about poly bodies, such as those Darley uses?

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    Default Stainless

    While I admit that SS does not rust in the conventional sense, some of the alloys do exhibit signs of discoloration or oxidation. This tends to reduce the value of the material to me - it is no longer impervious to the elements.

    Stainless is also a difficult material to work and some alloys tend to be fairly brittle - especially compared to other materials. Difficult to work translates to higher cost.

    Repairs are problematic at best. Probably cut the bad spot out and replace altogether would be the most likely repair method.

    No ss extrusions are available for constructing body assemblies so all bolted or welded assemblies must be made - or a combination of these methods. The resulting weight gain may not be acceptable in terms of effect on cargo/personnel carrying capability. This weight is largely comprised of assembly hardware as well as the need to sandwich panels in bolted compartments. Metal to metal sandwiches are not a good deal in the corrosion world since they tend to accumulate water and water borne chemicals like road salts.

    Stainless is also a heavy material which once again works against us in some cases requiring heavier vehicle components and commensurately more initial expense.

    Higher material cost added to more hardware and more expensive assembly methods again work against this material by upping the cost to the end user.

    With SS, all body lines will necessarily be pretty straight with few curves and almost no compound curves - unless there has been a lot of body putty used. So style may be affected with this material which may be important to some folks.

    Now I understand why most general use trucks are not made out stainless.

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    Default Poly

    Years ago I heard rumors of poly bodies being susceptible to dimensional change problems due to heat. According to the story I heard, the side of the apparatus getting the most sun would expand while the other side stayed pretty much the same. Hot side doors wouldn't open or close properly.

    I have no idea if this is true but can tell you that poly tanks we have been using in our newer apparatus do not seem to have this problem so this was probably just another sour grapes rumor someone planted.

    Door panels, bumper sections, etc on modern cars are often poly, but these are relatively small area components held in place on a larger framework which usually has a reveal area around it to accommodate temperature differential related thermal expansion or contraction. This would seem to imply that the car manufacturers acknowledged a problem and designed around it.

    What happens to poly materials in extremely cold temps? Do they go brittle and crack or shatter? Wish someone from Darley or any other poly builder would join in on this discussion.

    Does poly take paint well? How about poly repairs?

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    I have no idea if this is true but can tell you that poly tanks we have been using in our newer apparatus do not seem to have this problem so this was probably just another sour grapes rumor someone planted.
    Are your poly tanks normally exposed to much sunlight and/or heat?

    Mine aren't. It's usually full of somewhat cool water.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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