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  1. #1
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    Wink Automatic chains

    Almost getting ready to goto bid for new custom engine, looking at auto chains, i searched and could not find anything.
    We are in southern oregon mostly rural with hills, snow maybe 2 times a year less than 6 inches but the ice is what is pain in the you know what. We are getting away from sipped tires and studded tires.
    No one here has had any experience using automatic chains, seems like a good idea, not as expensive as i thought. looking for comments, ideas, suggestions I am open please give me some good advice espically on brands if you would. Thanks!


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    I've had no experience with them, but from what I've herd it sounds like they would be right for your area.

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    Post Auto Chains

    My dept has On Spot brand on our ladder, engine, heavy rescue, and new tender. The chains saved our ladder on it's first fire call 6 years ago. It was a typical December day in Mn with a fire call at a home which had a driveway with an incline to leave. We started to slip, I engaged the chains and away we went! I would recommend them for any part of the country which deals with snow and ice on a regular basis.

    Good Luck and be safe!
    Last edited by mnfirecapt09; 10-07-2009 at 11:29 PM.

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    Forum Member evtrandy's Avatar
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    I have worked on Insta-Chains and Onspots. The air operated ones seem to be pretty much the same. The electric operated Insta-Chains caused me more headaches than my two teenage daughters. Don't know if Onspot offers electric.
    I've never had to use automatic chains on a big red firetruck, but when I worked for a dealer I had air operated Insta-Chains on my E-450 service truck. They saved my butt several times in the mountains of Virgina. I've heard that they are not so good in deep snow but I know they work great in 4" to 6" of the white stuff.
    Just remember, they can't be expected to hang under the truck forever and work once or twice a year. They need to be greased and exercised from time to time.
    The A/C is not cold enough, the warning lights are not bright enough, siren is not loud enough, the C.D. player skips every time we jump a curb, cab doors only open to 89.5* and it's been like this since day one!!!!

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    Forum Member MoosemanKBB527's Avatar
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    they work great... the only problem is that in salt belt they have problems getting them to return up after being deployed ... however according to onspot they have gone to powder coating all their products and they claim that this has helped
    ~Big O~

    Tankers have wheels and carry water, Tenders are breaded and served with BBQ sauce

    (if you don't believe me Google it)

  6. #6
    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    If anything, stay away from any cable operated auto chain. The cables will corrode inside the sheath, and you'll spend more time in labor than the cost of the parts to replace them.

    Otherwise, all of my rigs have the air operated On-Spots on them. Repairs are pretty fast and straight forward. As for use, they are actually usable up to about 4 inches of the white fluffy stuff. On ice, only up to 1/8" thick.

    For maintenance, I had the FD put it towards the top of the list on their Saturday checks form. This way they would grease the zerks, and before pulling out of the station, they would deploy them, and let everything move as it should. This cut down the repairs and the replacement of parts, a ton.

    I'd recommend them in a heartbeat. If you don't need them, you don't deploy them. But when you do, they are there, right now. For use, they beat sipped and studded tires. So it will also decrease your costs in your tire inventory.

    Link for them is below. Watch the video, right click on it for full screen.
    http://www.onspot.com/

    FM1
    I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF
    "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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    We have a commercial engine and a ambulance type rescue with the autochains. if you do much off road or unlevel terrain they could be a pain. We bent the arm on on one of the sets (the rescue i believe).
    We are in the Cascade foothills between silverton and sublimity (east of salem, and NOT in the city of silverton) and a 1750 ft.. We get 6" settings about three times per year, with one good storm accumulating at least 12". The chains work for when you are surprised by the snow, or when it is just a quickie coming in and not worth chaining up the rigs. They do limit the speed significantly compared to regular chains, and you must be traveling 5 mph for them to be engaged. If you are spinning--its too late. Give our station a call if you would like and get our chief's number and talk to him about it.

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    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drakescrossing
    They do limit the speed significantly compared to regular chains, and you must be traveling 5 mph for them to be engaged. If you are spinning--its too late.
    That is actually incorrect. They work at any speed, with no minimum speed to engage them. They are engaged as soon as you flip the switch to deploy them. They work off of the tire. So if the tire is turning, they are working.

    As well, tire chains tear up more stuff when they break loose. So safety and making the run, these are better. Weather conditions permitting.

    FM1
    Last edited by FIREMECH1; 10-08-2009 at 04:06 AM.
    I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF
    "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

  9. #9
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    Our Onspot chains work by having a contact wheel against the tire, the issue may be how they perform at 5 MPH given the tire speed will not "throw" the chains length under the duals? At higher speeds you have higher RPMs so the chains achieve full extension in front of the tire.

    Also, FIREMECH1, do you remove the chain heads for summer months? Our new Toyne is the first to have them, and I'm not sure who, but someone recommended this to save on chain wear and potential damage when their not going to be needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Our Onspot chains work by having a contact wheel against the tire, the issue may be how they perform at 5 MPH given the tire speed will not "throw" the chains length under the duals? At higher speeds you have higher RPMs so the chains achieve full extension in front of the tire.

    Also, FIREMECH1, do you remove the chain heads for summer months? Our new Toyne is the first to have them, and I'm not sure who, but someone recommended this to save on chain wear and potential damage when their not going to be needed.
    We have both Roto-Grip and On Spot. Both function well, but the Roto Grips have been less problems. At the time we got our Toyne, Roto-Grip did not have a model that would work with the Neway air suspension that we got.

    At one time, Roto-Grip was the only one that would work in reverse as well as when moving forward. That may have changed.

    I did speak to an On Spot rep in Baltimore. They do recommend removing the chain wheels in the summer. The last time I spoke to anyone from Roto-Grip (long time ago), they did not.

  11. #11
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    We got them on an engine in 1995. They have never been off the truck. In all honesty, there has been almost nothing done with them since they were installed.

    It's now 2009 and they still work fine.
    "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?

  12. #12
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    Default Tire Chains

    Automatic tire chains are one of those, "better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them"! Two things to add. First, the Insta-Chain works in reverse very well due to the chain link design. Second, if you take the units off during the summer months,,, the units will last longer or at least take the chain wheel off and you'll have a quieter ride during the summer months!

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    We have on-spots on 7 engines, 5 tankers, and 1 rescue. We have not had a problem with any of them. They are well worth every penny they paid for them. You can run down the dry highway and turn on a county road that hasn't seen a snow plow yet flip on the chains and go.

    FM are you sure about the speed, I thought the book said top speed of around 45.

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    "That is actually incorrect. They work at any speed, with no minimum speed to engage them. They are engaged as soon as you flip the switch to deploy them. They work off of the tire. So if the tire is turning, they are working."

    FireMECH1,

    The are several things that both On-Spot and Insta-Chains tell you for a reasons.

    1. Should be engaged at 5 miles an hour however they can be engaged when you are stopped.

    2. Apparatus should not be driven over 35 MPH when engaged. If you want to see what happens when you drive over that speed stop by my departments engineer room and I will show you.

    3. Must be moving approx. 5 MPH to pick up chains. Common sense however here again I can show you what happens when that is not followed.

    firebill911,

    Have had many years experience with both, and either will work well in snow up to about 6 - 8 inches. Also work well on ice as well as hard packed snow.

    Would go with the air operated ones for the reasons that have already been listed.

    Chief1ff
    Mark

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02
    Also, FIREMECH1, do you remove the chain heads for summer months? Our new Toyne is the first to have them, and I'm not sure who, but someone recommended this to save on chain wear and potential damage when their not going to be needed.
    With over 100 rigs that have them, it would be impracticable to remove/install them twice a year. But the few units that have them, that hang too low, the FF's usually will tie them up with zip strips through the links.

    Otherwise.....

    The only problems that we've had are broken springs inside the can, the clamp rusting and coming apart from the spring pressure, and the air can exploding due to corrosion.

    As well, COMMON SENSE dictates the speed that you're going to use them on slippery roads. So no, I am not concerned on how fast or slow you should be moving. Just don't over drive your rig, or get a false sense of security by using them.

    FM1

    EDIT: Can someone please show me where I said anything concerning maximum speed??? Thanks.
    Last edited by FIREMECH1; 10-08-2009 at 01:26 PM.
    I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF
    "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FIREMECH1 View Post
    With over 100 rigs that have them, it would be impracticable to remove/install them twice a year. But the few units that have them, that hang too low, the FF's usually will tie them up with zip strips through the links.
    FM1
    Thanks, I'm not sure there's any real issue, but the zip ties are an easy solution.

  17. #17
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    FM

    I stand corrected. You said they work at any speed. Since I have seen some numbnut running down the highway at about 55 with them down was why i said what i said.

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    THanks I will add them to the specs, like i said cheap and a hell of a lot easier than getting out chains and doing that thing. Thanks again.

  19. #19
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Talking

    We have On-Spots on two apparatus & an Ambulance. We remove the chain wheels from the ambulance in the spring because they do hang low and will drag the ends of the chain links on pavement accelerating wear on the chains.
    When it goes in for it's fall service we put them back on. The engine & rescue trucks have enough clearance we just zip tie the links up for the summer.

    They work very well in packed snow & icy conditions which we get a lot of
    here on the coast of Maine. we always ran studded rear tires on the ambulance previously with good luck , but added expense of having a set of spare rims mounted with the snows.

    One thing about them though is the chain links don't reach under both tires on the duals so only the inside tire has the advantage of the grip. OK unless your driving down a narrow road and the outside tire is riding the snow bank & the inside dual is not making firm contact with the ground. We don't run over 40 mph with them down. They get cycled up & down every month of the year to make sure the linkage stays free.

  20. #20
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    I've had good luck with them on both our engine and ladder. As a side note, if the conditions are bad enough to be using chains you prob don't want to be doing 35mph anyway.

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