1. #1

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    Default Utility Boxes for Brush Truck

    Our VFD recently purchased an F-550 with a CAFS slip-in unit on a flat bed. We're now having a discussion about top side utility boxes. Amongst the local fire chiefs, there doesn't seem to be consensus on whether to use aluminum or steel boxes. Most of our brush truck usage will be off-road, in very hilly and rocky terrain. There have been comments made that aluminum boxes are more subject to cracking, and/or bolt hole tearing in this service.

    Comments, pro or con, on aluminum vs. steel ?

    Thanks.

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    I agree with them. I had an aluminum box on my Ford Ranger back when, and I did not go off road- it was strictly a street vehicle, and the box was prone to tears and cracks. Granted it was a cheaper box, but.....

    I would not skimp on boxes for a brush rig. Go stainless.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    You don't want to skimp, that's for sure. However, I've had an aluminum utility box in the bed of my truck for years. I got it in the mid '90's and moved it when I bought a new truck in '01. I haven't had a lick of problems with it.

    When you're looking at the wear and tear on it, consider how much bed movement are you going to have? If you've got a rigid flatbed, I wouldn't expect you'd have a lot of torsion on it to cause problems. If you've got a stock bed (which I doubt with the F-550), you might see more.

    The problem I've always had with steel is that it's painted and the paint tends to come off, which causes a rust problem. This is especially true if you're running it through the brush. We used to have a couple of boxes on our brush truck where we had this very problem. They were also cheap, so we had denting every time we hit a twig that hung low.

    Either way, steel or aluminum, don't go cheap. Get a thicker material if you have to to prevent that kind of damage, and so it'll handle what you're going to do with it. You might even be able to find a shop nearby that builds truck boxes (for pickups or OTR trucks) that can build them specifically for what you're wanting to use them for and can probably weld in some mounting channels to prevent you having to drill through the box while they're at it.

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    Aluminum. 1/8" minimum. Leave the tissue paper thin stuff at the discount store.

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    Try highway products, they custom build heavy duty aluminum tool boxes with a lifetime warranty.

    http://www.highwayproducts.com/

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    Go with steel and have it coated with bedliner. The steel will be more rigid, but will be subject to rust easier. I might look at raising the box of the bed and inch or two to allow for water and "trash" to run off.
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

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    Quote Originally Posted by n2icsrvfd View Post
    Our VFD recently purchased an F-550 with a CAFS slip-in unit on a flat bed. We're now having a discussion about top side utility boxes. Amongst the local fire chiefs, there doesn't seem to be consensus on whether to use aluminum or steel boxes. Most of our brush truck usage will be off-road, in very hilly and rocky terrain. There have been comments made that aluminum boxes are more subject to cracking, and/or bolt hole tearing in this service.

    Comments, pro or con, on aluminum vs. steel ?

    Thanks.
    All of ours are aluminum Delta boxes. never had a problem with tearing or cracking!

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    Highway products is the way to go. I am a dealer for them and put all their products on everything I build, never have I had an issue with boxes cracking of tearing off. You will have more issues with rust on steel then you will with cracks in aluminum. The departments in are area use the winch more then the pump on their trucks, so that should tell you they abuse them up and down mountain sides. If you still worried, they will add extra mounting support in the box, and again, they have a lifetime warrantee.

    They built all the boxes and the extra hosebed for this truck

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Recelect#p/u


    The front cabinet goes all the way through to hold long handled tools.

    By the way, I am in colorado and can help you if you need...
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    My vfd has on older 450 with an aluminum diamond plate box that survived 10 years in the Great Basin fuel type with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. It was made by Boise Mobile. We are getting ready to order another storage box, but looking at Highway Products due to lower cost. If anchored well, it should become part of the bed. Also you can put rubber matting down between the bed and the box to let you cinch it down better than if it's the irregular surface of diamond plate.
    IACOJ
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    I asked about getting a few custom boxes made for a couple rigs awhile ago. I found Highway Products and sent them the specs I needed for my boxes. Cost was alot cheaper than local, and with a better warranty.

    I don't push product lines, but I will say they did good by us.

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  11. #11
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    A majority of the brush trucks in my area have been running aluminum flatbeds with aluminum boxes on them for years without any problems (this includes both of my departments). Steel is becoming a thing of the past around here.
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    Okay...Aluminum it is.

    One more question.

    I need 3 bids. I have bids from Highway Products and Alum-Line. Suggestions on one more supplier ?

    Thanks.

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    my only contribution to this, is if you are mounting the boxes to a flatbed, either steel or aluminum for each, use stainless steel hardware, and put a thin rubber gasket material between each, to prevent corrosion (or you could line the bed surface with something like Herculiner)
    "If you can't be a good example, the you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

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    In addition to gasket you should use ECK on any holes for fasteners. Here is how we wrote the spec for our trucks.
    {All exterior fastener locations that penetrate the paint on the modular body are to be treated with Electrolysis Corrosion Kontrol (ECK). Every external fastener hole shall have ECK sprayed into the hole for full coverage. The perimeter of the hole shall be covered with a minimum of .5 diameter of ECK. This is to protect the head of the fastener from touching the painted surface. All applications of ECK are to take place before component mounting. The fasteners that are included in this process are for the following components: Lights, Light Bars, Hinges, Diamond plate panels, Fuel fill, License plate holder, Shoreline, Vent Covers, Rain Gutters, Rub Rails, Fenderettes and Door Grabbers. Additional items that are mounted to the painted body will also be included. When an item is cut into the body causing an unpainted edge, that unpainted edge shall be completely coated "

    Even with using stainless fasteners you still have dis-similar metals corrosion due to electrolysis.

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