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  1. #1
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    Default Problems with single axle aerial trucks

    I put out an earlier post about fire apparatus and was looking for informationn on single versus tandem axle aerial trucks, and have gotten some good feedback. What I really need to know and am seeking information on is those of you out there that have or know about single axle aerial trucks that you have had problems with, and the reliability of those trucks. I have been through all of the threads looking for information but have not had much luck. I am looking for research information to justify a tandem versus a single, so I am seeking information and opinions on your experiences with the single axle apparatus. For example, reliability over the long term, rear end troubles, brake wear, lack of compartment space, lack of brake performance, maintenance and out of service time, lack of room for a full complement of ISO ground ladders, water tank size issues, etc. Any info or suggestions would be very helpful. Thanks for your time and have a happy Thanksgiving. Be safe.


  2. #2
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    The biggest problem is using them for EMS response vehicles. They are Fire trucks not ambulances.

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    Default ems response

    That is the problem, they plan on using it as our first out EMS vehicle and the busiest truck in the city. Another reason I am trying to justify a tandem with a short wheel base for the long term.

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    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    I've spoken my piece earlier. It's FAR more important how you spec it and what you plan to carry on it,than whether or not it's a tandem. Heavy spec singles can have long service lives with brakes being the one exception.Tandems are good but are NOT without their own set of maintence issues. Look at the thread"Pelham manor" for a nice SINGLE X aerial device. Heavy spec thruout. I've worked around trucks and heavy equipment most of my life and repaired quite a bit of same. There IS no easy,cookie cutter,one size fits all answer. You need to look at the whole picture,what you want the vehicle to do,any limitations and try to build the appropriate vehicle from there. Good luck,T.C.

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    Forum Member FFWALT's Avatar
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    Rescue101 is right. Have you sat down and determined the amount of equipment you want this apparatus to carry and in what configuration? It is possible that the amount of equipment you want won't be supported by a single axle.
    You also don't want a truck that is expected to carry 35K on the rear axle supported by a 36K axle. Don't go over board but make sure your axle has extra capacity available. Because of the Velcro effect your truck will weigh more in 10 years than it does at delivery fully loaded. Some extra capacity may also extend service life.
    Braking will always be a problem because of the laws of physics but auxiliary (Jake) brakes can help quite a bit with safety and service life.
    Long story short, design the truck around what you want it to do.
    Train like you want to fight.
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  6. #6
    Forum Member FIREMECH1's Avatar
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    Dude, you need to stay on one page (thread), and leave it at that.

    What you are looking for in "black and white" isn't going to be available for fire apparatuses concerning single vs tandem axles. There are way too many variables with each, and how each is spec'ed from the beginning.

    If you haven't noticed, I am not a firefighter, but a mechanic/technician for my city's FD. I've got 7 battalions that I take care of.

    Now to answer your queries:

    1. Single axle 75' sticks do not have the problems of that with a tandem. It is the opposite. You have more parts and more weight with a tandem, and with that comes more maintenance and more problems. Tandems break springs more often, even on a "light" 75' stick. Depending on the tandem suspension you get, you will find more problems with the walking beam caps coming off, or the mount holding them breaking off, compared to a single axle.

    2. As I said in the other thread. Your stick length will be paramount to your OAL (Over All Length). If you stay with a 75' stick, and an OAL of 400", and a wheel base of 215", you gain alot of compartment space. To spec it with a tandem, you will lose the capacity of 2 full size compartments. As for your ground ladder compliment, you lose nothing either way.

    3. As for the problems with braking issues, there is none on a single axle, as long as you have a secondary braking system (telma, jake brake, etc. as REQUIRED). The time frame for brake work needed between a single axle and a tandem are roughly the same. But doing the brakes between the two is noticeable, and more expensive and time consuming on a tandem compared to a single axle.

    4. You keep saying your looking for "justification" for a tandem over a single axle rig. Why is that??? What have you read, and from where??? I've got 4 75' sticks on single axles that carry the normal, if not above normal tools and equipment on them. And I cannot say that I have ever found a problem with them in any shape or form from them doing what they are supposed to do. And yes, they do make med runs, at least 3-8 a day.

    5. Be careful with what you want. If you spec your 75' stick with a 400hp engine, you can expect it to be slower with a tandem compared to a single axle. There are other small tangibles that you need to think about too. Maneuverability is better with a single. Tire replacement is more often, and more expensive with a tandem.

    You're lucky..... This is the short list.

    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."

  7. #7
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    We have a 105' single axle. It is a year old. Braking and maneuvering is not a issue at all. It's about as long as a pumper.
    This space for rent

  8. #8
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    Post Single axle

    What is the largest rear single axle available on a ladder truck ?

  9. #9
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    I think 33,000 lbs has been done, but usually it's 31,000 lbs

  10. #10
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Yah,and don't ask us dumb azz mechanics what's best. Everybody knows that a firefighter with NO mechanical experience knows what you need better than a guy that both works on this Junk AND works off it.For some communities a tandem may be best. For others a single. But this FALLACY that a tandem is more maintenance free and cheaper to operate simply isn't true. If you don't SPEC your rig correctly,either one can be a horror show.FM1 is right on target,but figure out what you need the rig to do FIRST THEN start the process of WHAT you NEED to make that happen. Once you get that list together,THEN you can better determine whether a Single or tandem is better suited to your needs. Remember you'll have to live with your decision for 20-30 years so it behooves you to get it right the FIRST time.Thirty years is a long time to be miserable. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-28-2009 at 07:39 PM.

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    I have done quite a bit of research online and found that there are numerous problems with the single axle sticks, from many different sources. Opinions do vary of course and you are absolutely right about some of the things you pointed out.

    Here is what I have found with my research along with the positives and negatives you have pointed out:

    1. The ride on the single axle ladders are less than to be desired.

    2. Out of service time is increased with the brakes and suspension issues.

    3. Braking is not that efficient even with the required auxiliary braking systems.

    4. Some cannot carry a full complement of ISO ground ladders.

    5. Compartmet space can be very limited due to design, which would vary by manufacturer.

    6. Turning raduis may be good with a single, but a tandem can be built to have just slightly more turning ability, but the disadvantage to that is the tire scrub which may even out with brake maintenance on the single.

    7. Trying to carry a normal amount of equipment the typical engine would carry could have the truck at its max weight the first day out the door.

    8. I have read that the busiest departments are not having good luck long term with the single axle apparatus due to a lot of the above.

    9. As far as horsepower, the minimum we would consider would be a 450 and probably a 500.

    I am not making any of this up, and have printed off many, many articles about this and that is why I am looking for those of you out there for your opinions.

    I appreciate your feedback very much.

    I am trying to find out more info on the 75' Rosenbauers that Miami Dade just bought, in hopes to get a spec and also some info on their trucks to hope for a good design that will hold up for the long haul.

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    Fortunately, we do our research and also involve several mechanics in our decision making as to what works for the mechanics and what does not. I do appreciate your input, and the mechanics point of view is very important to us. Keep the good information coming and thanks again.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    #1,Don't know who you talked to but it's WRONG! A well specced single can/does ride/handle a well as a tandem.
    #2 WRONG again. IF service is required,half the amount of components.Again comes down to a PROPER spec.
    #3 Having operated a few Single axle 75's, I DISAGREE.
    #4 Some tandems don't either, your point? Again,SPEC what you need !
    #5 As pointed out by myself and FM1, A tandem in itelf does NOT help you here. PROPER SPEC.
    #6, Didn't notice where you live. In crappy conditions a tandem tends to go where it' s pointing even when you want to turn,much more so than a single.Oh,you get used to it:......BUT.
    #7 Yup and you can be in the same mess with a tandem.What did you say you were going to do with this rig? Medical? Expensive way to deliver a bandaid bag. Not my rig nor district,you gotta figure this out.
    #8 And just as many more are doing well on singles. WHAT do you ABOLUTELY NEED on this rig and how much is "fluff"?
    #9 And you can easily do this on a properly heavy specced single axle ladder.

    So far you haven't convinced me to buy the tandem. And look,I've had both. I don't care which you buy,what I'm telling you is to buy the RIGHT piece of equipment for YOUR needs. If I were doing a lot of EMS(more than fire calls)for MY response area that WOULD NOT be a tandem for the INCREASED maintaince and other reasons.YES, a tandem costs more to maintain assuming specs are relatively close. All I'm suggesting(and it's YOUR money)is look at both solutions CAREFULLY,try a few of both types in your community and try to get the best match for YOUR needs,regardless if that's two axle or three axle. They BOTH have advantages.But having operated MANY Single axle rigs in SEVERE operating conditions. I haven't seen the HUGE suspension problems you speak of and my history includes not only FIRE but well beyond both in operation and repair sides. We put loads on Single x sand trucks up here that would gag you.And they don't break anymore often than the 'screws.Yes,they stay loaded all the time in the winter. Do your research,do some REAL WORLD testing in your community and make an INFORMED decision.DO NOT count the single out until all this is done.And let us know what you buy. Good luck,T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-28-2009 at 07:40 PM.

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    You make some very good valid points and I appreciate your honesty and experience. That is exactly what I am looking for, good honest opinions from those with the experience. You are right, specifiying the vehicle is very, very important and will be a priority if it is a single so we can ensure it is properly balanced and not overloaded. I am hoping to hear something back from those in Miami Dade that just bought those single axle sticks from Rosenbauer. Keep the good information coming and thanks again. Very valuable input for my research that you have offered up.

  15. #15
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    There is a reason for that. I've worked off some pizz poor equipment in my time and seen the results of listening to others tell US what we need. WE now SPEC apparatus to serve OUR community and OUR needs. WE DO NOT accept any old cookie cutter truck. Now we had a triple frame White/Volvo/GMC/Alf 100' ladder with full ground ladder complement and most of your essential truck co stuff on it on a single X. As pointed out in the other threads it does about 350 a year. But on lousy roads and we never did ANYTHING to the suspension. Listen to others,collect All the info you can get. BUT build the rig to serve YOUR needs. AND DO NOT skrimp on the chassis. Our new one is a Smeal 100' platform.Fine piece but VERY EXPENSIVE to run med calls with. I think you may find that Metro Dade Rosie close to what you're looking for. Keep us in the loop.Look at the Metz too,you CAN get a ISO grounds on it,it's 100'(105') AND on a Single with up to 300 water. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-28-2009 at 07:45 PM.

  16. #16
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Talking pass the popcorn my way

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    .Look at the Metz too,you CAN get a ISO grounds on it,it's 100'(105') AND on a Single with up to 300 water. T.C.
    Now you've gone and done it Tim.
    Pass the popcorn this way will ya? this should get interesting :-}

    By the way: I wish you guys out west would quit blowing so hard. It sure makes for a busy day chasing trees.

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    We are definitely not looking for any cookie cutter piece of equipment. At this point I am just trying to find out some info from mechanics and from those that work off equipment of this type also. I have opinions that are all over the place at this point, so all I can do is gather all I can. We are limited on what we can do, and I realize that we need to spec what we need for our community. Unfortunately, all I can do now is decide whether it should be a single or tandem axle, and then refine our spec from there. That is really the point of me starting this thread and doing my research and looking for opinions from those of you out there. I just want to make sure we don't spec something that won't hold up over time, and that we get the best we can with low maintenance costs. Thanks again for all of your input, and keep them coming.

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    You may want to consider the Ridewell air ride rear suspension. Traditional leaf springs will sag over time and/or break with that much weight on it. We recently placed an order for a heavy single axle aerial and it will have air ride in the rear. I was tempted to try air ride all around but the extra weight and cost was too much.
    Although the website doesn't show it, I believe it rated up to 31,500 lbs
    http://www.ridewellcorp.com/Web/Site...drive-rad241os

  19. #19
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    That's why I'm suggesting to you to get some demo units to town. I'm sure you can get Tony T. to demo a single for you.Then try a couple tandems.We're using a Raydan Air suspension on ours.I know Ferrara has a neat little 77' Single(drove it)that we tried out,but most of the major players have units you can get demoed to see what will work for you. I'll bet that Rosie either has or will have a unit similar to the Metro dade unit,call your dealer and ask. Happy hunting! T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-30-2009 at 08:30 AM.

  20. #20
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    Now you've gone and done it Tim.
    Pass the popcorn this way will ya? this should get interesting :-}

    By the way: I wish you guys out west would quit blowing so hard. It sure makes for a busy day chasing trees.
    Trees? I thought all you guys had were Rocks,seagulls,clamshells and seaweed. You got trees?hehe. We were lucky,one run for a tree/three phase burning. CMP fixed it quick.Most other FDs weren't so lucky. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-29-2009 at 05:03 PM.

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