1. #1
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    Default Ford F-550 vs Chevy 3500

    My department is currently looking into upgrading a brush truck to a brush truck/quick access truck for structure fires in our tight lakeshore roads. This truck would have between 300 and 400 gallons of water (foam), hose and misc tools.

    I was wondering what are some pros and cons for the Ford Super Duty F-550 4x4 (Power Stroke Diesel) Extended Cab and the same for the Chevrolet 3500 Heavy Duty 4x4 (Duramax Diesel) Extended Cab.

    Any info you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by rschultzjr; 11-21-2011 at 04:24 AM. Reason: More info added

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    We have a 2008 F-550 light rescue. I have no complaints. It is well-balanced, runs great, handles great, and has had no mechanical issues.

    I can't give you any comparison to a Chevy since I haven't driven a 3500, but we're happy with our Ford.
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    Ford F-550 has a GVWR of 19k
    Chevy 3500 has a GVWR of 15K

    I have used plenty of Fords 450-550s for said purposes, and never had an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultzjr View Post
    My department is currently looking into upgrading a brush truck to a brush truck/quick access truck for structure fires in our tight lakeshore roads. This truck would have between 300 and 400 gallons of water (foam), hose and misc tools.

    I was wondering what are some pros and cons for the Ford Super Duty F-550 4x4 (Power Stroke Diesel) Extended Cab and the same for the Chevrolet 3500 Heavy Duty 4x4 (Duramax Diesel) Extended Cab.

    Any info you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
    I would get someone that knows spreadsheets and make a list of the items, number to be carried and weights of each item.

    You can get chassis weights probably off websites, water is 8.33 #/gallon and some educated estimate on the body. You will probably find that the GVWR is approached rather quickly on either chassis.

    Do your homework now or later....

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    I don't know the two chasis very well, as far as personal operating experiance.
    However, if it were my project I would be interested in expected loaded weight versus GVWR of the proposed chasis (as mentioned above) first and foremost. Then I'd look at wheel base, approach and exit angles, turning radius/cramp angle, as well.

    Expect to go heavy, if your dept is anything like mine, you'll end up adding, this and that in the future. So unless your figures show that you have some good "wiggle room" with the GVWR on the Chevy 3500 HD, I think you're going to lean toward the F-550.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultzjr View Post
    My department is currently looking into upgrading a brush truck to a brush truck/quick access truck for structure fires in our tight lakeshore roads. This truck would have between 300 and 400 gallons of water (foam), hose and misc tools.

    I was wondering what are some pros and cons for the Ford Super Duty F-550 4x4 (Power Stroke Diesel) Extended Cab and the same for the Chevrolet 3500 Heavy Duty 4x4 (Duramax Diesel) Extended Cab.

    Any info you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
    If you're gonna be carrying 300-400 gallons, you better be looking bigger than 550. My old vollie dept had a 2008 F-550 4wd single cab with skid pump/tank that was only 200 gallons, galvaneal body, hand tools and Hurst tools. It was overweight by about 1500 lbs.

    Better to be safe than sorry. I'd think about going with a MD chassis (650, International, etc), or reducing your load/water.

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    Scooby, your F-550 had 19,834 lbs of persons, equipment and body weight on it? How much stuff were you carrying (rhetorical question)?

    I have to admit that my dept currently has only two trucks built on Pick-up style chassis, both of the 3500 (aka 1 ton) range. One is simply a brush truck with 350 gal water and 25 gal class A foam. The other has a walk-in body and is socked with rehab supplies. So not the best comparison.

    I guess I have to rethink my understanding of using a F-550 for a fast attack pumper/brush truck as is becoming common in the rural departments around my area.
    ~ Doc

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    Smile A third option

    Have you looked at the IH Terra Star?

    Stronger frame, no DEF, bigger cab, allison, multiplex wiring.

    Just a thought

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    Smile water tank

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefDog View Post
    I would get someone that knows spreadsheets and make a list of the items, number to be carried and weights of each item.

    You can get chassis weights probably off websites, water is 8.33 #/gallon and some educated estimate on the body. You will probably find that the GVWR is approached rather quickly on either chassis.

    Do your homework now or later....
    My freind who builds slip ons says 10 pounds/US Gallon for poly tank with baffles etc is pretty dang accurate.

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    I have experience with both the 3500 and the F-550. We had an old Marion body brush truck (250 gpm/250 gals) re-mounted onto the 3500 in 2001 (4x4 extended cab) and it was a little over weight (not by very much though). I personally loved that truck and it served us very well. We recently sold the body and had a flatbed put on and we are planning on installing a skid unit with 300 gals. We also have a F-550 (2-door) with a Darley poly body on the back that has 400 gallons and a CAFS system. The Ford is great too, however we did have some mechanical issues that were fixed with no troubles by our local Ford dealer. My suggestion would be this: the Chevy may be cheaper to buy upfront (or at least it was in our case) and it will serve you well if you have luck like we did, but be careful because it is easier to go over the GVWR on the Chevy vs the Ford, so with that said, with the water you want to carry, I would go with the Ford. From my experience, either one would suit you well, and like everything else it just depends on what you put on it and use it for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultzjr View Post
    This truck would have between 300 and 400 gallons of water (foam), hose and misc tools.
    If you're gonna carry that much water, you'd better consider jumping to a Class 6 chassis or higher.

    The number one selling point for the GM 3500 chassis is the Allison 1000. The Duramax diesel engine is not the best, but it's darn good.

    If step right up to the Class 6 chassis, it opens the doors to Allison 3000/3500 series transmissions for everyone, which levels the playing field.

    Also, with a F-650/750, you can get the proven Cummins ISB engine too.

    But if you're forced to only choose between a F-550 or 3500, I'd go with the F-550. It's got higher GVWR, and solid front axle, and a great body/chassis.
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    Do you still want off road capability with this truck? Anything over a 3500 (1 ton) isnt going to be to have much.

    Are you using it as a "brush" unit, or a "first attack" truck for structures? There is a difference.

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    Here's your main difference in the two:

    GM (Chevy) had the nerve to ask for a government bail out and then turned right around and declared bankruptcy. Pretty ****** bag move if you ask me. Thanks for wasting my damn money GM.

    Ford didn't ask for a bail out nor did they need to declare bankruptcy.

    I don't know about you but that tells me who has the better product, there's a reason Ford made enough to not declare bankruptcy.

    After owning two GM vehicles, both Pontiacs, I can honestly say I'm not in the very least impressed. Too many little issues. The first Pontiac the transmission fell out just after 50,000 miles (was wife's car) and the second has just had too many little electrical issue.

    Both Fords I owned had no problems. The '89 F-150 I owned had 327,000+ miles on it when I traded it in on a 2001 F-250. The F-250 had just over 100,000 miles on it before I sold it (big mistake) when I entered the military. I can't wait to get another F-250.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultzjr View Post
    My department is currently looking into upgrading a brush truck to a brush truck/quick access truck for structure fires in our tight lakeshore roads. This truck would have between 300 and 400 gallons of water (foam), hose and misc tools.

    I was wondering what are some pros and cons for the Ford Super Duty F-550 4x4 (Power Stroke Diesel) Extended Cab and the same for the Chevrolet 3500 Heavy Duty 4x4 (Duramax Diesel) Extended Cab.

    Any info you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
    We have this exact set up for our brush truck, and for the same reasons. We have a single cab, F-550, with 500 gallons of water, foam, and a high capacity pump to be able to get to structure fires on those tight lakeshore roads in our district. We have never had a problem with the truck or the weight, other than the "pizza cutter" tires it current has do not work so well on soft terrain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    We have this exact set up for our brush truck, and for the same reasons. We have a single cab, F-550, with 500 gallons of water, foam, and a high capacity pump to be able to get to structure fires on those tight lakeshore roads in our district. We have never had a problem with the truck or the weight, other than the "pizza cutter" tires it current has do not work so well on soft terrain.
    We have the same setup with no problems. Trucks do everything and go just about everywhere we ask them to.

    They were built on a short bed chassis to give them a better turning radius. They turn on a dime, but we have to make sure we don't get stuck going through a ditch or other similar feature.

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    He is a link to photos of our fleet. Scroll down to 3357 to see the squad.

    http://www.clearlakefire.com/apparatus.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    He is a link to photos of our fleet. Scroll down to 3357 to see the squad.

    http://www.clearlakefire.com/apparatus.html
    Nice looking brush rig.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    He is a link to photos of our fleet. Scroll down to 3357 to see the squad.

    http://www.clearlakefire.com/apparatus.html
    Clear Lake, near where the Music Died.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Quote Originally Posted by donethat View Post
    Clear Lake, near where the Music Died.
    Very near, I live just a couple of blocks from Buddy Holly Street, where the Surf Ballroom is located.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    He is a link to photos of our fleet. Scroll down to 3357 to see the squad.

    http://www.clearlakefire.com/apparatus.html
    I think the parade rig was my favorite.

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    Thanks for all that have given me information and their opinions. I will be pushing/recommending we go with the Ford F-550 SuperCab 4x4 with the Power Stroke Diesel Engine because that chassis had a GVWR of 19500 lbs which is considerably more then the Chevy 3500. I will also be pushing for a good All Terrain tire.

    Again Thanks I appreciate the assistance.

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    http://www.facebook.com/skeeterbrush...eterbrushtruck
    Here's something else to look at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultzjr View Post
    Thanks for all that have given me information and their opinions. I will be pushing/recommending we go with the Ford F-550 SuperCab 4x4 with the Power Stroke Diesel Engine because that chassis had a GVWR of 19500 lbs which is considerably more then the Chevy 3500. I will also be pushing for a good All Terrain tire.

    Again Thanks I appreciate the assistance.
    I don't know if there are any made for extra heavy duty use, but Cooper Tire's S/T Discover all-terrain tire is the best I've ever used. They lasted a lot longer than the way over priced BF Goodrich A/T's I had. They're also a little more aggressive but retain a smooth ride. They're between Cooper's regular A/T and their mud terrain. Check into it, see if they have them for heavy duty applications. My first set was on a Ford F250 Super Duty and used on my family's farm. But you use is going to be a bit more HD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefightinirish217 View Post
    I don't know if there are any made for extra heavy duty use, but Cooper Tire's S/T Discover all-terrain tire is the best I've ever used. They lasted a lot longer than the way over priced BF Goodrich A/T's I had. They're also a little more aggressive but retain a smooth ride. They're between Cooper's regular A/T and their mud terrain. Check into it, see if they have them for heavy duty applications. My first set was on a Ford F250 Super Duty and used on my family's farm. But you use is going to be a bit more HD.
    We've got 19.5" rims on our F-450, and the tire selection is nowhere near that of your standard pickup truck. At that size, it's more of a small commercial tire than a big pickup truck tire. We're currently running tires that have a similar tread pattern to the Goodyear G124's that are standard on many a fire truck, etc that has a mud/snow tire.

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    One option we have discussed for our brush rig is replacing the dual rears with super singles. Anyone tried that on a F-550?

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