1. #1
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    Default New driver question

    I've only been driving for a few weeks and am finishing up my emergency calls. I've asked this question before to some senior drivers around my department and have gotten only a few answers. Figured I'd give this site a try.

    The discharge levers on the pump panel are tough to push/pull. The wagon is a 09 pierce velocity and it hasn't seen many fires. Every shift I work I try to exercise the levers and it really hasn't gotten any better. I understand that they won't slide like a hot knife through butter but anything is better than how they are now. The best answer I got came from my father who was a P.O in a busy department in Maryland. He suggested to wipe the levers down with some simple green to remove dirt, grime and old grease. Once dry, apply some white lithium grease to them but not too much. He said that its not like icing a cake. Then work the levers every shift and I should notice a difference.

    Any thoughts to that idea? I haven't tried it yet, still waiting on the grease to arrive.

    Any others tricks of the trade??

    Thanks in advance to any and all ideas.

    Thanks and stay safe,
    K

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    First thing is to get the manual for the truck and see what type ball valves were installed. Some have grease fittings that need to be greased periodically. And it can require a specific grease for that application, not what you grease ball joints on the drive train with.... Others do not. Some are metal ball valves, some are nylon... read the manual or get with the service provider.

    Cleaning the rods that move the valves is a good idea if you have build up on them.

    Actively cycling the valves every shift or at least once a week after they are working correctly is a good practice too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firehouse Chef78 View Post
    He suggested to wipe the levers down with some simple green to remove dirt, grime and old grease. Once dry, apply some white lithium grease to them but not too much. He said that its not like icing a cake. Then work the levers every shift and I should notice a difference.
    That might do it, but if you follow those levers back behind the panel you'll see they typically go off in crazy angles to actually open and close a valve far from in-line with the push/pull rod. Every place the direction changes is a place that can cause a slowing of the linkage and greater pressure. Thus every moveable section needs to be clean and properly greased. We did have an old Peirce tha the push/pull rods passed through a tight hole on the panel which required a little care, but in the end, the overall friction throughout caused the need for greater push pressure to close the valve and the3 longer rods began to bend. We were careful to spec our newest engine with significant diameter push/push rods of the shortest length possible to minimize this occurring in the furture.

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    Awesome insight. Thanks for the advice gentleman.

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    For metal or Deldrin ball valves (full design balls) a mixture of Dow Corning Silicone #4 (old number & I'm sure there are better lubes now) and STP (Motor Honey) did a great job. For valves that are difficult to reach, find a very long wire handled bottle brush to see if you can get some lube back into the valves. As mentioned above, open the inspection panel or slide under the rig on a creeper with a light. Spray lube with a long wand & keeping the slides clean will help. Exercising your valves weekly or on every shift will do wonders for improving the life of the ball and seats. Any build-up of crud on the ball face will score the seat and thus start a leak. exercising the valve cleans the ball & seat before the crud can adhere to strongly. For partial ball valves, there is a strong tendency to "suck shut" when flowing high volumes, so after you get the movement freed up, be sure to lock the valves every time you are pumping. Some valve designs are more prone to this than some other manufacturers equipment, but it is a safety issue if a valve pulls itself shut when the crew is looking into the mouth of the dragon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kuh shise View Post
    For metal or Deldrin ball valves (full design balls) a mixture of Dow Corning Silicone #4 (old number & I'm sure there are better lubes now) and STP (Motor Honey) did a great job. For valves that are difficult to reach, find a very long wire handled bottle brush to see if you can get some lube back into the valves. As mentioned above, open the inspection panel or slide under the rig on a creeper with a light. Spray lube with a long wand & keeping the slides clean will help. Exercising your valves weekly or on every shift will do wonders for improving the life of the ball and seats. Any build-up of crud on the ball face will score the seat and thus start a leak. exercising the valve cleans the ball & seat before the crud can adhere to strongly. For partial ball valves, there is a strong tendency to "suck shut" when flowing high volumes, so after you get the movement freed up, be sure to lock the valves every time you are pumping. Some valve designs are more prone to this than some other manufacturers equipment, but it is a safety issue if a valve pulls itself shut when the crew is looking into the mouth of the dragon.
    This! As usual Kuh shise provides an unmatched level of detail that you can take to the bank!

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    In a decidedly more low-tech comment, I say this:

    Sometimes the linkages get pulled out too straight and won't close easily. You can diagnose this by peeking inside the pump compartment and seeing if there is any bend in the connections.

    You may now return to your more educated postings.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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    Excellent answers already given and thank you. Maybe your "Shops" can provide you with some appropriate lubricant to do the aforementioned greasing at the usual places. Also, if your rig is subjected to some off road duty, the tweeking and flexing, (normal) of the chassis can sometimes kink up the alignments.

    Dirt in the works from non activity is also a factor. Keeping the sliding-rotating parts clean may help greatly. Finally, lack of frequent use will sometimes slow things down. Our triples, (Type 1) engines had well used, slippery valves on the #1 & #2 discharge gates, but the rest were usually difficult to move due to just lack of usage.

    Corrective action for that usually came down from the Admiralty in the form of a SOP to use the #3 & #4 gates instead of the #1 & #2 gates. Usually this was quickly forgotten during the heat of a working fire. Things once went so far as to tape little notes on the panel to obey orders from on high at all costs. Funny. HB of CJ (old coot)

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    I use a spray on "dry lube" on the rods , seems like dust doesn't stick as bad as it does to grease.
    ?

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    unless the rods are going through a tight hole in the panel, that is not the issue.
    The valves themselves are tight or sticking either due to mis-adjustment or lack of use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    unless the rods are going through a tight hole in the panel, that is not the issue.
    The valves themselves are tight or sticking either due to mis-adjustment or lack of use.
    Lack of use is the most likely culprit. That goes for just about anything on a fire truck.

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    All of the above are good ideas and we use the clean the rod and lightly apply white lith method. But, we also use something taught to us from the old timers ( and since I have over 34 years in, guess I am one now, lol). On a quarterly basis, or sooner depending on the number of actual water flowing runs, we add a bottle ( standard kitchen sink size) of Ivory soap to our tanks while circulating the pump. This lubes the valves and rubber seats and helps with our hard water problem. It does create a bit of foam at the nozzle, but lasts only briefly. For tanks over or under 1000 gallons, we just adjust the amount of Ivory as needed. It also helps on less used valves to get an areosol can of white lith, remove the caps and 30 degree bends and spray the ball valve itself. Work the valve a couple of times and respray before putting the bends and caps back on. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Engineer425; 03-29-2014 at 01:15 PM.

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    I did not know about the dish soap. Something new and thank you. We used common utility oil which was also priming oil. Came in 55 gallon barrels. The master mechanic would have us dump a quart into a 500 gallon booster tank then run the bypass. We did it to loosen-lube up the pump seals so the ENGINE, (not Truck) could TRY to pass that annual pump test. We did use Tide laundry soap with food colouring added for public demostrations of foaming stuff. Fun.

    Ahh.....British Spelll Chtz. Acting strange today. Cousins across the sea separated by a common misspelt English language. Neither the oil or soap would actually make it from the pump into the discharge gate valves. Might....but non likely Too tight for meaningful amounts to enter to loosen things up. Some of the older Engines had gate GREASE ZERTS! Ah...so much has changed in The American Fire Service. Now you just push buttons. So Cool. Thank You.

    HB of CJ (old coot) retarded EN, Bakersfield City Fire Department, CA Long ago and far away. ISO Class One. Not any more.

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    I did not know about the dish soap. Something new and thank you. We used common utility oil which was also priming oil. Came in 55 gallon barrels. The master mechanic would have us dump a quart into a 500 gallon booster tank then run the bypass. We did it to loosen-lube up the pump seals so the ENGINE, (not Truck) could TRY to pass that annual pump test. We did use Tide laundry soap with food colouring added for public demostrations of foaming stuff. Fun.

    Ahh.....British Spelll Chtz. Acting strange today. Cousins across the sea separated by a common misspelt English language. Neither the oil or soap would actually make it from the pump into the discharge gate valves. Might....but non likely Too tight for meaningful amounts to enter to loosen things up. Some of the older Engines had gate GREASE ZERTS! Ah...so much has changed in The American Fire Service. Now you just push buttons. So Cool. Thank You.

    HB of CJ (old coot) retarded EN, Bakersfield City Fire Department, CA Long ago and far away. ISO Class One. Not any more.

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    Of course you could forgo all that advice and just work out real heavy with dumbells and free weights...

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Of course you could forgo all that advice and just work out real heavy with dumbells and free weights...
    Then again, the dumbells might have actually designed the linkage at the root of the problem. Sometimes problems like this are simply poor design of the controls. However, if the levers are direct and supplied by the pump manufacturer it could be a maintenance issue.

    Either way, your cure would work, up to a point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firepundit View Post
    Then again, the dumbells might have actually designed the linkage at the root of the problem. Sometimes problems like this are simply poor design of the controls. However, if the levers are direct and supplied by the pump manufacturer it could be a maintenance issue.

    Either way, your cure would work, up to a point.
    Yeah, if you start ripping off levers, you've probably over done it...

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    Your Dad was part right, I clean the slides with silicone spray,workout the old lithium grease , wipe them down again with silicone. Lithium grease will dry out and collect dirt over time. The slides work best clean with no lube at all. Dry lube is ok, but it will collect in the pump panel pass thru flange.

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