1. #1
    SBrooks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Mud, Snow, Tires, Tandem Axles and AWD

    Tis the season, or will be soon....

    Especially for our northern brothers (and sisters) but please reply if you've got the know!

    What works best on wet ground, mud, snow, ice, etc...Traction control, locking axles, tandem axles, AWD, special tires, chains, instant chains, or whatever.

    How does choosing one of these options affect turning radius, engine choice, center of gravity, etc.

    Specifically talking about 'beaching' apparatus on lawns and the like. Also how do you deal with mixed surfaces...plowed roads, to packed snow, to ice, to slush over mud.


    Thanks, hope to hear from you guys.

    Sean

  2. #2
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    For overall performance, I'll stick with standard chains. Spot (instant) chains work well also for unexpected situations.

    Speaking from the experience of having fish-tailed (but never crashed, knock on wood) an engine or two, I'd say that the biggest issue isn't getting going, it's getting stopped and staying under control while doing it. Things like AWD will help you get going and contribute to control to some extent, but their effectiveness ends when the tires don't meet the road anymore (this is the part that a lot of those SUV owners out there forget every year). The best way to keep the tires on the road is to have some good, old-fashioned iron grinding down on the ice or snow. Manual transmissions are also a bonus for control in bad weather. We've got two...and I'll take either one of the manuals over the automatic in bad weather any day, chains or not.

    As for handling and such, chains really don't have any significant effect, as far as I'm concerned. It's not a great idea to use them at high speeds, but in the weather we're talking about that shouldn't be an issue. The major drawback is that putting standard chains on the rigs is a major production, and you can't really do it effectively on the fly if you didn't plan ahead (hence the fish-tailing).

    I think that the best combination I've seen is used by a neighboring company to which we provide mutual aid: They have an all-wheel drive engine with spot chains (in case they get caught off-guard), but put standard chains on when they know a storm is coming. We're considering adding spot chains to our rigs as well.

    Off road and in the mud, of course, is where the AWD really shines.

  3. #3
    pikepole
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I agree with everything Bob say's. I'd also add that most insant chains are only effective in snows less than 6 inches. We use regular chains if there is more than that predicted. Also don't forget to turn off the Jake Brake or other engine retarder when it gets slick. When they kick in it could put you into a slide.
    As for "beaching" a pumper or truck in a yard I'd be sure that the ground will hold the apparatus. Nothing short of a heavy wrecker is going to get you out if your buried to the axles. However if that's your only option go for it.



    UNION YES!

  4. #4
    John Berryman Jr.
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Don`t forget that automatic chains donot work when you have the wheels locked up in a slide,remember the wheels must be turning to rotate the chain disk which slings the chains under only part of the tire tread.Other than that there great...

  5. #5
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Very good points...be especially careful of the jake brake. I hate to admit this, but I took a rig out in the middle of the night last winter without chains in about a quarter-inch of snow and absent-mindedly put the jake on. The first hill gave me a reminder, or rather my tailboard reminded me when it tried to come up front and say "hi". I regained control and everything was OK, but that's one of those times when you end up back at the station mumbling "I'm an idiot, I should know better" about 500 times.

    I really don't like the idea of "beaching" apparatus. First, that concedes total loss of control, and it's the driver's responsibility to do everything possible to maintain control. Second, you don't know what's in that yard to hit. Third, if the yard doesn't stop you, you may end up in somebody's living room. Shooting for a yard could put more people at risk than trying to regain control. Sorry, but I just don't like that idea at all.

  6. #6
    SBrooks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Great Replies, thanks.

    Point of clarification,...by 'beaching' I mean driving a piece of apparatus accross a lawn or othre piece of unpaved area to position near the fire building. I don't see much of a point in doing this with a pumper, as you can stretch a line, but could be useful for a truck at garden-style apartments, or at high rise apartments that have a large, manicured greenspace around them. Specifically, I'm supposing that a tandem axle truck is better for this type of thing than a single axle or tractor drawn. I was wondering how well axle locks vs. traction control etc. works.

  7. #7
    firecapt745
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Your topic is an interesting one. We use cable type chains. These are not as subject to tearing up if you are on mixed surfaces, or you hit a clear road, however I don't know how they would do in deep snow. I live in southeast Tennessee, so our snows are only usually 6 inches or less, and not that often. We only use the chains on our engine. Our tanker is a tandem axle with diff. lock and we don't usually use the chains on it. It seems to go okay (usually better than the engine). We only put the chains on when there is a winter storm coming, and take them off as soon as possible afterwards. Hope this helps with your questions!

  8. #8
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Sorry, I misunderstood the part about "beaching". We will take apparatus anywhere that they can go safely if it's necessary to get the job done. On the other hand, I wouldn't go driving heavy equipment like this around in people's yards unless I knew I needed to. I guess we're just accustomed to it, since we cover a combination paved/hydranted and rural/non-hydranted area. We just have to go where the fires are and where the water is, and if that means going off road, we just need to do it.

    As you might guess, we've had all three of our rigs stuck, or nearly stuck, in various places at various times. The ladder is a tandem rear, while the engine and quint are not. I really can't say that the axles, locks, etc. made much of a difference in whether they got stuck or not. If anything, the ladder is worse because the size and weight that made the tandem axles necessary in the first place do more to work against you off road than any gain you may (or may not) get from the tandem rears themselves. It would be interesting to see what it would be like if the ladder had a manual transmission like our other two. I think that might make more of a difference than the axles, but I admit that I'm biased against automatics.

  9. #9
    raricciuti
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I'd agree with most of the above. We have On-Spot chains on all apparatus, and they work OK in light to moderate snow < 4-6 inches, and help a little on ice (not much works very well on that). Really heavy and/or wet snow seems to keep the chain wheels from spinning, so like most of the above departments, we put old-fashioned chains on when it gets relly ugly. I'll second the "turn off the Jake brake" statement - it can provide for some wild rides. Two apparatus I operate have ABS brake systems, and they seem to work pretty well - not quite as good as on a passenger vehicle, but that's apples and oranges. I would recommend ABS on any new apparatus.

  10. #10
    wofd1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We have used cable chains since 1992. 2 sets 1 is conventional cross bar style the other is "Z" cross bar design. We have had good luck with the conventioal style as for the "Z" style we break 2-3 crosses each time you and yes it tore up the side of our engine, looked like you sand blasted it. We had "on-spots" installed 2 yrs ago and did away with the "Z"s. The on-spots seem to work well for us here in upstate NY. We also have a 9 ft plow on our 4x4 that runs in front of our equipment during major snow storms. We're the only one around with a plow on our 4x4. It also comes in handy for clearing our dry hydrants and access points to creeks.
    stay safe.

  11. #11
    SBrooks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    How about the tires...do any of you use specific tires in the winter months??? Has anyone heard of a truck tire made like the Bridgestone Blizzak Snow and Ice tire? (I believe it has bits of ceramic imbedded in the compound, or something like that)

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