1. #1
    John Berryman Jr.
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Rear Wheel Steering on apparatus

    Your comments please on the subject of rear wheel steering,what do you think? Have you driven one? What was its item the cost$$? I understand that Pierce and ALF/LTI are using it.The first was, I belive, Seagrave with its "rear admrial" aerial ladder, back in the 70's.Any help will be appreciated.....Thanks JB

  2. #2
    Da Sharkie
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I have only seen it in person once on a Pierce aerial. I think it works slick. Here in New England some cities have streets that are basically widened cow paths from a century ago so any advantage you can get to get into tight places is worth it. I think Fire & Rescue magazine did an article on it within the past year and a half as well if you can find it. It could be good for your research.

    I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    It all depends on the streets you will be responding on and truck legnth. My Dept recently purchased three pumpers that are over thirty five feet long and have tandem rear axle all steer. We had a need for trucks with allot of water 1250 gallons and had to be able to turn in culdesacs with islands in the middle. Pierce all steer (from Osh Cosh (misspelled)) has three different modes two modes are fire ground which requires the truck to stay below ten MPH. Fireground cordinated mode makes the back wheels turn opposite of the front wheels and has a turning radious under that of a Ford heavy Duty truck (remember these pumpers are over thirty five feet). The second fire ground mode is called crab crawl and it turns both sets of wheels the same way (this mode is used to move away from obstacles) and is great for parades because the truck goes down the road off center.
    The third mode is Cordinated but not fireground which reduces the crimp angle on the rear wheels and works when the truck is moving within the 5-35 MPH range. Very cool stuff I believe this option was something like 20,000.00 dollars per an axle. Check out our trucks for a list of the specs at

    [This message has been edited by apatrol (edited October 26, 2000).]

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Im not very familiar with the rear-steers but I have read a few articles about them. One, titled "Tiller Killer" was in a nationally circulated magazine (I have forgotten which one) reporting about a "race" that they had between a modern tiller and an all-steer strait truck. My expectations were that the tiller would kill the strait truck but it was quite the contrary! After the 15 min. course, the all-steer was ahead by 2-3 mins! According to the article, the tiller had to stop and back up multiple times when the all-steer just made the turn and kept on going! When I read this article, my dept. was in the planning phase of a new ladder, which had already been determined that it was going to be a tiller. Being the audacious and outspoken person that I am, like a fool, I had approached a select few members of the purchasing committee about this article and tried to add my two cents that it might be better off for the dept. to look into a strait truck with all-steer. After all, their reason for choosing a tiller was that it was more maneuverable. They just shook their head and walked away. ANYWAY...the point that I am getting at is to not look past rear-steer strait trucks because it could be a costly mistake!

    When In Doubt, Blitz It Out!

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    You might want to check out a steerable tag axle from Ridewell. It requires no electronics or hydraulics. Works on a caster system. We have one on a 85' LTI Tower. It really cuts down on the turning radius.And nothing to break or maintain !!!

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The first method listed eats tires, as the writer can verify with 5500 miles on the rigs the scrub marks on the tires are severe. Oil in the wheel wells would seem to indicate something is about to come apart.

    The second method may not have the electronics, but if the road isn't clean and dry, it doesn't work at all. Several outfits are not paying a fortune to put standard rear ends under this type of rig.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    When trying out these riggs make sure you have concidered accouple of things.

    1> Dont just let your most exspierianced (sp) drivers try the riggs. You know as well as I that there not the ones sitting at the station all day. Accidence suck and cost money.
    That artical in that mag. was a little lop sidded, and you might want to check with that department where it happened, before reling on its info.

    2> Maintenane, Maintenance, Maintenance! What it cost up front, While its in service and what its worth at trade in time. What cost you $40,000.00 today could cost $5,000.00 each year to maintain and may not be worth $0.40 tomarrow.

    3> Get a complete list of users from the respectfull apparatous company, not just there good customers. No other department has the same type of people or surroundings as you have. What worked well in one area, might not even have one street like yours.

    I think that they both have there place. All that I can type is, do your home work before spending the good peoples money!!! It will always save your committee from looking like a horses butt.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    //riggs //concidered //accouple//
    // Dont exspierianced //riggs./Maintenane, tomarrow./Accidence// respectfull //apparatous

    //artical in that mag. was a little lop sidded, and you might want to check with that department where it happened, before reling on its info.//

    Yeah the magazine went so far as to spell correctly and even offered for free a video of the entire ride of the all steer kicking the tillers tail. Very very lop sided. The department went on to buy more all wheel steering apparatus.

    //No other department has the same type of people or surroundings as you have.

    Not even close? People?...two legs, two arms hands, feet, mouth eyes? They use different size cars, dump trucks, school buses, taxis, garbage trucks too? Probably don't have trees, houses, buildings, or even use water to fight fire.


    So, if costs more to get around your impossible town unlike any other ever built, would you be willing to pay more for "Maintenane, " or just let the place burn?

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    LHS, what department was it? Why would they publish false information? Why do you have to be so disrespectful to other forum members? And speaking of spelling!!!

    When In Doubt, Blitz It Out!

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    i haven't seen too many trucks with steering axles except pierce but KME has a self steering tag axle that i believe is supplied from Ridewell. the rep i spoke to said that with this axle on a quint it has the same if not better turning radius than some single axle trucks. i think the axle turns about 7 degrees and that is more than enough to make a big difference.for more info contact KME, they are suprisingly helpful

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I drive a Saulsbury rescue squad with a Ridewell tag (tag-along) axle. It has an air cylinder adjusted caster system which changes the caster for forward or reverse travel. It turned 11 degrees originally, but was reduced to 7 degrees. I am told that they don't make this particular model any longer, possibly due to some of the problems I have had with it.

    In general, I like the concept. My truck is 38' 10" long, with a 208" wheel base, and 8' 6" wide. I can make it around most cul-de-sacs, with or without islands. I'm pretty sure the turning radius is about 24'. It's great for maneuverability. We have a lot of narrow, winding roads in our district and I can make it in a lot of places that our standard tandem axle trucks cannot.

    I have had a few problems with it, however. We have had an air leak in the system since a couple of months after we put the truck in service. I searched the entire air system on the truck several dozen times, and it is an extensive system, and each time found leaks in various places. On 2 occasions, the air leak stopped for a couple of weeks and then reappeared. Both caster adjusting cylinders have been replaced, under warranty, for leaks from the end caps. The control solenoid has been replaced 3 times. We are now wondering if one or both cylinders might have an internal leak which allows the air to exhaust out the control solenoid. After 4 to 6 hours sitting in the bay, the air system will have bled down to the 50 psi minimum. If the truck sits for more than about 18 hours, which is rare, the air ride suspension is deflated and the truck looks like a low rider. We are still working on this problem.

    Another situation you must be aware of is the axle lock system. At 15 mph, the steering is locked in the straight mode. This is not a problem at all. But when it gets below 15 mph, and the steering is enabled, you can have a pretty interesting ride.

    I have had 2 bad experiences at low speed, one of which was my fault. While responding to a call in the rain, I made the mistake of leaving the Jake Brake on. While going down a hill, around a turn, I let off on the accelerator. The Jake Brake slowed the drive axle to less than 15 mph and the drive tires skidded on the wet pavement. When the steering axle unlocked, it steered the rear end to the right from the force of the body. My truck went sideways in a 25' roadway as I was passing a small pickup coming up the hill the other way. Fortunately no one was behind him. MAJOR PUCKER FACTOR!!

    The other incident occurred while another driver was travelling about 10 mph down a narrow, gravel road, which was camberred down to the left. The drive axle and tag axle are not connected on a suspension pivot. The tag axle road up on a high spot, while the drive axle went down into a gully. The drive axle afforded no lateral stability since it lost firm contact with the road. The tag axle steered left due to the slant of the road and steered the box into a utility pole.

    Also due to the independent rear axle suspension, the drive axle regularly loses firm contact with the road, especially in sharp turns. Therefore the drive wheel often skids a little on acceleration out of a turn. The drive tires last about 9 months as compared to the front and tag axle tires which lasted about 18 months.

    Ridewell will not allow you to put a manual lock switch into the system due to the severe system damage that can occur with low speed sharp turns. So you must be aware of the idiosyncrasies of the system.

    [This message has been edited by ResQEng (edited 12-13-2000).]

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