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  1. #1
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    Default hydraulic pto generators

    Can anyone give me some input on brands, size, and reliability of hydraulic PTO generators?


  2. #2
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    It is my opinion that when selecting a generator you need to look at what type of vehicle it is being placed on.

    I personally don't like PTO generators. My depts heavy rescue has a Duetz Diesel Generator and is utilized on a large number of prolonged incidents. We can shut the vehicle engine off and the generator charges ALL electrical systems.

    If you have a unit with a PTO generator, the vehicle must be running at all times and at higher RPMs. This increases the engine hours and adds to the wear/ tear to the engine.

    Another item to remember, if the PTO goes down, it will place the entire vehicle out of service.

    My dept doesn't like PTO driven gen's for the above reasons. We've seen some of the problems other dept's have had and we just don't like them.
    These views/ opinions are my own and not those of my employer/ department.

  3. #3
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    We run a 25 KW Amps on our pumper tanker and have been very satisfied. At a idle we can run most any thing and only need to increase RPMs slightly if we approach a 15KW load or more.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber N2DFire's Avatar
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    I'm too lazy to go into the story fresh so the following is a cut & paste from my response to a question about rescue trucks.

    *******************
    From personal experience in 1996/7 - we couldn't get a true PTO generator on a Ford 4X4 (F-Super Duty in years before the F-450/550). Also 4X4 was Ford Warranted after-market from Quigly not a Factory job.

    We ended up spec-ing and buying a PTO Hydraulic generator and had nothing but trouble from Day 1. Truck builder blamed PTO Installer, PTO Installer blamed Quigley, Quigly blamed Builder (etc. etc. etc.

    After almost a year of finger pointing, phone calls, letters, and trips to various repair shops we finally just yanked the entire PTO hydraulic set up and installed a Electric Start Honda Gas Unit. Not the most streamlined and neat system (most after thoughts never are) but to date we have NEVER been without AC on a scene.

    Bottom Line - anything you get added to the chassis - see it in action before you take delivery of it. (BTW - same truck arrived from the Factory, delivered by a technician, with the hydraulic lines from the PTO pump to the generator MISSING !)
    *****************************

    I think one factor for you to consider in evaluating these responses is to look at the Chassis / Transmission configurations in addition to the Gen. Set.

    Take Care - Stay Safe
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

  5. #5
    Forum Member TCFD12's Avatar
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    My department has just signed on two new engines, both of which will have hydraulic generators. The reasons to use them far outweighed the reasons not to. (They will be our first hydraulic gen.)

    Pros:
    Smaller size - More KW in same space as diesel
    Lighter weight
    Quiet
    Clean
    Lower Maintenance
    Instant "on" power

    Cons:
    Cost
    Can not be run without truck running.

    Also note that apparatus have been using PTO's for years, every Aerial device is run from a PTO. You don't see anybody questioning their use in an Aerial do you? The PTO's that are used for both are the same, the configuration might be different, but the principle is the same.

    I think that as with anything else apparatus related, you will find people whom have had bad experiences, but they will be a much smaller group than those who have had good experiences. As with anything, do the proper research first, talk to the manufacturers, check the warranties, etc.

    [ 07-10-2001: Message edited by: TCFD12 ]
    "The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."
    -Henry David Thoreau

    Visit my dept. at www.TCFD.com

  6. #6
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    There are two main reasons for using a hydraulic generator: 1) power going down the road and 2) power when running a fire pump.

    If you don't need either of these, go with a straight PTO generator (drive shaft from PTO to generator) -- they're simpler to install and maintain, take up less room, come in larger sizes (kW) and cost less than their hydraulic counterparts.

    If you do need either of these, then go hydraulic or diesel. Diesel generators are larger, require a seperate fuel line and require a lot of air flow, but you can shut the truck down - nice for command vehicles. Hydraulics are smaller, but require hydraulic plumbing. They do also have air flow requirements, which is probably the most important thing to look at in picking their mounting location. Put them in a large open well, hosebed or rooftop walkway. Putting them in a compartment should be the last choice.

    The other important thing to look at is if the apparatus manufacturer sets their hydraulic generators to operate from idle to redline. If they don't, you can't use them while driving down the road to power quartz lights for looking at street numbers or for keeping 120V/240V devices such as refridgerator, chargers, etc. running while you respond to a call.

    Two of the biggest manufacturers are AMPS and Harrison Hydragen (note: they are the same name as the Harrison that's "on your old truck", but they are new people and a new design, so they operate much better.) Ask any manufacturer or either company and they can tell you who they've got hydraulic generators on in your area. Other manufacturers are Smartpower, Fabco, and I think Onan now.

    [ 07-12-2001: Message edited by: Carpandean ]

  7. #7
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    Some other things to think about.

    Size:

    Diesel generators are usually 7.5 or 10 kW, although you do see the occasional 15 or 20 kW unit -- they're pretty big.

    Hydraulic generators are mostly in 6-15 kW range, but some manufacturers make 20-30 kW units (AMPS: 20,25; Harrison: 20,30).

    PTO generators are usually 25-48 kW, but I've seen some as large as 72 kW and even 100kW.

    Figure out what type of AC equipment you will need and that might limit which generator you can buy.

    A pumper with a few quartz lights and reel or two can use Diesel or Hydraulic. Add a light tower with 4 or 6 heads and you'll probably be looking at hydraulic only.

    Rescues can generally use any of the three, but often have very large loads which require a big hydraulic or a PTO generator.

    Don't forget electric Hurst,Amkus,etc. power units can take 3-4 kW each to start. Things like that can surprise you, so make sure you and the manufacturer check the numbers first.

    Just some more food for thought.

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    First, thanks to all who responded to my request for info. A couple of good points were brought up; This apparatus is a medium rescue/pumper it will have a 1500gpm pump. I don't remember ever shutting down a truck while at a scene.(sans mechanical problems) As far as the high idle goes if you have your warning lghts on, the high idle turns on anyway so I figure take advantage of this. If it is possible I would like to hear some of the specifics on the problems that have happened.I wish that we could use a shaft pto mostly due to BIG$ for a hyd. unit.I agree seeing is believing. The engine will be a cummins w/Allison MD3060PR We think this combination has a good track record. A 10kw unit is what we figured we need. It would be nice to get some input on service & brand recomendations.We are looking at AMPS,Harrison,SmartPower,Fabco .We want to keep the scene noise down so another engine running isnt going to help this. thanks again, be safe.

  9. #9
    Forum Member TCFire's Avatar
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    We elected to put a PTO/Hydraulic generator on our 1999 ALF/General Safety pumper, our first experience with this type of device. We looked at AMPs and Harrison and chose Harrison. At the time there were problems with AMPs generators having their fan blades shattering, don't know if this is still an issue. We've been happy with the 10kw Harrison. It powers 2 1500 Extenda-light quartz lights, 2 fixed spot/floods on the rear and 4 sets of 110/220 outlets on the truck. The only problem we've had was a faulty pressure switch that prevented the generator from working when the pump was put in gear. After identifying the problem and speaking with General Safety, they advised removing the switch. They weren't putting them on their new trucks at the time so there were no warranty implications by removing it. The truck has a Cummins ISC engine with an Allison HD transmission.
    Hit the PTO switch on the dash, flip the pump panel switch to engage the generator and you're good to go. Noise is negligable. It's mounted in the rear between the tank and the tail diamond plate. Has a door cut in the diamond plate which we can remove the service the unit.

    So far, 2 years worth, we're very happy with the set up. Good luck, ask lots of questions, talk to your neighboring companies about what they have, etc.

    [ 07-13-2001: Message edited by: TCFire ]
    In Arduis Fidelis
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  10. #10
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    I NOT SEEN AN amps generator throw more than 4 cooling fans in one week, I guess it is because we only had 4 of the 7 rigs with them in sevice. They use a reel crappy fan. Must be a lot of profit in them though it was covered under warrantee

  11. #11
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    PTO driven hydraulic generators have been on the market long enough that most of the problems and bugs have been worked out of them. (I will try to explain this as simply as possible.)
    Some of the bigger problems with them in the past have been during start up. It doesn't take an engineer to figure out: "Gee I'm gonna start up this hydraulic pump at 1200-1500 rpm's and send all that hyd. fluid screaming into a drive that is sitting still". Alot of the manufactures have gone to dampners or gradule (slower) starting pumps. This corrected alot of the problems.
    Next was unit placement. Dust and dirt will get into anything and create problems. These units must have good air flow to keep cool and operate properly. Mounting location must accomidate this.
    If you are not mounting this on a piece of apparatus with a water pump or other hydraulic system (aerial/ladder,crain,ect.) then I would strongly recommend looking at a Fire Research device called a FROG. This is a throttle controller that monitors the generator output and power usage. It will automatically throttle up your unit to maintain the same power output.
    Lastly I would recommend that you get information from the manufactures on their products. Ask your apparatus builder who they recommend or prefer to use. Contact departments who already have these hyd/pto generators in service for a minimum of 1 year. Find out their likes and dislikes.
    Lastly I wanted to add that there is a company who now manufactures a decent hydraulic generator system for mounting on new Ford F450 and F550 4X4 chassis. I hope this little bit of info will help you out. Be safe and good luck. FGN

  12. #12
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    Our AMPS generator is set up with what's called "hot shift". In other words, the PTO is always on, and by activating the switch, all you are doing is engaging the electrical field. If for some reason the generator does go down, we can disable the PTO and run the engine without the generator installed, hence the AMPS going out for service doesn't take the truck out longer than it would if a self powered generator had to be removed. We had talked to some people and what became a service issue was the way some people had there hydrolic generators installed, the had to be removed from the truck to do routine maintanance. So during instalation, we foud a place on the enigine where it could be serviced in place.
    We are very happy with it's performance over all.
    Be safe everyone!

  13. #13
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    Bugs out huh??? We just lost the 4th cooling fan in one month on one of our generators,(good thing we only have 11 new rigs with them) the rig has never been put in service, it is just a month old. The folks are real nice, as long as you bring the generator to their store they will work on it, and they never keep the appointments they make.

  14. #14
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    ccfire I take it you are talking about those AMPS gens. you mentioned earlier? In my area I don't know of any AMPS service centers that are local so this business of taking or shiping the unit to them isn't a viable option, unless the repair was a "big job" like a r/r of the windings etc. Unfortunately it sounds like AMPS has you guys jumping through hoops for service instead of vise/versa, with 11 tucks and all. Has anybody else had similar service issues with hyd. driven generators?

    [ 08-03-2001: Message edited by: Ggg ]

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    FYI.... I received this e-mail from Steve Cook V.P. Operations A.M.P.S. "The only time I know that we have had multiple failures on blower wheels is when the unit was installed on a hot-shift PTO without a soft-start option being used. If there is a fire company out there that is having as many problems as CCFIRE suggests, it is only because they have not contacted AMPS directly. Typically, if we have multiple failures on ANY system, we will replace the system under warranty. We have built our business by word of mouth and our service has not been matched by any other company. We do not have ANY exclusive service centers, dealers, or distributors. The only way to know if you are receiving the best service possible is by contacting AMPS directly. AMPS ships approx. 100 units per month to the fire industry. Any of the "bugs" in the system have not been recurring nor have they caused us to drastically change our design. Our "crappy" blower wheel has been used since 1994 and again, the only time we have a lot of problems with them is when they are subjected to situations they were not designed to handle. This company has not grown to this size by ignoring problems or making our customers "jump through hoops". We are very dedicated to our customers because, until this year, they have been our only advertisement. Our biggest, and most recurring problems have stemmed from faulty installations. We have offered training to all of the OEM's and so far, most have taken part. There is still a lot of work to do when it comes to increasing the familiarity of the systems, but we are definitely seeing an improvement." (Any grammar or spelling errors mould be my doing due to my not being able to cut & paste this directly). Mr Cook has asked me to post this. Ggg

    [ 08-14-2001: Message edited by: Ggg ]

  16. #16
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    So he doesn't know about the quint out in front of his business last week? With a fourth blower failure with the SOFT STart? Funny they are covering it, fixede and we drove it back. That would be last Wednesday.

    1. they said they'd come by and fix it, didn't show then asked us to drive it there.

    We only own 11 brand new ones, so we must not be big enough to treast right.

    Oh well, just a faulty installation.

  17. #17
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    first, i must apologize to ccfire. when i sent the post to gregg, i had not been informed of the issues with their trucks. in fact, i was first made aware when i noticed their truck at our facility.

    i need to address two things with this posting...one, we have since had discussions with our service manager and the service technicians at AMPS regarding the need to bring apparatus to us. this is not the policy of AMPS and will be avoided whenever possible. we have made it clear that we are in the business of service and that means we do NOT inconvenience our customers by making them drive to AMPS. second, we have had some problems with the units delivered to ccfire's department. for some reason, three of the 11 trucks have been "throwing" their blower wheels. we have made changes ranging from the wheels themselves to complete removal and replacement of the systems. we are in contact with the OEM to determine the best course of action and have several options to consider. our primary concern at this point is to get the trucks in service and keep them there. we will continue to do the best job we can to ascertain the cause of the failure, but we will not jeopardize the departments readiness in order to do this.

    i would like to re-iterate that ALL of our customers are very important to us. if there has been an issue regarding the appointments we make or the service you have received, please call me directly and the issue will be resolved. 281-240-2555 ask for steve cook or john karonika.

    i would also like to point out, again, that we have been using our current blower wheels since 1994 and have had a lot of success with them. we do not yet know why the units at ccfire's dept. have been failing, but we will find out. we are always looking for improvements in our design and will continue to look into the blower wheels.

    again, ccfire, if you have ANY questions or concerns, please dont hesitate to call me directly. we do want to get these fixed and have your department become a loyal AMPS customer like many others before.

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