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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Location
    Central Fire Co. Georgetown Mass
    Posts
    9

    Default Commercial vs. Custom Cab

    Hello all.
    My department is in the process of specing a new Rescue truck. There is a bit of disagreement as to whether or not to go with a commercial cab, or a custom cab. I need pros and cons of both styles. Personally feel that a nice short HME or the like cab would do the trick in less space than an IH or a Freightliner. Thanks for the help.
    Russ...


  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Drifting on a raft in the Carribean Ocean listening to Buffet.
    Posts
    222

    Default

    There was a thead about this this past fall that I can not find right now but will try to help out as best I can.

    The pros of a custom chassis:
    Some manufacturers better cramp angle
    shorter wheel base
    more seating for personnel
    *design specific "custom"
    *One piece of apparatus: one manufacturer to deal with. Some people like to pass the buck when something goes wrong.
    engine and transmision size variations for cost and needs.
    *life of the vehicle
    GVW

    The cons of a custom chassis:
    COST.
    cramp angle
    ??????????????

    The pros of comm:
    COST
    user ease. Some people are intimidated by a custom cab over vehicle.
    low profile cab or height of the vehicle
    Manuverablity
    ????????????????????

    The cons of a comm:
    cramp angle
    wheel base length
    GVW
    Engine and transmission size limitations


    The list can go on forever on the subject. People have there own pros and cons of each. I listed a few. I think that the big ones that really stick out from talking to the Pierce rep here is the overall length of the vehicle and the product life. How long will it last. Fire truck manufacturers make there products to take a beating and keep on going. Not saying that a comm co. wont build a good product, but do want a fire truck or a dump truck? Also, you can design the vehicle your way. Add things to a custom chassis or take them off that you may not want or that are not an option with a comm. chassis.
    Can you tell I prefer a custom Pierce chassis yet? A little more money but what a GREAT PIECE! And so many to choose from. Such great adult toy store!!
    I hope this helps your department out some. good luck

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Houston area
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Here's my experience with this:
    We have a 1989 custom cab pumper (our oldest) that's still in fantastic service. In contrast, in 1996 we started buying commercials. Next year, we will start replacing the commercials already. They just don't withstand the torture that firefighting puts on these trucks. It really has a lot to do with your call volume. If you're not running them a lot, and simply don't have the money, commercial may be the way to go. But customs will by and large hold up much better and for much longer. And they look a lot better, which is good PR.
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

  4. #4
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Bridgton,Me USA
    Posts
    8,162

    Default

    Makes a difference who's specing the truck.We run some commercials that I'll put up against your customs any day and I'll bet at retirement they still do the same job.But these are speced by TRUCK people.Big motors,big frame,big drivline,springs and brakes.If you take the cab off either custom or commercial,if they are speced right the ONLY difference will be the cab Sheetmetal.T.C.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Commericals are great when it comes to durability, but you need to purchase the right series. If you are going with a Freightliner, order a FD112 Class 8 Truck - can't go wrong. Want proof, visit your local truck stop. There you'll find all makes of Class 8's with 500,000 miles or more (fire trucks can't beat this). And talk about different driving conditions, how about highway and city, mountain and plains, and a true four seasons, all within a few days (then turn around and do it all over again). Most of these trucks run for 150+ hours each week. Those F60, 70, 80 are for business, designed for the paperboy. Class 8's - what an outstanding proving ground for the Fire Service.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2

    Default

    GO WITH THE CUSTOM.......LEAVE THE COMMERCIAL CAB FOR THE COCA-COLA MAN !!!
    AJ O'Briant
    Assistant Fire Chief/
    Deputy Sheriff
    Sanoca Rural Fire District
    Wilson County, NC

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    District of Columbia
    Posts
    44

    Default

    Class 8 OTR trucks are made to run at cruise speed for 8+ hours at a shot, and yes, they'll last a long time like that.

    What kills fire trucks is: Lots of electrical gadgetry which deals with lots of hot / cold cycles, moisture, rough vibration & shock loads, and varying engine speeds. These things are also tough on all the fasteners etc. Additionally, the propensity to use aluminum in the industry with poor fasteners (how many of you must tighten up your E-one every morning)

    The motors get it bad as well, short starts, rapid acceleration, high idle, short trip back, shut down. Fortunately, just about every motor out there can take 40-50,000+ miles of this, which will usually get you through your warranty period

    A third thing, at least in my dept., is a crappy maintenance schedule.

    You can build a custom vs a commercial, and have the only real difference be in the cab, but that'd be an expensive commercial cab. Plus most commercial cabs use a lot of lightweight construction...fiberglass and plastic. (of course you see a lot of plastic on the inside of firetrucks too)

    In short, they're all pretty much cr@p, it's all how you spec them, and how you take care of them.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Hope, RI, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default

    To GTFDLt61
    It depends on how much money you have and how you run, if you carry crews of 4 to 6 then you really need a custom. No commercial I have scene, or used, has adequate space for even 4 in gear and SCBA, let alone 6. Rescue101 hit it right on center, you can spec a commercial with all the right heavy duty stuff like driveline, and engine and chassis and electrical system and it will equal a custom except for seating and getting in and out. But you know what, you will probablly end up paying as much or more. Customs come prewired for all the toys like sirens, and lights and everything else, no one has to cut into the commercial harnesses or add wiring to cab which will give you trouble in 10 years and then it is a nightmare to service. So if you can get the funds, go custom. If you run only 2 men on the piece you could go commercial, just make sure you can get the HP and GVWR you need for the weight you carry. BUILD IT SAFE, BUILD IT TO LAST. We just put a new heavy rescue in service last Nov. Spartan/Hackney, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Matter of fact we sold our old heavy rescue to a Dept in Maine, Gibson I think.

    John
    HJFD

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