1. #1
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    Default Aerial Ladder Construction

    I am interested in finding the pros and cons of aluminum vs. steel construction for 75' to 100' aerial ladders. The salesman says aluminum is better "because it reflects heat". If aluminum is so great, then why are structural building members steel and not aluminum ?? Obviously aluminum is lighter and offers additional apparatus load carrying capacity for a quint. Which is best??

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    You may have opened a big can of worms with this one; I've been round and round with folks on this before. There are pros and cons to both. I like steel. Steel is stronger than aluminum. It's less brittle, so it flexes and bends a little more. This means it has less tendency to get stress fractures. It's strength remains pretty stable over a wide temperature range, whereas aluminum gets even more brittle under very cold temperatures.
    The aluminum folks will tell you that aluminum won't rust, and can be left unpainted. It also transfers heat a little more readily. This is probably more important than "reflecting" heat. Aluminum is a better conductor of heat. And of course, it's lighter. Which is great for ground ladders, but really don't think it matters all that much for aerials. I like to ask people why it is that if aluminum is so fantastic, why are outriggers still made of steel?
    The tradeoff's are probably pretty well equal, but I'm just a lot more comfortable with steel...
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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    Bob@RTFC check the archives cuz this dead horse has been beaten to death time and again.

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    Bob@RTFC,

    Our department recently compared aluminum and steel aerial quints. Suprisingly, the 95' aluminum platform from E-One was only 2000 lbs less than the 100'steel platforms that were proposed from Pierce and ALF. This seemed like alot of weight until we took into account that the E-One aerial was five feet shorter and had less equipment and motor. Not much of a factor on a 70,000+ lb unit.

    P.S. The weights were provided by the bidders, we just did the math.

    Happy Hunting!!!

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    I like to ask people why it is that if aluminum is so fantastic, why are outriggers still made of steel?

    You sound like a salesman.

    If steel was so much better, why don't they make 747s out of it.

    The answer is simple, different applications.

    Aluminum is fine for aerial, if it was as bad as some of these people make it out to sound, it would be outlawed for the applications.

    Having worked from both, I can say that it doesn't flex anymore than steel does and it seems to flex less.

    No tendency to stress fracture.

    You don't have to worry about the cold temperatures that will cause aluminum to brittle.

    Thermal conductivity:

    Aluminum transfers heat AWAY from the hot area almost ten times faster AND more efficiently than steel.

    The swirled finish on E-Ones ladder REFLECTS 93 to 95% of the heat that strikes it. On the other hand a white painted steel ladder absorbs about 85% of the heat that hits it.

    It takes almsot 1.27 times as much heat to raise the the temp of 1 kg of temp 1 degree than it does steel.

    Read it all here http://www.e-one.com/Aerial%20White%20P.html

    And if e-one-sux or anyone else doesn't believe what E-One publishes in their white paper regarding aluminum aerials, he should find a qualified metalurgist to advise him in his multi-million dollar law suit for false and deceptive advertising.

    BUT!

    Don't take my word for it, call an aerial certifer and ask them. The question I've asked over the years is do you see more problems with aluminums than you do steel? They tell me "no."
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    mongofire_99

    I would tend to agree. If steel is so great, why are most aerial ladder buckets made of aluminum. I would think that this component of the aerial device would be exposed to the greatest amount of stress and heat in firefighting conditons? I belive that FDNY, Chicago, Boston and many other large departments use aluminum constructed ladders and I dont recall seeing any threads posted on them failing or falling from the sky?

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    Our fire dept. recently (Jan2001) took delivery of a 75' arial from E-One. After having operated the last 12 yrs. with a 55' steel Telesquirt on a 1982 cabover Ford, this new rig is a dream. I must admit that the aluminum ladder has more flex than the steel Telesquirt, but you in no way feel uncumfortable at that extra 20 feet of height. We ordered our rig with the 2 man pods and upper controls c/w piped in air. It is smooth as silk to operate and responds very well to the upper controls. To my knowledge E-0ne has never had an aluminum ladder fail from heat or otherwise since building them. The weight difference factor for me is a big seller and no I don't work for E-One, I just happen to know they build a good airel.

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    For the record, mongo, I'm not a salesman. Where I work, we have Pierce trucks and where I volunteer, we have E-Ones. I just don't like E-Ones very much. Maybe it's true there's not a helluva lot of difference between steel and aluminum in this type of application, I just tell 'em like I see 'em...
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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    I just don't like E-Ones very much.

    Well, no one could tell.

    Maybe it's true there's not a helluva lot of difference between steel and aluminum in this type of application, I just tell 'em like I see 'em...

    Wow!

    If you just tell 'em like you see 'em, where have you seen aluminum aerials get brittle at very cold temeratures?

    Steel is stronger than aluminum.

    E-One's aerials weigh 1/3 less than a comparable steel ladder and have greater strength.

    E-One's aerial has a 2.5 to 1 safety factor, the highest in the industry.

    Steel is stronger than aluminum. It's less brittle, so it flexes and bends a little more.

    Brittleness in metal is the poperty that allows bending/deformation without breaking or shattering.

    Steel aerials are less brittle than aluminum ones?

    Are you sure?

    Don't suppose you'd provide references would you?

    The aluminum folks will tell you that aluminum won't rust, and can be left unpainted.

    Isn't that a true statement and not some red herring thrown out in a poor attempt like "I like to ask people why it is that if aluminum is so fantastic, why are outriggers still made of steel" to justify a weak position because someone doesn't really know what they're talking about so they just repeat the party line?

    You may have opened a big can of worms with this one;

    Naw. You opened the can, I just use the worms you laid out for bait.

    I've been round and round with folks on this before.

    Then why are your arguements so weak?

    Do you lose everytime?

    I like steel.

    And...

    The tradeoff's are probably pretty well equal, but I'm just a lot more comfortable with steel...

    Then just say you like steel. Don't make up a bunch of BS that has no basis in fact.

    I could care less if you want to work of an AI, Pierce, Sutphen or E-One aerial. I've worked from steel and aluminum, the only difference is what each person wants it to be. I've got no problem with that.

    [ 09-01-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    Well said Mongo, as for E-ONEsux statement that aluminum is more brittle in very cold temps, this is true of pure aluminum but were not talking pure aluminum but a highly technicaly developed aluminum alloy so that argument holds no water whatsoever

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    Good lord mongo, now who sounds like a salesman?

    "If you just tell 'em like you see 'em, where have you seen aluminum aerials get brittle at very cold temeratures?"

    ENTC 207 Metallic Materials. (2-3). Credit 3.Texas A&M University, Fall 2000
    Introduction to structure, properties and application of engineering ferrous and nonferrous materials; beneficiation, production of ferrous and nonferrous metals, destructive and nondestructive testing, productive coatings, strengthening and heat treatment; laboratory includes metallographic procedures, mechanical testing, heat treatment, surface treatment,corrosion testing, recrystallization and failure analysis. Prerequisite: CHEM 102 or 107.
    -Although not specific to aerials, it is specific to the stuff they're made out of.

    "Brittleness in metal is the poperty that allows bending/deformation without breaking or shattering."

    What? Brittleness, by definition, is the opposite of flexibility, which is the ability to deform/bend without breaking or shattering. Brittle materials are more rigid, but often are unable to withstand the forces that more flexible materials can without permanently bending, deforming, or shattering.

    Don't suppose you'd provide references would you?
    http://alloys.asminternational.org
    I'd send you my textbook if I hadn't sold it at the end of the semester. I'll try to look up the book again, if you really want to read it. I think I'm doing okay remembering a bunch of dry crap I had to learn a year ago. I don't really feel like doing a research project right now, but if you really want one, I'll try to get back to you...

    "Isn't that a true statement and not some red herring thrown out in a poor attempt like "I like to ask people why it is that if aluminum is so fantastic, why are outriggers still made of steel" to justify a weak position because someone doesn't really know what they're talking about so they just repeat the party line?"

    No, I was simply stating that aluminum won't rust, and can be left unpainted. Now you're trying to slam me for agreeing with one of your points of view.

    "Then just say you like steel. Don't make up a bunch of BS that has no basis in fact."

    Sorry, I didn't think that I did. Most of what people post here are opinions, I wanted to express mine. I will try to add a bibliography or works cited page to future correspondences in which you are involved, if it will make you feel better.
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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    -Although not specific to aerials, it is specific to the stuff they're made out of.

    That's why I asked you specifically about aerials. You threw a BS statement out there meant to sway the argument to your side that does not apply at all to the situation and you got called on it.

    Hey, if AL gets brittle in cold weather, how come AL airplanes don't snap in half in the arctic or antarctic?

    Now you're trying to slam me for agreeing with one of your points of view.

    Naw, I was slamming you based on the question you you like to ask that "if AL was so great why do they make the outriggers out of steel" as if it had some ring of sense and truth to it. Being an educated person you must have known it was a red herring as the applications are different. Putting that one little statement in an otherwise true statement and it gives the BS a sense of truth.

    BUT!

    If you didn't know about different applications, you should get your money back from your ENTC 207 Metallic Materials. (2-3). Credit 3.Texas A&M University, Fall 2000 class as you got ripped off - I'll assume you didn't flunk.

    I'd send you my textbook if I hadn't sold it at the end of the semester.

    Thanks, I can find it at the UTA bookstore if I need to get a refresher on the useful/allowable applications of metals. (Hey, you don't know what page it says "if AL is so great why don't they build the out riggers out of it' is on do you? Or how about AL aerials aren't as good as steel ones do you?)

    Sorry, I didn't think that I did.

    You didn't know that outriggers and aerails are two different applications?

    How about the aerial and the torque box?

    BUT!

    Be that as it may, they could probably build the outriggers out of AL and be just fine, only significantly bigger - too big to be practicle.

    Most of what people post here are opinions, I wanted to express mine.

    As I've said, I got no problem with opinions, no need to cite works. Unless of course you throw out a bunch of BS.

    [ 09-04-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    While I am not an expert in aerial construction the decision to build our aerial with a steel ladder was an easy one. The alluminum aerials can't get ULC approval in Canada. I am sure they both work fine.

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    You will find that in the USA as well, welded aluminum aerial ladders are NOT UL approved either.

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    391HD

    You do realize you just told us that only UL approved aerial ladders fail don't you?

    [ 09-16-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    Thought UL listing for aerials was fairly recent...hey Mongo, can you provide any UL Approved aerial ladder that's failed?
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    As far as strictly UL approved, I don't know if any that collapsed are or aren't.

    I guess I should have made the point that UL is just another third party testing agency that tests to NFPA 1914 just like all other third party testers. Whether or not they'll approve welded aluminum sticks is irrellevant.

    As far as I know only the 1994 Mundelein IL. Seagrave built to a previous NFPA 1901, but tested to, and passed. the current (at the time) 1914 a week prior to its collapse (the report doesn't say who tested it).

    [ 09-17-2001: Message edited by: mongofire_99 ]
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    previous post edited, but I don't know when it'll update...
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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    OK...now I'm a little more confused...

    Is "UL Approval" or "ULC Approval" the same as, oh, an electric fan getting "UL Approval" and not that they UL was the ladder testing firm? Obviously every electric appliance doesn't get tested by UL, UL simply approves their design as meeting UL standards.

    UL does test aerials...we use another competitor to them ourselves. But I think (as in not sure) that "ULC Approval" and "UL Tested" are two different things!
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    OK, now that my head is thorugh swimming...

    From the UL Website FAQ http://www.ul.com/faq/

    Q: What does "UL approved" mean?

    A: "UL approved" is not a valid term used to refer to a UL Listed, UL Recognized or UL Classified product under any circumstance. There are a number of requirements and guidelines that should be followed to accurately communicate a product's UL certification.

    Q: What is the difference between Listing, Recognition and Classification? (these are the thre UL categories - mongo)

    A: UL's Listing Service is the most widely recognized of UL's safety certification programs. The UL Listing Mark on a product is the manufacturer's representation that samples of that complete product have been tested by UL to nationally recognized Safety Standards and found to be free from reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock and related hazards.

    UL's Component Recognition Service covers the testing and evaluation of component products that are incomplete or restricted in performance capabilities. These components will later be used in complete end-products or systems Listed by UL. UL's Component Recognition Service covers millions of components, such as plastics, wire and printed wiring boards, that may be used in either very specific, or a broad spectrum of end-products, or even components such as motors or power supplies.

    Products that bear the UL Classification mark have been evaluated for specific properties, a limited range of hazards, or suitability for use under limited or special conditions. Typically, products Classified by UL fall into the general categories of building materials and industrial equipment.

    In UL's Classification program, industrial, commercial, and other products are evaluated for specific properties, including hazards (such as flammability), performance under specific conditions (such as hazardous locations), or regulatory codes.
    It's only my opinion. I do not speak for any group or organization I belong to or associate with or people I know - especially my employer. If you like it, we can share it, you don't have to give me credit. If you don't, we are allowed to disagree too (but be ready to be challenged, you may be on to something I'm not). That's what makes America great!

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