1. #1
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    Question Homemade Unistrut Stabilizers

    Does anyone have input on manufacturing stabilizers from unistrut for use in a rollover situation? I realize one gets the ratings, etc with the commercially available product. If you've made your own, please comment on sizes, etc. and any other useful information. Thanks.

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    In view of the the costs associated with purchasing the entire kit for a stabilization unit, we discussed manufacturing our own unit. We opted to not do that on the basis of accountability. It wasn't so much a case of the stabilizers working correctly, but what if one of them either slipped (the vehicle shifted off the strut) or for some reason the strut collapsed - then who is held accountable for causing any furhter injury to the vehicle occupants?

    The warranty might help to cover some of the liability - possibly. If they were scratch built uints, then we the Fire Dept would be 100% TAGGED, BAGGED AND DRAGGED on this one. In all likelyhood, we will be even with the commercially produced units, but at least they would be warrantied against structure/material failures. The maufacturer can't protect against improper usage.

    It was for this reason, that we still do not have a stabilizer kit, but it is something that we are still looking into as a major purchase item.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

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    Not really a "major" purchase guys. I hate turning these educational boards into sales tools so I won't. Email me at zmagrescue@aol.com and I will send you info and a quote that may impress you. For the price of a set of tools its not worth your bother to reinvent your own system.
    Zmag

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    Default HOMEMADE STRUTS

    UNFORTUNITLY IN THIS COUNTRY OF LITIGATION EVERYONE IS AFRAID OF BEING SUED. QUESTION - WHAT TESTING ORGANIZATION CERTIFIED THOSE HOMEMADE STEP CHOCKS? WHAT CERTIFICATION DO THOSE RAKER SHORES HAVE WHEN YOU BUILD THEM TO PREVENT A WALL COLLAPSE? HOW MANY DEPARTMENTS HAVE THIRD PARTY TESTING OF THE PUSH PLATES ( PUT THEM AGAINST THE B POST TO ROLL A DASH )THEY USE. TELL ME EVERYONE IS BUYING THESE ITEMS FROM A COMMERCIAL SUPPLIER. I HAVE FABRICATED A SET OF STRUTS FOR VEHICLE SABILIZATION. THEY WORK WELL. I'M SO SURE OF MYSELF I DON'T HESITATE TO PUT MY STUDENTS UP ON A CAR ON IT'S SIDE ONCE THEY ARE IN PLACE. MY BUDDY MIKE AT ZMAG WILL CRINGE WHEN HE READS THIS. SORRY, MY SET COST ME $150.00 FOR A PAIR. THEY ADJUST FROM 4' TO 7 1/2' AND I AM CONFIDENT IN THEIR STABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION. BILL L.

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    I think that I started something when I commented about the cost to purchase stabilizing gear. As I mentioned earlier, I have looked into the Res-Q-Jack series of stabilizers and they incorporate several different butt ends, buckles, tie straps and the main struts are telescoping with steel struts that have multiple locking positions, as well as having a jacking system built in. These units run anywhere between $1500.00 and$4500.00 US.

    I have also seen the design that Zmag markets, (thanks for the email Zmag) while my department was competing in AutoEx 2000 here in Victoria. However, no-one in the competition chose to use them, so my team never got to see them in action. As luck would have it, our scenario could have employed them, but being unfamiliar with the gear, we chose to stay with what we knew.

    All of that said and done, I still continue to research tools of this sort. I am very much interested in learning more about other available systems that do the same job.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    Yoda,

    Can you tell us how you made them for $150 and maybe attach a picture?

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    Hey Yoda, you forgot a few. Who certifyed that rickety crib stack that you quickly threw together at 0dark:30, or how about that ax through the windshield instead of grabbing the Glas-Master? Lets all face it, do we ALWAYS do what is prescribed or do we do what we NEED to do at the time. If we are always looking over our sholder for the lawyer to show up we will never get the patient out. I'm not saying to be stupid but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And to Mal, no need to apoligize for not using tools at a comp. The first time you use new tools there should not be 3 guys with clipboards watching you do it. I have attended 7-9 comps a year for the past 7 years, the reason I am there is to learn as well as to show new ideas. I am not there to try to push teams into changing their ways to suit me but rather to offer options to take home and try and bring back next year. Thats another reason why I have always offered my tools on a "Trial". Take them home and use and abuse them, if they fit your needs, great, if not we take them back at no charge. Hope to see some of you soon at your local comp. By the way, who can tell me where and when the Western Canadian comp is this year?

    Zmag

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    Growing up on a farm taught me to have faith in homemade tools and equipment. For that matter, my family used to own a farm equipment dealership, and special modifications for customers were not unusual.

    But we’re not talking about reinforcing the bucket on a front-end loader or designing a better hay hook, are we?

    With the right people and the right tools, I would have no problem constructing our own stabilization equipment. We’ve built or heavily modified portions of several of our wildland trucks. But, given the money, I’d rather buy the “official” version.

    How many of you out there carry something on your rigs that is homemade or use a modified technique that isn’t exactly from the book? Out here (and probably everywhere else) carrying several old lawnmower blades to use as a cutting tool is standard. As is building your own step chocks and box cribbing.

    As Zmag said, you can’t constantly be watching for the lawyers over your shoulder. However, the time and money spent to fabricate strong and SAFE stabilization equipment might be better spent on trying to raise the money for proven products.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    Zmag, I had the place and dates for the Western Can AutoEx, but it is not handy, I will get it and let you know.

    And for the record, yes we do use "homemade" cribbing, but that is all that we carry that is not commercially produced. However I do very very much agree that it is not the tool or how much it costs that makes the operation go smoothly, it is the OPERATOR at the other end.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    One of the interesting points that several firefighters mentioned in this thread was 'product liability'. The comment was made that a tool failure at a crash would be different if the tool was made by a 'company' instead of 'homemade'. I'm not so sure about this.

    In the case of an extrication lawsuit, I don't see the injured party needing to go after anybody else but those doing the work that caused them to get injured. If a stabilization strut fails, if cribbing collapses, if a jack slips, I think it's the rescuers who will be on the witness stand, not the manufacturer of the struts, jack, or cribbing.
    I'd say it will be the actions of the rescuer, the qualifications of the Incident Commander, the training of the personnel, etc, etc that will be called into question. I really don't think that you'll be able to readily share the blame with a manufacturer in an extrication court case. It's your maintenance of the tool, your previous use of the tool at other incidents, your training with the tool, your application of the tool in this specific crash, etc, etc that you'll have to explain in detail.

    What I see as the advantage of a purchased tool compared to a homemade tool is the greater chance that the tool will NOT fail. The hope that the vendor engineered the design, tested the item, and that the tool was built with high standards of quality is the biggest advantage of purchased over homemade in my opinion.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  11. #11
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    Just a Quick Comment here, Do some research guys I have Seen systems range from 300 to 4500 bucks, YES I said 300, and Cheaper does not necessarily mean poorer perfomance. The cheaper systems are Simple and pretty much staight forward and easy to put it action, the more expensive systems SEEMto have "more" adaptablility with Different heads and such. Shop arround, When you do that YOU may find out that it is less expensive in the long run (material, time, effort, R&D etc.) to go commercially made! Shop, and if you still decide to go HOME MADE, your shopping may give you the ideas to make the unit best suited to your needs
    Rescue is the Art & Science of matching your tools, talents and tricks to needs of our customers!
    Carl D. Avery

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    I apologize for the long post, but in light of the content of this series of posts I feel this information is very important for you to know if you are going to try to make your own struts.

    Any of you who know me know that I am a Fireman first and a manufacturer somewhere after that. Because of this, I am going to try to keep you from hurting or killing your firefighters or the patients you are trying to rescue by giving you some essential tips on perforated tube struts, and some of the issues we went through in developing our struts.

    This advice is just that, advice. It is not an endorsement AT ALL to make your own tools. I hope you don’t.

    Tube: Not all perforated tube is alike. There are different manufacturers, quality, gauges and materials. Unistrut has two divisions: The Highway Products (Sign Post) Division and the Engineered Structural Division. DO NOT use tube from the Sign Post division! It is made at the same facility and looks similar, but is NOT rated for load bearing by the manufacturer. The Engineered tube is made for building structures, and is load rated.

    Pins: You must NOT use non-rated “hardware store” pins. Most pins are made of mild steel with a yield strength between 28,000 and 40,000. These pins will derate the strength of your struts, and void any strength rating by the manufacturer. They can fail anytime! You must use pins rated at “double shear” above the rating of the tube (Grade 8 is good) and in the specified diameter to make the system hold the tube manufacturers rated weight. Try to use pins that have a positive lock so they can’t be driven back through the tube by an accidental blow from a tool. Watch the tabbed pins: I kept catching my turnouts on the tabs and unpinning the struts as I walked by.

    Pinning the tube: This is where you can really get into trouble. In order to maintain the strength of telescoped tubes, you MUST have AT LEAST SIX (6) INCHES OF OVERLAP! Anything less and the tube assembly will not support the rated weight and can fold sideways! We put welded stops in our tubes so it is impossible to use our struts without at least 6” of overlap. Our system also prevents the struts from pulling apart when the triple telescoping tubes are being extended during setup. The home-made systems I have seen have depended on looking in and trying to count the holes of overlap, or painting a line on the strut. Try it at 3:00 AM in a blowing snow storm… I saw one system where some of the holes on the inner tube were sealed off. Neither system is “Firefighter Proof”. For example, you can pull the inner tubes out all the way (another problem…), put in a pin 4 holes (or 3, or 2 holes…) from the top of the outer tube, then slide the inner tube in ON TOP of the pin! Failure…

    Heads: Unless you have a simple spike on the end of the strut, you need to make the head so it can rotate (swivel). If not, the head can apply torque (twist) on the strut tube as you tighten the strut, or if the car or the metal shifts. A rotating head will be able to adapt to the wreck and compensate for off-axis anchor points and/or movement of the wreck. Torque weakens the strut and will derate it.

    Straps: Strap manufacturers are required BY LAW to place a working load on their straps of 33% of the Failure or Test load. The working load is clearly marked on every strut package. This is so the strap will have some room to “weaken” as it ages, gets worn out, dirty, hooks getting nicked, etc. You must NEVER exceed the manufacturers working load on straps (read the package!). To do so is called negligence. The loads a strap are subjected to in a strut system are calculated based on load rating of the strut, angles, etc. Struts used in vehicle rescue (like mine) can place loads on the straps in the 2500-2800 Lb. range (or more). Because of this, we use 12,500 Lb. straps in a 10,000 Lb. test rated system, which gives a 3,333 Lb. “Do Not Exceed” working load. I have seen systems with 1” straps and a 2,500 Lb. test load (working load 833 Lbs), 2000 Lb. cam buckles (working load 666 Lbs), etc. These systems are TOTALLY inadequate for the job. Since it is impossible in the real world to make multiple straps share the load equally (any technical rescuer can explain why “Self Equalizing” anchor systems are used), and since loads shift as they are cut up or bent, any strap in multiple strap systems must be able to support the ENTIRE load by itself. MAKE SURE you use straps with at least a 10,000 Lb. test load!

    These are a few of the essential factors you should take into consideration in making your own struts. Obviously, there are many other issues involved, but these are a few of the basics. I hope they help.

    Be safe.

    Tim

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    Chief Oconnell,

    I talked to a bunch of the guys who took your class in monterey. they said you were the first person to ever teach the details of stability and were the best instructor by far. about time.

    So tell me. they sad that you taght them to lower a load with the strap,and they said ask you about the tree, to lower a load with a rachet strap.

    What is that?

    I bought several sets of your truck struts. is the owneres manual all the training we get. can you train my guys?

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    Thanks!

    I e-mailed Training BCXX05 details on getting hold of me and his strut distributor for additional training.

    The main point he reminded me of is what continues to baffle me when I do training; Firefighters don't know how to operate a ratchet strap! The 27' 10,000 Lb. strap is one of my favorite stabilzation tools.

    Do you carry them? What do you use them for?

    I end up having to take time to teach my classes the strap, particularly on how to lower a click at a time to release the load in a controlled fashion.

    Thanks for blowing sunshine up my shorts with the "best" comment. I'll bet if you ask them how they liked Ken Metzler's or Dwight Clark's portions of the school, they'll tell you they were great, too!

    Ahhhhh, the tree. I took a BIG tree trunk (about 3' in diameter) and dropped it on a car for my students to lift and stabilize. It was a great cribbing, airbag, and strut excercise.

    Tim
    www.rescue42.com

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