Our department is considering a tractor-drawn, rear tiller ladder truck. I have never ridden/operated one, but they seem to be highly manueverable. Just wondering about the pros/cons of these types of apparatus. Are they better at turns than straight trucks of comparable length? Any input would be appreciated.
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09-25-2002, 11:50 AM #1
Anyone operate a tractor drawn/tiller truck?
09-25-2002, 03:50 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
- SF CA
This is all we use. Although I am passed up as a driver/tiller, my overall experience as a driver or tiller for these apparatus is pretty much limited to the training time because of my low, low seniority.
My experience is summed up better by what I've seen (and I've seen a lot more crazy stuff than I've dreamed of doing myself): They turn awe-fully sharp. In the hands of some of the experienced guys in this department, I have seen these trucks go places I never would have dreamed. It seems to me that the trailer can follow the tractor almost all the way to the minimum turning radius. Keep in mind that I don't know jack about other types of ladder trucks, and have to go 0.2 MPH when trying stuff like that myself, but I'm willing to bet that they turn way sharper than an un-articulated truck with a comperable ladder reach.
Keep in mind that the trucks in our department run with engines and rescues and typically don't carry much more hose than necessary for a ladder tower, have no pump, no method of gaining a water supply, and limited medical gear. If you are looking for something that will satisfy many different needs in one apparatus- this may not be for you. I've never heard of one with a pump or hose and stuff.
Keep in mind that they require two people to operate, and some people aren't cut out to be tillers- it can get pretty stressful back there.
Maybe truck12tiller will help out with some specifics.
09-25-2002, 04:00 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Maryland, D.C Metro
Man, if you have the staffing for a tractor Drawn, by all means go for it. they are especially good if you have alot of Garden-Style apartments and tight turns in your area. Highly Maneuverable and just plain easier to work from. Forget the mess with those oversized Tower Ladders and Skylifts. A Tractor Drawn would be my only choice. And if you really desire a Bucket on the end of your stick, Sutphen makes a Tractor Drawn Platform!!!You Waste your time, YOUR LINE IS MINE!
09-25-2002, 09:22 PM #4
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
- Norfolk, Virginia
There is a certain rush to be "gotten" when tillering. I imagine if our emotions had the final input in the decision making process, we would still be using them for front line apparatus. Our last tiller piece is now a reserve ladder. All have been replaced by either straight sticks or platforms. We have 7 ladder companies.
Two primary reasons for not buying replacement tillers - cost and outrigger spread. The cost factor doesn't need explanation. The outrigger spread of the 100 footers was a significant deterent. Many if not most of our neighborhoods would not afford enough side to side room to properly set the rig. There is no doubt that they are more manuverable than a non-tractor drawn piece, but we had more decision points to consider. Even though our new ladders are terrific, many of us sure do miss the tractor-drawn trucks.
There has been a plus for our department in not having the tillers. Our ladder staffing is 3-man minimum. With the tillers, obviously it was 2 operators and the officer. Because our fire apparatus operators are stipend compensated assignments within the organization, the operator assignments go to more senior employees. As a result, many "newer" or "less senior" members were not able to get ladder work assignments/expereince because of the staffing and requirement for 2 operators. This has changed with the new ladders. Since only 1 operator is required, it is easier to give the "less senior" guys time on the side of the truck. In turn, this provides for more career development opportunities.
09-25-2002, 10:45 PM #5
Thanks, guys, for all your feedback. I hadn't really thought about the extra room for the outriggers. Our current truck (a worn out ALF) uses about 6 feet on both sides. Our biggest thing is convincing the city to hire more people. As far as its handling the corners, I'm convinced after watching a clip on the net of some SoCal departments breezing down the streets in their tractor-drawn. Again, thanks...you shed some light on something that's mostly unknown to us. Is it possible for a tiller truck to be operated without a tillerman at the wheel? Just curious as if there was a way to "lock" the steering down on the rear. Not that we would do that...just wondering if it could be operated that way, say, to be driven great distances on an interstate.
09-25-2002, 10:57 PM #6
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
- Clermont County, Ohio
Here's what I've heard from my friend's on Cincinnati Fire: over the past 5-10 years they've switched from tractor drawn Seagrave 100' aerials to 100' rear mount E-1's with a single rear axle. The driver's I've spoken with said that because of the relatively short wheel base, they can get the E-1's everywhere they could get the Seagraves. The E-1's are a medium duty ladder, no pump, no hose bed, etc. They like the way they drive.
Yes, you can lock the rear steering midships and use a single driver - essentially you've created a tractor-trailer like the 18 wheelers you see on the road. However, it's a really BAD thing if you take off without your tillerman from the station on a run. Happened once or twice to CFD - each time they swept several passenger cars off the road.
I've also heard the E-1's were significantly cheaper that the Seagraves (in current $ prices).Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.
09-25-2002, 11:58 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 1999
- Here, There, Everywhere
Although my Dept doesn't currently utilize the tillers...I am part owner of a antique Seagrave Tiller and I am familiar with thier operation.
The tiller is by far the most versitile Ladder rig out there. It can have a turning radius less than that of some of the Engines out there! And the space for equipment storage is incredible. Some manufacures also offer a Quint option. Although I wouldn't recomend it, unless you absolutely need it.
fireman 077 brings up an excellent point. Depending on the manufactuer and specs your outriggers will be consideribly different. Basicly as for Seagraves a major factor between the A-Frame style and the out-&-downs is do you want a pre-piped waterway. If you are going to have a waterway the increased weight requires the "H"-Style outriggers due to engineering limitations. (or so I have been told). However a sales rep did tell me you could potentially get the A-frame types depending on specs of course.
As for the E-Ones. I have heard good things about the ladders and their performance on the fireground. However as to be expected the E-one tillers have had some problems as they are new model for E-one.
Also the Tiller cab is signifigantly different than that of other makers. There are some advantages and some disadvantages as well to the V-Max cab. For a good review of how The E-Ones have worked out..call the Kansas City, MO FD. They have the first ones E-one ever made.
I recall a few years back there was a Dept in Suburban Seattle that never had tillers before and when they first purchased them, they worked out a deal with Seattle Fire and traded Drivers. While the new Dept. used SFD's experinced drivers to operated thier rigs and demonstrate the capabilties in the real world environment. The SFD trained the other Depts operators on their operation and gave them lots of opportunites to learn their new skills. When the training was done they swapped back to their original Depts. If you have a large dept with tillers near-by you might want to try to arrange such a partnership.
09-26-2002, 12:11 AM #8
More on CFD tillers
To add to Ohiovol_ff/emtp's post, I have been on a CFD ladder company for several years now. Our experience with our E-One rearmount has been great. It turns tighter than the Seagrave pumpers we are slowly losing to attrition, and the jacks only add about 2 feet to each side when down. The ladder can be extended fully, turned ninety degrees to the chassis and lowered ALL THE WAY. This was not possible with our Seagrave tillers, they would fall over. Says alot about the stability of the E-One. Our rearmount is a medium duty, 100 ft straight stick, 250 lb max tip load, extended horizontally. The chance of a driver/tillerman error is reduced by 50%. The cost is about two thirds of a tiller. You don't have to bend over to get anything out of the compartments, and there is more compartment space. It seats six, where the tiller only held 5. Have I sold you yet? Don't get me wrong, its a great thrill to tiller one of the old trucks, but the cons outweigh the pros. I'd get a rearmount.See You At The Big One
09-26-2002, 01:45 AM #9
More great info...thanks! Also, anyone know off the top of their heads the app. height of the tillerman's cab on the different models? The drive where our truck pulls out goes downhill as you exit the bay. This posed a problem with a platform we recently tested.....our doors were a few inches too short! I think we've requested some specs on the truck we are looking at...but I though that you guys might know right off. Also, here is the footage I was talking about:truck 13
It's best if you have a high speed connection. I was very impressed at the way these guys worked their truck through traffic.
09-27-2002, 02:11 AM #10
- Join Date
- Sep 2001
- S.E. Idaho
Local department runs a tiller truck company. The crew is two; driver and tiller. When it was first purchased the tiller-trainee spent the tour driving the rearend (back there you steer opposite of what you nomally would). He got in his truck at the end of the tour and steered his truck the wrong way into the wall.
Just a little tiller humor story....
09-27-2002, 02:46 PM #11
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
And you intend to use it for....?...
What do you want from your new unit?? Will this be a portable stairway all the time or do you wish to move large volumes of water from the tip on a regular basis? one choice does not exclude the other, but there are a lot of points to consider. Height seems to be one, how about weight? Also, is overall length a concern? (as in a 35 ft deep truck bay vs a new 41 ft truck) Do a LOT of homework here, some buyers have had to change some very expensive options AFTER the fact. Having said all that, we have a Seagrave Apollo 105' rearmount platform that does everything we have asked it to do except get out the door quick. At 68,000lbs - 13ft6in high - 42 feet long it is BIG. But it is capable of 2,000 gpm thru twin guns on the platform, the rated load at 45 degrees elevation, fully retracted makes it a good crane for rescue work, and the large compartments allow us to carry lots of neat stuff. We never considered a tractor drawn truck in our history. ( We got our first truck in 1970, a 90 ft Sutphen.) Oh, My apoligies on the terminology, here in this area anything used in the ladder business is called a "Truck". or in the case of an elevating platform, a "Tower". ours can be seen at www.gdvfd18.com Stay Safe....Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006
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09-29-2002, 11:00 AM #12
The truck we are considering is an ALF/LTI with a 100 foot ladder, mid-mount, 470hp diesel, and abundant storage space. It is the same truck that many SoCal departments use. (LA Co., LA City, etc.) If anyone has any experience with these particular trucks, I'd like to hear your comments. We are supposed to be receiving specs on this truck, but I value the opinions and experience on this board.
09-29-2002, 11:36 AM #13
- Join Date
- Feb 2000
- Chesapeake Bay
I'm assigned to a tiller company. Our jacks, when deployed, are more narrow than a lot of rear mounts and towers. They are the "A" type that project approx. 3 ft' from the piece. There are only one set of jacks because our tillers are medium duty aerials. The Cincy brother is right, we cannot extend 100' ft.' at a 90 and not expect to tip the piece over, but we were not looking for that feature during specification time. Tiller cabs' overall height may also preclude departments with low overheads from getting them in quarters. On the issue of a pump and hose bed, many tillers are bought by urban dpartments that are not looking for those features. There is more than enough compartment space and great access to ground ladders as there is on straight pieces. The notion however, that their mobility can be challenged by other types of aerials to me, is unfounded. Many times when we are placed in service when responding on one of our four lane divided roads, we wait for the Engine in front of us to execute a 3 point turn in the crossover. Tillers can execute this in a non-stop, "U" turn motion. Our SOP's, due to the heavy amount of rowhouses, require companies to take a rear position. When we purchased some rearmounts in the 80's, many times those companies had to park at the entrance to the alley and hump ground ladders. That's not saying our tillers can get in every alley but they put the straight jobs to shame. We have almost completely phased out rearmounts and continue to buy tillers.
09-29-2002, 04:12 PM #14
[QUOTE]Originally posted by ThNozzleman
[B]The truck we are considering is an ALF/LTI with a 100 foot ladder, mid-mount
We bought the same apparatus and your going to end up with a piece of junk. Out of the 4 Detroit bought all had serious problems with the weldings on the aerial itself and the electrical system is a nightmare with non-color coded wiring, among other problems and not user friendly. I could go on but the post would be too long. It seems that since Diamler/Chrysler bought ALF out it has been a poorly produced apparatus. Seriously consider another manufacturer, we've had the best results with Pierce, one he!$ of a good all around rig. Personal opinion only.
Last edited by FireLt1951; 09-29-2002 at 04:16 PM.
09-30-2002, 09:30 AM #15
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Westminster, Maryland
I have ridden a Tiller Ladder for the past 15 years. I have been the Driver/Tiller for 10 of the last years. I can say without a doubt that the Tiller Trucks offer the most versatility and maneuverability of the Ladder family. In fact, I am able to turn the Seagrave Truck I now drive in a tighter radius than the Freightliner Engine we have stationed with us. The combination of an experience driver & experience Tiller can not be beat.
One limitation to most of the current generation of Tillers is that the front & back must be aligned to obtain interlock on the PTO. This normally can be achieved without a problem but it is something to be aware of.
Good luck on your purchase and train often.Michael R Rehfeld
IAFF Local 1311
Baltimore Co. Fire
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