Thread: Just Curious

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    Question Just Curious

    I'm curious about the fact that as I read through these forums, everyone discusses Pierce, E-One, Sutphen, Seagrave......
    I have noticed however, that no one talks about American LaFrance, good or bad.
    Is that because there isn't enough information?
    I would like some opinions about ALF/LTI ladders, or just ALF in general.
    Anyone up for the task?

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    I know in a town in my county has a 95 ft platform ALF and they said there is some good things about it and some bad things about.

    The bad one is that it is always OOS. Recently they had a major leak in the hyrictic fluid for the main and also that the main had serval minor and major cracks in it. They said that ALF sent everything to the station for the ladder.

    The good one is that it is dependable when it is running
    Rob aka Squinty

    The Fighting Seventy-Third

    Westville Fire Department
    Gloucester County
    New Jersey

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    An aquaintance of mine is on a department with an ALF heavy rescue. It is built on a Freightliner chassis and they have had many problems with it. The vehicle is less than 3 years old, the chassis is rusting out, already, and the paint job was pathetic and peeled off less than six months after they received it - this was not something from the dealer, it was the factory's paintjob. There were also electrical problems with the vehicle.

    Every company has problems and lemons and everyone has their favorite apparatus manufacturer so we look at problems from other companies with glee, just like the Ford / GM / Dodge debate that has raged since the first pick up truck rolled off the assembly lines.
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    Unhappy American La France

    As far as I am concerned,American La France doesn't exist anymore. Sometime around 1995 the company was acquired by the company that makes White and Freightliner trucks. The old reliable,last forever trucks are a thing of the past.
    Kind of like the Harley Davidson when they were owned by AMF('69-'81). Some people believe during this time period they really weren't Harleys.
    American La France trucks nowadays are probably no more than Freightliner trucks with a newer-looking American LaFrance shell over them. Probably why Departments are starting to have trouble with them.
    Of course, thats just my opinion
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    We have two American LaFrance rigs in our house, and if we can get them to work a deal with us, will likely have a third. The chassis have been acceptable for our use. Of course we have had a few "bugs" to work out of them, which is not uncommon for any new chassis. Our engine is an ALF with a Feraro <sp> fire body. To me the Feraro has not met my expectations, but that was not ALF's fault. Our tower is an 85 foot LTI in the ALF chassis. It has had no more problems that the LTI/American chassis unit it replaced.

    On the other side of the coin... these are NOT the old American LaFrance and do resemble the Freightliner more than they do a Fire Engine.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    Thumbs down



    We have a 2000 ALF pumper/tanker and have had many problems with it. It has ben OOS a lot. We believe we have them all fixed, but........ The only upside is they have never denied the problems existed and have worked on them diligently. There have just been quite a few of them.

    Email me if you want more info...
    Remember,

    If you don't respond.....who will

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    Default Re: American La France

    Originally posted by Tanker61
    As far as I am concerned,American La France doesn't exist anymore. Sometime around 1995
    I agree with all of that but the year was 1986... when they left Elmira NY for Va.
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    I have to disagree with those that say American LaFrance is dead. I am an "ALF" dealer and the company is alive and very much growing. I am not going to sit here and defend our product to anyone, however, I will say that a new state of the art 400,000 sq. ft production facility in South Carolina could hardly be called "dead". I am sorry if you think that the new ALF's are firetrucks in Freightliner clothing, the fact is, they are not. We have our own chassis assembly facility, separate from the class 8 vehicles and yes, while some of the Freightliner manufacturing procedures have been adopted, the bottom line is, we custom build our own trucks. We also have had the opportunity to expand our dealer network, which, as you know, the truck is only as good as the dealer who takes care of you.

    We are currently the number three apparatus builder in the country, and are going nowhere but up.

    I will step down off my soapbox now.

    Thank you!

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    Not to throw lighter fluid on the fire but, I agree with Tanker 61. After the 3rd, or however many, re-organizations they have been through since the early eighties, I don't consider them a contender. Are they moving alot of units? Yes, but ask yourself why? They are practically giving them away. The departments I know who have bought them have gotten really, really, REALLY good deals. I am talking rock bottom pricing which is great. But, they have shown to not be as, how shall I say, fireman proof as hyped. To whoever said they are fire trucks in Freightliner clothing - I agree. Are they replacing the markets typically dominated by Pierce, E-One, Seagrave and the like? No. Those markets are going thru their typical 15 to 20 year switch from one to the other. The Boston area is a perfect example. Switching from E-One to Pierce. In another 15 to 20 years they'll switch again to another manufacturer. Another problem in my opinion is the stygma that comes with the association, or ownership, of ALF by Freightliner and in turn by MB. Alot of fire fighters I know don't consider Freightliner a true fire truck chassis. They are accepted as delivery trucks and fire ground support vehicles at the extreme. I mean Cascade units, Rehab units, Communications vehicles, etc., but not the heavy apparatus types. Are people buying them for their Engine Co., Truck Co., Rescue Co., etc. apparatus? Sure. Again for the price that is hard to beat. In what I have seen of them personally I would prefer a General or Sutphen or other niche market manufacturer. Until ALF can get the quality control issues worked out, increase their reputation as a company that is going to be around for longer than 5 years and really "beef up" their product line to compete with the big boys I don't see them going anywhere productive. A new 400,000 sq ft production facility can be viewed 2 ways. As you said Ma'am, for increasing production because of demand from fire departments. Or in my view, it is the final influx of cash from a parent company who has already said the light at the end of the tunnel is a train and either improve quickly or your done. When ALF files bankcrupcy again, then Freightliner can use it for their line of heavy over the road vehicles and right of the loss at the end of the year. I am no lawyer or CPA but it makes sense to me. Just my thoughts.
    Last edited by STATION2; 11-21-2002 at 07:39 PM.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    ALFGirl - You stated that your chassis is manufactured in a separate facilty . Is this new ??? I toured the Freightliner facilty in Cleveland, NC 3 years ago and the plant manager made it very clear the assembly line produced the chassis for both the fire trucks and over the road trucks. In fact, they also stated that the assembly workers do not know what the chassis will be used for, until it hits the end of assembly. There could be five chassis's in a row that are going to be used for over the road trucks, then one that will end up under a fire truck.

    There was a seperate facilty next door which manufactured the cab, but not the chassis. If this is still the case, you may want to re-phase your statement.

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    My apologies, I didn't mean to incorrectly state anything. Yes, the chassis, meaning frame rails, axles and major components are assembled
    in the class 8 facility, the cab and finishing work is done at the facility next door, at the ALF building.

    Larry, if ALF trucks are not considered the right application for heavy apparatus, why would major cities all over the country have so many in service?
    Last edited by ALFGIRL; 11-22-2002 at 01:36 PM.

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    ALFGIRL, good question. But you tell me which major cities run them for the heavier apparatus. Detroit proved alot of my & other peoples statements by having numerous problems with their large number of ALF Metropolitan pumpers and their new ladders appear to be being built by Pierce. No large city in Texas has them: Houston - E-One pumpers and ladders, Dallas - Spartan/Quality pumpers and ladders, Austin - Spartan/Quality switching to Pierce pumpers and Pierce ladders, San Antonio - Most recently Ferrara pumpers and E-One ladders. Nationally: Chicago - HME/Luverne pumpers and Pierce ladders, LAFD - Pierce and Seagrave pumpers and LTI ladders, LACoFD - KME pumpers and ladders, San Fransisco - Spartan/3D pumpers and LTI ladders, PGFD - County buys Seagrave, FDNY - Seagrave pumpers and ladders, Newark - E-One pumpers and ladders, Boston - E-One pumpers and ladders slowly switching to Pierce, Colombus - Sutphen pumpers and Sutphen and LTI ladders, Metro - Miami - Pierce pumpers and LTI ladders, Honolulu - Pierce pumpers and ladders after years of Seagraves, Phoenix - E-One/Saulsbury pumpers and Spartan/LTI ladders with maybe an ALF chassis or two thrown in for tillered tractors, Mesa - Pierce pumpers and ladders, Kern County, Ca. - Going to Pierce, Bakersfield - Going Pierce, Santa Barbera County - KME, Denver - Seagrave and Pierce pumpers and ladders, Worcester - KME pumpers and E-One ladders, St. Louis - HME/Smeal quints, Las Vegas - Pierce pumpers and ladders, Clark County - E-One going to Pierce pumpers, Cleveland - Spartan/Luverne pumpers and Spartan/RK ladders, Providence - Pierce pumpers and E-One ladders, Milwaukee - Pierce pumpers and ladders, Provo - Pierce pumpers and ladders, Atlanta - Spartan/Quality pumpers and ladders, Fort Lauderdale - Pierce pumpers and ladders, Philadelphia - KME pumpers and Seagrave abd LTI ladders, and the list goes on. Just my thoughts.
    Last edited by STATION2; 11-22-2002 at 03:04 PM.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    Station2 -- I could care less what kind of rigs anybody buys, but some of your facts are wrong, FYI. A number of departments you mention use rigs with ALF chassis.

    LAFD has bought ALF/LTI tillers since 1999. They have roughly 20 of them, with more on the way all the time.

    Philly has bought somewhat similar ALF/LTI aerials for probably just as long, and may have even more of them. They also are continuing to buy them; see this month's Fire Apparatus Journal. They also have some ALF squrts, and some ALF engines on the way.

    Chicago has an ALF/LTI tower running as Tower 5, and an ALF engine running as Engine 23.

    Columbus, OH has bought a few ALF/LTI tillers with dual-axle tractors.

    Miami has at least one ALF chassied aerial.

    Phoenix has ALF chassied mid-mount tower ladders, as well as ALF tractors that were put under older LTI tillers.

    Jacksonville, FL just bought a ton of new ALF chassied rigs.

    Seattle has two ALF/AI aerials, one a tiller, one a straight truck.

    Portland, OR has a bunch of ALF engines, and some ALF/LTI tillers.

    Turn to p.47 of this month's Firehouse. There's a Fort Worth tower advertised, on an ALF chassis. They also have an ALF/SVI squad. You sure no large city in Texas has them?

    Chances are, even more big cities will be ALF users in the future, because you can't buy an LTI ladder now unless you use an ALF chassis.

    We could play this game with just about any manufacturer. You pick one, and chances are there's a big city somewhere using it. I have no great affinity towards ALF, but to say that no major city is using their rigs simply isn't true. Many big cities are, just like many big cities are using Pierce, or Seagrave, or E-One, or...

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    One1L, you are correct. Many medium to large cities do in fact use them. My post was in reply to ALFGIRL and subsequent e-mails from her about ALF's. It was meant in jest. Sorry to arouse your ire.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    I think the new factory does prove that the parent co. is still commited to the ALF brand, however it's not some grand expansion of their business. Mainly they're consolidating the patchwork of operations acquired by Freightliner during its apparatus manufacturer buying spree. Myself I think they'd have been better off just buying ALF and gradually building a complete operation from that rather than buying these many small outfits as upfit shops for the ALF and Freightliner chassis. Hopefully ALF will do well and be able to exorcize more of the quality demons once it all happens in one shop and given more time.
    No matter which brand is your favorite, I think a strong ALF is good for you. It's going to provide good competition for the other big guys helping keep quality and features up and prices down. Not to mention ALF is selling a lot of rigs and probably will for a long time in the future (hey, KME's still in business) and I'd just as soon they were good trucks just for the sake of the folks that have to use 'em.

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    Gee I wonder how the folks in Shawno Wisconsin, formerly 3-D Fire Apparatus feel about parent company ALF? Since the factory there is closing. 3-D managed to be in business for decades, and in fact sold to some rather large cities nation wide, and ALF killed them in what, less than a decade?

    I WAS an ALF fan, only behind my Mack CF's....not anymore. Sorry, it ain't the same. Freightliner bought a name, and makes firetrucks with that name.

    Does that make them inherently bad, probably not, but to say they are the same as ALF of old just ain't true.

    Take care and stay safe,

    FyredUp

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