1. #1
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    Default Custom VS Commercial - PLEASE READ

    We currently run about 80% Freightliner FL-80 & 106 engines. All have rear mount pumps with all connections on rear excpet for bumper line. Our last custom engines are 1994 Spartan/Ferrara standard configuration. Also before that we were almost totally Sutphen.

    WHAT I NEED:
    I need some input from departments that have either: 1)Switched from Commercial chassis to Custom chassis, OR 2) Departments that have switched from Custom, to Commercial and back to customs.

    I need some good info as to why the switch such as hard info, factors, etc. How you convinced the people that buy them, etc.

    Right now my concern is the height of the hosebed.

    If anyone has any info please email me and provide contact info (email would be easier).

    THANK YOU

    Shannon Daves
    firescooby@alltel.net

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    Are or were you happy with Sutphen ? We have an 89 Quint and 2 93 Engines. I truely think Sutphen builds a good apparatus.

    I get tickled when one of the pumps was leaking, one of the guys said, "that's a Sutphen for you". It's not a Sutphen pump, it's a Hale pump. Or a Detroit Engine, or Allision trans. etc.

    They don't say, "that's a Mack for you" when it needs attention. A 1975 CF Engine, now that's a good truck. Still kicking.

  3. #3
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    We were PERFECTLY happy with Sutphen. Just those political types that run for election decided they were too pricey.

    We just purchases two 75' Quints, have three 90+ towers in service, 4 engines in first out service, and approx 8-10 in reserve. One reserve is a 1991 and the last time I drove it it had over 210,000 miles on it. They served us well...very well. I do not think these Freight shakers are gonna be nearly as good.

    Please...I need some info guys...

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    I am gonna keep this short. Do you buy a standard work truck adapted for the Fire service or do you buy a "Firetruck". I recall someone from a neighbouring department say "you don't need those fancy trucks,you can still get 4 in on a Freightliner, just put in a bench seat". Bottom line...Buy a truck that will last for 20 years and designed for the Fire Servivce.

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    Originally posted by ctxffman
    I truely think Sutphen builds a good apparatus.
    Hey come on down to my Dept. we two of them bucket of bolts we can sell ya and its not the engines,pumps etc we have trouble with it is the cabs ,compartments etc.
    Pierce, Toyne and Luverne all good trucks from what I seen the only reason dept's have bought commercial cabs was to save money. All three of these co's have some options in the custom chassis that you could go with.
    GFIRE

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    Guys...this isnt to start a war between brands.

    What I need is information from departments regarding HOW they made the switch.

    We started purchasing commercials (17 total) to save money. Now we have a new and progressice fire chief and the chance to be in a "real fire engine" again.

    Anyone have any info?

    Again...thanks.

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    Default Go Custom!!

    Scoob sounds as if your dept. has specked out its trucks, having rear mounted pumps. Most likely to reduce the overall length on the apparatus. That's because commercial chasis's have a terrible turning radius, that don't come close to a custom. A custom will have a much shorter wheel base than a commercial that is the same overall length. A commercial chasis's interior cab space sucks, as you know I'm sure. The structual integrity of a custom cab far exceeds that of a commercial. We use to run commercials, now we run all customs. You just get more bang for your buck with the customs.


    CaptD

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    Default DRA177

    Yes, the main reason we went rear mount pumps was to reduce overall length with the commercial chassis. A commercial with a midship pump you wouldnt be able to turn it in a 40 acre field.

    Our FL actually have bigger turning radius than our sutphens and Ferrara's. We spec our trucks to every detail. Our first nine commercials were built by Saulsbury, 4 by Luverne, and these five by Becker/ American Lafrance.

    The bodies are pretty nice, but there are things about the commercial/ rear mount pump that I dislike:
    1) Hose bed height
    2) Engree/ egress from the cab
    3) Cab storage space
    4) Rear mount pump heats up very quicky
    5) ALL discharges/ intakes on rear of truck
    6) Longer nose increase vulnerability at intersections
    7) handling vs customs

    If you have any pointers on how you switched back to customs, please e-mail me at firescooby@alltel.net

    THANKS

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    What you need to do is contact some one from E-one and explain you're concerns to them. Ask them to set up a meeting and get all the specs that you can from them. E-one deals in rear mount pumps, and they know what they are doing. If you don't like what they have to say, call another company. But let me tell you this, you have to get the information first hand. I really like E-one and I like custom cabs even better.

    Before you meet with some one, write down every question or concern that you can think of from now until then. The best ones come from a fire scene or when you ar working.

    As for the hosebed height. There is a reason that they call it a "custom" chassis.

    We have a 5 mid-mount pumpers with commercial chassis, and one ladder with a custom chassis.

    what I've learned is that We can fit up to 10 guys in a Custom cab. and a max of five in a commercial. What good is a truck when you have to leave people behind because there was no more room. And on top of that, we can have a 500 horsepower engine under the cab with no problem, and in less frame length of a commercial cab with a 300 horse V6.


    Custom is the right way to go. no matter who makes it.

    Good luck

    firemanss@hotmail.com


    www.e-one.com

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    Default Amen

    Firemanlos seems to know his stuff. Custom Chassis are the rearl deal. Roseville? I heard that WEDNESDAY night shift is the A-TEAM. JR

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    Talking Rhino

    I don't know anything about mnfireguy other than he is GAY!
    Gay!
    Gay!
    Gay!

    Just kidding!

    Wednesday night shift kicks arse.

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    While on the apparatus committee for the Houston Fire Department, we were asked to look at commercial chassis as an alternative to custom chassis during the spec process for a 19 pumper order in '96 - '97. This was due to cost concerns and we were asked to look at options. I was tasked with contacting similar departments (Call types, square miles covered, number of companies, etc.) that used them and find out how they were working out for them.

    The positive factors discovered were as follows:

    1) Lower initial cost.
    2) Easier to locate replacement parts from
    large truck dealerships.
    3) Improved engine area access.

    The negative fators discovered were as follows:

    1) Shorter service life of chassis.
    2) Entry/exit problems due to cab height and
    fuel tanks and battery box locations.
    3) Increased turning radius.
    4) Increased overall length of apparatus.
    5) Diminished driver visibility due to cab
    designs.
    6) Tight crew area. When factoring in map books,
    MDT's and in cab bunker gear storage, there
    is not much room left over for a full crew.
    7) "Cookie Cutter" designs not intended
    specifically for heavy duty fire department
    service (frame rails, suspensions, etc.).
    Frequent start, run hard, shut down cycles
    have an extremely high rate of wear compared
    to custom chassis over the same time frame.
    8) Electrical systems are marginal for additional
    needed equipment (Flashlights, TIC and gas monitor
    charging equipment for example).
    9) Limited drive train options.

    These were items discovered when speaking with other departments about commercial chassis apparatus in the fire service. We ultimately kept going with custom chassis on the 19 pumpers being ordered at the time. Departmets contacted included Phoenix, Colombus, Oh. and Los Angeles County among others. This is not intended to start a war, just passing on information discovered in our research.

    Stay low and move it in.
    Last edited by STATION2; 06-22-2003 at 01:50 PM.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    Custom vs commercial myth 1:you can only get big hp in a custom.Wrong,600 plus easily available in commercial.Myth 2 Frames/drivelines are MUCH stronger in customs.Depends on how you spec them.We've see triple frame commercials you could use the frame as a torque box.Myth 3 commercials don't have enough electrical.Again depends how you spec. the chassis.That being said,I prefer customs for the crew space and ease of egress/access.But drivelines/engines/brakes can be spec. matched across the board.Most new vehicles are multiplexed so hookups for electrical are similar in either line as long as they ARE SPEC'ED PROPERLY.T.C.

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    The issue is far more complex than just custom vs. commercial. How about we put a Pierce Contender "Custom" up against a DM Model Mack in let's say mixer or refuse service and see which one holds up better. Custom has traditionally meant a higher-end, pure class 8 chassis while custom has meant mid-range class 7 trucks. That's why you can't get premium diesels such as the Detroit Series 60 in an FL-80. If you are going to compare customs and commercials, compare apples and apples.

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    Station 2
    Yeh, how about we put a cookie-cutter DM Model Mack, 20K/58K with a frame and drivetrain to match and park it side by side with the "heavy duty fire service" Contender or Typhoon "Customs" and take a look at the superiority of these "custom" chassis.

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    kfactor,

    First off, don't get angry with me or try and call me out. I was passing on information that was learned when we did the exact same search a few years ago ref custom vs. commercial.
    Secondly, you like the Macks and what not, great. I'm happy for you. Buy them all day long. Or the Freightliners, Peterbuilts, Kenworths, etc. It doesn't matter to me, so whatever makes you happy. Now take your DM Model Mack and put a body, pump, hosebed, etc. on it to make it a true pumper. Now put it in the same station as a Pierce, Seagrave, E-One, Sutphen, etc. that you seem to think are so inferior. Now run them the same. 18-20 runs a day, everyday. See which one fits the bill better in the neighborhoods, run after run, day and night, one week after the nexy. See which one lasts longer.
    Bottom line, you think departments that have companies that make that many runs a day are going to buy an inferior apparatus chassis if there is something better and cheaper available? If the commercial chassis apparatus of today was so superior to a specificly built custom chassis apparatus than why do large and/or busy departments that beat the crap out of their Engine Co., Ladder Co. and Rescue Co. rigs not buy commercial? If you are so correct than why doesn't Engine Co. 54 in Manhatten or Engine Co. 290 in Brooklyn run a Mack, Freightliner or Sterling? How about DCFD Engine Co. 10? They have a Seagrave, why when a Mack would be so much better as you say? Or LAFD Task Force 33. I bet those West Coast guys don't know what there doing running Pierce and Seagrave when they could have a Mack right? Houston Engine Co. 51 running an E-One when the Mack would make it look sick right? What about St. Louis Engine Co. 08? Hell they could have mounted that 75' Smeal aerial on the back of a Mack chassis and it worked better right? Gary, Indiana has no idea what they are doing running those Ferraras to as many fires as they do. Isn't that correct when a Mack is so much better and could do the job better? Chicago Engine Co. 83 doesn't know what they are missing running that Spartan/Luverne when they could have the super Mack DM. Detroit and their Pierces, they must be foolish right? Or Boston with a fleet full of E-Ones and now Pierces, those guys are clueless also right? And then there is Los Angeles County with KME on the brain, what are they thinking? How about Dallas and their Spartan/Quality fleet they run? A red and white Mack DM in the metroplex would be better right?
    And lastly, the low end customs are not the same as their high end custom cousins. We know that. The point of this thread was that the Scooby14B is in a department that was thinking of custom chassis. My post was based on the average, middle to high end custom chassis that his department has bought in the past. Not a low end. You assumed that I was talking low end. I was NOT. Other than that, have a good day.


    Stay low and move it in.
    Last edited by STATION2; 07-04-2003 at 09:37 PM.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    Thumbs up DM technology

    Well Larry,While I know you're on a fact disputing mission let me throw in a couple tidbits.In the first place you would be hard pressed to get a true DM today.They stopped building the TRUE DM when they went to the new CH model.That being said,aside from being a butt ugly vehicle,if spec'ed properly they WILL outlast any vehicle you have mentioned in any kind of service.Will they turn as tight?Usually not.Will they get up to speed as quick?USUALLY not.Are they rock crusher tough,damn near idiot proof,and easy to maintain?Yup!I worked for a number of years in heavy vehicle repair with some drivers that could bust an anvil.Where did we put the DM's?Where NO other vehicle could do the job.Will they take Fire service abuse day in and day out for decades?Sure as hell will and pull the bone of your customs to the junkyard.But they are NOT particularly user friendly,the cabs are practically impossible to modify for the making of a stylish Fire truck;plus with the exception of perhaps tankers, they were never designed for this purpose.But tough?Yes sir!These were fine machines that took severe punishment and came back for more.No vehicle we had in the fleet did more work with less major system failures than the DM Mack.Now I could probably debate the Chevy vs Ford with you for weeks.Fortunately for both of us there are many fine vehicles and body builders in the business for us to make informed choices.But never try to downplay the seviceability of a Mack,particularly to those of us who have worked on and loved these fine machines.For most of us the "True" Macks are gone but they were a powerful chapter in the American Fire service.T.C.

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    Rescue 101, I understand your point fine. As for the Mack name in the fire service, I agree. You would be hard pressed to find another maker with as solid a reputation as the original "C" and "CF" models and the "R" model also for that matter. The days of Mack pumpers being true "Mack" pumpers ended and so we go on with what is available today. I was referring to the DM that was originally mentioned as being superior to the customs of today. As you even mentioned, the DM wasn't engineered for the fire service and eventhough it could make it, it doesn't mean it was meant for it. Just some thoughts.

    Stay low and move it in.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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