All our aerials at this point are constructed of steel. We were recently disscussing aluminum aerials and a question came up about how the aluminim holds up over time.(15-20years) Have any of you been using aluminum for a while? What do you think?
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Thread: aluminum aerials
03-13-2004, 09:34 PM #1
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- Jul 2001
aluminum aerialsSometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!
03-13-2004, 10:21 PM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
Our experience so far with aluminum aerials has been great.We have a '90 E-one 95' platform and a recently aquired '85 E-one 110' ladder.The platform we bought new and haven't had any major problems with it,infact it looks as good as it did when it was new.The '85 we bought used from Las Vegas FD as we didn't have the funds available to buy a new ladder.We were in a pinch because our LTI failed the Non-destructive test,it rusted from the inside out!We refurbished the '85 E-one,mostly the chassis,but the ladder still has lots of years left in her.They do require cleaning and regreasing probably more often the steel though.
03-14-2004, 12:09 AM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 1999
Boston FD still has E-One 110' aluminum aerials on Hurricane chassis from the 80's. My career and volunteer departments use aluminum E-One aerials on both Hurricane and Cyclone II chassis. The aluminum aerials have been great with no problems. I do agree they do require cleaning and lubricating more than steel aerials, but the stregth and climbability, if you will, is far superior. No complaints at all. My career department switched to E-One aerials after our steel aerials started rusting from the inside out (You could hear the rust running down the inside of the aerial when you raised it) and failing their annual certification testing. Just some thoughts.
Stay low and move it in.Stay low and move it in.
03-15-2004, 09:32 AM #4
We used aluminum aerials on all the Peter Pirsch ladder trucks that we once had. They were good, but those had a lower load rating than the ones built today.
We had a lot of problems with them in later years, such as twisting, and other major problems.
We have used heavy duty steel aerials since 1982 and have not had any problems.
I would stay with steel if the budget is right for doing so. I think you will be happier in the years to come.
Stay Safe & Well out there.....
03-16-2004, 03:49 AM #5
I would go with aluminum.
If you're concerned with problems you might be facing in 15-20 years, a rusting steel aerial is definetly a reality.
Modern heavy-duty aluminum ladders are equally as strong as steel ladders (and in some cases, stronger).
We had a lightweight Pirsch aluminum aerial. We now have an E-One aluminum aerial platform. There is a big difference.
I think an E-One aerial on a Pierce or Seagrave chassis with a true Saulsbury body would be my ideal truck.
03-16-2004, 04:52 PM #6
- Join Date
- Nov 1999
Resq14, IF, and I emphasize IF, you could get E-One to sell their aerial, torque box and outrigger system to you and you could get Pierce to sell say a Dash 2000, Lance or Quantum chassis to you then you would a great Truck Co. apparatus. The downside is the body builder. LOL. If you had Saulsbury build the body, they would tell you 1-1/2 to 2 years and actually have it done in about 3 to 4 years. LOL. Thats after they re-built it twice because they didn't follow the specs. LOL. Just some thoughts.
Stay low and move it in.Stay low and move it in.
04-01-2004, 06:18 PM #7
Just wanted to give a liitle information on the Saulsbury comment, they where bought by E-One, and they have the name. But the truck now with the Saulsbury name, are not even in the same park as they use to be. They where one of the best ever Rescue trucks built. But after the buy out, its down hill.
04-02-2004, 12:15 AM #8
Hence "true Saulsbury body" in my post.
04-04-2004, 12:12 PM #9
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
No comparison... Go with Steel!
Lets look at the facts from the two biggest hitters out there…
From Pierce you can get a HD100, 100 foot aerial with 1500 lb. payload capacity dry, 1250 lb. payload capacity at full extension 360 degrees flowing 1,500 gpm, w/unlimited nozzle sweep, with a 50 mph wind condition. It has a 2 to 1 safety factor.
From E-One you can get a CR100, 100 foot aerial with an NFPA tip load rating of 750 pounds of personnel plus 50 pounds of equipment at 0° elevation with no water flowing. It has a 2.5-to-1 safety factor, which exceeds the NFPA minimum standards used by other manufacturers.
So… if you are going just by “safety factor” to base your ladder purchase justification (like some salesmen profess), again look at the facts and using the manufacturer’s own literature for 100 foot ladders, Pierce has a 3000 lb capacity “safety factor” and E-One only a 1875 lb capacity “safety factor”. So… who is really safer? Pierce rates theirs with an ice and wind condition, E-One does not factor for this. Does it get windy where you are at? Does it freeze?
Pound for pound, steel is inherently stronger than aluminum and is less affected by repeated exposure to heat than aluminum. Steel retains and returns to its original strength. Aluminum retains its degradation and does not return to its original strength after exposure. Aluminum ladders actually get weaker with time! Steel ladders are painted for not only corrosion resistance but as a simple indicator to detect exposure to heat. As for strength and durability, ask yourself a simple question… “How many aluminum bridges have you ever driven across?”
I also heard that RK Ladders is coming out with a galvanized ladder… interesting to say the least. I wonder how long the galvanizing holds up to repeated extension and retraction cycles? How do they fix scrapes and scratches? Ghetto chrome spray bombs?
E-One touts they have never had a ladder failure. I challenge the statement with the facts. A Chicago FD platform (CFD Ladder 10 if I am not mistaken) suffered a catastrophic failure of the main hydraulic cylinder on the right side of apparatus in 1996 or 97. The entire base section weldment delaminated from the ladder section. Although it came apart while retracted and stowed, it could have just as easily came apart while in use as indicated by the complete cylinder and ladder attachment lying in the hose bed. Additionally, the E-One integrated frame rail and torque boxes have suffered delaminations and have had to be replaced.
Finally, cost of service is an issue. Steel ladders can be easily checked for damage and fatigue. What is the torque spec on a huck bolt? How do you re-rung an aluminum ladder? How do you check an aluminum ladder for overexposure to heat (other than the obvious melted section)? Corrosion... steel rusts red and aluminum rusts white... both are corrosion and both are inevitable.
I know hundreds of departments have purchased and still spec aluminum aerials. Although initially a noble thought, aluminum ladders have outlived the their original intent. They have been and continue to be superseded by superior materials and technology. I believe fire departments that buy them are naďve and have fallen for a “salesman’s line” instead of really researching the facts.
After all… it’s only your life we are talking about here! And by the way, when you are at the top of a 100-foot aerial device you have to ask yourself one question, if it was bought on low bid, what was the reason it was low bid? And salesmen don’t fight your fires!
Pretty much ends it right there.
04-04-2004, 11:02 PM #10
Wow, get the waders out because it's getting deep
- First of all, when I discuss aerial failures, I'm most interested in the ones that result in catastrophic failure of the ladder structure. I'm well aware all manufacturers have had (and will have) issues with component. And probably many of these are related to maintenance issues.
I fully understand that the apparatus presented were made before the newer NFPA standards.
- Pound for pound, ALUMINUM is stronger than steel. Where do you get information saying otherwise? I'd love to see it.
- NFPA is the safety standard on paper, and whatever is being sold these days meets it. Let's talk about real world failures though. Cary comes to mind. I know, I know, there are LOTS of variables in all of these circumstances. But you can't deny Pierce ladders have dropped firefighters from the sky. I have yet to here anything other than conjecture and bad-mouthing concerning E-One's dropping FF's.
- All ladders will get weaker with time. Some metals corrode at a faster and deeper rate, however.
- You typically don't see steel airplanes, either... ? So with respect to bridges, could it be it's cheaper to build out of steel than aluminum? I'm just speculating here.
- It takes a greater quantity of heat to increase the temperature of a given area on aluminum than it does a steel. Aluminum reflects more heat than steel.
- How many melted aerials have you seen, AF3394? I've heard of Boston, and from what I have heard any aerial would not have survived. They're not invincible.
I'm hearing a lot of talk, and yet a lot of facts are being ommitted. This one kills me:
Originally posted by AF3394
After all… it’s only your life we are talking about here!
Buy whatever aerial you want. I'll buy aluminum aerials, specifically E-Ones. Finally, I think this "ends it right here" more:
"Aluminum still has some big problems - it's five to six times more expensive than steel per pound," says Ron Krupitzer, American Iron and Steel Institute automotive applications senior director. "But clearly it's a technological improvement. It puts more pressure on us to produce better grades of steel."
Last edited by Resq14; 04-05-2004 at 12:00 AM.
04-05-2004, 12:59 AM #11
04-05-2004, 07:03 AM #12
- Join Date
- Sep 2003
The New NO RUST Ladder.........
I am writing only to confirm the rumor about the new Rosenbauer ladder, not to get in the debate of aluminum and steel. That debate can only tend to get ugly!
I was recently introduced to the new Rosenbauer ladder and it is VERY VERY interesting. Inheirent and historical rust is a real and live issue with steel ladders in our "northeast" enviroment. The product that I saw from Rosenbauer certainly raises the bar on all steel ladders. The unit is completely manufactured, including torque box, jacks and all ladder sections, and then submerged individually, in a completed zinc based bath (it has got to be an incredibly huge dip tank, whoa) to coat all pieces of the aerial prior to assembly! The entire ladder, including k-bracing, is coated INSIDE AND OUTSIDE and then swirl finished to have the same appearance as an E-One aluminum ladder. I would have sworn that it was an aluminum ladder when I was walking up to it! Rosenbauer is offering a 20 YEAR NO RUST warranty on the ladder. WOWWWWWWWWWW! This makes a ton of sense!
They put it to me as this and is very logical. The comparison would be to road sign posts, structures, cables and triple rib guard rail assemblies. Think about it, here in the northeast, the roadside components have salt, calcium and sand poured onto them for 6 months a year and they are exposed to the elements 365 days a year! How many guard rails have you seen rusted through? Very logical! The problems I have personally seen with steel ladders has been the rusting from the inside out, let alone scratches and peeling paint on the standard steel ladder. With the process that is being proposed, it would eliminate the issues!
They also stated that the ladder can be repaired and recoated without redipping with a spray technology that is available for field repairs. Another enhancement. I think these guys might be onto something. We were told we could get this new ladder at a minimal difference to painted steel, so why the heck not! It is my understanding that there are several on order and Minneapolis is getting some of these new ladders along with a few others that were able to get it before it is introduced at the show in INDY for FDIC.
Ohhhhh, by the way......on the rust issue......do you want white rust or brown rust???? While there are a ton of aluminum ladders out there, DO NOT kid yourselves....aluminum does oxidize significantly when exposed to the elements encountered in my area!
Stay safe and good fishing....
04-05-2004, 11:05 AM #13
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
Resq14 - Where are your facts?
Facts are facts… mine are published and can be cited. Yours sound like they came out of a sales manual.
Your quote – “Pound for pound, ALUMINUM is stronger than steel. Where do you get information saying otherwise? I'd love to see it.” Check any metal materials supplier catalog to reference yield and tensile strengths. Then check the Chemical Engineer’s Handbook for the physical properties of metals. You do know how to use a reference book, don’t you?
Your quote – “NFPA is the safety standard on paper, and whatever is being sold these days meets it. Let's talk about real world failures though. Cary comes to mind. I know, I know, there are LOTS of variables in all of these circumstances. But you can't deny Pierce ladders have dropped firefighters from the sky. I have yet to here anything other than conjecture and bad-mouthing concerning E-One's dropping FF's.” The Cary ladder was built prior to Pierce owning that company. Hence, no quality control. You used “Pierce ladders” in the plural sense… where is your documentation? How many have failed? Name them! Where did you get your facts? Cite them here… put up or shut up!
Your quote – “It takes a greater quantity of heat to increase the temperature of a given area on aluminum than it does a steel. Aluminum reflects more heat than steel.” You are wrong on that one. If your statement were true, aluminum would melt at a higher temperature than steel… Again you are mongering lies, rumor, and innuendo.
Your citation from Krupitzer - "Aluminum still has some big problems - it's five to six times more expensive than steel per pound," says Ron Krupitzer, American Iron and Steel Institute automotive applications senior director. "But clearly it's a technological improvement. It puts more pressure on us to produce better grades of steel." You have taken what the author says out of context – a common tactic used by people spreading lies, rumor, and innuendo. The author was commenting on the automotive industry’s use of aluminum in car bodies. I reference the entire article here for your use. I suggest you read it again.
Question for you – How do you explain your steadfast, unsubstantiated position when the manufacturer’s own published literature outlines the fact that Pierce makes a stronger aerial?
You seem to be doing a lot of “hearing” and not enough “listening” or for that matter not reporting the facts.
04-05-2004, 01:42 PM #14
Looks like this is turning into a Pierce vs. E-One thread instead of what it was intended to be......
04-05-2004, 02:07 PM #15
Pierce has not been installing their *own* aerials for anywhere near as long as E-One. They did, however, sell aerials (LTI, Smeal, etc) that DID fail. I don't have an entire list... Station2 can fill in if he reads this.
Here's #2 to make "plural": San Antonio, TX: LADDER 29 1990 Pierce rear mount 105' aerial; aerial failed (collapsed) during test. Again I'd ask STATION2 whos knows far more about this than I to contribute here.
Show me at least 1 E-One that had it's aerial laid out from a collapse. Pierce, Smeal. LTI, American Lafrance, Maxim, Pirsch, Seagrave... all documented failures -- and unfortunately some were fatal for firefighters and civilians.
You brought up tip loads, now can you also enlighten us on Pierce's distributed loads? I'm not familiar with it and am not motivated to go read the chart on a mutual aid piece.
Look at the actual size of the ladder on an E-One, especially at the tip. Note that it is a physically larger ladder. I chuckle when I ponder Pierce's use of "high strength 6061-T6 aluminum" for the "Basket structure" of the Sky-Arms.
What exactly is the steel alloy that Pierce uses? Funny, I don't see any mention of it anywhere in print or online. "70000 PSI" is all you can find, and you have no idea what exactly is being measured here. I'd be curious to compare apples to apples. Here's a start:
Generic "Steel" (until we know the alloy):
Tensile strength is the force needed to stretch a material until it breaks.
Yield strength is minimum stress at which a material will start to physically deform without further increase in load or which produces a permanent strain. This is known as the elastic limit of the material.
Density, melting point, and thermal conductivity are probably common sense.
Oh, and do you sell Pierce apparatus by any chance? Just curious. I do not represent or work for E-One.
Let's talk generic, as this doesn't need to be E-One vs. Pierce. The topic was aluminum vs. steel. So I'll continue on with that.
Which conducts heat better, aluminumm or steel? Conductivity plays into a discussion on "melting ladders" as much as melting points do. And so does reflectivity. How long does it take for a steel roof truss structure to fail? Afterall, a ladder is simply a truss structute. The high conductivity, high heat capacity, and low absorptivity protects aluminum from the negative effects of exposure to normal, high heat fire ground environments. I don't put a lot of weight into the whole melting issue because, to be honest, any aerial will fail under extreme heat conditions. But I'm always amused at the simple discussion that inevitably arises concerning melting points.
It's funny how you conveniently discount a generic discussion on aluminum/steel... I included the guy's name so that people COULD look it up. Nothing was taken out of context. The context was a frank discussion about the properties of aluminum and steel in manufacturing. You like to talk about bridges... talk about context. Because it's used in cars, does that change things? Look up anything that is manufactured out of aluminum and steel. ***POUND FOR POUND** (DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF WEIGHT/STRENGTH RATIO?), the aluminum is always stronger, more expensive, and harder to work with. And I'm talking about manufacturing-grade aluminum alloys (conventionally referred to as simply "aluminum'), not elemental aluminum. E-One uses 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy. Is this what you looked up in your dictionary?
It seems as though you are comparing elemental Al to steel, which is hardly an appropriate comparison. You are familiar with the periodic table of elements, aren't you? You are failing to show an understanding of common properties of metals and alloys. Aluminum is an active metal and does oxidize. However the layer of oxidation that forms on nonferrous metals (aluminum) PROHIBITS further oxidation unless it is removed. It is not the same for ferrous metals (steel).
Steel is cheaper to buy, and cheaper to work with. Can you build an aerial out of steel that is stronger than an aluminum one? Sure, no question. But using a comparable amount of aluminum, you could build one stronger and lighter than a comparable ammount of steel. So to rephrase that, using aluminum alloys you can build a lighter aerial that is equal in strength to one constructed from steel, or a stronger aluminum aerial that is equal in weight to one constructed from steel.
Ever seen a torch used on aluminum, and then compared to steel? What happens? The aluminum just splatters because you can't heat it up fast enough to overcome it's rate of conduction. Oooh, there's that nasty "lie" about thermal conductivity again... Steel will warm up (and stay warm) quite nicely, which may or may not be good depending on its application.
I'm not too concerned about some minor differences in tip load safety factors. That's only one piece of the puzzle. I won't argue their published advertising either. They are what they are. They both exceed the tip load standard. I guess if it comes out of a Pierce sales manual, then you do like talking about it, eh?Facts are facts… mine are published and can be cited. Yours sound like they came out of a sales manual.
Last edited by Resq14; 04-05-2004 at 09:56 PM.
04-05-2004, 03:07 PM #16
Anyone have steel ground ladders or aluminum?"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
04-05-2004, 06:19 PM #17
I was wondering about AF3394 being a Pierce rep also......... Seems awfully defensive about Pierce........
04-05-2004, 06:42 PM #18
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
It's interesting how only certain points are always highlighted.
Ask a welder how much more heat he has to apply to aluminum than steel when he wants to weld two pieces together.
Af3394 did not answer the question about distributed load.
What about other things such as jack spread, storage, warranty, tank capacity, hose storage, ground ladders, width and height of sections (safety), and etc? These are the things that combined with the aerial insure the department is getting a fire fighting machine.
Payload is not the same as rated tip load. Maker sure the tip load ratings is for manpower, for equipment load, wet and dry, all different angles of approach, etc. Demand load charts . . . period.
Make sure when you hear 360 degrees rotation than you do not have limits of operation. Example: That the front tires cannot be off the ground unless you degrease tip load.
Look at the vehicle as a complete package.
What gives you the best range of operation with no limitations?
What gives you the biggest bang for your buck?
Understand life cycle cost (the pay me now or pay me later syndrom). Which device offers the best functionality without sacrificing safety?
Which apparatus is the easiest to setup, operate and maintain?
Which apparatus best suites the needs of your department, not the salesman's?
04-06-2004, 02:26 PM #19
If I recall there was a fire at a station in Burke, VA. The aluminum cab melted off the truck. The ladder went back to Smeal, was sandblasted and retested and placed back on a new Pierce cab and body. I think this was about 5 years ago. Anyone have any info on that.
How about heel pins ripping from the structure of a an E-One Aerial in Rock Hill, SC. (Quiet, that is a secret!!!)
Have you never heard of steel not rusting from the inside out as the sections are weleded shut and when the oxygen is depleted, you no longer have rust. Or how about the corrosion inhibitor sprayed on the inside of the aerial sections that are not sealed from the atmosphere so the sections can not rust from the inside out.
Galvannizing the entire unit inside and out?? How. They would have to have drain holes in all sections to get the galvannizing in and then back out. Is the ladder structure tested to meet the third party testing prior to it being galvannized for strain gauge testing? How much weight does galvannizing add?
Does the aluminum use steel or aluminum heel pins? How about the hydraulic cylinders? Does the aluminum ladder offer a 20 year structural warranty? And if they did, would they pay to get it fixed or would it be someone elses fault like all their other warranty claims.
Most of all, it comes down to your dealership. They should be not only the ones selling the apparatus, but should be the ones servicing and repairing the unit. I do not care whose truck you buy, they are only as good as the local guy you are buying from.
If the aluminum is so great, why all the talk about the upcoming layoffs at E-One. Must be people are wising up and not buying as many of their apparatus as in the past.
If you haven't figured it out, I do like Steel ladders. Yes they may be a little heavier, but when on one, I feel secure. I can not say the same for aluminum.
04-06-2004, 02:37 PM #20why all the talk about the upcoming layoffs at E-One"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
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