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Thread: chargers

  1. #1
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    Default chargers

    My station has men who can't seem to remember to turn batteris off after a run, so they are dead for the next run. Can anyone recommend an inexpensive charger / maintainer system, that is relatively easy to install? About the only things we have drawing off of the batteries while the truck is not running are radios, and cell phone. I am looking for something that will keep the batteries up, but with a deep charge, that will automatically shut-off when the charge is full. But I am also working on a tight budget, and have 4 trucks to equip. Anything you guys can give to help me out will really be appreciated.


  2. #2
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    go to auto parts house buy a battery charger that is a trickle type. then mount it under the seat. take a number 10 gauge red and black wire and cut off the ends on the charger making sure you have the red wire on the clamp that was meant for the postive end on the charger. connect the red wire and black wire run them to the battery and install them to the battery cable nut with a eyelet type connection. now make it were he can unplug the truck as he climbs in. or charge him 25.00 everytime he does it. good luck jeff

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    Don't be cheap, get the correct tool for the job http://www.kussmaul.com/
    http://www.edarley.com/darley/catalo...ion&linkid=148
    $300 is far less money then trashing the rig's batteries or not being able to respond to a call.

  4. #4
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Originally posted by firetruckfixer
    go to auto parts house buy a battery charger that is a trickle type. then mount it under the seat. take a number 10 gauge red and black wire and cut off the ends on the charger making sure you have the red wire on the clamp that was meant for the postive end on the charger. connect the red wire and black wire run them to the battery and install them to the battery cable nut with a eyelet type connection. now make it were he can unplug the truck as he climbs in. or charge him 25.00 everytime he does it. good luck jeff
    By your username of "Firetruckfixer", I am beside myself that you would suggest such a thing. This is a fire truck we are talking about here, not a lawnmower. To the individual who started this thread, if you value your apparatus, I would highly advise against this inferior hacked way of charging (more accurately "ruining") the batteries. The only part that is at all effective at combatting the problem is the part about billing people who don't turn the switch off,

    When you say you are "powering radios", are you refering to portable radio chargers or the actual truck radio that is left on??

    The Kusmal chargers are top of the line and worth every penny. They will charge and maintain the batteries without ruining them. Concidering you probably have multiple batteries and the master switch is left on which connectes all of them together in parallel, I would highly recommend you call Kusmal and speak to someone about which model is right for you. Unfortunately, your situation is not how any charging system is really intended to function so some research and confirmation with the manufactuer would be advisable.

    Why do they insist on leaving the battery switches on? Is it THAT diffuly for people?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Let me make a clarification to my remarks. First off reading what the man wrote i went with what he was asking for. Second off he stated that he did not have alot of money to spend on chargers. so there is a simple way to fix a problem other than not allowing the driver to drive. maybe you have millions of dollars in your budgets and quite honestly why would these units not have a charger on them from the builder? I dont know do you? I agree with the fact that quality chargers as well as all equipment need to be on a unit but if your dept has a budget of a thousand dollars what would you do? would you buy the most expensive charger on the market, i dont think so because scba's, hose, nozzles, ppe would be more important. I guess next time ill ask how much they have to spend for a charger. Again if you read what he asked for and the fact he does not have alot of money what would you do????

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    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    It's called do it right or don't do it all. If you can't spend the money on the proper charger, then the alternative is to turn the damn switch off. Not put some cheapo battery wrecking usless charger from AutoZone under the seat. For god's sake, your method doesn't even have fuse. Do you think the insurance company is going to help you when the truck burns to the ground, taking the firehouse with it, because you hotwired a $5.00 charger into a piece of in-service fire apparatus?? I don't know why there isn't one on it from the manufacturer, but that isn't the issue here. It makes no difference.

    So to re-cap, there are TWO solutions to this problem:

    1. Get the correct charger
    2. Turn off the switch

    Ideally, do both.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  7. #7
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    The two things that come to mind when I read this post are:

    1) why is the battery switch in such a position that drivers' can forget to shut it down.

    2) why arent your apparatus on an external charging system also??

    It should be part of driver training to get the chauffer used to turning the battery on and off everytime he/she gets into the rig, that way you dont run into this problem. Also, it is a very small expense to spec your truck out with an external charging system with an auto-eject. This simple addition to your rig will save you from dead batteries whenever the rig is parked in the bay.

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    Our newest trucks all combine the ignition switch with the master battery switch. On the engine and tower when you switch the ignition off the truck goes dead (you can leave it in accesory). The Ambulance has a time delay of 15 minutes giving you time to clean up and finish paper work before lights out. In the back of the ambu there is a timer switch which allows you to power up the rig w/o having to switch the key back on. Its not hard to do, especially on older trucks.

    Modern fire apparatus consume a huge amount of electricity. Our ambulances have an amp meter on the non-truck side of the electronics, when running code 3 you are drawing more than 100amps. Throw in a Federal Q and you'll be close to 200 amps. Even if you have a 200 amp alternator you may not fully charge your battery up before you return to the barn. Alternators don't produce their full rating at idle so if you sat on scene for 30 minutes with the lights on but just idling in pump gear you're killing your batteries. A charging system makes up that little bit you loose each short run.

    Considering the price of a decent 4D battery ($200++) you wreck a couple of sets of them and you'll pay for your good charger anyway. Start punishing people who leave switches on (everyone who rides in the truck because they should all remind the operator) and buy chargers at a rate you can afford, even if that's only once a year.
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    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Oh yea, I knew I was forgetting something I thought of earlier and you reminded me! Have you seen how much these giagantoid batteries on apparatus cost? Too replace all of them once is about equal to one charger anyway. So, when this hack-o-matic lawnmower charger is used as a cheap alternative to a real charger, you will just be spending more than twice the cost of the real charger on constant replacement of expensive batteries. You do the math.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Depends on the vehicle electric we're talking about.We've got equipment with Kausmaul pump/conditioners and I've got two units with "hackomatics".NEWS FLASH! Neither will "trash" a battery any faster than the other.I've had the Kausmaul units "ruin"batteries but I don't honestly remember having the condition on the two units with the commercially produced "automatic"trickle chargers.However,you need to match the charger/maintainer to the vehicle.FTfixer has offered a practical and economical solution that is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE as long as the trickle charger is of correct output for intended service and is correctly installed.Our shop specializes in electric and computer drivability,correct batteries and accessory installation are crucial to long life and proper operation.But to flat out say you cannot use a trickle charger for this purpose simply isn't so.What do you suppose is in the K labeled aluminum box?Dismantle one sometime,we did on a failure.Quite interesting.If money is no object,I'd recommend the pump/conditioner because it maintains air pressure and battery with one shoreline AC plug.But if money is an object,well maybe an every other day housewatch is in order.Even with a conditioner,batteries can go down with the master left on unless the system is correctly configured for that load which most conditioners ARE NOT.So maybe a light visible on the outside of the vehicle which is illuminated when the master is on might be a good thought.Good luck,T.C.

  11. #11
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    He's talking about taking one of those little POS things with clamps on it and hot wiring it unfused to the battery, and and shoving it under the seat of the truck. This is not acceptable no matter how cheap you are. I don't know where this combination pump & charger came from. We are just talking about chargers here.

    Use the right too for the job.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  12. #12
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    OK boyz, before you tear each other apart, here's an idea, how about a cheap charger that was meant to be perminantly installed? How cheap you ask? Is $100 cheap enough?

    West Marine sells fixed systems that are designed for boats, they are designed to be mounted to a flat surface, they are water proof and have the proper ground to be safe (the latter 2 are potential problems with the Blue-Light special you're talking about NM). They are not rated for huge draws, they are intended to bring a weekend's worth of boating draw up over the course of a week (10A split 5/5 on two leads in the aformentioned $100 unit), which would be a problem if you do 360+ fire calls a year, but if you're a rural station where the trucks only roll 2-3 times a week if that it'll do fine. They are actually pretty high tech little units with multi stage temperature compensated charging. For about $400 you can get a 20A unit. For $900 you can get a UL listed 60 amp unit. I'm sure there are other units for less on the market if you look around.

    http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...544&storeNum=9

    * Number of Outputs: Varies
    * Recommended Battery Bank Size/Config: Single or multi-bank
    * Selectable Functions: None - fully automatic
    * Status Indicators: State of charge LED indicators
    * Temp Compensation: Yes
    * Input Wiring: 6 AC power cord (except 2610 - hardwired)
    * Output Wiring: 4 or 6 leads with ring terminals (except 2610 - hardwired)
    * Waterproof: Yes
    * Safety Features: Waterproof, shockproof, ignition protected, reverse polarity protected, vibration protected, DC fusing
    * Case Material: ABS Plastic
    * Mounting Hardware: Requires bolts backed by a flat washer and secured to the mounting surface with a split ring lock washer (not included)
    * Remote Available: No
    * Warranty: Lifetime for water damage, Two years for manufacturing defects
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    Our tanker has a slow drain on its batterys and we haven't gotten around to installing a battery cut off switch. So we use a 1.5amp automatic charger, when the batteries are full it shuts off, then when it senses a drain it will kick on. Actually I think we have the same setup on 2 trucks, works well.

  14. #14
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    Default My thoughts

    A. Go with Kussmaul (the one with the integral "take up" compressor TC brought up is a very nice model, but probably on the pricey side
    or

    B. Store and charge radios/flashlights/etc in the station, and configure the cellphone to turn on/off with ignition. HOLD THE DRIVER'S ACCOUNTABLE! Even simple signs on all the outer doors of the station like "BATTERIES OFF? TRUCK CLEAN?" etc. AND get an external "master on" light like TC suggested.


    I can envision nmfire's scenario all too well... I can almost smell the acrid smoke now (heck you should be able to also 304... we have people that would just *love* to do something like that)
    Last edited by Resq14; 11-22-2004 at 01:25 AM.
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    And therein is my suggestion on the combination unit.IF the unit has air brakes(unknown)and if you're going to spring for a big bucks conditioner(this unit sounds like it has a fair draw on it)and ASSUMING it has a small air leak(if air equipped,most vehicles do)then the combination unit keeps both air and electric "conditioned".On our vehicles the radio chargers are hard wired to shore power,they only charge when the truck is plugged in at the station.But they don't drain the vehicle battery either.Or you can use station air to keep the vehicle air up,whichever you prefer,just another lead to think about.Everybodys got options and opinions;what's yours? T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 11-22-2004 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: My thoughts

    Originally posted by Resq14
    I can almost smell the acrid smoke now (heck you should be able to also 304...
    Oh now why did you have to bring that up, I was trying to repress that memory. NM, if you ever go that route never, ever, ever, count on the timer to shut to the charger off when you set it to shut off!
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