View Poll Results: Which is better in your view?

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  • Central States/Spartan

    11 78.57%
  • HME with HME Cab and Chassis

    3 21.43%
  1. #1
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    Default Central States Spartan Cab & Chassis vs HME Cab & Chassis

    Now, my company went with Central States with a Spartan Cab & Chassis. I always hear people say that HME Cab and Chassis is way better than Spartan Cabs & Chassis. What's your opinion or input? And please vote

  2. #2
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    Which is better, Ford or GMC?

    God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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    We've got A Spartan/Central good fit and finish.We looked at and test drove several HME's before we purchased.I find the Spartan is quieter and they've made several changes to the HVAC that make the cab a lot more user friendly.Ask me again in five years and we'll see how this rigs holding up.T.C.

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    So much depends on the model from each manufacturer, the year, the options, etc... that it's essentially pointless to ask such a general "which is better."

    Be specific... are you talking warranties? Service after sale (largely a DEALER issue)? Options?
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    Well,on that issue we've had excellent support.I had a small issue that I forwarded to Spartan.If they respond to everyones complaint as well as they did mine,you couldn't go wrong with a Spartan.In today's world,it's nice to be treated as a customer not just a number.I've had no dealings with HME so I can't speak to that issue.As you say,it's dealer support that's the clincher.Good dealer,good experience.Bad dealer,well you know that story.We bought a Gladiator and I like the layout and the way the rig handles,nice solid feeling machine.Easy to service too.But there is a lot of nice product offerings out there,you got to see what fits your needs and budget. T.C.

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    It all depends on what bang you get for your bucks!!

    HME is good and holds up well. I can't say anything about the Central States and Spartan. I have never seen any except pictures.

    What ever you guys like. I like Ford Motor products. You may like General Motors. Evey one has their own likes.

    If you spec the truck correctly, you will get the best for the $$ you have to spend.


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    I'll comment on this one.

    We just looked at and drove both an HME and Spartan, comparable chassis in terms of power, size of cab, etc. Each has advantages in my opinion. Neither was superior to the other in a manner that makes the decision nothing more than a "who is cheaper" consideration.

    HME offers a thicker (3/16") walled cab than Spartan, which is I believe (1/8"). HME also offers a six-inch can extension as a no cost option on the medium 4-doors (perhaps on the other cabs as well, I don't know). In OUR experience, I've found that HME can not match Spartan's pricing for entry-level (low-end, whatever) custom chassis. We're saving a chunk of change going to a Big Easy, which I'm sure someone will jump on the forum here and bad-mouth. A Big Easy is all that we need, we don't need 10 seats, a 2000 gpm pump, or climb steep grades. I've also heard folks say that the HME uses heavier frame rails, but I personally don't know that.

    We've ran two Spartan chassis since 1991, and also have a 1997. All have held up well, and been trouble free. I've never had the 1991 I engineer fail to drive, pump, start, etc. Now that it's almost 14 years old, it is starting to show some age, but both 1991's will be replaced here in less than a year.

    Central also builds what looks to be a fine body. We researched the Central line-up pretty hard (we ended up choosing a General, Rosenbauer's sibling builder) - and after speaking to quite a few folks currently using Central States, they seem pleased with them. Central has been selling a ton of rigs lately, so I would call the plant and ask for some references of department's that bought rigs a few years ago, and those that just bought. You'll get a good cross-section of how well they hold up over time and whether or not their quality is doing well as their production numbers skyrocket. A neighboring department just bought four identical Central States engines, and the only body-builder problem I had heard was an issue with one valve. There have been chassis issues, but they were Freightliners and that issue was not a Central States caused problem.

    FWIW - I've seemingly run across more folks vehemently anti-HME than anti-Spartan. Seems those with problems with HMEs are very vocal, or not well taken care of. But those without trouble seem to be plesed with their product.

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    Default Spartan is not a bad way to go

    My Dept. Purchased a Spartan Gladiator back in 2000 with and E-One Body (E-One Sentry 2 Model). No problems to this point. Very happy with what we got for our $$$. We did try the HME P2 and was not as happy with comfort and entry/exit in the rear.

    292 I think you guys made the correct decision. I read on a post a while back about unit manufactured annually by a bunch of different manufactures and I was thinking HME did less than 200 per year. Spartan is the leader when it comes to Second Source (hands down).

    Good Luck and Don't worry. . .
    GB

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    Originally posted by npfd801
    I'll comment on this one.

    We just looked at and drove both an HME and Spartan, comparable chassis in terms of power, size of cab, etc. Each has advantages in my opinion. Neither was superior to the other in a manner that makes the decision nothing more than a "who is cheaper" consideration.

    HME offers a thicker (3/16") walled cab than Spartan, which is I believe (1/8"). HME also offers a six-inch can extension as a no cost option on the medium 4-doors (perhaps on the other cabs as well, I don't know). In OUR experience, I've found that HME can not match Spartan's pricing for entry-level (low-end, whatever) custom chassis. We're saving a chunk of change going to a Big Easy, which I'm sure someone will jump on the forum here and bad-mouth. A Big Easy is all that we need, we don't need 10 seats, a 2000 gpm pump, or climb steep grades. I've also heard folks say that the HME uses heavier frame rails, but I personally don't know that.

    We've ran two Spartan chassis since 1991, and also have a 1997. All have held up well, and been trouble free. I've never had the 1991 I engineer fail to drive, pump, start, etc. Now that it's almost 14 years old, it is starting to show some age, but both 1991's will be replaced here in less than a year.

    Central also builds what looks to be a fine body. We researched the Central line-up pretty hard (we ended up choosing a General, Rosenbauer's sibling builder) - and after speaking to quite a few folks currently using Central States, they seem pleased with them. Central has been selling a ton of rigs lately, so I would call the plant and ask for some references of department's that bought rigs a few years ago, and those that just bought. You'll get a good cross-section of how well they hold up over time and whether or not their quality is doing well as their production numbers skyrocket. A neighboring department just bought four identical Central States engines, and the only body-builder problem I had heard was an issue with one valve. There have been chassis issues, but they were Freightliners and that issue was not a Central States caused problem.

    FWIW - I've seemingly run across more folks vehemently anti-HME than anti-Spartan. Seems those with problems with HMEs are very vocal, or not well taken care of. But those without trouble seem to be plesed with their product.

    Exactly! When you mentioned not needing a huge cab,pump or climb steps we said the same thing, what's the need for 10 or 12 man cab when you usually only get 5 or 6 people show up? That's wasting money if you get a cab with that mucuh room and rarely use it but I'm happy someone else besides myself has a similar opinon.

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    Our 1991 Spartan Gladiator was the first 10-man cab in our area. The comfort and room within the Spartan far surpasses anything I've ever ridden in or driven. Our Gladiator is 14 years old, and has around 45,000 miles on it. Never had any major problems other than electrical issues with the batteries, which was an issue with the guy who was maintaining them.

    I've only had the opportunity to sit in and pump an HME at a pump class. No chance to drive it. I can't really comment on them due to my lack of experience.

    Spartan makes 500 chassis a year. Pierce makes 1500 units a year. I think that's speaks pretty damned well for Spartan. I'm curious as to where they're going to go with Crimson, which claims to be taking a bigger market share.
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

    Safety is no accident.

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    I've heard lots of talk that HME's and Spartan's captive brands for complete apparatus are both doing poorly. Crimson seems to be doing a better job than HME at the game, but I don't see Crimson doing a huge amount of business.

    I had heard that Crimson's head honcho had been let go shortly before Hebe left Seagrave. Anyone heard this one?

    Is the Pierce unit number complete apparatus, or just units on their own chassis lines?

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    Default One or the other......

    I will comment on the things I know in fact first.......

    Spartan will build over 600 chassis in 2005, accounting for nearly 25% of custom fire TOTAL North American custom fire chassis market, including all those who manufacture their own chassis's such as Pierce, E-One, Sutphen, ALF, yada yada. This clearly makes Spartan the largest custom chassis supplier in North American, leveraging off their strengths and purchasing volume from their separate motor home market. Both Spartan "chassis" divisions are located in Charlotte MI, yet separates by production facility motor homes and fire chassis's. I would lend that anyone who is controlling 25% of any part of the fire "business", is doing very well. The key to Spartans success will continue to be, having qualified and trained personnel to service the chassis. They do have substantial numbers of service outlets, but it varies by geographic region. Spartan is a good company and has the clout to back the product for its own body builder (Crimson- see later comments) and the balance of those "body builders" who utilize the Spartan for their complete apparatus. I have intimate experience with Spartan and can say, with confidence, that they manufacture a sound and reliable product. That does not say that they product "does not break" or has ever had a lemon. EVERY company has warranty and EVERY Company has the occasional "problematic" unit. Anyone who tells you any different, will look like Pinocchio after telling you that they are perfect and/or experience less issues than Spartan! They all break, the key is, can you local dealer repair what they sell, period!

    As for HME "chassis" business. I have been told that the numbers of HME have declined significantly, since the decision to be a body builder in addition to a chassis supplier. The decision to enter the body market by both Spartan and HME, was not well accepted at all by independent body builders and there is a continued "rub" with the users of the chassis's (see separate subject). HME does not nearly build the numbers Spartan is at the present time. HME does not have as many service outlets as Spartan. HME does not have the purchasing volume that Spartan does (inclusive of their motor home division that allows them to blanket purchase more engines, transmissions, axles, etc), which may not make the Spartan necessarily lower cost than HME, but only lends one to believe that this would allow them to be more profitable, if production efficiencies are the same. I have been to both facilities and would lend that the HME facility does not have the production capabilities that Spartan has, nor the engineering "depth" that Spartan has. I did not say the ability to build a sound chassis, just that Spartan employs more degreed engineers and has a staff that is "broader" than HME. Now, I have used HME chassis's with success and I have used them with disappointment. I say "disappointment, more so from a warranty and service support system than the actual product reliability. Again, they all break, but I think the limited size, depth and profitability of HME, does not allow HME to play on a level field with Spartan to an extent. Again, that DOES NOT say it is a junk product nor is it "inferior", it will more so come down to being sure you have sufficient service available on a local basis to take care of the product after delivery. I would tend to agree with a previous statement by npfd801, that it almost a love or hate relationship with HME owners. Some lov'em and some hat'em. But that could be said about a lot of products including both Spartan, HME, KME, Rosenbauer, Pierce, E-One and all builders.

    FEATURES and BENEFIT comparison. I would say that both companies have incredible diversity of available components and options. This would include cab sizes, engines, trinkets, etc. Each have their
    little claims to fame, but both can boast broad product portfolios. As far as ergonomics, testing, "engineering" and repeatability/conformity of the end production units with consistency, would probably go to Spartan. We can talk all day long about "little things", but both companies offer all and then some as far as options when compared against those companies who build their "sole source" chassis (see separate subject) such as Pierce, ALF, yada yada.

    Look beyond the paint, glitter and salesman’s BS, and dig further into engineering, testing, long term warranty support systems, regional and local support systems in both sales & service, have each builder bring demo units to look at or go to a local department to look at & drive the units and certainly dig into the true depth of the company. When you evaluate each for the purchase, I believe one will stand clear as being the best investment, ensuring the long-term value, not just the initial purchase price. Spartan is a public company and their financial performance is available to anyone. HME is not a public company and holds the numbers tight to the chest, so to speak. I would lend that anyone buying a unit, should be able to review financial performance of anyone they are buying from, public or privately held. So demand that the financial performance or balance sheets be provided, yet you MUST hold that information (good or bad) as private and confidential information, PERIOD! Anyone using the data in a slanderous manner, could be held personally libel, so it should be used for individual purchase evaluation only, not a public review. BOTH are very capable, it is up to the purchasing authority to determine what best fits the regional need and future service desired.

    Stay safe and good luck.

    GUY

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    Default Other venture.....other than chassis's....

    Now about the desire to be both a chassis and body builder, as HME and Spartan (and others, do not forget ALF was a chassis only builder not so long ago) have shown interest of participating in.

    One thing I can say with confidence is that a builder of "chassis's" only, is a good thing, to a certain extent. I say that only due to the fact that that is the “chassis” builders purpose and focus. I think companies who build chassis's and then want to build complete units, lose that sight of their core competency of building the absolute best chassis in the business and it becomes clouded with visions of being everything to everybody, when trying to be the jack of all trades and the master of none. I firmly feel that about Freightliner/ALF. They did a bang up job, when they concentrated and truly focused on building "cabs and chassis's, and I feel much of that was lost when they decided it was time to be everything to every body. They made that decision, yet knew little about the overall market and certainly cannot compare the firetruck business to their Class 8 market that they sell 70-100,000 units a year in. I also feel in the case of Freightliner ALF, there were huge personal aspirations and agendas being fulfilled. Just an opinion. I believe many do not know what they are getting into when they make the decision to be a "complete builder" and later find out that its not what they expected, from a profit standpoint or otherwise. To that I would give Pierce a definite atta-boy, as they can seemingly handle both, very well. YET, I would say that "a chassis builder" can do a better job at being "quick on their feet" when it comes to diversity, as they do not need to worry about, pumps, tanks, aerials, foam systems, yada yada.

    Look deep and dig down below the glitz and glitter. Anyone can hire a marketing genius, but it takes engineering, intimate knowledge of the end usage/application, to be in the "fire truck" business, verses "the chassis business".

    As far as the "head honcho" comment at Crimson, Yes, the president of Crimson has left the organization recently. They have appointed a new president and they seem to be re-evaluating their total market position, as "I" believe, the profits have been significantly less than the parent Spartan "Motors" (and their are several other companies in the same EXACT positon) had anticipated or desires. One must understand that Crimson spent HUGE money to get the new name and look to the market and it requires largely increased volume and profit to support such as campaign. A campaign, which clearly has not produced profits and volume to the extent of original forecast. Crimson will need to have significant performance changes to keep share holders at Spartan "Motors" from pulling the plug on another body venture gone bad. If one looks back at Spartan “Motors”, they have experienced significant financial pain on multiple occasions, when they strayed from their core competency of building "chassis's". One also remember and understand that Crimson uses maybe only 10% of Spartan "Chassis" Divisions total production. It is interesting to see that companies such as Rosenbauer and Smeal for instance, use significantly more Spartan "Chassis's" than Crimson does. Crimson did a masterful job creating "perception" in the market place that they were a huge player and were bigger than they really are. In reality, they are still "Luverne" on steroids, lets say. No pun intended, as they can do a very nice job on certain products and most are very pleased with their Crimson apparatus. BUT, the attractive pricing of a Crimson of a two years ago, while trying to build a name, backlog and build volume, has risen significantly on a local basis and I would suspect, on a national basis. I think that is primarily due to the shareholders at Spartan Motors finally saying "this is all wonderful, pretty, and great (the glitz and glitter), BUT it is now time we start to see a return on our huge investment that we were promised". Hence my own opinion that this is a performance year for Crimson, or Spartan could potentially reevaluate their position on being a complete apparatus builder under the Crimson name and possibly return to being a chassis supplier only.

    I think a lot of the comments could also apply to HME in regards to their body building decision. Again, the volume desired verses actual, is not what everyone thought it may be. Both HME and Spartan could return to a chassis supplier only again, but for some, there may have been too much damage done when they entered the complete unit business to reestablish the relationships that existed when they were selling chassis's only. Only an opinion.

    I would be remiss if I did not mention one item that I feel quite (ok……), VERY strongly about! That topic being this funny word called “sole source” that is so commonly thrown around the fire apparatus industry. Sole source is BS! Clear enough? I get sick of hearing claims to fame on sole source, when trucks continually are out of service across the entire nation, regardless of brand name or “SOLE SOURCE” warranty. What a bunch of GARBAGE! EVERY chassis, body and fire truck in the world is made of various and quite common “parts”. I have been on this tie raid before and will do so again. EVERY fore truck company in the WORLD, “ASSEMBLES” fire trucks! Each uses a list of components: Detroit, Cummins, Caterpilar engines, Allison transmissions, Modine radiators, Sheppard and Ross steering gears, Hale-Waterous-Darley-Rosenbauer pumps, UPF-ProPoly water tanks, Akron-Elkhart valves, on and on……and they say it is “manufacturing”? It is an “assembly” of components into a package called a fire truck! ALL the engines, transmissions, fire pumps, transmissions, axles, electrical relay boards, PC based multiplex systems, valves, batteries, warning lights, on and on ALL have a warranty that is backed by the individual component “manufacturer” (someone who actually manufacturers something)! I would ask any fire truck “builder”, do you warrant the engine? Do you warrant the Meritor/Rockwell axle? Do you warrant the fire pump? We can go thru a whole truck and find literally hundreds of pieces that are "assembled" by a “builder”, NOT a manufacturer! These parts have nothing to do with the warranty from Pierce, E-One, Rosenbauer (with exception to the Rosenbauer pumps, foam systems and deck guns that they actually “manufacture” not assemble), Ferrara, as EVERY manufacturer clearly states that these products and parts are warranted by their respective “manufacturer”. I am a DEFINITE proponent that a “builder” must step up, take responsibility and “coordinate” the warranty for ALL the “pieces” and ensure timely repairs on ALL parts, but I am not buying into, for one second, that any of these North American companies cover the warranty on every piece of the fire truck. I would lend that this is one huge marketing ploy and no one can tell me any different, as I have read EVERY “builders” warranty and not one of them takes 100% responsibility for EVERY component assembled in to a complete, so I say hogwash! Get rid of these silly marketing campaigns that say “sole source” solutions or otherwise that use smoke and mirrors and other whizzy & misleading wording to the unexperienced buyer.

    Lets make builders step up and take responsibility for timely repairs and sole contact coordination of all those repairs from front bumper to back step, but lets not confuse that with a marketing campaign that purveys to the end user that anybody is “a sole source” on everything that breaks!

    Look hard and be smart.

    Stay safe and good luck.

    GUY

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