1. #1
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    Default Electronic valve actuators

    We are using Akron electronic valves actuators on about 14 of our pumpers. We are starting to have some concerns over them, including cold weather operation, not knowing what postion the valve is in when partially open, and the gauges "crashing" altogther. Any opinions or warnings?
    Thanks

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    AAAaaahhhh.....thats one thing I love about my 89 Pierce is that if it's broke I can quick fix it with duck tape and bailing wire and if that still doesn't fix it a hammer definetly will. But with that being said the ole girl is going away. The chief bought me a new Pierce 4 wheel drive that comes in September that has a ton of computers on it..........now its going to take Bill Gates to fix this thing.
    My days are comming soon for these electronic gigs on the panel, I'll let you know how mine turn out.
    Until then best of luck,
    Scottsfire

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    Thumbs down electric valves

    I have been looking at this same issue on the EVTA Forum. My mind remains the same and that is that I like the KISS approach to things. Make mine manual. Until the electronic gurus can make it relaible more times than it fails I don't want it. That goes for all the supposed and wonderful electrical electronic things that are suppose to make the firefighting units firefighter safe and friendly. Just more headaches when things don't work and Bill Gates is the only one who understands the stuff along with those IT types who have become the new gods of the world. As a maintainer of this new generation of firefighting equipment I have also passes this kind of thing by Janet Wilmoth who is the editor for things like FireChief and InService On Line and she hinted that she agrees with me that electronics is not the best thing for the fire service industry until they can make it bulletproof.Good luck and be safe out there.

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    lvwrench........I applaud you.......yes.......you are right on. As an engineer, if I have a failure in a valve not opening I'm crawling under that thing and carefully yanking the valve push pull rod open or closed......maybe even a cloths hanger but its going to operate.....screw defraging the hard drive!!! Ha!
    Scottsfire

    PS I love computers. There are days I spent hours on them just playing around so I know computers but not on my engine.

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    We have electric valves on both of our Custom Fire engines for all of the discharges. I like them.

    If the actuator fails, there are manual over-rides.
    -Bozz

    Air Force Medic

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    On our newest truck we were offerered the option of a keypad operated pump panel (not the valves, just the throttle....push the ^ key to set the pressure, etc.) We declined, feeling that it was just one more electronic thing that could fail. Give us a good old fashioned throttle knob, thank you very much. OK.

    So we received the rig with the good old fashioned throttle knob that we are so familiar with. Wasn't till after we got the rig and were poking around in the pump compartment that we realized...yep, there's a knob on the outside...but NO LINKAGE CABLE! It's just a traditional-looking knob assembly outside, but behind the panel it's a plug connected to some wiring....so it's really just a knob version of the electronic keypad! So what do you do if that thing fails?

    We also have an on/off type switch that operates the tank-to-pump valve......

    Now at my paid job, we have two new rigs that are totally automated....Electronic throttles, push-button valve actuators, flip a switch for foam...even a radio-controlled boom on the aerial and remote-controlled deck guns, controlled from the pump panel...LCD display screen at the pump panel and in the cab showing all temperatures, pressures, fluid levels, warning alarms, etc. Sure, it's nice....but there have been problems (including replacing ALL the foam actuator switches on BOTH rigs with something more durable). Most of the time they are pretty reliable, and the problems we have experienced have been relatively minor....one discharge won't open or something like that. But of course Mr. Murphy dictates that something REALLY important will crap out during "the big one".....

    By the way, both rigs carry a spare throttle assembly in the operator's compartment "just in case"....you can easily unplug the bad one and plug in the new one in seconds....

    If the actuator fails, there are manual over-rides.
    Yeah, we have that too....it involves going into the pump compartment with a socket wrench...gonna take a couple of minutes...
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 05-07-2005 at 09:35 PM.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    We, too, have the electronic pump management system on our newer engine. Push a button, and it brings the engine speed to where you need it to achieve the correct pressure.

    Our overrides are on the outside of the truck. Pull it out to open, push it in to close.
    -Bozz

    Air Force Medic

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    On the new units that have an electronic engine ( all of them now are electric) you dont have a cable to the engine. I call it driving by wire or pumping by wire. If you look at the accelerator pedal there is a black box on the right hand side with wires that tells the engine what postion the pedel is in. The days of a veneer cable have gone unless you are using a briggs and stratton engine. I have had both good and bad luck with the electric valves. The biggest problem is lack of use they get stuck then you have to break them open with a wrench. I will always be a push pull guy but i am afraid that with multiplexing and all the electonics on our trucks we wont have a choice.

    Jeff

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    So, are electric more reliable then air operated valves? We dont have either, but I know a department that has the air type. BTW, as long as we can continue to buy manual valves we will. But with the way everything else is going, I see a time when everything will be elecrtic
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

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    As far as I know, air operated valves are fully open or fully closed, no inbetween. We have air valves on all intakes and electric valves on all discharges on our Custom Fire engines.

    We have had electric valves fail, and we have had air valves fail. All have simply been due to lack of use. It has been recommended (by Custom Fire) to operate the valves a few times at least once a week.
    -Bozz

    Air Force Medic

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    I really like the air-actuated valves on our LDH intake/discharges and tanker dumps, because they allow the operator to easily open and close valves in conditions where they might have a hard time doing it without the assistance of the air system. But I'll fight as long as possible to keep my old-fashioned, people-powered, mechanical T-handles on the smaller valves. There are companies nearby that have rigs with electronic or air everything, and, to be honest, they don't really have too many problems with them...but when they do, they really have problems. When these valves fail, they typically just fail...and there's little or nothing you can do with them in the field. Even the manual overides on most of the rigs I've seen are basically just designed to allow you to get the things shut down, not to actually do anything useful with them.

    And that's probably what I dislike most about these things, especially the electronic ones: some engineers sat down and slapped gadgets on fire trucks which, except in LDH applications, do nothing (IMHO) to improve either functionality or efficiency, but introduce new opportunities for failure and preclude the possibility of an easy work-around. Don't like it. Don't like it at all. I'm all for technological advancements that actually are advancements, but I really hate superfluous bells & whistles. Give me CAFS, give me TICs, give me lighter and more effective turnouts...but you can keep your fully electronic fire trucks. It's a losing battle in the long run, I know...the superfluous bells & whistles will keep on coming no matter what...but we don't have to like it and we don't have to accept it quietly.
    Last edited by bobsnyder; 05-11-2005 at 10:31 AM.

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    I am totally unhappy with air and electric valves as a general rule. Having air operated intake valves on the engine at my former FD for the 6" intakes they were horrible for water hammer. When you opened them with 5" lines coming in it rocked the entire engine with the full force of the water coming into the pump so fast. There was no slow open/close capability. Even with the Hale TPM relief valve, you still got major water hammer. Nt to mention, lack of frequent use, and they were seizing shut because of corrosion.

    At my current FD, we have a mix of different valves. We have some Akron Electrically actuated discharge
    valves for the 5" lines. They have seized up before and once they're locked up you cant get em open. No overrides. It is most likely due to lack of use but when you have manually operated valves, a little extra elbow grease opens them every time. With electric valves, you dont have that option.

    We also have the air intake valves for the front and rear suction lines on one engine. Same deal, major water hammer when opened. I dont like it at all.

    I like HALE's Master Intake Valves with manual overrides. They flow alot of water, if you want to see some data read the last issue of Fire-Rescue Magazine. They outperform the aftermarket piston and gate style intake valves and are electronic or manually controlled.

    For discharge valves, I like the rotary handle for LDH and T handle for the rest.

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