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  1. #1
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    Default International Chassis vs GMC Chassis Ambulance

    My department has had 6 International Horton Large Body Ambulances. They have decided to go with GMC Horton Large Bodies now.

    What are the pros and cons of the swtich? We have had great success with the International/Hortons. Yeah, the ride is a liitle rough in the back, but they have been unendingly reliable.

    If I had my way I would have stuck with what works, but some decisions are made above me....


  2. #2
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    Default GMS vs INternational

    I am curious I know its been a year how did you make out.

  3. #3
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    The GMC rides better, handles better, has a smaller turning radius, most of the groups really like the truck.

    The problem has been it has been back to the dealer for service 4 times. Not routine service, but it needed brake work at under 10,000 miles. A front axle problem at 16,000 miles and two seprate visits for the engine running too hot during the summer months and nearly over-heating.

    It is a more user and patient friendly truck than the International/Hortons, but the GMC Chassis is no where near as reliable. Everytime this busy truck is OOS we bring on line a 10 year old International/Horton that still runs great. Our 3 other remaining International/Hortons continue to do their job.

    Replacement of the 10 year old unit is due in 2008. It will be a Horton 623 Box, now the question to be settled in the next two weeks is it a GMC or an International?
    Last edited by jsbuzz; 02-12-2008 at 02:51 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsbuzz View Post
    Replacement of the 10 year old unit is due in 2008. It will be a Horton 623 Box, now the question to be settled in the next two weeks is it a GMC or an International?
    The front end axle probelm and brakes maybe a function of the weight of the box on the GMC compared to the Interntional front end components. Horton boxes are very heavy!

    I really can't say that's the issue, but I have sold 6 C-4500's and in the year they have been in service so far there have been no big issues. Aside from a clearance light fuse blowing on one particular truck. And the temp sensor was bad on another but that was straight from the factory. Two issues on 6 trucks with over 120,000 combined miles in service in less than a year now, I would say thats pretty good.

    Now on to your brake issues the newer 08 models have a much improved engine brake that should cut brake wear in half if not better. On most of the rigs I've had, I use the brakes 1/2 or less for actual braking, I let the engine brake do 75-80% of the work!

    As for the who in 2008 you better hurry!!!!! Becuse pretty soon it won't matter as International is purchasing the C-4500 and bigger line from Chevy. It may still say GMC or Chevy and have a Duramax but for how long is the question. Production of the C-4500 ceases on September 30, 2008. July 1 is the switch over to the 2009 models.

    After 9-30-08 the plant will be dissassembeled and shipped to another International factory, presumeably Springfield, OH for future builds. Now when the 2010 models start production and the quality at that point is another question all together. Then again if Ford pulls the plug for the E & F series from International will they pull the Dura-Max plug and put thier engine in instead?

    Not trying to scare anyone but you should all be aware of this, no matter who's box you buy. If you want, PM your e-mail address and I'll send you a memo that covers all the info on this sale to International.

    Kris

  5. #5
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    The county EMS to the north of me has switched from Freightliners to Internationals to GMC's all within the past oh 5 years or so.

    Toledo Fire also just bought 5 new ambulances and are on GMC chassis as well.
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    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by moceng56 View Post
    The front end axle probelm and brakes maybe a function of the weight of the box on the GMC compared to the Interntional front end components. Horton boxes are very heavy!

    We have thought about that being the case. The Internationals' have a higher GVWR compared to the GMC's, yet we are still putting the biggest box Horton has to offer on the GMC's just like the Internationals. No one wants to give up box space, but maybe if the decision is to stay with GMC we would be better off to go with a slightly smaller box? Won't happen, but it is a thought.

    We have some hills to climb. We go from stations that are in the valley with elevation of 120 ft above sea level and climb up to as high 750 ft to the top of some the hills in outlying parts of our coverage area. That extra weight going up and down hills can stress brakes and axles.

    The other thought is the GMC's are about 25k less than the iInternationals, in the current budget climate, that is not overlooked.

    I think the frustrating thing for most people here is we really like the 2007 GMC we have, but the concerns outlined previously are serious enough for us to go back the Internationals with even some of draw backs listed. We still have in service Internationals from 1997, 2001, 2003, and 2004 and they all run great. Do we assume that the issues with GMC are corrected or a one off issue? The GMC is the busiest truck in our fleet of ambulances that combine to do 4700 runs per year. We need to get it right...
    Last edited by jsbuzz; 02-13-2008 at 11:02 AM.

  7. #7
    Forum Member zfdtruckman's Avatar
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    We have been using International chassis on our med units for the last 17 years. They are very reliable and easy to maintain. A nearby dept. has a GMC 4500 which I find does not have any better ride. Also, when the warranty is gone, getting to the engine is almost as bad as an E-450. One thing that helps us stay with the International is two dealers in close proximity that provide excellent service.

    I did see a new Medtec on a Ford F-650 at the Wisconsin EMS Conference. It has a Cummins 300 hp engine, not sure whose air ride it is but the dealer says it is done at a factory outfitter like Fontaine prior to the chassis going to Medtec. They claim it handles well, rides pretty good and does have a cost savings over the International chassis if that is important to you. The cab is finished very well but still does not provide the room as the International when in full turnout gear. They believe that this may be a better alternative than the GMC chassis. We'll see as more of these go on the road.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    We have been using International chassis on our med units for the last 17 years. They are very reliable and easy to maintain. A nearby dept. has a GMC 4500 which I find does not have any better ride. Also, when the warranty is gone, getting to the engine is almost as bad as an E-450.
    I assume you know the C-4500 with the tilt hood has removeable interior splash gaurds, which alows you to stand right next to the engine. This is quite possibly the easiest engine to work with the Freightliner & International.

    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    One thing that helps us stay with the International is two dealers in close proximity that provide excellent service.
    Well this is the number one thing, here in Metro Detroit, the International dealers are not very responsive or very good. I would not recommend an International, but in SE MI there is an excellent Freightliner dealer and I would recommend them.

    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    I did see a new Medtec on a Ford F-650 at the Wisconsin EMS Conference. It has a Cummins 300 hp engine, not sure whose air ride it is but the dealer says it is done at a factory outfitter like Fontaine prior to the chassis going to Medtec. They claim it handles well, rides pretty good and does have a cost savings over the International chassis if that is important to you. The cab is finished very well but still does not provide the room as the International when in full turnout gear. They believe that this may be a better alternative than the GMC chassis. We'll see as more of these go on the road.
    OK that is scarry look away young man look away! This all form an unabashed Ford fan. 8 Radiators, all have to be removed to do a simple fan belt change or alternator change. Remove the cab to do any work on the rear of the engine. Can you imagine the issues this will cause in 5-10 years?

    As far as the ride that's more of a feature of how the box is built, the load carried on the truck, if it has a sled weight, and what air ride system is used. A ton of factors go into ride quality, it's amazing how some minor tweaks can make a bad riding truck, ride good.

    BTW: I have a 2008 F-450 rescue and it rides amazingly better than the 2007 F-series, the cab is roomier and more ergonomic than before. Ford has done a nice job, but the engine issues are too great to be looked over in my opinion.

    Kris

  9. #9
    Forum Member zfdtruckman's Avatar
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    OK Kris. Whatever. Check out these pics I shot from the Horton factory. They say this is one of the hardest "medium duty" engines to work on. Go ahead and remove the splash guards, where is the engine?

    You are absolutely correct about the radiators and other problems but this is on the F-450. The F-650 is a real tilt hood medium duty chassis similar to the GMC. The F-650 actually has a belt driven compressor for the air ride and horns rather than the electric pump on the GMC.

    By the way, Milwaukee FD switched to International chassis Medtecs. We both use the same service shop. Open 24 hours a day, 6 days/week and they move out anything to give priority to emergency vehicles. We are lucky to have this kind of service. I am sure it is not available everywhere.

    All departments near us that used Freightshaker switched to International only because of lousy service. You gotta do what you gotta do. I liked the cab on the Freightshaker but with our reports from others, they were immediately eliminated from consideration.

    Do you think it is time that Spartan resurrect their medium duty ambulance chassis project?
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    Last edited by zfdtruckman; 02-13-2008 at 06:07 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    OK Kris. Whatever. Check out these pics I shot from the Horton factory. They say this is one of the hardest "medium duty" engines to work on. Go ahead and remove the splash guards, where is the engine?
    I never said it was great to work on but much better than a E-series, and much cheaper than Freightliner or International.

    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    You are absolutely correct about the radiators and other problems but this is on the F-450. The F-650 is a real tilt hood medium duty chassis similar to the GMC. The F-650 actually has a belt driven compressor for the air ride and horns rather than the electric pump on the GMC.
    OK take me out and shoot me! I totally did not see the F-650 I saw the F- and my mind said 450! That'll teach me. Your right I've been a big fan of the F-650 but it has not seen much use in our industry.

    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    By the way, Milwaukee FD switched to International chassis Medtecs. We both use the same service shop. Open 24 hours a day, 6 days/week and they move out anything to give priority to emergency vehicles. We are lucky to have this kind of service. I am sure it is not available everywhere.

    All departments near us that used Freightshaker switched to International only because of lousy service. You gotta do what you gotta do. I liked the cab on the Freightshaker but with our reports from others, they were immediately eliminated from consideration.
    Service is the name of the game! Service like that is very special and not found often enough in this country. I'm convinced evne the worst built rig would get purchased over and over if the service behind them was stellar. It seems you guy's have that stellar service, something to be cheerished to say the least.

    Quote Originally Posted by zfdtruckman View Post
    Do you think it is time that Spartan resurrect their medium duty ambulance chassis project?
    You'll see the first one at FDIC in April. It's for Miami-Dade and is built on a Spartan Furion chassis, with Braun module.

    Sorry about the oversight on the F-series.

    Kris

  11. #11
    Forum Member zfdtruckman's Avatar
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    That Furion seems interesing. Years ago at the Spartan Truck Conference, they had a chassis with what appeared to be a Metro Star cab. It had a smaller Cummins with a lowered suspension and smaller wheels. Also air ride front and rear. We were able to take it out and even with no body on it, it rode like a 1970 era Olds 98. They ended up putting on a Road Rescue body and sold it to Cambridge. We plan on flying to FL to check out Miami-Dade's unit after it is delivered and gets whatever new vehicle bugs worked out. I am suprised they went with Braun. A heavier body like Horton, Medtec or Lifeline would probably give a better resulting ride.

    And yes I will see it at Indy. Haven't missed a show since it was in Cincinnati. Also planning to go to Lansing for the Spartan Conference 8/3-8/7.
    Last edited by zfdtruckman; 02-14-2008 at 09:54 AM.

  12. #12
    Forum Member CooterRob's Avatar
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    I saw my first Sterling Bullet chassis w/ an ambo box on it at on Thurs. (NIU mess). I think that more and more depts. will switch to the Sterling instead of the F-550. Better chassis and engine combination.
    "I don't wanna hear about it... I wanna see results!!!":-P

  13. #13

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    Exclamation F-650, Sterling, FL-70

    Resurrecting this thread.. Sorry.

    Has anyone yet actually bought a new ambo on the F-650?
    We had that Medtec demo out and it was not a good fit. So far it is the best fit chassis wise as the cab is the nicest to get in and out of. Looks good, and maintenance on teh Cummins/Allison with the tilt hood and the room is great... BUT.. it was the worst driving, and ride of the GMC, IH, and freightliners. We REALLY like this chassis but wonder if there are anyone out there with one in service that has some info on these issues.

    We are getting ready to place an order/finish the bid spec and would really like some more info on the ford chassis.

    Thanks,

    Mike

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