1. #1
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    Default GMC 5500 vs Ford F550, Gas vs. Diesel

    I know there's threads out there already, I'm just not finding what I want out of them. So, here's my predicament. We're speccing a quick attack truck (rescue body, skid unit, 4x4) and we're stuck on chassis and motors.

    First a foremost, why should we spend the extra $5-10K for a GMC chassis (diesel)? That's the pricing I'm getting from the builders, at least. While I'm a fan of the GM chassis, it's hard to argue the extra money for the chassis when we're running tight on our budget (grant, $125K) just to get the truck without any bells or whistles.

    A solution that's been brought up is dropping the diesel and going to a gas (8.1 Vortec) engine. Ford apparently doesn't offer a gas engine, so if we decide that's the way to go, they're out. That puts the GM chassis (assuming it's $8K or so difference in cost) closer in price to the Ford chassis. My thing is, will the gas engine do the job? Granted it's got nearly identical horsepower (325 gas/330 diesel), but the torque is 150 ft/lb less and I'm not sure if gas is the way to go or not. We're not going to push a pump, but I'm still hesitant.

    Our biggest issue with the GM is a double edged sword with the ground clearance. While it'd be nice to have the extra clearance, it's going to push our center of gravity higher, right?

    Any and all input would be great! If you can give me good solid reasons why to go with the GM (or the Ford for that matter) aside from the higher GVW, frame rail strength, and turning radius, it'd be great. The same holds true for going gas.

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    I'd look at servicability. Everything I'm hearing from ambulance builders to fire truck folks is that the diesel in the new Ford's is going to be an absolute service nightmare simply from the issue of access. Factor in what a substantial motor repair might cost you, maybe that pricing difference isn't so big.

    Is Ford really not offering gas motors in their F-550?

    http://www.commtruck.ford.com/ctw/default.asp

    If you go to "build and price" a Ford F-550, 4x4, Ford lists either the 6.8L V10 or the 6.4L diesel. You'll save at least $6500 to stay away from the diesel there.

    I probably didn't help, but just mucked things up more, unless I'm missing some reason why Ford wouldn't offer a V10 in your particular application...

    EDIT: Nevermind, you wanted to use the ambulance prep package, which kicks you out of a gas motor, right??? I apparently posted too soon...
    Last edited by npfd801; 09-05-2007 at 01:45 AM.
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    After talking to a fire service vendor that installs after-market equipment on both the new 6.4 litre diesel, & the duramax he feels that both ford and GM have there strong & weak points. The Ford shouldn't require any more or less maintenance than the duramax. The Ford engine is built by Navistar and the GM is built by Isuzu. The benefit of diesel over gas is the ability to sit and high idle for extended periods of time and a much better torque profile with a longer service life expected.
    Gassers have the benefit of lower initial price, quicker response to startups and weigh substantially less . Gas will require more maintenance $ per mile
    in the long term when compared to diesel.

    To compare the chassis you need to determine what you actually want the truck to accomplish. Is it supposed to be a quick nimble brush truck or is it going to be primarily a back up to a class 1 pumper and stay on paved roads.

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    Default Chevy over Ford

    From what I've been told, about the new engines emissions and their burn off proceduers.

    The Chevy C-5500 can do the emissions burn off with a flip of a switch while the vehicle is in park.

    Where as the Ford F-550's burn off must be done while it is being driven for a period of approximately 15-30 minuets at a minimum of 30 MPH.

    This is all to clean the particulate filter.

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    Benefits of diesel 20yr ago vs large gas may have been substantial. But today's modern fuel injected engine has advance tremendously, small diesels comparitivley minor improvement. A very expensive diesel may "payback" if you're running 100000mi a year for the three years you run the truck (see a hotshot etc). Hardly likely to see any savings if you expect to run the chassis a few hundred/thousand miles for the next 10-20 years as in fire service.

    The huge additional expense of the diesel likely can well be used elsewhere for fire service. The diesel vs gas for light duty chassis has changed with the additional expense of the 2007 emissions. Industry is seeing a significant change back to gassers. Fire service seems to me to even more obvious user of gas for light duty chassis.

    Everything I've heard about the Ford V-10 is very positive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by npfd801 View Post
    I'd look at servicability. Everything I'm hearing from ambulance builders to fire truck folks is that the diesel in the new Ford's is going to be an absolute service nightmare simply from the issue of access. Factor in what a substantial motor repair might cost you, maybe that pricing difference isn't so big.

    Is Ford really not offering gas motors in their F-550?

    http://www.commtruck.ford.com/ctw/default.asp

    If you go to "build and price" a Ford F-550, 4x4, Ford lists either the 6.8L V10 or the 6.4L diesel. You'll save at least $6500 to stay away from the diesel there.

    I probably didn't help, but just mucked things up more, unless I'm missing some reason why Ford wouldn't offer a V10 in your particular application...

    EDIT: Nevermind, you wanted to use the ambulance prep package, which kicks you out of a gas motor, right??? I apparently posted too soon...
    The website you posted actually has the gas option on it. Another one I was using (I think the noncommercial site) didn't have that option on anything above the F350.

    You helped some. At least I know it's an option and the savings. I just get antsy with the 2 extra cyclinders compared to the 8 on the GM.

    NEIOWA-- I figured you'd jump in on some input, and was hoping you would a little more than your email a while back.

    My biggest problem is convincing myself, my committee, and some board members which is the better way to go. Do we spend the extra money for the GM. What I'm getting price-wise is a Ford 2-dr at $39K, 4-dr at $42K and the GM at $45K and $50K, respectively. It's hard to warrant spending the extra money to go with the GM without some solid reasons.

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    GMC is cartoon ugly good enough?

    F550 has V-10 available
    https://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/.../2008-F550.asp
    Last edited by neiowa; 09-05-2007 at 05:06 PM.

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    If it were me I would avoid Ford like the plague. Any repair, minor, medium, or large is going to cost big bucks because of the labor to get to the engine. After Ford changed from the 7.3 to the 6.0 they have not had a diesel, just junk. The 6.0 we have now is a complete piece of crap and I have faith in the new Ford diesel. I would prefer gas, but would worry about overheating. Don't know if the gas designs can withstand the heat like the old 460's or 454's did. But in reality I would buy the GM with a diesel.
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    Default Gm

    I like the gm with the 8.1. We have been running it in brush trucks for about two years now with no trouble at all. Power to spare, But also with the 8.1 comes the allison trans that they put behind all there desels.

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    One other thing to consider is frame strength.

    The GM chassis is a de-rated medium duty chassis with an 80,000 lb frame. The Ford is a beefed up pick-up with a 35,000 lb frame. That's one of the reasons why the GM is more expensive than the Ford. However you should be able to get bid assistance (higher rebate) which could help lower that. Your body builder should be able to help you with that.

    How many curves do you have that will be taken during responses (high speed). Think of the torque placed on the frame rail every time the body rolls.

    Also, the Isuzu Diesel (we're not allowed to call it the Duramax anymore) has a higher B-10 rating (410,000 miles) vs the Ford/International (300,000 miles).
    It has a better warranty, 3 year, unllimited miles and unlimited hours.

    More comparisons can be found at http://www.isuzucv.com/engines/6h_review.html
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    I appreciate all the input so far, it's helpful.

    I do have a question in regards to a "burn off" feature I read about somewhere. What exactly is this? I assume it's something to do with the new emissions standards. The reason I ask is that I read that Ford requires you to drive the truck at 30 mph or higher for 20 mins. to do the burn off, whereas GM requires you to flip a switch.

    In regards to gas engines, this thing is going to be used mainly for grass fires and rescue situations. It will respond to structure fires as a support apparatus (ISO service company, tarps, airpacks, etc.). The longest calls it'd idle of course are the structure fires. Typically our structures are 1-2 hour affairs. Too long for a gas engine to idle without worrying about overheating?

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    With a "gasser" and all LED lighting, as long as you have 2 batteries you could shut the truck off and not worry about it overheating. The radios won't draw that much in a 1-2 hour period with 2 batteries to prevent you from being able to start your rig unless it's in VERY VERY cold harsh conditions. If that were the case, I'd imagine you'd want to leave it running anyways.
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    Actually, I think the GM diesel had design help from Isuzu, but is maid stateside in the Morraine plant......and it's had the bugs worked out pretty much in 7 years

    ford is switching from the 6.0 to the 6.4
    the 6.4 is supposed to be much more reliable than the 6.0

    don't know

    I think even though it is "bigger" the 5500 has a tighter turning radius than it's ford counterpart

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    Drive them both the 5500 will turn circles around the 550, and diesel in the long haul is a lot less head aches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    I appreciate all the input so far, it's helpful.

    I do have a question in regards to a "burn off" feature I read about somewhere. What exactly is this? I assume it's something to do with the new emissions standards.

    This should answer your questions:


    http://www.isuzucv.com/images/engine...ionsBro_GM.pdf
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    I would think go with the GM 5500 due to it's better manueverability and larger size. If the potential problems of diesel are a concern then look at the gas engines.

    My ambulance at work was just pulled after 5 years and 265,000 miles of use. It is a Chevy 3500 with the gas engine. Only problem was cracking the exhaust manifolds about every 50k miles but that was a design flaw that was fixed. We ran the crap out of it and it never overheated or otherwise had any problems. The hood and fenders never got any hotter than our Duramax trucks and the gassers (we had 3) were more reliable than our Duramaxes with comparable miles. They also had cheaper maintanance costs and only marginally worse fuel economy, and gas is cheaper than diesel.
    Firefighter/Paramedic Seven Hills Fire Rescue Mobile,AL

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfyre View Post
    That definitely helped. I only wish there was a little more info on the gas engines. This is a truck we're probably going to be lucky to put 1,000 miles or so on it per year. I may be underestimating considering we're going to be doing more mutual aid and such, but I'm sure we'd be hard pressed to put more than 5K on it in a year.

    Idle time is going to be more of an issue. I think res343cue's post addressed that sufficiently.

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    Don't forget Dodge has added a 4500 and 5500 for 2008. 5.8L gas of the Cummins diesel.
    Last edited by neiowa; 09-06-2007 at 10:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa View Post
    Don't forget Dodge has added a 4500 and 5500 for 2008. V-12 Viper power? Certainly can get the Cummins.
    You said what is almost considered a four-letter word around here (Dodge). It's come up, and was quickly shot down. I haven't seen anything on the chassis yet, but it's general opinion that it's going to be the same situation as the Ford chassis. We've heard too much about trannie issues with Dodge is the main concern.

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    [QUOTE=captaincvfd;860216and diesel in the long haul is a lot less head aches.[/QUOTE]

    How is that??? Rural FD you're talking years of use not miles of use.

    Not a direct comparison but we have a 1988 C3500 crewcab with 6.2l diesel (free from FEPP). Cost one heck of a lot more to repair the diesel that it would a 454 gas. We're not saving any $ of fuel as at most put 100mi/month on it. So where is the advantange of the diesel? Fuel is as expensive/gal, have to treat fuel in the winter to prevent gelling, capital expense is much higher and so are parts. And the thing is still a NOISY STINKING diesel.
    Last edited by neiowa; 09-11-2007 at 11:15 PM.

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    Default F550

    The F550 does come with the gas engine. I just spec'd one out. Biggest difference we have is that ours will not have a pump on it. It is going to be used for Haz-Mat initial response (we have a trailer for larger haz-mats).

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    Has the Ford V-10 changed in the last couple of years?

    Our neighboring dept built a quick response crash truck with the V-10, and they hate it. We are very mountainous, but it sucks fuel, and is a dog on the hills. They are wishing they would have splurged for the deisel now.

    And the same way the gas engines are getting better for power, the deisels are improving winter operation. I wouldn't write one off based on that alone, especially considering we usually park them indoors at a warm hall.
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    Neiowa,the 6.2 is a converted gasser to kerosene.They were junk when new and they're still junk.Still a lot running around the countryside so parts are easy.As far as the Ford being a 300k engine. I've got one with 350k on it still running strong.I wouldn't be too concerned on the frame either,you guys(FIRE) are NEVER going to do to the frame what I do to it in towing and recovery.Doge had tranny issues from 95 to early 2000,anything produced after 2000 has had good service history,at least in our area.I HATE anything built by GM/Iscrewsu but that opinion shouldn't keep one from looking if you can get service on.Today,most of the offering will do a decent job over a twenty year service life. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Neiowa,the 6.2 is a converted gasser to kerosene.They were junk when new and they're still junk.Still a lot running around the countryside so parts are easy.

    I was a parts guy at a Chevy dealer and a mechanic at an independent shop back when the 6.2 was being built, and I can assure you it is in no way a converted gas engine.

    I agree they've got a lot of problems, but they're a clean-sheet design, 100% diesel.

    The 350 diesel in the early 80s was based on the Olds gas engine, but that's a whole different animal.

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    Never argue with a parts guy but for a "clean sheet" design there is a lot of similarities between the two.Add the 8.2 to the lot and you have a fine line of sloop anchors.I don't really care who builds it,if it isn't your day you'll still have problems and every one of the engines we've mentioned has it's own little failure patterns.As do the transmissions they are coupled to.Who would/could service it after the sale would weigh heavily on my decision. And I'm a diesel guy,no gas for me thank you. T.C.

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