1. #1
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    Default Lil help on HME and commercial

    Hey guys I am in a dilema. We were awarded a grant for a new class a pumper. Originally we were specing out a commercial chasis, 1250 pump, 1000 tank, and other assorted goodies. With a commercial chasis, we could have gotten all good quality tools, hose, and equipment. We were set to go with Rosenbauer who was going to custom make a 3/16 aluminum body for us, with a kick *** warranty. Now, HME has stepped into the ring with their custom chasis. Although I love the look of the custom, I am horribly concerned with the quality. The HME is going to have a stainless body, which is nice, but everything from the steps to the doors seems flimsy and not well make. I could just put my foot on the steps, push down, and they would bend. That's not even putting any weight on them!!! We currently have an HME in service, and are very very unhappy with the quality of workmanship. The thing has leaked oil and power steering fluid since we got it, the paint is falling off, the windows are cracking, and the thing rattles like a tin can. My next concern is the lighting package offered on the HME. They are installing the pawer arc lighting system, which provides adequate warning per 1901, but to me looks like ****, and doesn't provide enough warnging power in my opinion. Not to mention the power draw would be almost 150 amps to light everything up. We would also take a big hit on compartment space with the HME. Basically I am looking for some advice on the following....

    1) What is the overall quality of HME like nowadays?
    2) As compaired to a custom apparatus, what is the manuverability of a newer commercial chasis like?
    3) Has anyone had experience with the power arc halogen lighting?
    4) How is the durability and quality of the rosenbauer aluminum body?

    Oh I forgot to mention... both vehicles will be coming with the ISC 330 motor and Alison trans. The HME will be coming with a 1500 pump. I have been told by several different people that a 330hp pump will not be good enough to power a 1500 gpm pump. I have a feeling the 330 will be way under powered for a custom chasis.

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    A 330 horse motor is underpowered in either chassis.

    I personally know nothing about HME but I have never heard anything good about them.

    Just an observation.

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    Our dept has 4 of them currently and they are ok (not a Pierce or Seagrave), diffenately worth taking a look at. HME has several different models their low-end and then their high end. FDNY used to run them as rescue's for a while
    Last edited by dano8696; 01-14-2008 at 10:52 PM.

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    Here's some pics of our HME's





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    bfd- I certainly have no explanation for your current HME. Perhaps you got a "Monday" truck.

    Currently, IMO, HME and their Ahrens Fox line of apparatus are extremely well built pieces of apparatus. And stainless vs. aluminum? There's no argument in my book, I'll take stainless any day of the week and twice on sundays.

    When we were specing out our new pumper and doing our homework, HME was one of the vendors we invited to participate. We liked their engineering, quality and final fit/finish, and felt that perhaps they could do something for us. Unfortunately, they felt that the body we wanted was a bit out of their league and chose not to submit a proposal. I give them credit where credit is due- rather than lead us on or submit something that didnt even come close, they said thanks but we'll pass.

    And yes, I agree with the others- 330 sounds awfully low, unless you are only hauling 500 gallons on land as flat as a sheet of glass.

    Remember, with a commercial chassis, you are pushing the engine way out in front of the cab, increasing your wheelbase by a pretty good chunk. I have driven a newer Freightliner with a rescue body that turns pretty tight, and then at my former career spot, got to drive a brand new IH/Pierce Enforcer 4-door that turned surprisingly tight. But I would still rather have the turning radius of a custom cab-over chassis.

    Lighting- I am not familiar with Powerarc products. We were insistant on all LED lighting, which kind of made the HME man twitch a little. If you are going to have that small little tricycle motor under the hood, you may want to consider all LED's- if you go all Halogen, you are going to need at LEAST a 250-285 amp alternator, and thats a few HP loss right there.

    And lastly, Rosenbauer is a well built product, and in fact was one of the vendors that submitted a proposal on our engine. We chose to go with another manufacturer, but I am sure we would have been happy had we gone with them.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    We have had our HME/SilverFox about a year now. It has had a few issues but not anymore than what we have had with our IH/Central States. The dealer and HME have worked with us on them and that is what you want.

    NO MATTER WHAT TRUCK YOU BUY IT WILL HAVE ISSUES. (Accept this and do not drink the cool-aide..... ) HOW IS THE DEALER GOING TO MAKE IT RIGHT IS WHAT YOU NEED KNOW.

    I am not sure what age your truck is but if it is more than a few years old I would wipe the slate clean and look at with a new paper to take notes on. HME has not been building complete trucks for that long. You probably have their cab with someone elses body. That may or may not be part of the problem. They have put a lot into the factory and it is well organized.

    As for the Power Arc, I think they are ugly and we put full Whelen LED's, HME said no problem...

    They like Hale Q-max pumps, they like Cummings motors.

    We went with a ISL 370 and it is pretty good, not 500hp but better than the small blocks that a commercial will want you to have.

    Do a search on here and I think you will find some specs and pictures of it. You could also look at the dealer's site www.lakesfire.com they have it on their delivery page. It is also on the HME page under Swanton Fire....

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    ChiefDog is right, its all about service after the purchase. we have a 2000 HME/Central States and its falling apart. generator has quit door panels falling off and something that i think is overlooked it does not have much crew space. service after the purchase though is almost is horrible. then we also got the run around when it did go out to get fixed when we were told it was an HME problem then only to be given back again saying it was a Central problem. now i dont know if HME/Ahrens Fox is any better since its all single source now but IMO HME does not build a very good product.

    Also not very impressed with power arc go with whelen LEDs.

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    I was trying to stay out of this one until somebody said "single source". What a load, a true urban legend right in there with the tooth fairy, easter bunny and sand man. I can also bet you that one morning that door panel didn't just decide to fall off, there were probably warning signs that some fastners were loosening or falling out. I know, you paid all that good money why should you have to tighten a screw. I put about 40,000 miles a year on HME's, I find them a little louder in the cab than many Vocational chassis and some of them are rather homely looking but I don't think you can knock them on engineering. This entire chassis thing is a shootout, I go places that curse HME and swear buy Spartan, go somewhere a day later and here the same story with the names reversed and that goes for the easter bunny builders also. If you buy anybodys chassis you need to stay on top of problems from day number one. Documentation is the key so that if the problems are as glaring as you think they are it will be easy for an arbitrator to resolve in your favor. Good luck with your decision.

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    I've never been that involved at looking at HME's body so I won't comment on that end of things. And since I sell for a competitor to both, I'll stay out of the whole discussion regarding bodies.

    Here's where I think you're at. HME came in with a program rig and is offering a good price. I would suspect that the Central is probably a custom body, but I don't know. Is HME trying to sell you a demo? That is also a good way for them to be comparably priced to a rig that is being built for you but on a commercial chassis.

    I've sold one rig with an HME chassis, and to my knowledge the warranty issues I had with HME were dealt with promptly and to the department's satisfaction. I usually knew right away if they didn't like something, which is fine - since it was my job to make sure that they were taken care of after the sale.

    The pump folks tell you what size motor you need to drive a given pump, and at least Hale tells you that you can drive 1500 gpm with 330 horse. We have three rigs with 330 horse, two of them Cummins powered, and for our needs - they do fine. We aren't a big city, have maybe two hills of any grade (not much) and don't often need to hit highway speeds. While horsepower is nice, you were given a set amount by the feds and if your're tied to 330 horse to fit within that budget, I wouldn't sweat it.

    I'm more curious about the rig HME is offering, whether its a demo or program rig, and how it stacks up to the spec you have written for the Central. One thing about that demo rig (if this is the case), it sure gets hard to resist something that's right there in your face, shiny and new. We almost did that with a rig we purchased a couple of years ago, just about threw out our spec and bought a demo that "kind of" fit. You know, I'm sure glad looking back that we bought the rig that was to "our" spec...
    "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

  10. #10
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    We have built our last three trucks on Commercial chassis Cabovers. 2 Are on the GMC t-8500 series and 1 is on the Ford CL central states. They give all the benefits of a "custom fire truck chassis" without the expense, That is unless you need to put 8 butts in the seats. Commercial chassis will give you better parts availability and more service options. Don't buy into the single source warrantee sales pitch.

    In my own personal opinion many of the custom fire chassis are just plain ugly and they lack in sound proofing. I recently took a ride in a brand new custom fire truck [no names mentioned] with a 500 hp detroit and within 10 minutes my ears hurt from the VOLUME of noise in that cab. You could not pay me in gold to have to ride that truck every day. What a piece of *****. noisy & vibrations/rattles throughout and cold drafts down in the foot wells. sloppy fit & finish items and just generally low quality .
    It was a pretty city show truck with lots of shiny and little function, not worth a tinkers damn out here in rural America. The kicker was it cost more than our last two trucks combined.

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    My career department has 3 quints with the HME chassis (2-2000, IIRC the other is a 2006). So far my experience with them hasn't been grand.

    While the 2006 is proving to be better so far, we've had some minor issues with it, part of which may be contributed to the body/ladder builder and not HME. I'm not overly impressed with the fact it's not a firefighter-proof cab (but then again, who does make one firefighter-proof?). There's a LOT of plastic components that keep getting broken.

    The 2000 model rigs have given us fits for quite a while. We've had springs break, and most recently the cross-member that has the latch for the tilt cab busted on one of the trucks. The other was cracked and well on it's way when it was inspected.

    Having said that, if you're a smaller department running less calls (I think we hit about 1,000-1,500/station in a year), I think they'd hold up a little better. We tear the hell out of these things running them on every call, including medicals.

    All of my career department's front-line rigs are either Central States or Rosenbauer (Central division). Just looking at our trucks I can see a difference after Rosenbauer got involved. The quality of the build is considerably better, but we still have some issues; a lot of which I think are spec issues or chassis (our engines are FL chassis, which I'm not impressed with). My vollie department went with a Rosenbauer on a KW chassis for our pumper/tanker and we couldn't be happier. The only problem we've had with it is two of the discharge levers were crossed (easy fix) and the ABS light came on (repaired by KW under warrantee). While I'm not overly impressed with the quints we've got (I still think a lot of the issues are spec-related), they do make a pretty good pumper.

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    Default Commercial vs. Custom

    BFD,

    My dept had to battle this question when we were looking into a new engine. Our current engine, rescue, and 2 tankers were commercial chassis with our quint being the only custom chassis the dept had dealt with. The Sterling chassis our rescue on had an incredible turning radius for a commercial and that's why we went with it on the rescue. We were looking for a topmount enclosed pump panel due to our response area includes a 2 lane state highway as well as our very cold winters. We chose to go with the Spartan Metro Star as it was an economical custom chassis. We also liked the idea of having the Rol Tek protection.

    Just as a few have stated already. No matter what you do, make sure YOU write the specs, follow the maintenance issues, and someone almost always has something bad to say about apparatus builders.

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    Thanks for all of the replies guys. I got alot of good info and opinions. Although I was not looking to ruffle any feathers with my comments, they were genuine concerns (at least from my personal standpoint). I was afraid that we might end up getting something less than what the department needs. It looks like HME has really come through for us, offering alot of add ons they didn't have to include. I'm sure the chief will end up getting what is best for the department, and best bang for our buck.

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