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Custom VS Commercial - PLEASE READ

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  • Custom VS Commercial - PLEASE READ

    We currently run about 80% Freightliner FL-80 & 106 engines. All have rear mount pumps with all connections on rear excpet for bumper line. Our last custom engines are 1994 Spartan/Ferrara standard configuration. Also before that we were almost totally Sutphen.

    I need some input from departments that have either: 1)Switched from Commercial chassis to Custom chassis, OR 2) Departments that have switched from Custom, to Commercial and back to customs.

    I need some good info as to why the switch such as hard info, factors, etc. How you convinced the people that buy them, etc.

    Right now my concern is the height of the hosebed.

    If anyone has any info please email me and provide contact info (email would be easier).


    Shannon Daves
    [email protected]

  • #2
    Are or were you happy with Sutphen ? We have an 89 Quint and 2 93 Engines. I truely think Sutphen builds a good apparatus.

    I get tickled when one of the pumps was leaking, one of the guys said, "that's a Sutphen for you". It's not a Sutphen pump, it's a Hale pump. Or a Detroit Engine, or Allision trans. etc.

    They don't say, "that's a Mack for you" when it needs attention. A 1975 CF Engine, now that's a good truck. Still kicking.


    • #3
      We were PERFECTLY happy with Sutphen. Just those political types that run for election decided they were too pricey.

      We just purchases two 75' Quints, have three 90+ towers in service, 4 engines in first out service, and approx 8-10 in reserve. One reserve is a 1991 and the last time I drove it it had over 210,000 miles on it. They served us well...very well. I do not think these Freight shakers are gonna be nearly as good.

      Please...I need some info guys...


      • #4
        I am gonna keep this short. Do you buy a standard work truck adapted for the Fire service or do you buy a "Firetruck". I recall someone from a neighbouring department say "you don't need those fancy trucks,you can still get 4 in on a Freightliner, just put in a bench seat". Bottom line...Buy a truck that will last for 20 years and designed for the Fire Servivce.


        • #5
          Originally posted by ctxffman
          I truely think Sutphen builds a good apparatus.
          Hey come on down to my Dept. we two of them bucket of bolts we can sell ya and its not the engines,pumps etc we have trouble with it is the cabs ,compartments etc.
          Pierce, Toyne and Luverne all good trucks from what I seen the only reason dept's have bought commercial cabs was to save money. All three of these co's have some options in the custom chassis that you could go with.


          • #6
            Guys...this isnt to start a war between brands.

            What I need is information from departments regarding HOW they made the switch.

            We started purchasing commercials (17 total) to save money. Now we have a new and progressice fire chief and the chance to be in a "real fire engine" again.

            Anyone have any info?



            • #7
              Go Custom!!

              Scoob sounds as if your dept. has specked out its trucks, having rear mounted pumps. Most likely to reduce the overall length on the apparatus. That's because commercial chasis's have a terrible turning radius, that don't come close to a custom. A custom will have a much shorter wheel base than a commercial that is the same overall length. A commercial chasis's interior cab space sucks, as you know I'm sure. The structual integrity of a custom cab far exceeds that of a commercial. We use to run commercials, now we run all customs. You just get more bang for your buck with the customs.



              • #8

                Yes, the main reason we went rear mount pumps was to reduce overall length with the commercial chassis. A commercial with a midship pump you wouldnt be able to turn it in a 40 acre field.

                Our FL actually have bigger turning radius than our sutphens and Ferrara's. We spec our trucks to every detail. Our first nine commercials were built by Saulsbury, 4 by Luverne, and these five by Becker/ American Lafrance.

                The bodies are pretty nice, but there are things about the commercial/ rear mount pump that I dislike:
                1) Hose bed height
                2) Engree/ egress from the cab
                3) Cab storage space
                4) Rear mount pump heats up very quicky
                5) ALL discharges/ intakes on rear of truck
                6) Longer nose increase vulnerability at intersections
                7) handling vs customs

                If you have any pointers on how you switched back to customs, please e-mail me at [email protected]



                • #9
                  What you need to do is contact some one from E-one and explain you're concerns to them. Ask them to set up a meeting and get all the specs that you can from them. E-one deals in rear mount pumps, and they know what they are doing. If you don't like what they have to say, call another company. But let me tell you this, you have to get the information first hand. I really like E-one and I like custom cabs even better.

                  Before you meet with some one, write down every question or concern that you can think of from now until then. The best ones come from a fire scene or when you ar working.

                  As for the hosebed height. There is a reason that they call it a "custom" chassis.

                  We have a 5 mid-mount pumpers with commercial chassis, and one ladder with a custom chassis.

                  what I've learned is that We can fit up to 10 guys in a Custom cab. and a max of five in a commercial. What good is a truck when you have to leave people behind because there was no more room. And on top of that, we can have a 500 horsepower engine under the cab with no problem, and in less frame length of a commercial cab with a 300 horse V6.

                  Custom is the right way to go. no matter who makes it.

                  Good luck

                  [email protected]



                  • #10

                    Firemanlos seems to know his stuff. Custom Chassis are the rearl deal. Roseville? I heard that WEDNESDAY night shift is the A-TEAM. JR


                    • #11

                      I don't know anything about mnfireguy other than he is GAY!

                      Just kidding!

                      Wednesday night shift kicks arse.


                      • #12
                        While on the apparatus committee for the Houston Fire Department, we were asked to look at commercial chassis as an alternative to custom chassis during the spec process for a 19 pumper order in '96 - '97. This was due to cost concerns and we were asked to look at options. I was tasked with contacting similar departments (Call types, square miles covered, number of companies, etc.) that used them and find out how they were working out for them.

                        The positive factors discovered were as follows:

                        1) Lower initial cost.
                        2) Easier to locate replacement parts from
                        large truck dealerships.
                        3) Improved engine area access.

                        The negative fators discovered were as follows:

                        1) Shorter service life of chassis.
                        2) Entry/exit problems due to cab height and
                        fuel tanks and battery box locations.
                        3) Increased turning radius.
                        4) Increased overall length of apparatus.
                        5) Diminished driver visibility due to cab
                        6) Tight crew area. When factoring in map books,
                        MDT's and in cab bunker gear storage, there
                        is not much room left over for a full crew.
                        7) "Cookie Cutter" designs not intended
                        specifically for heavy duty fire department
                        service (frame rails, suspensions, etc.).
                        Frequent start, run hard, shut down cycles
                        have an extremely high rate of wear compared
                        to custom chassis over the same time frame.
                        8) Electrical systems are marginal for additional
                        needed equipment (Flashlights, TIC and gas monitor
                        charging equipment for example).
                        9) Limited drive train options.

                        These were items discovered when speaking with other departments about commercial chassis apparatus in the fire service. We ultimately kept going with custom chassis on the 19 pumpers being ordered at the time. Departmets contacted included Phoenix, Colombus, Oh. and Los Angeles County among others. This is not intended to start a war, just passing on information discovered in our research.

                        Stay low and move it in.
                        Last edited by STATION2; 06-22-2003, 01:50 PM.
                        Stay low and move it in.

                        Be safe.



                        • #13
                          Custom vs commercial myth 1:you can only get big hp in a custom.Wrong,600 plus easily available in commercial.Myth 2 Frames/drivelines are MUCH stronger in customs.Depends on how you spec them.We've see triple frame commercials you could use the frame as a torque box.Myth 3 commercials don't have enough electrical.Again depends how you spec. the chassis.That being said,I prefer customs for the crew space and ease of egress/access.But drivelines/engines/brakes can be spec. matched across the board.Most new vehicles are multiplexed so hookups for electrical are similar in either line as long as they ARE SPEC'ED PROPERLY.T.C.


                          • #14
                            The issue is far more complex than just custom vs. commercial. How about we put a Pierce Contender "Custom" up against a DM Model Mack in let's say mixer or refuse service and see which one holds up better. Custom has traditionally meant a higher-end, pure class 8 chassis while custom has meant mid-range class 7 trucks. That's why you can't get premium diesels such as the Detroit Series 60 in an FL-80. If you are going to compare customs and commercials, compare apples and apples.


                            • #15
                              Station 2
                              Yeh, how about we put a cookie-cutter DM Model Mack, 20K/58K with a frame and drivetrain to match and park it side by side with the "heavy duty fire service" Contender or Typhoon "Customs" and take a look at the superiority of these "custom" chassis.


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