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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
The Los Angeles County Fire Department took delivery of a 2,500 gallon capacity water tender that includes several new innovations including a fire service rated transmission, the Ultra Shift PLUS, that could possibly revolutionize the fire industry. Craig Weeks, Chief of Fire Fleet Services with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, claimed that the new transmission included in LACoFD's new 2008 Peterbilt Model 365 water tender is by the Eaton Corporation. "...and most particularly, it's the first of it's kind in the fire service," Weeks added.
According to Dave Pierson, Territory Manager for Eaton Roadranger, this unit has a manual gearbox, but only has two pedals for the driver - an accelerator pedal and a brake pedal. Although the tender has ten speeds, it is like driving an automatic for the driver. Engineer Shawn Grizzard, also with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, explained, "He (the driver) can concentrate on his radios and what he's doing, in a smoky environment."
The Eaton Shift PLUS comes with a standard twin disc clutch that is started automatically by an electronic actuator, which is controlled by a computer. This type of transmission is usually used in dump trucks. Pierson remarked, "The performance characteristics, at the point of where it's going to shift, how it launches - all that is specific to construction, off road type of applications."
The transmission also has a 'hill hold' feature, therefore, if the vehicle is on more than a 3% grade, it will hold the vehicle's brakes on for approximately three seconds until the operator puts his/her foot on the throttle, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards. "It also removes some of the heat from our cooling system which is a continuing problem as diesel engine requirements change," stated Weeks.
Dave Pierson explained, "When you first take off, it looks at the torque request coming off the engine and if it gets up to speed really quickly, it assumes that the truck is empty." When this occurs, the data bus will change the shift points to a lower RPM to use less fuel. "Conversely, when you take off, if there's a heavy load full of water, the engine you see will emit a high like a 100 percent torque demand," added Pierson. However, at any time the driver can override this and shift manually.
This 2008 Peterbilt Model 365 has a gross vehicle weight rating of 56,000 lbs, along with an engine that has 410 horsepower with 1450 foot pounds of torque and a Cummins ISM engine. The tank, pump, plumbing, body and lighting of this unit was done by KME in Pennsylvania, while the six wheel drive conversion and stepped frame were completed by Marmon Herrington in Kentucky. "What the step frame has done is it has allowed us to get the water tank lower. The center of gravity is lower and when you're off road, that's huge," said Shawn Grizzard.
Also featured on this unit is a 500 gallon per minute fire pump that is PTO driven off the Eaton transmission, along with pump and roll capabilities. This PTO is also a hot shift, so it can be engaged while underway.
One of Shawn Grizzard's jobs is to train prospective drivers on water tenders. Grizzard expressed, "I thought I'd give this new one a run and see how it would do and I got to admit, I am impressed. Through the new transmission and the all wheel drive, it never missed a beat. It didn't even feel like it was sinking in, it just went right through the sand.
The Ultra Shift PLUS transmission is now available to the fire service in these types of vehicles. LA County is working with Eaton to bring this technology to front line apparatus in the future. For more information on this Eaton transmission visit www.roadranger.com.
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