We have a 3 year old KME with a couple problems that the manufacture and dealer service just can't seem to correct. There is a heavy odor of anti-freeze when the engines hot. Hoses have been replaced several times but the odor keeps coming back. There is also water leaking around the electrical boxes in the driver side front compartment that they have been unsucessfull at getting sealed. I'm looking for any feed back, suggestions, stories of similar problem and how they where resolved.
Do you guys turn the water off to the heaters in the summer? If you don't check the heater cores. Also check to see where the overflow for the radiator discharges...it could just be as the antifreeze gets hot and expands, it gets discharged somewhere that collects and you get a smell in the cab.
I recommend that you Google: EVT TechTalk and log in and go to the KME section with your statement/query. EVT TechTalk is a bulletin board dedicated to issues with equipment and apparatus. It is monitored by EVTs worldwide. You should be able to get some replies and thoughts quickly.
If you are not seeing anti-freeze on the ground from the overflow tube, then check the heaters in the crew compartments, check the heat-exchangers for the pumps, and finally...(could be bad news)...with the engine cold, open the radiator cap up and look in the tank and see if there is oil in the anti-freeze and also pull the dipstick and smell and see if there is an odor of anti-freeze on the dipstick. If there is, then you are smelling anti-freeze from the hot engine as a result of a possible head gasket failure. This will destroy the engine if not attended to immediately! If the leaks are at the exchangers or crew heaters, you can tighten the hoses up, or you might have to replace the core that is leaking. Also check the engine while it is running carefully for any exterior leaks around the connections to the engine block.
As for the leaking junction boxes, remove them from the bulkheads and seal between them and the bulkhead with RTV (clear) and install gaskets over the outlet doors. These are usually available at hardware and electrical supply houses. You can also safely RTV where the lines feed through the bulkheads into the boxes. RTV is an electrically safe waterproof sealer that is used in severe service applications such as fire apparatus. It also has a MIL-SPEC number as it is used on military vehciels for this reason. Also available at most hardware and electrical supply houses.
You are not the first to have problems with the KME, which by now you know stands for Keep Mechanics Employed. If it was me, I would find out which large departments such as Los Angeles County Fire Department that both uses KME's and does there own servicing. These Fleets of KME's means that whatever problems you have encountered has been handled before, probably more than once. Why reinvent the wheel? Use you phone... and simply just ask questions. Key point here is to talk to other firefighters who can both relate and share their experiences.
Thanks for your comments. We are trying to get KME make good on the repairs. The engine has been to the factory at least 3 times, to several service centers representing KME,and the problems still exist. We are having a meeting tonight to discuss what direction we go next. There is afew that want to see what we could do with Jersey's Lemon Law as some other departments have done. I will keep everyone posted on what we do, and how it goes.
Our KME aerial ladder developed a hydraulic leak that hit the exhaust, catching fire and causing all of us a lot of grief.
Another example of the types of problems on a larger scale that I heard stories about was a serious leak and in some cases electrical problems with the roof assembly and air conditioner unit. This was several years ago but several units had issues here in So Cal. KME did fix the problems under warranty work but the inconvenience of having the engines out of service did no one any good. The lemon law sounds like a reasonable alternative if the manufacturer does not make good on backing it's product up.
The smell of anti-freeze does not mean that you can see a leak. Normally, on ANY motor of ANY manufacture, there will be 'cold shrink' leaks at hose connections from time to time when the motor cools off. These cold leaks can usually be seen with the naked eye and corrective action taken. However, hot engine leaks can occur at hose or piping connections and weep/leak onto the hot motor. This results in a very rapid evaporation with no drip to the ground. It will usually leave an indication of the leak via a bleaching or color change of the motor paint where the 'leak' is occurring. Then, there is the situation where one of the three heater cores (Usually one in the heater area in the front cab area and two under the jump seats in the rear) weeps coolant through an imperfect solder joint and evaporates on the core and leaves only the dried buildup of evaporated coolant which leaves a dried whitish powdery debris. The same is true of the main radiator core, which can display the same issues as the heater cores. Add tracer dye to the coolant, run the unit for a week and then use the infrared light to locate the source. The tracer dye usually never fails. You may even find the whole underside of the cab will light up when you operate the tracer light. One would think that the factory techs would be in tune with this issue. I had 29 KME units at the time of my retirement. While this was not a common occurrance, it did occur from time to time and, in some instances, was a bear to find. Stay the course.
I have taken the opportunity to repost this issue at: http://www.evta.in fo/forums/showthread.php?2282-KME-Coolant-odor-not-found&p=11163#post11163
This is on the EVT TechTalk bulletin board dedicated to EVT's (Emergency Vehicle Technicians) and all those that maintain and repair emergency vehicles. Head over there and subscribe. No cost, no hassle, only resolution. No jokes, no trashing of mfgs, no negative talking. Solution to issue is the goal.
As stated, the manufacturer watches the EVT TechTalk bulletin board. The posting I did for you at that site has been seen by administration at KME. Ed Opella has asked that you contact him immediately. His contact info is:
(570) 669-5173 Ph, (570) 645-6013 Fax