Martyn’s Maiden Mercedes-Benz 2028LS

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As some of you will by now be aware I started working at Orwell Trucks Mercedes Benz at the beginning of July. Having always worked in transport and l haulage a move into trucks sales seems to have been a good move. When you start at any new workplace it seems there is always a “Martyn Beverly” character some where in the company. Mr Beverly is a quiet man who has learnt his trade from the ground up, he still earns his keep by supplying all the large fleets of East Anglian and beyond with the Mercedes Benz commercial vehicles. The wealth of knowledge Martyn has for MB trucks and vans having worked for Orwell Trucks for over 30 years is amazing. A couple of days sat with Martyn can teach you more than reading any brochure or book or even going on an MB training course. As we clearly have a shared interest in trucks I was keen to let Martyn see some of David Scarff’s MB truck photos, especially ones of local trucks. The above photo was taken by David Scarff outside Fred Archers yard one Saturday morning in the Mid 1980’s. As soon as Martyn saw this photo he said he sold the truck to Archers. Cue the flood gates for plenty more info and all I could want to know about the story of this particular truck. I asked Martyn to write down what he could remember so below is just that…….

With the impending introduction of 38 tonne GCW artics on 5 axles in 1983, operators with fleets of tandem axle trailers and 2 axle units, need a 3 axle tractor unit to comply with the new legislation. Some truck manufacturers had a problem as they nothing developed to meet this requirement. Luckily Mercedes-Benz already produced a suitable vehicle in Europe which could easily be modified to suit the UK market – Enter the 2028LS.

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In 1982 Mercedes Benz decided to bring a single vehicle over to the UK to assess its suitability. I saw a picture of it in a Mercedes company brochure under the heading “An intriguing development for the future”. During one of my many meetings with Fred Archer, I told him about this truck and he was very interested as he had seen them whilst on his travels through Eastern Europe. I investigated and found out that this vehicle was at the Mercedes vehicle preparation centre at New Millerdam near Wakefield. I asked asked if I could borrow it and much to my surprise they said yes. Our driver Brian Booth picked the vehicle up and bought it back to Ipswich so we could have a look at the spec as there were no Data Sheets available.
– Left hand drive (enormous steering wheel!)
– L type sleeper cab with twin bunks
– Red orange cab
– Red oxide colour chassis
– Jost sliding 5th wheel
– MB 14.6 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine. 276hp.
– Fuller roadranger constant mesh 13 speed gearbox. 4 speed + range change + splitter on top 4 gears and a crawler. Very unusual as it would have normally been a ZF Ecosplit.
– 12R x 22.5 tyres
– Centre axle permanently steered with air suspension above a steel spring load transfer device.
– Rear axle. Hub reduction, full four bag air suspension with in cab level control
– GVW was 20,330kg
– 3,750mm outer axle spread – the prop shaft was as thick as a telegraph pole!

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I took the vehicle down to Fred (Archer) and hitched it onto one of his trailers and we went for an extensive road test around Ipswich, after which Fred definitely wanted to buy it – if the price was right of course! I went away and got the numbers sorted and Fred ordered the vehicle. No records exist but I reckon it was around £30,000. This truck was very unique as it was the first of this model ever to be sold in England.

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To prepare the vehicle we fitted the snorkel front air intake, a radio, cab heater, rear wings, alloy cat walk / fuel tank (from GB Engineering in Wisbech), sun visor, full chassis and cab paint and finally it was sign written by Rod Chapple using a good old brush and paint. When finished and delivered to Fred we did a photo shoot with one of his trailers all around Martlesham Heath and pictures were taken off the bridge over the A12. The driver was a chap called Mick Dade who had worked for Fred archer for some time (Mick Dade eventually worked for IST in Harwich as Transport Manager.

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You can’t ask for a better write up than that all off the back of one photo. The other photos here are all copyright of Martyn Beverly and as ever please respect the copyright. Fred archer must have been impressed with the big German as I found another David Scarff photo of an A reg MB 2028, only visible differences being it’s right hand drive and no snorkel!

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There are a few more old photos in the archives so you never know we might be able to get a few more snippets of the good old days from Martyn and Orwell Trucks back catalogue. Off you go driver, happy trucking……….

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New MAN in Marshy’s Life

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Your favourite international express light haulage expert, Steve Marsh Express, has been a little quiet of late I know but that’s partially down to the fact there is a new vehicle in production as a replacement for the little legend that is GB05 STE. The new truck is another MAN TGL 12.250 with a euroliner body. The truck has been fitted with a Kuda high roof cab conversion as Marshy likes maximum space in the cab, due to being rather a tall man and also sometimes he can be away for a couple of weeks at a time. As you’d expect for any owner driver machine it is a top of the range machine. A nice set of factory fit Speedline alloy wheels, twin long range fuel tanks, built in TV aerial, a nice sun visor with a pair of spot lights in, Dhollandia slider tailift, 12 speed auto with manual overide, rear air suspension, sleeping well cab cooler, xenon headlights, plenty of extras!! The visor also came from Kuda but was made by a firm from Finland by the name of www.vepro.fi it’s worth a look. No doubt we will be seeing a lot of this truck in the future.

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Champion Centurion #14

#14 - Scania 143 450 Derek Champion

The search for Scania Centurions and information on Centurions goes on and on. A few weeks back I was sent some photos of the 3 Langdons sub-contractors Centurions by Langdons commercial director Patrick Griffiths. At the time I couldn’t find any photos of #14, which was a 4×2 143 450 brand new to Derek Champion. So how do you find a link to the photo collection of a Langdons subbie you ask? Well it just so happens you ask the South West of England’s font of all knowledge, Tim Rigby. The oracle told me that Derek’s son Nigel is currently the general manager at Scania in Bridgwater. Rather than pester him I decided to send Nigel an email and with in a few days the email conversation started and I’m happy to say that Nigel has now sent some awesome photos of what someone claim’s to be the best looking of the 3 Centurions that pulled for Langdons! I couldn’t possibly comment.

#14 - Scania 143 450 Derek Champion

Information on J981BYA. – Centurion Edition 14.

· Delivery date – 21.10.1991
· Chassis Number – 1178664
· Engine – DSC 14 03 / 450 hp
· Gearbox – R770
· Ratio – 3.27

Nigel said that he personally did the first trip out in the truck when it was new. A full load of juice from Bridgwater to Sainsburys in Hackney, London. Nigel also said; “Great memories of a great Truck. The best truck I ever drove!” The photo above was taken on 21st September 1993 as the great V8 came off the ferry in Portsmouth. The photos below were taken at the Truckline ferry in Poole Harbour.

#14 - Scania 143 450 Derek Champion
#14 - Scania 143 450 Derek Champion

Luckily for all of us this truck is still about. I have gained the following information about #14, if this is true, false or any different then please email or comment below.

Known Reg Numbers: J981 BYA. J500 SCA.
Known Owners: Derek Champion. Peter Orr, Plymouth. Sid Evans, Bridgend. West Kingsdown, Kent. Neil Johnston, Wales.
Current Owner: Shropshire Forestry Contractors

I have emailed Shropshire Forestry in the hope they can confirm that they are the current owners of number 14. As and when I hear from them I will let you all know. For those who are going to the Gathering of The Griffin truck show at Ipswich at the end of September, Richard Payne and myself are planning on having a good old Centurion session so we can combine all our info. You are all welcome to join in or contribute. Just make contact with myself or turn up at the show and we should be able to get a lot of info together.

PLEASE RESPECT THE COPYRIGHT ON THESE PHOTOS. THEY BELONG TO THE CHAMPION FAMILY AND THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE THEY ARE VISABLE, SO IF THEY APPEAR SOME WHERE ELSE YOU ALL KNOW WHERE THEY HAVE COME FROM.

#14 - Scania 143 450 Derek Champion

Flat Tops are Back!

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No, no don’t start heading to your nearest barbers, I don’t mean the hair cut of choice for the American Marine, but the truck cab type. Flat tops were top dog in the cab world back in the 80’s before the space cabs, Toplines and Globetrotters took over. As a boy growing up in the 80’s flat tops were my bread and butter, a flat top 143, now when I mean flat top I mean an original Toplines in the same statement, basically anything pre being able to stand up and put your trousers on, which we all take for granted these days.

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These days the norm (in Europe anyway) is a Topline, a Globetrotter XL, a Super Space Cab or even the awesome Gigaspace and I think they have become so common place the delight of a flat top cab has been totally forgotten……this is of course until our Dutch and European cousins have turned it into a retro trucking marvel! At the best truck show in the world this year, or Truckstar Festival to those who haven’t been, it was a pleasure to see the flat tops making a strong come back. The difference now in 2014 is that the flat tops are probably still slightly bigger than the originals, but then again everything is bigger than it used to be (Mrs TB will disagree). Most of the trucks at Assen were Scania’s and a few Volvo’s. The Scania still comes in the original proper standard sleeper, I think it’s still called an R-cab and also the seemingly more popular Hi-line which according to the Scania website, gives you an extra 30cm headroom over the standard R-cab sleeper.

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When we all think of Volvo’s new FH series we all immediately think Globetrotter, Globetrotter, Globetrotter, how many of you even realised you can still have a standard flat top sleeper can just like the delightful old F10’s and F12’s. Well you can and the couple of examples you can see here are just awesome. Looking at them it’s so easy to realise that we have forgotten about the flat top. Then again perhaps because the big cabs are so common place on sleeper cabbed trucks these days that we (it wasn’t just me who noticed them at Truckstar!) were surprised back into realising how cool and retro the modern flat tops are. Then again anything that has been customised by the Dutch looks cool and enviable to us English. Just a side note people, hardly any shiny alloy wheels, painted wheels is still the way forward.

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By now you have realised that you need to be buying a flat top to be in with the gang. It really didn’t take much walking about at Assen for this to sink in, but to achieve perfection it seems that you have to select the chassis with a twin wheel tag. Sorry you must excuse me my European cousins, it’s not a twin wheel tag, you must call it (please read in a Dutch accent!) how do you say “rear bogie lift”. Phrase of the show. A flat top cab with rear bogie lift is the best looking carsch you could see this year. Just to convince you once and for all just have a look at the red beastie below from Belgium. Scania fan or not you have to admit she looks rather well. Hi-line cab, painted wheels, roof rack, straight pipe exhausts, rear bogie lift and of course a retro (3 series in this case) sun visor. Why on earth is the 3 series visor not offered by Scania as a standard fit option??

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Gathering of the Griffin 2014

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

“The event this year will be held in the same location Orwell truck stop on the 27th and 28th September 2014. Arrivals are welcome from midday Saturday. Hopefully with some form of entertainment in the evening. On the Sunday, a lazy day socializing with all. At 16:30 the big departure, the plan would be for each truck to leave in chronological order to allow film and photography of what is a fantastic sight, a convoy of Scanias setting off along the A14. It is truly a magical moment.”

Those are the words from the organisers of the Gathering of the Griffin, the Scania only show that is held in Ipswich and this year is in its 3rd year. If you are a Scania fan then it’s a must. If you have a truck then get it entered and don’t for one minute think you are too far away, it seem’s the Griffin knows no boundaries. There are already confirmed entries for this year from as far away as Scotland and even Northern Ireland! If you want an entry form you have 3 options. Email: gotg37@hotmail.com or you can phone Michelle or Rob on the following mobile: 07903 155898, or failing that you can contact me and I can email you a form. Your Swedish beauty doesn’t have to be all shiny and the cleanest truck in Europe, it’s a show for Scania enthusiasts so it’s all for the enjoyment. This is best explained by photos, below is Mr Lewtons Scania and one of Mr Coopers Scania’s, both totally different and both in very different condition but one thing they both have in common is that they have both won the best truck in show trophy.

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

There are a number of categories for you to enter if you wish, including best 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and R series, best working truck and best truck in show to name a few. It just so happens that I Sponsor the “Best 3 Series” and I have to say that last year I had 15 or so to choose from and it was virtually an impossible task, saying that I am looking forward to it again this year. At last years show there were (if I remember rightly) 116 confirmed entries but only 108 turned up. I say only but it’s still an amazing amount when you see them all parked together in chronological order. This year there are currently 110 confirmed entries so far with up to 150 spaces available, but the target for entries is of course the magic number of 143! So now you have no excuse, get your self and your Scania down to the Orwell Crossing Truckstop for the 27th and 28th of September. See you there!!

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

Gathering of The Griffin 2013

FOUND: Pigeon Perfect Atego

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After months and months of trying to track it down and a couple of sightings last year, my old Atego has finally been seen and confirmed. I got the message last night from George Ward, who had spotted it back in April on the M6 at Sandbach, Cheshire. Looking at the truck it hasn’t changed much, it’s got a mouldy spot light, the alloy wheels have gone and the drivers side at least has a new rear mud wing. It’s definitely carrying birds and George said that there were a number of other pigeon trucks passing at the same time. The other truks were from Hambleton Blackpool and Croston Lancashire. Does anyone know these companies? Do they run the Atego??

Email me; ben@truckblog.co.uk
Thanks George, keep up the spotting.

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Truckstar Festival 2014 by Jack Rigby

Truckstar Festival 2014, What an amazing show. It was mine and dads first time for visiting the show. What an atmosphere the show was, all of the people where there to have a good time, not just to show off their trucks, they were there to show off their speaker systems and to see who had the biggest swimming pool!!

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In the main arena there was truck racing and motorbike stunts which made you cringe, but amazing how they did it. The trucks were outstanding, the amazing paint jobs and the inviting interiors were so mind blowing that you didn’t know how they came up with the ideas!!

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The truck for me at the show was this Scania R520 highline, it just stood out, there was nothing shiny on the truck there was just a brilliant paint job and a new idea that know body else had thought of so it just stood out from the others (Agreed – TB).

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Then the show ended 😟. So on Sunday afternoon we left to watch all of the trucks come out of show. We stood in the middle of the duel carriageway with two lanes of traffic coming by us to watch all of these trucks leaving for home. All the world (or so it seemed!) came out to watch with dec chairs and picnics, there was a coffee van and an ice cream van all out to see the leaving of these amazing trucks.

The Truckstar event i think is about having something different to anybody else, it is not about seeing how many light bars you can put on, it is about having something unique to you, something that you have thought of, like a special paint job, because you aren’t buying something off a shelf that somebody else has thought of and what somebody already has. The Hoogendoorn Scania below won the ultimate trophy, The Most Beautiful Truck in the Netherlands.

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