Remember a little while back I introduced you too a new mate of mine from Australia, Julian Baker. He runs a mini artic around Australia delivering cars under the wing of Ceva Logistics. He currently has a new UD tractor unit in the making. Once again I will leave you in his capable hands, so sit back open a stubbie, chuck another shrimp on the barbie and enjoy reading what Julian has to say;
The new one is a UD too but is quite interesting. In conjunction with the manufacture we have transplanted a 15 inch diff and housing to replace the 13 inch original. The hubs and drums are interchangeable. The project has been delayed and delayed due to sourcing appropriate ratios ex Japan, as the 15 inch was normally on 22.5 inch wheels in Australia, not 17.5. This truck has 4.111 ratio with 0.78 overdrive 6 speed. Also the local senior UD management and Japanese engineering staff had been stalling approval for a few years. I have a friend who heads up UD engineering for Australia/New Zealand. We share a passion for the small, high horsepower tow vehicle but he has struggled to get traction on this project until recently. This type of vehicle sits conveniently in a GVM range that doesn’t require a speed limiter and doesn’t require a log book/work diary (driving hours) when without a trailer. Combined with the low clearance, high manouverability, low loading height and relatively high payload with high GCM we reckon the variant can be a real money making proposition. This little fella is the first UD to be painted Ceva Burgundy on the line too.
The stronger diff will complement the already upgraded gearbox, tail shaft, universals, clutch and engine in the new model. The end result is the higher GCM with a higher torque engine. The new truck will also have far greater redundancy in the driveline. The old MK265 has done a wonderful job, but as it is approaching 1 million kms, all major components have been replaced at least once. I generally sit around 20 tonne but have gone to Melbourne-Perth, Brisbane-Melbourne and numerous Melbourne-Adelaide/Sydneys a tonne or two over. Like the rest of the world we have a love of the SUV and unnecessarily large cars in Australia. Although still far more modest than the Yanks.
It is a little bit of a shame the modified truck isn’t the new, new model with a completely new cab and engine. As Volvo have owned UD for a few years the development of a new medium range took place. The new engine is 280 hp (vs 260) and 883nm (vs 794), still on 235/75 17.5 rubber. GVM is up to 11 tonne and GCM with the big diff will be 23 tonne. I know these numbers aren’t enormous compared to a TGL, LF45 or the 12 tonne Atego sold in Germany with the big rear axle, but Jap trucks are the norm down here. They have sufficient cooling capacity and Jap trucks always deliver what they promise. It’s sort of like ‘under promise, over deliver’
Anyway, I’m still thrilled my big axle idea has been implemented. The little buggar is going to cost me a fortune as I’ve got a bit carried away with the accessories, but it’s coming along nicely. Things left to do are the bull bar and driving lights (very similar to the old truck), Ceva livery (I’m thinking of putting a big UD logo on the back window too, and maybe my football teams logo:-)), rectangular alloy fuel tanks with matching separate third hydraulic tank, the Alcoas off the old truck with a polish, chrome axle end trims on the drive, nut covers, water tank, tool box, proper drive tyres and leather upholstery. The tanks are 560mm wide x 510mm high, they should really finish the little banger off. They will send me broke alone!! I am a huge fan of the mini prime-mover, this will be my third. Chassis height and tare weight with my trailer are unique. My total tare weight is comparable to the Ceva 6 car trailers my mates tow alone. Therefore my fuel consumption is 0.4-0.7 kms per litre better. It doesn’t sound much, but can be over $100/day if running highway kms. The other blokes are pulling their 6-9 tonne prime-movers for no extra income. Purchase price, and maintenance are slightly less, but these little trucks are a five year proposition towing trailers, not 8 like they old one is.
Of course comfort and cabin room are not comparable in any way to European trucks. I have flirted with buying a MAN for 10 years but LEs then TGLs are like rocking horse droppings here. DAF LF45s don’t cool and Ivecos are terribly unreliable in Aussie conditions. Benz don’t bring Ategos to Australia running on 17.5 inch rims, and the chassis height of the 19.5 inch trucks is pretty high. Avia have been introduced recently but a 4.5 litre engine is reason enough not to consider them. Probably the main reason I haven’t taken the MAN plunge though is the odd stud pattern on the wheels. My current setup runs the same Alcoa 17.5 x 6.75 rims throughout. Even the 8 stud used by DAF and AVIA could be replicated here, but the MAN pattern would be custom custom.
I have recently come back to Melbourne from almost two years fly-in/fly-out in Tasmania. The little truck didn’t come home once. It was my home during the week. In Australia we have an ADR (Australian Design Rule) which grants the bunk in a truck to be a ‘registered sleeping compartment’. The little bunk in the MK has had this accreditation since this cabin was introduced in the mid 90s and until recently was the only narrow Jap cab to be approved. The Isuzu narrow extended cab now complies. You do not have this cab in the UK I believe. Isuzu UK either sell the narrow cab with no bunk, or the wide cab with a bunk. Anyway, I have wrap around curtains and my passenger seat folds flat so I sleep well. An extra foot of bunk and a foot more head room would be very well received though. And more storage space!!! New truck will be two seater with proper consol vs three seater with shallow consol in the back of the middle seat