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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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……….