Mini Artic – Atego

  
It’s been a while since I did a bit on the delight that is a mini artic and I have a fairly valid excuse to do so, well three excuses. First one being its my blog and I can write what I like! Second isn’t quite so playground, I found this gorgeous little 7.5 ton Mercedes-Benz Atego up for sale. A while back I didn’t a number of blogs on mini artics as we were trying to confirm what the combination weights would be. This particular dealer obviously decided it would be a good idea to stick up a photo of the weight plate as I can only assume that he knew he’d get asked by many what the max weight was. Well as the plate below confirms, the Atego has a permissible maximum weight of 7,490 as expected. The permissable  combination weight states a total weight of tractor, trailer and load of 18,725kg. I think that’s fairly decent? Even if you said 4 ton max for the weight of the tractor, the trailer won’t be more than 2 / 2.5 ton so you have the potential for a payload of around 12 ton, now your talking!  

As you can see this little Atego has all the bells and whistles including twin bunks, air horns, shiny wheels and clearly a keen ex driver as there is nearly a shiny fuel tank too. I have a couple of exoctic plans for my mini artic career. The plausible idea would be to work for one of the car carrying companies. A twin car trailer with sloping floor, side doors and a small fridge motor to keep a constant temperature for those that need it or a load of race tyres. Even with a decent spec trailer, 2 big cars at 4 ton a piece would still be achievable. The other idea, not so plausible, would be to get a single steering axle, extendable flatbed to move around over length things, ideally sailing boat and ship masts to all the posh marina destinations across Europe – keep dreaming that’s what I say!!

 
My third and final reason for doing a bit on mini artics is because I came across one of the German companies who build a lot of mini artic trailers. The company is called Eisel and along with normal trailers they appear to be quite the people to see for your minisattel requirements. Whether it’s a flat or a box what they manufacture appears to be of typical decent German build quality.  

   
I’ve still not checked Friday’s Euromillions ticket, you never know I might be off to Germany by the end of week to order up the dream machine. I know mini artics aren’t quite the same as their bigger brothers but as Mrs Blog says, size doesn’t matter it’s what you do with it that counts! Down to Eisel Nutzfahr Zeuge to get the flatbed and the box on order it is then, you have to agree the box van below does look pretty dam smart and all the more appealing now we know the payload potential.  

    
 

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Big Boys Toys

I have a son who is 5 years old and for a couple of years now he has been the proud owner of a Bruder Toys fire engine. It’s a big bugger and takes up a fair amount of space but what I really admire are the working parts. The turn-table ladder extends up to over a metre, the stabiliser legs extend out and take the weight off the wheels and best of all there is a fully functioning and usable water pump that shoots water out of the long rubber hose. If there was a small fire in our house I have no doubt that this machine would easily cope with the emergency. If you watch the first video above then could easily be forgiven for thinking that it’s a promotional video about the Arocs range by Mercedes-Benz!

This leads me nicely onto another chance mention of Bruder Toys I had on a training course at work. One of our top trainers who works with people all across the UK and is is regular liaison and consultation with those at world headquarters in Germany, made me aware of the Bruder videos and was quite insistent that I have a good watch. Now I’m please to say that following Mr Nick Smiths advice, my son and I spent the best part of 30 minutes (father and son bonding time of course Mrs Blog!) watching through loads of videos on the Bruder YouTube channel, including the tractor and combine harvester ones, you’ve got to have a look. Not only are they big boys toys in the true sense of the phrase, they really are, or could be a useful working truck! If only they came radio controlled, now there’s an idea Bruder, then you really could have a fleet of working vehicles to help with the gardening or building jobs. The cement mixer can even pour out its load and the gritter below does actually spread grit out the back, what more could you want?? Oh you want it big enough so your gorilla hands don’t stop you playing, well as the 8 wheelers are over half a metre long I don’t think you’ll have an issue.

It just so happens that I have a birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks and for the first time in a good while I think I will have something affordable that I actually want on my birthday list. For boy or girls, for truck lovers, young farmers or what ever, I strongly recommend having a look at Bruder. If I get one for my birthday then I’m sure said truck will last for a good number of years and will get a few metres under its wheels on family jobs and beach holidays! Great work Bruder, now how about the radio controlled versions??…….

 

Boys & Their Tonka Toys

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You all know I like a mini artic. You all know I like a Mercedes-Benz. You all know I like a little sleeper cabs and you all know I like a bit of retro trucking. Roll these all together and there is only one result….a Mercedes-Benz 814 with an L Cab Twin sleeper. I think the range was called the LN2′ first launched in 1984. This little machine was once the king of the 7.5 tonners and many of us could only dream of driving such a truck but just as many of you were lucky enough to drive one. I remember being aged 17 and parked at McDonalds in Braintree, while all my mates were checking out their new stereos and who had the best pair of 6×9’s, so I wandered across the car park to talk to the driver of an 814 (might have been an 817). I had a MK1 Williams Renault Clio so I had nothing to prove in the car park show down! If I remember rightly the little Merc was white with maybe a red and blue stripe and a small crane mounted on the flatbed body. I think it was from the Nottingham area, although the driver said he spent most of his time doing oilfield work running between Scotland and the Mediterranean. Wow. Anyone know the description of the truck??

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As I am now working in the three pointed star stables, classic Mercs come up from time to time and as I spend to much time searching for old trucks for sale across Europe in my spare time, I have recently been searching for a decent 814 L Cab Twin sleeper. The reason I look for used trucks is just in case one day my numbers do come in on the Euro Millions! So I found this little blanco frigo and it got me thinking. From now on take this as fun subject to be enjoyed and for you to add to in a constructive way if possible. If I was to buy an old 814 sleeper, could i convert it to a 6×2, tag axle tractor unit??? I know I’m odd but that’s the way my mind works. I’ll only find a 4×2 truck for sale so to turn it into a tractor I’ll have to get the gas axe out and cut the chassis. I reckon the tag axle should be fairly straight forward, using another 814 axle? Should be possible, shouldn’t it? Then the big thing I would need your advice on would be the engine. Most LN2’s were fitted with a 5.96 litre straight six, a nice little engine I’m sure, but if I’m going so far as to cut the chassis and add a rear lift axle. I want a decent power plant to take me all the truck shows. Can I replace the trucks factory fitted engine with a 5 litre V8 Diesel engine that was once fitted in various big Mercedes-Benz cars? The main reason I’d want to do this would be the sound of course, all show goers know the importance of a good V8 noise. I’m no mechanic but if the engine is just used to drive the mini tractor unit and not used to pull any weight or a load, would the engine have enough guts to power the little unit around? And would it be physically compatible/possible?

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All clean comments and thought appreciated as I have a mind full of what seem like crazy ideas and sometimes I like to try and find out if any of them are possible. Just look at that little cab, gorgeous little thing, if any of you have photos you want to share then I’d love to seem them. You can email me at ben@truckblog.co.uk and I’ll post some up on the blog at a later date. Anyway the mechanics among you need to get your thinking hats on please.

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Retro Power Lining

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Last week I had an enjoyable couple of days on a course up at Wentworth Park near Barnsley. The idea was to learn all about the wonders and advances of Mercedes-Benz trucks compared to it competitors and even from where I’m standing it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t run MB on your fleet in some capacity. Everyone knows and thinks it’s funny I’m such a Scania fan but I work for Mercedes-Benz, but as my regular readers will know back in the days of running my own trucks Mercedes were the only choice for me. I’ve ways maintained that if I was ever to start again I would have an all MB fleet but have some old Scania or two for the show circuit. The only thing that has changed since my time at Orwell Trucks Mercedes-Benz is that I think if probably have to have an old SK or Powerliner for the show season too.
So imagine my delight when parked close to the entrance of my training course was this delightfully restored 1834LS. The vehicle has been restored by MB and is to be kept and used at various shows, in fact some of you would have seen it at the Retro Truck Show at Gaydon last year.

The vehicle was originally sold by Rygor Commercials to a company called Premier Waste. It must have then been returned after contract hire to Mercedes-Benz where it was once again purchased by Rygor Commercials (this was likely to be a paperwork exercise and the vehicle would have stayed at Rygors). In 2003 Rygor loaned the vehicle to SDC, a division of Honda at Swindon, where it was used as a shunter. Then in 2009 it was bought again by MB Approved Used Commercials. Since then the truck has been restored and repainted using genuine parts where possible. I think she’s lovely although I’m sorry to say we didn’t have time for a lesson in driving an EPS gearbox correctly….one day. I have found a nice LHD 1953 for sale in Holland, tempting. The truck spec is listed as follows;

– 1st registered 6 November 1995 (N reg)
– Engine V6 Turbo 340hp
– 8 Speed Split EPS Gearbox
– L Sleeper cab
– ABS brakes
– Drivers electric window
– Electric rear view mirror
– Luxury suspension seat for the driver
– Sunvisor
– 400 Litre fuel tank

What a little gem. I’m back at Wentworth Park in a few weeks so I hope to achieve the EPS training, if your reading Nick Smith?!? Any way this not the only retro truck, there were also two original Long Distance cabbed Mercedes-Benz Actros. Both trucks have genuine mileages of only a few hundred thousand Kilometres on the clock and are in great condition although I had forgotten how garishly awful the original seat covers and door cards were. Any way lots to see on this course so I hope the next one is just as enjoyable.

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My Best Truck of 2014

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For me this is the best truck I have seen in 2014. It might not be the newest, it might not be most practical for most of Europe and it certainly won’t be everyones taste but for me, spot on.

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If you live in the UK and haven’t been to one I strongly advise that you make 2015 your first trip to a European truck show, the standard of trucks is amazing. I can’t deny that the trucks here in the UK are getting better and better but the Europeans just seem to have it right, they all look good. To me the best trucks have always been out of reach of what I could afford or achieve and the T560 is no different. We all joke about winning the lottery but a Tcab would be very close to the top of my list. It’s blue, it’s got two sets of pipes, it’s got a subtle custom interior and enough lights to make it look good but not over the top. As with anything I would make a few subtle changes as I’d want to put my mark on it.

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2014 has seen a big rise in the blogs popularity through all mediums, the Facebook page, twitter and the good old fashioned http://www.truckblog.co.uk website. I’m not going to link to any of those this time round as I’m sure you all could do with a break from the ruthless links and plugs for the blog. I have no idea where the blog will be in another 12 months, hopefully you’ll all still send me stuff, photos, info and the odd piece of trucking memorabilia to decorate TBHQ and I’ll keep bugging the TV companies in the vague hope they’ll see that we need Truckblog TV!

Hopefully I’ll be visiting, Truckfest Peterborough, Crowfield Truck Rally, Gathering of the Griffin, Retro Truck Show at Gaydon, more than likely (and hopefully) Truckstar Festival at Assen as my foreign trip, although I have heard on the grapevine that there is quite a convoy of English motors heading to the International Trucker & Country Show held at Interlaken, CH. I have always wanted to go James?? Finally if the offer is still there then I might just make it to Belfast too.

Anyway thank you for following and thank you for making the blog what it is, without your contributions I’m sure you’d all be bored silly of 143’s, MAN TGL LX’s and Mercedes-Benz photos! As we all do secretly say now and again Keep on Trucking!

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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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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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