Small is Beautiful


We are now 10 years down the road here on the blog and if there are any of you first blog readers still here, then it’s time you…….no no, then most of you will know that I love a little truck with a big cab and the icing on the cake is one that does international work! For me the perfect example are the two little trucks you see above. A good pal of mine spends many a Wednesday doing what we’d all love to do, he stands on a bridge over the M20 in Kent photographing all the trucks, mainly those heading to or from the UK’s main link with Europe, Dover Docks. All of the photos in this blog are all taken and copyright to Neil Jarrold. Without Neil I’d struggle to see quite so many of these delightful little motors from my office in Ipswich! The little Italian TGL LX above just oozes something that flicks my switch, big cab, smart paint, tidy bodywork, big fuel tanks and foreign number plates! You could get me into that truck and send me to Italy everyday even if you offered me tractor and trailer instead. Bellissimo. 


So it needs a big cab, it needs to be international and the only way to hit perfection is add on a little fridge body. Bingo!! I know the little Pulleyn Ategos used to go far and wide hence the TIR board but once again the little MAN just looks the ticket. Maybe as I had a little MAN 7.5 tonner I’m a little biased but the little German is the best thing in the MAN range by a very long way. 


How about a little DAF? Well the small problem with the LF is that they don’t do their own big cab, you need to look for an aftermarket one. A local company to me Hatcher Components do a marvellous twin bunk “Sky Cab” conversation for the little Dutchman and I have to say it is once again rather splendid. Painted properly the DAF is as gorgeous as it Dutch roots, a real head turner. 

I still don’t really get why I like them quite so much, even a mini artic does the trick and has that certain, Je ne sais pas quoi. The one thing I do know is, every time I see some of Neil’s photos capturing their journeys doing as many miles as any of their bigger cousins across Europe, it always makes me want to get back to it. As I have certainly said before, if I’d managed to stop in my little MAN and actually speak to another now friend of mine, Steve Marsh, then just perhaps I could still have my own little big cabbed truck. I like it when I get talking to some of you lot and I often get the impression we could be talking about any hobby or passion. Some of you like heavy haulage, some tippers, some Foden’s and I guess for me, my “speciality” is little big cabs. But then again as with anything, variety is the spice of life and trucks are no different. I’d be a boring old truck show if we all liked the same thing! Thanks to Neil Jarrold for the photos. 

Advertisements

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.  

    
 

Boys & Their Tonka Toys

2015/02/img_0977.png

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??

2015/02/img_0975.png
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?

2015/02/img_0978.png
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.

2015/02/img_0979.png

2015/02/img_0973.png

My Best Truck of 2014

IMG_0915.JPG
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.

IMG_0910.JPG

IMG_0911.JPG
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.

IMG_0914.JPG

IMG_0912.JPG
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!

IMG_0913.JPG

Take Away Delivery MAN

20140512-211230.jpg

I’ve been after this one for a while now and today my good old pal Howard was tipping at the same place as this little MAN wagon and drag. Many moons ago I tried to get reloads from Middlewich Food Trays but I was told that I needed a trailer to make it worth while. Anyway that was another reload out the window but I always kept an eye out for the little wagon and drags as they went about their business delivery the core of the UK’s take away industry all over the UK.

These days Middlewich Food Trays are still operating mini drawbar outfits as their loads of polystyrene cube out way before they reach their maximum payload. This LX cabbed TGL is an 8.220, it is also the newest on the fleet. The extra power comes in handy when pulling the drag trailers, by name they can be a real drag. The body on the truck is also mounted 18 inches further back than normal to help try and stabilise the outfit when towing the trailer. The only thing they should also have specced is a sun visor, it just looks wrong, well in my opinion anyway. Still a good looking little thing so if you see any more Middlewich trucks then please send me a photo. You can email me; ben@truckblog.co.uk or you can post it on the TB Facebook page or you can even Tweet it; @truckbloguk I’ll happily start a spotting thread for this little fleet. Thanks to Howard and also Shaun who sent a photo of a rear view of a MFT truck a few months back.

20140512-215447.jpg

Activ Once Again…..

Activ Cars - Mini Artic

Way back in the day I used to get rather excited at the sight of a little silver German mini artic. These little wonders are in particularly operated by Activ Cars GMBH from Achim, Bremen, Germany. Now and again i’d catch one on its way to or from Harwich on my way to work. I’ve not seen one for a while and after Activ Cars German HQ said they would send me some fleet photos around Christmas 2011 but never did, the little Germans have taken a bit of a quiet back seat. From blog favourite to blog back burner. That was until this week………

Activ Cars - Mini Artic

That was until Wednesday this week when I received an email from Blogger X. I know him as Blogger X so thats what we’ll call him. Now BX may have a regular slot on the blog if these shots are anythinng to go by. BX works at a company in North Wales that receive weekly deliveries from Activ Cars vehicles. Blogger X has said he will send some photos when ever one arrives, which i’m hoping may be weekly. BX sounds like he may be a keen photographer as he said he was hoping to get a photo of the above Mercedes Vario as it drove along but it arrived before he was ready…..I think we can let him off as it is his first attempt! Below is a fully liveried Activ Atego at its German base. Keep your pics coming Blogger X.

Activ Cars

If you spot one of these little Mini Artics make sure you grab a pic and email it through to the blog, ben@truckblog.co.uk

En-tyre-ly Different Class

Dutch Tyre Mini Artic

This lovely VW mini artic was spotted by top Scania man, owner driver Mike Tasker. Spotted in Holland last week, Mike says it’s a tyre wagon, belonging to Dutch firm Recamax. I have seen a few decent and ingenious tyre vans / trucks on the continent but none as smart as this little one. It looks like it’s almost big enough to be a complete tyre fitting workshop! Good Spot Mike, keep the pics coming.

**Just on another note, I am suffering with no Internet at home again, so the blog has once again taken a back seat thanks to BT!! Hoping to be back up and running Wednesday or Thursday.**