Short truck, Short trip, Short blog

Morning All, it’s been a little quiet on the blog front for a couple of weeks due to one thing and another. The Long Distance Diaries of late have proved very popular with you lot and I still maintain it’s due to the good old LDD’s that used to appear in various magazines 10-15 years ago. One of the blogs contributors is Luke from Tudor Services in Bristol. When look offered a mini artic blog this week I of course said yes please!…..

Monday 15/04/19
Leaving the yard at 0500 to head to Heysham to get the 1415 crossing to Douglas on the Isle of Man hooked up to a 33ft urban trailer loaded with the kitchen for a new premier inn hotel being built on the island.

I arrive in Heysham at 1200 to the devastating news that the boat has been cancelled as they are carrying out repairs on the backdoors which are not closing properly. So it’s off the truckheaven in Canforth to park up and wait until tomorrow’s 1415 boat!

Tuesday 16/04/19
Head to the port for 1200 again and thankfully the boat is now running so board at 1330 and arrive in Douglas at 1800 and park outside the port and go off into town for a little walk around.

Wednesday 17/04/19
Up at 0600 to drive all of 0.8 miles to my delivery. Once I’ve tipped I decide that it’s an absolute must that I drive a lap of the TT track as it’s pretty much the only thing that’s going on here so I check the tyres lower the suspension and head for the start line!

I have to say after a drive around the circuit I really do take my hat off to the maniacs doing 130 miles an hour it’s not like your nice smooth race track with good visibility it’s truly deadly from what I made of it. Once I complete my lap it’s back to the port to let my tyres cool off while I wait for my boat back to the mainland.

My lap time was 69 minutes and 55 seconds so there’s definitely room for improvement if I’m gonna take the record but it’s not a bad first attempt I don’t think! – Luke, sadly you can only up the speed limiter on an Actros to 130kph. Although it will help with your lap time I’m not sure the Police will be willing to write you an exemption letter!! TB.

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. 

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


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??

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?

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 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.



My Best Truck of 2014

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.


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.


2014 has seen a big rise in the blogs popularity through all mediums, the Facebook page, twitter and the good old fashioned 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!


Take Away Delivery MAN


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; 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.


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,

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.**

Maiden Trip to Sydney

Maiden Trip to Sydney from Julian Baker

Remember our Ozzie reporter Julian Baker, based in Seymour, Victoria (down near Melbourne). Julian has now got his new UD mini artic on the road. It has taken a few weeks of converting a rigid chassis into a tractor unit and adding all the bits and bobs before finally getting the new motor on the road.

Maiden Trip to Sydney from Julian Baker

The first trip for the little beaut was a steady trip loaded up with a full load of 6 vehicles.

Load Point: Melbourne, Victoria, Oz.
Delivery Point: Sydney, New South Wales, Oz.
Distance: 870ish Kilometres

What more is there to do, but hit the road Jack! So off Julian went. Heading towards the home of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge Sydney is quite an impressive 1st destination in my book. In a new truck you want to get the first trip under your belt, so after 500km where better to stop than the The Dog on The Tuckerbox near Gundagai. Being a famous place for travellers to stop as its a statue tribute to all Pioneers, Julian could resist stopping on his way past. I dare say the food is pretty good too!

Maiden Trip to Sydney from Julian Baker

Maiden Trip to Sydney from Julian Baker

By all accounts it sounds the little UD has been well specced as it coped with the trip to Sydney with no problems. I asked Julian what he did after tipping in Sydney;

“I actually spent a week working locally in Sydney Ben. The ships carrying the cars no longer come in into Sydney Harbour, that stopped about 10 years ago. Instead they Dock at Port Kembla at Wollongong. Ceva Logistics (who Julian pulls for) has its own yard integrated into the Port Kembla wharf complex and we do direct deliveries from there of Mazda’s and Subaru’s, as well as general wharf cartage from the wharf itself to distributors of other product i.e. BMW’s. So I spent a week in Chateau UD and did local deliveries into Sydney from Wollongong.There is a nasty climb out of Wollongong, Mt Ousley (click HERE for a rough Map “B” is the climb, it’s worth looking on Street View to see just how steep it is!). It certainly tests any truck, let alone my little banger with 6 cars on. One load was BMW’s: an X5, X6, two X3s and two X1s. I would have been right up on my max GCM, back into second gear, but the heavier drive line in the little UD handled it no worries :-)) Headed back to Seymour on the Friday after a profitable and enjoyable week mate!!:-))”

Lets just hope the Little Banger as Julian calls it, has started as it means to carry on. Hard working, reliable and earning money!! Also can you beat this photo?? The new tractor unit parked and posing underneath Sydney Harbour bridge. As you can see the trailer has been dropped off, i’m guessing it’s not the kind of place you want to be taking a trailer of any size, come to think of it you might not be allowed to take your trailer in.

Maiden Trip to Sydney from Julian Baker

Do you want to share a maiden voyage in your new truck?? Email me; –  See if  you can get your new beast in an impressive location and send me a photo.

Mini Artic Weights from MAN

Swiss Coffee MAN

For ages I have been harping on about mini artics, or mini sattelzug for our continental friends, and in particular I have been trying to find out what the deal is with the weights of these little trucks. If a little rigid is plated as a 12 tonner then what is its gross weight when its converted into a mini artic?? To me it would seem pretty pointless if 12 ton was the gross train weight of a mini artic, although I know it can be if required. It makes more sense if a mini artic has a higher GTW and finally I think I have found the proof to back this up. I managed to get hold of a 30+ year long servant of MAN Trucks UK by the name of Keith Mulhall. Mr Mulhall emailed me a copy of the brochure “MAN Leichte Sattelzugmaschinen” as you may be able to tell its in German! But it does list the Gross Train weights for the various models in the TGL range.

Duvenbeck Transportation

This isn’t easy to list on hear but for all of you who are still awake, this is what the brochure states;

MAN TGL 8.XXX BLS – Gross Train Weight = 18,750 kg
MAN TGL 12.180 BLS – Gross Train Weight = 21,000 kg
MAN TGL 12.220 BLS – Gross Train Weight = 21,000 kg
MAN TGL 12.250 BLS – Gross Train Weight = 24,000 kg

This is the simple summary of the whole thing, but obviously it all depends on the rest of the drive train. There are various axle rartio’s and gearboxes to choose from to achieve your desired weight and I dare say that dependant on your country will depend how many axles you need in total to achieve said weight. I’m guessing that what ever make of truck, the train weights must be similar if not the same.

Got anything to add? Email me at or leave a comment below, i’m off to read “How to Watch Paint Dry” by Major Lee Board!!! I just wanted to share it with you as i’ve gone on about it so much and no one could give the answer. Now you know and just think, I don’t have to tell you again……….But I might do more on the Duvenbeck if I can get a response from them.

MAN TGL + Saxas Trailer