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; ben@truckblog.co.uk –  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 ben@truckblog.co.uk 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

Probably The Best Mini Artic in The World!!?

Volvo FL-290 Urban Artic tractors

Probably the best title on the blog ever! Ok ok that’s enough, you can have enough of a good thing I know. Carlsberg have just taken delivery of 14 of these Volvo mini artics, or Volvo FL-290 Urban Artic tractors, to give them their proper names. There are also 2 Volvo FM-330, 3 axle, 26 ton rigids in the deal too. The 16 new trucks will be split between Carlsbergs Warrington and Croydon depot’s.

The 14 urban artics are all factory built, which is a bonus as far as National fleet manager Neil Davis is concerned;

 “Knowing that we can specify exactly the vehicle we want and that it will be factory-built to our requirements and not converted from a rigid gives Volvo a distinct advantage in the Urban Artic sector. Having something that is factory-built provides peace of mind.”

I have to say I thought that other manufacturers now offered factory built small tractor units, but perhaps they are still converting rigid chassis into tractor units. The press release from Volvo goes on to say;

“The Urban Artics will operate with single axle semi-trailers at a gross weight of 26-tonnes and are expected to cover around 35,000 to 70,000 km annually. A two-man bench seat is installed to accommodate a three-man crew if required for training purposes. The two Volvo FM 6×2 day-cab rigids feature a hydraulically-steered rear axle to improve manoeuvrability and are fitted with a nine-metre long curtain-side body and 2.5-tonne cantilever-type tail-lift. Power is provided by the Volvo 11-litre engine rated at 330hp. Low-profile Michelin Energy tyres are installed in order to keep the deck height as low as possible and to optimise fuel use. These vehicles will cover around 70,000-km per annum. Both artics and rigids are equipped with telematics and will carry out between 10 and 18 deliveries daily.”

Still No Activ Update!!

One of my drivers was told by the staff at Bremen based Activ Cars that they’d send soe photo’s to the blog soon………..nothing yet!

Activ Cars

After a delivery not far from Activ Cars base in Bremen one of our drivers had 30 mins to spare so he called in at Activ HQ. After a lengthy conversation they decided that he’d be allowed to take some photo’s all the great blog cause, only for the decision to be overtuned by the boss as all the Mercedes trucks were all dirty and they would email over some new fleet photo’s once they had a few trucks back and they had been washed and brushed up. Now I suppose it could be true that at this time of year it can be difficult to get any fleet clean, so i’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Christmas holiday surprise! My driver did say there is an English man working in the office who seemed quite keen on the blog so hopefully one of these days he’ll make contact!!

Activ Cars

Activ Cars

For now i’ll just have to make do with the few photo’s they emailed a few years back, how hard done by am I!! If any of you have any contact with Activ Cars (they do come to all Airbus facilities in the UK each week) drivers or vehicles then email over your Activ Spots; ben@truckblog.co.uk

New SportsMAN for German Football Team


This little MAN TGL LX tractor and trailer have just gone into service, selling footballing merchandise at home and away games for German football champions Borussia Dortmund. The MAN press release states; “The semitrailer tractor has been specially adapted by the Munich Dax-30 Group to the club’s requirements and designed in the club’s colors. Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga team has been traveling to its games in an exclusive MAN coach for around ten years. “

The press releasegoes on to say; Andreas Lampersbach, Head of MAN SE’s Corporate Communications, added: “Our partnership with Borussia Dortmund is going very well for us. Following the new Team Coach and the Champion Mobile, the Fan Shop on wheels is the third customized vehicle that our engineers have put on the road for BVB.”

Can anyone shed any light on the “Munich Dax-30 Group”?? I have heard of them before, they obviously do plenty of truck and vehicle conversions, but when I type it into Google, it just comes back with everything related to the German Stock Exchange! Any ideas, then email me; ben@truckblog.co.uk

New Ozzie Mini Artic is Nearly Ready

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;

New Ozzie Mini Artic

New Ozzie Mini Artic

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.

New Ozzie Mini Artic

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.

New Ozzie Mini Artic

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’.

New Ozzie Mini Artic

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.

Mighty, mighty expensive, but look good

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.

Mighty, mighty expensive, but look good

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.