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Ferns choose new chassis, same body

Loadmaster-bodied Econic trucks

Company sticks with favoured Thompsons Loadmaster body on new Mercedes-Benz Econic grab trucks 

THE Ferns Group of Maidstone have just put into service their first two 32-tonne Mercedes-Benz Econic trucks in the latest 8x4 specification that features a steering rear axle behind the double drive bogie.

Operated by subsidiary company Ferns Surfacing Ltd from its north London Wembley depot, the two Econics are seen as an ideal solution for urban tipper grab work. With their large, low cabs, the vehicles provide unrivalled forward visibility and interior space for the crew, whilst the shorter effective wheelbase than for a typical 8x4 allows for greater manoeuvrability and tighter turning. 

The trucks are the first of a batch of eight Econic units that are to be phased into the company’s London operations as part of a conscious decision to improve road safety for vulnerable road users.

Giving drivers increased visibility to the front and near side of the vehicle, the Econic cab is lower than a traditional 8x4 chassis cab, which virtually eliminates the forward blind spot, whilst the fully glazed passenger-side door and large vision panel behind it gives the driver good vision along the nearside of the vehicle.

However, whilst these new chassis mark a radical change for the company, Ferns were adamant in fitting them with Thompsons’ long-proven Loadmaster tipper body.

‘There’s no reason at all for us to change from the Loadmaster,’ said Ferns’ transport director James Gupwell. ‘We’ve run this body for years on all our tippers working in whatever application, and there’s nothing to touch it for strength, durability and reliability.

‘Yes, it’s a premium product at a premium price, but its long-term value and exceptionally low ownership costs more than make up for that front-end expense. As an added bonus, the residual values for a tipper with a Loadmaster are always notably higher. You simply can’t get a better body than this.’

With Thompsons delivering the entire bodywork package, including installation of the Epsilon Palfinger cranes through to finished paint, Ferns’ latest trucks are said to mark a significant advance in both operating versatility and safety.

Firmly established as the UK’s top-selling tipper body, Loadmaster is available in three versions – the full-spec Loadmaster, the Loadmaster Lite and the recently launched Loadmaster X-Lite.

For the Econics, Ferns chose the first of these, which differ from the others by having a heavy-duty, double-skinned body with cornerposts front and rear. Ferns also specified each body with a toolbox, wacker carrier and rear towing pin.

Fuelled and ready for work, the trucks tare off at 16,500kg which, spec for spec, is similar to a standard eight-wheeler.

Thompsons director Scott Burton commented: ‘We are naturally delighted to have been chosen by Ferns to help produce this latest advance in their tipper fleet. As the UK’s leading tipper bodybuilder, larger companies such as Ferns increasingly recognize our ability to not only produce bodies of the highest quality, but also to project manage new tipper solutions from start to finish. As such, their new Econics provide ideal testimony to our capabilities.’

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