SECOND AATINr FOR MAGGIES
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Low cost is by no means the only reason why many local authorities want reconditioned air-cooled Magirus Deutz trucks from J Roberts, as Tim Blakemore found out
MANY of the brightly painted 6 X 6 local authority gritters or snow ploughs which have been kept so busy in sonic parts of the country over the past month are not so new as they seem. The chances are that they may have spent several years working in Swaziland. Peru or Jordan, for these are typical sources of the used special-purpose vehicles which J Roberts of Marston, near Sutton Coldfield, reconditions and supplies to many local authorities.
Michael Payne, the company's general manager, confirms what a glance around the J Roberts overcrowded yard and workshop leads one to suspect: that demand for vehicles of this type is growing. So busy is the company now that it needs another workshop. One has been acquired in nearby Taroworth. When this is fully fitted in about a month's time, some of the mechanical refurbishment work will be transferred there from Marston.
When Paul Bridges, proprietor off Roberts, bought the company its business was simply haulage, but for the past 14 years it has specialised in reconditioning, or "refurbishing'. as Bridges prefers to call it, Magirus Deutz bonnetted all-wheel-drive multiwheelers. These vehicles are favoured by
many local authorites for their ruggedness and in particular, for the reliability and durability of their Deutz air-cooled engines.
Why buy refurbished used trucks instead of new ones? The simple answer to that question is money.
Payne says that a typical J Roberts Magirus Deutz 6 x 6 leaving Marston, complete with bodywork, will sell for about 60 per cent of the net price, including discount, of an equivalent new vehicle. But there is a lot more to the steady growth in demand for refurbished, special-purpose trucks over the past 14 years than just low price.
Payne recognises the importance to his customers of good parts availability and keeps a large stock of various reconditioned components at Marston. The fact that many chassis and driveline components used on Magirus Deutz heavyweights are common to many different models helps to make this
possible. This is one of the reasons wh) -the Maggieis a favourite for the refurbishment treatment.
NINE years ago.' Roberts began a job numbering and control system. The display board in Payne's office now shows that since the about 2,200 vehicles have been refurbished "About 70 per cent of rhos( were Magirus Deutz,says Payne.
But the variety of trucks in the Marston yard underlines how the company is now ready to turn its refurbishing skill to almost any "special vehicle. These include bonnetted MAN 6 x 6 dump trucks, Scammell S24s and a selection of Bedford M types. In Payne's view, the economics of refurbishment can only be really attractive to the operator when the vehicle he wants is a little out of the ordinary.
We tried refurbishing some 'normal' ht-wheelers once, but people are not :pared to pay the right price for mi.he says.
Paul Bridges finds the raw material • his business, the used vehicles,
• ou,gh contacts in many different parts the world. and by travelling a good ii himself'. liv staying closely in touch th his customers in the UK he clearly a shrewd idea of whether and when make any particular purchase, such as six MAN dump trucks he recently ipped from Jordan.
From the time the old vehicle arrives Marston to the time it is delivered as ;ompletely refurbished unit, and ithably a -0,registered tme, usually :es about six weeks. The vehicle is ipped to the chassis at Marston and all necessary mechanical repair work rried out, including any modification, ch as wheelbase alteration. Sonietimes ught-in reconditioned engines are od, sometimes J Roberts overhauls the gine itself. One of the plans for the w Tamworth workshop is that it will erhaul engines and gearboxes so that a ck of some major units may he built
Bodybuilding and painting is always b-contracted to local firms, hut J iberts rakes responsibility for the mplete vehicle before the customer llects it. Some local authorities often a fitter to Marston to inspect lirbished vehicles before taking livery, and Michael Payne says that he .11 always encourage any customer lo wants reassurance to send a Freight .ansport Association inspector to check iehicle's mechanical condition.
Engine, gearbox and drive axle carry ;ix-month warranty but Payne whasises his flexible approach to any Lim beyond the six-month limit. "The swer is usually yes'," he says.