Thompsons or Charlton? “We want both” says Michael O’Donnell, owner of MC International Haulage

Monday, 22nd November 2021

 

Decisions, decisions. ‘This body, or that body?’ Which is best?

When finalising the bodywork details of his latest batch of top – spec tippers, Michael O’Donnell quickly came to realise it wasn’t a case of choosing a Charlton over a Thompsons, or vice – versa, but actually having both. A decision made that much easier because both these model ranges are products of the larger Thompsons Group.

Michael O’Donnell said:

“Each of the two bodytypes is absolutely ideal for a particular type of work. Charlton’s SuperLite is exactly that – built in steel yet providing the maximum payload in its class. The ideal general purpose tipper body. And then Thompsons’ Loadmaster Lite – easily the most proven heavy duty tipper there has ever been. On really tough jobs, there’s nothing to beat it.

So when you look at these two bodies together, you see that they complement each other perfectly. Having both simply adds to our performance and productivity. Whichever body we choose at a particular point in time, it’s going to come from the Thompsons Group.”

Based at Ashford, Heathrow, MC International Haulage started off ten years ago doing conventional tractor / trailer work into Europe, but soon changed course into developing a wide range of domestic UK tipper services. These now include bulk excavation, land restoration, recycling, road planing, grab work and muckaway.

Immediately notable is that this 22 – strong tipper fleet is built around unusually high vehicle specifications, and with equivalent standards visual presentation to match.

Michael added:

“For chassis, we’re 100% Scania, whilst for bodies it’s now Charlton and Thompsons together. The fact that Charlton is owned by Thompsons is an obvious bonus, as well as a guarantee of their product quality. We’ve run bodies built by Thompsons in Croydon from the very outset, so can vouch for their superb performance, reliability and durability.

Now the Charlton SuperLite adds further appeal – being some 200kgs lighter makes it obviously attractive not just as a straight front end tipper but also when helping to offset the extra weight of a crane on a grab truck.”

Individual features of the Charlton bodies also find widespread favour not just with MC but with tipper operators generally. The completely smooth, flat, one piece sides are ideal for carrying modern liveries whilst also making cleaning quick and easy. SuperLite’s curved floor makes the ejection of wet and sticky loads that much easier too, whilst the very similar GrabLite comes with a flat floor to help scooping up material with a clamshell bucket.

Charlton also offers full range of tipping gears, tailgate designs and supplementary equipment such as onboard weighing, sheeting systems, cameras, pedestrian warning devices and toolboxes – all of which are supplied and fitted in-house.

MC’s duality in bodytypes also carries through into variations in their chassis. Whilst all are Scania, the company also finds ample reason to choose both the standard 8×4 model as well as the more off-road focused XT, all with various engine outputs covering 410, 450 and 500hp.

Finished off with a striking red livery and detailing, taking pride in a fleet like this comes easy – though obviously a lot of hard work goes in to keeping the trucks looking and performing at their best.

Michael says:

“It’s worth all the effort, because we want people to see that we have high standards and fight hard to be at the top of our game. When we come to sell the trucks, if their spec is right and their condition is right then we easily get a top value for them.

Having Thompsons Group bodies on our chassis can make a big difference – they are what used truck buyers are really looking for. And in the meantime, we keep our drivers happy by giving them the best tippers we can.”

Based in Dover, Charlton Bodies Ltd will be delivering a further batch of tippers to MC International in 2022.

Charlton demonstrates its core strengths with Independent Builders Merchant Group

Monday, 8th November 2021

 

Long established as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of specialist truck bodies to the building supply industry, Charlton is now the preferred bodywork supplier to the rapidly growing Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG).

To date in 2021, Charlton has supplied IBMG with the bodywork for twelve new 26t chassis, plus five at 18t and one 16t vehicle.

Richard Beal, IBMG’s Senior Transport Manager says:

“We choose Charlton for our truck bodies for two main reasons. First is their exceptional build quality, with everything being supplied, fitted and finished by Charlton themselves. This means that when we get our trucks they are immediately ready to work.

The second is that Charlton makes enormous efforts to ensure that their products are always exactly what we want, and are therefore ready and willing to sit down with us to develop specifications that are precise to the finest detail. Our new trucks are very much the result of a real team effort to get them exactly right.”

Supplied to IBMG through Woking – based Translease Services, all the 18 vehicles delivered in 2021 are based on DAF CF and LF chassis.

The bodies of the 26t vehicles, as running with Parker Building Supplies, have 6300mm hardwood floors, triple planked aluminium dropsides and a steel framed tailboard. A full length subframe then supports rear mounted extendable stability legs, a short safety staircase and a rear – mounted Fassi F155 crane. As well as providing the best and easiest solution of driver access to the body, these cranes can be operated either by full remote control or via conventional levers.

By being mounted at the back of the truck the long – reach cranes also offer significantly increased versatility in being able to deliver loads at almost any point off the sides or rear of the vehicle.

Underneath the bodywork the rear – steer DAF 370hp CF 6×2 chassis provides an optimum blend of manoeuvrability and performance. Weighing in at just over 13t unladen, these new six wheelers offer a highly competitive payload allowance that is more than adequate for the generally mixed loads the trucks carry.

At 18 and 16 tonnes, the 4×2 DAF LF is IBMG’s truck of choice with the latest examples going to Group member Fairalls of Godstone. The bodywork of these trucks follows the core design and layout of the six wheelers, but on a reduced scale. These smaller trucks are therefore ideal for deliveries to more congested sites such as individual building plots and driveways.

In the last few years the Independent Builders Merchant Group has risen to become the largest independent supplier to the building trade across Southern England. As well as Parker and Fairalls, its members include Chandlers, Grant & Stone, Stamco, CRS, Perrys and RGB Building Supplies with the combined Group now operating from over 140 locations ranging from Kent to Cornwall.

Commenting further on his most recent new trucks, Richard Beal notes:

“the vehicles we need have to combine the highest possible levels of practicality, versatility and safety. They also have to be reliable and cost effective, right from the start. Getting the best possible specification is the key to achieving all those virtues, along with the very real expertise and support we get from Charlton and Translease.

This is a real team effort, and it works particularly well.”

Based in Dover, Charlton is a key part of the Croydon – based Thompsons Group.

Charlton and Translease will be supplying another 13 new vehicles to IBMG in 2022, with an as yet unspecified further quantity in 2023.

 

 

 

Lynch debuts their first Thompsons – bodied high visibility urban tippers

Thursday, 27th May 2021

 

Marking a significant advance in the UK tipper industry, L Lynch Plant Hire and Haulage of Hemel Hempstead has just put into service a number of new low entry Scania L Series 8×4 ‘High Visibility Urban Tippers’ complete with Thompsons’ ever-popular Loadmaster Lite bodywork.

Specifically designed for urban and on-road operation, these new trucks are a significant departure from the ‘industry standard’ UK eight wheeler. Immediately visible is that to achieve their lower height the truck cabs are mounted in a more forward position than for a regular 8×4 and, with these particular examples, the second steer axle is now located behind the double drive bogie.

Stephen Bremner, Fleet and H&S Director for Lynch says:

“For on-road and city applications, these new trucks offer a wide range of advantages. Most immediately, the driver now has a clearer view of not only the road ahead but also of the wider operating environment around the truck. The driver is now in closer proximity to other road users and pedestrians, increasing driver awareness and safety considerations. The low cab height makes exit and entry safer for our drivers as well.

With the cab now more forward of the engine, in-cab noise levels are reduced which, when combined with front and rear air suspension, makes for a particularly comfortable ride. As a working environment, these cabs are now better than ever. Some of our drivers were a bit hesitant about the new trucks at first, but even after a couple of days they are more than happy with them.”

A second key advantage of these trucks is that despite their extra length over conventional off-road tippers, they are no more difficult to drive or manoeuvre in congested urban environments. With the Tridem axle configuration they have a smaller turning circle than a standard 8×4 and are able to navigate left or right hand turns in narrow streets.

There’s one other big operating advantage too. With three axles now located under their all-steel Thompsons bodies, the risk of overloading individual axles is much reduced.

Stephen adds that:

“The body carries the weight of the load, so you really want as many axles directly under the body as possible.”

Stephen also sees Thompsons as the ideal bodywork supplier for these new trucks.

Stephen added:

“We went for Thompsons Loadmaster Lites on our last purchase of conventional layout 8x4s, and they have performed superbly. Light yet strong, they will easily handle any work we put them to. Equally important, Thompsons has the proven expertise to properly engineer and install these bodies and their hydraulics into the Scania chassis. Thompsons also takes on board our specialist requirements too, such as fitting detection alarms for high voltage cables and additional underguard covers.

In terms of both specification and finished quality, Thompsons bodies are therefore the ideal solution for our new urban tippers.”

Speaking for Thompsons, Joint Managing Director Scott Burton says:

“Lynch is a proven industry leader, and therefore it’s no surprise that they were the first customer to come to us to build bodies for these next generation tippers. We’re obviously delighted that our previous Loadmasters have performed so well for them, and wish Stephen and his team all possible success with these latest tippers in their fleet.”

A SuperLite supertruck! Charlton rocks on the back of Steve Wills’ superb Volvo 8×4 FH 540

Thursday, 26th November 2020

 

The SuperLite

 

Still a stronghold of family-owned transport businesses, England’s far south west boasts some of the most individual and highly specified trucks to be found anywhere in the UK. And no company demonstrates this pride of ownership better than Cornwall’s Steve Wills Haulage and its brand new Charlton – bodied 540hp sleeper cab 8×4 Volvo FH.

Owner Steve Wills says:

“This truck is another step forward. We’ve long been big fans of Swedish trucks including Volvo’s FMX, but this is our first FH. For this truck – as with all our recent tippers – we’ve gone for an all-steel Charlton SuperLite body with a cab-operated tailgate that’s the perfect complement to the top-level spec of the chassis. Together, they are an ideal pairing.”

As well as having a bigger cab, at 1250mm high the all – steel SuperLite’s bodysides are that bit taller too, making the new FH equally adept at carrying almost every type of payload from sand and aggregates to rocks and recyclables. And working in a county with plenty of steep inclines but no motorways, it made clear sense to specify the truck with Volvo’s mighty 540hp 13 litre diesel engine, which also pushes out a massive 2600Nm of torque. Fuel economy for the FH is great too, as that big engine not only reduces gearchanging but has also enabled the truck to be fitted with a higher differential ratio than is usual on Volvo tippers.

And the lucky driver of this new super – tipper? None other than Steve Wills’ 19-year old son Anthony, who has been driving for the company since the day he passed his test.

Anthony says:

“I still can’t quite believe it. When you see it in the yard before dawn it kind of takes your breath away. We’ve always gone for top level tippers, and this one is the best yet. It’s an absolute joy to spend the day in, and attracts highly positive comments from everyone who sees it. In turn, it’s a great advert for our company which, in addition to its huge capacity for work, is a key reason for having it.”

Surprisingly perhaps, the new FH is still very competitive on the weighbridge. This is partly because spec for spec, Charlton’s curved floor, ultra – durable SuperLite is the lightest steel tipper body on the UK market, so therefore an ideal choice for this particular chassis.

Anthony Wills also notes that “whilst the larger cab has obvious advantages – better forward visibility, extra room and reduced noise levels – it’s really just a bigger box of fresh air. The twelve alloy wheels also save around 240kgs or so over a standard tipper. As a result, the FH tips the scales at a very reasonable 12,900kgs to give a clear 19 tonnes plus payload which, given the performance and versatility on offer, we are more than happy with.”

Set up by Steve Wills almost 40 years ago, his haulage business remains a true family affair, with his younger sons Matthew and Daniel also keen to play their part. The company philosophy has always been to operate on a highly personal level, to keep things manageable and aim to be the very best at everything it does. The new FH bears clear testimony to that – as indeed do another two Volvos already on order for delivery in 2021.

Speaking for Charlton, Sales Director Andrew Gunn comments:

“Having supplied Steve Wills with tipper bodies for some years, we are delighted to have been chosen once again for their latest FH fleet flagship. Thanks to customers like Steve, Charlton has now established itself as the leading tipper bodybuilder for operators in the South West, our products having secured a premium reputation for quality, reliability and performance.”

Steve Wills’ new truck was supplied by Kevin Wills (no relation) of Stuarts Truck & Bus, Volvo main dealer for south west England. Providing local service and support in Cornwall, Stuarts has a branch just off the A30 at Roche, outside St. Austell.

Top-spec FH tipper

Anthony Wills

 

 

The Wills family

 

Thompsons Group scores 2-0 with Luton’s top tipper team

Tuesday, 11th February 2020

 

Given the wide range of tasks they have to handle, choosing exactly the right tipper body spec is rarely easy. For Thomas Bros. Excavations (Luton) Ltd, the choice had to be from either Thompsons or its sister company Charlton. With so many benefits accruing to each, the ultimate decision was easy – they wanted both.

Thomas Bros. Managing Director Andrew Burton, says:

“We’ve bought Thompsons bodies for years, so we know we can put them on any job whatsoever. That said, the Charlton product is similarly versatile, and with the added bonus of being around 200kgs lighter. So for the heavier duty tasks such as muckaway and site work, the Loadmaster has that extra bit of reserve strength and capability, whereas for carrying stone and our crushed recycled materials Charlton’s SuperLite has a worthwhile extra payload. For a multi-purpose tipper operation such as ours, they are a terrific combination!”

Fitted to MAN, Volvo and Scania chassis, both Thompsons’ Loadmaster Lite and Charlton’s SuperLite bodies are single skin designs built entirely in steel. This gives both types an optimal blend of strength, durability and carrying capacity. The Charlton body also has a curved floor, which makes the clean ejection of wet and sticky loads that much easier. Befitting its intended application, the SuperLite also has a lower side panel height than the Loadmaster, thereby helping to reduce overall weight.

Andrew Burton adds:

“We’ve already got a great track record with both these bodies, and in reality there’s no other product out there to touch either of them. Our chassis choice may vary from time to time, but for tipper bodies we always go for Thompsons. Today, our trucks are working harder and longer hours than ever, so we really need that extra margin of performance and reliability. It’s as simple as that.”

With many in the company being big fans of Luton Town Football Club, Andrew has had two of the latest Loadmasters painted up in the club’s distinctive and highly visible orange colour.

He says:

“They make great adverts, both for the club and ourselves. After all, football is almost as hard a game today as being a tipper operator!”

Speaking for Thompsons, Joint Managing Director Scott Burton says:

“We’re delighted to have secured another 10 bodies for Thomas Bros.’ latest tippers, and in particular that Andrew clearly recognises the key benefits of each of our brands. Whereas the Loadmaster continues as the UK’s top selling tipper body, our Charlton product nonetheless finds increasing favour as a truly versatile, maximum payload alternative for customers who mainly carry stone, aggregates and recycled materials.”

Based at Beadlow in Bedfordshire, Thomas Bros. provides a wide range of services to the construction industry with over 40 heavy trucks that also include artic and grab tippers, hookloaders, skiploaders and road sweepers.

A landmark year for team Thompsons

Tuesday, 21st November 2017

 

As we approach Christmas we can reflect that 2017 has been yet another huge year for the Thompsons Group.

2017’s centrepiece event must be the establishment of our factory in Scotland, now up and running with fully trained staff, new shopfloor machine tools and an order book already stretching right through to next springtime. A highly individual market in its own right, Scotland will undoubtedly play a key role in the company’s long term development.

At the other end of the UK, Charlton in Dover is also busier than ever, not just with tippers but also in producing their own innovative and highly technical bodywork solutions. By building specialist and often highly bespoke truck bodies to address individual customer requirements, Charlton really does bring a significant extra dimension to our Group portfolio.

Also this year we completely revamped our Service Department, giving it the new, more open – ended identity of ServiceTech. Why? Because today we do much more than just repair tippers. Today’s marketplace demands that we offer a full range of vehicle services, including both fitting out new trucks ready for work as well as comprehensive maintenance throughout their working lives. As well as tippers, Thompsons is now a leading supplier of skiploaders and hookloaders too.

Also in the aftermarket, our unique internet – based Thompsons eParts operation continues to break its own sales records, and now offers operators over 6,000 individual line items from a pair of work gloves to a complete crane.

Back in June, we went to the annual TIP-Ex Show in Harrogate with over 30 vehicles – our strongest number of exhibits ever.

Are we now sitting back and resting? Certainly not, because we’ve already got a number of major new product innovations to launch at TIP-Ex ’18.

The below eBrochure gives you the real flavour of the Thompsons Group today. Read on!

Thompsons - In Our Element

 

Thompsons Tippers - Steel tipper bodies
Charlton Bodies
Thompsons - Tipper Bodybuilders
Thompsons Service Tech
Thompsons eParts for Tippers
Thompsons TOTAL

 

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