The first three Mercedes-Benz Arocs tippers to wear the smart red and grey colours of Derbyshire’s JC Balls & Sons have been specified with versatility and manoeuvrability in mind.
The third-generation family firm, which offers excavation, earthmoving, plant hire and recycling services, chose 6×4 Arocs chassis rather than the 8×4 version preferred by most operators for its higher payload capacity.
Belper-based JC Balls has long favoured 26-tonners for work on local highways contracts. Supplied by Derby Dealer Mertrux, its Arocs 2635Ks have ClassicSpace M-cabs and are powered by 7.7-litre engines producing 354 hp (260 kW). They are fitted with lightweight, all-steel Thompsons Stonemaster bodies, and tip the scales at an unladen 10,700kg.
“That translates into a highly competitive 15-tonne payload capacity,” said Jamie Balls, whose grandfather Jim founded the company in 1963 with a single digger. “A 6×4 truck is a lot more manoeuvrable than an eight-wheeler, which is a big advantage on some of the roads in this area. Also, of course, the lighter vehicle comes at a lower purchase price, and is cheaper to operate too.”
JC Balls tends to fulfil its highways commitments during the summer months; for the remainder of the year its tippers are assigned to general duties, including aggregates and muckaway work. “Versatility is all-important for us, and this new chassis-body combination is living up to all our expectations,” confirmed Jamie Balls.
The muscular Mercedes-Benz Arocs range is purpose-designed for construction-related applications. Off-road versions combine frames offering a high degree of torsional flexibility for enhanced traction, with excellent ground clearance and the ability to negotiate steep approach and departure angles.
Founder Jim Balls is now 88 and still a regular visitor to the company’s Ambergate headquarters. However, day-to-day responsibility for the running of the business has rested for some time with his sons Kevin and Chris, who is Jamie’s father.
“My uncle was invited to an Arocs launch event in Germany about three years ago, and was very impressed by all that he saw and heard,” recalled Jamie Balls who also works alongside his sister Lisa, and Kevin’s children Carly and Tom.
“We have good relationships with our established chassis suppliers so didn’t buy at the time. But there are plenty of other Arocs running around these days and we’ve spoken to several operators, whose feedback has been entirely positive. Mertrux Sales Executive Alex Stamp also put together an attractive deal, so we decided the time was now right to give these Mercedes-Benz trucks a try.”
He continued: “These are still very early days but the drivers have certainly taken to the Arocs, with the responsive engine and smooth-changing Mercedes PowerShift automated transmission being particularly well received.”
JC Balls runs a fleet of 38 trucks; most are six- and eight-wheeled tippers, some of which are also equipped with grabs, although the line-up also includes a pair of tractor units that pull low-loader trailers.
The company inspects and maintains these vehicles in its own workshops but will be relying on Mertrux for regular deliveries of the Mercedes-Benz GenuineParts it will need to keep its new Arocs working efficiently.
“We look to run our vehicles for at least 10 years, so reliability and durability will be the key factors in determining whether we choose Mercedes-Benz trucks again,” added Mr Balls. “It’s been a good start, though, and if things continue to go well there’s every chance we’ll be returning to Mertrux for more vehicles in the future.”