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Mercedes-Benz Actros goes down to the woods for John Miller

Sightings have been reported of a powerful beast roaming the forests of the Scottish border country – but the monster in question is no mythical being, it’s a mighty Mercedes-Benz Actros off-road special!

The 8×4 Actros 4144K has just joined the fleet of John Miller Ltd. Chosen and specified for an arduous life, it will spend most of its time deep in the Galloway forests of Dumfriesshire, rarely setting a wheel on tarmac.

The Actros was supplied by Carlisle Mercedes-Benz dealer Ciceley Commercials. It has a design weight of 41 tonnes and is powered by a 440hp V6 engine, driving through a version of the acclaimed Mercedes PowerShift automated transmission specifically optimised for off-road applications.

The vehicle’s impressive specification includes an extended M-type day cab with Comfort driver’s seat, air-conditioning, an in-cab fridge, additional fuel tank and radiator protection, and a five-position Voith retarder. Dumfries-based JD Engineering also added a central tyre inflation system, which can be operated from inside the cab – this allows the driver to drop tyre pressures when off road, to minimise damage to forest trails, then re-inflate to normal pressures when the truck is on hard surfaces.

The chassis is fitted with a specialised body and Loglift crane, both of which were supplied and installed by German manufacturer Doll before the vehicle was delivered. The rear-mounted crane has a fully-enclosed cab, allowing the driver to operate in all weather conditions, and the truck is fitted with a gearbox oil cooler and extra engine cooling capacity to guard against overheating while the crane is in use. The truck also tows a trailer, supplied by Dennison, of Lancaster, which rides on three heavy-duty BPW axles.

Dougie Evans, of JD Engineering, explained the thinking behind the specification of this impressive log hauler.

"Miller’s new truck is working almost exclusively within the treeline," he said. "As trees are felled it brings the timber to the edge of the forest where the loads are transferred to regular tractor units hauling log trailers.

"This means that one vehicle is taking all the ‘hurt’ of working on the rough forest tracks. It also means the trucks that take logs on from the forest edge to the sawmill don’t need to have their own cranes, which gives each one approximately 2.5 tonnes of extra payload, and reduces the requirement for drivers with crane training."

The John Miller fleet is split into two: the timber trucks are based in Dalbeattie, while the company also has a general haulage operation which works from a new, purpose-built site at Kirkburn Industrial Estate, Lockerbie. Although the general fleet is dominated by Mercedes-Benz Actros units, this is Miller’s first timber truck to wear the three-pointed star.

"John Miller approached several manufacturers with his requirements for this vehicle and the response from Mercedes-Benz was by far the most positive," said Mr Evans.

"They were very quick to come to the table, with a list of features that would help meet our needs, such as hub reduction axles and heavy-duty air filters. We know the Actros to be a solid, reliable and cost-effective vehicle, while we also have an excellent working relationship with Ciceley Commercials and its local sales executive Mike Ferguson, so Millers were more than happy to place this order with them."

And he added: "The new Actros is a special truck that undertaking a very particular, and highly demanding, role. It’s performing exactly as hoped."

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