Of all the types of truck on our road, the tipper truck is probably the one that does the hardest work. Other types of truck may make more deliveries on a multi-drop route and the big tractors may haul more tonnage, but the special nature of the tipper’s work is the toughest of the lot. It is the job of the tipper truck to carry bulk aggregates to building sites and this places special strains on the wagon. The sheer weight of the load is a factor, but so too is the nature of the load. A relatively smooth material, such as sand, may not cause too much damage, but rougher aggregates can be hard on even the sturdiest tipper.
As well as transporting materials to the site, many tippers are used to remove rubble. The jagged nature of this material can severely impact the body and cause lasting damage. Often these loads are dropped on to the tipper by the likes of JCB buckets and little care is taken in the loading. Remember too that a tipper is fairly unusual for a truck insofar as it is expected to do at least some work on-site. These site roads can be extremely rough and uneven and can cause substantial wear and tear to components such as the steering, suspension and tyres.
Which is the Right Sized Tipper?
Tippers come in a variety shapes and sizes, with configurations to suit different operational demands. The lighter tippers are 7.5 tonnes and are often used for work such as that of a builder’s merchant. These weights can rise to 32 tonnes gross weight for the largest rigid tipper, which will require an 8×4 chassis. A 6×2 configuration will allow a 26 tonne gross weight. In addition to tonnage, you will need to think about the wheelbase and there are also specialist applications to consider. An insulated tipper will be used to keep the Tarmac hot and workable when delivering to road-surface laying operations and these days there are modern ‘moving floor’ bodies that achieve the same result as a tipper but without the tipping mechanism. Lastly, you will need to think about the sort of cab you want. Some tippers will have crew cabs or sleeper cabs instead of the standard day cab.
When buying a used tipper, you need to take a lot of care and carry out a thorough inspection. Clearly, all the standard checks apply and you should always look for the most complete service record you can get. The more specialist checks concern the operation of the tipper and the sort of wear and tear you might expect. Always check that the tipper mechanism is operational and works smoothly. It is best to check this fully loaded if at all possible. When the body is elevated, have a look for leaks in the hydraulics. Fixing the tipper mechanism can be expensive and seals are likely to go first.
Remember too that the tipper will not be earning until the mechanism is fixed, so you have an additional lost-income expense. The tipper will likely have been working off-road, so have a good look at all suspension components, check that the steering is working properly and inspect the underside for signs of damage caused by grounding. Have a look too at the tyres for damage. Perhaps easiest of all, have a good look at the body for damage to the loading area.
A used tipper is probably going to have been worked very hard, but modern trucks can put up with a lot of punishment. Choose carefully and you could still get many years of great service from it.