By Roger Brown
The HGV conversions industry in the UK is a competitive one with many companies vying for a slice of the pie.
One company that has stood out since it was set up in 1981 is Britcom which carries out bespoke custom-made conversions of all makes and models of trucks from its purpose-built facility in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.
Jobs it carries out include chassis modifications, bodybuilding, crane installations and axle conversions and fitments, including tractor to rigid conversions as well as wheelbase extensions and reductions. Brett Carmichael, Engineering Manager at Britcom said: “Our facilities and commitment to quality are second to none, and our team are highly experienced in all aspects of bespoke chassis and body work across all makes and models.
“Our team of three in-house design engineers have the capability, experience and all the latest software to ensure that whatever we design and build for you will do exactly what you require.” Britcom’s body and paintshop provides vehicle painting, refurbishment, shotblasting and restoration services. The firm’s chassis engineering and bodybuilding offering includes trailer building work which can be anything from a caravan transporter or low loader to a step frame, drawbar or straw carrier.
Its technicians can also fit sliding canopies and GRP boxes as well as create curtainsided trucks, dropsides, steel carriers and tippers. Carmichael, who has worked at Britcom for 27 years, previously as Operations Manager said: “We offer full painting and livery application services and a comprehensive one-stop-shop all under one roof which means you’re dealing with one person for the whole project – design, build, paint and livery application.
“All of our bodies can be equipped on site with the latest equipment and safety systems making them FORS and CLOCS compliant. “Working with our customers, we can design a transport solution to suit their own bespoke specific needs. All new builds are supported with type approval documentation.”
If a customer, for example, wants to convert a 6×2 tractor unit into a 6×2 rigid Britcom has the capability to cut, stretch and join the vehicle back together. In this example Britcom will carry out comprehensive pre-checks to ensure a truck is suitable for conversion. For this to be successful the axles have to be in alignment and Britcom technicians will strip the chassis of wiring and pipes and remove the rear axles.
Engineers will then extend the chassis to create a longer wheelbase. A variety of processes are put in place to strengthen the vehicle including the installation of high tensile steel strengthening plates as well as the use of cross members spaced evenly across the chassis. “We sell our services to all types of operators across a wide range of industries, from steel stockholders to farmers, general haulage to caravan hauliers”, Carmichael said. “Many of these are large companies to whom we supply in bulk, but many are small or single operators who require the service we can offer to produce a unique product for their own bespoke operation.”
On a stretch job technicians might drill the chassis and remount the axle with bolts, reassemble pipework and wiring and shot-blast, prepare and prime the new chassis in-line with the existing chassis. Staff then check axle alignment and conduct a robust quality control check together with a vehicle road test. An uncomplicated stretch can take one engineer around two working weeks to complete.
Carmichael added: “We manufacture truck bodies for all of the manufacturers and as an approved converter for the majority, we carry out chassis conversions as required, which could be the alteration of a wheelbase to suit a certain body length. “We do not concentrate on any particular make or model and will build on any chassis. “Chassis conversions can be carried out in the majority of cases with the prior authorisation of the manufacturer.”