4WD MODIFICATIONS - GENERAL MODS
The Service Body business has grown from backyard fit-outs to professionally engineered, purpose-designed units that suit all popular cab/chassis and light truck vocations. Here is a representative sample of service body types.
Because of the plethora of companies and one-man businesses producing service bodies it isn’t practical to conduct a national survey of their producers. Also, with companies named Bott, Boss and Bosston it’s easy to become confused about who makes what!
A service body can be a simple toolbox attachment to an existing tray-top or ute body. (You can pick from a range of mass-produced toolboxes at your local Bunnings store!)
However, most people envisage a service body as a purpose-designed, slide-on or integrated structure that can accommodate the necessary power, tools and equipment for a particular vocation, all safely secured.
The products listed below are typical of what’s available today.
AWL Canopies is an Australian owned and operated family business, specialising in the design and manufacture of custom innovations. This Queensland-based company has distributors around the country and produces purpose-designed fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) canopies with metal fit-outs and accessories for trucks and utes.
AWL Canopies offers solutions for the work and leisure needs of government and national fleet companies, small business operators, miners, surveyors, electricians, builders, tradespersons, leisure seekers and off-road adventurers.
The product range includes exclusively-designed fibreglass moulded canopies with custom-designed fit-outs, intelligent locking systems, ladder slides, extension racks, toolboxes, shelving and specialised storage.
The AWL lineup is based on three different tray and canopy configurations:
The chosen FRP canopy is built permanently onto an AWL metal tray, or onto the customer’s existing tray.
The fibreglass canopy shell is glued, bolted and screwed to the tray and cannot be removed after time of adhesion. To do so would involve breaking the fibreglass off the tray.
A specific AWLC aluminium extrusion is designed to suit most trays and is fitted around the base perimeter of the canopy shell. The bonded assembly is then bolted at each corner to the existing tray, allowing easy removal if required.
Sealing is achieved by adhesive foam tape and silicon to ensure waterproof integrity when despatched from AWLC.
The Base Rail extrusion is attached to a floor, forming a permanently sealed unit to attach to an existing tray. The False Floor can be bolted in place or connected using over-centre latches.
AWL Canopies can also supply jacking legs for the False Floor model.
Bosston Auto Bodies is an Australian-owned company with facilities in Cunderdin WA and Goulburn NSW. Central to the Trade Mobile range is a curved-side aluminium canopy that can be fixed or lift-off and features full-height swing-up doors. Some models have rear doors as well.
The Lift-off Universal Series consists of a range of ‘off the shelf’ white-finish units that are all 950mm high and 1750mm wide and available in lengths from toolbox size, at 750mm, through 1000mm, 1200mm, 1600mm up to 2300mm in length. Optional roof racking is available.
The company also produces custom service bodies for the mining industry and makes a catering van and dual-purpose, working/camping versions of its aluminium canopies.
This is an Integrated Half Canopy on a Nissan Patrol, for mechanical servicing in the mining industry.
The build includes a roller drawer, underbody boxes, rear folding steps, door alarms and central locking, mine-spec’ lighting, grab rails, tow bars and roof racks. The canopy is ROPS certified. Internals include a Bosstrut divider, a sealed compartment, shelves, a fridge slide, interior lights, drawers, a heavy duty vice and power sockets.
Bott Engineering is best known for its extensive range of van fit-out equipment, but also produces toolboxes to mining company specifications and has developed a range of service bodies as well.
Bott Engineering has supplied more than 100 toolboxes over the past six months: all are manufactured from ZincAnneal and have a two-stage powder-coat process, including a zinc-rich primer and top-coat, inside and outside. All internals are manufactured from galvanised steel.
Bott Service Bodies are manufactured from tare-minimising aluminium and are built on a common platform that allows a body to be moved from vehicle to vehicle without modification. The finish is powder-coat inside and outside.
The bodies are designed to incorporate the extensive Bott range of modular storage equipment that can be customised to suit specific user applications.
Jackoff Ute Accessories produces a full range of aluminium trays, canopies in fibreglass, canvas over mesh and aluminium, and, obviously, aluminium canopies, service bodies and trays that ‘jack off’ and free-stand on adjustable legs.
An interesting design feature is the use of pull-out arms with clip-on jacks. The arms extend, making a wider base for the jacks and that allows easier vehicle manoeuvring when picking up a raised body.
This Brisbane-based company makes a full range of aluminium canopies and service bodies in checker-plate, dimple-plat and mill finish. The fabrications
suit short-cab, extra-cab and crew-cab vehicles.
Tong canopies are sheeted over an aluminium-extrusion structural frame that ensures every roof is load bearing and can support roof top tents, ladders, building supplies or a tinnie – a true ‘walk-on’ roof. Every canopy comes with a lifetime structural warranty.
Canopy weight is dependent on a few variables including: material type, design and size. Typically, a Tong canopy weighs between 100kg and 200kg.
Pricing ranges from $3300 to around $10,000, including GST.
Trade Service Bodies is Melbourne-based and produces a range of toolboxes in side and top opening designs, lift-off and fixed service bodies for cab/chassis and light trucks, as well as numerous accessories. All boxes and bodies are manufactured from aluminium sheet that’s chromate-dipped and powder coated.
TSB bodies include designs aimed at builders, service mechanics, plumbers, electrical technicians.
The lift-off bodies are said to be removable by one person in as little as eight minutes and even the fixed bodies are designed to be easily removed. An adjustable mounting rail permits a fixed TSB service body to be removed and fitted to another vehicle. The rail design can even accommodate a different wheelbase, TSB says.
parent company, APMI, has been in the sheet metal fabrication business since 1974 and is accredited to AS/NZS 9001:2008.
OTA visited the TSB plant in late 2013 and we were impressed with the efficiency and quality of the company’s products.
XL is best known for its volume-selling A- and Z- body, centre-aisle service bodies, but has now introduced a canopy-style body as well. The Canopy
body is lightweight, being mainly of aluminium construction.
A higher-volume version of the Z-body, known as the V-body is on the way. There’s also a Trade Topper toolbox top for ute tubs; a ROPS version of the A-body and a lube-skid, for field servicing heavy equipment.
XL’s A-, Z- and V- bodies are purpose designed to carry heavy loads, yet with a low centre of gravity, to enhance dynamic safety. These bodies are given a five-stage anti-corrosion treatment, prior to powder-coating.
XL produces most of its own components in Australia and claims that 99 percent of the body weight is locally produced. The company says that experience has shown that outsourced components such as door handles and hinges can cause in-service problems and XL prefers to make its own, proved parts. This philosophy also means that parts supply is guaranteed.
In addition to its comprehensive service body lineup XL has a full range of racks and accessories.
XL has a special package for tray-back vehicles, incorporating the company’s tie-down tracks to restrain loads that are packed
against the toolbox. The package includes a full-width, twin-lidded toolbox, a tonneau cover and a pair of tie-down rails with webbing straps.
We’ll keep abreast of developments in the diverse service body business, so stay tuned.