New bodies for work trucks:

April 1, 2009
Manufacturers unveil new designs at The Work Truck Show
View 2009 Work Truck Show
photos and captions

Weight savings and environmental concerns seemed to be key design considerations among the truck body manufacturers who displayed new designs at this year's Work Truck Show.

Manufacturers demonstrated a variety of ways to lose weight, including an extensive use of aluminum, composite panels, high-strength steels, and substituting fabricated beams for structural steel.

Environmental considerations also seemed to be more prominent, as manufacturers pointing out how their products can be recycled or help the truck burn less fuel.

Here is a sample of the new truck bodies displayed at The Work Truck Show:

It may be white on the outside….but Reading's new aluminum Classic II service body won the first-ever Work Truck Show Green Award. It also received the 2009 Editors' Choice Award for new product innovation.

Shown here is Reading Truck Body's new Aluminum Classic Service Van (CSV). The benefits are multiple for making the body from aluminum, says Jim Kraschinsky senior vice president of sales and marketing. First, the design saves more than 1,100 pounds over comparable steel models. This translates into increased fuel efficiency, higher payload capacity, reduced wear and tear on chassis components.

The new CSV comes with a variety of standard features, including master locking system, translucent roof, LED lights, cargo tie-downs and powder-coat finish. Reading offers the body with a 10-year warranty.

Reading says that its new eight-foot Aluminum Classic II service body weighs 45% (500 pounds) less than comparable steel bodies, providing a fuel savings of up to 12%, depending on vehicle application. The Aluminum Classic II also offers improved payload capacity and reduced wear and tear on chassis components. Priced 15% higher than a standard steel body, the new Aluminum Classic II features stainless steel rotary locks, hidden hinges, the Dual Pro door seal system, LED lights and a slam-action tailgate. Reading provides a 10-year limited warranty on the body.

In addition to the eight-foot model, Reading offers a nine-foot body for dual-wheel chassis. (

New from Supreme. Supreme Industries has begun production of its Signature body — a van that has a new design, increased interior dimensions, a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty, and a five-year structural warranty.

The Signature van body features a steel-framed substructure and FRP front wall. Side walls are available in either aluminum or FRP. A wider and taller rear door opening makes loading and unloading easier. Internal gussets in the rear door provide superior resistance to water penetration. Supreme says users told them that the rear door opening is the most important dimension in the body.

“Our challenge was making the rear frame smaller (to increase the opening size), while adding durability. Additionally, we needed to eliminate the exterior triangle gusset. We did…giving a cleaner look to the rear, a wider opening and greater strength in the rear frame,” says Bob Besse, director of marketing and product planning.

The Signature van body comes with a sealed wiring system that guards against interior damage. Using a composite front cap, the company was able to design a two-phase system for the cap wiring. Integrated loops in the cap enable the wires to be run inside the front cap. In addition, a wire cover goes over the wiring, protecting it from load damage inside the body.

At the end of January, Supreme announced that it had begun producing the Signature. (

Hybrid approach to keeping cool. Kidron displayed a hybrid refrigeration system that combines electric power and a PTO-driven generator to maintain the temperature of cold plates for refrigerated truck deliveries. The cold plates, which the company builds at its plant in Kidron OH, use the Low Emission Electric Power (LEEP) hybrid system developed by Azure Dynamics to recharge the cold plates and keep cargo at the desired temperature.

The system uses a PTO to drive a generator and produce the AC power that operates the Kidron Ultra Temp refrigeration system. Even with the truck engine turned off, the system stores sufficient energy to maintain cargo temperature. Kidron's John Sommer, left, discusses the system with Robert and Max Pfaffmann (Pafco Truck Bodies, East Peoria IL) and their sons. (

Sweet as honeycomb. Morgan Olson displayed this concept walk-in van that combines a special lightweight Freightliner Custom Chassis with a body made of honeycomb panel. The chassis features four-cylinder diesel with hybrid-electric potential and lightweight chassis components — including reduced frame section and stamped spring hanger brackets to trim chassis weight by 1,000 pounds.

The standard Morgan Olson cab is installed on the stripped chassis. The difference is what is behind the cab — a composite honeycomb-panel body that weighs approximately 1,550 pounds, compared with 2,000 pounds for a standard walk-in design, Morgan Olson says. The panels, sourced in Europe, are heat bonded and are produced without adhesives.

The panel skins can be color impregnated to eliminate painting, and they can be repaired with standard body filler used by auto body repair shops. Morgan plans to begin production during the fourth quarter of 2009. (

Drive like a car, carry cargo like a truck. That's the claim of Sprinter-mounted Utilivan produced by Utilimaster Corporation, Waukarusa IN. The truck shown here delivers 886 cubic feet of cargo, the result of a low (32-inch) floor height and 85 inches of interior cargo height. The body is available in aluminum, Duraplate, or Utilimaster's own Energywise composite panels. Compared with aluminum sheet and post construction, a 16-ft body made of Energywise panels is 694 pounds lighter, according to Utilimaster's John Marshall.

Coming this summer: a more aerodynamic version of the body shown here. After extensive wind tunnel testing, Utilimaster has redesigned the van to improve fuel economy by more than 12%. According to Marshall, improved fuel economy from the weight savings will offset the extra cost for the Energywise panels in five years. The new aerodynamic design is expected to pay for itself in 3½-4 years. (

Composite landscaper body from America's Body Company combines steel and composite panels to reduce tare weight — approximately 584 pounds for a 12-ft body when compared to a similar design made exclusively of steel. The truck shown here has a ¾“ composite floor and sides made of composite panels and reinforced with a web of steel sections. (

More grain, less body. Schien Equipment Company, Carlinville IL, introduced its new aluminum grain body, enabling customers to carry more grain by reducing tare weight. The smooth-side design is offered in heights ranging from 60 inches to 74 inches. Available in either 96- or 102-inch widths, the body comes with a floor made of 1¼“ interlocking I-beam extrusions, three-inch channel crossmembers on 15-inch centers, and eight-inch channel long sills. (

Steel or polymer? The new DumperDogg dump insert from Buyers Products is available with a choice of steel or polymer construction. Either way, the self-contained product slips easily into an eight-foot pickup box, providing power up and power down by means of a hydraulic pump powered by three-horsepower motor. The DumperDogg can lift its 6,000-lb payload up to a 45° dump angle.

The polymer version shown here has double-wall body, double-pivoting and removable steel tailgate, and powder-coated structural steel frame. Those preferring a steel product can order a powder-coated dump body made of 12-gauge steel. Both versions come with tethered control box and nine-foot cord, 20-ft battery cables, body-up indicator kit, and manual safety bar. (

Contrarian thinking. Amid a series of manufacturers who introduced new aluminum bodies at the Work Truck Show, Knapheide Manufacturing remained committed to steel. One of a series of refinements that the company introduced was this steel body designed for hauling refuse. Scheduled to become available May 1, the body offers a choice of three side designs — solid, fully punched, or a combination of punched top and solid bottom. The sides — made of a series of four-, five-, and six-foot-wide bolt-together sections — will fit the most common lengths of the company's 96“ wide platforms.

Aware of the efforts to reduce tare weight, Knapheide promoted the use of its fabricated cross sills. The company said that when a 5.4" × 3" sill is fabricated from 11-gauge steel, the result is 45% lighter and 27% stronger than a comparable 4"-deep sill made of structural steel. (

Wrapped in clear coat. C M Truck Beds of Madill OK introduced its line aluminum truck bodies that feature all-extruded construction and the protection of clear powder coat. C M is producing the bodies in 8'6", 9'4", and 11'4" lengths. According to a company spokesman, the new truck bodies essentially will provide customers with an aluminum option for virtually every body the company produces in steel. (

Playing it safe. The Commander Series dump bodies from Caseco Manufacturing has 10-gauge sides and floor. The CASElatch dump body tailgate release operates from the side, keeping the operator out of harm's way. Likewise, the Venco hoist is equipped with Safe-Engage remote body prop handle which always keeps the operator safely outside the body in order to position the body prop. Caseco's Joe Middleton demonstrates. ( and

New dump insert is now available from Pro-Tech Industries, Vancouver WA. Designed to fit full-size pickups with eight-foot boxes, the Pro-Tech dump insert offers a 45° dump angle and a cargo capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. Use of aluminum brings the body tare weight down to approximately 500 pounds.

Initial installation takes less than four hours, the company says. Once installed the dump insert can be moved in or out of the pickup in about 20 minutes. Options include cab protector, roll tarp, and side extensions. (

No more crossmembers. Air-Flo Manufacturing has redesigned its Uni-Body Flo 'N Dump body to remove the crossmembers. A combination of the integral conveyor system and trapezoidal longitudinals provides the floor strength needed to dump up to 14 cubic yards. (

More weight loss comes from the use of high-strength (110,000-psi tensile) steel. Truck Engineering Ltd saves 40 pounds per drop side on its Aristocrat line of dump bodies, according to Clinton Wall and Charlie Hay. The bodies are offered in 8-11-foot lengths (in one-foot increments) and capacities of up to four cubic yards. (

Big shot. Canadian dump body manufacturer Beau Roc ( combined with Gravel Conveyors ( to produce the Diamond Barrel dump body and P-Shooter combo unit. The result is a body that can carry 17.4 cubic feet of “ammunition” for a 10-ft conveyor capable of shooting material up to 75 feet from the truck, including the ability to clear 20-ft-high walls.

Converting a pickup. The new TruckCraft Metro kit converts single-rear-wheel pickups to an aluminum drop-side flatbed. The body shown here offers 2.8-cubic-yard struck volume and over 56 square feet of deck that can be freely accessed on three sides. Pictured is a prototype mounted on a Ford F-250 pickup with box delete. However, the Metro is offered in sizes that will fit vehicles ranging in size from a GM Colorado/Canyon up to a Ford F-350.

Metro is easily upgraded to a 3,500 lb capacity three-way dump with a bolt-on double acting hoist kit. The conversion involves switching pins to select dump direction - left, right or rear. Metro is constructed primarily of heat treated 6061 T6 alloy aluminum extrusion and comes with anodized sides, tailgate and cabguard. (

Quick assembly. Omaha Standard made mid-year changes to its service body line last year in order to make them better suited for cellular manufacturing. With the new design, sidepacks bolt to the understructure at three points — front, rear, and intermediate. The understructure changes and the cellular manufacturing approach are designed to improve product quality while simultaneously speeding up the manufacturing process. (

Now available as a trailer. Henderson Manufacturing now has a trailer version of this BlackBelt conveyor dump body. Like the body version that the company previously introduced, the BlackBelt trailer is designed to haul rip-rap, rubble, gravel, and other abrasive loads. It uses a 54"-wide belt, rather than chains to dump the load. Twin planetary gear case drive system provides the power. (

A lot less tare. Maintainer Corporation of Iowa suspended this service body from a crane in order to emphasize the weight savings of its new line of all-aluminum service bodies. According to the company, the new aluminum bodies save as much as 500 pounds when compared with a standard 108“ dual-wheel steel service body. (

About the Author

Bruce Sauer | Editor

Bruce Sauer has been writing about the truck trailer, truck body and truck equipment industries since joining Trailer/Body Builders as an associate editor in 1974. During his career at Trailer/Body Builders, he has served as the magazine's managing editor and executive editor before being named editor of the magazine in 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.