Arkell’s Brewery, the name behind award-winning ales such as 3B, Bee’s organic, Moonlight and Wiltshire Gold, has taken delivery of a 16-tonne GVW Volvo FL 240 4×2 rigid for dray duties from the Swindon dealerpoint of Truck and Bus Wales & West.

Transport Manager Dave Paginton says: “The Volvo FL is absolutely brilliant and I believe the ideal truck for dray work. Our first Volvo was an FL7 back in 1987 and we’ve been using FLs ever since. They’re perfect for the job, they’re reliable and, frankly, I wouldn’t consider anything else.”

The new arrival joins three other Volvo FLs at what is one of the UK’s oldest steam breweries. “Arkell’s was founded on the outskirts of Swindon by John Arkell back in 1843,” says Dave. “To this day it remains a family firm, now owned by the fifth generation and with great, great grandson James Arkell the present day chairman.”

“Generally, the new Volvo FL will cover an area within a 60-mile radius of Swindon,” says Dave. “Mileage is therefore pretty minimal, but dray work involves a lot of stop-and-start so different demands are exacted of the truck. So good is our experience with Volvo, that when it came to specifying this one, we basically looked at the last one we had delivered in 2012 and asked for the same again.”

Featuring a day cab, a front axle capacity of 5.8 tonnes and two-bag rear air suspension, the Volvo FL is powered by the Volvo D5K240 four cylinder, 5-litre engine producing 240hp and up to 900Nm of torque at between 1100 and 1600rpm. Arkell’s Brewery also specified the 6-speed overdrive ‘I-Sync’ automated transmission.

“The I-Sync gearbox,” says Dave, “has proved to be a pleasant surprise. It is really responsive and although we’ve always gone the manual route previously, I think this is a really good development.”

Curtainside Bodywork is by Fred Smith & Sons of West Bromwich. “This is the first time we’ve used them but the quality of the finish, even on the inside of the uprights is spot on,” says Dave. “In fact, we’re so pleased with the job that’s been done with this new truck that we’re going to have two of our older trucks refurbished there later this year.”

Arkell’s operates its trucks for at least 20 years, so a mid-life refresh of the bodywork is normal practice according to Dave. “The Volvo engines and gearboxes go on and on,” he says. “It’s only the bodywork that suffers and requires a refresher.”

As well as the brewery, Arkell’s also owns some 100 public houses in the Swindon area and surrounds, including premises in Oxford, Newbury, Reading, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Ascot; and also supplies free houses as far afield as the Thames Valley and London.