Staffordshire’s NS Clarke Transport vehicle recovery arm is going from strength to strength and is now running seven specially equipped trucks representing an investment of nearly £2m, from headquarters in Rugeley to which it moved a couple of years ago.

Four are based on Mercedes chassis supplied by Midlands Truck & Van. The latest is a 26-tonne 2532 Actros with StreamSpace cab. A low frame height model, it is powered by a 320hp straight-six engine.

As with all of NS Clarke’s recovery equipment, the Actros was bodied by Boniface Engineering, of Thetford, Norfolk. Its Chevron tilt and slide bed has a 13.6-tonne capacity, while a Hyva HC 241 X crane, which works with a damage-free lifting frame, is capable of picking up a family saloon weighing 1.6 tonnes at a distance of 12 metres, and a vehicle weighing 8.6 tonnes from a position alongside the truck.

To minimise height and loading angles, and thereby reduce the risk of damage to vehicles being recovered, the slide bed has an extra-long slide off ram and is mounted on its own, separate sub-frame, rather than – as would normally be the case – one built on top of the crane’s sub-frame. The new truck can tow a second vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes on its spectacle lift.

The flagship of the fleet is an Arocs 4153 eight-wheeler with three-stage heavy-duty Recoverer Trident recovery boom, which is assigned to jobs involving large trucks, buses and coaches. The two remaining Mercedes recovery trucks are both 15-tonne Atego 1521s. They have ClassicSpace cabs with optional bench seats for up to four passengers, and tilt and slide bodies. All six of NS Clarke’s breakdown vans – four Sprinters and a couple of smaller Vito models – are Mercs.

Shaun Clarke says: “We were having a few issues with our own breakdowns, so decided to give it a go ourselves. I like to think of myself as a bit of a disrupter and although I’m still learning, the recovery operation has gone better than I could possibly have hoped.”

He continued: “The fact that we also run our own transport fleet has been key to our success, because it means we’ve been able to bring an operator’s perspective to the task. Communication is crucial, and we keep everyone in the loop during an incident. So, too, is honesty from the outset – the best way to lose a customer is to over-promise and then fail to deliver.”

NS Clarke is contracted to recover breakdowns and accident-damaged vehicles from stretches of the M6 and M42 motorways. It also works for other transport concerns and for dealers, including Midlands Truck & Van’s Birmingham and Wolverhampton branches.

The operator is investing, too, in its haulage fleet, and has just taken delivery of another 10 Actros 2551 BigSpace tractor units, its first with intelligent Mercedes Uptime connectivity.