7 September 2023


Some tippers just get lucky, working in some of the greatest scenery our landscape has to offer. With boat trips to offshore islands thrown in as well.

Who’s trucks win this lottery? Surely it’s the latest HARSH – equipped eight wheelers belonging to A. McPhee Haulage Ltd, of Oban.

In a small coastal town of just over 8,000 people, if you need a tipper you are going to be calling Alasdair McPhee, who currently runs 16 of them.

Essentially a general purpose tipper haulier, a significant part of the McPhee business involves hot asphalt work, running out of one of the local Breedon tar plants, covering roads not just on the Argyll & Bute mainland but the outlying islands as well. And it’s for this type of work that the latest pair of ’23’ reg tippers have been carefully specified.

“For the first time, we’ve gone for PPG insulated alloy bodies” says Alasdair. “They are very well built and notably light – a 20 tonnes payload is no problem at all. The tipping gears are HARSH FE front ends, which because they are light and 100% problem – free we’ve been buying for 7 years now. 

The sheeting system is also HARSH – their sliding front to rear ‘Slide & Cover’ model which we particularly like because when the sheet is retracted up to the front headboard a shovel driver gets a clear view of the body and can load it equally easily from either side, and without risk of damaging the sheet. A lot of the time we have to work in restricted spaces, so that’s a real bonus. 

Operationally, ‘Slide & Cover’ is a very practical system too, and easy to maintain. Along with the body insulation, we can hold the heat in the load for 9 hours, which is exactly what we need when we are sending trucks on the ferries to the islands.”

Typically doing tar jobs on Barra, Mull, Colonsay or Islay, long waits of up to 4 hours are not uncommon. Catching the return ferry is important however, because as the islands have no tar plants of their own the trucks need to do a round trip in the same day.

“We still do all our own maintenance” says Alasdair “and carry a comprehensive range of parts. It’s rare that we can’t get a truck back on the road in just a few hours – or less. Product reliability and first class backup are really important when you are in a distant location such as this, and for these reasons Scania chassis and HARSH ancillaries have come together as our standard tipper specification.”

Clearly, McPhee Haulage has found a special ‘sweet spot’ in the tipper business that is pretty much unique. Not surprisingly, the company’s drivers tend to stay as the combination of top class trucks and an unbeatable working environment are highly attractive.

“Undoubtedly, we are very lucky to be doing what we do” says Alasdair “but we still have to face most of the issues that every other tipper business has. Having top spec trucks certainly helps the business progress. We’re never complacent, and nothing ever stands still.”