Rolling Tool Boxes

Matthew Randall

The development of the service body was a natural evolution as creative and industrious people found ways to make their trucks more efficient.  At the end of The Great War, the light duty truck chassis became introduced to civilian life as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to a horse drawn carriage.  Dumps for hauling dirt and gravel, rack bodies for grain and hay, cranes for loading trees and pipe, and service bodies for moving supplies and tools all came into existence over a short few decades.   The rolling tool box was born, and over the years has morphed into a multitude of forms serving different needs and masters.

Messer Truck Equipment is proud to be from Maine, even if the rest of the country legitimately thinks our home is part of Canada.   Mainers are honest in their dealings with others, contracts can still be made with a handshake, you can leave your doors unlocked at night, and the community will always respond to help those in need.  Maine natives may gripe about too many vacationers being around each season, and many families need to have multiple sources of income to make financial ends meet, but this state is a safe and terminally beautiful place to call home.  

One trait that the people in the Pine Tree State are well known for is being frugal.   These descendants of Scotch, Irish, and French Canadian people will squeeze a penny until is screams, and continue to reuse and rebuild things until they literally dissolve into dust.  Part of this comes from the Puritan ideals that still permeate the culture of this area, and some stem from a need to conserve as much as you can due to the income and resource limitations. The combination of frugality and industriousness is known colloquially as “Yankee Ingenuity,” and this notion permeates many of the businesses and people in this part of the country.   Get the best one can afford, and then bet on your ingenuity to keep these rolling investments functional a few years past when most would trade it in or upgrade to a newer model.

Of all the obstacles we have in this state, the biggest remains the seasonality of meteorological events, of which winter is the toughest.  What makes it so obnoxious is that it goes through some dramatic cycles over the course of four to five months.   Feet of snow one day, rain the next, sleet for the commute to and from work…then a day with warming sun and fifty degrees outside will sneak into the picture.  It is unpredictable and punishing to vehicles.    

To combat Mother Nature’s cruel yearly trick, our state has turned to a liquid deicer known as Brine.   Brine is a mix of salt and magnesium chloride that keeps roads much clearer than salt during a storm, but over time can compromise the body of vehicles.   The repercussion of embracing this technology is that the prudent citizens of Vacationland end up replacing work trucks and equipment more frequently than in other parts of the country, in exchange for safer roads during the winter.

First attempts to fight this demon and satisfy the demands of Maine business owners involved the evolution and introduction of stainless steel products.  The process for using this material is to create a “skeleton” of the desired item in steel, and then cover it in a stainless skin.  A good idea, but Mother Nature is a clever opponent - and once she grabs hold of any exposed metal, the deterioration happens quickly.  Stainless bodies look clean, are strong, and retain some corrosive resistance, but owners need to be vigilant in keeping these vehicles washed, and with undercoating that is intact.

A reasonable alternative to steel has become fiberglass.   This product is light weight, requires minimal maintenance, and is more durable than one may suspect.  Newer offerings are fade and scratch resistant, and have the added benefit of out-lasting a truck chassis.  One fiberglass service body can be used on two or three trucks before needing to be replaced.   Hard use when hauling heavy supplies can cause this material to splinter and crack, but when utilized within the manufacturer’s operational specifications, a fiberglass service body becomes an attractive offering worth considering when taming the punishing effects of a Maine winter.

Another option is aluminum.   Corrosion resistant, light weight, and very durable –this material has been the backbone of the aeronautical manufacturing industry for well over half a century.   Inside the work truck world, aluminum had provided a myriad of challenges to overcome until recently, which is why stainless steel has been the go-to corrosion resistant option to date.  Advanced techniques in extrusion, mold forming, and fastening have developed that allow manufacturers to construct entire service bodies from this metal, to the point where select manufacturers are backing up their workmanship with up to a ten year warranty on their aluminum bodies.  Consumers are now able to enjoy the corrosion resistance, weight savings, and lowered maintenance costs of aluminum, along with the confidence that these structures will hold up to the daily abuse expected from a steel model.  These bodies are more expensive, and therefore should be seen as an investment over time, that will last longer and require less upkeep than their steel counterparts.  

Modern interpretations of the rolling tool box have become efficient and refined pieces of automotive technology.  They are weather-beaters and difference-makers, and with the depth of innovation occurring within the industry, it will be exciting to see what they will continue evolve into over the coming decades.  If you have been considering purchasing a service body, or want to learn more about how one could help you and your business, contact the experienced sales team here at Messer Truck Equipment.  We have been installing service bodies of all types for decades, and can help get you the right “rolling tool box” that fits your specific needs.