Service bodies: Part 4, Fiberglass gaining more attention at Altec

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(Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining materials used in service body construction. Here are the links to the others: Service bodies: Part 1, Reading talks aluminum; Service bodies: Part 2, Stahl gets tough with polypropylene; and Service bodies: Part 3, Knapheide reveals its most durable body.)

Fiberglass inserts and service bodies at Altec are turning more heads.

“People are starting to take a strong look at fiberglass,” Andy Price, Altec’s market manager, tells Hard Working Trucks. “One of the real advantages of fiberglass is that a fiberglass body comes out of a mold, so you don’t have tracing points for water. It’s one piece.

“It generally can be a one piece body so you don’t have things bolted or welded together, but again all this depends on the design. I don’t want to give the impression that all fiberglass bodies have no penetration points. That isn’t the case at all. Depending on the design, it can have some advantages in fiberglass in those areas.”

HWT Related: Iowa utility acquires more Altec hybrid service trucks

Altec, which entered the fiberglass body market about three years ago, recently introduced a new fiberglass insert with a seamless, aerodynamic design. The Capsule features aesthetic contours to complement the chassis, recessed side and rear doors, stainless steel latches, an all-aluminum interior and forklift pockets for easy installation and removal.

Altec aluminum bodies under construction.Altec aluminum bodies under construction.

A double-bolted locking cylinder and molded gasket seal prevents any water intrusion. Altec fiberglass bodies come standard with 100 percent stainless steel latches that are both waterproof and rust-free. A visual latch indicator shows if the door is not securely closed.A double-bolted locking cylinder and molded gasket seal prevents any water intrusion. Altec fiberglass bodies come standard with 100 percent stainless steel latches that are both waterproof and rust-free. A visual latch indicator shows if the door is not securely closed.

Large, heavy-duty six-point hinges are secure and applied with a blind fastener, which eliminates leak points in the outer shell of the body.Large, heavy-duty six-point hinges are secure and applied with a blind fastener, which eliminates leak points in the outer shell of the body.

Integrated, lightweight composite core material manufactured with cross-linked polymer foam and fiberglass offers superior strength, increased payload and fuel-efficiency.Integrated, lightweight composite core material manufactured with cross-linked polymer foam and fiberglass offers superior strength, increased payload and fuel-efficiency.

Heavy-duty, double-panel doors are secure and feature a watertight, double bulb seal for ultimate protection from the elements.Heavy-duty, double-panel doors are secure and feature a watertight, double bulb seal for ultimate protection from the elements.

Altec Canopy steel bodyAltec Canopy steel body

Altec fiberglass service bodyAltec fiberglass service body

“We strive to meet the demand for lightweight products and ultimately find the best solution to meet customer needs,” says Justin Chandler, Altec sales manager. “The advanced engineering in our lightweight fiberglass body products provide our customers with the quality and durability they expect in an Altec product.”

HWT Related: Altec unveils new fiberglass insert

Altec reports that its patented, integrated core material makes its fiberglass bodies the lightest and strongest combination in the work truck industry. Altec also builds bodies in steel and aluminum.

“Fiberglass is not as inexpensive as steel, but it does give you the light weight so that you have more payload and it does give you corrosion resistance if you’re in areas of the country where that’s important,” Price says.

Aluminum bodies at Altec are comprised of 65 percent recycled material and is offered on standard service bodies, utility line bodies, flatbeds, enclosed service bodies and accessories. On its website, Altec reports that aluminum “is up to 45 percent lighter than steel and results in an approximate 10% fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs.”

Demand for aluminum bodies at Altec has increased, though Price says that sales are not so much dictated by industry, but rather by regions that require more corrosion resistant materials.

“I wouldn’t call it a major increase in demand,” Price says, “but I would say the line on the graph is definitely moving up for aluminum, but not in a huge way.”