ERF’s Anonymous 

Edwin Richard Foden must have been a true British gent with a love of engines and eye for the finer things in mechanics and engineering. Afterall in 1881 the Foden family built there first steam engine but by 1898 Edwin had designed and built the first steam wagon that ran on very early single steel wheels the ore cursor to modern trucks as we know them. These days whether you love them or you hate them I’m convinced everyone one of us in the UK has a connection to an ERF for some reason. 

“Hello my name is Ben and I’m a member of ERF’s Anonymous.”

Go on tell me, on the quiet if you wish, we’re all friends here. I was brought up on ANC Parcels ERF E10 night trunks. The first trucks I drove as a young’un and they had the brilliant Eaton Twin Splitter!  Then my dad worked for a local company, Courtenhams, for a short time and I did night time deliveries (even on school nights!) with him in varying different vehicles of the all ERF fleet. 

With the advent of retro truck shows and social media where people post various things up for sale or we can follow trips and runs each of you are doing. I have noticed recently that nearly all of you have had an ERF moment at some time. I’ve seen some Cummins videos online in a Land Rover and the noise instantly makes me think of an ERF. I’ve seen some for sale with the big Hummin Cummins and 525hp on tap. I’ve seen someone has bought a LHD 4×2 one back from Spain and is now using it on long haul trips from the UK out across Europe. I still see ex Spanish ones up for sale and I have to say they are getting more and more appealing! Can anyone tell me why?? I can only deduce that the simplistic, pre computerised, Cummins humming, British built old boy of the road just has English-appeal. Not sex appeal, English-appeal. Ok they can be a little shy of a hill but I’ll struggle to believe anyone who says they have neither a closet-love of the Cheshire beast or have never had to drive one for work whether they wanted to or not. Just look at the green beast above (not my photo but thanks to the taker. Carl Jones??). What isn’t there to like? Big lightweight cab, tag axle, 525hp Cummins, aftermarket exhausts, Built in Britain. If not the green ECX how about the black beauty below? Big lightweight cab, tag axle, 525hp Cummins, aftermarket exhausts, Built in Britain. 

Don’t tell anyone but I like an ERF.

Hungaroring to Hockenheim by Nick Ireland 

Back to what is one of my favourite cities, and we were pleased that when we arrived the weather had returned to the usual hot, dry conditions we were used to experiencing here. As we arrived in the evening and it had been the day of the race at Hungaroring we decided on eating in a restaurant local to the hotel rather than exploring the town which was bound to be very busy. The next race was yet another ‘back to back’ which meant another double drive, and thankfully my mate had come out again to drive with me.

The next morning we had breakfast then left the hotel at 11:30 on a coach. On arrival at the circuit around an hour later we found the trucks all loaded up and ready for the road, the riggers had done another sterling all night job in breaking it down. I put the T.I.R cord around my sheet as it helps hold it in place and stops it flapping around. I set off following the other floor truck, one of the curtainsider trailers and the glass trailer out. There are a couple of tight turns to get out of the circuit, one of them being over a small bridge, but we were soon out and onto the ring road. Traffic was light and the journey back to the border with Austria was uneventful, however at the border we came across a queue that was 3km long. It took some time to get close to the border post and it appeared most of the problem was caused by the cars being delayed by security checks. Following the signs for trucks there was a solitary Austrian police van on the border checking trucks. They would let half a dozen pass through, then stop one and ask to see inside the trailer. Instead of pulling them forward and to one side where there was a huge empty space they were doing this in the queue, and although the majority of the delay was being caused by the car traffic, this wasn’t helping. Once through we followed the signs for Vienna, and on the ring road we stopped at the S1 services we’d grouped together at on our southbound journey. This stop wasn’t for fuel for the truck, it was fuel for the driver! 

One nice thing about this job is the fact that we will always stop for a dinner break. On the move again we retraced our steps from the previous trip back to the German border, the A8 turning into the A3, and pulled into the customs area. As I suspected we found the Toll Collect office closed, it was 1am! Not a problem, we would do as in previous trips and drive half an hour down the road to the services at Passau, buy a ticket there and ‘backdate it’ so it showed our entry point as the border at Suben. All mileage in Germany has to be accounted for, and they know exactly where you have been from the cameras on the motorway, so there is no escaping paying the tax. We reached the services and pulled in and as with most German service stations at night it was rammed full. We parked by the fuel pumps and went into the shop only to find the Toll Collect machine out of order. We had no option but to travel another hour to the next services and hope we didn’t get pulled over in between. Pulling into the next services there wasn’t anywhere sensible to park by the shop and fuel pumps, so we continued into the parking area which was very full. Amazingly we found a space but my friend had to blind side it in with my guidance, which he achieved first time. Walking back to the shop we mused at the Stobart F1 trucks that had parked in front and opposite the parking spaces similar to what we had parked in. Quite how the poor souls who had parked properly in spaces would get out with them parked there was beyond us. Thankfully this machine was working, and I backdated the tax to Suben, and entered the exit point of our destination, then paid with my DKV card. Using the machines this way is a time consuming pain, but Mclaren F1 don’t consider the limited time the trucks spend in Germany worth justifying the cost of fitting automatic Toll Collect tags in the windscreens.

We bought a coffee and were suddenly joined by most of the rest of the Mclaren F1 fleet, they had all done exactly the same as us and were relieved to find this machine working. After around an hour of chatting and drinking coffee we headed off into the night with me driving again. At Nuremberg we were supposed to turn west onto the A6 but in the darkness and confusion with roadworks on the junction I missed the slip road and ended up getting back onto the A3 heading north. No huge problem, I went up a couple of junctions and picked up the A9 going south until I turned onto the A6, and pulled right on behind our plant trailer. I hadn’t lost a big amount of time but the problem would have come if I had been spotted by a police or ‘ministry van, as my Toll Collect ticket stated the route I must take and officially I had been ‘off route’. Skirting Heilbronn and the huge museum at Sinsheim which has aircraft on stilts visible from the road, I soon came to the A5 where I turned north, and pulled into a services. I was going to be just short of time to get into the circuit and I also needed fuel, so after filling and a driver change we set off the short distance to Hockenheim. 

I was convinced we were ahead of most of the other Mclaren F1 trucks, but was put right when we pulled into the circuit parking area around 6am and found most of them already parked up. We pulled up onto the end of a line of trucks next to some Red Bull M.A.N’s. We packed our gear away, drew the cab curtains-I still haven’t found out the official reason that F1 trucks pull the curtains shut when parked up, and joined our colleagues waiting for a lift to the hotel. The riggers arrived in vans about an hour later and we used these to get to our hotel in Speyer. We had a few hours sleep then went to spend the rest of the day at the fantastic transport museum in the town. It has the same owners as the larger museum at Sinsheim, and was a very enjoyable day out. In the evening we went into the beautiful old town of Speyer and had a glorious traditional German meal. It was a shame to fly home the next morning, I could have spent a week there.

The photo below was taken by my lead driver Ian Hodges, a Schenker Mercedes showing just why haulage companies offering free trucks and drivers does not work in F1. Scenes like this in the paddock or parking areas were simply not seen up until a couple of years ago. Stobart were the first to offer free haulage, and started an unwelcome trend of drivers sleeping in cabs at the circuit.

TB – That shouldn’t be allowed! F1 is known for its glitz and it’s glamour, then you see that at a circuit……no thank you. 

First Truck Photos Please

This weekend can you all post photos of your first truck please?? Just a bit of fun following on from a thread from a few friends. 

This was my first truck. I ordered when I was 18 and about to leave college. I bought a DAF as they were the only ones who would sell to me at that age. Incidentally the photo below was my first European trip aged 18 with a load of Herbal teas out to Venray near Venlo in NL. 

Please post your photos and tell us all a little about it. Looking forward to lots of retro 7.5 tonners! 

1966 World Cup Truck

Every now and then I get a press release from some one other than a truck manufacturer that’s worth publishing. This just so happens to one of those press releases so here you go; 

Fifty years after the England World Cup winning squad held the magnificent trophy aloft, nostalgia for the glory days of football is still endemic.

To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and capitalise on the nation’s continued affection for Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Bobby and Jack Charlton, Gordon Banks and the rest of the team, road haulage specialist to the construction industry Barry Proctor Services recently commissioned a 1966 World Cup show truck to tour the UK at shows such as Knutsford, Malvern and Peterborough as well as charity events, attended by thousands of enthusiasts. The DAF XF 106 Super Space Cab and catwalk feature all the players from the 1966 squad set against a backdrop of Wembley Way, which lights up at night. The images have been intricately airbrushed by independent artist Andy Scott and his son Tom.

Barry Proctor explains, “We’ve been delivering bricks and tiles to the construction industry for 31 years. Around 15 years ago, we decided to airbrush our trucks with different themes to stand out in the marketplace. The drivers appreciate the responsibility they have towards the trucks, which cost in the region of £105,000 each, because they are so special. They religiously maintain the high quality appearance and finish of the vehicles, keeping them in tiptop condition.” As well as the specialist airbrushing required, the trucks are prepared and clearcoated by expert bodyshop M&G Commercial Body Refinishing Limited in Stoke-on-Trent owned by Martin Carver. Martin’s team has been working on Barry Proctor’s trucks for over 10 years, producing around four a year to meet the exacting standards required.

Martin says, “An enormous amount of work goes into stripping down and preparing the cab and catwalk area ready for airbrushing. Once the truck comes back into the workshop, we move into the spraybooth where we use Glasurit 924-68 2K HS CV clearcoat, which provides excellent UV resistance, outstanding application characteristics and high gloss levels to enhance and protect the artwork. The gloss and usability of the product is fantastic. We low bake for just one hour and then fine sand it. Because of the depth of the airbrushing, we apply four coats, flatting between coats with superfine discs, and then finally polishing the vehicle to a super gloss. All the separate components like wings and black plastic are removed and painted and then refitted. In total, there’s about 150 hours work and plenty of arm ache, but the end result is stunning.”

With new truck designs in the pipeline, Barry Proctor is looking forward to more truck shows and charity events, helping to generate goodwill and funds for worthy causes. He comments, “Our aim is to keep innovating exciting new themes for our trucks so we can continue to make an impact in the industry.”

International Trucking is The Cure!

Perhaps being away on tour for months on end can take its toll on ones marbles!! If your one of the few lucky drivers to be touring Europa with a huge international band then it can be all go go go, not a lot of sleep some nights, odd days off, time to mooch about all the cities you can mention, so be prepared for anything. So if your travelling between Hungary and Italy then why not stop off in Slovenia on your way through. Just because I was stuck in the office in Ipswich on an overcast morning last week, shouldn’t make me jealous, but I was. Mat Ireland sent through these photos of the lads from Transam Trucking on a stop off and fuel stop. 

If your a Facebook user then you can keep up with Mat and his truckspotting as he travels around all of Europe. Go onto FB and in the search box type “Mats Trucking Photo Page” – there you will be able to see everything that catchs Mats eye. Hopefully as the tour continues the photos will keep coming and we can all take our shirts off to celebrate!!

If you want to join the tour, you can buy tickets I’m sure and all the info and dates are here on The Cures website

Swedefest 2016

And now for something a little different….. You have all heard of Gathering of The Griffin, but did you all know that this year it became Swedefest this year?? Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond the organisers control this year, GOTG had to move premises and therefore had to incur extra costs, meaning the show desperately needed more entrants. What to do? Whether you like either or, everyone likes a Swedish truck of one marque or another, so why not  put them altogether at one show…..great idea. So there it was, Swedefest 2016 was born. 

As discussed on here many times over last few months or couple of years, small truck shows are becoming far more enjoyable and far more accepted than the big shows of old. Is it that the shows are organised by truck people for truck people? Yep. Rob Bilman and Michelle Lines are very much truck people. I could stop the write up now as the show is down to them and that’s what makes it personal and 110% enjoyable. I’ve been a participant, a sponsor, a judge and a man with his son looking at trucks at this show and its right at the top of the list when it comes to trucks shows as they are now becoming. With the additional of Volvo’s this year I think it’s rounded the show to a wider audience. Walking around the show ground was once again a pleasure, the new venue was destined to be a truck show ground at some point. The organisers had split the area down the middle and parked Volvo facing Scania. It was awesome. 

Firstly the Volvo’s. I’m not a big Volvo boffin so I’m not to confident in my knowledge of the different versions but there were plenty on show. It was lovely to see so many variations to be honest as I’d never realised there were so many. There were a few which stood out for me and they are below. The white FH reminds me of one I fell in love with on the world super boat tour in the mid 1990’s! This truck is the perfect example of less is more. The blue F12 was a real cracker. Sums up 1980’s trucking for me and it turned out to be one of the biggest winners at the show, rightly so. Last but not least Mark Farrows gem of an FH. In Volvo pro-mo green, there is a long story to this truck and I hope to tell it to you one day, but I need Mr Farrow to put pen to paper for that to happen. 

As for the Scania trucks on show, well it never ceases to amaze me the quality of trucks that Scania owners put out is pretty remarkable. My favourite Scania’s are definately the 3 series but you have to appreciate that Scania do have a fairly unique following compared to all the other manufacturers. 

I happily sponsor the Best 3 Series class at the show and I was warned by both Rob and Michelle that this year would be the toughest year yet, they weren’t wrong. This year I did have my 6 year old son helping me to make the decision and I have to say his simplistic view on judging will be carried through to next year. As hard as the judging was, we ended up deciding that Marten Hazeleger’s Chickliner Streamline was a very worthy winner. Gently customised with the addition of the Dutch effect made it a little too irresistible. I know he won’t believe me but Mr Payne and his delightful green and gold Centurion couldn’t have been in a closer 2nd place this year. 3rd place would have been last years winner, Darran Heath. 

All in all this is a small show with BiG trucks and the mixing of the two Swedish marques did work for me. I know the effort that goes into this show every year is incredible but I’m sure you’ll all agree that it is much appreciated by us lot and I’d like to say to Rob, Michelle and the team that the show is a true success. I hope next year that we can once again break the number of trucks booked in and that turn up. Get the date in your diary for next as this is a unique show that you really can’t afford to miss.