12 Days of a Tudor Christmas – Part 2

Friday 18th December 

I get to spend the morning with my girlfriend and daughter taking her to visit Father Christmas which was a nice bonus getting to do that before going back to work over the weekend. At 1830 I am back in the yard ready to head to Leigh Delamere services to meet Pete who has loaded the trailer for me with one of his trucks and take it off of him to head on down to Portsmouth ready to catch the 0800 crossing in the morning.

Saturday 19th December 

Up at 0600 to get checked in for the boat. Once on board I go to the restaurant for some breakfast then back to my cabin and back to sleep for a few more hours to be rested ready for late drive that evening. The boat gets in at 1530 and I am clear to hit the road straight off of the boat I head to Castets to park up for the night and make good time I managed to make the drive in 8 hours 30 which I wasn’t expecting as I’m used to doing the drive in the day and losing the best part of an hour going around Bordeaux.

Sunday 20th December 

I get up for 0800 for breakfast and a shower but much to my shock the restaurant is closed now for Christmas which seems a bit early to me given that there is almost a week until Christmas day. I have to settle with a McDonald’s breakfast from across the road and will have to stop for a shower en route when in Spain. I make a quick stop at the services in Oiartzun for fuel and a shower then get straight back on the road. I feel quite tired today for some reason and haven’t done this road going straight across the northern part of Spain before. I’m not sure whether it is just because I am tired but it just seems to go on and on and I began to get quite bored in the last couple of hours of the journey and cannot wait to park up for the night and get my head down. I eventually arrives La Coruna and park just around the corner from the delivery at 2000. The only thing open for food is a Burger King so that will have to do for this evening.

12 Days of a Tudor Christmas – Part 1

Sunday 13th December

Sat at our yard in Bristol patiently waiting for the clock to hit 1508 when my weekly rest is up and I can set off for Padborg in Denmark to check out some trailers I want to buy up there. Once my break is complete I set off solo to Harwich for the 2100 boat to Rotterdam the sat nav tells me it’s 4 hours 30 minutes to the port. I’m going to need to make it in one hit as there isn’t time for a 45 minute break on route. Predictably I get on the M4 and there are closures from J8 to J6. I’m feeling up against it but luckily enough I make good time anyway and arrive at the port at 1955 and check in. What I didn’t realise when I booked this crossing was that it’s a freighter which was a disappointment as I’d been looking forward to a nice draft pint and a good feed once aboard. Also I paid the same price as it would have been on the Hook of Holland boat so lesson learned there for next time! Still there’s always the Autohof tomorrow to look forward to.

Monday 14th December

A fairly straight forward and uneventful day off the boat at 0730 straight to Germany via the border at Meppen into the Hoyer autohof at Cloppenburg to top up with some nice cheap German diesel and back to it up through Hamburg before calling it a night at an autohof in Busdorf 40 km’s from the Danish border. It’s good to see in Germany that during the Covid pandemic drivers are still being treated well as we’re still allowed to come sit in the restaurant to eat on an evening and the showers have been made available to us free of charge.

Tuesday 15th December 

I arrive at the trailer sales site at 0800 to begin checking over the trailers. There’s always a slight worry when buying second hand especially when you’ve had to travel 700 miles just to come look at it as it’s a long way if it turns out to be no good. The first thing I noticed is although the trailers are 9 years old they all have full sets of Michelin tyres so I get the impression the previous owners we’re happy to spend proper money maintaining them. After a couple of hours thoroughly looking over the trailers I pick out the one that I want and pay the invoice ready to get back on the road. It may seem a bit extreme to be going all the way to Denmark to buy a trailer but the reason for this is the bespoke nature of the equipment we need. The trailer I have chosen is a Krone mega coil-liner. Mega trailers are very few and far between secondhand in the UK so your best bet is usually to buy from abroad and with the current situation with Brexit and not knowing if we will get a trade deal I had to make the decision to just get on and buy one as I don’t know if I will be able to just head off into Europe and buy a trailer without any tariffs etc next year. Once the invoice is paid I set off back to Germany heading for Nettetal to collect big bags of plastic to bring back to Lydney. I head down the A7 towards Hambug and the satnav tells me there is a 19 minute delay on route and after three hours sitting in the traffic I start to question whether the satnav might be lying to me! I eventually managed to divert off of the motorway and bypass the traffic finally making it to an autohof in Bremen for the night at 2200 where I am very glad to put the handbrake on for the evening after sitting in standstill traffic for so long.

Wednesday 16th December 

Up at 0600 for a quick shower then hit the road to go and collect the reload. I arrive at my reload at 1330 where they were ready and waiting for me. I was on my way by 1430 heading for the Hook of Holland to get the correct boat this time and redeem my meal I had been salivating over a couple of days before. This boat costs quite a bit extra compared to Calais and others but there are currently 30 km long queues at Calais to get onto boats and trains so it is a no-brainer to go this way as I’m keen to get the load back and delivered.

Thursday 17th December 

Off the boat at 0500 and I was very lucky that I was positioned right at the front of the boat so I was out of the port within 20 minutes. I plan to pull in to South Mimms services to send off some emails and make calls to arrange work for myself and our other trucks for next week. Just before I arrive I receive a message from Pete White of Whites Transport to ask if I can do a load to La Coruna and Porto for him, leaving early on Saturday morning. After a quick look at the diary I see that I can do it on the basis someone loads the trailer and brings it to me. This way I can take a 24 hour break on Friday and with that the job is confirmed, so it is straight back to Lydney drop the trailer to the customer and back to our yard to begin my break.

Watching Paint Dry

Hopefully I’m going to pass you all a little one of Jaimes Golden Nuggets that has taken me 23 years in the industry to come across and quite frankly I think it is spot on! You know how it is, we all have a good knowledge of our day to day jobs and we all have own thoughts on what current fashions and styles suit our favourite trucks. Some trucks suit a tag axle, some suit 4x air horns, some suit a bull bar and more and more need to be painted over and above factory paint to hide the increased of plastics that help with air flow and fuel returns. So if we dwell a little on that last point, this is where the Golden Nugget comes in and I’m hoping some of you will go “oh yea, I never thought about that” or perhaps “I knew that already you bell….”.

This week I was chatting to Nipper MacClean from MTS Restorations and he be the font of this little gem of info. Well he is having spoken to wise Dutchman a few years ago and we all know the Dutch know how to style a good looking truck. Over to Nipper;

“As the wise Dutch man who I spoke to in Holland a few times said, something we all perhaps look at but never notice, is that a truck really works well with 3 paint colours. Anymore usually looks cluttered, but he did say that on an odd occasion 4 works, but when it does black will usually be one of the 4 colours.”

The more I think about it, the more it seems to be bang on. 1 or 2 paint colours would be classed as less is more these days which is still mega smart, but when you look at the 4 trucks above they are all sticking to the 3 colour rule and look just plain awesome! All that said I can also see the 4 colour rule as long as it includes black as one of the 4. A few example below easily back it up, 3 bright colours and black works pretty well don’t you agree?!

The Danish Globetrotter is worthy of another photo as I thought it was one of the best looking trucks at Truckstar 2019 and it is clearly the rule of black 4. Red, white and blue with a hefty amount of black but I think it looks fine and I’m not the biggest Volvo fan.

Who feels like they might just have learnt a little something that will probably be of any use??? You? You? And you? Yep I’ve got my hand up as well. I’ll leave you with a photo of Nipper’s own 4 series. This was painted specifically to test the rule of 3 and once again you can see that it works and works very well indeed!

Mr Trevor Dodwell

Another great character and old school driver off to the big Truckstop in the sky – Trevor Dodwell.

Sadly another one gone to join some of the other names we all know and looked upto. If you were of my generation (I’m 41), then we were of the age where M.E. Opportunities were becoming a little thin on the ground, but hearing about and reading about those lucky enough to carry on doing the M.E. runs upto the end were what our driving dreams were made of. I was lucky enough to meet Mr Dodwell on one of my first trips across the water in my artic. Having tipped and reloaded in Meer, Belgium for Germany I had to call into Meer Truckstop to see what it was all about. While walking across the parking area what did I come across, yep, the above Volvo with Astran stickers on the doors. Of course I went over to have a closer look and Trevor appeared. To me Trevor was one of those proper truck driver types, a big man, looked like a tough old boy but he was more than happy to have a chat for 20 mins or so. Full of knowledge and he told me a few tips to help with my first trip to Germany, a local for him of course! As old school drivers become rarer and rarer to find I urge all you younger ones to glean as much info from our elders as you can. As the world of international transport continues to change quicker than you can say “what’s a tacho disc?”, tips and tales from those who have been doing the job since the golden years are truly invaluable and will be lost eventually. I could have stood and listened to Trevor talking about his travels for hours. A true Middle East regular he made loading from Gouda out to where ever it was, sound like a local, like my trip to Germany. After a while Trevor took me into the Truckstop showed me where everything was before getting me a coffee and giving me a couple of Astran stickers. I don’t drink coffee but how could a refuse, I was a little wrapped up in the moment. This happens a lot to me and I hope I’m not alone. I was at the Fox on the A1 with an old boy I shared a table with for dinner and he started talking about his M.E. Days until another gent came in and they hadn’t seen each other since 197? in somewhere east of Turkey, then again at the Astran weekend at Gaydon and I was stood in a ring of all the faces from Destination Doha, just awesome tales to take on board. Not to mention the Nick Bulls, Karl Skiltons and Graham Balls of this world, who were the last of the last on the Middle East run, that said I know Nick and Karl are both ready and waiting for the call!

Not to mention the tales of Uncle Dick Snow who Trevor knew as well. In a brief meeting in a Truckstop on the Dutch Belgian border I met one of the greats. Sad times as our elders get older, so rest in peace Trevor and for that matter Bob Headley who also recently passed away. Bob was also a well known face on the Middle East run.

For those who are interested the outfit Trevor had was know as a “seller”. Bought from UK customs I think he said, loading from NL to the Middle East, both truck and trailer would then be sold and left for a new life in the sun. If I remember rightly Trevor said the trailer had been impounded in the UK, as it was caught smuggling drugs, fags or both in the coil well under the main floor boards. I think the Globetrotter also came from the same source, a UK government auction having been impounded by HM Customs and abandoned after its dodgy crossing to the UK.

Condolences to Trevor’s family and friends.

Pickfords Atkinson View Line

It’s not often I blog at the moment and even less often do I genuinely get sent decent blog material at the moment. Bucking the trend is this awesome little restoration article I have been sent by Sophie Gower from Pickfords. Happy reading bloggers;

A rare heavy haulage vehicle from 1970 has been restored to its original Pickfords livery by Logistics Consultant David Batty. David currently works with road tanker specialist Abbey Logistics and this project has been completed in his spare time away from the company and his other commitments..

David spotted the vehicle in a scrap yard in Stoke on Trent seventeen years ago and realised that it was a rare find. There were only approximately 200 Atkinson View Line’s manufactured between 1968 and 1970 and Pickfords acquired twelve of these vehicles to add to its heavy haulage fleet between 1968 and 1970. The Atkinson View Line was, at the time, a revolutionary design, designed to work on heavy haulage fleets such as Pickfords.

The cab was the first of its kind and revolutionary at the time, as it featured a distinctive one piece front windscreen giving greater visibility and improved safety. One of the reasons Pickfords chose this lorry. As a driver at the time, the Atkinson View line stood out among other lorries and was a highly sought after vehicle among drivers and was seen as quite a status symbol at the time.

David acquired the View Line and spent seventeen years restoring the vehicle to as near as possible to its original specification.  He researched and found the original build sheet from the Atkinson factory, sourced the distinctive Pickfords ‘Oxford Blue’  paint colour and matched the original Pickfords Clarendon font to complete the restoration.

The restoration consisted of a completely rebuilt cab, along with all the main mechanical items such as engine, gearbox and axles getting overhauled and now working as good as they did the day the lorry left the factory. 

David shared the results of his work with Pickfords. Managing Director Mark Taylor said  “This is an amazing piece of work,  so much care has been taken to restore the vehicle faithfully and it’s a credit to David’s hard work and commitment” 

The vehicle is fully road legal and David plans to exhibit it at shows and events across the U.K.in the coming years – so look out for one of the UK’s most iconic lorries back to its former glory, and on the road again!

770 Swedish Horses

Introducing the new Scania V8 range
• Four new V8 engines and powertrains offer fuel savings of up to 6%
• 530, 590, 660 and 770 hp – a line-up of unsurpassed V8 power
• Low internal friction, updated turbocharger and smart auxiliaries
• Updated aftertreatment system and performance
• Longer and heavier trucks offer increased transport efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, both with or without biodiesel fuels
Scania’s new V8 engines not only offer record level power but vastly improved fuel efficiency as well. The total savings can reach up to six percent – or even more – under the right conditions, when the new G33 gearbox is included in the powertrain. Fuel savings of that magnitude make a huge difference of course, both long term for the climate and here and now for the haulier.
“While shifting to fossil-free transports, we all must do everything to improve our current solutions,” says Alexander Vlaskamp, Executive Vice President, Head of Sales and Marketing. “You cannot let your house burn down simply be- cause a new one is under construction. The transition must be seamless”.
The fuel savings are the result of extensive fine-tuning and development by Scania’s engineers, involving technologies in the fore-front of internal combustion engine development. Among them, and provided by more than 70 new parts, are reduced internal friction, higher compression ratios, improved aftertreatment-systems and a new powerful engine management system (EMS).
While future, electrified transports are on top of the agenda, the world still depend on transports carried out with trucks powered by internal combustion engines – and that is why Scania’s new powerful V8 engines play such an important role.
“A typical long-distance truck in Europe covers around 150,000 kilometres per year,” says Vlaskamp. “A reasonable saving on markets where longer and heavier combi- nations are permitted can be up to 3,000–4,000 litres annually for a truck with our new V8 – a tremendous achievement in every respect”.

Most spectacular and of certain interest in the new V8 generation is the 770 hp, 3700 Nm top-of-the line version – probably the most powerful, factory-built truck engine in production today. Where and when is all this power asked for?
“This is, of course, not for everyone, but we see a growing demand for trucks capable of handling GTWs of 60 tonnes and above, especially for road-going combinations,” says Vlaskamp. “The fastest way to increase transport efficiency is with longer and heavier truck combinations. The added fuel for a heavier vehicle is compensated by the greater payload capacity. The CO2-per-tonne calculation is favourable, and in addition there is the opportunity to run your Scania V8 truck on renewable biofuels”.
It is natural that trucks with Scania’s V8 engines are highly in demand in countries where greater GTWs are permitted – particularly in the Nordic countries. But also countries such as Italy and Spain (and certain markets outside Europe) are fond of V8s, due to hilly terrain with many steep and challenging roads.
“We have a clear picture of where the first 770 hp trucks will start making a differ- ence,” says Vlaskamp. “There is a strong rationale for ordering such a truck. These customers are looking for the best total operating economy, well aware of the fact that more payload means better efficiency, increased revenue and higher residual value. But I know that some of our customers also will become extra heartened by the sheer joy and emotion of operating such a magnificent working tool.”

Actros Edition 2

Actros Edition 2: limited special model with a “wow” effect

Whereas with the new Actros F, Mercedes-Benz Trucks especially focuses on customers who mainly want the greatest possible functionality from a commercial vehicle with the three-pointed star, the Actros Edition 2, which can be ordered from January 2021, caters to an entirely different target group: innovation-loving professional drivers and self-driving hauliers whose truck is their home and who place great value on individual style and high comfort. Actros Edition 2 drivers have a strong emotional bond with their vehicle, which is more than a working and driving machine to them. With the special model, hauliers enhance their company’s image while also holding a trump card against the current shortage of drivers.

Up to 40 additional options for interior and exterior as well as design elements from Edition 1 give the Actros Edition 2, limited to 400 vehicles, an unmistakeable character. The result: a premium Actros with a “wow” effect and features that highly distinguish it from the series models of the internationally successful model range.

Driving, working and living in a luxurious environment

A whole range of equipment features highlight the Edition 2’s sense of luxury. Among these, the stylish interior boasts a dashboard and door handles covered in nappa leather, several interior parts in a carbon-fibre look as well as a roof hatch with ambient lighting. The new home screen in the Multimedia Cockpit’s primary display as well as the Edition logo out of polished and brushed aluminium on the passenger side are also real eye-catchers. The top bed comes with bedding and has a width of 900 millimetres. An all-around curtain – almond beige on the inside, black on the outside – ensures privacy in a stylish way. This equally applies to the curtain with the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star in front of the bed.

The highlights of its exterior include, among other things, exclusive side wall decals with a star pattern, the “Edition 2” lettering in the lacquered sun visor, the Actros emblem in front, the Actros lettering on the upper side of the cab’s back wall, four additional LED spotlights in the sun visor as well as three LED working lights behind the cab. From the side, the stainless steel entrance steps are especially noticeable. The rear axle caps are also stainless steel, with protective wheel nut caps. Additionally, an illuminated Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star with black aperture and several decorative grille elements in dark chrome also comes as standard, while the headlamp surround is darkened.

The Edition 2 is offered for all two- and three-axle variants of the current Actros generation with GigaSpace and BigSpace cabs as a left-hand or right-hand drive. The cab paint is freely selectable and can be tailored specifically to the customer’s company colours, while the vehicle front is always painted in moonstone grey metallic, which ensures a high recognition value.

The Edition 2’s series equipment contains the following six packages:

  • Safety Package with a number of active driver assistance systems
  • Comfort Package with LED ambient lighting, shaving mirror, refrigerator and many other amenities for comfortable living
  • Driving Package with leather steering wheel, electric sun blind and more
  • Sight Package with, among others, bi-xenon headlights, rain sensor and LED rear lamps
  • Media Package with sound system, notebook holder, additional 12/15 V socket
  • Extra Line with LED position lights in the MirrorCam, LED indicators and Welcome Light

In addition, the Actros Edition 2 also comprises individually configurable service packages such as the new, mileage-based service contract Mercedes-Benz CompleteMile as well as made-to-measure leasing, financing and insurance solutions.

Excellent security features and tailored connectivity

Mercedes Benz Trucks’ goal with the Edition 2 is the same as its goal with the current Actros generation: to contribute to accident-free traffic and advance toward the vision of fully accident-free driving by utilising active safety assistance systems. For this purpose, the Edition 2 is equipped with the emergency braking assistant Active Brake Assist in its fifth generation (ABA 5), the optional Active Drive Assist (ADA) for partially automated driving (SAE level 2), the standard MirrorCam that replaces main and wide-angle mirrors as well as the Sideguard Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection available ex-works. In conjunction with these assistance systems, the further developed Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) is also impressive. The system not only saves a lot of fuel, but is also a relief for the driver on rural routes.

The driver is shown the activities and functions of systems such as ABA 5, ADA or PPC in the user-friendly Multimedia Cockpit, with its two colour displays forming the centrepiece of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI). In addition, further HMI innovations such as the display of the next navigation event in the primary display or the total weight of tractor unit and trailer are also included. For PPC, the kilometre display is no longer shown as a bar diagram but in absolute values, and the battery status is also displayed.

If you decide to purchase the interactive Multimedia Cockpit as an upgrade to the standard version, you also receive fast access to the Mercedes-Benz Truck App Portal. This enables haulage companies to harness the new opportunities of connectivity and equip their vehicles with efficiency- and comfort-enhancing apps such as telematics services from Fleetboard or third-party providers. The new logistics application HABBL from Fleetboard Logistics is new here. This software enables you to easily integrate trucks from your own fleet as well as from subcontractors into the dispatching process, provide assignment data and therefore facilitate communication with the drivers: Everyone involved in the transport process – driver, dispatcher and end customer – always receives the required information. This increases process quality while creating a high level of transparency

Essex Models Seek new Home

Thought you’d missed out?

Every one needs a bit of Essex in their life. There are only a few of these models left up for grabs. A nice box set made by Tekno in 1:50 scale. There were less than 50 sets left at the time of writing so be quick and get your order in.

There were only 250 of these Essex International sets produced and most have gone, these are the last few sets available. They will of course be a collectors item set and will be sure to appreciate in value. If you’re keen then they are up for £175 posted to a mainland UK address or you can collect from Russell Oliver at Truckfest Peterborough this coming bank holiday weekend.

You can contact Russell by direct message on either of the following platforms;

Instagram = diamondgeezer1974

Facebook = Russell Oliver