Barbers Shop MAN

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (38)

As many of you will know, this was my 2nd truck in the BJS empire and if i’m honest I think it was also my favourite. Don’t get me wrong I loved the airbrushed Mercedes Atego I had, but with the little MAN 8.163 I did so much work and spent far more time away in it than the Atego (nights away), so I think that’s what made the bond stronger. The other thing I liked about the MAN was that I customised gently and very gradually. and really made her my own, whether you like the style or not, i’m not to fussed, it would appear that certain things didn’t go unnoticed by all.

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (29)

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (64)

After the a while hard working trucks tend to loose there new look and shine, especially bodywork built by a bunch of blind hedgehogs in a bag. So it got to a point that the rear bumper was fairly rusty as the very thin paint had be eaten by the road salt and weather. It so happened that the factory paint on the prop shaft had gone the same way, so one weekend me and my Dad thought enough was enough and I reached for the sander, primer and tape. The rear bumper was a no brainer I thought i’d try the chevron look, please see above. But what to do with the prop shaft?? Well I thought i’d do something a little different…a barbers pole if you will. So as I drove along it would spiral down to the back…….I cannot tell you how hard it was to get the masking tape to stay evenly apart as I wound it round the pole (oo er Vicar!). If I remember correctly it was even nearly all the way down apart from one little 6 inch stretch.

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (31)

Back in the day I could list on both hands the number of people who commented and noticed on the barbers pole, so these days I just see it as a bit of fun and also what made the truck individually mine, but today I had a comment on the blog that made it all come flooding back and made it seem all worth while.

Comment Author: Matthew Morris
Comment: “I was always a fan of your 7.5 tonners, especially the MAN L2000. I remember it having an interesting “stripey” prop shaft! We still own a P reg L2000 with the 224 hp engine. Still a pleasure to drive and sounds awesome with a straight through drag pipe!”

You see I did have a fan! If I’d started a BJS fan club, I think it’s fair to say Matt could probably have been member 001. How I wish I could have my own Tonka Toy again, but times change as does the haulage industry. Perhaps one day. Any way in the mean time i’ll leave you with a photo of the smart back end I ended up with. The chevroned rear bumper didn’t last as the paint soon rusted up again. About the same time the cheap nasty rear door handles had virtually fallen off. The truck was sent to the best body builder in the country, Colliers Truck Builders, and new rear doors, new ally shiny handles and poles and I also got Colliers to rub the bumper back to the metal and paint it back in chassis grey. Boring but smart. The barbers pole stayed.

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (69)

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (66)


As I have no Internet at home this week thanks to the expert services of a well know British Telecommunications (bugger!) company, I thought I’d just share a quick few photo’s from my days gone album. Back in the day I had a few of my own tonka toys, which I loved and to this day I still prefer a little lorry to those big articulated thingy’s (well nearly). So just a random selection to fill a day and as I have 5 minutes spare in the office before departing. Here is V413 KPU….and if you’ve seen them before, then aren’t you lucky!

Another handball load.
V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (9)

The dock side of Canary Wharf, London.
V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (21)

I knew someone wouldn’t mind me parking on Mum and Dads lawn!
V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (31)

My good mate Howard and I both taking a quick breather on the A1 near Pontefract.
V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (36)

A sunny Sunday in Cornwall.
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Another small load for the little MAN.
V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (68)

Although I had the airbrushed Atego, I do think I preferred the MAN. We just had more of a bond and we did so much more together, you know how it is!! Want to comment? please do or email me;

The Making of an Airbrushed Atego

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (1)

Have you ever wondered about having a bit of a customised truck? Something with a bit more than just a coat of white paint? Yea I did too once, but I wouldn’t do it again. Really I wouldn’t. I was doing well with my company and I doubled the fleet size to 2 trucks! I wanted to have the shiny wheeled slightly customised truck so it would stand out from the crowd. It started with the plain white Mercedes Atego that you see above. I spotted it on the A12 on my way back to Braintree one day. It was on it’s way from the dock to the bodybuilders, Colliers Truck Builders of Maldon (Essex) on the back of a Brit European truck. As it goes I went back and found the truck parked up for the night near Maldon, the driver let me even climb up and sit in it!

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (10)

Here she is nearly finished, as you can see its all plain factory colours, so next it’s off to the paint shop. I had always wanted the truck to be metallic blue, but I still had no real idea of what artwork i’d have painted on. I found an airbrush artist in Colchester called Simon. Simon had painted artwork on a few trucks, some of you may remember a fleet of blue DAF’s that used to do container work I think, that had airbrushing on. I had a few meetings with Simon about what we could do. I had already wanted a few ladies painted on the truck – Why? Coz I was a young man! So I had to painstakingly find a few pictures of some attractive women, god that was a difficult job!! that was one side sorted. For the other side Simon had suggested some sort of sea/sky theme due to the blue. I had also wanted to only use white paint for the artwork as I’m not a fan of a million colours on a truck, although some trucks still look amazing (Coles & Sons that is!). Simon showed me some metallic fish artwork that I actually liked the look of. They were robot like fish that were originally done in silvers as they were supposed to be made of metal. The artist’s name was Soroyama.

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (13)

Next it just left the 2 front corner panels of the truck which Simon suggested could again be anything, I only came up with a CD cover I had, the other side was left to Simon. All in all it took 2 weeks to complete the whole painting exercise. As you can see Simon worked round the whole cab of the Atego panel by panel. I stood and watched for a while and I was just totally transfixed, watching stroke by stroke as the artwork appeared before my eyes!

Airbrushing the Atego

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (18)

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (17)

The front panel with the big shark bursting through was obviously going to get plenty of chips, even with 3 coats of lacquer. To get over this for shows and what ever else, I had a second front panel made up and painted and I still have it now. The only bugger is, it’s bubble wrapped in the top of the garage! But at least I still have part of the truck. So how did it all turn out?…….

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (45)

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (51)

It’s quite a job to get the whole thing sorted. Finding a paintshop willing to spray the truck, and keep it in a dust free workshop while the artwork is applied, then add a few coats of laquer. Lucky for me Simon used his contacts and this was sorted. Trying to think up pictures for each panel was a total headache, but in the end the only bit I wasn’t that happy with was the front corner panel with the starfish. The rest was as I hoped for, including the planets and stars on the driver side. I loved it.

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (76)

More importantly was it worth it? It’s a cost that is a gamble, will you ever earn back what it cost to have your truck painted? I think it cost me around £2,000 for the artwork including the laquer. Lucky for me at the time I could afford it, but I was even luckier to get some work that paid more than double what it cost me to have done. I was at a regular customer of mine and they had a visitor who loved the little airbrushed Atego and I ended up doing a lot of work over the next few weeks that easliy covered the cost of the artwork and I wouldn’t have got the job if it wasn’t for the artwork. Other than that having such a truck means lots and lots of people taking photo’s but better than that at some regular delivery points it meant the unloaders wanted to chat and talk to you about the truck. In turn this lead to being able to jump a certain amount of unloading queue’s, a direct result of having the artwork done. All in all I would reccomend doing it once, but after that? I don’t think so. Great truck though, it did earn it’s keep and more all due to it’s artwork.

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (80)

AV52 KGU - Mercedes Atego (77)

If you’ve seen this truck recently or you have a photo of it any where i’d love to see it, so please email me a copy;

BJS – Stick That in Your Pipe….

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There I was Tuesday afternoon and I get the call to say that there would be no more trailer work that week, so what do you do as an Owner Driver?? Yep you ring around and find some thing to fill the gap. Luckily for me it was some thing a little more interesting.

An old contact and a then good friend used to do some work for Williams Transport from Huntingdon. Williams have a contract with a plastic pipe manufacturer and deliver all shapes, colours and sizes all over the UK. At the time there were endless loads of 60ft pipes to go up to Evanton, just north of Inverness. There were to be used to make up 1km long lengths of pipe for the offshore industry. So did I take up the challenge……..of course I did. I’d never pulled any thing overlength before so taking a 60ft extended trailer all the way up the A9 to Evanton sounded like good fun, especially with the slightly odd twin axle trailer I was to pull. Now I know it’s not in the same league as what the drivers of my now employers HC Wilson regularly do, but none the less it was still a challenge, which I sucessfully completed. I think the only kerb I clipped was when I first left Wyton Airfield near St Ives, heading for the A14 on Wednesday.

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This was the view out of my mirror, as you can see a normal length trailer seems quite short compared to mine. Again I know its not silly big, but trying to get it parked in the busy Penrith Truckstop was interesting. Any way after a good nights sleep I was to meet Pornstar Pete at Carlisle and he would follow me up to Evanton as he had been doing a couple of trips a week so knew the score. The other bonus of being paired up with Pete was, he (in a former life) was a tour bus driver so I was treated to a running commentary all the way up, which I thoroughly enjoyed!!

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On arrival in a sunny Evanton mid morning on Thurday, I was confronted with a yard full of pipe, an amazing kilometer long stretch of reclaimed land out into the Cromarty Firth filled with already made pipes and a crane to lift off my 2 lifts. If you look on any satelite map you will see the Old Airfield at Evanton has been turned into the pipe works and you’ll see the the man made pipeway out into the water, where the ships back onto and get loaded.

Lift one….
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Lift Two….

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Once empty Thursday lunchtime, Pete and I closed up the trailers and headed south. Pete was to run back empty so he could get another load loaded on Friday to head back to Evanton the following Monday. I was to reload from Liverpool or Runcorn some where like that with a load of ladders asap on Friday for 3 drops Friday afternoon to Kimbolton, Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, no mean feat I tell you. Collect trailer from St Ives, Cambs Wednesday Morning, Tip Evanton Thursday AM, reload Merseyside Friday asap, 3 drops East Anglia Friday PM………..Mission accomplished, thanks to Claudia my trusty Actros. Purely because I didn’t have time, I have no photo of the ladder load and I also can’t remember where exactly I loaded them from. They were all orange in colour and I’m sure it was Merseyside, can you tell me where it was??? email and jog my memory!

For the record, this is Pornstar Pete The Tour Guide’s DAF, with Williams Transport owned ex CPL trailer!

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BJS Easter Special

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (17)

Just a quick blog. I found these pics when I was on a marathon scanning mission the other week. These pics stood out from the rest as I remember the job well. Back in the day I had a very good relationship with the transport office down at DFDS Purfleet (now DSV), as they were all the original staff from Coggeshall before they moved to Purfleet. So there I was, washing down at home on the Saturday morning of an Easter weekend, thinking ooo a lovely long weekend for a change as I didn’t have any work for the Bank Holiday Easter Monday, nice. Any way late Saturday afternoon I got the phone call; “Are you working Monday? We have a groupage trailer coming in at 00:30 hours on Monday morning, but it has some cable drums on which need to be South Wales by 06:00 Monday morning to avoid a factory shut down, Can you help??” Well as an all you Owner Drivers know you have to take the work when it comes. This unfortunatly meant I had to leave the Sunday evening Easter Party at a mates house early to grab a few hours kip. When I left Braintree, Essex for Purfleet I remember passing a few party goers on their way home. Any way I was in Purfleet for Midnight, the Turkish Groupage trailer turned up at 00:15 and I was loaded and away by 00:30, perfect! Needless to say the little MAN steamed off down the M4 andwe  easily made our 06:00 deadline. Good Old Days!!

V413 KPU - MAN 8163 (18)

Steve Marsh Express Meets BJS International

Whilst looking about on my Flickr page i started thinking how me and Marshy were both owner’s of Hatcher cabbed MAN’s. Back in the day i had a 7.5 tonner but Marshy’s was a 12 tonner, naturally he was one step ahead. My truck definitely lived up to my expectations and was doing the mileage of any big truck if not more day after day up and down the motorway, Glasgow 3 times a week from my base in Braintree, Carmarthen daily for a week, exactly 4 1/2 hours each way every day, i loved it! Marshy was undoubtedly doing similar mileage but the majority of his was continental with a bit of UK, where i was vice versa. I never quite worked out why i didn’t do more continental?? i think it was probably that i was just so busy doing my thing i never got round to getting more into it. I used to see V99 STE around quite a lot, i often used to wave in the hope he’d wave back, but with out any luck, i think Marshy was just too busy doing his thing while i was doing mine. I think there is a big “what if” here some where. What if we had been going the same way and had had time to stop for a cuppa………….

BJS75 (3)


I often wonder what would have happened if i had got more into continental express type work. There was clearly a market for it a few years back and Steve Marsh is testament to the fact there is still a market for it now. With the office job i do now for HC Wilson, each week we have a couple of job offers that would suit some thing like a 12 ton rigid, more often than not if we can’t cover it some how i end up offering it to Steve. I do wonder if I’ll ever go back to it, running a little rigid, i think the answer is one day yes it would be nice, or perhaps we should get one at Wilson’s!?

V413 KPU


I have no idea why they are my favourite type of truck, after all a simple person would call a 7.5 tonner a van!………… that’s a totally different blog all together! I guess at the end of the day there will always be a market for these cracking little rigids with in haulage, but how many there is the unanswered question. Like all area’s of our industry the numbers have declined and only the fittest survive. These day’s with all the driving license issue’s and pallet networks offering such silly cheap rates it makes Steve Marsh Expresses daily life all the more difficult. I think what a lot of companies/customers miss is the personal touch, the knowledge that Steve loads and Steve will deliver. The load isn’t going to get transshipped 5 times and put on a number of different vehicles before being delivered. Is it that customers have realised that their goods are more important than always getting the cheapest rates? Hopefully there will always be a need for a little rigid otherwise in the years to come I’m not going to be able to buy my son one! (if he wants one of course!). Any way enough of this inane banter. Keep the little trucks rolling that’s what i say, everyone loves a Tonka toy!! So until the BJS empire is rebuilt, best you keep calling Marshy.


BJS in Truck & Driver

Here you go, just so you know i do have a little bit of history in the trucking world. I don’t just write about stuff i dont know! Back in May 2003 I was the subject of a Truck & Driver article. Due to the artwork, owner driver-ness and sort of one off appeal of a slightly customised little rigid, they wanted to do an article, so who am i to disagree. I think you may just be able to read the article from the pictures, if not and if you really want to you will just have to find yourself a back issue! Apologies for the terrible picture of me and the silver shirts, my only bad decision when it comes to uniform, they only lasted a few months. Last i heard of the truck it was working up north doing charity shop collections, i’ll dig out the pictures some time.

BJS Truck & Driver
BJS Truck & Driver

Bloody Old Tilts!!

I don’t know what it is about tilts but i always used to like them. Yes i am odd. Perhaps it was that they look better than other trailers? Perhaps it made me feel like an old 70’s International driver? perhaps it was the full body work out when stripping them down? or was it just that they are a dying breed?? Who knows but they always made for a good picture. These one’s were taken in the early hours one Saturday morning in Oostende back in 2005. Dear old Claudia (The Actros!) taking a breather before the run home for lunch! Good times.

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MAN of Many Talents

After having a scout through the old photo archive yesterday i came across this little gem. Back in the good old days when i was tramping the Country keeping our citizens going by delivering many a varied load of stuff i took this some where in the Leeds area. First drop was the BAR Cargolifts, to some where just off the M62 in the Leeds area (i’m ashamed i can’t remember where though!). Next drop was the rear pallet of boxes containing a sunbed from Cyrano Leisure in Braintree and delivered to Warrington. Then 3rd Drop late in the afternoon was the front pallet with yet another Urgent sun bed for Larkhall up in sunny Scotland. Great Days. It always amazed me that of all the cargoes we all carry that one of the most urgent ones is Sunbeds! They couldn’t wait, it was same day delivery if possible at worst next day. On the other hand if only i could share with you some of the people i met in the Tanning Salons of the UK or some of the staff…………..Crikey! Snap out of it i won’t get to sleep thinking about them…. those….

V413 KPU