My Best Truck of 2014

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For me this is the best truck I have seen in 2014. It might not be the newest, it might not be most practical for most of Europe and it certainly won’t be everyones taste but for me, spot on.

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If you live in the UK and haven’t been to one I strongly advise that you make 2015 your first trip to a European truck show, the standard of trucks is amazing. I can’t deny that the trucks here in the UK are getting better and better but the Europeans just seem to have it right, they all look good. To me the best trucks have always been out of reach of what I could afford or achieve and the T560 is no different. We all joke about winning the lottery but a Tcab would be very close to the top of my list. It’s blue, it’s got two sets of pipes, it’s got a subtle custom interior and enough lights to make it look good but not over the top. As with anything I would make a few subtle changes as I’d want to put my mark on it.

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2014 has seen a big rise in the blogs popularity through all mediums, the Facebook page, twitter and the good old fashioned http://www.truckblog.co.uk website. I’m not going to link to any of those this time round as I’m sure you all could do with a break from the ruthless links and plugs for the blog. I have no idea where the blog will be in another 12 months, hopefully you’ll all still send me stuff, photos, info and the odd piece of trucking memorabilia to decorate TBHQ and I’ll keep bugging the TV companies in the vague hope they’ll see that we need Truckblog TV!

Hopefully I’ll be visiting, Truckfest Peterborough, Crowfield Truck Rally, Gathering of the Griffin, Retro Truck Show at Gaydon, more than likely (and hopefully) Truckstar Festival at Assen as my foreign trip, although I have heard on the grapevine that there is quite a convoy of English motors heading to the International Trucker & Country Show held at Interlaken, CH. I have always wanted to go James?? Finally if the offer is still there then I might just make it to Belfast too.

Anyway thank you for following and thank you for making the blog what it is, without your contributions I’m sure you’d all be bored silly of 143’s, MAN TGL LX’s and Mercedes-Benz photos! As we all do secretly say now and again Keep on Trucking!

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Persian Gulf Express – 2014

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Since the days of Destination Doha, I have always wanted to take a Scania 141 out through the desert. I did own a 141 for a few years bit only ever got as far as Holland which unfortunately for those who are atlas-impared is nowhere near the desert, Doha or any where East. Hopefully if you are reading this you know of the website www.toprun.ch a very popular photo website that is run by Ferdy de Martin from Switzerland.

Like myself Ferdy has always wanted to head East and do it in the style of the golden years of the 70’s and 80’s and do you know what the lucky bugger has only just gone and done it, well going to be doing it in the next few weeks.

Starting May 3rd and returning June 9th 2014. The journey will take 3 x Scania 141 and 1 x Scania 111 along 13’000 km and 34 days of travel along the following route;

Vallorbe (CH) – Modena (I) – Ancona (I) – Igumentisa (GR) – Thessaloniki (GR) –

Istanbul (TR) – Ankara (TR) – Erzurum (TR) – Tabriz (IR) – Tehran (IR) – Shiraz

(IR) – Bandar-Abbas (IR) – Ispahan (IR) – Baku (AZ) – Tibilisi (GEO) – Yerevan

(ARM) return via Istanbul, Ancona.

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The trip to Bandar Abbas will keep the trucks very busy, will the 30-year-old trucks stand the heat and dust of the desert 30 years after they were built? Some would say the might fare better than all our modern Euro 6 trucks, I still can’t quite imagine that a Euro 6 truck with all its electronics and sensors will be capable of desert work. A total of 13,000km in 34 days is what Ferdy and his team are hoping to achieve. As long as the paperwork is all in order I think this should be achievable, back in the 1970’s it would not have been possible to set such a time line.

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A few words about the trip from the team;

“This project was born more than 15 years ago, along with the creation of the website www.TOPRUN.ch. Initiated by the creator of the site, quickly joined by a handful of enthusiasts, truckers and owners of older trucks. A team that during all these years has been able to cultivate and maintain the interest of the profession to a wide audience especially with the publication of several books on the history of transportation destination to the East, books that have been a huge success more than 10,000 copies sold, along with numerous articles published in the European press. In 2013, an exhibition and meeting on the same subject, was attended by over 400 enthusiastic people and received an unexpectedly large echo in the media. The very positive result of these initiatives has motivated the idea of this journey on the Silk Road.”

You will be able to keep up with the trip on Ferdy’s website, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with already, but if not just go to www.toprun.ch and you’ll find out all you need to know along with thousands of truck photos from all over the world. After the trip there will be books and DVD’s available to purchase. I know how popular this trip will be so I’ll be snapping up a book as soon as its available as this really is a once in a lifetime trip and could be the last trip that a convoy of classic Scania’s makes across the Middle East. Yes I’m just a tiny bit jealous as my Uncle Dick used to drive for Astran and i once owned and restored a LHD 141 (my 141).

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What can you do to help the trip?? Well to be honest the best thing you can do is donate some money to help pay for a few more KM’s. As you can well imagine this won’t be a cheap adventure but there will be 100’s of us who will be wishing it was us in the driving seat, so for the enjoyment that it will bring why not contribute?. If you are willing then click on this link to go to the Toprun page that gives you all the info you need; http://www.toprun.ch/truck/silkroad_2014/index_eng.html

Good luck boys and I can’t wait to see how you get on, Keep on Trucking!!

 

V8 to The Rescue

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Back in May last year a small group of trucks left Ireland on their way to Belarus. Not just another European outing for our Irish friends but a humanitarian aid trip to help the Chernobyl Orphans Fund, by delivering aid of all types to the helpless children in the orphanages. The run from Ireland is an annual event and has been since 1999 but last year, 2013, was the first time the ex Astran Scania 143 (now owned by Eoin McGinnity) took part in the run. This year sees the 2nd trip for the “King of the Desert” out to Belarus.

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This year Eoin McGinnity is hoping to get more interest in the aid run than last year, not just so we can all enjoy the photos of the trucks journey, but also to try and increase the amount of aid that is donated. There is now a Astran to Belarus Facebook Page about the run that will follow the run as it trucks eastwards. Last year we heard about the run a little too late but this year there is a bit of notice so we can all donate to the cause. Eoin McGinnity himself has purchased and donated 3 x Pallets of baby nappies. There is a PayPal account set up, so if you want to make a donation please do, the PayPal name is; astranbelarus2014@gmail.com so you can donate and the money will go straight to the cause. It seems it’s not just in the UK that the ex Astran Scania 143 raises eyebrows, a Polish journalist will be meeting the convoy as it crosses Poland so he can write about the truck and it’s aid run.

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If you want to help while your waiting for the convoy to depart and the photos to start coming, then here are the official website links;

The main fund behind the convoy – www.chernobylorphansfund.ie
Astran to Belarus Facebook page – click HERE
PayPal Account for Monetary donations – astranbelarus2014@gmail.com

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I for one will be keeping a close eye on this years run. I’m always keen on aid runs, especially to help children who have no control over their own circumstances (ooh get me!), but also it will be good to see the big Scania once again crossing borders on a long haul run East. The truck has spent it’s working life carrying goods that will make a difference in one way or another, so why change the habit if a lifetime now the truck is retired. The trip was supposed to set off in the middle of April, but due to paperwork problems the departure date has been put back by a week or two. I’ll keep you updated don’t worry.

SCOOP!! Middle East Legend on Charity Run

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As we all read in the June edition of Truck & Driver magazine, Irishman Eoin McGinnity is now the proud and lucky owner of an ex Astran legend. Eoin stated that he’d love to do a Humanitarian run with the “King of The Desert”, so I’m guessing that some one read his plea and made contact. I can reveal that right this minute the old V8 is parked up in Poland heading for the Belarusian border tomorrow and the hopefully onto a small town between Brest and Minsk in Belarus ready for unloading on Friday.

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The 143 is part of a small convoy of Irish trucks including a real little beauty you can see in the photo above. Billy Kiely and his aging Scania 82M. Also in the convoy is a brand new Scania R560 loaned especially for the trip by Westward Scania and Tim Culloty’s Scania 164…..so the Irish do like a Scania then??!! Eoin claims his truck is loaded heavier than the rest, so they have a chance of keeping up with him! Below are the trucks parked up in Port 2000 in Poland, where they are parked this evening.
Hopefully more photos to come.

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Crowfield Classics

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A rare sight in any ones book. These 2 classic Swedes were pride of place at yet another damp Crowfield Truck Rally, held last Sunday the 3rd June at the Orwell Truckstop, Ipswich. This event is organised by the East Coast Truckers and always attracts lots of visitors and entrants as it goes, but numbers are limited so the places fill up quickly.
The 2 trucks above are both well know in and around Suffolk. The H.C. Wilson Scania 141 was bought new and has been working with Wilson ever since and still does the odd days graft now and again. The Russell Davies Scania 110 is a bit rarer as it spends most of its days at the Ipswich transport museum, but does come out for the odd run during the summer. The truck was the first ever purchase for the Russell Davies fleet in 1974 and was sold on in 1977. The truck was bought again in 1985 and restored back to her original colours. She looks well, perhaps even better with a spread axle skelly trailer behind??? Just an idea.

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This nice late DAF 3200 is in the colours of Suffolk haulier EJ Farrow. Nice, clean and simple, bearing the company details what more do you need? Although it does look a little small compared to it’s bigger younger brother parked alongside. While we’re on DAF, below is an earlier 2800, owned by another local haulier Neil Bomford.

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Next up is Rowell’s Transport’s delightful Volvo F7 sleeper. I love this little Volvo, I used to see loads of them around the industrial estate’s of Braintree as a boy. A local haulier had quite a few and it was also the first truck I drove on my own across my cousins farm during harvest. Although my cousins version was an 8×4 tipper, but it still had the sleeper cab. This Rowell’s truck has been given plenty of love and care and now looks like new, a real credit to the owners. Traditional sign writing, original interior and even retro windscreen flags, I hope this little beastie got a trophy, it deserves it.

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Finnaly we have Geoff Warrens customised Scania 142 with highroof and also another high roof classic in the shape of Terry Seaman’s big cabbed Foden. The Scania still works in the summer months but doesn’t tend to venture out to much in the winter. As for the Foden, that is still earning a crust and I actually saw it out on the road this week with a tipper trailer. It’s nice to see that a classic English truck can still earn a living and not be badly affected by the ever increasing emissions regulations. As far as I know farm yards are not yet under any sort of Low Emission Zone red tape!

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I can’t say much about H.C. Wilson’s 2 classics as we all know they both enjoy a trip to a show, but are both very much thought of as working trucks. The 141 doesn’t do to too many days out, but N500 HCW still is called into action when ever required, usually for swapping with a break down or an MOT vehicle.

There were plenty of other trucks at Crowfield, but the increasingly popular classic’s that we see at our shows, need to be appreciated. If you click HERE you will go to my other photos from the show.

East Coast Truckers Charity Convoy Under Threat

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Now, if you live any where in East Anglia then you are probably more than aware of the East Coast Truckers Convoy. If you don’t know what the convoy is all about, here it is; This convoy is all in aid of charity and has been going since 1986. In its 25 year life the convoy has traveled 1700 miles, contained 2200 trucks, carried 2300 children, been seen by 1,875,000 people and now the Convoy is likely to be axed due to red tape. Around 80 trucks take children with special needs to Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park and Great Yarmouth for the day. Thousands of people line the route from County Hall Norwich to the seafront at Gt. Yarmouth via Pleasurewood Hills. It makes the children’s day to see everyone waving them on from any vantage point en route. The ECTC needs your support;

Click HERE to go to the online petition page and add your name.

Now to get the details right i am going to copy and paste the words from the East Coast Truckers Chairman, Rob Billman;

“On the 16th of May I attended a meeting with NCC, Norfolk police and the highways agency. Nothing unusual. A meeting that I would attend every year before the Convoy. It was at this time that I was told that Norfolk police could not supply an escort group for the convoy anymore. But they were willing to work out an alternative solution. They’re solution was for an 85 truck convoy to depart onto the roads of Norfolk with no escort meaning that the convoy would have to obey the highway code. This would cause chaos. This would also create risk of other road users getting caught up within the convoy creating a risk to the safety of the trucks and the precious cargo they would be carrying. To add to this, this would have the potential of extending the journey times excessively, thus causing undue stress on the children. I said that I would not allow this to happen.

So the bottom line was that I said, no police, no convoy. I have a duty of care to all those involved in this event, I saw no other option. Various other issues were brought up within this meeting regarding health and safety, the fact that the convoy stands with a 25 year accident free record apparently doesn’t count for much. Many phone calls were made between myself and Norfolk police over the next week. On the Saturday evening, I called a meeting of the Charities Trustees and guests. This meeting was to discuss my decisions and the way forward. A final plan was formed for one last attempt at trying to get this years convoy a police escort group. We had to finalise a plan, the media were already on the case and I was due in at Radio Norfolk on the Monday morning.

At 3pm on Sunday the 22nd a final agreement was made between myself and Assistant Chief Constable Wilkins. We finally had a convoy for this year. The limitations are as follows;
Each truck will only carry :1 driver, 1 child, 1 carer. No exceptions.
A maximum speed limit of 30mph
A fair result I think.

Rob.”

So there you go, now you may be thinking this all sounds like fun, but what is it like actually out there on the road with the convoy, well here is a video, not only does it look very well organised, but you have to admit it is an impressive sight too;

Right, what the ECTC needs you to do is, add your name to the online petition to keep the convoy going. To read more click HERE to go to the petition’s website. Why should such a successful event that raises thousands and thousands of Pounds for charity also become a victim of our great Country’s endless side show of red tape, ruining good things for good people?? This convoy just cant end, this year it is safe, but without your signatures of support there is a real danger that the 2012 convoy won’t take place, so please register your support.
Click HERE to go to the online petition page and add your name.