Here he is again, our man Mat or as he is now known at work and at home, the Russian specialist. Since we last heard from Mat at the beginning of November he has managed to slip in another trip to Mockba just to finish the year off. Such is the mad world of showbiz, Mat was off to do two dates for one of the UK’s biggest pop/rock stars and a performer that is well known world wide. I guess with such a celebrity at the top of the tree there is the purse available to fund such a trip. This time Mat loaded half a load in London then out to Switzerland to load the second half. Having loaded he travelled up to Hamburg for the first of two performances. From the Hamburg arena it was over to Hamburg airport where Mats load was flown out to a gig in Libya. While that was going on Mat had to hot foot it up to Moscow (empty) to meet the plane to reload and take the equipment on to a venue and Mats final venue of the year in Moscow. As they say their in no business like show-business!! After the Moscow gig all there was for Mat to do before he could finish for the year was to run back. Oh yea, run back from Moscow to London via Switzerland. All in a few days work for Mat and in all honesty as we could all predict the only difficulties with the weather and conditions was once he was back here in the UK. In fact the mud on the trailer was mostly from a visit to J26 Truckstop on the M25 on the way home to Suffolk. It is fair to say that Mat is beginning to make this international lorry driving game look some what easy. Russia is but a motorway trip away for those with know how and those who aren’t phased by bad drivers, poor roads, bandits and winter weather. Perhaps as Transam Trucking use Mat for most Russian trips and also as Mat has made Moscow a regular run this year, has led to Mat getting his second Russian number plate in his windscreen. What I want you all to tell me is what the number plate says. Please leave your answers in the comments box. Here it is…..In fact those of you who leave the best suggestions will be in the running for a TB sticker! So that’s it now for Mat until the new year, where he starts at the end of January on a UK tour for a comic Druid! As is the way with real drivers, those who love the job, Mats eyes lit up when he told me the longest leg of the tour is a run from Glasgow to Truro. As we both agreed, unless you are a fish truck or ex Brian Harris driver, there aren’t many who have done this particular route. I for one look forward to more trips and tales around Europe and beyond in the big black DAF next year. I think Mat said he had visited 24 countries this year. This includes Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, all of Scandinavia and of course Western Europe, bring on 2018 is what I say!
My pal Mat Ireland derserves a little mention this week I think. I’m sure he does realise this, but Mat has now become one of those drivers that I know he loves and enjoys talking to and meeting. Mat is a proper full on International truck driver. No country to far and no border to difficult, everything taken in his stride and what’s more he always remembers his old buddy and brings me things for TBHQ! Mat has had a busy year with Transam Trucking, no fewer than 24 countries have been graced with the black DAF’s presence in the last 11 months. Two weeks ago Mat arrived back from yet another long tour of Europe only to asked if he would to go straight back to Russia. We all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry so off he went. One show in St Petersburg followed by one in Moscow and then home. Easy. Mat was treated to a Hoek Harwich ship on friday, so it gave me a chance to meet him on his way down to London Friday evening. Fresh as a daisy and clean as a whistle, were both driver and truck respectively. A little disappointed that the truck wasn’t covered head to toe in Russian dirt but then I guess that’s a sign of the times, truck washes and easier journies. Any way there I stood chatting with Mat and the truck just sat there barely warmed up having only done 30 miles off the boat. I always find myself treating trucks like dogs, giving them a stroke (no jokes please!) and feeling the heat from the grille like the breath from it’s nose. There is still something about trucks that gets me, no idea what it is though. In years gone by when a truck returned from Russia, much like many of the Peterlee Trucking trucks I would see in Braintree when I was a boy, you would have known about it, the truck would have looked like it had been to Russia and back if you know what I mean. But Mats DAF was fresh out the box, even though it was last washed at the Nevada Centre in Polska on the way back. Is this a sign of the times? A sign of better trucks? Both? Or just the sign of a driver at the top of his game?! Mat has created another of his trucking great videos. The trip from the UK to Russia is one many of us will never undertake so it’s well worth spending just under 25 minutes of your time watching the Kilometres tick by. Please click HERE to go to the video.
Anglo Dutch Model Trucks are fast becoming the go to guys for top quality small run UK and European model trucks. Boss man Steve is passionate about truck models and what I like is that he is passionate about the small details that set his models off from the rest, bumper and GB stickers and the like. The latest model ready to pre-order is an ARGS DAF drawbar. It looks a real belter and looks so 1980’s it’s amazing. Get ordering as with all ADMT models it’s a small run of top quality trucks. Details as follows;
Make: WSI Models Holland
UK Classics 200 series
It just goes to show we are a reflection of our parents. Everyone asks where I get my obvession with trucks from and I usually say my parents, most tend to think I’m joking. To prove my point this blog is made up of the holiday photos from my parents recent maiden voyage to one of the most beautiful countries in the world…..Norway. If any proof was needed any where my parents go they usually return with some truck photos. Even staying at their best friends holiday home in southern France, my old man happily sits in the town square listening to the old V8 Scania’s heading in and out the hills and quarries en Francais! Something I have noticed about Norwegian trucks is that everyone of them is painted. Even the new white Arocs tipper above has painted plastics and a painted grille. Also (may be not quite right) quite a few are painted a single solid colour as opposed to multicolours. The DAF at the top is black with a few red highlights, the breakdown trucks are solid reds and yellow, seems to be a slight pattern. Once again I think you can see a specific Norway style!Now, the big black DAF is a bit of a beast and I’m sure it sounded a real treat but Ma and Pa set me a challenge…..Can we find the owner or driver on social media within a few days of publishing this blog?? The photo was taken in Bergen and the truck has Bergen written on the sun visor. The company name is Hagebø Transport AS, so come on someone must know the driver……
We are now 10 years down the road here on the blog and if there are any of you first blog readers still here, then it’s time you…….no no, then most of you will know that I love a little truck with a big cab and the icing on the cake is one that does international work! For me the perfect example are the two little trucks you see above. A good pal of mine spends many a Wednesday doing what we’d all love to do, he stands on a bridge over the M20 in Kent photographing all the trucks, mainly those heading to or from the UK’s main link with Europe, Dover Docks. All of the photos in this blog are all taken and copyright to Neil Jarrold. Without Neil I’d struggle to see quite so many of these delightful little motors from my office in Ipswich! The little Italian TGL LX above just oozes something that flicks my switch, big cab, smart paint, tidy bodywork, big fuel tanks and foreign number plates! You could get me into that truck and send me to Italy everyday even if you offered me tractor and trailer instead. Bellissimo.
So it needs a big cab, it needs to be international and the only way to hit perfection is add on a little fridge body. Bingo!! I know the little Pulleyn Ategos used to go far and wide hence the TIR board but once again the little MAN just looks the ticket. Maybe as I had a little MAN 7.5 tonner I’m a little biased but the little German is the best thing in the MAN range by a very long way.
How about a little DAF? Well the small problem with the LF is that they don’t do their own big cab, you need to look for an aftermarket one. A local company to me Hatcher Components do a marvellous twin bunk “Sky Cab” conversation for the little Dutchman and I have to say it is once again rather splendid. Painted properly the DAF is as gorgeous as it Dutch roots, a real head turner.
I still don’t really get why I like them quite so much, even a mini artic does the trick and has that certain, Je ne sais pas quoi. The one thing I do know is, every time I see some of Neil’s photos capturing their journeys doing as many miles as any of their bigger cousins across Europe, it always makes me want to get back to it. As I have certainly said before, if I’d managed to stop in my little MAN and actually speak to another now friend of mine, Steve Marsh, then just perhaps I could still have my own little big cabbed truck. I like it when I get talking to some of you lot and I often get the impression we could be talking about any hobby or passion. Some of you like heavy haulage, some tippers, some Foden’s and I guess for me, my “speciality” is little big cabs. But then again as with anything, variety is the spice of life and trucks are no different. I’d be a boring old truck show if we all liked the same thing! Thanks to Neil Jarrold for the photos.
It was one of those trips. I received a call from a good friend of mine asking if I would cover for him for a few days. He lives in the south of France, and his son’s 18th birthday was the day the tour was scheduled to finish. Originally his brother was going to cover for him, but he was so busy with his own work he could not take the time off, so I happily obliged. The schedule was easy enough. Take my friends car to the 02 in London, and take over the truck. Go to Dublin for two shows, ship back, tip off at Heathrow for the equipment to be air freighted to the States and go home, what could go wrong!
Well we didn’t even leave London before it all changed! Just before I went to go and load out sunday evening I got told by our lead driver to go and wait at the coach parking as Dublin may well be off. Sure enough, due to illness we were not going to cross the Irish sea this time. Come the morning a desicion will be made what is happening. I was asked if I had my passport as there may be some equipment to go back to Holland, no problems, I would be happy to get back across the water one more time this year, where as everyone else had their sights set on home having been away for some time at this point. The first part of the new plan was to head north to near Wakefield, where several trucks would be tipped and the loads shuffled about depending on what would be going where. A few of us (myself included) were told to wait at Markham Moor truckstop initially as the loads we had would not be required initially. I decided to stop at Stibbington diner en route to eat as my culinary experience in the past of Markham Moor has left a lot to be desired, and sadly i think this is still the case, the place could do with a overhaul. We soon moved onto the Stockyard truckstop, which was closer to Wakefield and also Robin Hood airport, where the airfreight was planned to be going from instead now. Close to 5pm, I got the call from the lead driver. “I have just finished loading the trailer for you, you have Germany Belgium and Holland to tip, I will be with you soon to swap trailers” quite a change them, and as yet no details where exactly but they will follow tomorrow. So after swapping trailers I headed back to the yard to swap into my own truck for the trip, and made my way the following evening to Harwich for the night ferry out.
The Germany part was to just outside Stuttgart, over 8 hours drive from the Hoek of Holland. Upon disembarkation and with my split ferry rest finished I was off southbound. I decided to head across towards Nijmegen and then south towards Venlo as a couple of months previous one of the main motorway bridges to the north of Breda had been closed to anything over 3.5 tonnes, clearly some cracks had been found. It was a fast and uneventful route across, and with a 15 minute stop at the German border for a brew while my German OBU toll collect unit fired into life I was off again south. There is a choice of 2 routes south from here, either the 3, which is busy but generally 3 lanes, or the 61, which is a tow lane most of the way and a lot is no overtaking for trucks, not ideal. I plumped for the 3 because I did not want any hold ups. Luckily for me, the traffic flowed well, I think being so close to christmas helped. After contacting the company I was heading to I was going to get there just before they closed for christmas, but they would wait for me! Sure enough, 5:45 in the evening I arrived outside their gates, they had to unlock the back gates for me to get in as some builders had decided to park opposite their gate so I had no chance of getting in that way. Straight onto a bay, and within 5 minutes their equipment was off, probably one third of a trailer maximum. I decided I would be best putting in a 10 hour day with 3 drops still to do tomorrow I may need all the help I could get. I got back between Karlsruhe and Mannheim and managed to squeeze across the back of some parked trucks in an Autohof with about 15 minutes to spare on my time. Across the road I had noticed a 24 hour truck wash, that was plan one for the morning then as both the truck and trailer were dirtier than a tramps pocket!
After my 9 hours off, freshly showered and fed I rolled around to the truckwash at about 4am. two trucks stood in front of me, and before long a few behind, yet not much seemed to be happening. After a brew I wandered up to the front to see only one man working that i could see, I decided to give him a bit longer to see if things got moving, which they did of sorts, we all moved in front of one of the doors, but by now, with almost an hour lost nd still 3 trucks to wash i had to abandon my plans. After having a quick work, I drove straight into the wash, and straight out the other side and off north, sadly I didnt have the time to wait about and get the truck clean. Thankfully despite the lost hour i didn’t suffer with traffic issue. I had opted to return back via the 61 as I was heading to a small town called Tildonk just outside Brussels. I arrived here just before 12, and after backing in the man in charge said to me “Ah we were just about to go to lunch as the boys are hungry, but we will offload you first. Would you like a coffee?” English companies take note!! This is how to treat drivers, with a little respect, not disgust! With drop 2 prompty off, I now had the afternoon to get to Utrect and 2 deliveries fairly close to each other, but first I had to have a 30 minute break as I would not quite make it otherwise, so I opted for Meer truckstop. After a wander around the shop and in the rather empty parking area with my camera I was off again. The first drop was not easy to find as it was in a transport yard but the signs saying they were also in there were not too obvious. once again, straight onto a bay and with 5 people in the trailer I was almosty in the way trying to help!
With that done, one was left to do, so straight ‘around the corner’ (about 5kms roughly) to the last drop. A good friend of mine now works in the office here, and was shocked to see me appear at 4:30 on their last day before christmas! They had actually forgotten that any returns would be coming back. He made me a coffee and we chatted about work and also his newborn son, I dont think I have ever met a prouder dad! By the time the coffee had been downed, their warehouse staff had offloaded the trailer and I was empty and good to go.
All that remained to was get to the hoek for the night ferry home. The traffic there was really quite busy, but I managed to make it in and park waiting with about 20 minutes driving left on my second 10 hour day, good job I decided to do one the day before too.
Whilst on the boat I bumped into a friend of mine who works for a company I do casual work for, he was on his way back home for christmas after being away for the last 6 weeks. Once off the boat in the morning it was just a case of straight back to the yard, empty the truck and go home. That would have been it for christmas, but being very bah humbug and with a holiday looming I had volunteered to another company to work if need be, so christmas eve found me back down Harwich picking up a Visbeen fridge but loaded with post from holland for Hounslow and Slough and collecting mail to return, a nice easy run to round the week, and also the year off.
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.”