MB 817 still Going International

After all the hype of the little MB814 I saw last week on my holidays, I was sent a few photos from various readers….thank you. Of course there’s always a Top Trump in the pack and it just so happens it was sent it by one of the original 814 pilots himself, Mat Ireland. Out and about in Austria last week on his way to Romania, imagines Mats excitement when his big DAF came upon this little #littlebigcabclub gold member! This is a Mercedes-Benz 817, sleeper with tilt body as you can see. Photoed in Austria heading eastbound, it was most likely heading home to Serbia judging by the registration plate. Another 1000km minimum added to the odometer if not more depending where it had actually been. I do wonder how many miles the old girl had in her but I guess that’s the age old question, I better get measuring that piece of string! Top Spotting Mat thank you.

TBHQ – A Home for Anything Truck

A few more bits added to the collection. A huge thank you to the one and only Paul Rowlands. I am now looking after these bits for Paul in TBHQ. For those who have read the book about Paul’s time out on the road you will already know of the job the photos and paperwork refer too. For those who don’t know what it’s all about then you need to get yourselves a copy of Paul’s book; It’s not All Sunshine and Sand – click the link to go straight to the Old Pond Publishing website and get your copy.

Thanks again Mr Rowlands – I now need to find the Toleman photos I got from Toleman HQ back in the early 1990’s…..

TB on The Move – Kyrgyzstan

My pal and super mega trucker Mat Ireland has a handful of stickers that he is handing out Trucks he meets from far and wide, the further and wider the better! TB on the move is a global thing I’ll have you know. From council trucks in Brazil to Road-trains in Australia, through to Africans, Americans and some of the last Astran trucks to the Middle East, not to mention scrap metal trucks from Ipswich, they all want, crave, strive, are part of the big TB family. Truckers one and all are welcome to my club. Anyway enough of my nonsense and onto Kyrgyzstan. Where?? You don’t need a sat-nav, just follow the sun like John Williams, Dave Poulton and Dick Rivers, it’s South of Kazakhstan, 2 countries above Afghanistan and shares its eastern border with China, its quite a way from the Bad Benthiem border in Deutschland where Mat met this driver. Nice to see he’s driving a proper truck, take note Mat…..

“I pulled into Bad Bentheim border for my usual walk around with my camera to see what far flung countries some had come from, and that was parked in there! I could see the chap was about so thought he was worthy of a sticker! He spoke no English and my Russian is very limited but he understood it was a present from England, and looked very happy! It’s a long long way to Kyrgyzstan!!”

Swiss Garlick

Another guest blog this week. The one and only NLG, Nick Garlick. Now forget the marque, someone honestly tell me if it was your favourite marque and it was your trip, this has to be one for the bucket list. Carry on Nick……….

Having chatted with Charles Russell we’d planned to transport his Pride & Joy to this years Trucker Country Festival in Switzerland. But due to the pressures of running a busy company it became clear Charles couldn’t go, so I naturally assumed the trucks wouldn’t be going this time. “Oh no” insisted Charles “you can still take them, I trust you” he said.

So there I was on Wednesday in his yard loading probably the most precious cargo I’d ever transported. Leaving early, very early 03.15 am  the next morning I left Coombe Hill, bound for Dover. Leaving that early meant I could reach Dover and park in the lanes in my 4.5 driving spread. A most welcome breakfast courtesy of P&O settled the butterflies in my stomach. A steady run to Reims where I took my next break before cruising along the RN4 to Perthe where I parked up for the night. I shared my table with two drivers from Strauman Heavy Transport from Colmar who were most taken with the 140/141 on the trailer. In fact they were constantly being photographed and videoed along the route.
The pressure was now off and I enjoyed the trip along the RN19 via Vesoul and skirting Belfort arrived at the French/Swiss border at Boncourt with no problems.
After a delicate debate concerning customs documents I was allowed through with smiles all round once I’d got a new road tax card.
The A16 motorway runs south through tunnels and beautiful scenery taking me a couple of hours later round Bern. A stop for a cash machine and lots of smiles and photos from the Swiss truckers gathered there. I was surprised by how many enthusiasts lined the road waving, shouting and taking photos as I passed by.
At the entrance I was met By Ferdy D Martin (Toprun) and escorted through the assembled trucks to the center point of the show area where we unload the LBs and parked my truck up for the weekend.
Some 1500 trucks were on display over the weekend with temperatures reaching 40degrees.

TB Roving Reporter – New Zealand

I do get asked now and again if I’d like to hear or see photos and tales of others more fortunate than myself who have managed to get a job overseas doing something a little different to the UK norm. YES! I want to hear from you all and when you say “I’m not sure what to write” – trust me write what comes and most blog readers will love it. Next up is TB’s new roving reporter in New Zealand, Mr Ed Nolloth.

Firstly a bit about me. I’m 28 and originally from a sleepy village in Suffolk but now find myself trucking on the other side of the world. I started working in transport at the age of 20 and spent the next eight years working in the office of two well known Norfolk hauliers, starting out as a trainee traffic planner quickly working my way up the ranks. During this time I also acquired my C, C+E and Transport Managers CPC as well as other qualifications. 


Two years ago I found myself at a crossroads in life where I had spent seven years in an office and I felt a change was needed. It was time to try something new. I applied for a visa in New Zealand and before you knew it I was there, staying with distant relatives who I’d met once before in the UK and looking for work. I had been told work was in abundance in NZ and a week later I found myself working for a large agricultural contractor in the South Island and the rest is history as they say. I just finished two ‘seasons’ in New Zealand with a summer working for Transam Trucking sandwiched in between, something my good friend Mat Ireland got me involved with a few years back as his double driver. 

Working in NZ has positively changed my life and given me a different outlook on how to live. When comparing the UK to NZ I often list the followings differences; NZ has less people which is turn means less traffic. The weather is much better which in turn makes the people happier and in general friendlier but from a truck driving point of view there is far less legislation which in turn makes it far more enjoyable. The kiwi idea of a traffic jam is four cars waiting at a one lane bridge, a far cry from a thirteen mile queue on the M25. 

After nearly two years in NZ it’s starting to feel like a normal way of life but at first it was like an adventure, something a lot of truck drivers in the UK only dream about and for me this dream has become a reality. 
I worked for an agricultural contractor based on the Canterbury plains in the South Island of NZ with a fleet of mainly Volvo and Mercedes trucks. I was lucky enough to be rewarded with a brand new truck at the beginning of my second season and became rather attached to it. The hours and shift pattern was varied as to be expected for the type of work. During silage season it would be a mid morning start but this meant working into the early hours of the following morning. In my first year this didn’t faze me but the second year my situation changed as it often does and I met a young lady who was also a truck driver. 

When I first went over I had every intention of just spending six months out there and settling back into life as I knew it in the UK but I enjoyed it so much I was itching to go back. The job itself was awesome and everyday was different, spending most of time driving around paddocks and on challenging terrain. For me truck driving has always been about getting up before everyone else and getting ahead in your day, this turned out to be quite the opposite so it took me a little time to adapt. 
For those who don’t know the driving hours rules in NZ are very different. Firstly they still use paper log books, a far cry from digital tacograph cards. You are allowed to work up to fourteen hours a day every day with a ten hour break after each shift. During this fourteen hour shift you are permitted to take a thirty minute break after five and a half hours work. This means two breaks are required a day giving you a total of thirteen hours work a day. You are allowed to work up to seventy hours a week before a twenty four hour break is required and your week resets. On a drivers log book you only have a ‘work’ and ‘rest’ column which makes the whole process a lot easier than changing mode switches. As a British citizen with my C+E licence I am able to drive in NZ without sitting any practical or theory exams and there is no such thing as a CPC. I have recently acquired my NZ licence as I have plans to stay and this only involved a theory test to gain my class 5.
NZ has lots of different heavy vehicle combinations with the most common being a ‘truck & trailer’ which in UK terms would be an eight by four rigid followed by a two axle dolly attached to a three axle forty foot trailer giving you a maximum total length of twenty three meters. Another popular combination is a ‘B train’ where a tractor unit pulls two trailers. On my first day I was shown the truck & trailers in the yard and remember thinking there is no way I will ever be able to reverse this but it’s now like second nature. It’s safe to say my first attempt practicing between some road cones in the yard wasn’t pretty. 
The purpose of this blog was to prove it’s not as hard as people think to follow your dreams, anything is possible with a bit of hard work and determination. I have recently been back to the UK to visit family and upon my return I will be changing jobs for a new challenge having felt like I have achieved everything I wanted to from my previous one. I’m not one for changing jobs regularly but my new one will give me more time off with the chance of bigger trips around the country for more money. I’m even shopping my golf clubs out to NZ in the view of enjoying a round or two on my days off. 
Until next time…

Pop Quiz: Rock n Rollers

Pop quiz for a Saturday, well there is a small quiz and a few photos of trucks! As the summer season is upon us for music gigs and of course the seemingly endless festivals that go on all across Europe every weekend, I thought you may like a little delve into pop history. I do always wonder whether the artists that UK trucking companies support are aware of what goes into their nightly shows across the continent. I mean do a gig, sing a few songs, have a few beers, sign a few autographs, wreck the odd hotel room, then on to the next town or city. Meanwhile the truckies are busy doing the same all the hard work. I’m sure dismantling a stage, boxing it up, loading it in the right order and getting off to the next city with enough time to do the reverse and get everything set up again is some what of a logistical headache.

How many of the musical lot are aware that there is a team of hard working men and women making these gigs happen and helping them earn there millions. Well I can happily say that at least three legendary artists are clearly aware as they have been photoed with the rigs that keep them touring. So here’s the pop quiz; Who are the three artist in the three photos?

  1. Not crocodile Dundee pictured with trucks loaned by the manufacturer as they sponsored the tour.
  2. His majesty the 2nd photoed with one of the greats. Just look at the stickers in that windscreen.
  3. Proper hardcore, full on rock n roll royalty. No modern artist could imagine the lifestyle this lot had. I know the band unsure of the artist!

Please give all answers either in the comments box below, or leave a comment on the FB page. If you have any photos of the rich and famous with your truck then please send it to me via PM or email. Then we can have another round of Pop Quiz, I have seen a photo of a certain neighbourly Australian next to one of her tour trucks but couldn’t find it for this blog. 5 points on offer for Artist and/or band. Answers on a postcard!