The blog gains a few fans every week and more and more are asking if they can write a blog or I ask them if they want too. Either way it means we all get to enjoy a wider variety of trucking stories. This time around I asked my friend, Dominic Newby, of MB Roadstars fame, if he would write a few words about this “as-new” Mercedes-Benz LP 1626. Luckily for us Dom is happy to share his photos and a few words about this Danish beauty. I think it needs a retro frigo trailer behind it though, who agrees??
“The LP 1626’s cubic cab is the very model of minimalist design; debuting in September 1963 at the IAA in the heavy duty category it’s huge windscreen, surfaces and right angled lines, the vehicle’s exterior is modern, even by today’s standards. The design allowed the driver to experience a new world: a comfortable entry, space behind the wheel, a magnificent panoramic view and a minimal sized engine tunnel. The LP’s tilting cab was immediately recognisable by doors drawn to the height of the bumper and the slightly raised roof was integrated in 1969.”
“I was lucky enough to experience one of these beauties at the recent Stuttgart Retro-Classic. This LP is a dump truckconverted to a fire truck and is now in its third lease of life as a semi-trailer tractor unit, despite these different ‘lives’ it has hardly been used. The gears feel just as they did on day one, the V8 growls at the first rev and the frame and chassis are a million miles away from rust and bearing damage. It could have just rolled off the production line.”
“After a lengthy restoration converting the old fire truck the finished article is simply stunning. The theme of the LP is Denmark; there is red and black patterned material on the rear wall and on the mattress, the engine tunnel is upholstered in red man-made leather and there is fur on the seats. The rear wall also contains a lampshade bought from a flea market, all of which lends character to the cab. On the exterior, fire engine red is combined with green along with a ‘Danmark’ illuminated sign on the roof. This LP is truly one of a kind and is exactly the type of lorry I would love to add to my collection – long live the true ‘retro classics’!”
Hello young Benjamin. Your favourite globetrotter checking in from Rarotonga we continue the journey west. This time to New Zealand, then up to Fiji and then across to Australia. While in New Zealand I was fortunate enough to get speaking to a driver from Mainfreight. The driver informed me that most of the trucks are owned by small operators and there’s a team from Mainfreight who’s job it is to make sure the trucks colours match their criteria, the exact paint etc. This is the reason the trucks look so good there compared to the badly presented ones we see in Europe. It’s just not the same standard. I also heard of a story about an outfit who painted up the whole rig and when Mainfreight came to inspect it they noticed something was off. It turns out the paint shop had used a slightly lighter shade of blue, so it had to go back and get redone. Above is a photo of a tidy Volvo that covers both the North and South islands of NZ. Also a few photos of a truck show I came across being set up.
We also have a Tang spec Scania I spotted in Sydney. Notice the Irish flag in the visor lights.
As always, I love to hear about the trucks you find on your travels. The blog is worldwide so few free to share trucks with us from where ever you may be. I’d love to see some trucks from some of the small island nations if anyone is reading from somewhere far more tropical and sunny than Colchester today!! Thanks Joey, looking forward to the next instalment.
Not very often a Hino features on the blog. Not for any reason other than there really aren’t many about in the UK these days. Clearly still about elsewhere in the globe and Mr McCarty has found…….
Hey Ben how are you doing? (Good ta – TB!) Following on my last post from my round the world trip we now find our selves in Rarotonga on the Cook Islands. Upon going for a walk yesterday I can across this. It’s an 1986 hino used by the volunteer fire service here on the island. It was donated by the New Zealand fire service and is one of the newer ones on the island. Hope you enjoy the photos!
So this week it was blue Monday, the most miserable day of the year. The day we all realise that things are so much better when we aren’t paying Christmas off, weren’t feeling full of turkey and cheese, when we were all wearing open toed shoes and high heels, and for anyone else other than the postman, those happy long, bright warmer days we can wear shorts. Every year I get a delightful blog, from a certain Mr S Wilson, who can’t keep himself away from the smell of hot tyres and the thump of a diesel engine (and I’m not talking about the cruise ship, SW!), so after a few happy days at the start of the holiday, when the novelty of family time is still in full flow, SW starts leaning back towards the day job, the passion ad the hobby, so I start getting the holiday photos come through. Yes the holiday photos, exactly the ones you I really want to see………the trucks of the Mediterranean on the various ports the cruise ship stops at on its meander around the clear blue seas of southern Europe.
As its mid-week, pull over, pull the curtains round, get a cold beer out the fridge if you have one (but no more, you’re driving in the morning!), fill the passenger foot well with some soft warm sand and pull up a sandbag while Mr Wilson tells us a story. Just picture the scene, warm sun, lovely gentle breeze, great views (even better than Gretna Services), the quiet slosh of the waves on the shore and perhaps, just perhaps the odd big old classic truck tootling around the docks……..now we are all chilled out and slouched down in our chairs………..I’ll pass you over to Simon Wilson (yes he of HC Wilson fame)………..
On a recent Wilson family visit to Corfu, we had a fabulous view from hotel rooftop bar looking east towards the evening lights of Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland. After several nights sipping the local Mythos brew, I was fascinated watching the ferries crossing over to Igoumenitsa, along with the occasional passing cruise ships. So I decided it was time to take the ferry to have a look. So I jumped on a Green Buses coach up to Corfu Town, then walked 1km down to the ferry port. €11 bought a foot passenger ticket & I walked in the bow door of the immaculately clean Agios Spiridon, along with other foot passengers, and several car passengers who climbed out & walked up the steps while the cars’ drivers parked further inside the car deck. A Scania tanker, a MAN tipper and 4 Volvo’s reversed up the front door ramp which was then raised and away we reversed off the berth, with the rear anchor being hauled in as we manoeuvred out. The Greek method of pulling up bow first and dropping ramp on the quayside has always fascinated me, with 1 rope pulling each way and rear anchor dropped approx 100m before the stopping place. But it seems to work well.
Most passengers went into the air conditioned lounge / snackbar for the 90 minute crossing, while I toured the upper decks enjoying the view of the mainland coast. A large Anek Lines ferry & very small local freight ferry were in Igoumenitsa as we pulled up to the dock & dropped the front door. UK safety bods would go ballistic if they witnessed the exit of cars, trucks & foot passengers all at once, without a single hi-viz in sight! Only the loading officer is given a white polo shirt to signal who is in charge. I walked 50m across the quay to buy another ticket for the return leg. Organised chaos ensued for around 30 minutes, with other trucks pulling in for a smaller ferry to Lemkimmi in the south of Corfu. Several trucks went via the port weighbridge before reversing on the ferries, amongst the suitcase pulling foot passengers! A local car rolled up at the last minute to drop a brown paper parcel off in the luggage room near the front door. Soon we were off again heading back to Corfu Town. There are 3 ferry companies plying the route, so around every 30 mins there is a departure just like the Dover-Calais route.
The wildlife show then began. Some seagulls showed me their in flight bread catching skills from a lady 1 deck below me. Then 3 dolphins completed a few posing jumps as we slowed in towards Corfu port. Volvo FH16’s and Scania V8’s appear to be the favoured trucks, always left running to cool the driver! Some trucks still wear the the signwriting of their previous owners. Soon the ramp was dropped again in Corfu Town. Car passengers walk off down the ramp, then stand on the quayside amongst the disembarking trucks waiting to rejoin their cars as they roll off. And so the sequence begins again! All in all a great sightseeing trip, then back on the Green Bus to the hotel just south of Benitses in time for evening meal & Mythos.
Since my first post on TB I changed jobs as mentioned and what a great decision that has proved to be.
I joined Temuka Transport in June of last year after getting back from my holiday in the UK and Vietnam. I had been to see the boss before I went away who I knew beforehand through my partner and expressed my interest in joining the team to which he sounded keen. I knew that both companies had a good working relationship but without stepping on each other’s toes so I had to approach the matter with professionalism. I was completely honest with all involved and explained my reasons for wanting to change.
I still loved the job at Pye Group but I felt the ever changing shift pattern didn’t suit my lifestyle anymore with my partner mostly starting around 5am whereas I could sometimes be starting at 11am. This meant we didn’t always get to spend a lot of time together especially in the evenings where I could be working until midnight if the job required.
For me joining Temuka Transport meant earlier starts and in turn earlier finishes which was similar to my partners but also the chance to see more of this beautiful country whilst being paid to do so.
Most of the time spent working for Pye Group was around the local area as is the case for most agricultural contractors. This was a great way for me to find my feet and gain some experience on Kiwi roads but I was ready to spread my wings. I had already experienced working for Temuka as whenever work was quiet at Pye Group they would sub me out, driver only so I had an idea of what it would be like.
Temuka runs a fleet of mostly Volvo’s with the odd exception having been acquired in business deals or takeovers. It is also the largest privately owned Volvo fleet in the Southern Hemisphere as stated by Volvo themselves in a recent magazine article. Within the company there are multiple divisions that include curtainsiders, containers, bulk, stock, bulk liquids (tanks) as well as a rural division that handles fert spreading and agricultural contracting. I have included a photo of each division which highlights the diversity of the company and trucks.
I initially signed up to do bulk liquids, moving fresh milk all around the South Island but before the season fully kicked off I was asked by the boss if I would take on a truck and call it my own in the bulk division. For me this was a no brainer as it meant stepping straight into a V4 FH 540 with a five axle trailer, getting consistently good hours throughout the season and a settled shift pattern. I was very lucky to be offered this truck as notoriously you have to work your way into a newer truck after proving yourself, the condition of how your gear is kept or length of service. I believe the boss already knew how I looked after my gear which played a part in me being given this truck. The truck I was given is also special within the company as it has the racing car artwork on the side of the cab as seen in the photos. This comes from the link between the family that own the transport company being good friends with the family of the son who became a professional racing driver and has won numerous titles in Australasia.
Since getting the truck I have slowly been trying to restore it back to its former glory. It was starting to show signs of age with the odd bit of damage as well as a few missing bits here and there. I’ve also added my personal touch to it. Such additions include a custom made light board from the UK, front flaps under the bumper, marker lights in the mirrors, Union Jack sticker on the visor and I’m still waiting for my TB sticker (I’m getting more printed as the others haven’t arrived – TB) to arrive in the post. I’ve spent considerable time de-tarring the wheels and cab before getting around to polishing them with my efforts finally starting to show. I feel it’s really starting to take shape now with the Christchurch truck show in March being the next target. I’ve still got matching Volvo mudflaps and an air horn to add before the show. This show claims to be NZ’s biggest truck show and I will be attending with my camera ready to report back with some photos.
My usual working week consists of 6.30am starts Monday to Friday and a roster for Saturday work. I have also found myself covering Saturday shifts for some of my colleagues who are happy with just Monday to Friday.
A large percentage of my work is spent taking coal straight from the mine to the nearby dairy factory. This work is repetitive where you can usually achieve five loads a day before making the two hour journey home again. This run is quite hard on the gear with rough roads and a steep gradient on entering the mine, never mind the state of my truck at the end of the day. I would include more photos of the mine but strict company policy insists on no photography whilst on their site. I did manage to get permission to take a photo of my truck whilst tipping off a load of ash whilst my trailer is jackknifed beside me, something I never thought I would be capable of doing.
If I’m not moving coal then it could be fertiliser, grain or palm kernel. When moving these products it tends to take me north of base with the rare trip southbound. My favourite trips would be over to the west coast where the scenery is breath taking and so different to what I’m used to on the east coast. Numerous steep climbs through gorges and over mountain ranges, past picturesque lakes and along the coast line with the waves metres away from the road. Since arriving in NZ I’ve been adding pin drops to my google maps for when I revisit a location or share it with someone who hasn’t been and as you can see I have already been lucky enough to see a considerable chunk of the island.
Eventually all good things come to an end and the adventure is over and we arrive in Portland, Oregon for the last race, but not before dinner at Hooters and a walk around town to see what’s going on. As it turns out it has more homeless drug addicts than I’ve never seen before.
So the journey ends here and it’s been a brilliant and eye opening experience as I mentioned earlier the team was badly managed but having spoken to others in motor sport since who have told me it’s better at other places but not by much so I’ve concluded that Motorsport definitely isn’t for me.
I’d like to say thank you to Dave Nickalls who I shared a truck with and who I have known for a few years now. We had a chance meeting 4 years ago in a German autohof, when he worked for Red Bull Racing. Dave has become a friend and worked for me driving my trucks a few times. Dave was also the one who invited me out to America and gave me the opportunity to take part in this trip.
Once the race is over and the trucks loaded it’s the last drive the big one! 2050 miles in two and a half days. I haven’t written much about the actual driving yet so here it goes, how I see it.
Most of the roads are straight flat and there isn’t much to look at so it’s necessary for the trucks to be able to do the same speed as cars as 56mph would be torture. The drawback is that it’s a lot more tiring as your always on it, trying to pass some or being held up by someone albeit not much as the car drivers in America get a move on as well unlike home! You’re not likely to encounter many people dawdling along in the middle lane at 50mph and if you do there doesn’t seem to be any rule against just undertaking them. In most places you can just use lane 3 in a truck anyway. As a result after 11 hours (which you can do every day of the week!) driving you do feel properly f**ked you can see why some drivers here feel to use amphetamines to stay awake when driving. As for the speed it work’s for the reasons mentioned and because of how the trucks are designed with the double drive bogies and axles on the back end of the trailers, they are surprisingly stable when tanking along at 75mph or even 92mph which I reached (accidentally honest) at one point.
The cabs are brilliant to be honest. I think what we had was technically a fleet spec motor but still better than anything we have in Europe, the space is awesome and so comfortable it’s like driving around in a studio flat. The Freightliner itself is a nice truck, we never found out the horsepower of the trucks as it’s not written on the side of the motor or on the engines. The Detroit engine pulled well still doing 50mph loaded at 36 ton up some big hills easily as steep as Bourge-en-Bresse and as I said before they have the Merc gearbox working better than Mercedes do!
The last 4 hours of the drive are the best by far. We travel on the I84 which runs along the Columbia river and runs side by side a train track the views are stunning. It is up there with the best roads I’ve ever driven. The freight trains you run alongside are incredible we counted one to be 90 carriages long at least 1.5 miles but more likely 2 miles long!!