Truckstar, Assen – Day 4


Day 4 (Sunday) the last day. A late night last night but I’m glad I slept in the truck, I think I may have drowned judging by the lake we woke up to. Anyway the rain cleared and another pleasant day followed. As is becoming the norm, on the second day at the show proper we walk the other half of the track and see the rest of the working trucks. The idea of parking all trucks around the circuit (essentially a circle) means that you don’t miss anything. If everything is parked up in different sections and different areas it’s very easy to miss something, perhaps some of the U.K. shows should take note. As you don’t miss anything you find all sorts, ex show winners, everyday trucks and also the odd golden oldie. Although we were parked in the Oldtimer section, there are still some working that obviously park with the working trucks. The red 143 was adoreable! If Father Christmas is reading this, then I don’t need to write my letter this year. 



The rest of the day was spent wandering the main show trucks and also around the manufacturers stands. I’m not a big Iveco fan but they did look a treat sitting in the sun. Just to clarify the only reason I’m not so keen is down to an old dog I used to drive a few years ago, nothing against the new ones! Most of you will have worked out that I’m a fan of the MAN TGL LX, also a fan of old Scanias, 1995 backwards and also a very big fan of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros. Knowing  a fair bit about them they aren’t a truck that regularly gets pimped up, before you all comment yes I know there are a few. But in general there aren’t many so what a pleasure it was to find one. A GigaSpace with 630hp on tap. Very subtle in black with some well placed orange stripes, a nice set of fuel tanks and lockers on the chassis making use of the limited space, a few lights mixed in but best of all a pair of 7 or 8 inch straight exhaust pipes up the back of the cab. I had to sit down.


As it’s the last day of the show we packed up all of our stuff back into the little cab of the 141 and waited for the 1630hrs exit. We had to get away sharply so we had the best chance of getting back to the boat. This was of course fine, a good run with 1980’s tunes on the radio and the sun beginning to set (although we all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry driver!) and a co driver feeding me sour pastimes and hanging out the window taking photos! These will follow at some point. As is customary in the Netherlands thousands and thousands of people come out on Sunday evening to watch the trucks leaving the show. The devices on the motorway way are packed, people sitting in parks and gardens waving and thousands on bridges over the motorway virtually all the way back to Utrecht, that’s about 160km. I can’t do it justice but to see this many people enjoying watching trucks come pass is almost mind blowing. I think I struggle with it as trucks are so hated in the UK it’s just an alien concept. Anyway a good run back and a good shower and hot meal onboard Stena Brittanica saw out what can only be described as my best non-family weekend of the year. If you’ve not been but you like trucks, I know you do otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, then get yourself out to next years Truckstar Festival, it’s just awesome. TB out. 

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Truckstar, Assen – Day 3


Day 3 (Saturday). Where do I start? Not such a good nights sleep in a leaky tent but hey ho. Up, shower, breakfast then off to walk one half of the track. For those who don’t know Assen is a famous race track and there are about 2600 trucks parked all the way around the edge. It’s always a bit of a mission but well worth the gentle walk to see all the working trucks. As with most shows there are all sorts, smart, different, polished and some not even cleaned but they are all here for the same reason, to have a good laugh with your mates. 


Walking round you realise how different this show is to anything we have in the UK. Every body brings cabins, bars and portaloo’s and what ever else to make a little camp to be the base for all the fun. Half way round we stopped for a beer and currywurst which is much needed by that point. 


After the walk the afternoon was spent wandering around the trade and manufacturers stands. I have to say that I’m not a huge Volvo fan but the Royal Edition did float my boat. Metallic Browns and a one off brown leather and suede interiour. Too much brown? no not really it just looks right, to top it off it is a rear bogie lift too!

When night falls the show takes on a second life. All trucks in the show truck section have lights on and engines running. We all know trucks look as good at night as during the day if you get the lighting right. There really are to many to mention and show you but that just means you’ll have to come yourself one year. Here’s a small selection but I will do more over the next few weeks. The night finished at some ungodly hour with a beer and a pot noodle back in the cab. 

Truckstar, Assen – Day 2


Day 2 (Friday). Off the boat after a few hours sleep and the convoy of two headed North. The idea was to stop at De Lichtemis near Zwollé for lunch. This was fine, a good run up meant we made good time until we got stuck at a nasty accident for half an hour or so. Not to worry the traffic cleared and we pulled into our lunch stop behind the well know fleet of Verbeek. You can’t fault these trucks in anyway they are delightful. Mr Verbeek claims he does it all for the love of the truck. Good man. 


After lunch and driver change, I was in the pilot seat and bearing in mind the slight issues we had encountered with the clutch/high range, I have to say I think I’ve still got it!! We got to the circuit at Assen around 1330hrs and joined the queue to book in. Booking in done and a bit of shining about we were parked up and left with nowt to do but have a beer and a chat with the Dutch. Nice. 

The rest of the day passed without many incidences, a few beers, a walk about and lots of talking with various trucker types meant it was soon time for bed and the tent. Walking round the show trucks is an experience you can only truly appreciate by coming to the show. The effort drivers put into making their trucks look good is only emphasised when it gets dark. It’s one thing having a good looking motor but it’s another thing having a motor that looks right in the dark. Various interior and exterior lights do the trick of course but as we all know it’s a fine line between too many and not enough. There are very few trucks here that haven’t got the balance right. 

Truckstar, Assen – Day 1


I left work late yesterday! Typical I had a busy day trying to get stuff done before a couple of days away. I got Wilson’s yard for 1830hrs chucked all the stuff in the cab, beer in the coffin mounted on the chassis and off to Harwich for the boat. On the way down to Harwich we got overtaken by a couple of show mates with their lovely Volvo. We’ve met a few times at Assen and to be fair it’s well worth their trip from the Isle of White to NL. 


Arrived at Harwich and as has become the norm we didn’t get onboard til 2300hrs. Not a worry with a host of others all heading out to the show, it rather nice to stand in the dock with a big group of UK drivers, just like the good old days! 


As always the few Dutch trucks waiting were delightful and the drivers friendly. They all wished us well for the weekend and a pleasant trip, who said romance of the road is dead?? GW?

Mega Wilson Wednesday

   

We haven’t done a WW yet this year, so bows a perfect week to start this year off. To start us off these first three photos of WIL 2580, a real workhorse of a truck. See here loaded with a 90 odd ton box loaded from the Midlands for delivery this week out to the Netherlands. To do this type of work week in week out year after year not only requires a great truck but and a great trailer and of course a great driver! Thanks John. 

  

 John Pryke out in WIL 2217, on locals and returning some empty flat racks back to Felixstowe docks early this morning. Followed on by office staff number 1, Graham Wilson out and about getting his hands dirty in Doris DAF. I say hands dirty I mean an urgent load that needed to be covered from Chelmsford to Ely. Still more of a load than I have done in the last 2 years!
  
  

First of today’s Wilson subbies are a brace of Hewicks Haulage tidy Scania’s both pulling flat racks from Felixstowe upto the North East. Is it true you can only be a Wilson Subbie if you drive a Scania?!? 

  

Above and below is office staff 2 also out on the road today. James Cartwright on a couple of locals. Above some loaded from the HCW  yard at Elmswell upto a building site somewhere west of Norwich. Then after lunch (photo below) reloading another flat rack from Felixstowe and back to the yard. 

 

  
Above is N5 HCW a 150 ton Scania 8×4 tractor unit driven by husband and wife team Dave and Sue Ramm. Loaded here near Liege, Belgium for delivery upto the English Scottish Borders. Again not an easy job when your loaded with a vehicle that measures 8.05ML x 3.00MW x 3.91MH and weighing 31t.   

 

Taking a little break from it all is the most relaxed Subbie you’ll ever meet. Mr Tasker is seen here today with his unique Scania parked at Zuzenhausen (20km SE of Heidelberg) in Germany waiting to reload tomorrow for the UK. 

  

Next up is N9 HCW and pilot Little Terry Alderton. Seen here at P&O Ferries in Liverpool docks this morning, waiting for the ferry to Dublin. You may notice Mr Taskers second truck, driven by none other  than Colin Waters. Clearly Colin wasn’t as keen to catch the ferry as Terry. 

   

Above and below is Gareth Rowlands in N6 HCW. Reloaded in Aberdeen with agricultural trailers for delivery back down the east coast of England. If only all tips could be dragged off by a monster tractor!

  

 
The only drawbar on the fleet at HCW is W100 HCW, an A frame drawbar that is. Driven by the man that is John Franks. Now I can happily reverse an artic trailer anywhere you tell me without much fuss but Franksy will do the same with an A frame drawbar trailer and still make it look easier.  Loaded with 2.80m wide buildings in the UK for delivery today in Denmark. 

  

Last in today is Daisy DAF and driver Geoff. Nice to see Geoff at work, I am told he was taking a break from his holiday schedule to keep his hand in at the driving thing. At no point do I remember Judith Chalmers driving a truck so you’ve got one up on her Geoffrey!!

Thanks to all drivers who got involved today, lots of good photos. I started this in good time this evening but as I am now finishing it’s almost Wilson Thursday! 

All About Me

  

There’s been a lot of new recruits to the blog this year, on the www, Twitter and through the Facebook page so I thought I better tell you my credentials as I’m not just a wanna be trucker (although I do wanna be one again!), I have been there and done a bit. It goes something like this. Now this is a story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, and I’ll tell you how I became trucking nerd…… Oh no hang on that doesn’t rhyme!!

At the beginning of 1997 I was tasked on a college course to formulate a business plan that would or could work. It turns out the plan worked and the bank were keen so before I finished college I got a DAF 45 on order and started looking for work. In October ’97 I started as a Subbie for DFDS distribution in Coggeshall, Essex. I was soon covering….. 

 On a daily basis with anything between 15-20 deliveries and collections. What a way to learn my way about (no Sat-Navs then younger readers just a box of maps!) maps I hear you say?? Yep read THIS BLOG.  I still use some of the short cuts now! A year or so later and DFDS moved to Purfleet and I didn’t follow. Local business soon started giving me work and I was soon UK wide with loads of virtually everything and anything. The poor little DAF couldn’t keep up and 2-3 years after getting her I traded her in for possibly my favourite truck from the BJS fleet, an MAN 8.163 with a Hatcher Space cab.  

 This little German served me very very well and in our prime we were doing Braintree, Essex to Larkhall, Scotland 3 times a week even now and again with a reload of lead rolls from David Park Transport in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 3 pallets just over 3 ton. From day one I had done the odd run to the Continent but never enough. I was so busy running round the UK that I only ever got to wave as we passed to Steve Marsh as he was also the owner of a smart Hatcher canned MAN. A massive if only, but I believe if only we had stopped for a cuppa I could have still been doing the Continental with a little Tonka you. Along with, tail lifts, computers, baseball hats, Chinese menu’s, supermarket light fittings, industrial door fixings and 50-75kg sacks of hand loaded hessian sacks of malt to name but a few commodities I took on a driver and put the real show truck of the fleet on the road and passed the MAN onto my only ever employee Steve Shackle.  

 The Atego was awesome and again worked hard across the length and breadth of mainland UK. She was well recognised and got in quite a few magazines. This lead to the start of some Mercedes-Benz friendships that continue to this day. A very big customer went pop with no warning and I was literally in the proverbial dirty river with no oars. So goodbye to the MAN, the Atego and Steve. At the same time I was offered traction work although I didn’t have a class one license at the time. I ordered a Mercedes-Benz Actros of the same man that sold me the MAN and the Atego and two weeks before it went on the road I passed my class one with no minor faults.

  
I can safely say that living in this Actros (Claudia), turned me from boy to man. I lived in her virtually for the three years I had her and the long distance lorry driver life was what I hoped it always would be. Bloody hard work, great friends, some crazy trucking about and much to my delight a lot more continental. Nothing silly by most of your standards but, Belgium Holland and just into Germany on a very regular basis. Amazing the things you see and the situations you can find yourself in, some good some bad, some exciting and some ‘kin scary and eye opening but none the less it was awesome! I bought and restored a Scania 141 the same age as me and had agreed with the people I was working for that they’d give me trailer with no more than 15 ton on so for odd weeks I could run the 141 on the continent. Sadly it never happened. The 141 did, the work didn’t and not long after I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever made and had to give up BJS International. 

  
The 141 got me going and the pinnacle was taking her to the Truckstar Festival in Holland. In the real world I got a job with a local firm driving an 8 wheeler around Essex for GB Finch. A fun job and I’m told I still hold plenty of fleet records. Drifting an 8 wheel tipper in wet mud is always good for morale.  

 I landed a job at HC Wilson Transport in the office and this was close to being what I wanted to do. Great people, great job and a great fleet. Routing trucks and securing loads all over Europe, Scandinavia and where ever the customer would pay, there’s a lot to learn in the world of international abnormal loads but it was rewarding. Oh the romance of international trucking! 

Moving on from Wilson’s having sold the 141 to raise a family, I went to Kersey Freight as fleet manager and holiday relief driver! Long days and on call 24 hours a day was rewarded with the odd spell back on the road doing two trips to Paris a week. Good times although I have to say back then crossing the channel was a breeze. 

 
Once again I got itchy feet and have now changed to the other side of the desk if you like and I have great job, spending my time talking about trucks to hauliers. Although not long after starting this dream job I did get offered the chance of being an owner driver again with a mini artic moving flash cars all over europa but age brings a certain amount thought and reality over what your spontaneous side wants to do. Funny old game, but I am a firm believer that once you get diesel in your veins you can’t get rid of it, hence the reason I’m trying to encourage my son to continue with his love of the local zoo and animals, but that’s the start of another hot topic in the press this week #lovethelorry. I now have friends across the UK and a couple else where in the world  through the blog and I find myself taking a big interest in driver friends daily trucking exploits to satisfy my never ending urge to go back on the road. I’ve not been a truck owner for a few years now and I feel like I have to say that in an AA meeting style! Hopefully in the next year or so I can get another retro show truck to help my marriage and stop me annoying Mrs Blog every weekend!! 
Anyway that’s me. Happy to talk trucks with anyone and I always question those who spend every day and night involved with trucks but still say that hate them.

“Ever see a duck that couldn’t swim?!”

Wilson Wednesday 

  A little Wilson Wednesday just for a change. It was a bit of a last minute one but even so a few photos to keep you all on your toes. The bright red trucks of HC Wilson from Elmswell spend their weeks pounding the roads of the U.K. and Europe. For those who might be unfamiliar to WW, it’s a feature I’ve run since I once worked for said red trucked haulier. So starting us off is a photo from one of the Wilson brothers themselves. Simon Wilson is a secret truck spotter and I’m sure he has a vast collection of photos that he keeps to himself most of the time. This picture is of R60 HCW loaded in the yard with a chunky-spud of an excavator. This load looks like a UK job rather than an export/import.    First up on the road is driver Slim Godfrey and Doris DAF. Above is the export, an extendable load out to the Netherlands and then below is today’s reload and import from Germany back to the UK.

  
Next is top Wilson Subbie Mike Tasker and his delightful Scania R560. A true owner driver machine, all the bells, whistles and creature comforts and I would stake a claim that it is probably one of kind here in the UK. The spec list is huge and uses Scania’s vast experience of heavy transport to produce a truck that gives  Mr Tasker a truck capable of any job that HC Wilson give him. This is a fairly modest reload from the Middle East….sorry the Middle East of Germany!

It’s not all Germany UK work, although reading this blog you could begin to think so. Driver Geordie and his truck, European Charger, have been on UK work today, running about delivering new CAT machines from Purfleet to Cannock. Looks a treat!  

Thanks to all the drivers who took part, we mustn’t leave it as long next time!!