Russian About 

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. 

Advertisements

Truck Provenance 

Is there such a thing? – Discuss. 

According to the Oxford dictionary the meaning of the word Provenance is as follows; “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.”

Firstly to get this out the way, I’m sorry to use a Scania in this blog but it is the perfect truck to discuss my point. Having been to the almighty Retro Truck Show and speaking with various people about various ageing trucks I find myself more and more interested in the trucks history. Working trucks are exactly that, even when they are retired and restored they still have a past much like all of us. For me as you’ll know I love long distance stuff so those trucks that have been further than some are what interest me. Much to my delight my good friend Mr Nick Garlick is the very proud owner of L500 RDF, an ex Ralph Davies International Scania 143 500. As anyone with a trucking brain knows Ralph Davies have been there and done pretty well all of it. I also know from talking to Nick and others that L500 is a well deserving retiree. There is plenty of photo evidence of L500 out on her travels and this is where my interest comes. With all the lovely trucks at these shows, no matter how much has been spent or no matter what they look like now, I can’t help thinking about where they’ve been. The provenance that L500 has is huge and while sitting in her while ticking over in the dark got my mind wondering some what. Yes I’d had a few but, the truck looked black in the mirrors and the dash lights were on she was purring. I was sitting in a drivers seat where a number of proper drivers have sat before me. Famous fridge trailer attached heading for Moscow, Novabirsk, Lisbon or Athens this truck has done it. To me having a truck with such a rich past or provenance is worth more than money can buy. Yes you can pay for anything to help restore a truck or make it look better but you can’t buy it a new past. I’d rather have a truck with this than anything else. Speaking with Karl Skilton of Astran subbie fame, he pointed out a number of things on his Astran Volvo that only a true Middle East driver would know about and most replica Middle East trucks will never have. Why? That Volvo has a true provenance, a past, it’s actually got the Tshirt. That to me also gives it the allowance to look a little more worn round the edges (no offence intended Mr Skilton!). So back to “provenance”, I’ve used the word enough I think but what does it really mean? To me it’s the proof of a working truck. It’s the value that truck has earn’t during its life, I honestly think I’d pay more to own L500 (no matter what state it was in)  compared to an identical truck that has only ever been a UK truck. Does that make any sense? Preserving a truck that has been a part of the UKs golden age of long haul intercontinental trucking, to me is worth doing and I wouldn’t mind paying a premium for it. I wouldn’t tell Mr Garlick any of this but to me, in the case of classic trucks provenance is everything. No matter what it is or where it’s been it’s worth saving, afterall we all like different makes of truck and even different sectors of the transport industry. I pity Mrs Blog as and when we win our mega lottery win as I will be “saving” trucks left right and centre! The meaning of Provenance is as follows; “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.”

Just for the Antiques Road Show or the great works of art by Monet or Van Gogh and friends?? No not at all, a record of ownership can be interpreted as the history of the truck, the life it’s led, owned by one of the greatest, most well known names in road haulage. To me this can 100% be used to prove its authenticity or even the quality. 


Retro Show 2017

Last year blog readers voted Lee Herbert’s Retro Truck Show as their show of the year and I think it could well be in the running again this year. A small show with bags of quality, plenty of trucks and enough truck enthusiasts to sink a battleship. The one thing this show seems to attract is proper truck nuts, those who know their trucks and those who don’t want tons of commercialism. If you like trucks and you like looking at and talking trucks from the golden years then this is the show you need to put in your diary for 2018. Quite often it would seem that all the retro trucks are Scania’s as they seem to have lasted and are obviously very popular. This year there was definately a few more Scania’s but what was very noticeable was the increase in all other marques. Plenty more Volvo’s, DAF’s and of course the rebirth of the original Italian Stallion, the Iveco Turbostar. What can you say about them?? They have a reputation as a flying machine with their monsterous 17 litre, V8 engine and getting up close they do give a feeling that they just want to fly! You could have taken your pick from black, blue or red and they were all in full “Iveco Special” livery. Even though I’m not a lover of red, the red one just looked the business in my book. Perfecto!As I mentioned earlier there were a number of other marques that haven’t been at the show in the last few years and it seems a wider variety of trucks are now being saved from the rust devils. Bedford, DAF, Ford, MAN loads of  ERF and a few others. All the trucks at this years show bought back many memories for all I’m sure and this is really the essence of the show. In the least geeky way possible this really is an enthusiasts show. For me the highlight of being there is meeting the people who lived and worked through the golden years. I could listen to drivers stories for ever. The images that are conjured up in my mind can’t be far from the truth and it just makes me wish I was 20 years older!! Ex Middle East stories, Astran stories, Ralph Davies stories (someone needs to write an RD book!), Scottish stories, Irish flyer stories and of course good old English stories. It’s a weekend of talking and enjoying each other’s company even if the weather tried it’s best to ruin it, although I’m pleased to say without success. One thing I must add is that this year I took my first truck to the show and what a truck it was. I was privileged and honoured to be asked if I would take the delightful new Scania 143 of Ken Thomas to the show. Truck owner one John Thomas (son of Ken) was due to go to a road run with some other trucks so asked if I wanted to take the 143 on its first UK truck show outing. How could I resist. Much like a kid in a sweet shop is how I managed. The truck is a dream to drive and the paintwork, well what can I say. More than anything, everyone made a comment on how good the paintwork is. A full custom leather interiour finishes the truck off. I would personally like to thank John for trusting me with his new pride and joy and I will happily volunteer for more Show duties if needed. Thanks John. As for the rest, please click HERE to see the other photos I took. Just to many good trucks to put on here and all a credit to their owners and restorers. One thing I like more than anything about restored trucks is the provenance some of them come with. By this I mean there are just a few ricks at the show that have lived the life and been there and definately done it more than others. To see these trucks at the show is awesome and just proves that UK truckers were and still are the best in the business, well the true core drivers are! There were a Ralph Davies Volvo and Scania at the show and to sit in the Scania and just think where they have been to and returned from year in and year out is mind blowing. As for the Astran Volvo, still in working condition but who cares! She’s lived the life and deserves to be a little scruffy round the edges, although Karl does say she’ll get a little touch up sooner or later.That’s it for another year and I will defo be back in 2018. Whether I have a truck to take or not is another matter, but I suggest every one of you put it in your diaries. True truckers will be there enjoying what’s left of drivers cammoraderie and talking about the trucks that gave the UK it’s pioneering name in road transport. Well done Lee and team, excellent show. May be, just may be Truck Show of the year 2017??! 

MAN in Madrid

It’s been a while since we had Steve Marsh gracing the pages of TB with his little MAN TGL 12 tonner. Last week was ideal for a little blog trip with the little MAN, saying that it actually started at the end of the week before last. As is the nature of international express light haulage, when done properly by a proper professional (that’s you Steve!), no job is ever the same. This time round it was UK – Spain Express. Ready? Set? Go! International light haulage is go…..

– 6 collections Thursday afternoon and Friday in the U.K. Also squeezed in a UK job on the way round. 

DFDS Sailing from Dover to Calais Friday night.

– Parked up just south of Bordeaux Sat night till Mon morning.

– Drove from Bordeaux to Madrid Monday. 

– Delivered to IFEMA exhibition centre in Madrid Tuesday.
– Loaded cardboard packaging near Le Mans, France on Wednesday afternoon.
– Spent Wednesday night fending off the migrants at Translay services on the A28 (even though its 1hr 40mins from Calais, don’t park there northbound!!).

– Delivered to Howden, Yorkshire on Friday morning. 

Having arrived in Madrid Marshy sent me the above photo of the number 1 member of the Little Big Cab Club. It had potential so I tweaked it a little and repaid his photos with a little Touch Note postcard! I’ll say it every time I blog about the little MAN but I love a little rigid truck, a 12 tonner is spot on. The blog tends to keep my urges to go back on the road and without the likes of Steve Marsh’s trips to write about I think I’d struggle to get through the working week tied to my desk. If any of you want to offer a long distance diary then please do email me. Photos and a description of what you got up to is all it takes. My email address is; ben@truckblog.co.uk 

Palms from Beach

I’m here sitting on a very sunny beach and if we had Palm tree’s on the beach we could be anywhere else but the UK. This has lead me to writing a small blog on one of my favourite company’s from the Truckstar Festival. I would say this year but without checking I’m sure I wrote about KE Palms Åkeri AB last year. The trucks from Schweden are in my all time top trumps truck list as they are timeless. They have Scandinavian style but in a retro way, they look like classic trucks from yesteryear but they are definately not from the 70’s or 80’s. The Scania 144 460 may be slightly older than the R580 Topline but both are styled to perfection. Once again I find myself loving green trucks but who cares! I’m sorry to say my photographic skills have been overcome by the excitement of seeing these trucks, therefore I have failed to get photos that show the trailers and the “less-is-more” livery. The step frame box behind the R580 once again looks like it’s come straight back from the desert but enough lights to make it look simply stunning. As for the tilt behind the 4 Series, I’m not sure I can put down the right words! The only thing that topped last year was the stunning 141 Rigid in proper classic retro Palms livery. This is 100% straight out of the 1970’s, just spot on. As clean as a whistle and restored perfectly. For me a small fleet doesn’t get better than these. I just wish that sitting here the beach, I could sit under these type of Palms, possibly the only way to make my holiday better than it already is!! 

Truckstar Festival 2017

You will have noticed I’ve been very quiet since the last weekend of July. It just so happens the last weekend of July is the biggest and best truckshow (in my opinion) in Europe – Truckstar Festival. When you get off the ferry in Hoek early and have a good run up through the Netherlands to the TT Circuit at Assen. It’s taken me this long to recover in all respects, so I’m ready to share. When you arrive at the show to check in and the above new Scania pulls up along side, you know it’s going to be a good weekend! Just a note both Scania’s are top of the range for their time. Nearly 40 years apart there is a huge difference between the two, but good to see them side by side to compare. Having checked in and moved on into the oldtimer section in the pit area of the circuit, we are greeted by this DAF 3600. Newly and fully restored truck and trailer, when this is the first truck you see in the oldtimers you know it’s going to be a good weekend! I’ve never got to close to one of these very popular old DAF’s, but although the fridge trailer is now all wooden floors, plush bedrooms and a gorgeous kitchen suitable for any Michelin star chef, the interiour of the cabine was brilliant. I’d never realised there was quite so much space in the first Space Cab. It would pass as a decent twin sleeper today, let alone 30 years ago. The one thing that caught my eye was the gearstick standing in the side of the drivers footwell, not on the engine tunnel. Compared to the 3600 DAF, there were plenty of newborn DAF’s with simple but stunning paint jobs. Perhaps the big DAF cab warrants a “less is more” paint scheme?? The purple on this truck was amazing, it gave lots of different shades depending on the intermittent sun, but overall just stunning. Then further round the show truck area was another “less is more” stunner. The black was just black. If you get annoyed that you can’t get a simple straight red or green as there can be too much choice then this was the opposite. If you just was gloss black then this was it. It’s just black. A few simple accessories such as the American influenced wheel nut covers, then this truck is the ultimate definition of “less is definatley more”. One thing you notice when you get to Assen is that the Dutch are ridiculously friendly and secondly it’s a truck show. It’s not anything else, it’s trucks, owned and operated by truck people, on show for truck people. If you’ve not been, I say it every trip, you’ve got to get yourself along. I’ll leave this blog with a selection of other finds from the first few hours at the show. When you see all these trucks in the first afternoon, you know it’s going to be a good weekend! More to come another day dear readers. I’m off for a lie down. 

Norwegian Holiday Snaps

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……