Scottish Snow Plough Part 2

A relative lay in on Wednesday 30th March, up and onto the Northlink Ferry for 0815hrs ready for an 0845hrs departure and a steady and pretty calm crossing to Stromness, as you can imagine in the winter in can get a little blowy and fairly choppy but no issues for our seasoned owner drivers. actually the only complaint was they didn’t chain Van der Nunn down at the front, which meant he could have left his bull bar on for the trip, image is everything!

Once onto mainland Orkney, it was a steady trip across the island, through Kirkwall town and out the other side. Kirkwall airport is situated to the east of the town. On arrival at the airport the trucks were asked to unload near the airport equipment sheds where the current snow equipment is housed. As you can see their is quite change is the vehicles, the old Fodens and Mercedes have given near on 30 years service, they must have seen some weather in that time! Our intrepid explorers were told that the old trucks are being auctioned off, but sadly I’ve not managed to find them listed anywhere. I’d be keen to know what they go for, if anyone can shed any light??

Through my work, we did learn that only once the airport staff started to put the new equipment in its new home, did they realise that the new trucks were too tall for the shed that’s housed the old trucks. The new truck is lower than the height limit given in the tender, so I’m guessing someone at the airport needs a new tape measure as well as a new snow plough!

Empty and ready to roll by 1530hrs it gave the drivers a bit of time for a drive around as the ferry doesn’t sail back to Scrabster until 1645hrs. Of course there is always time for a photo opportunity and I have to say the pilot of S60 EGN is getting the hang of photos…..

Down into the depths and back on board for the 90 minute cruise back to Scrabster. An almost empty boat meant there was time to take in the amazing g views and coastlines, such as the Old Man of Hoy. Once back on the mainland our pair headed south for reloads not a lot coming out of Scotland at the moment. MWT had an over height, open top container pick up on the wafer deck and Tony was empty back to Hull for a load of tractors.

The second snowplough has already been delivered to Inverness Airport, this coming week the truck for the Shetland Isles leaves Suffolk so that should be another blog in a few weeks time.

Scottish Snow Plough Part 1

When anything logistics wise comes up at work, it usually comes my way to help or advise or even to sort out. So when the conversation comes about on getting four big 4×4 snowploughs plus equipment to various destinations in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, I have to say I was a little unsure how things would pan out. I really needn’t have worried as top owner driver Mike Tasker, MW Tasker Haulage, was already on the case backed up by probably the best abnormal load company in the UK, HC Wilson Transport. The first of the four snowploughs was destined for Kirkwall Airport in the Orkney Isles, in the north of Scotland. Tasker was already employed to do the job of bringing the trucks and ancillary equipment from southern Germany to Barnsley. The ancillary equipment consists of a full 13.6m flatbed load, so essentially it’s a two truck job. My involvement originally started with the leg from Barnsley, north.

Two loads you’re thinking and Tasker is on wafer bed duties, who’s on the flat bed?? Yep you guessed it, the man who operates Mike Tasker’s last truck, the one and only Tony Nunn, Van Der Nunn, Twin Tag Tony, the owner driver of EGN Transport fame, yep you all know him. V.d. Nunn has subbed for HC Wilson himself in various capacities as long as I’ve known him and has always been as professional as anyone else on the Wilson fleet, Tony certainly isn’t just about the tyre shine, he can walk the walk as well. So the ancillary parts were loaded on a flat bed in Wilson’s yard, Tony collected that and met Mike, who had gone ahead with the wafer bed. Both drivers met in Barnsley to load the truck, Tony helping Mike with the job in hand. Once loaded, both black trucks, with red trailers and yellow loads, started the drive north towards Scrabster for the ferry to Orkney.

Leaving Barnsley on a Monday lunchtime a few weeks back, the owner driver duo made it as far as Berwick Harbour for the first nights stop. An early start (0400hrs) on the Tuesday saw the pair carry on up the A1 to Edinburgh and then onwards to the A9. For those who haven’t been there, the A9 snakes it’s way all the way up the east side of Scotland from Sterling/Perth all the way up to Thurso on the north coast, it’s worth putting on your list of roads to drive, especially in the late spring as the colours are changing and the snow is only on the mountain tops!

Both the photos above and below are on the A9, you can see just how beautiful it is. The photo below was taken just north of a town called Latherton, where you turn left off the A9, onto the A9 to carry on still further north.

Tuesday was a long day, the pair ended up with a very well earned evening off and some very pleasant parking in the coastal town of Thurso, just a couple of miles from Scrabster and the ferry to Orkney.

Not such an early start on the Wednesday morning, as the mini convoy only need to travel the couple of miles to Scrabster harbour to meet the Northlink Ferry to Stromness in Orkney, that sailed at 0845hrs. A very empty harbour looking at the photos, not quite the hustle and bustle of the ports on the opposite end of the country! Part 2 of the trip on Orkney to delivery will follow in a few days time. Thanks to both Mike and Tony for the regular photos and updates during the trip, #twintaggingalong etc.

EL Mappo MAN

A week ago my good old pal Seniór Marsh messaged me to say if you’re not busy this evening then can you have a look on Google Street View for this address near Madrigal, Espania. Seniór Marsh had an address and some directions both of which to be fair didn’t give much help as to the final delivery point for the little MAN to find. To give some context, Madrigal is in the mountains due west of Madrid and due south of Salamanca. Anyway the basics came down to; Finca Santa Zita, 2.6km south of Madrigal de la Vera. Not much to go on, so I went old school and got onto Google Earth and started measuring out some distances (while sitting on the sofa in Colchester!). Spanish pop quiz; what does “Finca” mean in Spanish?

Having measure out 2.6km on the map, I basically came up with the map above. On the right of the EX384 as we look at the map, you can see two long tracks to what could both be described as “Finca’s”. Depending where you look Finca means Farm or Estate. I gave Seniór Marsh the above screen shot showing him both options. My thoughts for some reason, leaned towards the lower red mark as the entrance on Street View had this Llama/Alpaca/Deer sign…..

Not much to go on but as El Marshó had to be there early to meet the offloading team, by the wonders of modern mapping, we had narrowed it down to two options within a few hundred metres of each other. Job done and El Marshó happy enough for somewhere to aim for, hotel MAN drew its curtains and I went back to another re-run of Open All Hours on DAVE.

I woke on Friday morning to the above picture from Amigo Marshó, now I’ll leave you to zoom in on the signs……. Good team work right there, especially as I was nearly 1200 miles away. Perhaps modern maps aren’t so different from old school paper ones, but I think it could have been a different story if The only option had been twat-nav sat-nav as the shipper had given the wrong postcode! Tipped and off to his reload, Seniór Marsh was off to Marcilla just south of Pamplona to reload 2x 300kg vibrators for the UK. Nuff Said.

Weekly Italian Job

SUNDAY 16/01/22
Pick up trailer in our yard in normanton loaded for Italy at half 11.30am. Run south via North Weald customs picking up my T form. Cross via Eurotunnel and pinch an hour or so from the French driving ban park at St Dizier at 23.30.
– 12 hour day 805km covered.

MONDAY 17/01/22
Todays a very easy just driving day. After 9 hours off leave at 08.30am run the national down to Chaumont rejoin the motorway. Fuel at IDS at Le Chatelard. Run through the Mont Blanc tunnel in beautiful sunshine. Run to my normal Monday parking at pizza Piccadilly Santhia. Shower and food on my own tonight only English man. Park at 18.00.
– 9.5 hour day 671km covered.

Tuesday 18/01/22
Run to our depot in Como. We used to transit Swiss for this but since brexit we’ve had so much hassle at Chiasso as certain goods need certificates and inspections. Such as metals and food products. The time queuing at border too has made it not worth doing. I tip groupage and clear my next delivery in depot. Next drop is down near Piacenza tip this straight after they’ve had the usual 2 hour lunch. My first collection is at Novate Milanese , just above Milan. I’ve been before so straight in and on. Next collection is out in sticks a bit heading for Lecco at a small village called Missaglia I just get this on before they close and run back to Como docks to the Newly refurbed Restaurant for shower and food.
– 12.5 hour day 425km covered.

Wednesday 19/01/22
Back into depot to fill out with groupage and do all customs paperwork. Our depot here is brilliant and I’m loaded and on my way in 2 hours. I run back through Blanc in stunning blue skies and scenery that never gets old. I run up through France to safe parking at Langres. Again in for shower and food. Just as I’m getting back in truck 2 English lads I know turn up so it’s back in for a quick beer and chat.
– 11.5 hour day 535km covered.

Thursday 20/01/22
Run from langres back up the national top up diesel at IDS St Dizier. Book my parking at Ashford via app. Then go queue at eurotunnel. Takes about 3 hours today about average. Into Ashford for shower, food and a Cider.
– 11hour day 535km covered.

Friday 21/01/22
Run back up the A1 breakfast at Colsterworth. Tip one of my jobs at Cross Green in Leeds, then back to Normanton to drop my trailer and park up for weekend.
– 9 hour day 455km covered

All in all a nice steady week nothing went wrong and weather was a stunning 14 deg in Italy ☀️

By Gavin Pearson.

12 Days of a Tudor Christmas – Part 1

Sunday 13th December

Sat at our yard in Bristol patiently waiting for the clock to hit 1508 when my weekly rest is up and I can set off for Padborg in Denmark to check out some trailers I want to buy up there. Once my break is complete I set off solo to Harwich for the 2100 boat to Rotterdam the sat nav tells me it’s 4 hours 30 minutes to the port. I’m going to need to make it in one hit as there isn’t time for a 45 minute break on route. Predictably I get on the M4 and there are closures from J8 to J6. I’m feeling up against it but luckily enough I make good time anyway and arrive at the port at 1955 and check in. What I didn’t realise when I booked this crossing was that it’s a freighter which was a disappointment as I’d been looking forward to a nice draft pint and a good feed once aboard. Also I paid the same price as it would have been on the Hook of Holland boat so lesson learned there for next time! Still there’s always the Autohof tomorrow to look forward to.

Monday 14th December

A fairly straight forward and uneventful day off the boat at 0730 straight to Germany via the border at Meppen into the Hoyer autohof at Cloppenburg to top up with some nice cheap German diesel and back to it up through Hamburg before calling it a night at an autohof in Busdorf 40 km’s from the Danish border. It’s good to see in Germany that during the Covid pandemic drivers are still being treated well as we’re still allowed to come sit in the restaurant to eat on an evening and the showers have been made available to us free of charge.

Tuesday 15th December 

I arrive at the trailer sales site at 0800 to begin checking over the trailers. There’s always a slight worry when buying second hand especially when you’ve had to travel 700 miles just to come look at it as it’s a long way if it turns out to be no good. The first thing I noticed is although the trailers are 9 years old they all have full sets of Michelin tyres so I get the impression the previous owners we’re happy to spend proper money maintaining them. After a couple of hours thoroughly looking over the trailers I pick out the one that I want and pay the invoice ready to get back on the road. It may seem a bit extreme to be going all the way to Denmark to buy a trailer but the reason for this is the bespoke nature of the equipment we need. The trailer I have chosen is a Krone mega coil-liner. Mega trailers are very few and far between secondhand in the UK so your best bet is usually to buy from abroad and with the current situation with Brexit and not knowing if we will get a trade deal I had to make the decision to just get on and buy one as I don’t know if I will be able to just head off into Europe and buy a trailer without any tariffs etc next year. Once the invoice is paid I set off back to Germany heading for Nettetal to collect big bags of plastic to bring back to Lydney. I head down the A7 towards Hambug and the satnav tells me there is a 19 minute delay on route and after three hours sitting in the traffic I start to question whether the satnav might be lying to me! I eventually managed to divert off of the motorway and bypass the traffic finally making it to an autohof in Bremen for the night at 2200 where I am very glad to put the handbrake on for the evening after sitting in standstill traffic for so long.

Wednesday 16th December 

Up at 0600 for a quick shower then hit the road to go and collect the reload. I arrive at my reload at 1330 where they were ready and waiting for me. I was on my way by 1430 heading for the Hook of Holland to get the correct boat this time and redeem my meal I had been salivating over a couple of days before. This boat costs quite a bit extra compared to Calais and others but there are currently 30 km long queues at Calais to get onto boats and trains so it is a no-brainer to go this way as I’m keen to get the load back and delivered.

Thursday 17th December 

Off the boat at 0500 and I was very lucky that I was positioned right at the front of the boat so I was out of the port within 20 minutes. I plan to pull in to South Mimms services to send off some emails and make calls to arrange work for myself and our other trucks for next week. Just before I arrive I receive a message from Pete White of Whites Transport to ask if I can do a load to La Coruna and Porto for him, leaving early on Saturday morning. After a quick look at the diary I see that I can do it on the basis someone loads the trailer and brings it to me. This way I can take a 24 hour break on Friday and with that the job is confirmed, so it is straight back to Lydney drop the trailer to the customer and back to our yard to begin my break.

Metallic DAF

Hey Ben how are you doing? I thought since I not been able to get many truck photos at the moment I would send you a little trip I did a few years ago.

The office called me up asking me if I wanted a few weeks work as things were a little quiet. They focused on two jobs one involved been in my own truck for Trans Am and the other would then be jumping into an EST truck for another two weeks with a different artist. I’ll focus on the Trans Am one as I have more photos of that job.

The job involved taking one of our little trailers to Heathrow where I would load Backline for Metallica that was coming in by airfreight. I then had to take a leisurely drive over to Berlin to a Tv studios. Since I was in no big rush it was the day boat from Harwich to The hoek and then across to Hengelo and into Germany via Bad Bentheim. This would see me go past Osnabruck- Hanover- Magdeburg and then up into Berlin. Working out my timings I realised I could do this during the day as we usually work night times which then ment I could go to Marienborn services just on the A2 there and look around the museum.

This was the old customs checkpoint from east to west Germany and it looks like they just closed the doors one day and walked out. Now you can park in the services and wander around the old huts. It’s all very interesting and worth stopping. After been educated it was time to crack on to Berlin where I then realised the Christmas markets were on. I parked for the night in the Avus autohof and didn’t venture to far. The next day saw me Drive to the the Tv studios which just happened to be beside Berlin Templehof airport which was famous for the Berlin airdrop we tipped the truck in good time and I took myself off to meet a friend and a walk around the airfield before visiting a Christmas market then back the venue and discuss plans then it was time for bed as I had a double drive to Paris for another tv show the next night. We wrapped up the Berlin show and the People in Paris got into contact with me with regards to parking they needed to have me park off site as the place was only small which in itself wasn’t an issue but sounded a bit of a ballache to find.

Part 2. Berlin to Paris. 
Once on the road to Paris we retraced our steps to a certain point. This time it was Hanover-köln-Aachen into Belgium liege to Mons then down to Paris. On arrival to Paris the bus caught up with us and we went together into the Tv studios. The representative of the studio came out to show us where to unload ETC looked at the truck and asked me where the rest of it was. Turns out they didn’t realise we had a small trailer on and the bus and truck could fit in the garage where we unloaded and happily stayed all day. Once we tipped it was straight to bed and exactly 9hrs on the button the band had finished and it was time to pack up as quick as we could and head to London For a radio show. My little holiday at the start of the trip was well and truely over…  (No photos of this section as it was all go go go)

Part 3 Paris to London.
Leaving Paris behind it was time to head to calais. In the middle of the night in 2015 calais at night time wasn’t the best craic but since I was in a rush it was straight into the train and ship across. Next destinationThe iconic Maida Vale studios in London for the bbc rock show. Iv been here a few times before and the lads are decent enough at security and it’s literally a case of abandon the truck on the street and leave it there so that was that. Once I was tipped it was time to to fire off a few emails as the next gig was a secret show we were doing at House of vans . This is a skatepark under Waterloo train station which doubles up as a small concert venue so had to get various different permissions to park there. Once the Maida Vale sessions were over it was quite late which ment a nice easy drive around to Waterloo and park up. On arrival my heart dropped when I saw graffiti absolutely everywhere and thought the truck was gonna get done over. I went out and spoke to the lads doing it and they assured me the truck would be ok as it’s one of the only legal graffiti places in London and they don’t dare do anything stupid to ruin that. A bit of a sleepless night and I woke up to our sister company EST truck beside me who brought in extra Audio etc for the show. We tipped everything out and I went off to swap trucks and then reload for the same kind of agenda. All in all was a great little trip. Hope you enjoyed it and here’s photos of London.

By Joey McCarthy @katterjok

MAN and Machines

It’s been a fair while since I have been able to do a good blog on the logistical magician that is Steve Marsh of Express fame. Recently the Marsh MAN has been seen frequenting the A55 and the green roads of Ireland, in fact this week he has two trips to the Emerald Isle booked. Last week however it was a different story. A lovely little bit of logistical excellence with minimal empty running. Load Northern England, tip and load Italy, then back to Northern England.

Marshy is based near Warrington in the North West of England, not a million miles from Liverpool. The job started on Thursday, with the loading of a transformer housing from Sherburn in Elmet in Yorkshire. The little MAN TGL was built to Marshys own strict requirements and although it added a fair amount of weight, the importance of a sliding roof on the 12 tonner has been proven over and over. The truck has everything required to load a large but sensitive item through the roof and transported over 1200 miles to its destination. Once loaded it’s off down the A1, A14, M11, M25, M2, A2 to Douvres. Boat to Calais and then off down through France, up and over Mont Blanc and into Italia.

Break time in the Alps

Once into Italy, time was ticking for Marshy to take a weekend break. Having got most of the way down towards Subbiano in Tuscany, Steve parked up Saturday afternoon in the last services before the delivery point to take a well earned rest through to Monday morning. Up and away Monday to Subbiano, tip the transformer housing off for testing and then straight on to the reload. What a nice little reload it was! So a little empty running from Subbiano upto Comezzano-Cizzago near Brescia, just the 246 miles, to reload a small aeroplane back to the UK, loading Monday evening.

Loading finished Monday PM, then it was back onto the autostrada and head towards the Blanc and a full retrace of his steps back to Calais. A couple of stops along the way to make sure the plane hadn’t moved were required by Mr Conscientious as you can imagine. The plane was only 300kg all in, made from carbon fibre and fitted with a litre 2 litre engine. The hardest part of the load were the wings according to Marshy as they were so light and couldn’t rub on each other.

#volvogate

Another Calais Dover crossing and then back up North to Kirkby near Liverpool. The plane was delivered on Thursday last week to a flying school on a farm, so the final stretch was probably the hardest part, down through a farm track, plenty of bumps and pot holes and not to mention the low trees! All said and done, it’s all in a days work for the little MAN and it’s pilot. Another round trip complete and another couple of happy customers. The trucks capabilities, the sliding roof, the tail lift to load and unload the plane…..experience is key people, experience… is… key…

A little mileage breakdown just for fun? Yea go on then, why not!

  • Empty – Warrington to Sherburn in Elmet = 72 miles.
  • Loaded – Sherburn in Elmet to Subbiano, Italy = 1230 miles.
  • Empty – Subbiano to Comezzano-Cizzago = 246 miles.
  • Loaded – Comezzano-Cizzago to Kirkby = 1002 miles.
  • Empty – Kirkby to Warrington = 19 miles.

To sum up then;

  • Total miles = 2569 miles.
  • Loaded = 2232 miles.
  • Empty = 337 miles.

The American Road Trip – Part 9

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.

The American Road Trip – Part 8

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!!

The American Road Trip – Part 7

The next day at the track we get our duties over with a lot quicker than we’d like, then go for a walk to see the sights. As you can imagine with the size of an Indy Car event, there are loads and loads of different trucks and vehicles. Race teams the world over use high spec, top quality trucks and Indy Car is of course no different, some may even say these are better than the rest! Big trucks, big paint jobs but still a few oddments. Just when you think you have seen an amazing cross section of US trucks, you come across a Ford Cargo!

The day cabbed Ford Cargo may be a rarity but not unique. What I am sure is unique in North America is a fully liveried in Liverpool Football Club colors, Volvo VN. Soccerball is not my sport, but some of your are football crazy, so if you move to the United States and want to personalize your truck…….well, paint it red and add some famous Scouse names and phrases and Robert is your mothers brother!