MAN Alive!…..or is he!?

The witching hour is upon us, some of you will be out there, curtains pulled and can you hear that??…..a slight scratching noise???…..it could be one of the afterlife about to pay you a visit in your dark lay-by……. or it’s some git trying to nick your diesel!

If anyone can get an appropriate load for the week of witches, ghosts and ghouls then top international express haulier Steve Marsh is the MAN who can. If I was Steve I think I’d be glad that the night out at Brugge Crematorium was Saturday night and not tonight being Halloween.

Yep you heard right, a night out outside Brugge Crematorium. I have to say it probably wasn’t Steve’s ideal place for a quiet Saturday night but when you have a crane booked to tip you at 7am then you don’t really have much choice I guess. If you need a job doing then Marshy is the man, we all that by now. Load Friday afternoon in Leeds and be in Brugge Saturday ready for a 7am tip Sunday morning. Having parked up outside ready for the morning I think Marshy was only to pleased to have the street light to park under, you never know you know. Life after death, things that go bumps in the night or is that only Waberers??! Any way make sure you sleep safe this evening and if you have any paranormal activity tonight away from the normal paranormal activity in the motorway services then I’d be keen to hear your tales. Sleep well bloggers…..

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LowRider Friday

Do you drive a low height tractor unit??

There seems to be more than ever about at the moment. I want to do a Lowrider Friday tomorrow so get sending over your photos please. You can get me on all the normal channels, Facebook, Twitter, Instagramme or good old fashioned email! Come on LowRiders let’s see your trucks, I’m guessing most will be 4×2’s but extra points for 6×2’s!

The Wonder of The #littlebigcabclub

If you haven’t worked out yet that the best trucks on the road have 6 stud wheels and a space/sky cab then I’m not sure you’ve been reading the blog long enough! 😉

Since I had my little MAN back in 1999, I’ve loved little trucks with big cabs, not just standard sleepers. Most are engaged on interesting and or long distance work and like mine used too, often clock up as miles as their bigger brothers and sisters. I have now started a new Facebook group called #littlebigcabclub purely for the big cab versions. Manufacturers offer big cab sleepers such as Iveco, Mercedes-Benz or MAN Straight from the factory, the rest need one of the many aftermarket options from UK or European suppliers such as Hatcher Components, KUDA, Spojkar or PONY.

This delightful little MAN TGL 12.180 LX belongs to FCL Event Logistics Ltd. It’s been so busy since it’s arrival it’s running undercover as there hasn’t been time to get it sign written. She’s been loading next to my work so I had to pop round and have a look. Partly for curiosity as I still want to buy another one myself and also because I wanted to see the rearranged interior with a proper “big truck” under bunk fridge. I want one. I spoke to Phil the driver and he loves the truck, it just so happens I messaged FCL and they were happy to tell me a little more and also allow a TB sticker on the back end. I’m honoured, thank you FCL! #tbonthemove

Here’s what FCL had to say;

“Hello, she is one of our growing fleet, we have 18 trucks with various sizes from 7.5 ton trucks to 45 ft Mega trailers. We supply trucks for events all over the UK and Europe. The 12 tonner which you have seen is new to our fleet and therefore doesn’t have a private plate and is not sign written yet. She will travel throughout the UK and Europe delivering Audio visual and lighting to corporate events or exhibitions. It will also go to festivals and arenas plus private events etc.

We would be more than happy to have a TB sticker on her. Many thanks”

Small Town Southern MAN

Once again our man Steve Marsh has been celebrating the seasons festivities with a run to the sun. I knew Marshy was heading south between Christmas and new year as most years the cheaper Eastern European competition goes home but the jobs still need doing. The destination was Marbella, Spain and the delivery date was December 29th. Honk honk lets go Christmas trucking! As ever, Steve Marsh or as I like to think of him, the original Logistical Magician, started the New Year run by reloading on December the 22nd in Deeside on his way back from Holyhead and a trip to Ireland. This gave Marshy the chance to enjoy some roast turkey with the family before setting off on Boxing Day (avoiding turkey overload) for Douvres and then southbound and down for Marbella.

Above, the number 1 member of the #littlebigcabclub is unloading in the glorious Spanish sunshine on Friday 29th December, the little MAN may only be a 12 tonner but she regularly clocks up the same miles as her bigger brothers. Having tipped the logistical magician loaded 1/3 of a load from Marbella itself before starting to head north. Being the new year weekend a driving ban was due to kick in in France at 10pm on the 30th for 48 hours, so having made good progress The Marsh MAN got all the way up to Haute-Garonne just south of Toulouse before running out of time. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were spent in the services before running up to a small village 80 miles north of Toulouse to load two farm machines for Lydney in Gloucestershire, UK. I say this even though, Steve sent me the below photo asking “Notice anything slightly unusual about my reload?” I don’t think it’s worth me asking you to put your answers on a postcard, your right the reload dims were clearly lost in translation. Never mind, where there’s a Steve there’s a way! Loaded in Morlon-le-Haut on the 2nd January. Deliver first drop the farm machines to Lydney on Thursday 4th January. Back North on Friday to deliver 2nd drop to Warrington. Empty Warrington back home to……Warrington. Change of pants and socks, weekend at home, load at Bromborough Monday then onward to tip Amsterdam today (Tuesday 8th January). Who knows where the reload will be, but knowing Marshy it’s not likely to be any further from Amsterdam than Schipol!

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 

Small is Beautiful


We are now 10 years down the road here on the blog and if there are any of you first blog readers still here, then it’s time you…….no no, then most of you will know that I love a little truck with a big cab and the icing on the cake is one that does international work! For me the perfect example are the two little trucks you see above. A good pal of mine spends many a Wednesday doing what we’d all love to do, he stands on a bridge over the M20 in Kent photographing all the trucks, mainly those heading to or from the UK’s main link with Europe, Dover Docks. All of the photos in this blog are all taken and copyright to Neil Jarrold. Without Neil I’d struggle to see quite so many of these delightful little motors from my office in Ipswich! The little Italian TGL LX above just oozes something that flicks my switch, big cab, smart paint, tidy bodywork, big fuel tanks and foreign number plates! You could get me into that truck and send me to Italy everyday even if you offered me tractor and trailer instead. Bellissimo. 


So it needs a big cab, it needs to be international and the only way to hit perfection is add on a little fridge body. Bingo!! I know the little Pulleyn Ategos used to go far and wide hence the TIR board but once again the little MAN just looks the ticket. Maybe as I had a little MAN 7.5 tonner I’m a little biased but the little German is the best thing in the MAN range by a very long way. 


How about a little DAF? Well the small problem with the LF is that they don’t do their own big cab, you need to look for an aftermarket one. A local company to me Hatcher Components do a marvellous twin bunk “Sky Cab” conversation for the little Dutchman and I have to say it is once again rather splendid. Painted properly the DAF is as gorgeous as it Dutch roots, a real head turner. 

I still don’t really get why I like them quite so much, even a mini artic does the trick and has that certain, Je ne sais pas quoi. The one thing I do know is, every time I see some of Neil’s photos capturing their journeys doing as many miles as any of their bigger cousins across Europe, it always makes me want to get back to it. As I have certainly said before, if I’d managed to stop in my little MAN and actually speak to another now friend of mine, Steve Marsh, then just perhaps I could still have my own little big cabbed truck. I like it when I get talking to some of you lot and I often get the impression we could be talking about any hobby or passion. Some of you like heavy haulage, some tippers, some Foden’s and I guess for me, my “speciality” is little big cabs. But then again as with anything, variety is the spice of life and trucks are no different. I’d be a boring old truck show if we all liked the same thing! Thanks to Neil Jarrold for the photos. 

The Golden Days with a SuperMAN! 

Watch out it’s going to get rather romantic I think! I wasn’t about in the golden days of trucking I was a mere ankle biting pain in my parents backside. As a lad and as I’ve told you many times before I longed for my driving licence and to be heading off to far flung places but I admit my golden days are very different to the general term of the 70’s and 80’s and also very different to everyone’s own good old days. No matter your age, country or work, if you’re a driver you’ll have your own favourite job, workplace and truck. Not necessarily your first or last, or even the most expensive but the one job you’ve loved, the job that made you think; “I love my job!”. I maintain to this day that if you haven’t had at least one day like that then more fool you for doing a job that underneath it all you don’t enjoy. For me those days were the second truck I owned as an owner driver at the tender age of 20ish, an MAN 8.163, 7.5 tonner. 

The little German really earned her keep. No speed limiter back then meant there were plenty of days that packed the best part of 1000km into my “10” hours driving. I’m no hero and don’t claim to be a nonstop 24 hours a day at the wheel type, but most of you at some point would have and probably have found the old fashioned ways of bending the rules to get a job done, or to get you to a load point or even home. This little lorry never let me down and got me to different places day in day out. Various jobs entrusted to me meant that I was the only truck on the job and often I’d have deliveries to the same destination one week and then onto another project the next week. Maybe Braintree to Cheltenham and Gloucester and back. Maybe Chelmsford to Swindon and back. May be three days of Braintree to Carmarthen and back. 270 miles one way, that’s 4.5 hours at 60mph. I could just about do it in 9 hours and I think the worst day was a 10 hour drive. Thankfully I am just on the edge of remembering the good days of the M25 when you could get round it without stopping at most times of the day. The little MAN was up for it all. If only there had been more European trips I really would have been in seventh heaven. 

This was my second truck so perhaps as the whole driving thing and freedom had passed and I was just intent on doing as much work as I possibly could. This was where I adopted the phrase “Long Days, Late Nights” a sticker of which would appear on the doors of all my other trucks. At this point I’m not sure anything could have stopped me loving everyday on the road quite so much. We all love the open road and seeing the world go by through the windscreen otherwise we wouldn’t be doing the job. Getting up to Larkhall in Scotland three times a week and reloading from Newcastle-upon-Tyne back to Essex and Suffolk, it was awesome. How much I picked up on these trips from old hands who really had been there and done it and are probably still doing it! For me part of the job was the people you met and what you could glean from them. These days it drives me nuts that the majority seem to park up and go to bed or plug in their Playstations. When I did park up I’d get out the cab and go and find a like minded person to spend the evening with and chat. You could learn new routes, new ways to do things, even learn about delivery points,  all info that isn’t written down but is (for want of a better phrase), driving folklaw. A new one GW!. All this just made me love the job I loved even more. What wasn’t there to love?? and ontop of all I was making money. 

Good old days indeed. I’d spend my money on what I thought were decent accessories for the little MAN. I think it started with a box full of lights and stainless steel from the then biggest name in the USA, Panelite. Then came new stainless steel rear door hinges, handles and brackets. A set of Speedline alloy wheels from Tyretracks of Eccleshall. Always Michelin Tyres. I know some of you even remember the “barbers pole” I painted on the prop shaft?! and so it went on. I’ve always been of the mentality that the truck is what sells my company to those who don’t know me. Definitely the case when the airbrushed Atego came along. I like to think the truck wasn’t over the top but showed that I cared for it and in turn cared for people’s cargo. Regular cargos of sunbeds, to tail lifts to computers and farm machinery. Often with comments on how smart the little truck was. Add everything together and I think it’s fair to say that you can see why these were my own golden days. At the end of the day I was young, successful and driving what I thought was the best looking 7.5 tonner in the UK, apart from Frank Hudson Transport of course!