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.

Painting of the Gr814

It’s now been a year since she’s been in the UK, MOT’d, registered, taxed and now the show season is nearly upon us I really want to get her painted and I know I’ve asked you all before for your opinions. Their is a great NG1633 that has been restored in Germany by the great Holger Hahn and I have to say that I want to turn the Gr814 into a bit of a mini me if that’s ok with Holger??

Here’s the plan;

The cab and roof deflector currently silver, both painted in Sky Blue RAL5015.

Front bumper only in Astral Silver which is MB9735.

Cab steps, front wings, chassis and fuel tank in Deep Black RAL9005.

Wheels – undecided.

There is reasons behind the choices that make sense to me at least. I’m all about keeping the truck original to its year of manufacturer 1989. The only blue available in the UK price list for that year is RAL5015 Sky Blue, that’s the cab and roof deflector sorted. I like the contrast of the silver bumper on the 1633, so it makes sense to use Adastral silver for this, as this is the colour of the cab currently and the colour it left the factory as. It also then keeps the original colour on the truck. This leaves the chassis and front wings. I like the black front wings on Holgers truck and as the chassis has been Deep Black (was known as Jet Black) since new, again it makes sense to keep it the same, keeping it original. I have to say although it looks good on the 1633 I’m not a fan of the factory standard chassis colour that both MB and MAN used to use and I’m not sure it will work so well on the smaller chassis on the 814.

If any body shops are reading this and want plenty of publicity and mentions for the next 12-24 months and want to paint the truck for free or as close as, please get in touch. I see it like a demo kitchen, get it for virtually nothing but it then becomes a physical advert for your work and I’m sure I can get your company name on the truck somewhere. To be discussed if you fancy the challenge.

Strictly limited: The new Actros L Driver Extent+

The Actros L Driver Extent+ further enhances the Mercedes-Benz premium truck and definitely makes for an unforgettable driving experience. The new special edition model is striking with its exclusive design and first-class comfort. A driver’s dream, strictly limited to 150 units.

The name speaks for itself: That’s why the model’s front panel flap features Actros lettering in elegant dark chrome. In addition, a badge visibly identifies the truck as an exclusive Driver Extent+ and limited special edition model. 

The truck features exclusive decals in matte gray. This adds color highlights under the side windows as well as on the sun visor, side trim and front. The cab color can be freely selected.

The black closed panel makes the front of the vehicle more expressive and the illuminated Mercedes-Benz star even brighter.

The four round, roof-mounted headlamps keep everything in view and improve visibility for drivers in all weather conditions. The lights with energy-efficient LED technology have been installed in the sun visor. The front and rear axles are fitted with wheel stud covers, rear axle caps and wheel nut protection caps. These are available with black paintwork or in high-quality stainless steel. The closed aluminum frame covers offer two additional step plates and complement the standard steps.

The illuminated entrance badge with Mercedes-Benz lettering and the stainless steel entrance steps on the driver’s and front passenger’s side ensure the safest possible and most suitable entry into the exclusive special edition model.

But Driver Extent+ doesn’t stop on the outside: The ambient lighting with a total of 138 LEDs ensures pleasant, indirect light in the cab and can be individually adjusted in color and intensity.

Another special feature is the pod coffee maker. In true style, it fits in with the Mercedes-Benz design in the vehicle’s interior and can be easily stored in the cup holder thanks to its handy size.

In addition, the CabLock anti-theft device provides increased protection for drivers. The system can be locked and opened independently of the central locking system.

Trucks of The Year 2021

It’s been another funny old year and I haven’t actually done many shows sadly. There have been plenty of new trucks about despite the various cancellations and seemingly endless restrictions, and a lot of shows were still able to go ahead as they were outside. My annual trip to a foreign show was once again put on hold, but hopefully next year I can take my own truck abroad for the first time since UJN 509V back in 2009! Anyway I digress. Trucks of Year really comes following the week in trucks idea, which despite contrary belief first came about on TB and not elsewhere. I wanted to point out a few stand out trucks for me this year in the hope you will all share photos of some of your favourites too in the comments below.

I’ll start with Coles & Sons New Old Skool. Coles never disappoint and they really are no show ponies, they spend a lot of time abroad and do a lot of high profile work. For me I found this truck to take Coles back to their roots and back to the family business colours, but at the same time wowing us all as always. Just for info the Coles & Sons page released the first photos and videos of the truck back in January this year and have since had over half a million views, most of which came in the first week.

Next one worth a mention is this Volvo FH V1 restoration my Bert De Mooij and Bert De Mooij. I love the Retro Truck Show in September and for me this truck is 100% what it’s all about. The retro trucking scene is for trucks that have been restored and put into the glory of years gone by, perhaps with a modern twist. If we cast ourselves back to 1993 when Volvo launched the version 1 FH, this truck would have been spot on for a Dutch flower truck. Not over the top by any means, just clever use of paint (of course it’s Dutch!) and a few accessories that are easily accepted as being period. It looks spot on for me, love it.

©️Tim Andrew

Next a couple of personal favourites. The above Actros Edition 2 special Edition with all the boxes ticked is an amazing truck. Once again MB Trucks are pioneering the way with technology, which whether you like it or not is coming now the majority of manufacturers are now copying and offering similar. This Actros is my favourite new truck delivery of the year. Everyone loves new truck day, but perhaps because of how passionate Wilkin & Sons are about Mercs or perhaps because it was the first Edition 2 on the road in the UK, for me my favourite work related truck.

Next up…. The Gr814. My own truck, bought and imported from Germany in February. I love little sleeper cabs, I love mini tractor units and when I bought my first truck in 1997 I couldn’t afford an 814! This has had two owners since 1989 and has done a genuine 260,000km from new. It has nearly all the available factory options from the time, which really just leaves me only to do a little titivating and then hopefully get it painted before 2022’s show season.

Next a proper big hitter and a worthy truck of the year mention. This DAF by Paul Cecil is simply awesome. Even if you’re not a DAF fan, or a fan or green trucks you have to appreciate this Gloucestershire beauty. I don’t know Paul too well but we have the odd chat and I remember a few years back at Assen, Paul saying the truck was in build and was having a few paint issues, but those have all been overcome and the result I’m sure is exactly what Paul and family were after. One thing to remember is that building a show winner takes time and patience people. That said it is a hard working truck, it covers all of Europe on a regular basis and is cleaner than nearly any other truck you’ll see. It is also clearly appreciated by the European show circuit too, picking up trophies at both the Nordic Trophy and the Powertruck Show in its first year. Well done Paul.

Attention to detail.

For me I think this is my truck of the year 2021. A boy hood dream and poster truck for lots of us. I have been doing the Centurion list with Richard Payne and hopeful of getting a publisher for ‘22, but finding out this truck was being restored back to its original glory and then seeing her in September will take some beating. I have spoken to Michael Taylor during the restoration and was also privy to seeing the artwork being done by Matt during the painting process. I have even spoken to John Philips and he is over the moon with it too. The truck is as good as I’d hoped, the attention to detail is everywhere. Note the Keltruck mudflap’s have the 1991 phone number not the current one. I also love the artwork, we all know Matt is a true artist and should be recognised in the art world for his masterpieces. I also like that the artwork is a modern take on the original, as in the images aren’t quite as they were in 1991 but are Matts take on them. A real dream truck for me and once again well done to Michael and all involved, I really look forward to seeing again in 2022. They say you shouldn’t meet your hero’s…… certainly not trucking true in this case.

My son took my picture next to the truck I had on my wall as a boy.

Claudia is Back!

1

Briefly! I managed to log back in to a very old email account, that to be honest I thought was somewhat obsolete. I found an old folder full of old picture messages I had emailed myself, while out and about in my truck around the UK and Northern Europe. Long before the days of doing everything on our phones we had to keep things simple and send photos via email rather than download, upload, ping, Tweet, Facebook, MySpace or what ever else you can do these days.

2

I think I have seen them before and perhaps I should have been bothered to look through my Flickr photos to see if I have them already as they do look familiar. Not to worry though as these were very happy days and we all love a blast from the past. Even though these were 2004-2007 I can remember where they were all taken as I’m sure we all can, funny how I can remember everywhere I’ve loaded but struggle to remember the neighbours names!

3

So starting from the top, photos as follows;

1) Boughey Distribution in Deeside. A full load of detergents. Bloomin heavy but a good tip and would happily tip you early if they could. Shower available.

2) Although I can’t remember the name, this was the big roll place on Trafford park. Loading 5x 1 ton toilet rolls. A great load once it was on although usually had to wait a fair while to get loaded. What’s the name of the place people?!

3) Unloading a full load of scaffold boards at Beaver 84 near Small Heath, Birmingham. I remember loading this myself out at Wurselen, Germany. The Germans weren’t impressed that I wouldn’t load dripping wet timber to the roof at the front of the trailer as it meant leaving 2 packs off.

4) Parked up solo outside my sisters old house, no idea why or what the occasion was though, Claudia had a shine on though.

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The Gr814 – D to GB

How do you solve a problem like Maria getting a truck from Germany to England on a very tight budget?? Call in a load of favours and ask those close colleagues from 25 years in the transport industry what they can do to help. So I have a best mate who was shipping more JCB’s out the country than anyone else for a few years. Said BM was able to negotiate a very decent package for shipping the truck from Bremerhaven back to Harwich, but at the shippers discretion. Meaning when the boat was empty and wasn’t pushed for space. This also meant that it would be down to the shipper to tell me when he wanted it. Not to bad at all other than the truck was still 102 miles away from Bremerhaven.

Time to bite the bullet. As I had half a plan I went back to Tobi (the seller) and put the current plan to him, thinking he might be able to make a suggestion or suggest a company close to him who may be able to move the truck for me. Tobi came back to me straight away and offered to drive the truck himself to Bremerhaven as it would be a nice little “good bye” drive to a truck that had served him very well. Once again a great help from Tobi. The only downside was it meant having to buy some export plates so the truck could driven after Tobi had de-registered it from his name which we had to do so I could arrange customs, don’t forget this was a month after Brexit as well as the Covid effect. You see it really wasn’t the best easiest time to be buying a new toy! About a week after the plan was hatched, the call from the shipper came and they wanted it on the sailing out of Bremerhaven on the 16th February. This gave us a little time for Tobi to do the necessary at his local tax office (such a great and seemingly easy way to do everything vehicle related in a local office rather than dealing with a single national association based in Wales!!) and we opted for 2 week Transit plates just in case. Tobi planned to take the truck up to Bremerhaven on the 15th February so it was there ready and waiting for the boat to arrive the day after.

As you can see from the photos this would have been as easy 102 mile ride apart from the snow came down in Germany and made for some very tricky driving conditions. Being an expert racing driver Tobi had no real issues apart from needing a little help from the Polizei to get over the brow of a hill! Having made it to Bremerhaven Tobi checked in and was asked to drop the truck on the quay for the night so it was ready to load in the morning.

The following day, the 16th February, I heard nothing so I’ve always been a “no news is good news” type of chap and I assumed the truck had made it onto the boat and left Germany for the UK. I was correct and the next call I got was to say the truck was sat on the quay at Navyard in Harwich, 30 minutes from my house. Customs was done and paid for while the truck was enroute and I was therefore free to collect the truck on the Saturday morning and take it home.

Once in Harwich I was greeted with the above. I cannot tell you how nervous I was, from the point of view we hear so many horror stories of vehicle sales where people don’t view the motor first, but I was more than surprised and more than happy. Tobi Marggraf from Racing Team Marggraf had been true to his word and the truck was in great condition. All the paperwork and German registration documents were in the glove box including some original owners paperwork, more than I needed but again proved how honest Tobi had been. I needed all the original copies of the German paperwork to make the UK registration as easy as possible. This just left me to start her up and take a very very enjoyable trip back up the A120 and A12 home. Thanks Tobi you know I will look after her!! One truck purchased and shipped back to the UK for a touch less than what the truck had originally be advertised for. Happy blogger.

The Gr814 – The Deal

I’m sure during lock down all of us spent more time scrolling through Europe’s used truck ads than ever before. I’m sure during lock down all of us spent more time buying things online than ever before. Add these two scenarios together and can you guess what happens??

On the 24th January at 2049hrs (iPhones save the date and time of images!) yet another search on mobile.de threw up the image above. How could anybody resist! I ran through the photos on the ad and the truck looked immaculate and claimed a genuine 260,000km on a truck made in 1989. The truck is an 814S sleeper, which had a factory conversion into a 7 seater, 3 singles in the front row and a 4 person bench seat in the back. Through the nature of my day job, I checked the original build spec and the truck is as it was the day it left the factory, even the paint colours are still the same.

I’m a sucker for a 7.5 tonner and sleeper cabbed one at that, add in the mini artic bit and it’s like Christmas Day all over again. I had to have it!! I WhatsApp’d the seller (Tobi) straight away and he replied with some detail and some more photo’s- the deal had to be done and it was within my very small budget and if the seller was being truthful and the photos weren’t hiding anything then the truck looked pretty straight. The truck has spent its years pulling race trailers around Europe so the mileage would be pretty low bearing in mind all the sitting around between events and also when at events, so the mileage could be genuine. Maybe a few days later and a deal was struck, we were still in lock down here in the UK which meant I couldn’t get out to collect it so a plan had to be worked on to get her back to the UK. Was I nuts? Buying a truck over the internet, from Germany, from a man I had never met or actually spoken to, in lock down….

….who cares, sometimes a risk needs to be taken. The seller Tobi, was very helpful and gave me copies of all the paperwork by email and also sent me a receipt for payment on his race team headed paper with all the official details. Tobi also said the truck could stay with him for as long as it took me to come up with a pick up plan and he was happy to help in anyway he could. So finally I was a truck owner again, with what looked like a genuine mini artic tractor unit and all I had to do was get it from Bad Fallingbostal, Germany which is approximately halfway between Hanover and Hamburg. The only thing I knew at this point was, sadly it wouldn’t be me driving it back due to lockdown restrictions.

Spotted: My Old Atego!!

Spotted this morning getting on the M5 at Taunton, only my old Atego!! I’m so excited. It must have released a load of racing pigeons as it was in a mini convoy of other bird carrying trucks. Jack Rigby was quick enough to get some video coverage and I’ve no doubt it is AV52 KGU, now taxed until April 2022. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can someone tell me more about who has it, who runs and what the new reg is. It’s probably heading back up the M5 and M6 as we speak back to it’s north west base. Come on truck detectives, tell me more!