The Forgotten Art of Map Reading

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Way back when in 1997 mobile phones were just becoming part of my everyday life and it was a handy gadget to have especially as I had just bought my first 7.5 tonner at the age of 17 and I had started subbing for DFDS at Coggeshall, Essex. The one thing I would never have believed back then was that now a days there would be a gadget in in the cab that would have saved me from learning  what felt like every street across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and last but definitely not least, Greater London. In my first week I was given a day in London with something like 15 drops across the Greater London area, nice. Oh for those who aren’t sure, Greater London is probably easier described as everywhere inside the M25 circle. So age 17, 1st week of owning and driving my first Tonka toy and 15 drops across one of the worlds busiest cities, where do I start???! One of the other DFDS subbies said “Don’t worry son, just get yourself a hard back copy of the Master Atlas of Greater London and you’ll be fine.” – I couldn’t have had any better advice than that. So on the way down the A12 I stopped at a garage and found a copy of the London bible.

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So just take this in for a minute, its 1997, I had X amount of drops (& collections) across the capital, a list of addresses, not many with postcodes and TWAT SAT NAV was no where to be seen. How did we ever cope I hear you ask. Pull up a sand bag and I’ll tell you a story. Once upon a time you could stop at a garage and buy these little paper paged books called road maps. You could buy them for counties or towns depending on what you required and basically they had pages full of the layout of your selected area. At the back was an index with a full list of roads and estates and these were listed with a page number and grid reference so you could find the road on the page in the map, amazing huh?? Using one of these town maps along side a bigger road Atlas you could pretty well find any where you wanted to go, all on your own without 22 satellite’s guiding you down an unsuitable one way street! Or even better than using the road map you’ve just bought you could use what we used to call common sense, most people had a bit of common sense as it was gained from parents and the school of hard knocks and tough luck. For example your honour; Station Road, Anytown. First up have a look on your map (if you have one of that area/town) and look for station road in the index or just for the station. If there is no visible station have a look to find the closest road to a railway line, simple. Again using a bit of common sense and a good map you can even work out where an old railway might have been. If you haven’t got a map you could always head towards the town and see if you could pick up the sign posts for the station. Or last but not least you could ask the local and they’d send you right round the town and back to where started and in the mean time with a bit of luck you’d stumble across Station road.

Now in London the streets are a plenty and the traffic lights and junctions are even more. So having to keep an eye on your hard back atlas was very easy or convenient so I found it best to tear the A4 page out. See the photo above. Still an A4 page isn’t so easy to hold, so when you are close enough you can fold the page to A5 size. Then finally when I was really close to where I needed to be I would fold again so its small enough to hold in finger and thumb. Please see my thumb below. I have to say that in day to day driving it was very much find your own way to your destination, no typing in a postcode and follow the arrows on your dash-mounted screen. All drivers back in these prehistoric times had to have a sound knowledge of the UK’s road network and most industrial towns and somehow we managed. In a previous life as a transport manager I watched a driver heading from Ipswich to Leamington Spa take the A14, M6, M42, M40 to his destination. When I quizzed him to why he went this long way round, I got the response “That’s what sat nav said”. Now call me an old stick in the mud but I asked if he had looked at his road atlas to check where he was going and I got a short silence and then the response “I haven’t got one”. Not impressed I confiscated the drivers twat sat nav for the following week. Now I hope he has a slight knowledge of the road network. Anyway I digress.

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The beauty of a paper map over a twat sat nav is that I find I can always see more than I need to, which can only ever help you know where you are and what your surroundings are. For example heading into London the other Saturday as a passenger I decided we would have a Map-Off. This was fine and a good contest and we both arrived at the right place with no major dramas, but along the way I could check each street I passed and I could see how far ahead the next turning was, without having to wait for the 200 metre warning or what ever it is. Also looking at the map you can get some idea of what the road you are turning into is like or which way it goes, something which twat sat nav can’t do very well. The one downside I found to the paper map is that it doesn’t light up when you enter a tunnel!!

I challenge any driver who isn’t a map reader to take up the challenge and try and get yourself across the country with no twat sat nav. At the end of the day you might just find that you have some sort of new found satisfaction in your day to day job. Twat Sat navs do have their uses and I for one do like that fact they can tell you how far you are from your destination and I can never argue against the fact that some one shouting directions at you is far safer than reading a map while driving along or each time you stop. My biggest fear is that the beauty of a good map is lost on all new drivers. Where’s the sense of direction that you all had to find the nearest sweet shop when you were a kid? Does anyone else agree that all drivers should have an understanding of where about’s they are in the country and what other roads are available to the one your on with no help from the NASA convention on your dashboard?? In the worst case we know that at 12 o’clock the sun is in the west and we want to be just to the right of that, so we best take that tangent………………..

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The Centurion Book

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What number Centurion is the above??

As some of you may know both Richard Payne and myself have been gathering information on the original 100 trucks that Scania GB released in 1991. Thanks to a lot of you truck buffs I have collated a lot of info but I could always do with more as we are still missing info on a lot of trucks and by that I don’t just mean there where abouts or what happened to them, but missing any info on the edition number at all. The original list I managed to lay my hands on was only a type-written list and was by no means anywhere near complete so there are lots of gaps and trying to find out what each blank edition number on the list is, is proving somewhat tricky, especially when the manufacturer themselves have no interest in the past what has made them into what they are today.

So to start with, can anyone shed any light what so ever on the following Centurions as we have no info, not even a model or cab type; 36, 37, 38, 39, 43, 54, 71, 72.

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Onwards….As you will all be aware there are what only can called fakes out there and although they are all gorgeous trucks, they are. But what I want someone like you to clarify is if any of the following info/rumours are true, untrue, or what ever. This is a list of trucks that may or may not be Centurions;

ROBERT BURNS  4X2 STANDARD R STREAMLINE  J282 GVV?
PETER ROFF  4X2 TOPLINE STREAMLINE  J5 ROF – DE-BADGED?
4X2 143 450  J50 GFB – A CURRIES EUROPEAN SUBBIE?
143 500 STANDARD R STREAMLINE  –  J79 RNS – CENTURION NUMBER?
DJ PONSONBY – K7 DJP – TOPLINE STREAMLINE  113 380?
GEORGE GREEN – J625 HOE – STREAMLINE R CAB  4X2  113 380?
CAMBRIAN PET FOODS –  J272 TRO – STANDARD R STREAMLINE?
AIG – J205 HGK 6X2  113 360?
JR SMITH, TRING – JES 200 – CENTURION?
J88 JBL – 143 450 6X2 – CENTURION?

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The next thing we will need for the book is at least one photo of every truck, that’s a minimum of 100 photos, which will be a fair challenge as there are at least the 8 trucks I mentioned earlier may or may not even have been produced. There are loads of photos out there and I know as well we you do which photos have been around for a while. What I need to see are the photos which aren’t quite so main stream on the internet, whether its on Trucknetuk, Facebook or wherever, if there is a photo that you think isn’t already out there please, please email me a copy. My email address is ben@truckblog.co.uk and also please free to use this email for everything else Centurion. The one truck I am desperate to find a photo of is #021. This is the one and only P-Cab Centurion. Reg number is J2 FFM, sold by Scania dealer Reliable of Renfrew, it was a 4×2 sold to a Mr Andrew Malcolm. The first photo will win a few TB goodies! Now there’s an incentive.

The actual book writing is underway and I hope that it will make a good read, but this will only be possible with the amount and quality of info we can find out. This is down to you. Email me, leave comments below or send me a message on multimedia, but if you know anything please share it, it could make a link.

 

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?!”

Something old something new…

 

 

Something old, something new, something Moody, nothing blue!!

Always great to see a then and now and what better two examples than these 2 Swedish V8’s. I have to say that the 141 gets my vote every time! Can’t beat the raw sound of the V8 and the turbo whistle, that has all but disappeared on the younger of the two. 

If your interested in the 141 please give the Grimsby Gangster a call at Moody International. I don’t suppose it’ll be around for long so give it a good home someone. 

  

  

My Best Truck of 2014

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For me this is the best truck I have seen in 2014. It might not be the newest, it might not be most practical for most of Europe and it certainly won’t be everyones taste but for me, spot on.

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If you live in the UK and haven’t been to one I strongly advise that you make 2015 your first trip to a European truck show, the standard of trucks is amazing. I can’t deny that the trucks here in the UK are getting better and better but the Europeans just seem to have it right, they all look good. To me the best trucks have always been out of reach of what I could afford or achieve and the T560 is no different. We all joke about winning the lottery but a Tcab would be very close to the top of my list. It’s blue, it’s got two sets of pipes, it’s got a subtle custom interior and enough lights to make it look good but not over the top. As with anything I would make a few subtle changes as I’d want to put my mark on it.

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2014 has seen a big rise in the blogs popularity through all mediums, the Facebook page, twitter and the good old fashioned http://www.truckblog.co.uk website. I’m not going to link to any of those this time round as I’m sure you all could do with a break from the ruthless links and plugs for the blog. I have no idea where the blog will be in another 12 months, hopefully you’ll all still send me stuff, photos, info and the odd piece of trucking memorabilia to decorate TBHQ and I’ll keep bugging the TV companies in the vague hope they’ll see that we need Truckblog TV!

Hopefully I’ll be visiting, Truckfest Peterborough, Crowfield Truck Rally, Gathering of the Griffin, Retro Truck Show at Gaydon, more than likely (and hopefully) Truckstar Festival at Assen as my foreign trip, although I have heard on the grapevine that there is quite a convoy of English motors heading to the International Trucker & Country Show held at Interlaken, CH. I have always wanted to go James?? Finally if the offer is still there then I might just make it to Belfast too.

Anyway thank you for following and thank you for making the blog what it is, without your contributions I’m sure you’d all be bored silly of 143’s, MAN TGL LX’s and Mercedes-Benz photos! As we all do secretly say now and again Keep on Trucking!

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J777 RDF & J888 RDF

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You will or won’t know that Richard Payne, Dion Anderson and myself are busy trying to track and trace as many of the original 100 Scania Centurions as possible. Any info please email: centurion@truckblog.co.uk

In my book the two best Centurions were #89 and #90, both belonging to Ralph Davies International. Bother trucks were LHD 143 450hp 6×2 tag axle Topline Streamlines, perfect. You can’t get a better looking wagon! What I really want to do is find out as much about these two as possible when they were in use in the UK. Do you know any of Davies drivers who piloted either of these trucks? How far have either truck travelled across Europe and Asia? Any photos, contact info or information will be highly appreciated.

I know where J777 is now but no one knows where J888 ended up. An acquaintance of mine owned J888 after Davies but we’re not sure where it went after he had it. Again any help would be great. Email me or leave a comment below.

Photos are from Facebook groups but credit to the photographers!

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Centurions #8 #9 #14

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Above are 2 very lucky owner drivers and no doubt very deserved too. On the left with the Olympic blue 143 500 is Maxi Mehrlich and on the right with the white 143 500 is Gorden Ardren. As you are probably all aware by now I’ve been trying to gain as much info on Scania’s original 100 special edition Centurion trucks as I can. This latest flurry of information comes from an excellent source, none other than Nagel Langdons own commercial director, Patrick Griffiths. This is what Patricks first email said;

A couple of corrections for your Centurion list.

J4 MJM was purchased through Langdon Industries Ltd by owner driver Maxi Mehrlich hence the J4 MJM. Copy of the original sales invoice is attached. We dug out a copy of this only a few months ago for the current owner.

J2 GLA was purchased through Langdon Industries Ltd by owner driver Gordon Ardren hence the J2 GLA.

J981BYA was purchased through Langdon Industries Ltd by owner driver Derek Champion. J981BYA it was a Scania R143 MA 4×2 R450 in white.

Myself or Patrick haven’t managed to find a photo of J981 BYA when it was new, so if any of you have then please email it me; ben@truckblog.co.uk – I did managed to find this photo of J981 but I don’t know whose photo it is or who owned the truck at the time, but I’m guessing it might be Plymouth owner driver Peter Orr. There is a slight question mark as to whether this was a 450hp or 500hp when new.

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The truck details are as follows;

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#8 Scania 143 500 Topline Streamline 4×2 Tractor – new to Maxi Mehrlich – now owned and fully restored by Dessie Mackin at Mackin International in Ireland. Above is the original invoice for the truck. I have cropped out the figures but I will tell you that it was between £60-£65,000 before VAT. I don’t know why but I was a little surprised that there is no mention of the edition number on the invoice. Before and after photos as follows;

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#9 Scania 143 500 Topline Streamline 4×2 Tractor – new to Gorden Ardren – the truck has in the last few years been fully restored by Ashley Pearce and is now living in Ireland under the ownership of Donnell & Ellis. I have to say I helped convince Ashley Pearce to repaint the truck in Scania’s 3 Series pro-mo colours of blue with pink strips after giving him some posters an brochures. What a claim to fame! See below for its current condition.

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#14 Scania 143 450 (May have been a 500hp?) Topline Streamline 4×2 Tractor – new to Derek Champion – now owned by Shropshire Forrestry Contractors as far as I’m aware. The last photo I have of it was when it was with its last owner Neil Johnson. Again if you have a recent photo of it since Neil Johnson had it please email me a copy; ben@truckblog.co.uk

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Thanks again to Patrick at Nagel Langdons for the info and photos. Hopefully it’ll lead to more info about more Centurions. I think it’s amazing that the 3 Langdon Owner Drivers trucks are all still on the road and we can trace there where about’s as I know how difficult it is proving to find out info about some of the others.

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