MAN Down on Shap (Nearly!)

  

Back when I were a lad and a fairly infant owner driver, I remember a time that certainly put hairs on my chest if nothing else. When we all start out as young drivers we are entrusted with a truck and asked to set out on our own across the UK or where ever. Naturally there is a learning process, somethings are common sense, some things are taught by others, some taught by making mistakes and some taught by Mother Nature! I’ve always been one to listen to older drivers as in my experience what they have to say is worth listening too. Most older drivers have been there and done it and I think they have nearly always been in a situation that the younger generation will learn from. I’m all for learning and all for taking advice and it’s only natural that as inquisitive beingswe might not always make the right decision when faced with a situation we have not encounter before. It’s called thinking on your feet. 

 

Having delivered another load of new sunbeds to Larkhall, Scotland there was a single unpacked, salon ready sunbed to return to Braintree. I strapped it against the headboard and headed south. Just enough time to get back Penrith Truckstop for the night. Overnight the wind got up. When I say it got up I mean it was howling! The buzz around the Truckstop was a couple of trucks had gone over on the A66 and drivers were trying to decide whether to wait it out or head off into the wind. Now here’s the decision for a 19 year old owner driver. I had to get back to Braintree that day to get my next job loaded, but I had to go via Manchester to collect some parts. Penrith to Manchester is a beautiful drive on a lovely day but for those who don’t know the UK, driving the M6 motorway between these two places involved probably the windiest section of motorway in the UK. Near the town of Shap the motorway claims no end of trucks during the year, with high winds, ice, snow and what ever else comes out of mother natures purse! So I had on an expensive piece of electrical machinery that couldn’t get wet, I had to get back to base to load, I also had to go over Shap to get my second collection on. Should I go or should I stay?? I decided I’d give it a go.   

If my curtains had been like this and I wasn’t loaded, the worst would have been losing the fibreglass sheet roof, but as I was loaded the curtains were shut. Off I set out of Penrith Truckstop and south onto the M6. A mile or two south and I was already thinking I had made the wrong decision, the wind was strong, stronger than I’d felt before and it seemed to be directly side on. A 7.5 tonner with closed curtains might as well be described as a kite. A couple more miles passed and I passed some over turned trucks. I have to say not many vehicles were on the motorway at all, I slowed right down and was struggling along at 20-30 mph at most. I caught up with another 7.5 tonner that had lost its roof and was taking shelter under a large bridge over the motorway. Perhaps that’s were experience should have taken over. I carried on and was virtually at Shap and the worst weather I had encountered, howling wind and rain straight from my right had side. A few gusts really knocked my sideways and I was on the hard shoulder, managing to get back to the main carriageway another strong gust caught me so I eased off the throttle and then a second huge huge gust hit and put me up on just two wheels. You know the saying “time stands still”, that must have been the longest few seconds of my life!! Luckily for me the gust passed and I managed to get the little MAN back on all fours, so close to being blown over is a feeling I won’t forget and in someways I don’t like to think would could have happened. Anyway there was no shelter what so ever, so I carried on trying to get my heart rate back down to normalish and work out what I should do. Just then I noticed in my mirrors a truck catching me up. It turned out to be a couple of Irish fridges. Known for running at full legal weight these two were obviously not as affected by the wind as I was in m my little German kite. I grabbed my CB in the hope these two may be on channel 19. My luck was in, truck 2 replied and asked if I was alright. I noticed when they were passing I was clearly in the safe zone and taking the brunt of wind, lightbulb moment!! “Can you stay in the middle lane and I stay on your inside until we get further south?” I asked. The reply was “of course” so off we went. Me in my little truck being chaperoned by these two big Irish fridge trucks taking the wind on my behalf. I stayed there for the 35 miles or so to Lancaster and I was more than grateful to the two Irish drivers whose names I can’t remember. Thank you. 

Anyway it just goes to show that driving trucks is a permanent learning curve no matter what your age. Yes I was young at the time and perhaps a few years later I would have made the other decision and stayed put at Penrith for a few hours til the wind dropped, but without a bit of comradeship the job can be a lot harder. It saddens me to think that  my friends who still drive say there is no comradeship in the UK anymore. Just remember if you see a driver struggling and your thinking “what a plonker why doesn’t he/she just do that?” Perhaps take five minutes to help them or pass on what you probably learned from someone else. There are enough pressures and deadlines to make the job of driving trucks theses days hard enough, perhaps if more drivers helped in other out it would make your day or there just that little bit easier. 

Oh look a step down off this soapbox…..

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Foden Keeping it in The Family

  

When you work with a woman who’s name is Foden what would you expect her to send you photos of?? Yep my thoughts exactly, something with wheels and an engine. It turns out that she might not actually be related to the Cheshire family but she is aware of her potential family heritage, although a bit of extra training may be needed. Anyway whilst Miss Foden was out for a romantic stroll round a boat yard in Woodbridge, Suffolk yesterday she came across this old beast. Miss Foden is clearly not mistaken by the slightly jaded family badge on the front grill but I have my suspicions to what the crane actually is. Anyone got any ideas to who the manufacturer is?? No doubt one of you has. 

 

The crane is still is regular use at the boat yard but could use a polish up next your up there Miss Foden. Also spotted in the boat yard is this rather nice, tidy and probably these days rare AEC Mercury. I have no idea what this would be used for in a boat yard so I can only imagine it’s been parked and left. Anyway top spotting Foden, I look forward to your next walk!

If anyone has any info on either truck please feel free to comment below.

 

Trucking In Deepest Peru

   
 
No sign of an old hat or a battered suitcase, no blue duffle coat, no wellington boots, no marmalade sandwiches or any little brown bears, it would seem deepest darkest Peru is just full of hard working trucks! Please don’t think I have been off on another jolly half way round the world, but my cousin Tim Andrew is the lucky one. Some of you may or may not know my cousin and his work as world wide professional photographer. Now and again Tim and myself have a chat and invariably its to do with vehicles of some sort usually what ever he has been photographing most recently. I always remember reading Trucking International magazine when I was a boy and rushing through it to see if Tim’s name was attached to any of the articles inside. I was always very proud or pleased to see his photos in the magazines and these days I’m even more pleased to see people’s reviews of his work online such as on Tim’s LinkedIn profile. Once again I find myself wishing I could have some of Tim’s prowess and talent. 
      

I knew Tim and his family were travelling around South America some where, so when I saw Tim’s email come in I was intrigued to see what it was all about, especially as it was titled “Peru Trucks!”. Now Tim is a professional photographer I know and with more experience than most others in the same game, but even so when some one says “These photos are mainly shot through bus or train windows.” It makes me at least, think they might be a little fuzzy, blurred, have reflection from the windows etc etc. what a fool I am, profession through and through, the photos are great and better than any of mine with a tripod and my little skill! There are 35+ photos and I am gutted to say that I can’t use them all on here. What I did notice, apart from a mix of US and Europe trucks, was one particular Volvo FH Globetrotter that I’m guessing was a European based truck at some point, due to the green “L” low noise plate on the front. 

  
 
Over to Tim and a few words about the Peru trip and a little about himself too;

High Andes, Peruvian trucks.

“I found myself in Peru for a few weeks this summer. There weren’t necessarily roads were I travelled, but when there were, they were full of vehicles of varying size and shape. Motorised rickshaws, tuk-tuks, minibuses crammed to the hilt, cars, pickups busses and large trucks. As a specialist car photographer, I was looking out for unusual Peruvian variants, but was mostly disappointed with the variety and quality of cars; boring Hyundais, Kias & Toyotas dominated. What really stood out were the colourful US style trucks. I seized the opportunity to snap them. Most of them were shot during a few bus/train rides through the high Andes plains. This area between Puño & Arequipa is mostly above 3000m. and is a sparsely populated area, surrounded by 6000m volcanoes where vegetation is minimal, lamas, alpacas and wild vicuñas graze on the sun parched grasses. The Carretera Interoceanica (34A) links the low coastline to the high Andes towns of Juliaca, Puño & Cusco, and beyond to Bolivia and eventually the Amazon. It’s a vital lifeline and so carries all sorts of goods. It also forms the backbone of the mining industry, with countless spur roads or dusty tracks leading off into the void. I cannot give you any specific information about the trucks themselves other than the convoys were well organised, proceeded by pickup trucks announcing the number of trucks involved. These were mainly mining carriers ploughing down the main road. Every so often there is a toll booth, as the Peruvian government decided to subcontract road building to private companies. As a result the surfaces are good and sound and carefully managed. The truck stops are almost the opposite. Overtaking is easy with the long straight roads, but when it gets twisty in the mountain passes, better close your eyes and cross your fingers as a passenger.”      

About my cousin Tim Andrew:

Tim Andrew has been photographing cars and trucks for 30 years for various magazines and companies such as Trucking International, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Nikon cameras, Car Magazine, Octane, Classic Cars, Jaguar, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Peugeot. You can see more of his work at www.timandrew.co.uk Recently he has added aerial filming to his skills go to http://www.pixauto.com and see his work. 
Email: tim@timandrew.co.uk

Web: www.timandrew.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tim_andrew

Facebook: www.facebook.com/timandrew.co.uk

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/timandrew

   
    
   

The Pilots Week in Trucks

  

A special guest slot in the weeks in trucks this week. The pilot has made his presence known in the blog before, but I felt this week was worthy of a mention due to the diversity of the vehicle. This week the pilot has been mostly flying Faith No More about and this little collection was spotted in Finland. 

   
           

The final pictures were a bit of novelty as I’ll let the Pilot explain; 

“John Weaver trusted me to uncouple his Scania tag axle crane re couple to the Andover step frame which I did without a shunt despite coming in at an angle then off to Sturminster Marshall to pick up a tractor & trailer. Not a kurb was kissed! Haven’t driven an artic for over 20 years as I,m totally biased to wagon & drag.”

  

2015 Show Season



Show season is upon us once again! Whether you are thinking of one of the many Truckfest events, or one of the independent shows such as the Peak Truck Show, the Barnard Castle show, Full of the Pipe in Ireland or one of the smaller up and coming shows such as the Cornwall Truck Show, the Evesham Truck show or even the only single marque show in the UK, The Gathering of the Griffin held for Scania owners, drivers and enthusiasts alike, what ever your show the season has begun. If you run your own show then please email, tweet or some how send me show details so I can put it on the blog for you.



There are shows up and down the country  and it is high time that all dates and locations were in one simple  easy location for everyone to find, but as yet, even on the blog, we have all failed to compile a singular list of all shows. The list in Trucking International magazine is about as comprehensive as it gets. Speaking from my simple show experience, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are entering a truck or just a day visitor there is a show for you some where. My days of entering trucks in shows are some what over unless some one is kind enough to loan me one. Even as a day visitor I still don’t get round to as many shows as I’d like, we specially the independents where there seems to be an increased sense of atmosphere and a smaller number of trucks. The Retro truck show at Gaydon in September is the best example of this and incidently according to a Poll I did here on the blog, the Retro Show was also your favourite truck show of 2014.

The effort that drivers, owners and their families are putting in to keeping the trucks in top condition gets better and better every year. Just look at the well known Fallen Heros Scania above. I saw this truck up close for the first time at the Gathering of the Griffin last year. It’s a stunning truck, a rolling tribute to all the fallen soldiers in Afganistan, so it deserves to be well looked after. Therefore it isn’t possible to question the amount of effort Kian Humphreys and his family put in to keeping it clean. This does allow me to publish one of my favourite photos from last year. The following photo sums up the effort required to maintain a top custom truck………





I do have a hand in the Gathering of The Griffin, held in Ipswich every September. I am known as a Scania fan amoung other things, so I take great pleasure in judging the Best 3 Series Scania every year. There is no other one marque truck show in the UK, never mind the fact that last year there were over 115 Scania trucks all in one place. Including for the first time ever, at least one truck from very series sold in the UK. I can email you an entry form if required. All I ask is that if you enter please turn up as the parking for the weekend is all arranged in series order and does give the organiser the odd head ache when trying to make the final plan, so drop outs or should I say those who can’t be arsed to turn up, certainly aren’t flavour of the weekend!



This year myself I will be trying to attend a few events, most of the time I’ll be wearing a Truckblog Polo shirt, so feel free to come and say hello. I am currently planning on going to the following shows for the day or the weekend;

Yes Interlaken! I can’t wait for that one. I am a lucky man as Mrs Blog allows me a weekend away every year on the continent to endulge myself in plenty of continental trucking! Sorry I meant in a manly way, I tell Mrs Blog I’m going!! I’ve wanted to go to Interlaken for a number of years now, but Truckstar Festival in the Netherlands has always been first choice mainly for logistical reasons and my weird wanting to be Dutch! As for the rest, they are my annual mainstay of shows, but I’m always keen on trying some thing new if I can or if time and family commitments allow. 



As it’s physically not possible for me to get to all shows this year, although it would be some challenge for a single person, I’ll happily accept any show reports written by you lot to publish on the blog, so you can tell us all what we missed out on. All I’d need are some photos and a good write up. Email me at ben@truckblog.co.uk and I WILL publish all reports I receive, you’ll also get a free TB sticker for your efforts! So where ever you’ll be showing or visiting please share your show with us all. Keep on trucking! – These are all my own photos. 



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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DAFt Farmer

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Every now and then I do get to keep my hand in. As it was my Saturday to work and we had no trucks to load, it made sense for me to tip a local load of fertiliser to a farm about 5 miles away. Can’t be that hard can it?! I rang the phone number just to check directions and off I went in the big DAF. Apparently they have big trucks at this farm all the time….
Anyway into Kersey village (this is sort of deepest Suffolk village type roads!) turn right follow it along to the old white rose pub, turn left. Down the hill up the other side then take the first Tarmac road to the left, follow it along for 1/2 a mile and the farm is on the left. Easy peasy. Well if only it was as easy as that. It was ok upto the pub and turning left. Just after the left turn was a parked car outside a house and a very full ditch. I eased along side the car, keeping closer to the car than the ditch due to the amount of rain we’ve had. It might be that the rear marker light stalk on the trailer touched the car but I like to think it was well planned!

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This is the entrance to the farm as I was driving out. I approached the farm from the road to the right. It was a narrow single track with the trailer wheels brushing the banks of the lane as I came up to the farm. I stopped in the lane as the left turn into the farm was slightly back on myself. As I hopped out the farm hand came out to tell me I was in the right place and also to see me in. I backed up slightly, pulled as far right and forward as I dare before jack-knifing round to the left. As I did so I had to make sure the left side trailer wheels didn’t catch on the large concrete block that had been put there to protect the grass, never mind the large vehicles you might expect on a farm! As I swung in I stopped and jumped out to move a tree stump protecting the grass on the right hand side, I hand to move this so I could get the bumper round as my steer wheels were just touching the seemingly precious grass. As I edged round the farm hand said nothing apart from ok as the trailer cleared the concrete block. Slowly forward past a barn and round into a large open farm yard. “Pull up any where and open 1 side”. That was all he said so I duely obliged and the 19 bags of fert soon started coming off the trailer.

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It was about this point 2 dirty Jack Russell’s and a grumpy farmer appeared;
Farmer: “can you not drive over the grass on your way out again”
Me: “oh did I catch it on the way in? It was a bit tight”
Farmer: “yes you did, we have trucks in here all the time and they have no problem”
Me: “it is pretty tight….”
Farmer: “well your supposed to be qualified to drive this thing”
Me: “I am, but I’m happy if you want to drive it out onto the road so I don’t catch the grass again”
Farmer: “No that’s your job”

What can you say to that?? All in a days work, to expect some one not to understand. Once empty I asked the farm hand if I made a mess and he said “no not really the farmer just assumes that all trucks are the same size!” I asked if he wanted to see me out as I had to drive out the way I came. Turning right out the entrance back on myself with the concert block on the drivers side this time.

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Crawling along I went as far forward as possible before going left into the entrance, again to avoid the trailer wheels catching on the grass on the left. I hung out my window to make sure the tyres were not touching the blooming grass. This time, before turning right out if the entrance and onto the lane, I went as far forward as possible before turning right, so I just edged over the road into the soft gateway on the other side of the lane, I then turned hard right, making sure the trailer wheels on the drivers side missed the concrete block while also making sure the front passenger side of the trailer swung back quick enough to miss the telegraph pole. Once back on the lane I jumped out the cab and replaced the tree stump I had moved on my way in. As I climbed back in the cab, pleased eased with myself for not touching anything, I noticed the farmer had been watching my exit from a hidden spot next to the barn, so just to make sure he knew I knew he was there, I gave him a honk and a wave as I drove off.

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No matter how hard you try as a driver there will ways be those who you just can’t please. I don’t think I could have done much more on my way into the farm especially as the farm hand was helping me in. It didn’t bother me that the farmer had a moan, but it does make me wonder why they bother, especially as he declined my kind offer of driving the truck out onto the road for me! Funny old boy.

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Anyway I always enjoy a farm delivery as It does usually provide some sort of a challenge. Next time I think the boss man, Big Dave, should take the challenge and make the next farm delivery. At this point I will just congratulate my bosses on reaching the 10 year anniversary of Kersey Freight Ltd. While I was messing about in the mud, 10 years earlier David and James were busy starting the company from a small room in Kersey Mill. Congratulations boys!!