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?!”

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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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Wilson Wednesday Lite

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I only just realised that this didn’t publish last night! So a slightly delayed WW this time.

Above we have part time HC Wilson office staff James Cartwright out and about and Sheffield bound for a busy day. A loaded flat rack that as you can see isn’t too big but the Anvil weighs in at a hefty 33 tons. After tipping the flat rack was removed and the James went to load one of a number of pieces that are all destined for Antwerp. SW02 HCW is Wilsons spare 8×4 Scania tractor unit. Plated to 150 tons it’s a handy piece of kit to have as a spare.

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The pieces being loaded to Antwerp are all over 4 metres wide and weigh over 30 tons each, so the extra axles help spread the weight. Below we also have R90 HCW a 6×4 Scania loaded with a similar piece. This photo is sent by Wilsons own escort driver Sully.

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Astran Tekno Model Update

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You may or may not be a model truck collector but if you are then you probably know that Middle East Trucking legends Astran Cargo have slowly been releasing very limited edition 1/50 scale Tekno models of some of their more iconic trucks. So far the releases have been a Scania 111 and a Scania 143 Streamline, both artics pulling tilt trailers. The next to be released in the series is a Scania 110 drawbar again being manufactured by Tekno the Dutch model experts. This latest 500 piece special edition was due for release at the end of last year, then again it was due in January, but as yet nothing. Well that was until today, if you have been lucky enough to be one of the 500 names on the list then you have probably already received the following information on email. This was the update from Astran today;

To all supporters and collectors of Astran/Tekno 1:50 scale models.

“We have just received information from Tekno in Holland that upon final examination of the Scania 140 Drawbar, they have rejected the entire batch fresh in from China on the grounds that the quality is not acceptable.

We at Astran share your frustration, having waited such a long time for this new model. It is to Tekno’s credit that their standards are so high that they have taken this dramatic move. Most companies would have taken the easy option. I also have to add that I agree with their decision, having seen the first model off the line.

We will continue to keep the waiting list on file and will advise you when we have further information from Tekno. We understand this re-manufacturing process could take a long time, and at present Tekno are not prepared to say just how long it will be.

Thank you for your patience and support.”

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I’m sure we are all happy to be patient for such a wanted model and I’m sure Tekno must feel incredibly embarrassed about the situation. As far as I’m concerned, as long as it is still going to be produced then waiting is not a problem as long as the final standard is as good as we’ve all come to expect from Tekno.

Astran have told me that the current list of 500 models is full and even the waiting list is growing (over 50 names so far!). If you still want to add yourself to the waiting list please contact Astran directly. You can email sammy@astran-cargo.com. If your on the waiting list you will be pretty lucky to get a model. If your already one of the 500 lucky people but can no longer be one of the lucky, please contact Astran to let them you are no longer able to purchase one of the models then at least some one on the waiting list might get one.

So that’s the update, please be patient it will be worth the wait!! You can contact Astran direct or myself and I will pass your message on.

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Stranded Sailor MAN

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As you all know it was a touch windy last night especially round the coast of our delightful little Island. For those of you crossing the English Channel, it wasn’t much fun. Dover, Calais, Dunkerque, Newport and Dieppe all closed from yesterday evening til this morning. Not very festive of Mother Nature I know. Poor Steve Marsh was one of those stranded at DFDS in Dunkerque. The last boat sailed just as he arrived in Dunkerque yesterday afternoon/evening, may be a blessing in disguise! As you can see the dock was very quiet and not a lot was going on last night. 14 hours delay and he crossed this morning back to Blighty and hopefully home to Warrington before the big man gets stuck down the chimney!!

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Hella of a Bright Idea

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Doing the blog (when I can these days!) I make contact with all types of people, but in general they are all related in some way to trucks and trucking….apart from the President of Bakino Fasso who, as it goes he wants me to email him so he can donate $17,500,000 to the blog, all I’ve got to do is give him my details!! I digress. In this instance I heard from Phil Robinson, Business Development Manager for Hella Ltd in Central England no less. The current fashion in trucks seems to be the addition of at least 4 spotlights to the front end. Now it must kill the truck manufacturers to see that years of research for their trucks aerodynamics is just cast aside in favour of some spotlights, which in turn must make the likes of Phil Robinson, rub his hands together! As regular blog star, Steve Marsh, once said “I rate Hella lights. I Had 2 Hella Spots on my old truck and the only problem in 6 years was a relay. Now on my 3rd set of non-Hella spots in 7 years on the current wagon!” I think that says it all.

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Hella have now made their own Phone App to help you get some idea what your truck may look like with the addition of some spots. Here is the official Hella blurb;

“The HELLA ADDLIGHT APP is a simulation and presentation application for your
Smartphone and Tablet. Playfully and interactively experience your vehicle
equipped with HELLA’s auxiliary lights in a 360-degree view that is true to
detail. Functions;
Digital Headlight Assembly
Use the application’s navigation feature to select and interactively install the
auxiliary lights on either pre-adjusted passenger cars, commercial vehicles or
on a vehicle you have photographed. Choose specific auxiliary lights from our
model series. The customised position light and the colour fidelity of the LED,
halogen and xenon headlights, when they are switched on, virtually recreate
reality. The integration of social networks including an e-mail feature makes it possible to share your individual combination of vehicle and auxiliary lights with
friends.
360-Degree Product View
The 360-degree view features 3-dimensional views of our products. In addition to
comprehensive technical data and product drawings, users also have the option of simulating the lighting conditions for LED, xenon and halogen lights on a
stretch of road using an innovative illumination comparison.
Detailed information about a specific product range is available in the on-line
HELLA LightShow Catalogue.”

Basically you can upload a photo of your truck to the App, then you can select top or bottom bar, then you get to try all the spotlights in the Hella catalogue until you find the ones you like. You can also choose from 2 or 4 spots on your bar and you can even turn the lights on or off. It’s a good way to get an idea of what you like and what the truck looks like before you spend the best part of £1000 on a bar and spots.

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The picture below is a new Merc thats been done with the App, as you can see it does look pretty life like. Download it and have a bit of fun with it. You can click on the following links to download;

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hella.adlight
Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/addlight/id544244877?mt=8

Hello On-line Catalogue: http://www.hella.com/toc/en/18FEC9C111BA75B2B15E0C95D9B260DB.srv?view=VIndexFramesetJsp

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