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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in covltwt's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, December 10th, 2015
12:02 pm
My tweets
Thursday, June 26th, 2014
12:01 pm
My tweets
  • Wed, 19:01: Waiting for paperwork for my daily northern run.... But have coffee, and have had a nap ;)
Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
12:01 pm
12:00 am
More Class 1 work
So. I've a variety of driving work that has kept me in money, which is good.

Night shunting of trailers over in Birmingham for a few weeks helped with me trying to remember the angles to use, where to point the front and back ends. All good practice.

Initially I was in a Volvo 4x2 Euro spec unit with an introduction to foreign trailers, their customs and the appalling abuse of the legs of the trailers. This meant most of them had to be wound up at slow speed.

Slow speed on the legs is there so that if the trailer was dropped with the legs in the raised position whilst fully loaded you could still hand wind the legs back out to get the unit underneath to recover it.

When the trailer is picked up the high speed option is used but if the legs are bent, out of alignment or just abused then I don't have enough strength to wind them up.

One of the days the office manager came out and wound a trailer up for me. Said it woke him up certainly and reckoned it was his exercise for the day. That was on of 8 trailers I shifted over a 12h period, bearing in mind I was also the one hauling them to the unloading bays to unsecure, supervise the unloading and then re secure their reloaded cargo

It was interesting and for the three weeks I did enjoy myself. There were days when it was also quite quiet and I caught up in my on-line worlds that I frequent, then it was back on to Days with rigids delivering car parts.

Between the two shifts I had a day run with a 6x2 (tri axle unit) and a tri axle trailer with rear steer. It was delivering bricks for a local company to places with a forklift to lift them off. Another enjoyable day and one to prove that my confidence in these longer bendy vehicles is improving considerably.

Then, as with these things, an opportunity was presented to me and so I trundled off to a local haulier I had been told about who wanted drivers; electronically, of course, to start with. This got me an interview, and, a short while later, a job.

So. I now drive Class 1 refrigerated lorries for a local company. The money is pretty good, and I get to drive the usual varieties of units (the bits at front, also called tractors) and either extra long rear steer trailers or the regular kind.

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
12:01 pm
My tweets
  • Sun, 11:32: Hi to all those in 1st Bulko in their attempts to track me down ;) You know who you are and now I do too :)
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
12:16 pm
My tweets
  • Sat, 10:54: So I've been on local work these last few weeks. Rigids, 18t and above. Or rather, 18 and 26t is better to describe … http://t.co/evg1AyU3
10:00 am
So I've been on local work these last few weeks. Rigids, 18t and above. Or rather, 18 and 26t is better to describe them. I had been asking for early finishes on two days of the week to do other things elsewhere but that wasn't to be and left things stressful on those days because I was never managing to get back before 7pm even if the scheduled time was 5pm for me to be back! I've just found out they've got a new TM (transport manager) above the others so perhaps things might improve. Especially if you've got one set of vehicles running out in the day as well as the night, you need to manage them more effectively...

For example, yesterday my run out should have started at 7am but I didn't leave the yard until 9.30 due to the night driver late getting back, and so my scheduled delivery times were out by 2 hours. The furthest drop, up off M6 J42 rejected the load for missing the time window so effectively all that money and time wasted!

However, last night I wasn't rushing to get back and I've got the lurgy too, so coped OK in the afternoon and then back to the yard. Mayhem. There were at least 6 artics waiting to get unloaded, another 4 waiting to get around those 6 to get out and another 3 rigids trying to move around to get reloaded for their night runs.

I moved back to let one guy try and manoeuvre in and he reckoned he couldn't do it. I thought it could be done and so offered, he agreed as he said he couldn't do it therefore as an 'experienced driver' didn't think I'd manage either.

I then found out why he may have struggled. The reversing camera was just a white screen, so I switched that off. I pulled into the gap between the parked trailer and sthe queing trailers and reversed back with the turn on and after about 2 shunts got the back end curving around whilst the front were a hairs breadth away from those parked trailers...

Lined it up nicely on the bay and left him to it. He thanked me and I thanked him for the chance to practice manoeuvring. He told me I might be good on this contract as it was often reversing into tight places. I told him about one I got stuck with with an artic not too long ago, and most practice to reverse and get it right is good. Even better with him as a banksman and I did point this out.

So then I got my truck into an unloading area, outside of the regular place and pulled the curtains for the 16t of ADR spec corrosives to be pulled off by the forkies and returned to the warehouse then off to checkout.

So. The trucks.

The 26t and some of the 18t are liveried by the company, but there are a few 18t and one 26t that isn't liveried but those are all day cabs or extended day cabs.

26t Scania rear lift (some with rear steer) sleeper mid roof cab. 4 over 4 manual box, air suspension, '08 plates, dirty curtains, poles that struggle to go in and out and the load bearing straps inside are either damaged or tucked out of the way. I try to use them as much as possible but a lot have been abused too much. The other drawback is that when I stretch out to reach the adjusting buckles, I often 'untuck' all the upper clothes like t-shirts and fleece base layers leaving a cold patch just below my stomach (which is sizable anyway).

18t Scania day cab, '61 plate, liveried, often on London. No air suspension, 4 over 4 or 6 speed box. Curtains more decent but turning circle still 'interesting'.

18t Daf day cab, '61 plate, non liveried, London, 6sp box, new and decent

26t Iveco day cab, '08 plate, liveried, autobox, air suspension.

The newer ones have the load bearing straps plus they have load bearing curtains. A lot have ADR plates but the gear needs to be checked each time as some of it can go walkies!!!

I'm now 'ongoing' there and hopefully be there after Christmas, but we'll see how things go. It would be nice that my ADR is helping me keep in work and so far every day is more practice on it.

So. Now at 20 months on Class 2, 9 months with Class 1. I'd think after it past 12m on Class 1 more doors would open but but then again, I'll be lacking on the practice again by then...

Still. I have work at the moment and if I can shift this lurgy this weekend then I've had some tips of where to try and get some work. I don't know if I'd like to work at this place, it seems so disorganised for such a large company! If I'm starting at 6-7 am I'd like to be finished by 6pm. Is it too much to ask for a regular 12h shift, and effectively a 11hr paid duty (well, 11h 15m sans breaks). 50-56 hours a week. Of course, they offen have a quiet day mid week so at the moment I'm only getting 45 or so hours a week...

Current Mood: sick
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
12:31 pm
8:32 am
Well. So that job didn't last long. I got 2 weeks, almost, out of them but when their T&Cs turned up I felt that they were taking advantage, a tough decision in this job market. However, my job is to drive and not underwrite their insurance!

So I'm back on the agency as of last week. This time I'm trying to stick to one agency; makes life easier and it builds up a rapport with them to hopefully keep me in work.

I had two days with HIAB on a class 2 in a rather nice Scania day cab, an older analogue tacho model but all the same, it was work. After that I went into a general haulage company running out of MMTE (Middlemarch Trading Estate), also known as Siskin Parkway; the industrial estate up near the airport.

On my first morning with them when they photocopied up my licence I offered up that new ADR licence I had had a month or so back and that sealed my fate for coming back in again as they said they were desperate for ADR on Class 2.

I need to have had my licensc for 2 years, which is why they can't use me on Class 1, but for Class 2 I'm at the 18m level, so a deal has been done and there I am.

Their Class 2's are mostly Scania sleeper cab 26 tonners with a 4 over 4 gearbox. Drives well enough. They've also got a pair of 18t, new 62 plates, day cabs and when I've gone on those, I've been down to London most days.

Having spent the day there yesterday I can see why most drivers don't like it. Whilst I wasn't doing the blue arse fly routine I was on the go the whole time and for my last collection was running a bit late, but then had the drive back cross country to meet the M1 and homewards. Made it back with minutes to spare on my drive time only to be told that I wasn't needed today, quiet day tomorrow they said, the agency was told at lunchtime.

So. Home today. Annoying but so be it. Using the time to get some cleaning done, tidying up, and preparation for that Raynet event on the weekend ;)

Have to dig up some photos of these vehicles for you ;) I'm sure there somewhere :D

Current Mood: complacent
Friday, November 16th, 2012
12:16 pm
Sunday, November 11th, 2012
12:00 pm
Full Time Class 1
So. My first day on the artics had a late start, 10am or there abouts.

Got in, was given the keys to a unit and told the registration and off I went. A few details were exchanged and I was given a run sheet, the address of where I was going and where I had to report too, and so off to the unit.

It was a 6x2 MAN XXL at 4.2m tall with a mid-lift axle and three steps to get into it. Quite high off the road.

7.5's have one or two steps. Class 2 have 1-3 steps but Class 1 seem to have 2-4 steps to climb up into the cab.

Popped my bag in, extracted my snooper and set it up then did the checks, starting part way through to build up the air.

Finally done, I headed out of the yard. I knew the place I wanted was up the A38 and so opted for sticking to that for most of it. Later on I found quicker routes but for now, I'd not try and get smart or something.

So 45 minutes later I pulled into the Tesco Lichfield Distribution Center at Fradley Park. I followed some trucks in, parked up and went to the nearby counter to find out I was at the wrong place, so back in the truck around to the other side.

The place was pretty massive. Over 200 bays, plus parking areas opposite for other trailers and units. Regular height as well as double deckers. Stobart were in attendance, to be expected, but there were an awful lot of subcontractors.

Finally got to the right goods in and saw another company driver so we went in together. I followed his lead and soon was registered for my run having used the relevant words.

They gave me the paperwork that had the trailer number, location, seal details plus what was loaded. I also had 'store risk assessments' for deliveries. I reminded them I had no 'cowbell' and thus couldn't use the tail lift function so got two stores with docks.

Off I went to find my trailer. On Foot.

Apparently this wasn't a good thing, and was told off by a laughing shunter. He then followed me back to my unit, sped off to find my trailer and signaled me over so I could couple up.

Backed towards it, dropped the suspension, backed under, reset the suspension and then reversed to lock the pin. A pair of forward pulls followed by getting out to do the rest. Took the keys with me.

Safety clip in on the fifth wheel, which was a pain to get in. Stiff and unwieldy, working in a grease encrusted place but it was sorted eventually. Airlines in, furthest away first. The suzies on the MAN were clipped out of the way and were, on that one, quite tidy.

Attached them in, and then did the legs, and finally grabbing the number plate and paperwork, this time without my gloves and went back to stick the plate in and get the seal number. The trailer and seal number matched, which was always good, then the legs were wound up and I did the lights test.

Finally pulled away from the bay and headed out. Missed the weigh bridge, didn't even recognise it for what it was and left at the exit.

Of course, being slow my code for the gate didn't work. It was timed for 45m, and I'd missed that. However, I showed the code to the small camera in the speaker phone and they let me out.

I had to follow the Tesco run sheet and not my own SatNav, so for the first day I did.

Down the A38, onto the A5 then across to the M6 north of the M54.

Driving the unit solo I found it bounced and jerked over the road but the acceleration was incredible. With the trailer it was a lot more stable and quite nice to drive. Soon got into the handling and road style of taking a bit more room and checking out the dangly thing at the back, checking I wasn't waiping out kerbs or old ladies or anything but all was going well.

I already knew the trucks had trackers so kept it legal, as one should, and even opted for a break at services for a 15m nap as the tiredness had crept up. I also wasn't as fast as I could be but I arrived at the first store, Congleton in Cheshire later in the afternoon.

The Risk Assessment had me driving in, screwing it around (turning tight so the trailer pivoted on the rear axles and also scrubbed the tarmac/ground) and reversing onto a bay. Well. That wasn't going to happen. Maybe if there wasn't any cages and the yard was a 1/4 more bigger!

I saw the yardman and we chatted and he said I had to reverse it back in a U shape then straighten up and get on the bay....

When the other truck pulled off I started my maneuver. Pulled out into the middle of the road (3 lane width with chevrons in the middle) and then started my reverse, cranking the trailer round as much as I could.

The first was not hard enough and so had to completely pull it forwards to try again, and the same again., This tri axle trailer didn't like turning... But I was moving backwards, and when I got where I thought the wall was I pulled it forwards to straighten up and then to be able to get more angle on the reverse.

I took several shunts and the yard man patiently stood in the road blocking any cars passing. The few that tried it he clearly went over and had words. He was an older bloke who later said he'd been doing it a while.

Finally cleared the road and took another shunt to line it up then went back to check on the layout behind me. It wasn't too bad and the yardman cheered me up to tell me he couldn't possibly do it, it was too complicated. I had already told him I was new at this and he'd said take all the time I wanted, there was no rush in this world!

So we got it on the bay and used the dock leveler to bridge the gap and started to offload. It didn't take long but when I emerged it was raining, the heated mirrors didn't work and I was hungry.

I'd missed most of my slots but had called into Lichfield earlier to tell them the delays and they said just to crack on and thanks for telling them.

Pulling off the bay was relatively easy, and it was around the next roundabout to pull into the garage there for a sarnie and drink and to muse over my first reverse in a U shape and checkout the map.

The next wasn't far but for some reason they didn't want me to use the direct route but take the motorway, and with another call in to let them know my ETA off I trundled to Kidsgrove in Staffs.

The roads were narrow but I was getting into the handling now, the exhaust brakes and auto box. The front fogs, sorry, driving lamps, helped to line up on the road but after a while I didn't need them and went back to the regular headlamps.

So, I went back to the M6 then off onto the A500 and followed the plan. 700 yards before the store was a 13ft bridge, and the trailer I was in was just a tad taller.

I pulled into the waiting area and before even leaving the cab the delivery gate opened, but I went over for a look first and found quite a big yard.... Saw the guy and within a short space of time was pulling into the yard.

Ahh. Right. Well, actually, when it's got an artic in it, it's pretty small...

Several shunts and then got it back onto the bay. Missed the wheel guides but eventually docked and in with the paperwork to take the rest of the load off.

Now, with Tesco they have trollies, dollies and pallets. The first two move with wheels, the latter you need a pump truck, or pallet truck. When they secure them they have load bearing curtains and every row has a cross of straps across it, ratchet straps to hold it in place. Left upper to right lower and vice versa. Release them and then hook them up on their own side and just tidy it up out of the way. The bottom can't be detached, only the top hook.

Also, at this store, a dolly of 2L water bottles went over, possibly not enough shrink wrap or something but we spent about 15 minutes picking it all up and repacking in cases before I was done. I couldn't take back any empties as I didn't have a tail lift so I left the bay and pulled it forwards, screwed it around with the help of a 3 point turn before easing out of the gateway. I parked in the tanker bay area and went over to speak to a driver from the same company before closing the back door and heading off.

I stopped down the road for my half hour break but was too rattled to rest much but managed 10 minutes of chill time before getting back out onto the road.

This time I took the A500, A50 then A38 to get back as being Friday Evening figured the M6 would be worse than the delays i had going up.

Back to the yard at Lichfield, dropped the trailer and let them know how much time I had left, which whilst enough would have put me over my 15h duty time. Another driver was nearby and after a bit of a chat I followed him back. I asked if he'd stick to the speed limits, he said he would but found out that he classed a dual carriageway as having a 'fast as possible' limit and the same with other roads.

I followed him back but not at his breakneck speeds and met up closer to Brum where he'd stopped for something he should have done at the depot, then followed him into the yard. It took less time than I had thought possible but felt it was too dangerous for me to try again.

Parked up, pulled the card and sorted out my gear. Downloaded my card in their reader, left the keys and paperwork and departed with my car.

1000 to 2215 (10am to 10.15pm), 12hr15 shift with 45m break so 11 1/2 hours.
The '07 plate MAN had half a million kms on the clock already but I'd done less than 300km today.

Saturday had me with another 10am start, also on a Tesco run. This one was quicker, I got up there using the back roads to join the A38 then managed to get my trailer, check it over, hook up and head out within the 45 minutes. I was even reminded of the weigh bridge and how it works, and so found out that the tractor was 8t solo and with that trailer on it was 24t. Enough to have the tag lifted so it would handle better and then, off I went.

One store, one hit, and just up the road. A decent sized yard and got there on schedule, screwed it around a bit better and eventually after numerous shunts got it in the right place. I had to get it over as further as possible to make it to the bay before straightening up. However, I found that looking back out of the window had me getting confused again of which way to turn the steering wheel, so just used the mirrors which I found were a lot easier, and the planning was also a bit better.

Onto the bay almost, then stopped to remove the seal on the back door and open it. Best that way he said, and then onto the bay.

This one had a lift on it so unloading was slower but 2 hours later we'd emptied it, and reloaded the empty cages before I was cleared to leave. I pulled it off the bay then did the back door and away I went. The yardman had showed me the new thing, how to place the empties and where to strap to secure them, and off I went.

I stopped on the A38 for a break, then back to the distribution center. Once there, I managed to drop the trailer without too much fuss (only 4 shunts this time) and drove around the front for my de-breif, re-breif and next load.

This one was Redditch, I read the plan, saw the docs, worked out where I was going and headed off. Took a break at Hopwood park before heading onto the store.

So this was a bit of a cock up. They had no working bell so I had use the horn, then once they opened it I should have stopped, walked down and asked them to leave the gate open so I could pull out forwards and straighten up. But no, I didn't know I was allowed and so spent about 20 minutes in a very tight space to get it lined up to make the reverse onto the bay.

The truck ran low on air from repeated break use, the clutch warned me it was less than efficient and it didn't like choosing gears but I got it on the bay after another 20 minutes... Later, back at Lichfield chatting to one of the drivers he said that they mostly lined it up out of the gate but it was fine with a 'city trailer' which was shorter than my 13.6 meter trailer!

Unloaded everything, no empties so ran back empty to the yard and got a full day in.

Over time today on maneuvering in the yard, 15h 03m. Silly me. 380kms today. Had to take a WTD 15 min break 30 minutes before getting back to the yard so either I'd be over my WTD time or my duty time... Which is worse?

Got back, parked up, paperwork left and finished at 1am, home for 2am thanks to the M6S having roadworks...

Two days on Tesco delivering to stores. Quite an eye-opener, but interesting and fun all the same.

So a 15hr shift, 14 1/4 paid

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, November 10th, 2012
12:16 pm
8:38 am
New Job
So. The day before yesterday, Thursday, I started my new job. Got in there for 7am and found I was in a nice 'new' 61 plate Renault MIdlum 18t curtainsider. Auto gearbox and pretty nice to drive.

Sent out on 'General Haulage' to shift stuff for one of their clients which turned out to be building material. Now, I know about the rules of securing the load but you can't really strap down insulation and stuff can you?

So I strapped the pallets to pull them forwards to the headboard and then went off to my first drop. Local in Brum, which was handy. Customer umm'ed and ahh'ed and said he thought he'd cancelled it, and could I bring it back the next day. I didn't really want this on for my run out to Kiddie as it would cause complications later. So I told him that if I did he might get a restocking fee, and a redelivery fee charged to him, and surprisingly enough, he took it.

Handballed the 10 packs of 6 sheets of insulation board packed together then thanked the guy who helped me to unload and trundled off to Kidderminster.

A quick shufti of the map and decided that going via Bromsgrove was a bit of a no-no as I was not far from the centre of Brum so headed out on the A435 (I think), crossed a few places I recognised and remembered and ended up at Hoo Fields industrial estate, or something like that.

After a short wait I was unloaded by the forkie. In the meantime the office guys rang me and pointed out quite bluntly they knew where I was and the truck had tracking. I replied I was used to tracking for the last 8 years and at least they won't be ringing me asking where I am ;)

Once that was off I didnt bother with the straps for just the pallets and just hotfooted it back to their yard. 435 then the M5 M6 A38. Relatively clear roads whilst I tried to discover which magic button did the cruise control, although by the time I found out it I had reached the roadworks of the m6...

Back at their yard I reloaded for the afternoon stuff; all local around the Birmingham Conurbation. Two in Sparkhill and one in Perry Barr.

Glad I did it in that order as the first two, whilst difficult to reach and manoeuvre to thanks to cars parked on junctions, corners of roads and generally silly places meant that manoeuvring this rigid HGV without fine clutch control took a fair bit of patience. But I managed it and escaped from those places. The last one I was told the guy I had to collect the cheque from was '5 minutes away' so I opted not to deliver until the payment arrived. The staff were polite and helpful and even offered a coffee at 15 minutes. I said I'd be back in half an hour and take a tacho break. So I had a half hour snooze in the cab and when I returned it was back to the '5 minutes' for this guy, so I took the offer of coffee then.

Another 30 minutes later, including a call into the company explaining my delay and eventually the guy turned up and wrote the cheque for not an insignificant account. So, curtains pulled, cargo off, and that was me empty. Tidied the straps up and back to the client with the paperwork. Finished earlier than expected, about 4pm back with that client, then back the 15m to the yard. Parked up and saw the office bods before heading home.

Didn't actually make it until later. The plan was to work my way through Brum and join the A45 or something, but around the Garretts Green, A456/A452/M42/A45 area of B'ham it was gridlocked, and as it had taken me 45m to get there (!!!!) I opted instead to go back via Coleshill to Bulkington and joined up with the Scouts there.

Tried out my night vision and went for a 20 minute walk to stretch my legs after all that sitting down then helped with the Scouts for the evening in Bulkington. Took a few photos and then at 9 headed home for Food with Dad before heading straight back out to the Pub in Lord Street to pass on my news of the Job.

So, yeah, First Day and on a Class 2. Tomorrow, Friday, would be a Class 1 working for Tesco, 10am start...
Friday, November 9th, 2012
11:00 pm
The Friday
So. Friday last week was the first actual day on artics for me.

Started at about 10am and was given the keys to a white unmarked, or rather, a non liveried MAN TGA XXL 26.440 6x2 auto. As with all their vehicles, it's pretty massive from the outside and the inside is really quite roomy. If I had been tramping, this would have been for me for those runs. A 2007 model, it had half a million klicks (kilometers) on the clock already. After a bit of faffing in the yard, mostly to get fuel and sort stuff out I was on my way up to Lichfield, running traction out of the Tesco distribution center.

I soon found there was quite a lot of power that could be put down on the back wheels and also that it was pretty unstable with the mid lift down, so that came up and I stopped getting wheelspins coming off a junction. It still felt pretty precarious up there and I was unused to the power it had on tap, taking my time at junctions. Also cars were doing their usual thing of racing around corners and not bothering with indicators.

Eventually I pulled into Tesco and after getting the right transport office they gave me the paperwork and trailer details and off I went. I walked down to spot what I wanted and was intercepted by a shunter who explained how useless I was and I should use the unit to search rather than on foot so off I went. He also intercepted me when I found my trailer as i should couple up immediately THEN do the checks I needed, so that was done too.

No faults found, everything checked and cautiously pulled off.

I found it was a lot more stable now on the road and didn't buck around as much and so with a bit of faffing I headed for the exit. Of course, by now my code to exit didn't work but I got out through pleading ignorance from security and showed them the timed out code. I only had 45m from when it was issued to when it expired. Oops!

With my briefing pack I was given maps, directions and recommended routes and so followed them as I got on the A38, A5, M6 then off up at J17 to Congleton.

When I got to that store, Tesco Congleton I found the site plan was clearly in error and it was verified by checking with the yardman. The plan wanted me to pull in and screw it around before reversing on a bay. The yard was also full of empty cages with rubbish so that was out. The yardman told me I had to reverse off the road, in a U turn and back into their yard. Oh great.

So eventually the other guy pulled out, he stopped the traffic and I started by reverse. He had told me it was OK to go up on the pavement and so did so.

I had to pull off, re straighten and try again half way through. I just buggered up the reverse, getting the line in. A few cars past but he held most of them back and I tried again. This time I took a shunt forwards to straighten it, then back again to near the wall on the nearside, the side I couldn't see, and then another shunt forwards. Tried to miss that thoughfully placed signpost from getting personal with the curtain and then forwards again, bbut this time going back the back end had cleared the bay and it swung into the right position. I pulled forwards again to straighten up and pushed it back to the bay, finally clearing the road and the the yard guy came back pointing out that I was still brilliant, as he couldn't have done it himself.

Straightened it up a few times before getting within 10ft of the bay and stopped and got out with the paperwork, he checked the seal, broke it and then I reversed back onto the bay and shut it down.

Went inside and took off half the load, got the paperwork sorted and back out to the truck.

Next stop was Kidgrove. For this one I was told I must follow the plan, and for some reason they didn't want me taking the A34. Of course, if I'd read the document more I might have noticed that low bridge but my brain wasn't working I guess, stress. So, I followed it back to the motorway then down to the A500 and to the store that way.

My SatNav was warning me of this low 13ft bridge (14ft truck) as I got closer and closer and when I pulled into the store entrance I was a mere 400 yards away from it! Hence the reason why they wanted me to use that route!

This yard had more space and it took me less time to get on the bay, but still a while. Got to remember to turn the wheels the right way! Even so, I got there and before too long I was in the back releasing the straps of each line of cages to get the load off.

Finally, empty, I headed out. I spotted another driver from the company and parking my 60ft artic in the fuel tanker bay I went over for a chat, leaving just the hazards on. Thankfully the engine restarted after my chat as the other reason I was delayed this morning was a flat battery.

I stopped down the road for a break, finishing my 45 there before heading back out onto the road, refreshed after a doze and some food.
Monday, November 5th, 2012
12:01 pm
My tweets
11:04 am
Oppourtunities and unwellness
A bit more experience under the belt. Last week I was mostly shuttling rigids around, various sizes etc. I had a few trips out in artics and that was interesting too. Pulled into the wrong carpark in an artic and had to reverse out onto a main road that was busy at the time. Raining too, and my back was unwell.

This week I was due to go out with a company. I had previously had an interview and assessment and the latter for that was borderline so I've got a day of going out with one of their drivers, unpaid, to see how it goes.

Last night I came down with a bug. Fever, internal central heating, and felt weird. This morning it came back in force in the form of a trick to keep me within a few meters of the loo, so I spoke to them and arranged it for tomorrow instead. I shall move over to immodium later. I have to be careful that I don't OD on that, as the consequences are best not thought about but I have had such events before and one has to be careful.

The job isn't the best pay wise but then what is these days. They're offering a flat rate of £8ph for days, nights, weekends and OT. For that figure it's understandable why some drivers don't want to be working nights or weekends but I can cope with it, I have proved that before. And it's work, isn't it. Money coming in. 5 x 12h days is about £500 gross, so probably about £350 take home depending on taxes and the like, which is doable....

I just need to get there. Going ahead is OK, not a problem. Reversing with the bendy bit. Now THATs a problem, but practice is what makes it, right? ;)

So that's it parked up one morning at Warwick Services. I was heading from Derbyshire to Southampton (M1, A42, M42, M40, A34 and that last lump of motorway I've forgotten the number for. Possibly also the M271 to the port.

From the other side. VRM removed as I do that a lot on my photos... Drove OK, quite liked the Iveco ;)
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
12:00 pm
My tweets
  • Fri, 17:22: @birder1951 eh up ;) Nice to catch up the other weekend. Got some good fots too, Clive has them ;) But copies can be passed to you too ;) EY
Sunday, October 7th, 2012
1:20 pm
Last week I spent the entire week driving an articulated heavy goods vehicle, also known as Class 1 (the licence type) that has now become Category C+E (Heavy Goods Vehicle plus trailer (articulated).

Bendi Buses whilst are articulated could be driven on a rigid bus licence (PCV/PSV/ Cat D) because the two halves cannot be seperated and rejoined by the driver. The engine is often in the rear in those too.

So. I was in a 2005 Iveco Stralis 6x2 with a midlift (one axle driven, 3 in total and the middle axle on the tractor unit (the bit at the front) can be raised or lowered depending on the weight of the trailer. A three axle trailer would take this combination weight up to 44 tons. Slept / ate / drank / drove in the cab all week... Staying away from base every night and moving around the country is called 'Tramping'.


Eastbound and Around

So. Monday. The weekend had me planning and doing. I had an event on Sunday that I was helping out at, a prior agreement and an annoyance that I’d missed the shops to get those final things… But you can take too much can’t you? It was the little things I was short of but they could be picked up during the week

I had 3 lists. Work, Clothing, Cutlery and food. The work stuff I mostly carried anyway, with the exception that I now carried a laptop and some extra electrical cables (usb etc). The food and cutlery was mostly tinned but had a few extra things in there too. Remembered the stove, pans and even a new collapsible washing up bowl. The stove and hot drinks gear stayed in the car anyway most of the time, the same with my work bag and HiVis stuff.

I was prodded away from my lists at Noon on Saturday to help a friend without a car get up to the nearby airport for a flyby of an Avro Vulcan. We managed to get the same spot as the last time we were up there, that time for a Lancaster some years back. After that, I happened upon Go Outdoors and, well, followed the advice from here and purchased a duvet-type sleeping bag.

Sunday evening had me packing it all up, sorting and checking it and I still managed to forget my ‘backup’ torch. I think I popped it in its holster and, er, left it on the shelf. End of the week I found it at home next to the fridge. Oops!

So Monday had me at 0330 at the wagon in the transport yard within the city boundaries. I was quite surprised how many were here, nearly 20 of them, all of them pulling skellies. Some with boxes and some without, but all were Iveco’s and of the 2005 vintage.

Iveco Stralis 44 TonnerIveco Stralis

Brain fade here because the unit was soft coupled, as it was called by the other drivers and, wow, paper tacho’s! Shoved my gear in, and found it seemed a little cramped from the images I’d seen, but these things happen. It also had a full thickness mattress inside, in the area of the lower bunk and the top bunk hooked away. Later found out the regular driver had got it in himself and it certainly was comfortable overnight!

Grabbed my work coat, hi vis fleece, regular fleece and the waistcoat fleece. The latter two by mistake and it was only 300 miles later when I was looking for my Bluetooth earpiece I wondered what the heck I was thinking at 4am to stick all those fleeces in! The earpiece is in the car, and not in my work bag. Alas.

So, soft coupled. It’s what another driver called it. Kingpin locked in, but nothing else, so I just followed that through to couple the rest up. Another driver fired up the engine for me and much to my annoyance shoved his foot hard on the power to build up the air. Perhaps its just me but I feel that engines shouldn’t be abused when they’ve sat overnight. I’m certainly the most active first thing when I wake up so why should the truck engine be? Double checked everything on the trailer but still took it carefully. Wouldn’t be a good start to break things this early.

Still, soon we were going. A large strange behemoth, it even moved after I remembered to take the trailer brake off…

A brief conversation about the nearest Keyfuels place and the suggestion to follow a particular driver. Thankfully I know the difference between Southampton and Felixstowe as I was heading south and he was going east, at which point I decided I knew better and came off the motorway onto the dual carriageway. I’m glad I did because I spotted one of their trucks in a garage and turned around and came back. Not many 55 plate Iveco’s with containers around that time of the morning.

Next problem, where the heck is reverse. So it’s a semi auto/auto. Left button for neutral, right for forward gear and then lever forwards or backwards to go up/down gears. Reverse? Last one of these I drove, you pressed the thumb switch and then pulled it back. No joy, and I spent about 10 minutes trying to find it. Even rang the boss who gave me the number for the fitter who was already out and about. Thankfully another driver pulled in and showed me ‘the collar’ thing which, to be honest, I hadn’t noticed.

Reversed up, lined up and stuck about £450 of diesel in the tank before pulling off and letting him get his, then took off southbound.

A46, M40, A34 and by which time I was feeling a bit tired. Clearly a wimp, having spent a week in the classroom and before that a week of relaxed late duties I had seriously got out of these early starts and stuff. Had to stop twice for a 15m snooze and so coupled with that, traffic and having never been to Southampton Docks before I was late. It rained a fair whack and the mirrors were useless. Turns out the heated element, didn’t.

Pulled in at Gate 10 in Southampton and followed the directions given… and went to the passenger terminal. The place I was looking for didn’t seem to exist, and after pulling in I found that the previous information was clearly incorrect and they suggested another name, of which I’d seen. Pentalver, yeah, their site was next to the first roundabout. So now pointing the wrong way I had to turn around.

Eventually having discounted numerous places to ‘spin’ the artic and trailer around in I found an important thing. A roundabout, then hotfooted it back down the road to the Pentalever depot. Pulled in and stalled it. Never mind, I mostly wanted to be here, right? Handbrake on and left it, wondered down to the security hut but they were busy so saw the guy behind in a Daf 85 daycab who ‘advised’ me on the intricacies they wanted here, such as taking off the twistlocks and opening the door to check it was empty. It was, awesome.

The checkpoint guy came over and confirmed it was empty, gave me bits of paper which went in the paperwork wallet in the cab and around I went to the offload area, where a big forklift lifted it off, and wow, the vehicle was responsive again. Left the yard carefully, and once outside cleaned all the mirrors before heading off to the next site.

So, I made a mistake here. Several mistakes happen, but life’s a learning curve. I’d been texted my next plan, and missed a vital postcode and it was only when I had got mostly to Eastleigh I remembered another word he’d used with me. Totton. Checked again on the map and cursed myself. Clearly I needed to go to the first place first to pickup the box to carry the stuff…. Afterall, how was I going to load the stuff to an empty skelly?

Almost a comedy of errors, I was cursing myself somewhat.

The place I had to pickup the box lacked outward signage but was called ‘Eldapoint’ or something and the web furnished a more valid postcode but that only took me to the main road outside. So I’d come down the A35, back at the roundabout heading towards Redbridge / M271 and before the bridge taking a left turn down this road. Van sales on the right corner. Technically I should have turned right under the bridge, but didn’t see the sign and didn’t want to go somewhere I couldn’t get out. So I carried on. After a short while I came to a cross roads, with a 7.5t weight limit ahead, and a wide road on my left, so I went up there. Under the bridge the road had a width and weight restriction up ahead.

Right. Reverse. In daylight, around a corner…

Now it’s easy once you’ve done it but… Anyway, so I managed to let the traffic pass then reversed back into the access road for the train station carpark. I tried to keep it in the middle so as not to let the overhang take out something I hadn’t seen in the semi-usable mirrors and had to take a couple of shunts forwards to straighten it up.

I am often worried with reversing if I haven’t got out and looked in that I might take out something on the hidden nearside that I hadn’t seen or even that the swing is large enough to cause a problem. Experience and practice is what I need!

Bunch of cars past, couple walkers then indicating left pulled out. At the junction ahead I saw a car accelerating (bonnet rose sharply) to make the gap as cars were parked on his side but I was just taking it carefully to give myself enough room to pull out. By the time I had cleared the junction behind the guy clearly realised he’d have to stop and even I heard the wet rubber sliding sound as he proved he didn’t have ABS. I guess I could have reversed, if all those people behind in the carpark hadn’t taken this chance to rush up behind me.

Back on the main road I spotted another truck ahead, with a container going in where I should have really and so followed him. Once through I spoke to the security guy and trundled off to collect the box. They were nice and helpful about it. More puddles and mud but out again. Boss rang, explained my mistake and that was why I was late and so hurried up to Ford at Eastleigh to collect the cargo.

The semi automatic gearbox has it’s moments and telling it to down change whilst in Auto clearly wasn’t a smart move and the gearbox controller had it’s huff on a roundabout. Yaay! Not.

Still, eventually got to the client. Chap not happy, very late and worse, I couldn’t reverse worth a damn. No, seriously. My 3rd reversing of the day was from the outside into a building and the mirrors were naff. Relatively bright light outside and a dark hole inside. 7 shunts later, maybe more and I got it close enough to open the rear doors and then eventually it was on the ramp. The guy helped out with the trailer suspension and showed me the seals I needed. Whilst he was loading, I found them. Helpfully hidden under a pile of rubbish.

I like a tidy truck I do, I like to turn up, sling my gear in, make sure all the regular bits work as they should and get on with work in whatever I’m driving. What I don’t like is having to dig through the rubbish stuffed in side pockets, in door pockets, the footwell, the bunk just to find what I need… So I had already started the cleanup operation at the various places I’d been stopped at when needing to access certain parts of the lorry….

So I found the security pins for the back door and shortly after loading, locking up, and securing the door I was off. Destination, Felixstowe. Also known as, other side of the country!

Rang the boss, updated him and gave him the times.

M something towards London, the M25, then up around and the A12 to Felixstowe.

Stopped at some services on the way and really buggered up the reverse. Winchester Services I think. This wasn’t the first time, I pull in tired and wake up by having to find a place to stop. Failed to get it in the box and was cursing myself but wanted a cuppa and a doze so went around the block. Was tempted just to leave there and then, feeling a tad peeved off with the world but mostly my parking skills, or lack of.

But I went around for another try and pulled in next to a van and behind another lorry and set the kettle going. Kimchi for lunch today, so after adding hot water and covering it over and making a fresh coffee I spotted a pair of trucks leaving, and so pulled into that space, to find I could drive to the front to make a forward exit.

10 minute nap followed by food and I could carry on. I was sure if I was doing this all the time I’d get into a routine and could manage to drive for longer without needing a break… I had to stop every 90 minutes for a short nap, I really was out of shape for this!!! Finally reached the yard at Felixstowe and squeezed it in between a lorry and a car and only needed 3 shunts. But it was close enough….

Curtains drawn, tidied the cab, grabbed my HiVis and over to the security hut for paperwork and to be nice to the security guard. A few friends rang so I took the chance for a stroll around the truck park on my mobile before returning to the cab for food and bed…. Supper was a plain pot noodle. Last of the noodle based food but I was too tired to do anything more complicated…

0330 – 1800, 9 hours off

Day 2

Started at 0340 this morning, having had over 9 hours off. Need to better plan my whole getting up stuff. Perhaps make a list to remind myself what to do and what not to do. Clearly waking at 3am, putting the night heater on and wrapping back up in the sleeping bag shouldn’t be done, should it.

Anyway, so off down to the main gate for the port, then left and to the port Police station. Eventually got access to the building with a polite but grumbling Police officer. He’d come off patrol to sort out my RHIDES card because of civil service cut backs and the like. The previous afternoon I’d had to stop and pass the details to my controller from my drivers licence to get it pre-arranged.

Didn’t take long so back out to the lorry, and drove around to the port. If ever a suggestion for a port, Felixstowe needs more signs. Having entered into the south entrance for Trinity (don’t look at me like that please) I was told to go in and turn it, but getting to the next gate was told I couldn’t do that and to leave normally. I couldn’t find the exit either, so I just turned somewhere else and followed the first advised plan. Finally back out from South gate and found Trinity North gate, and was told about the computer system and what I had to record and put in. Not too difficult when you’ve done it once, then into the port. I was given a map but did ask how to decipher it and away I went.

So. I found the lane and section I wanted and knew not to be in the yellow hatched area for safety but the box was bigger than the trailer… So I asked another driver, who also told me that I was in the transit lane not the loading lane. As the crane was quite far away I reversed it over onto the nearside at an angle then worked my way over to the box. Quite a few times I had to stop, into neutral, handbrake on and out to check it was lined up but I thought it was.

Crane turned up, lowered his frame but couldn’t grip the box. Not having seen one before in operation I didn’t know how it worked but he tried a few times and it wouldn’t engage and he just sat there. When the cranes move bells and horns go off with the flashing lights but I didn’t know what the other horn meant. After a moment the frame came off and he drove off, in a straight line in his lane. It was as tall as a house, had 4 wheels either side, each one larger than a tractor wheel and the width of two together. A big upside down U shape with the cradle in the middle to lift/lower the containers and move them into the stacks they were assigned. Their other side of the vehicle was on the far side of the stack of containers.

So I just waited and after 10 minutes he returned. Same thing repeated again, but at the horn I leaned out and asked if he wanted me to move. He sounded annoyed yet deadpan telling over a loudspeaker me he couldn’t move. Great. Never mind. Took it back a little then forward a little then the frame finally went on with a loud clang, and the box was lifted away. The truck lifted as well and it felt almost naked without a box on. Pulled away and found it was much easier to drive now. That mid axle was still down and was noisier now on the road but so was the empty skelly.

Pulled out and had to go back to the access road before I could go against the directional flow of the trucks in the lanes to get to a much lower number to load. The ‘slot’ was for 0500-0600 and at 0555 I pulled into the slot with the crane already waiting there and had a toot, so stopped. Crane lifted the box over and slotted it in first time and everything sank down, so grabbing my hard hat popped out and did all the twist locks and waved up a thanks. Got a toot of the horn then as I got back in the cab he was moving off straight away and I had to find my way out.

So that took a while, lack of signs again and the map didn’t make much sense. However, I followed a few other trucks and eventually I made it to the exit and the map made more sense now.

Leaving was easier, the computer and the guy for the checks was also easier and I thought I was on a roll, then pulled out and found the traffic queue. 15 minutes later I’d past the last checkpoint and was on the road heading for the A14. Mr SatNav kept me going in the right direction as I headed out towards Middle England. Next drop, Newport Shropshire.

Stopped the other side of the bridge to make a coffee and have a 10 minute nap and back on the A14. Stopped at Brampton Hut for breakfast, which with my planning had made it to be muesli and milk, milk bought fresh from the services. The cool bag I had didn’t keep the milk cool from what I had bought from home and it had gone off. It was time to tackle the fridge also!

The previous user had left some foodstuffs in it and it had gone liquid and smelly, so with a bit of care and lots of kitchen roll, carrier bags and antiseptic wipes I cleaned it out the best I could and lined it with kitchen towel to soak up the last of the moisture, with the top open and the windows open. Binned the smelly carrier bag of rubbish and stuck in the fresh milk sitting on some more kitchen towel, just in case. Also found the power switch and back on the road.

On my walk around checks before setting off I checked the pin was locked in with the torch, the bar was in the right place and everything looked OK and coupled. The suspension was low at the back, lower than I would have liked but checked the suspension was set to it’s reset position. I didn’t know if it was the norm to run with the suspension raised for the wheels to clear the wheel arches a bit more and at that time in the morning the guy I’d ask for tech support on such things was probably tucked up in bed, working the night shift as he does.

So, I asked a driver next to me who helpfully pointed out that if I got it wrong the wheels would soon catch fire. Gee, thanks for that. He didn’t seem inclined to offer any supportive assistance so I just got going, back onto the A14.

M6 had its slow bits but then onto the M54 and off at the Cosford exit. The Snooper got me where I needed to be and popped into the office to be given the bays where I was going to reverse onto. 3 different ones. Ok, practice! Cool… Returned to the lorry and then found the guy was with me there and said they’d changed their minds and wanted me parked at 90 degrees to the door and their forkie would pull it off and get it into the separate doors where needed, so I pulled the curtains and went for a nap. Within minutes another guy was at the door telling me I was in the wrong so referred him to the other guy and that was it. I set the alarm for 45 minutes and had a nap.

I woke up 90 minutes later to silence, the clanging from the box was gone and there were quiet noises from across the yard. I checked the alarm clock and found I’d forgotten to ‘arm’ it. Bugger.

Popped my boots back on and trundled over to the office for the paperwork. There were a lot more trucks in the yard now and a really young guy doing an uncouple with a DAF XF. I thought I was clearly getting old as he looked pretty young and so got on with things. Secured the back up and found the door handles stiff and unwilling to lock in place. Wondered if I had any ratchet straps to hold it closed with and in the end went back to the cab to find a persuader to get it sorted.

Ready to move off and I spotted the young driver finishing the trailer drop and got into the passenger seat… and an older get into the driver seat. Ahh right, that would explain it then. Clearly I don’t have a warped view of the world after all!

The reversing was a bit easier and tried a few of the extra things I’d picked up to get it going in the right place. I think my main issue is that I think I’m turning the steering in the right direction until it goes in the wrong direction and then over compensate whilst still doing it slowly….

Eventually got out and back on the road. Fuel was needed and so off to that Burdens opposite Cosford that did Keyfuels. I was able to stock up on a 5L of water as I’d gone through 5L in just 2 days!!! Also called into the boss to tell him of the few computer issues I’d had and he directed me to their repair facility on the A5. In hindsight I should have stayed on the A5 but I got back onto the M54, M6 and was stuffed in traffic again. Pulled up outside the garage on the A5 and wasn’t sure I could get the trailer in the yard so left it mostly on the pavement and went inside. Instructed to drop the trailer in the lay-by and come back and bring the unit inside, so did so. I also stuck a post it note on the front of the SatNav saying ‘Don’t Forget Trailer’

Once in the garage they explained some of the intricacies of the gearbox plus had it on the computer via the diagnostics socket and made notes of what was not well. Fixed the NSF side lamp that was out and it looked very easy, even the sort of thing I could have done! I also found out that none of the mirrors were heated and they had one in stock, so that went into the nearside. It did actually help quite considerably on the road!

Alas things took time so by the time they were out I was running late on my scheduled run back to Felixstowe. I rang the controller to tell him I wouldn’t be back and abandoned my plan to park on the A14 but instead reached a lay-by just outside of Magna Park in Lutterworth, with my trailer.

It was a small lay-by but off the main road as such and would be quieter, and it was too. Parked at an angle rather than the traditional straight but all was well and another day done.

0340 – 1840, 9 hours off

Day Three

When I woke I found a van had crept into the space ahead of me, an old hard standing area. Not blocking me in or anything but I’d been running the engine on tickover for a good 10 minutes to warm things up before leaving and moved the curtains at the last thing. Ahh, ok then!

Coffee made, breakfast deferred and onto the road to Felixstowe. Stopped after Huntingdon to stretch my legs and then back on, getting to Felixstowe just after the Onion thing had happened. Dropped the box at ACL then over to the depot to get the paperwork, told them I might be delayed leaving due to that RTA on the A14 and already drivers were moaning about it.

Into the port and this time it was much easier and quicker. Apart from the fact I used a regular lane than an empty lane as I had no box on. This time they sent me all around to the exit, but that was a quick one too. This time I was sent to the THA area to get another work ticket to goto a regular loading area, and then off to the exit and the roads again.

Lots of other helpful drivers around as I had a knack of getting in the wrong lane but they were pretty relaxed over it, then joined the A14 queue. 90 minutes later cleared it but was due a break now so pulled in on the A12 to some little garage where I could squeeze up at the edge for a break. If I’d known I would have carried on to find a lay-by or something, as I found out later there were plenty of them. Had my break there then called it in with my revised time and information why. Asda Chepstow. I had already clarified expenses and found that I would pay for tolls myself and if approved would have them credited back to me.

Three hours later I found the Severn Toll was actually £18!!! Still, having got to Asda Chepstow I then had to deal with the security guards. Two of them, one who oozed ex military yet had almost a bouncer style hardman attitude and other that with descriptions made me look thin, and I’ve got enough stomach to make people pale if they saw me running…

So I was 15 minutes late for my 3pm booking that should have been adjusted to 4pm, but they couldn’t find it. The reference number was wrong and even after getting an updated one from the boss they couldn’t find it. Then I let them know I had less than 90 minutes duty time left and suggested if they rebook me in for the morning I’ll take my break outside. They didn’t like this but let me in to goto the office and assigned me a reversing spot.

So, I pulled around and tried that blind side reverse thing but I couldn’t work out the lines so spun it around and tried from the other way and managed it. Was quite annoyed to have some guy in a rigid reversing into the next space whilst I was trying to squeeze it in but in the end use the side of his lorry to line it up then had to shunt forwards as he couldn’t use his drivers door. Ooops.

So, OK now. Walked over to the office and returned with bolt croppers which were useless. Eventually getting the box open we discovered a good reason not to park outside as those new 30” flat screens would quickly go, with or without a seal. So I could drop the trailer, much to their disgust and take my break outside. Spotted a foreign truck parked in the corner, tractor facing the hedge and curtains pulled. I enquired if I could park next to him to get annoyed looks from the security bods. Seems he’d dropped his trailer in his ‘assigned’ parking bay, dropped the paperwork in, announced he was taking his 11 hour break and left them too it. One of the security guards had tried to get him to move and had been met with the sight of a hairy 40 year old trucker in tshirt and boxers leaning on a crowbar in the cab, so they left him too it.

I found a place outside and lined it up so I would have some privacy from the CCTV and decided on soup this evening. Oxtail. My little stove was getting slow so it was in with a new canister and the soup was lovely. More hot water boiled and a chance to try out my new collapsible washing up bowl, which worked really well too and did my washing up before watching a film and bed.

0400 – 1645, 11 hours off

Day Four

Even going into Asda, getting paperwork, permission to lift the box, and actually getting off site took me an hour, then it was back onto the road and the motorways. M4 pretty quiet and stopped at Reading services for a break, coffee out and fresh coffee made and then noticed I had only quarter a tank of diesel so the Snooper found me a Keyfuels place in Reading. Erm, big mistake.

Got there to find it was a non HGV one and had a low canopy, and the Morrison’s had a low one too so back out onto the motorway and I’d lost an hour, then another half hour in delays. No problem east bound but west bound a few accidents and everyone slowing down to look. Usual congestion at exits but those were mostly people waiting until the last minute to get over. Reached Colnbrook BP and found it a little tight to get in, made worse by people parking where I would have liked to have swung the front end to get over. Still, they soon moved when I had to reverse it back a bit to line it up.  Found they only allowed 333 litres of the stuff but that was good enough and onward. Because I couldn’t take a break on the pumps, the other 3 drivers queuing would have complained and they looked bigger than me, even if their lorries weren’t, I headed out for South Mimms.

I was annoyed to find it only 20 minutes from Colnbrook in partial rush hour. Clearly I needed to plan things more, and also know how far the truck can travel on quarter a tank of fuel. A few complications to get to the parking area due to those queuing for fuel but found a way to get around and in and it slotted in first time so I locked up and went to the service area with a smile on my face and a cheer in my heart.

I didn’t buy anything but just looked at what I could waste my money on then back to the truck after the usual use of services everywhere and updated the controller with my location before getting back on the road after my time was up.

I was going to Woolpit this time, so up the M11 on the limiter, then the A14 and finally into the yard there. Popped to the office, did the whole paperwork thing and then had the box lifted off and went around to the loading area.

The forklift got into position and clearly wanted me to reverse under, so I obliged with only a couple of shunts. Mostly as I’d parked in clearly the wrong place, still, I’d know next time!

Back out on the road and my next destination was in Alfreton, which was handy in a way and after a quick phone call to the controller and a relative who lived near the drop I was on my way.

A14, M1, A38 and arrived with about 2 hours of duty time left. Found where I had to reverse into and the first time couldn’t get it lined up, I think I had approached at too shallow of an angle and then couldn’t get the turn going, so went around the block. A lot of people had been queuing at this point and as I was waiting at traffic lights I recalled something I’d been told and lifted the midlift, and then it was back around to the bay. This time I pulled up in the entrance to another companies yard and then started the reverse back. Took another shunt to line it a bit better but I got it back as far as I thought then stopped and parked up. Enough room to open the doors but not to close the gate so locked the cab and was at the back when they broke the seal, and opening the doors some of the cargo fell out. It was on a downhill slope, this bay and when an M&S 4x2 with a 2 axle trailer came in they had to lift their suspension to prevent it scraping the ground.

The guy explained the tip would be seven hours and I should pull out after that. Went in to see the boss and told him about my hours and he suggested I drop the trailer and park in the yard overnight, gates shut at 11pm and opened at 6am. Rang the controller to update him and he sounded stressed. Seems they wanted me in Southampton for 9am!! Yeah, right, like that was going to happen.

So, I dropped the trailer. On a slope, downhill backwards. Hmm.

Brakes, legs, checked the brake again, and electrics. Took the suzies off and the one where you twist the collar and pull to get off shot off and clanged against the back of the unit, narrowly missing me. The yellow one I think. Hmm. I didn’t think it was supposed to that. Made sure no one was behind and pulled the other one, the red one. Lots of hissing and groaning as the trailer settled but it didn’t move.

Pulled the pin and tugged forwards, dropping the suspension before pulling out. I then found I couldn’t squeeze between the other trailer and the yard I was going to park in, as he’d reversed in and dropped his trailer in less time than I’d taken at all.

So I parked on the road, pulled the curtains and the tacho and made it look like I was parked up for the night and told the office staff that I’d be back before they closed and trundled off for a meal with some relatives, well, at their house and with fresh clothes and the use of their hot water raining device in side the house thingy!

Returned to the unit at 10pm to find that the trailer had been pulled out of the yard and parked behind my unit and the paperwork put in a clear envelope taped to the back of the trailer.

Back doors open I left it there and got my head down as was quite tired now. Could have done with this drop earlier in the week as now I had fresh bread to eat with my soup and the smell of it was quite nice in the cab.

0400 – 1730, 11 hours off (although TruckerTimer tells me it’s ‘reduced rest’ Hmm)

Day Five

Today was down to Southampton, change boxes, up to Leicester then a trailer change for a loaded box for another port for next week. The agency told me I wasn’t required next week so wouldn’t worry about where it was going or anything but would worry about time.

The Snooper gave me options of the following.

  1. A38 North, M1, A42, M42, M40, A34 and the final bit to Southampton
  2. A38 North, M1, M69, A46, M40, A34 etc
  3. A38 North, M1, A43, M40, A34 etc.

These all had similar times so I opted for the M42 route and stopped for my first 15 at Warwick services, then on to Soton.

They told me Gate 10, but it later transpired that they got mixed up and meant Gate 20, which delayed me and meant I was almost out of time and had to take a 30 on the bridge by the gate. Another driver from the company came over and gave me helpful advice to get to Leicester, as if I didn’t know the area and at the end of his instruction I said ‘So you could have just said to take the road off the M69 for Kirby Muxlow to get to Scudamore that way” and he was silent then nodded

Theoretically I knew my way around enough now to get to these places without a SatNav and I was sure that if I did these routes more often then I would certainly not need my Snooper as much as I did!

Finally into the docks, got the box off and went around to the loading area. No one told me, didn’t see any signs and when I pulled into that place where the cranes operate I drove in a large arc to line up facing the way the other lorries did not having reversed in. A couple drives came over smiling and the first said ‘You’ve not been here before have you’ and told me I could get banned for what I’d just done, or walking behind the line when the crane was around or anything. The cab was parked behind the line so I would have to walk over the line to get to the cab…

Still, survived, followed instructions and then after 90 minutes of faffing around in the port got going.

Stopped for a break on the A34 north of the M4 for a break of a nap then had another 10 minutes whilst the kettle was boiling for coffee to strip down the bunk and pack my gear up before getting back on the road with fresh hot coffee and a partially cleared down cab for finishing that evening.

It had been suggested I leave at the A43 but the exit was clogged down to the slip and after using the first roundabout I was back on the M40, opting for the M69 option instead.

Got to the site and went around the block an extra time to verify I’d had the right entrance before faffing around with the paperwork then the box. I guess I could have hooked up first but I didn’t want to do that and find it was a different box for some reason.

Pulling away I stopped before leaving the queue to swap the number plate from the trailer I’d dropped to the new trailer before heading for the exit.

Mr Security Guard didn’t like doing manual labour and had to check the box, the seal and everything. He suggested I break the seal for him to verify the contents. I offered to let him speak to my controller in Southampton of to why he wanted to do this and when I name dropped the name of the controller the guy paled a little and said he could just take the seal number. Not seen that effect before, but was soon out of the gate with a loaded trailer. The mid lift came down and the indicator warning light came on.

Met a few idiots on the roundabouts to the motorway, aiming straight then cutting across me at the last minute. Most weren’t using indicators and when I finally pulled on the motorway the van behind did a horn test on me. Briefly stopped at Leicester services to stretch my legs as one does after most the afternoon on the road sucking coffee and a bit of exercise before heading back to the yard. Went over my time thanks to my delays but couldn’t get hold of the boss and didn’t want to weekend at LFE when I didn’t live far.

Reversed it into the slot at the yard and took several shunts to get it lined up but still didn’t get it perfect and spent an hour chatting to another driver there, also a newbie but with previous considerable experience for me to glean knowledge from, then transfer my gear to the car and head for home.

0430 – 1830, end of week. Yes, I went over hours here but I put the excuse on the chart…

The truck in general was very similar to the HGV rigids except when cornering, overtaking, passing other vehicles and of course reversing. I spent a lot of time going forwards and of that I had experience in other types of vehicles also, but I certainly enjoyed myself but also need to plan time a bit better and get into trim for these trips…

Cab Photos: Note, this is the tidy look /after/ I had spent the week in it and tidied it up ready for my departure. I did not have many cleaning materials with me for the lorry except to clean out the rubbish I though I would generate, not what was there already!

It was a semi auto and the fridge slid out into the space behind the gears when it was in the forward position. It wasn't the standard bunk but you can see at the top the sort of standard bunk it would be.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
12:00 pm
My tweets
  • Wed, 21:31: @m0bov Just had an email from you, with a dodgy link. Looks like I'm not the only one...
Friday, September 21st, 2012
12:00 pm
My tweets
  • Thu, 14:33: So, after a few weeks / month of that one company with really early starts I've had a 'normal' week mostly taken up … http://t.co/2lhabnFh
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