The rest of the week

What a few days, long hours and some interesting things. This week I had a Merc Actros to drive and to be quite honest and blunt, I do like them. When they are working they are excellent wagons but when they break boy do they cause misery.

Had an Actros 2544 on my Thursday, as this is one of the new models and I drove it for the fisrt time I was duly impressed. The cab has been redesigned, everything is well within arms reach, all the selection buttons are much more accessible as you don't have to hunt all over the cab for them. The dash is much better with the display much more user friendly. The cab is very spacious, no central shelf but loads of foldaway bits such as tables and shelves. I suppose there are things like a fridge etc but I just didn't have the time to explore. Two beds, with loads of storage space either in lockable lockers or cubby-holes. Much better wagon in my opinion, fully automatic with a foldaway selection lever.

Supposed to be going to Derby but managed to get as far as Dunstable, wagon threw up some errors so a mechanic was called. Two hours later he turned up and reset the errors and informed me that it was OK to drive. Just joined the M1 again when the dashboard lit up with a bright red colour, the same problem. Called in and had to crawl to Milton Keynes to a Merc dealer to get it fixed. Spent the rest of the day there and when driving back would you believe it the damn thing threw a wobbler again. Oh I love crawling back to the yard at a snails pace.

Down to Sheppey Island with a delivery and then to Cranford to do a few collections and then home. Nice and easy day, oh how wrong can you get. The girl in the office looks at one of the collection notes and duly informs me that I have to go to Ipswich for my last collection. Joy, M25, A12 & A14, arrived in almost Felixstowe and sat there for a while waiting to be loaded. Left to go home at 4pm and didn't get back to the yard till 8pm, bloody M25. Got on and just stopped, 4 hours to do 120 miles, this has to be some sort of a record.

Nice and easy, just go to Alesford and swap a trailer. The chappie in the yard was watching me reverse into a slot and then had the balls to call the yard and tell them that I hit some plastic pallets. To add insult to injury he called 2 hours after I left the place, something fishy about this, if I had crunched the pallets I would have seen/heard it and he would have spotted it there and then. When I was dropping the legs I had a look around and didn’t see any damage as the palets were stacked on the same side against a building. This just doesn't smell right. Had to do an accident report and all the hassle of a 'crunch'. Letter of this will also be sent to the agency and I don't want to loose out working for this client as they are pretty good and there is a good and constant amount of work.


Bows & Arrows

Thought that i might need them today, Nottingham was my destination and then Newark. No sign of Robin Hood but loads of small roard to navigate. Think i might have gone the wrong way on the way home and added 40ish minutes to my time.


Finally got my hands on a DAF XF, but not a proper one. Had a job today and the client turned a unit into a sort of extended rigid. It still had the height of the full XF along with all of the 430bhp that goes with it. Got to admit that if did feel a bit strange as I was expecting to see a trailer behind instead all I got was a rigid body.


Spare driver today along with 2 others. sat around for a bit moved a few units about and then got a job to collect some aircraft bins and do a small collection for the same client, as usual a lengthy wait at Swissport and then to ServisAir for the collection. The small collection turned out to be 2 items, one small and the other large and heavy, 1.1 tonnes to be precise. Dropped them off and back to the yard, no one in the office so park up, keys in the usual place and home. As I got home I get a call asking me why I’m there as there is another job for me. No one told me to come back for another job, they could have called me. I assume that the boss is a bit angry.


Oh what a day, had to collect a unit & trailer from down the road and then park it behind the offices. Now the only way in and out is pretty narrow so was informed to reverse it in. After a few shunts it was in its rightful place and I thought that this can be a beginning to a good day. Collected another Unit & trailer and was sent to the Horseshoe to work for one of the freight handling places. Loaded up with 10 tonnes of some sort of liquid Mexican spice and went to Swissport. This is where it all went pear shaped.

Can't take it drive, there is a broken/leaky box and no damage report. Back to the Horseshoe and collect a report, this was after waiting for 2 hours to be tipped. Arrived back at Swissport and booked in, expected to wait another few hours but low and behold my number came up after only 10 minutes. Tipped and knackered as I had to pallet truck it I went back to the agents. One more job for you, back on the bay thinking that it will be some more drastic loading. Three boxes that was all. Take it to Air Canada they said, that is only 300 yards up the road, could have carried it there. No chance of that, seal the lorry drive up book in and unload.

On the way back to the yard the lorry throws a wobbler and tells me that the unit is not level, called it in and informed to drop the trailer and park up. End of a long day.


Two for the price of one, this morning I showed up for work and was boldly informed ( politely) that I should have been there at 7am instead of 9am. Not what I’ve been told, anyway a artic was assigned and off I went to the dreaded cargo sheds. Picked up 4 pallets of stuff and deposited then mack in the yard. Then I was handed keys to a sprinter and informed that I’m going to Basingstoke, fair enough, 2 pallets to Sony and back again. as I was having a chat to the warehouse boys who were very busy unwrapping stuff one informed me that all this was the stuff that I bought in this morning. Would you believe it 4 pallets of Sony Vio laptops and as luck would have it there weren't any 'spare'. Then a 'quick trip to BA cargo shed to pick up some returns, now this should have been a 20 minute job, it was after waiting for 2 hours to have the goods loaded at the sheds. Good old BA always very prompt with the loading.


Turned up for a day driving a recycling lorry, waited for 2 hours before anyone started to dish out the work and was asked with 2 others to go and look over a lorry. The guidance tour lasted about 10 minutes, a quick show of the cab with a very brief overview of the 'computer' and then a quick look around the outside. Now I’m not a one to pick faults but this time I decided to voice my opinion when the chappie asked if there were any questions before going out 'on the road'. He didn't mention or show how to 'drop' the lorry for tipping and how to tip at the land fill site. The crew will let you know if you're doing it wrong. Correct me if I’m wrong but surely the driver should be shown how all the 'bits and pieces' work and be given the chance to see how they work for real before driving it on the road and using it. I decided that as I wasn't trained sufficiently on the equipment I would not do the job and went home.


Better Late then Never

While back I posted about 7.5T restrictions and how one agency insisted that I deliver to clients and break the restrictions. I returned to the client after doing a few drops outside the restricted area and that was that. Didn't expect to get any more work from them and I was right, what I expected was to be paid for the hours that I did work. Initially they refused to pay but after much wrangling and debating I received my payslip yesterday, bear in mind that this job was in November '09. The excitement was too much to bear so I eagerly opened the payslip and hey presto, 9.25 hours @£5.80 per hour. So much for their vaunted 'we pay our drivers a realistic wage' policy. I feel that I should send it back as I'm not sure they can afford it in this economic climate . This has to be the lowest wage for a Class2 job ever.


Same place different day and a different lorry, Merc Actros but a different one, must admit that I'm getting kind of partial to driving them.. Not a bad motor, comfortable with a decent cab layout and the bunk is just right. Up to Redditch and park up and wait to be loaded. Today just happened to be a small load day, only 20 pallets. Managed to set of way ahead of schedule and returned to bast at a decent time. Unreal how much the paper stuff can weigh. Magazines and other suppliments for newspapers was the stuff that I bought down, some of it stayed on the lorry to be trunked to Bournemouth.  The picture is of the lorry being loaded.


I think i might as well move there, Birmingham that is. Last week and for most of this week I've been driving up there and surrounding towns to either deliver or collect stuff. Getting fed up with M40, M42 &  M6, there must be other roads that i can drive on. seriously though today has been an enjoyable drive Merc Actros on a 58 plate, well maintained and a pleasure to drive. On the way back I had 30+ pallets of magazines in the back which made pulling away and going up hill very interesting. At one stage on the M40 before J5 there is a very long uphill and the lorry was struggling to do 40mph, felt like I should have got out and pushed.


Another interesting day, started with me getting to the site at 7 am and waiting till 10;00 to be given a lorry and told where I’m going. Bear in mind that I should have been there by that time, slight run in with the boss as he seemed to think that he can talk down to me as I'm only the Agency guy. Yet again the lorry had a few minors that had to be fixed, one problem was that the doors wouldn't close correctly. Finally set of at 11am and managed to get to Lichfield by 13:30. Once I found the delivery point and backed onto the bay I had loads of time to do nothing. The whole trailer had to be hand balled off by the warehouse guys as the lot at the original end stacked the boxes on to the trailer without using pallets. Sat and watched the snow fall and eventually about 3pm started of home, would you believe it as soon as I got on to the M40 the snow came down so thick it was almost impossible to see more than 100yards. Managed to get back just before 6pm and after trying to find a space large enough to park up I then had to try and get my car out between two artics. Nice to be back home.


Nice little rigid today, Scania on a 55 plate with a real manual gearbox, down to Grays to drop a box and then collect some more and bring it back to Unxbridge. The 'box' was a small one just 4 Tonnes in weight, spent 2 hours waiting to be tipped. Should have been home to enjoy the sunshine but instead I had to sit in a queue.


My Gripe

Why is it that when you get to a client and do a vehicle check and find all sorts of problems with the unit or trailer they still insist that you drive it. Today i started a Merc Actros and the dash lit up with all sorts of problems, it looked like a Christmas tree , red and amber lights everywhere. Main worry was the Axle, ABS & EBS warning lights. The axle required servicing, the brakes were in severe difficulties and another warning came up that they would be inoperable. Informed the client and told him that I will NOT be taking this trailer out. 'Can't unload it you'll have to tell them at the other end about this problem'. No mate you don't seem to understand, I won't be taking this anywhere. Handed in the keys and called the agency to let them know that I'll be going home. Really gets me this, just because I'm an agency drive it doesn't mean that I’ll just get in and drive a doggy lorry.


That’s it, my nightshift for this week is over, interesting place Birmingham (?). Up and down A329, M4, A404, M40, M42, M6 plus some side roads. Still can't understand why some Class1 drivers drive like they do, one almost caused an accident last night by pulling out when he shouldn't have. Actually saw smoke from the unit tyres of the other lorry trying to overtake it at the time, well that’s City Link drivers for you. Had the same Scania all week albeight one day and its not bad but it could do with a few more creature comforts and a much more comfortable seat.


Why do people insist on driving like a prat when its foggy, coming back from Brum early this morning I hit a few patches of fog. As it was dense but not the pea soup type I still kept to a decent speed but was constantly overtaken by other lorries and cars going way to fast (I think).


What gives here, turned up for work yesterday hoping to finish a bit earlier than 5am and got into the lorry only to find a strange gearbox, a 3 over 3 on an 04 reg Scania. Never driven one like it before, no problem with changing gears but it seems to be missing a few. Had to do a trailer swap in Birmingham and by the time I got loaded it was 02:30 again. Get the feeling I'm waking up the Sparrows when I get home.


UK Mail this week, started last night and got to admit that I was gobsmacked. Start in the Slough depot goes to Camberley (my neck of the woods) collect mail and then trunk it to Birmingham. No problem with the trip but had to wait ages to get tipped and then go round the circuit again to get loaded. Finally left at 02:30 this morning and home by 05:00. Huge depot,with luck now that I know where it all is up there things will go a little faster today. First time in a Scania unit, not bad but not as good as the MAN or a Volvo.