PLATT INDUSTRIAL ESTATE (2)
The fleet has grown to 5 artics now, and we have taken over Unit 9 on Platt Industrial Estate, in the same building as Kentinental, who also became good customers over the years. By sheer fluke there was an underground diesel tank with a pump, that gave us our first chance of buying bulk fuel, and eased the strain on my flexible friend, my credit card.
The Scania 111 was sent around this time to have a lift axle fitted, to give us 38t capacity. At the same time we refurbished the cab. The one thing I had noticed over the years comparing Volvos to Scanias, was that the Scania gearbox needed endless careful nursing, whearas I had a growing heap of sound Volvo 16 speed boxes, where the rest of the truck had died. I already knew that they both use the same F&S clutch, so one day I had a brainwave. Put the Volvo 16 into a Scania. We had to cobble up mountings and propshaft ends: but it worked, however the real bonus was that the Volvo gearbox top gear was an overdrive, and in the Scania gave us really long legs. Provided the driver could be persuaded not to cruise at 75mph, at 60 it was barely in the green, and we were sometimes getting 8-9mpg !
We stored all sorts of stuff, but Waitrose asked us to store this Finish dishwasher liquid when they made a bulk deal. Their buyer told us it would bulk stack 3 high..... wrong! the whole lot collapsed over one weeked, and when we finally got to the bottom, we found our Transit Van buried underneath , slightly the worse for wear!
Below is a picture of UBM backing a double up our homemade ramp to make a tristack to ship out to Holland. Truck at the front is GYX 762N, the 111 modified mentioned above, with tag axle and Volvo 16 speed gearbox, now painted white.
Pic thanks to Graeme Russell, Long Tall Graeme !!
Most of the stuff we stored for Waitrose and Costa came in 20' and 40' containers, like this Waitrose spaghetti, and all had to be handballed onto pallets. As you can see the goods are stacked high to the doors, and when you first start to unload, there is nowhere safe for the lads to stand. So I made this frame with a timber deck, strong enough to take a tonne of spaghetti, two lads and a whack by the forktruck. 25 years later, that design became the basis of the deck modules on the skatepark.
Astran Cargo had moved into Unit 9 with us, and here Colin Salt, my warehouse manager, is loading a crate in Hanif's trailer, one of the regular Astran contractors. The forklift was one that we inherited from Astran, and subsequently traded in for the 9tonne beastie.
Another regular customer for many years was Henry Cooch and Sons, whose unit was just off this picture to the right. They made cranes and lighting towers. They had one contract fitting lighting towers to these 4wd V8 GMC pick-ups. They were too expensive and delicate to just lift them onto contractors trucks with the big forklift, so Colin and I concieved this brilliant plan using one of our trailers as a ramp. Once it was up on this, the contractor backed on, and we drove it across. Simon Cooch watched the whole episode with his heart in his mouth.
Billy Russel was one of Astran's regular contractors on the Middle East run. On one trip he had the misfortune to roll the truck near Adana, in Turkey. He suffered bruises and a broken shoulder, and Astran arranged for another OD to call in and collect him, Tony Soameson. Both tilts were stripped down, and Billy's truck was loaded as you see here when I picked it up at Ramsgate to get him home to Pembroke Dock.
Both Billy and Tony are lovely guys, but the enforced close habitation proved too much for both. Billy is very lackadaisical, Tony very precise and neat.( All his tilt boards were individually numbered, and you HAD to get them in the right order before he got it back).
By the second night they had fallen out, and Bill was consigned to his own cab, crushed and without windscreen, for the duration of the journey. I arrived at Ramsgate to find a terse note pinned to the front of the trailer saying " HE is in his cab"
They tell the story of Tony stopping for a very pretty hitch-hiker in sandals, who was made to wash her feet before being allowed into the cab!