Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Must be Christmas in July

July 25 found me in Digby, NS where the ferry Princes of Acadia makes its twice daily 92 mile crossing to Saint John, NB. Frequented by tourists in cars, it also serves trucks from western Nova Scotia heading to the US or central Canada by cutting nine or more hours of driving down to a six hour sea voyage.
Some trucks are drive on drive off, but operators Bay Ferries Ltd also provide a drop trailer service. On this particular day Armour Transportation had several trailers to go, and the terminal had its two yard shunters ready to run them onto the ferry (and haul off any coming in from Saint John).

Number 1 shunter was a pretty standard looking raised roof Ottawa, but Number 5 (not an Ottawa- but it had no discernible markings) was anything but standard looking.

Number 5's driver, pedal to the metal, roars off to work, setting a Digby acceleration record, despite wielding an aerodynamically challenging snow plow. One of Armour's drop tractors awaits the arrival of new loads.

#5 made extraordinarily fast work of placing support trestles under the waiting drop trailers' king pins. The trailer's own dolly wheels are far too flimsy to withstand the rolling and pitching of the ferry, and these heavy stanchions are anchored to the ship's deck during the crossing to stabilize the trailers.

After a Don Garlitts run back through the yard, the driver makes a Mario Andretti turn into his parking slot - snow plow intact (and unneeded), but leaving a bit of rubber on the track (er ... sorry, roadway).

It was July 25, so like Christmas lights that still adorn some houses by July 25, it is safe to guess that the plow will remain onboard until next winter. Perhaps it works as a counterweight or, based  on the operating speed, maybe it is a ground effects air dam.


Transport MBM

I startled the driver of this Transport MBM truck yesterday I snapped the photo of him as he was preparing to don his boiler suit. He had arrived from Quebec with an electrical device for a new building on the Halifax waterfront and was getting ready to unload.

The silver International Eagle was striking enough with its low boy trailer, but it was the company name that made me stop. Based in Brossard, QC, Transport MBM shares initials with the author this blog. What more is there to add.


Monday, July 28, 2014

I say it's an Autocar

Always on the look out for my favourite truck - Autocar, I have had to backtrack a bit on my previous stance. The true Autocar disappeared in 1987 after Volvo stopped building the distinctive truck and applied the brand name to Volvo-Whites. To purists (as I was) that was the end of the line.
I now acknowledge the 1987 to 2000 era (when Volvo stopped using the brand name) as part of Autocar, even if that infuriates purists. Those late era trucks were hardier than the standard range of Volvos, even though there is a real debate over whether they lived up to the rugged reputation of 'real' Autocars.
This morning I spotted this dumper at work. It is devoid of any markings that would indicate whether it was built as an Autocar or a Volvo or more likely a White/GMC, but since I like the looks of it, I am declaring it an honorary Autocar.

Speaking of out of production brands, there are still lots of Sterlings on the road, even though Daimler Trucks North America stopped building them in Canada in 2009.

I guess when there are no more Autocars, except in museums, I will have to keep alert for Sterlings.


World touring Merc

German photographer Norbert Guthier uses this Merc to tour the world. The sleek camper is devoid of the usual maps and graffiti found on many of the globetrotters.

It is also in good condition in view of the many remote spots her has visited.

Caution:  Those who go to the owners website may be shocked by some of his subject matter - don't say I didn't warn you. (That is why I am not providing a direct link).


Give me air

The charm of London doubledeckers apparently wears a little thin on hot days, when their lack of air conditioning makes an upstairs ride a bit challenging - particularly for visitors from another planet. Fortunately the rear escape window folds down for some additional oxygen.

Routemaster RML 2316 (plate number CUV 316) is one of Ambassatours Halifax "Big Pink" fleet of double deckers. It was delivered new in Ocotober 1965.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Schwing Shift

Three elderly Schwing concrete pumpers were spotted on the waterfront in the last few days. They are very likely headed to new owners overseas.

Nearest the camera is the usual Mack cab - the most popular for concrete pump trucks. The other two are of special interest for they are low cab forward Freightliner COEs, with set-back axle, rarely seen anymore.  Intended as competition for Mack, Autocar/Volvo and Peterbilt, all of whom had industrial type COEs, the F'liner essentially used its highway cab, including small side windows, with few other modifications.

Schwing is one of two popular concrete pump manufacturers. The other one is Putzmeister, which seems to be in lead, at least in Halifax. Here a few recent sightings.
 Giant Mack /Putzmeister requires a special permit to travel on public roads, so is only used on special jobs.

 Quality Concrete uses this light weight Freightliner for small jobs or in tight spaces, since it stabilizer legs do not have to extend very far.

This Mack can block most of a street, since it takes two transit mixers to keep its pump going.

Macks are by far the most popular chassis for pumpers.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The long and the short (again)

The longest truck I have seen in Halifax was getting ready to hit the road last evening. The area at pier 31 in the port is being used as a staging area for wind turbine components. They arrive by rail, then are transferred to trucks for the trip to the wind farm.

 Lenron of Saint John, NB, provided the Western Star tractor and the Diamond double dolly trailer.

The six axle rear dolly is not fully visible from this angle. A three axle semi-trailer type dolly heads up the trailer. The tractor also has a lift axle.

Meanwhile not far away on the waterfront this intriguing Kenworth had left its trailer at a camp ground, and came into town unattached.

The extended crew cab has limo type seating.


Monday, July 21, 2014

COEs revisited

I was kindly reminded following my last posting on COEs that many European locales would be inaccessible without COEs, due to tight turnings and small spaces in many countries. That would not likely be a reason to use COEs in Canada except perhaps in some very specific cases.
So it was interesting to see this pair yesterday in northern New Brunswick: 

Running for the Packers Logistics Solutions division of Mid West Coast Canada Inc, of Stoney Creek, ON, this pair of well armoured (against moose) COEs are hauling temperature controlled goods (likely meat or produce).
Neither truck appears to be a recently delivered cab kit. But they are well maintained, possibly rebuilt, older units. Judging by the fleet numbers 721 and 723, there is likely at least a third one out there somewhere. Since Packers runs coast to across Canada and the US, it may be anywhere.
The brutal Magnum moose bars on the front don't improve the looks, and appear to block at least some of the headlight spread, but New Brunswick is moose country, so they are likely a wise investment.
Not many miles away I spotted a Kenworth COE, heading northbound - no photo was possible.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Famous Land Rover touches down in Halifax - again

The world traveling Vorsters from South Africa had traversed every continent, when they visited Nova Scotia a few years ago, so maybe they are retracing their steps in their unique heavily modified ex military Land Rover 2B, powered by a GMC diesel engine.
When I spotted it today around the corner form my house, I was surprised to say the least.

With standing headroom inside and high ground clearance, the rig was supposed to be as self-sustaining as possible, and able to go anywhere a four wheeled vehicle could go. From what I have been able to find on the internet, they seem to have been able to do this despite several incidents.

The web site  I have found seems to be out of date, but is well worth a visit.


If I learn more I will update.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The long and the short of it.

Catches of the day include a very long truck:

 Bellemare's Kenworth 60156 had an extra long trailer and dolly. Although the KW did not have an extra long cab, it did have lots of sleeper packed in.

And a shorter one:
This Mercedes Actros 3344 looked to be was fresh off the boat. Someone obviously wants the short overall length from a COE, in a heavy duty truck. It appears to be road ready for Canada, but never driven yet.


Sunday, July 6, 2014


I have been asked why COEs virtually disappeared from North American roads. The flip side of course is why is that all you see on European roads.

There are three answers to the first question:

1. Length laws. North American truck length laws were changed to allow for longer trailers, including the 40 foot and plus shipping containers. With the old laws, COEs, with their shorter cab length could squeeze a few extra feet into the load carrying section of a semi-trailer truck combination. BBC or Bumper to Back of Cab dimensions were all important when the restrictive length laws were in place. Generally the shorter COEs also allowed room for a sleeper, which the longer wheelbase conventionals could not under the old laws., without sacrificing cargo capacity. Freightliner COEs were built of aluminum, and thus allowed for a greater payload. However weight laws changed too, so that edge was mostly lost.

2. Safety. With several feet of engine ahead of the cab, a conventional is inherently safer in a head on collision.

3. Comfort. COEs have what is called the dog house, which is in fact the engine compartment, projecting up into the middle of cab, leaving very little space for the driver or passenger. Also with the driver right over the front axle, the early COEs were very uncomfortable riding. However this was resolved in the later models that had excellent cab suspensions, and independently driver suspended seats. Still many COEs had a shorter wheelbase, and thus were less comfortable than the long wheelbase conventionals.

As to why Europe has COEs in abundance  - they still have restrictive length laws. You'll note how close coupled the tractors and trailers were in my recent Germany photos. They have to squeeze as much truck as they can into the overall length, and so the shortest (i.e. smallest Bumper to Back of Cab dimension) means the longest trailer.
Safety takes the back seat to revenue, and head on collisions still take a tremendous toll in drivers lives in Europe.

So why the small resurgence of COEs in North America?
It seems to me to be mostly a matter of taste. Some drivers still prefer the COE for its better visibility, higher eye level (in some trucks) and in some cases, easier access to the sleeper. 
Although perhaps a minor point, there is less sheet metal in a COE, and thus less weight. However with most conventionals these days wearing fiberglass tilt hoods, it may not be a factor.
Even with the new length laws, there are still length limitations. So steel haulers like CanAm and oversize carriers like Watson, can still find situations where a COE could get them in under a limitation which would otherwise require a special (costly) permit, or an escort car.


Friday, July 4, 2014

German Coaches

My little trip to Germany a few weeks ago gave a few opportunities to check out local buses and coaches. As usual, there were many brands and types.

Ubiquitous M.A.N. open top tour buses are everywhere in Europe. This one had its tent roof rolled forward. When extended over the seats, it does not allow standing room!

A pair of Neoplans, although they appear to be the same model, look quite different when painted in company colours.

 Big Volvo with air lift axle. The grill looks like if comes from a Volvo car.

There are lots of Mercedes coaches on the road in Germany of course. Most had lowering capability, with the whole front end lowering and raising by air control. The drivers position had some 'wood' trim, but was otherwise pretty business-like.

This rig boats a Bistro on the ground floor. Upstairs, it is aircraft type seating.
Another one with refreshment facilities. The potential of 15 pedaling beer drinkers (not on aircraft seats), would give it some speed, but then how would the bar tender find time to steer? The steering wheel is forward between the two A-pillars supporting the roof.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quebec Road Trip

My first Quebec road trip this year turned up a few interesting trucks - but I have to say not as many as usual.

No road trip would be complete with a visit to the Suspensions Simard plant at Baie St-Paul, and as usual I was rewarded with some interesting stuff.Adding extra axles is where Simard got its start and there were several of those in the yard:

Interesting sleepered KW with an added steering axle and fifth wheel, so it is bound for a heavy hauler somewhere. I hope he has a custom paint job planned - the refrigerator white doesn't do it for me.

Mack with lift axle has several possibilities.

Simard's yard was chock-a-block with Peterbilts, all fitted out with McNeilus read-mix drums and painted for Lafarge. Despite Lafarge's recently announced merger with Holcim (to form LafargeHolcim in mid-2015) which will force the new company sell off about 18% of its assets worldwide to avoid monopoly problems, they are still investing in transit mixers.

The finished product is an impressive truck - note the exhaust pipe on the driver's side only.

 Out of the shop, but before the fenders are fitted.

 Ex factory in 4 axle configuration - they look a bit odd, and perhaps sagging in the middle!.

I didn't count, but there must have been a dozen in the yard. There is apparently some sort of exhaust crossover behind the cab, maybe where two pipes combine, or the one pipe is rerouted. Also the PTO for the drum must be behind the cab, since there is no bumper extension.

Quebec is still wood country, and there were chips on the move:

It is also moose country, and Marcel Dufour's Volvo is well equipped to fend one off. His 4 axle Fericar trailer is typical of the chip haulers on Quebec roads.

 This Pete running for Deno had B-train trailers stacked with lumber from Boisaco. The chromed sleeper door was a nice touch.

Quebec is also snow country and I did spot some mean snow machines.
This International Paystar 5000 survived a fire that destroyed a couple of other trucks and payloaders. Rain hasn't washed all the soot off yet, and the cab is still full of old smoke. It would make a great project for someone, but may be beyond economical repair.

Veteran Autocar may have escaped the fire or been brought in afterwards as a replacement. Both are operated by Abel Harvey of La Malbaie.

More later.........