As I was sitting in a hospital waiting room a few weeks ago with a couple of hours to kill, I thought, I’ll buy myself a magazine to read. In the shop I found a magazine I used to buy regularly but stopped after the price kept going up. You know how we Scots don’t like to part with oor pennies. Even when they bundled it with a truck stop newspaper to make you think you were getting a bargain, it didn’t tempt me to buy.
The paper had always been free anyway, it was a truck stop giveaway, as I read through the paper that was mostly all advertisements my eye was drawn to a couple of articles. Truckers advised not to underestimate the importance of sleep was one headline, no s**t Sherlock. Apparently, the lack of sleep can affect your mental health, no, the lack of sleep is more likely to affect your ability to stay awake at the wheel. Another headline was, safe loading of your lorry is vitally important, again, what? Who have they got writing this stuff?
But the main reason I bought the magazine was the photo on the cover, a 21-year-old ERF that was still on the road earning it’s keep. The driver had bought the truck to start his own business, and if you’re going to become an owner operator, in my opinion there’s no better truck than an ERF to do it with. It’s a real driver’s truck, not full of electronic gadgetry, it had an 11 litre Cummins with 450 power and ZF 16 Speed transmission. If I had to pick my favourite truck the ERF would be right up there. Unlike modern trucks you can access the dipstick and radiator under the front grill, so you can check oil and water levels without tilting the cab or relying on gauges or warning lights. With fibreglass cabs ERFs are safe from the dreaded rust, although you have a little more wiring to do if you want to get a good earth for your CB aerial.
The driver got the truck for the bargain price of £4,500, ($7500 CAD) but then had to spend double that making it roadworthy. For most of its life the ERF had been hauling fairground rides and as such was exempt from the yearly Ministry of transport checks all other trucks have to go through. Fairground trucks don’t have an easy life pulling the rides from site to site. I saw a piece online where the cops had pulled one over for a random check, it was 15 tons overweight with six illegal tyres.
Compared to the cost of a newer truck the ERF at £13,000 or so is a bargain, and it’s all paid for, no debt. The driver is a mechanic so was well able to bring it up to a legal usable state.
Another truck the magazine reviewed was a new Volvo, it was an all singing all dancing 13 litre 500 power truck with all the software to make the driver’s life as easy as possible.
I-save to get the best mpg, I-shift dual clutch automatic transmission, a map based predictive cruise control with, I-See, I-cruise and I-roll. The company running the Volvo was getting an average of 9.5mpg, not too far from the old ERF getting between 7 to 7.5mpg fully loaded at 44 tons, on lighter work it gets between 9 to11mpg.
If you factor in the cost of not having to buy DEF fluid, the bought and paid for ERF is starting to look like a no brainer. There is a drawback of course, without the DEF fluid your truck does not meet the low emission zone levels of city centres, but not being able to deliver in city centres might be a plus point for some drivers. I know I’m quite happy to stay out of city centres.
This story was brought to you by I-write software, which usually kicks in when I’m lying in bed trying to initiate the I-sleep program.