8 Wheels Diary

Monday 29th January 2007

I had planned a leisurely start about 0730 this morning as the first job was to be the collection of a 1½t mini digger from a residential area nearby. Things obviously changed over the weekend and I was asked to start at 0630 as there was now a bit more to do. After arriving at the yard the first job was to strap down a fuel bowser that had been loaded on over the weekend and would be delivered along with the machine that I’d be picking up later. Once I was satisfied that everything was secure and I had done my checks, I had a quick look at the paperwork to see where I was heading. First call was McRedmond Plant in Edmonton, which is a nice easy place to get to being just next to the A406 NCR by the big Reality depot. I’d not been before but have passed it countless times so I left the map in the box and arrived bang on 0800. No sooner than I’d stopped in the yard at was just starting to unfasten the ramps, someone appeared and told me which machine I was taking, a 7½t Daewoo 360 digger. It was all ready to go with the buckets neatly nested and all I had to do was push them against the dozer blade before I could manoeuvre round and load straight on. There was also a hydraulic breaker attachment of ours to go back to our yard, and this was soon efficiently lifted on with another machine whilst I set to chaining the other one down. All in all it seemed like a slick set up and I was soon on my way back along the NCR to the A10 and headed past Waltham Abbey through the lanes towards Roydon where I was based in my last plant job. Again the map stayed in place as the little farm I was delivering to was one I would regularly pass on my to and fro the M25. There was already a 3t machine working on site when I arrived, and no-one leapt up to the cab of my machine so I tracked it off and deposited the buckets, as I have no Hiab on this wagon you have to use what you’ve got, so the chains came out and I used the 360 to lift the bowser before spinning round and settling it neatly by the buckets. I was quite pleased as I have not done a huge amount with diggers and didn’t make a hash up when there were experienced operators close by. By now there were a couple of cars waiting to pass along the farm track so I folded the ramps and moved out of the way before stowing chains and straps etc. Not that anyone thanked me mind, but hey whatever the sun was out (of sorts) and it seemed like a good excuse to stop for a 15 and get the kettle on. I followed the winding road through to Harlow and took the M11/M25/A12 back to Chelmsford rather than the more direct A414, experience telling me that there is absolutely no difference in time and the long way just an easier route being mostly 3 lane. Back at the yard the breaker comes off and is replaced by a little 3t dumper which is on for about 5 minutes before shunted off at the next port of call just down the road. Ideally I’d have picked it up last, but the access to the next site is such that you need to be heading away from the yard and it’s no big deal to whip the two chains off and drive it off. The collection here is a little 1½ roller and it’s a bit unnerving only having a steering wheel and a fighter pilot style joystick to control it’s movement. It is only about 3’ wide and I decide to go up one ramp only rather than try for a little bit of both and a lot of gap in the middle. It goes on fine and even crabbing it across to the middle is easy enough. Chaining it down is not so easy, as my chains have a tightly closed hook, ideal for gripping the side of the body and going through chassis members on the plant, just impossible to pass through tie down loops. In the end I use ratchet straps with the hooks through the eyes and the strap passed through the D rings on the floor. It seems to work and the roller hasn’t fallen off when I arrive at a school in Southend to drop the dumper off. It’s just the roller now and it is headed for Riverhead in Sevenoaks so I follow the A127 out of S-O-S and cut through to the A13 by Saddlers Farm. I drop into Thurrock services and get the kettle on and decide to stretch out on the bunk (be rude not to use it occasionally) although I keep dozing off and suddenly waking up paranoid it’ll be about five o’clock and the phone ringing demanding to know where I am. Not so, I’m out by 1400 and straight over the QE11 bridge and am surprised by the progress at J2. The Sevenoaks site is a doddle to get to and the roller is gingerly reversed down one ramp before I retrace my steps back through the tunnel and out along the A13. My last call is the mini digger from this morning in Howe Green. It is a single house that is being built so loading has to be done on the road, all is going well until I get to the bottom of the ramps when the buckets decide to un-nest themselves and scatter across the ground with a large pile of mud. I round them up and get it on without further event, a quick tidy up with the brush and I’m off back into Jovic Plant to off hire the machine (which behaves this time) before trundling back empty to the yard just before 1700.

Tuesday 30th January 2007

In at 0730 this morning, as my first call was only down the A12 at Harold Wood. This first job was to collect a 3t digger from an industrial estate, and I assumed that it was one that was being used on site. As I pull through the gate, I spot a steel framed building under construction and a couple of machines. Easy, I nip round the corner and sure enough one is a little one about the right size, unfortunately it’s not that machine nor that company and I continue the search round the estate until I spot a little JCB being tracked down between two buildings. It’s not actually been in use, it’s just moving it out of the contractors (hidden) premises as a simple plant movement. I’m given directions to the farm in Boxted on the Essex / Suffolk border and I have a good run down to Colchester where I get a bit phased as I head up the A134 from the station. All of a sudden I have no idea where I am until I spot the back of hospital, seemingly I am on the new (well it never used to be there) road. I lived for over 20 years in Colchester and I’m back to see my folks quite often, so it comes as a surprise when something that was talked about for years has sneakily happened and obviously been open for some time. Anyway I find the farm easily enough and there are a couple of old bits of plant in the yard so I turn round ready to unload next a Scania T cabbed Horsebox. At this point a farmhand appears and tells me to turn round and follow him through the farms dirt road network to where the machine is needed. The roads are good, nice dry solid mud until we get to the area where we have to unload, wet oozy mud about 2” thick, not enough to sink into, but slippery enough to end up flat on your back covered in mud. Thankfully this was avoided and I trundled back down to Colchester before taking the A120 out towards Harwich. The next collection was nearish to the water tower at Horsley Cross, where they are doing some sewage pipeline work. I thread my way around the road closed signs and find the site where there is one of our bigger machines (JCB JS220) working and the 6t Hitachi that I’m collecting. Somehow the tipping link on the dipper arm has got broken and the bucket is flapping about uselessly so I cannot squash the buckets against the blade as normal. This actually makes it easy to load as I can track the machine on forwards, spin round and pick the buckets up with a set of chains. This might be become a more regular way of doing it, if the buckets keep playing up. It was back onto the A120 and A12 for a run back to the yard at Danbury, where Norman the other driver whipped the buckets off with a forklift whilst I unchained the machine. The machine was offloaded and I set out for my final collection in Wanstead, the site of my first feted delivery. I just manage to beat the traffic and arrive on site at 1500 and the little 1½t mini is all ready to go. And it starts, which is more than could be said for when I delivered it last week. As loading at this site blocks the road, I drop the stay bars off the ramps and lower the suspension ready before reversing in. The ramps are dropped the machine tracked on, the ramps up, paperwork signed and I pull out in about two minutes and strap it down just round the corner so as to minimise chaos. After an uneventful run back up the M11 / M25 and A12 to the yard, I unload the machine and finish just before 1700.

Wednesday 31st January 2007

0730 Start. Nothing much to report today, it was a bit slack so I was given a VW Caddy pickup and ending up running about collecting parts and delivering them to some of our machines out on site. I was back by lunchtime so I gave the truck a wash down and loaded an enormous riddle bucket (think huge sieve) ready for tomorrow.

Thursday 1st February 2007

0615 Start. I’m first in and have to wait for a few minutes until someone else arrives and unlocks so I can get into the yard. I get my boots and overalls on and get straight out, for my first call at Greenshields JCB in Braintree. I arrive just as they are unlocking the yard gates so I busy myself with getting the kettle on whilst I get the ramps down and write up my movement orders for the day. When I’m done I go into the reception and collect the keys to a brand spanking shiny new JCB 3CX which is parked in the yard all ready to be delivered.

It’s a bit daunting inside, there are two beautifully designed dashboards with nice switches and dials that would look out of place in an expensive car, there are levers everywhere but I concern myself with the one that lifts the front scoop, the forward / reverse selector and the handbrake. The yard is tiny and I carefully edge the machine out backwards past lots of other expensive looking shiny yellow stuff. Loading the machine on is a bit of an arse nipping moment, there’s no width to spare and with the huge scoop on the front not much to see and lifting it right up whilst climbing the ramps seems iffy (I’m sure it’s not) Anyway I get it settled on OK, although with the (sieve) bucket up front the rear jacks are only just at the top of the beaver tail. I spin the seat round and am confronted with another four levers and a foot pedal, but I manage to suss them out and drop the feet to the ground and lower the back actor so the bucket touches the tail. I raise the ramps and notice that there are only a couple of inches to spare, before getting the chains out and figuring a way of stopping it falling off. Although this looks like a more conventional vehicle it is a lot more daunting than a big 360 with its two joysticks, blade lever and two track levers. The 360’s are easier to secure as you can just chain them across the top of the tracks. It’s all an experience though and I get the tape measure to see how much headroom I’ve got. I am headed down to Deptford first to drop the bucket off, and I decide that the Blackwall Tunnel is too close for comfort as it stands about 15’ high and is difficult to measure with a steel tape measure that is difficult to keep hooked on the top, I decide to add a bit for good measure and work on 15’6” as my running height. By the time I get to the Dartford Crossing it is about 0900 and I sail straight through and peel off and head in the A2 hoping that the traffic will have cleared by now. Not so, and I catch the traffic by Falconwood all the way down Shooters Hill to Deptford. The site was just by Deptford Bridge and I pull in assuming to be in and out in a few minutes, this of course was a mistake as the digger driver had gone up the road to the café with the keys on him and I had to wait until he returned to get the bucket unloaded, as a result I was there nearly an hour and got away at 1115. It was now just me and the JCB and it’s new home was B&T plant at Morden so I crawled through the South London traffic to Kennington to pick up the A3 and A24. It took forever and I’d probably have been better off going back to the M25. It occurred to me that JCB are probably one of the few things that are still properly British and half decent, although by saying this it’ll probably jinx the whole thing and they’ll sell out to Terex and move production overseas. Once at Morden I squeeze into B&T‘s yard and find a corner where I can unload the 3CX and then go and get the paperwork signed. As I put my hand in pocket for my truck key, I pull out a bunch of JCB keys, so I decide that perhaps I’d better nip back and hand them over. It’s gone 1300 when I’m done so after a quick cuppa, I get the wheels turning and beat a path for the glorious (no traffic lights) M25 for a speedy run back through the tunnel to Essex. There is one last job to do and I dart off the A127 to head into Ford’s at Dunton where there is one of our 6t diggers waiting just by the gatehouse to be collected. Rather than run it across the path, I follow Norman’s suggestion and do what he did when he delivered it by dropping the ramps at an angle across the path. Unfortunately the grass is so wet that the machine gets half way up and the tracks start to spin, so I pull back on the road proper, and run the machine across the path anyway and line up with the ramps. I decide that slowly probably won’t work so it’s plenty of revs and a quick charge at the slope. All is going well although it does wriggle a bit by the top, bit more of a shove on the track levers tells it who’s boss and it’s on and safe. From Dunton it’s only a half hour run back to Danbury, and I roll back in about 1530. As our yard is fairly small I decide not to risk tracking the machine down backwards and having it slide into my new car, so I leave the buckets on and spin round so that I can use the dipper arm to control any possible sliding by jamming it on the floor. Once safely off and away from my car, the buckets can be lifted off with a set off chains and the machine parked in the yard. By the time I have completed my paperwork and discussed tomorrow’s jobs it is 1630 and I’m just pleased to go home.

Friday 2nd February 2007

0630 Start. This morning’s job was to run out empty to Stevenage to start on a site clearance job for a groundwork contractor. Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, but I arrived spot on for 0800, although luckily the industrial was signposted off the roundabout from the A1M which was lucky as it is not yet on the map. I had been told that the following equipment needed to be collected by myself and our lowloader which would be arriving a little later, 13t digger, 5t digger, 6t dumper, 3t dumper, industrial forklift. In my head I had planned on taking the little digger, dumper and forklift and leaving the bigger ones for Bob to collect later. This went out of the window when I arrived as the forklift was a JCB 926 (which are pretty big) and there was also a compressor, roller, 10’ container and 8’x6’ diesel tank. Clearly this wouldn’t all go on, so I decided to take the small digger, dumper and compressor. It took a while to get all the machines going, and separate them from their interlocked, lets make it more difficult to nick them parked positions. I load the dumper first followed by the digger and we use the big digger to lift the compressor on. Only somewhere along the line, it gets decided that the container and tank need to go now whilst the 13tonner is there to lift them on. Off comes the digger and dumper (the compressor never quite made it) and we chain up the sizeable diesel tank. The digger is not the newest and starts struggling with the weight of the tank but with a bit of cajoling we get it loaded crossways against the bulkhead and chained down before the container is loaded next. There is still a bit of space on the flat deck so I back the digger up to the container and use the blade to keep the machine level over the beaver tail, with the bucket tucked in tight and the knuckle sticking through the gap. Although it takes a long time to sort out I’m quite pleased with the result and finish strapping down when Bob arrives in his lowloader. Between us we decide that our other driver Norman, could clear the balance and ring him to get him to call in on his way back from Sandy where he is offloading. This sort of cooperation is alien to me, but I’m not complaining. Just after joining the A1M one of the ratchet tails works free and is trailing along the carriageway so I pull on to the hard shoulder for a minute to sort it out. As I rejoin lane 1 I notice a HATO vehicle that had obviously spotted me and had pulled over onto the shoulder as I was just going, they weren’t needed this time but nevertheless their presence was noted and I’m grateful for any protection they might have been able to offer, especially after reading Neil’s account. Otherwise it is a straight run back to Witham where the bits are unloaded with a more capable 20t digger. There had been one of Norm’s jobs to do now but it has been postponed so I run back into the yard and grab a cuppa in the cab whilst having a break in the sunshine. I’ll just tip the seat back a bit and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz until my door opens and I nearly fall out, Bob is due in imminently and I’m in the only space he can get in, so I have to shunt some vans and machines to create some space. Bob’s on a flier so I help finish cleaning a machine that he’s taking out before getting the 6 tonner I collected yesterday and starting to clear the mud off that one. Normally there’s a fella in the yard but he’s off sick and it’s all hands on deck. This machine is particularly bad caked in really wet gooey sticky mud (not clay) and it stinks too, after shovelling out what we can we set to with the steam cleaner and redistribute the muck onto my overalls, face and hands. When it’s clean it’s loaded on along with some buckets and I run it out for a self drive hire to a country property near Ongar. On my way back I get a call asking me to collect a 5t machine from Jovic plant just down the road and I call in to grab it quickly before getting away at a reasonable Friday pm time. Unfortunately as their yard man is loading the buckets with the forklift he just catches the door of my toolbox and takes the door off, it was a genuine accident so I grab one of their fitters and ask him to rivet it back on, unfortunately he can’t get the rivet gun in there so he has to use nuts and bolts which prove to be a fiddly half hour job. Finally I get away and return to the yard, where Norman is waiting so that he can load the machine straight on his lorry. Bet he wished he’d gone himself now. My early Friday finished at 1700.

Total Distance (4 days) 1224 Km

Sorry no pics this week, will have to try and remember to dust off the camera next week.


a very nice read , as regards checking the height of your load
how about getting a bit of wood say 6ft or 9ft long with the
sides being marked so you can work out the height,
this you can leave on the back of the lorry so its all ways
to hand when you wish to do a check of the height of the load
it.s just a thought.

Another good one! Miss the pics though.

Are you enjoying it there? I bet they’re well chuffed, they’ve got a driver who uses his common sense, and can find a way around most problems.

You got me worried about the JCB 3CX though - I’ll be moving a few of those soon - probably be ok for spares once I’ve finished with em :laughing:

Brit Pete, It’s not a bad idea that. Fortunately in this area there are fairly few low bridges, and I know about quite a few from when I lugged the piling rig about at 15’

I was just a bit concerned by the 3CX’s cab marker at 13’ I think that is in road mode with the back actor locked into position. Most our kit that I’ll be moving will only take me up to about 12’6" anyway, and you can pretty much get anywhere at that height.

Grumpy, I think (hope) they are OK with me, they are a decent bunch and don’t give me any hassle, I think that perhaps being a bit old school they play their cards close to there chest. As far as I am concerned I am doing the job as well as I can, not bothering them with trivia but checking things if I am unsure. I told them straight when I went there that I’d done plant but not much with diggers, so if it takes me a little longer then that is to be expected.

As for the 3CX’s really they are a doddle, all the levers are marked and a bit of common sense should keep you out of trouble. Putting it on is the worst bit as you can’t see too much, but it was only really a problem as I had a monster sized bucket up front.

As for the pictures, I’ll have to charge the camera batteries up.

8wheels , I’ve got a 3c of my own and it is roughly 9ft 6ins to the top of the roof without the beacon

When loading lift the front bucket up above windscreen height so you can see the wheels out of the small side windows.

If i get time tomorrow i’ll take some pics to let you see how I chain them down across the back actor, and the easy way to move buckets without chains, only thing is it’s my JS130 and on my stepframe.

But hope it helps :confused:

I can move the 360’s with the buckets rammed up against the blade, it’s just that they have a habit of not behaving sometimes. Practice is what’s needed, although I have found that some of the bigger ones on rubber tracks can be a bit dicey on the steepish ramps if the tracks are caked. Having the ability to put the bucket on the deck is just a safeguard in my eyes.

But I’d welcome the advice (probably grumpy too) on the 3CX, not that it went anywhere mind, but you can’t know too much in this game.

have a look through these sites perhaps there is
some parts that may help you.


PLUS here on the usefull links post in the forum.

But I’d welcome the advice (probably grumpy too) on the 3CX, not that it went anywhere mind, but you can’t know too much in this game.

Absolutely! Gimme all the advice/pics you’ve got Digger! :laughing: