Tyres. Tyres could be a problem, scrap metal seems to like biting holes in them, whilst the Schofield yard is one of the tidiest around, tarmac roads swept regularly, tracked machines not allowed to damage the road surface, other yards were appalling, mud a foot deep mixed with metal, puddles like boating lakes, roads requiring the Fodens dif locks to negotiate them, more like a 4×4 driving track. After wearing the set of Michelins out that were fitted at the factory, new Michelins would be fitted on the front with genuine Michelin remix at the rear usually a successful combination, a previous bad experience with spurious remoulds on BYG 167Y was still a recent memory. On deciding to part ex change BYG a long lead time for a new chassis led Pelican Engineering to give a guaranteed part ex price, but asked that the tyres be better than 60% when they took the wagon. A local tyre firm had been pushing gearge to try their remoulds although Mark wasn’t impressed with the idea, high speed, fully loaded and cheap remoulds didn’t sound like a successful combination to him, although saying so would no doubt have led to an order to slow down in less than polite terms. The tyres were fitted, they only had to last a month or so. They didn’t manage it. Within days the tread was parting from the carcass, never quite detaching completely, just flopping and flapping in the 70mph breeze. On one journey back from Nottingham Mark limped off the M1 onto the A61 at Barnsley South to find a phone, no mobiles yet. A total of four tyres were shredding, similar tyres were aquired under warranty and fitted only to repeat the process. A few weeks later the wagons new owner was, apparently unimpressed with BYGs new shoes and demanded a refund from Pelican, He didn’t appreciate his daily tyre pit stop. Schofields forked out an appropriate sum and the matter was settled. So no more cheap remoulds!!
8 wheelers don’t like tyres. It’s a fact, the fronts wear their shoulders out for the fun of it, the rears just wear out all over full stop, another matter of fact being, the higher the power, the heavier the right foot, the faster the 8 wheeler will eat its tyres (and diesel, but the less said about that the better) scrap likes tyres, tyres don’t like scrap, trying to keep the two apart took effort, and seeing as standing around waiting for ATS to turn up, or better still changing flat tyres back at the yard wasn’t really Marks idea of fun, great care was taken to keep the tyres inflated. Every morning regardless of the weather all the tyres would be given a kick and wheel nuts given a quick looking at, on leaving a site a gloved hand would be run around every tyre and the twins would be checked for trapped bricks and the like, a practice that drew comment, not always positive, surprisingly, but that paid dividend many times over the years. One yard in Nottingham was a nightmare, four punctures in one visit being the record, the thought of having four tyres repaired in Nottingham, ATS didn’t seem a good idea so B52 SUM was limped home up the M1 at 40mph with four tyres quietly hissing their contempt of scrap metal. Considerable will power was required to keep the big Foden at 40mph, the thought of large bangs and the loss of a rear mudguard or two, never mind the rest of the day on the hard shoulder was enough to do the trick, when the coal hauling MAN 290s sped past though with bemused drivers giving a questioning sidewards glance at the normally flying Foden it occurred to Mark that it must take less will power to quit smoking, the MANs were fast but usually became dots in the rear view mirrors, usually running three or four together alsorts of blocking tactics were used by the MAN drivers to stop the Foden passing, patience and power usually won the day though.
Schofields two fitters (mechanics??) weren’t particularly impressed at the successful arrival of the 8 wheeler with four tyres to change in a rapid pitstop to enable the Foden to make up for lost time in the afternoon, but the gamble paid off this time!!!!!
On another occasion, a particularly high speed journey from Qualcast at Derby to a foundry at Brighouse ended in a minor disaster. An attempt to get to Brighouse before the crane driver went for his lunch, leading to a wait to unload, had led Mark to push the pedal especially hard to the metal, the day was a beauty, sunny and hot, whether the tyre was punctured or just damaged we will never know but the bang was big, the near offside, outside tyre disintegrated in a massive explosion of dust and rubber shrapnel, Marks heart pounded, in the rear view mirror, there was just a massive cloud of brown dust, the rear mudguard protruding at a strange angle, surely there must be damaged vehicles behind, but no, the M62 was remarkably devoid of vehicles that day. As Mark coasted onto the hard shoulder a small van appeared out of the dust and rubber, pulled in behind the limping Foden, by now inspecting the damage to his rear lights and mudguard Mark was approached by the van driver, expecting abuse, or at very least a list of damage to the van, he was more than a little surprised to be asked if he was alright by a middle aged, bespectacled, skirt wearing lady. ‘No, no damage to the van’ she said ‘but am I going the right way to Bristol?’. This being the west bound carriageway of the M62 between Leeds and Cleckheaton she was pointed in the direction of the M6 and she drove away happy, albeit with 350 miles to drive, needless to say the Foden didn’t make Brighouse, a mere six or seven miles away, for lunch.
At around 12 months old the Gardner 6LYT fuel pump developed a fault, this new generation of Gardners, having bought in injector pumps, not the tried and tested Gardner home grown variety, a visit to Pelican concluded that the pump had worn out prematurely and would have to be replaced, this proved to be a stroke of good fortune as it coincided with Gardners decision to release a 350bhp version of the 6LYT and whats more for £270 the injector pump of the 320 could be adjusted and low and behold a 350 was born. This wagon just got better, Mark told no one of his unilateral decision, seeing the wagon was in for a pump exchange, no one need know, not yet anyway. The first day as a 350 driver was a revelation, muck shifting alongside Schofields 16 ton ERF VRW 546S with its Gardner 180, the Foden sped away from the ERF racing through the gears with new found ease, cousin Richard in the ERF puzzled, normally, aside from on the motorway, the ERF would just about keep pace with Foden on an urban muck shift, not any more.
Marks family was expanding a baby in 1986, another in 87 (12 months later!) made three, eldest daughter Leigh had her name alongside Annes on the front of B52 SUM. The Fodens S10 cab proved to be ideal, loads of room, easy to clean, baby seats bolted in, almost everyday was a family outing, mother coming along in the afternoon, even the mother in law on the odd occasion! Several sizes of disposable nappy were kept behind the seats along with everything one needed to keep the kids content over the years. Long waits to tip or load would be used for teaching, reading, counting and writing, during the journey sums would be set so that mental arithmetic could be practised. When left on their own in the cab, dad on the back in the body supervising loading to prevent damage to his pride and joy, anarchy would reign, war between the siblings usually breaking out, dad banging his fist on the roof and threatening to get in and sort them out. All in all though the times in the Foden cab were happy ones, a stop at the sandwich shop meant a carrier bag full of assorted sandwiches, crisps, cakes and pop for a lunchtime picnic, preferably outside, weather and location permitting, kids and crisps equals crumbs equals mess so eating in the cab wasn’t encouraged, just tolerated!
The 350 6LYT powered Foden was, from the drivers point of view, certainly in terms of 8 wheelers, just about as good as it got, whether it be storming up the local hills or cruising along the northern motorways the vehicle excelled, however doubts were being cast, rumours were circulating of problems with the 6LYT, the afore mentioned head problems, oil consumption, oil and diesel leakage were bad enough but the odd tale of catastrophic failure were extremely worrying. Schofields business couldn’t risk downtime running into weeks so yet again after three years a call was made to Pelican asking a rep to call, spec sheets were examined, torque curves studied and a decision made, Caterpillar. The 10 litre Cat was making a name itself in Foden 8 wheelers, its 300bhp though looked a little puny, though in 1988 the 14 litre 3406 was a different proposition with 350bhp and 1320lb torque this was a beast, a monster weighing hundreds of kilos more than big 6LYT built entirely from cast iron not iron and aluminium like the Gardner, its lack of bottom end torque would have to be tolerated, surely an engine with the Caterpillar name would be reliable, time would tell a different story.