E649 OWT set to work in April 1989, improvements to the spec had been made, the relatively trouble free driveline was retained, Fuller 14609B constant mesh box with Eaton rear axles, Fodens own rubber suspension, the NMI body further modified and improved, the biggest improvement being the paint job on the body, self etch primer, primer and Masons polyeurathane aluminium gloss were applied expertly by NMI, no more rubbing at the bare aluminium with steel wool trying vainly to remove road salt corrosion. The S10 cab restyled once more, rounded now, sitting high above the big CAT, the styling a little bland though, a sun visor, airhorns and upright chrome exhaust stack livened things up a little. The interior though was yet another step in the right direction, not luxurious but practical and comfortable, easy to clean and of course lots of room.
There were several things about this vehicle that really stood out, from the driving seat that is. Power or specifically torque in abundance, at high revs, dismal at low revs, a hill taken at momentum could be flown up with unbelievable ease, however, stop on that same hill of 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 and try to restart, crawler, a gear never before needed would have to be engaged, no chance of a safe upchange from scratch, so when less steep ground was reached, first would be engaged and many more revs than was ever needed on any Gardner would be applied, the 6LYT was almost unstattable (although typical of earlier Gardners it would at near stalling point, flick backwards and proceed to run backwards until the stop was pulled) with luck the CAT powered Foden would pull away. Smoke was the next obvious point, black smoke in abundance when flooring the accelerator, this smoke became a trade mark of all the Cat engines of that era, the 14 litre 3406 didn’t have an exhaust pipe, it had a chimney and smoked like a stream train, thankfully though, only under certain conditions, as the accelerator was applied the engine smoked but would then clear, however, if the driver kept reapplying power, for instance on a flat road or stretch of motorway, then smoke signals could be sent to the next county, much to the amusement of a certain driver. There was a drawback though, stealth was no longer an option in the daily duel with the other HGVs, the tell tale black smoke was a giveaway that power was being applied and the speed cranked up, usually on the approach to an uphill incline. So common was the smoke problem with the CAT engines that even the vehicle examiners at the testing station would accept the problem and give the engine a fighting chance during the smoke emissions test by sensible use of the accelerator.
The early morning 170 mile round trip to a foundry in Loughborough was despatched in similar style to the previous Foden, quickly. During these pre speed limiter days of relatively quiet motorways, certainly at times outside of the rush hour, a driver could comfortably maintain speeds that would seem frightening today, as in most things, common sense and intelligence count for more than regulation, remove either of the former and the latter wont solve the problem, tail gateing at any speed will more than likely lead to accidents and quite likely a trip in a wooden box, the higher the speed the wider the gap, easy enough to remember. Although matching the journey times of the Gardner 350 the big CAT was nowhere near as satisfying to drive the lack of low end torque was aggravated by a particularly awkward 14609B Fuller gearbox, this was a higher torque version of the previous vehicles gearbox to cope with 1320lb ft torque of CAT. The gearlever was connected to the gearbox by cables, not just any cables but cables developed for use on aircraft, introduced to the Foden chassis during the Americanisation that followed the Paccar take over along with much use of aluminium in cross members and spring hangers etc. but more of that later, these cables had given no problems on B52 SUM but on this vehicle seemed badly affected by the cold, on a frosty morning the gear lever could need a two handed change, hardly the best way of timing a clean change on a constant mesh box, even when warm the gearbox itself was not the earliest, a delay in the revs falling away when the accelerator was released aggravated the problem further.
Under the umbrella of another Schofield family business, W. Oldcorn Ltd, plant hire, excavation and muckshifting were undertaken, during the 60s and 70s demolition was also on the agenda, the muckshifting though was the bane of Marks life, it usually meant trips to the tip, all the local tips being built to the same specification, bottomless quagmiles, if there was a road it would have been built with the sole intention of wrecking a vehicle, strategically placed rocks or kerb stones semi submerged in the mud. A tipper highly polished and gleaming on a Monday morning would be covered in more mud than a basking hippo by lunch. The Fodens rubber suspension could trap nearly half a ton of the stuff, and although strong and reliable, wasn’t really very good off road, lacking the articulation of the single steel multileaf spring, the 3rd axle and cross axle dif locks helped but only in a straight line, corners being out of the question with the double drive locked solid. Finding level ground to tip on would be the next problem, the tracked machine driver on the tip not at all worried at the thought of an eight wheeler on its side, in fact the machine usually only made two forays on to the tip a day. Mid morning and mid afternoon being the norm, the inside of the site office being the more attractive option, meal breaks seeming to account for 6 out of the 8 hours worked as a machine operator himself. Mark had been hired to work on the council tips and hated every minute of it, only if stuck vehicles were causing the tip staff inconvenience would the site road be repaired. What didn’t help was the councils own vehicle drivers, they were prepared to charge across the tip at break neck speed, damage to their vehicle of no consequence to them, and what damage there was, ask any vehicle supplier to the counties solid waste department about the breakages due to abuse, all have horror stories to tell. One Foden 8 wheel hookloader driver had a block of wood with two six inch nails through it, when he felt and unscheduled break he put it under a tyre and ran over it, radioed for assistance and went to sleep, nice eh?! Level ground was a must for the bulk tipper driver, hook loaders not as fussy, they could tolerate a slight lean, the single front end tipping ram would start to resemble a banana if tipping on a slope, heavy scrap would slide out at the top of the second ram, clay would stick in the body at the top of the last ram, teetering frighteningly from side to side refusing to budge, not really a pastime for the nervous or the reckless, yet again common sense and caution were the key words. Self levelling was the answer. Whichever side of the wagon was lowest would be reversed partially up the side of another tipped load to level things up if there was no other load then stones would be used, laid in a row and reversed onto, the problem with this is that before driving forward with the tipper up, the load must have more or less discharged, otherwise you are soon the not so proud driver of a single tipper! In summer the dust was as a big a problem as the mud, certainly in respect of keeping the wagon clean. Mark envied drivers whos wagons were clean all the time, Geoff Knight another Huddersfield Foden 8 wheeler operator with a penchant for high power would be spotted heading home mid afternoon with a gleaming vehicle apparently washed every day even though it probably never saw a tip or a scrapyard, Marks wagon on the other hand washed once a week when time permitted. The design of the S10 cab didn’t lend itself to keeping clean, the full width cab always dirtier than say a Volvo F7 with narrow cab and wider front wings, mirrors and side windows need attention all the time during wet weather.
The chassis on the Foden had undergone a revolution when Paccar had taken over in the early 80s, gone the wide 12′ deep chassis with its trade mark steel cross members unique to Foden.