Jonah Dixon drives for S & D Smith, a timber haulage company from Longtown, who run a fleet of ten lorries throughout Northern England and Scotland.
He hauls timber for Euroforest, working out of their Stirling office in central Scotland, keeping him on the road from first thing Monday morning until late on a Friday afternoon.
Since helping out Gary Sheppard over the last few months on his forwarder I have developed a good friendship with Jonah. He is one of the nicest natured guys I have had the privilege to work along with. This isn’t just my opinion, as during my visit to Riding’s sawmill the people running the log deck held him in the same high regard. Although he has only been in timber haulage for 6 years, he is an exceptional gifted crane operator, both fluent and tidy. He starts at one end of a stack and lifts every stick as he goes along while leaving the remaining stacks in a safe and stable condition. He is a hard-working professional and a credit to timber haulage, so it was no surprise to learn that he was taking delivery of a shiny new truck on the 27th of March.
I was coming down from the North of Scotland that day and as I neared Stirling, I called Jonah and as luck would have it, he was heading towards the forest for a load, so I had a perfect photo opportunity.
Gary’s site is just outside of Stirling, a couple of miles up a single-track farm road. A Wagon and Drag is the only option for hauling this timber, as there are some tight corners next to the residential cottages which an articulated lorry would struggle to negotiate. There are not too many sizes on the site either, mostly 4.9/3.7 sawlogs for Ridings sawmill, 3m chip and 3m pulp, 2.5 Pallet and the bane of every forwarder operator and hauliers’ life, 1.7 posts for Jimmy Lapsley at Kincardine 😊
Jonah wasn’t quite his usual happy self as he was sideswiped by a car while delivering his very first load. Fortunately, it was only cosmetic damage to the wagon’s rear wheel mudguard and a few minor scratches but enough to take the shine off his day. ☹ He enjoys working up in Stirlingshire, he gets his allocation of loads for the week and then it is left up to him to organise his haulage schedule. “It’s great” he said “you are pretty much your own boss and left to get on with it. As long as the quotas are met each week no one bothers me.”
The Scania R590 looked stunning in the S&D Smith blue and red colour scheme. The forestry conversion on the Scania wagon and Robinson drag trailer was completed by Palfinger UK. To increase the trucks payload, it was fitted with Alucar bunks and bolsters, which are made from anodised aluminium, making an extraordinary light and strong structure. The new loader was a Palfinger Epsilon M10L with a 9.7m reach. It has the new ergonomic MasterDrive seat with mechanical suspension for a comfortable and secure seating position and multifunctional arm rests for ease of operation. Jonah likes using Palfinger Epsilon cranes, they have proved to be dependable with a well-protected internal hose layout. His new crane was fitted with an overhead hood which will at least offer him some protection from the worst of the Scottish weather but unfortunately not the midges!
FIND US ON
To make sure he carries his maximum weight without attracting the attention of PC Plod – who appear to have a personal vendetta with timber lorries – Jonah has a Massic weighing system fitted. Another useful addition for timber lorries is the Central Tyre Inflation System, his new Scania has the Bigfoot system.
This gives operators the ability to adjust tyre pressures from the cab to suit the speed and weight of the vehicle. Lowering the air pressure in a tyre creates a larger area of contact between the tyre and the ground increasing traction/floatation on loose or soft surfaces decreasing roll resistance. Higher pressures on smoother surfaces ensure rolling efficiency is maintained. This means that the optimum tyre footprint for a given road surface and load being carried can be maintained.
The wheels were gleaming in the rare Scottish sunshine and Jonah informed me that they were Aluminium Dura-Bright wheels. These are different to polished Alloy as Dura-Bright is a surface treatment that penetrates the aluminium and forms a molecular bond that actually becomes a part of the wheel. This prevents any cracking, peeling or surface corrosion so that the wheels stay bright and shiny for much longer.
This Scania 6 X 2 wagon has the 16-litre EURO 6 fuel efficient 590hp V8 motor with the XPI injection system and 4 valves per cylinder. This engine can run on HVO without being modified and if required can be specified for running on biodiesel. A 12-speed gearbox with overdrive is able to cope with all types of forest road conditions.
Jonah’s wagon has the hi-spec R-Sleeper Highline cabin which has more space, comfort, and plenty of storage room for all your clothes and bits and pieces making it a home from home. It is fitted with a fridge, microwave, and TV so that you can bring a selection of home cooked meals with you and avoid roadside cafés and too many fry ups. Having had his HGV licence since 2004 – Jonah previously travelled the length and breadth of the country collecting tyre casings – so was used to staying away through the week.
I questioned him as to what made him decide to change from general haulage and choose timber. “One of the main reasons was getting away from driving on bloody motorways all day long!”
Since he has moved into forestry (or better known as the dark side lol) Jonah has never regretted his decision and looks forward to each day with renewed vigour.
“Some of the scenery and views are absolutely stunning. Just this morning I saw five stags with huge antlers in the farmers field, this is the first time I have ever seen red deer in the flesh.
“I like being able to organise myself and as long as the timber is delivered no one bothers me. I’m just left to get on with it and can chop and change my schedule if there is road works or an accident.
“Although money isn’t my god, hauling timber is a pretty well-paid job. Forestry is a great industry to work in, there is great camaraderie with everyone pulling together and helping each other whenever possible. I can’t see me doing anything else for the foreseeable future.”
My part time work on the forwarder has now drawn to a close, my biggest regret is that I will miss having a crack and a laugh with Jonah.
I waited until Jonah had been using the truck for a couple of weeks before I asked for some feedback.
“I love the V8 as it pulls like a train, especially uphill when fully loaded” was his brief but concise proclamation!
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