Many Hands Make Light Work With Help From uShip And A Few Friends
29 March 2011 - Steve Lawson
When it comes to solving a problem, they say many hands make light work - as a classic vehicle owner found when he broke down in Manchester recently. It certainly looked as though it was the end of the road for his 1988 Volkswagen T25 camper but with the help of uShip, a national carrier broker service, Club 80/90, B and B couriers, and a gearbox specialist called Aidan Talbot, his gearbox was repaired without the vehicle going anywhere.
The camper owner, Nigel Forrester, was bowled over by the support provided when he discovered that his gearbox had lost both 1st and 2nd gear after leaving work one evening. After a call for help to a Volkswagen club known as 80/90 (a national club for volkswagen campers made between 1980 and 1990), a trio of keen volunteers (Jonno, Hacksawbob and CovKid) arrived from Middleton in Manchester, Bolton, and even as far away as Coventry.
However, on the day, the weather was best described as 'moist' and not in their favour as one recalled:
"With Manchester so close to the Pennines, damp weather is often the norm up here but on this particular day the heavens absolutely opened, We spent much of it lying in a giant puddle, soaked to the skin beneath this camper but we couldn't see him stuck.
"Club 80/90 is noted for its willingness to assist members in a tight spot and we're spread right across the country. We even have our own second-hand parts relay delivery service but this was more of a challenge.
"The three of us had spoken many times online but this was the first time we'd met face-to-face and the team spirit really helped get the job done - despite the rain." he said.
With help via phone from Aidan Talbot, VW T25 gearbox specialists based in Warrington, the fault was soon verified and the boys removed the gearbox entirely, ready for despatch.
Whilst classic campers have an enormous following, many are well over over 25 years old now and trustworthy garages and engineers are therefore much prized. Aidan Talbot is well known by VW camper owners both in and outside the UK. As well as providing a gearbox rebuild service, he supplies spares, custom gearboxes with longer gears, hybrid clutches and different bellhousings to mate with other engines and was easily the best choice in this instance.
Transporting it posed a more immediate problem though. Gearboxes are not light items so it was a case of logging on to the uShip web site posting the distance it had to travel and the weight and seeing which courier offered the best price and on what day they could collect it.
For those unfamiliar with how uShip works, most couriers have fixed tariffs (depending on weight, size and urgency). uShip works on a bidding system which connects truck and van owners to customers. Across the UK there are many vehicles which often return empty after making a delivery and uship helps maximise both fuel consumption and load carrying capacity whilst promoting a cost-effective service as drivers compete with each other on price to collect and deliver hard-to-ship items such as cars, motorcycles, horses, heavy equipment, household goods, boats and more. Courier firms place competing bids on the uShip web site to win a customer' business, which brings down delivery costs and makes transport more affordable and efficient.
As Sandra Patterson (uShip) said:
"Our bit of the "logistics" world is really about normal people with normal problems."
This is largely true and for uShip this is just one item out of thousands that are sent to various destinations in the UK (and internationally) every month, and as well as providing a way for people to find a good price for moving more bulky or unconventional items, it also helps reduce wasted energy.
Several bids came in once the request for transporting the gearbox had been posted. In the end, Mr Forrester chose Warrington firm B & B Couriers Ltd - partly for their competitive price but probably more for their quick response in answering emails and as it turned out, for their rapid service both in delivering and returning the box. In fact once the gearbox had been repaired, it was back within the hour.
"We pride ourselves in ensuring that the customer gets the required service and we were delighted to be of help in this instance" said a spokesperson from B and B. "Clearly this man wasn't going anywhere without the gearbox and its always rewarding when we know we can really make a difference."
The following day the gearbox was on its way to Warrington where specialist gearbox rebuilder Aidan Talbot quickly set about stripping down the gearbox and isolating the fault. As he recalled:
"To be honest, my phone diagnosis proved right although it did require a complete strip down of the box to replace the damaged parts. Most of these boxes are vintage now.
The most cost effective solution in a situation like this is to have the gearbox rebuilt and thats what we did, replacing a broken relay lever and some other parts."
"In fact we supply all the necessary parts including seals, gaskets, bearings, synchro rings etc - many are original VW parts.
"Anyway, we repaired it over that weekend and had it ready for return to Mr Forrester on the Monday." he said.
Within an hour of Aidan's call to say the box was ready, B and B couriers were already on their way to Manchester with it, requiring ony a refit and fortunately on a much drier day.
Clearly many hands do indeed make light work and carrier broker services have much to offer as uShip proved - even when stranded on a wet road in Manchester and matters looking somewhat hopeless. Whilst perhaps not a replacement for breakdown cover, few carriers can offer such a tailored and affordable service.
Mr Forrester added that it was quite astonishing how quickly everyone rallied round to help solve his problem and wishes to thank Club 80/90, uShip, B and B, and particularly Aidan Talbot for their efforts in getting him back on the road so quickly and with such a positive attitude throughout.
"A breakdown service is one thing, but this was much more than that and I cannot thank these people enough for their generosity, time, and above all, dedication. It really restores your faith in human nature." he said.
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