Happy days with a crash box

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Alan and the Model Village’s replica ‘B’ Type bus. ALAN PAYLING COLLECTION

Alan Payling shares some fond memories of vehicles that he’s driven that all had to be handled with great care and skill – and reveals how he missed out on being a film star

They say that once you’ve learnt how to ride a pushbike, you never forget how to get on two wheels and cycle off into the sunset. As a former commercial driver, I’m of the view that the same rule applies when it comes to using a crash box.

During my training for my HGV 3 test, I had to learn how to use a crash box from scratch. My instructor was very patient, providing two lessons I never forgot. Firstly, I was told to drive like a professional footballer plays the beautiful game. Like the stars of the then-first division who ‘played in space’, my instructor told me to always ‘drive in space’. This would leave plenty of room around me, particularly for the smooth but slow gear changes that are needed with a crash box. I was also told to consider my gearbox, and that once the revs were right, to slip it into gear nice and gently. On no account was I to make ‘her’ scream. I always thought I was a better driver for the advice I received, because I didn’t rush about and stopping and starting was nice and smooth; and I never missed a gear. […]

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