Category: Equipment

Equipment, Manufacturer Profile

Foden Trucks, Funfair Favourite

25 September 2022
Foden Trucks Logo

Another in a long line of distinguished British Marquees, that are now sadly defunct. Foden trucks was a major British heavy goods vehicle builder for almost 120 years, and a major presence on the British funfair scene.

Edwin Foden started out apprenticed to Plant & Hancock, a maker of agricultural equipment. Leaving for a spell at Crewe Railway Works he returned to Plant & Hancock at the age of 19, eventually becoming a partner in the business. On the retirement of its proprietor George Hancock in 1887 the company name was changed to Edwin Foden Sons & Co. Ltd. Initially building industrial engines, small steam engines and traction engines.

Picture of Edwin Foden
Edwin Foden

The firm moved from traction engines into Steam Lorries when restrictions governing road transport were eased in 1896 which allowed speeds over 12mph, and removed the requirements for a man to walk in front of the vehicle with a red flag.

E.R.F.

By 1930, Edwin’s son, E.R. Foden left the company after a disagreement over the future direction of road transport, he feeling that the future lay in Diesel engined lorries. He founded the rival firm of ERF, (his initials) another firm favourite on British fairgrounds and subject of an additional article at a future time.

Foden eventually realised he had been right thereafter rapidly switching to diesel production with the launch of the Foden F1.

Copy of a Foden F1 Diesel Lorry
Foden F1 Diesel Lorry

By 1948 Foden were producing a range of vehicles including buses. Launching their own 2 stroke diesel engine which powered many of their heavy models. They also began offering Gardner diesel engines as an option.

By 1958 glass reinforced plastic cabs were introduced, leading to the first mass produced tilting cab in 1962.

It was this combination of rugged construction, Gardner Diesel engine and rot proof cab which led to the Foden range becoming a major force on British fairgrounds. Most vehicles used in the industry were purchased used, and the cab being rust proof was a major plus point. This, along with the Gardner engine which had a legendary reputation for reliability, and the tough build quality was a perfect combination for vehicles expected to have a hard life on the funfair circuit.

Micky Mouse Cab

One of the most popular of the early Foden’s was the Micky Mouse Cab. So called due to its resemblance to the cartoon character.

Picture Of A Micky Mouse Foden
Micky Mouse Foden

Foden Trucks S108

Probably the most widely used type of Foden trucks on British fairgrounds was the 8 wheel S108. The usual rugged build quality, Gardner engines, now putting out upto 350HP and plastic cab.

Copy Of A Foden Foden S108 Truck
Foden S108

Eventually with the downturn in the truck market, and economic woes in general, Foden fell into receivership in 1980. Subsequently being bought by the huge American firm Paccar, who manufactured amongst others, Kenworth and Peterbilt.

The Daf Cab Years, Foden Alpha

After Paccar took over Leyland trucks in 1998, Foden use of the GRP cabs was stopped. Being switched to the steel cabs used on Paccar’s other European marquee, DAF. Which were being produced by Leyland for DAF.

Picture Of A Foden Alpha Truck
Foden Alpha Truck

Sadly the Alpha was to be Foden’s swansong. In 2005 Paccar announced that production was to cease. Ostensibly to allow the Leyland factory to concentrate on increasing DAF production. The final vehicle to roll off the production line being an 8 wheeler. Which was delivered to the British Commercial Vehicle Museum

Our Trio Of Foden’s

The trio of Foden’s we operated while still attending traditional funfairs.

Catering, Equipment, Event Planning

New Equipment / Box Trailers

24 September 2022
Our New Debon trailer

Like many businesses, we changed course during the Covid pandemic. Only slightly admittedly, in fact more of a subtle swerve. I always used to say that we provided fun catering rather than full meals or the like. During the lockdown though a number of our biggest clients started asking for burgers and fries, Chinese noodles, rice pots and the like.

Not a problem, we can do that. What did crop up as a concern though was the fact that providing 900 burgers, meant we were having to transport far more stock than what we used to do with say candy floss, which at most would be a big tub of sugar. 900 buns take up a considerable amount of room.

So what to do, the obvious choice was buy bigger vans, trouble is, parking is a nightmare in places like London when you have a little van, so something long wheel base would be a nightmare. The other option was to acquire some box trailers. These could be used for things like stock, freezers, additional catering equipment etc. And when we didn’t need them could be left at base and we were back to our usual small vans.

Debon C500

The first of our new Debon C500 trailers has just arrived and been collected from the dealers. Pictured below this gives us a decent amount of additional carrying capacity, both in space and weight terms. It also looks the part being a modern construction, so will look great parked up at events.

Debon C500 Roadster
Debon C500 Roadster

The first thing we did on taking delivery, was to get it straight into our graphics people to have it lettered. Now this is a new thing for us. In the past because of the amount of jobs we did for other events companies we shied away from having the vans personalised. But with some young blood on the management team we have rethought that position and will be making sure our new Crazy & Co. brand is front and centre whenever possible.

Ziggy & Our New Branding

Pictured below is the current design for the trailer. Ziggy our zebra logo is prominent, along with details of what we do. Our web and social media, and a quirky saying for those following us to laugh about.

After A Trip To HGGraphics
Proposed Lettering

Resources : Graphics by HGGraphics

Trailer : Debon Trailers

Catering, Equipment, Event Planning, Food Trucks, Fun Story

Food Trucks From CRAZY & Co.

22 September 2022
Our Horsebox Food Truck before And After

Vintage Horsebox

Next up in our new range of food trucks is our converted horse box. We looked at a wide range of converted horse trailers, but were never 100% happy with the design. We happened by chance upon a maker called Sinclair, long defunct, but their trailers were different as they had a curved front panel rather than the usual triangular style.

After much searching we located one at the other end of the country, a brief conversation and we were told that it is perfect, ready for the road.

Cue and early morning trip to Bournemouth. On arrival, the rather vacant sounding young man informed us that actually the lights don’t work. Hmm, so not quite road worthy then. Luckily I had the foresight to throw a lighboard in.

However upon examining the trailer we discovered that it had four different sized wheels.

“Tell you what mate, I’ll ring the boss and tell her about the trailer and let you know”

Check out our other food trucks.

Knutsford

Luckily I had a back up plan, I had found another trailer at Knutsford, only about 100 miles out of our way on the return trip lol, and this one was described as ‘mint’.

We duly arrived at Knutsford. The trailer was far from mint, but it was suitable for what we wanted. We struck a deal, coupled up and discovered that a short on the trailer lights had blew the lights on the van. That turned into a whole other saga as changing the fuse necessitated a full strip down of the dash to reach the bloody thing.

But I digress, we set off home sans lights. On the way we did receive a text message from the first seller asking when we would be returning for the first trailer. FFS, we left there 7 hours ago.

Not Quite Mint, But Useable or What We Wanted
The Initial Strip Down

After careful consideration we decided that rather than doing what most people seem to do, a quick coat of brush paint and throw some counters in, we decided to make it something nice.

So we started with a complete strip down to the bare frames, leaving my other half to retort, all you have actually bought is a bloody frame!

Taking it back to bare metal we primed everything with rustcoat, then coated the entire frame with black Raptor, one of our favourite products. This gives a hard wearing textured finish that protects everything and covers amazingly well.

New Flooring

One of the concerns the health inspector had was that the original floor would contain years of horse urine soaked into the wood. No probs, as we stripped and burned the original wood flooring and binned the rubber coating.

A new wood floor was fitted, two coats of stain to seal it, then a new rubber coating.

Fitting A New Floor

Big Decision, Wooden Cladding

One of the major decisions was how we were going to finish the exterior. The original wood was a high grade hardwood, but because all the screws and bolts were seized in, we pretty much destroyed it taking it off. A trip to our local wood guys yard and a look through his collection of woods saw us settling on Sapele. A tropical hardwood that is related to mahogany, and is a fabulous colour, ranging from red to golden brown.

We used a soak in wood treatment on all the panels, then a number of coats of satin varnish, as we didn’t want an overly glossy look to the trailer.

We also settled on a satin black for the fibreglass roof and aluminium corner panels. Again, we wanted a less shiny look, though I admit the satin clearcoat was a nightmare to spray without it looking patchy. In the end after numerous attempts I gave up. But curiously, after a couple of weeks the patches disappeared and a uniform coating appeared????

Front Panels

The front corner panels were steel, they were overly heavy and badly rusted, so we replaced them with three mm aluminium. In retrospect two mm might have been sufficient as the three really took some bending.

Making It Different

We wanted a different look to the usual horse trailers, and I freely admit that we had seen an American horse trailer that we loved, so we used that for inspiration. One of the things we added to achieve this different look was a number of windows, both to let light into the trailer, and to add some visual appeal.

On To The Interior

Finally we got started with the interior. A number of steel frames were built in situ, with sapele front panels added and temporary countertops in MDF. A water tank, water heater and waste system, single and three phase electrics and a cooking fume extraction system. Also in common with our other food trucks we added a 42 inch display for menus and such.

The interior corners we added alternating sapele and idigbo strips to add some visual effect.

Another Of Our Food Trucks Almost Finished

Our programmable light panel.

We added decorative copper panels to the exterior and additional windows to the front. Just waiting on the production of our top sign at this point.

Horse Box Catering Trailer, another of our food trucks

Sign finished and fitted

Equipment, Fun Story, Manufacturer Profile

Wisdom Rides Of America

18 September 2022
Wisdom Rides Logo

Continuing our look at some of the world’s ride manufacturers, we come to Wisdom Rides, one of, if not the largest ride manufacturer in the U.S.A.

Like many ride builders, Wisdom can trace it’s history back to being operators rather than builders. R.T. Dowis, the Great Grandfather of the current generation of the family originally purchased a ride to travel the carnival circuit in Colorado, Nebraska and the other Plains states, all by rail at the time. In an interview his Gt Granddaughter laughed when she said I would have loved to have seen his wife’s face when he walked in and said ‘Guess what I just bought honey!”

Moving To Manufacturing

Jerry Wisdom married Elaine Osborn, the founders granddaughter, giving up the chance to play professional football (Not what we and the rest of the world call football, but that strange American game where they use their hands more than their feet). Jerry being a handy engineer, was interested in the workings of the rides the family were travelling.

During some down time he stripped the ferris wheel down, redesigned it and created something that folded rather than disassembled. This resulted in the set up time going from five to six hours for five men, to around an hour and a half for two to three men. A massive saving when help is becoming scarcer.

Ferris Wheel Prototype From Wisdom Rides
Not the wheel in question, but the prototype for a new travelling model wheel

Jerry took over the family carnival business in 1963 and set about updating and modernising the rides. A big part of this was trailer mounting making them easier and quicker to set up and tear down.

By 1969, manufacturing and mounting rides on trailers had become a bigger part of the business. Leading to the carnival side being sold off to concentrate on the manufacturing side of things.

From A Scrambler To A Sizzler

It was 1970 when things took off for Wisdom. They had bought the rights to a ride called the Scrambler, what we tend to call a twist. They redesigned it and produced a new version known as the Sizzler. Which was a major hit on the carnival circuit.

Wisdom Rides Sizzler Ride
Sizzler Ride

This successful ride helped fund Wisdom’s expansion into a catalogue of around 40 different attractions that they build today. One of their major claims to fame is that they have built more roller coaster type rides than any other company in the country.

Wisdom Dragon Roller Coaster
Wisdom Dragon Coaster

Resources:

Wisdom Rides

Catering, Equipment, Fun Story

Citroen 2CV Deux Chevaux

13 September 2022
Citroen 2CV Car

Over the years, Citroen, the French Automobile manufacturer has stood out for doing things its own way. It has designed and utilised a number of systems for its cars different to anyone else. WIth it’s DS model in 1955 it gave the world a quirky hydraulic suspension system, swivelling headlights, a single spoke steering wheel, all wrapped up in a quirky streamlined body. Withs its 2CV, it gave something else.

One quirky car, the Citroen DS
Citroen DS

A Legend Is Born

Post war France, like many nations was struggling with austerity, rebuilding, the after effects of that cataclysmic conflict. At the time in the Gallic nation, most people were still using horses and carts. The roads in most of the country were rural and unpaved.

 Citroën Vice-President Pierre Boulanger wanted to design a vehicle that would be suitable for the many French farmers. Legend has it that the car he came up with was designed to allow a farmer to cross a ploughed field with a basket full of eggs, without them breaking.

Whether that was true or just an apocryphal story is open to debate. Either way the car features an unusual suspension set up, with a single horizontally mounted spring connected to both front and back wheels via shock absorbers, also mounted horizontally.

Suspension Diagram for 2CV
2CV Suspension

The Tin Snail

The novel suspension system was wrapped up in a simple tin body, corrugated for strength, whilst keeping the weight down, the car had a full length canvas roof, and has received a number of less than flattering names. An Umbrella On Wheels, The Duck, Tin Snail. Powering this new Citroen, was an air cooled, two cylinder boxer engine. Initially around 375 with a stunning 9HP. This was increased first to 425cc with 12.5 HP and then to 602 and 32 horses.

2CV Air Cooled 2 Cylinder Boxer Engine
The Mighty 2CV Engine

To keep costs down it came with no locks on the doors, a single taillight and no heating or ventilation system. Subject to much derision by the motoring press at launch, Citroen was flooded with customer orders, indeed at one point a second hand 2CV was more expensive than a new one due to the waiting list.

Early model 2CV
Early 2CV

3.8 Million

The motoring press got it wrong. Citroen sold 3.8 million of these little quirky cars, and it kept selling for over 40 years.

The car gradually became more ‘luxurious’ over the years, receiving upgrades such as wing mirrors, and two headlights. There was even a 4×4 version called the Sahara. True to form whilst everyone else in the automobile universe added a transfer box to split power between the front and back wheels, Citroen added a second engine in the boot to drive the back wheels. The car could run on front or back engines, or both, with two keys and starter buttons in the cabin, but a single linked gearstick, and two petrol tanks, one under each front seat, with holes in the doors for the filler caps.

 Sahara Rear Engine
Rear Engine In A Sahara

Citroen Fourgonnette

Now you might wonder why a blog about a catering company has an article on a primitive French car? It’s simple really, the French didn’t just make the 2CV as a car, they also made a van version called the Fourgonnette. This was rapidly adopted by everyone from the local florist, to the French Post Office.

It has also been adopted by us. Well, not technically a 2CV van, but rather an Acadiane van. Basically this is a 2CV running gear and engine, with a slightly modernised cabin added. So instead of the single round headlights, you get a more modern streamlined wing mounted light. It is also slightly more powerful, and is based on the Dyane car, itself basically a facelifted 2CV.

Acadiane Van

This, like the rest of our fleet of food trucks, will be designed for multi use. From an espresso coffee bar, to a frozen yoghurt dispensary. Over the coming weeks we will post some more details as it is fitted out ready for launch.

Catering, Equipment, Food Trucks, News

CRAZY & Co. Food Trucks

25 August 2022
Citroen HY Van Catering Unit

Citroen HY Van

Gone are the days when people were happy to book a ‘burger van’ for their event. Nowadays it isn’t enough for the food to be first class, the serving unit has to look good too. Everyone from the bride to the company director wants something ‘Instagrammable’ as social media continues it’s relentless takeover of the world, so food trucks seem to be the way to go.

To this end we have commissioned and have added, or are adding, a number of fun and quirky vehicles to our portfolio of food trucks.

The first of these is the venerable Citroen HY van. Only it isn’t. We looked carefully at where we operate, which is pretty much nationwide. The Citroen HY vans were last produced in `1981, making the youngest of them 41 years old. Not bad to nip to a local event or two, but a bit taxing for charging up and down the highways and byeways of this green and pleasant land. The size of them also means they are too heavy for our fleet of car transport trailers, so initially we were a bit stuck.

Then we happened upon a Spanish manufacturer, that was creating fabulous copies of the HY, but built upon a trailer chassis, and made from fibreglass and stainless steel, so pretty rot proof.

We ordered one in the middle of last summer, but with the six month waiting list, it turned up in the winter and then had a round a three month fit out period before we actually launched it.

Construction

Some images of the construction phase below. In truth more of a fit out phase, as the actual structure was provided pre made to us.

This one we engaged Fairtrade Fabrications to fit out for us. A protracted build period ended up, with a fabulous piece of kit. We are a bit limited in signage and theming as what we do is different everyday, so it makes it harder to add signs and such, though it looks like it will be appearing at a Christmas Fayre for a protracted period this winter, so that is liable to see a full branding effort.

Finished Van

Citroen HY Van Catering Unit
Citroen HY Van Catering Unit

Check out our other food trucks at CRAZY & Co. Food Trucks.

Equipment

New Equipment – Compact Generator

27 March 2022

When we were involved with the traditional funfair industry, we maintained a number of power generators to provide light and electricity for our equipment. When we gradually moved into the private hire market we sold them off as it was a condition of the hire service that the client provided power. We did keep a single small compact generator, more for sentimental reasons than anything else.

This was used very infrequently when a client couldn’t source power, and we would charge an small extra for taking it with us. Truth be told it was a pain, it took three or four men to man handle it into the back of a van.

Over the lockdown period our business started to change and we were being booked for larger outdoor catering events. More often we found the clients didn’t understand our power requirements, so it was decided to add some large power generators, along with refurbing our single remaining small unit.

We engaged Fairtech Fabrications to custom build a trailer for the small unit. The design brief was that the trailer needed to be large enough to take our bigger gensets. Additionally we wanted to find a way to make the smaller units easier to demount into the back of a van or trailer.

Form Follows Function

The end result was spot on. Whilst not winning any awards for good looks, it made the process of transferring the generator into a van so easy that the young ladies on the team could manage to do it without any fuss.

Compact Trailer For Demountable Gen Set
Compact Trailer For Demountable Gen Set

We also took the opportunity to clean and respray the engine and exhaust system. Along with coating the generator case in our new favourite product. Upol Raptor. A tough urethane coating designed to line the beds of pick up trucks. So far we have coated our freezers and jacket potato ovens with the product, and left them not only looking like new, but also able to take more of the knocks that our staff seem to dish out to them.

Our New Branding

We also took the opportunity to add our branding to the case, along with social media details.

Newly Branded Compact Generator System
Newly Branded

Many thanks to Fairtech Fabrications for a job well done.

Resources:

Design and Construction Fairtech Fabrications