Volvo excavator completes the NC500 500 mile race around Scotland
Thurso-based Gow Groundworks has taken delivery of the first reduced swing radius Volvo EWR170E wheeled excavator to arrive in Great Britain which has recently successfully completed the NC500 around the northern coast of Scotland.
The idea of driving a rubber duck around 500 miles of the beautiful, yet remote, Scottish north coastline came to Managing Director, Alan Gow, a couple of years ago. “Some of my very close friends have lost parents over the last eight years and sadly I was never able to get home for their funerals so decided I would do something positive to give back to the charities that supported them during their respective illnesses,” says Alan. “We started the planning to drive the NC500 in earnest back in January using a wheeled excavator which was my preference since I’ve had a good deal of experience with them, having run and operated twelve so far. I also wanted to attempt the course with a Volvo and our plan coincided with us ordering a new reduced-swing radius EWR170E to arrive in time for the run in July.”
Opting for the new Volvo nineteen machine came following an initial visit to the Volvo manufacturing facility in Konz, Germany, where the range of wheeled excavators are made. “We have a lot of experience operating Volvo wheeled excavators and find them very reliable and productive,” says Alan. “They are the machine of choice with our operators, for comfort and for handling, and we also like the fact that Volvo is tied in with Steelwrist Tiltrotators as this adds another dynamic to what the machines can do. For us, Volvo certainly understands the needs of their customers in terms of specification, optional equipment and the fact you can fine-tune attachments very easily.”
Alan Gow’s new EWR170E arrived in time to be displayed at this year’s Hillhead exhibition by which time he had already amassed some prominent sponsors for the NC500 run and had their names proudly displayed on the machine. The machine was then delivered to Thurso for the final preparations. SMT GB’s technical team, in conjunction with Volvo CE, recommended some changes to the hydraulic oil and added monitoring devices to the gearbox and axles so that Alan could keep an eye on the temperatures whilst travelling high mileages each day.
On 15 July 2018, Alan set out on his endeavour from Thurso, Caithness, travelling each day along the NC route with a small team in support. Not that they were needed, as everything ran like clockwork and his EWR170E didn’t miss a beat. The maximum distance he covered in one day was a staggering 110 miles and the whole adventure took him 81 hours to complete, notwithstanding his 31st birthday celebrations en-route! On Sat, 21 July, Alan drove his machine into the Caithness County Showground as planned to rapturous applause with members of the Caithness Pipe Band, completing the NC500.
Since the event, he has raised over £12,000 for his chosen charities which will be divided equally amongst them. “I’m really pleased I undertook the challenge and would like to thank everyone and my sponsors for raising such a huge amount of money,” says Alan. “But I think I’ll leave driving the machines to my operators from now on!”
Gow Groundworks was established by Alan Gow in 2007 which has grown into a large concern specialising in general ground works, house and commercial building projects covering the whole of Scotland. Besides the new EWR170E the company has recently invested in a new EC140E and EC220E both equipped with Steelwrist Tiltrotators These new additions join a mix of Volvo equipment in Gow’s fleet including A30G articulated haulers, EW160E wheeled excavators and an EC140C fitted with wide tracks for low ground pressure applications.
The company employs 36 full time staff and continues to diversify in other areas. This includes Gow Plant which hires out up to 8-tonne sized excavators on self-drive hire; Gow Transport which operates two low loaders for general hire along with six and eight wheeled tippers and most recently Gow Aggregates, with the acquisition of a quarry in the Caithness area.
SMT GB markets Volvo Construction Equipment products which include wheeled loaders, articulated haulers, hydraulic excavators, Volvo utility equipment and Volvo road equipment products in Great Britain. There are eight strategically placed customer support centres, a dedicated National Used Equipment Centre and a network of utility equipment dealers to ensure high quality customer support is maintained throughout the country.