Milk Float Speed Trial
On 27th August 2003, two teams met at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome in Leicestershire for a competition to set the first World Milk Float Land Speed Record.
CBL Electric Vehicles of Bampton, Oxfordshire, were the brains behind the Electric Dream Team, led by driver Daniel Hoffmann-Gill from Nottingham. Their vehicle was a Morrison Electricar dating from the 1950s, with a much altered driveline and control equipment, extra cell packs and safety equipment.
The opposition was EV engineering firm VXL Automotive, a subsidiary of Symonds Hydroclean, based near Newport, Gwent. Their entry was a development vehicle for their latest model, the Electron E150. It is powered by a 12000rpm AC motor and features rapid exchange battery packs to allow near continuous use. Design consultancy was provided by Bluebird Automotive Group Ltd of Swansea.
HOT 306 was the contender for the CBL Electric Dream Team. Apart from the rear axle and internal cab structural reinforcements (for safety reasons), the vehicle retains the appearance of a standard Morrison float. It is licenced for road use, and the registration number is genuine. Photo by Dave Root.
Under the platform, however, things are very different, as this view shows. Twin DC motors are provided to start and accelerate the float, whilst the larger DC motor above (a standard float motor) is cut in once a certain speed is reached. The motors are connected to the driveshaft via a system of pulleys and rubber belts. An extra battery pack can be seen centre front, whilst another is located at the rear below the camera position. Photo by Dave Root.
Dan poses in front of the float before the record attempt. Photo by Dave Root.
HOT 306 approaches the timing point. Photo by Dave Root.
The VXL Automotive team brought this impressively sleek and quiet float to challenge Dan's team for the record. Although this is a development vehicle not fitted for road use, production vehicles are already being built for several customers and are likely to appear in service soon. The float is seen approaching the end of its return run, driven by Richard Rozhon. Photo by Dave Root.
The winner was the VXL float with a recorded average speed of 73.39mph; the CBL float managed an average of just 47.61mph, although the maximum recorded was around 52mph. It had, in fact, achieved higher speeds on test, but most unfortunately had caught fire a few days before the event, and had not been quite the same since. The belts driving the pulleys also proved troublesome, with noticeable slipping taking place.
CBL's engineers appeared keen to beat VXL's record in the future, and intend to use HOT 306 again for the purpose. For their part, VXL believe their float should be capable of 100mph, so it is entirely possible that this event may be repeated at a future date. A short film about the event was made, and broadcast on ITV Carlton Central region in January 2004.
Links to news articles about the event:
Other Modified Floats
The race held at Bruntingthorpe was not the first time milk floats have travelled at high speed, although previous attempts have all resorted to alternative means of propulsion, such as a petrol engine or even a jet engine!
This heavily modified float is called "Pastyereyes Express" and was converted by Ray Christopher in the mid-1970s. It was photographed at the Birmingham Speed and Custom Show in 1978 by Malcolm Bailey. Malcolm says: "If I recall, it had a supercharged 327ci Chevy smallblock and Jaguar independent rear suspension".
A rear view shows some of the modifications more clearly. Photo by Malcolm Bailey.
This Arla Morrison float has been cosmetically modified to resemble a racing vehicle, presumably for promotional purposes, although in reality it retains its normal driveline. Photo posted to the Milko group, unfortunately I can't remember who by.
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