how milk floats are ready to deliver again in new ways
“You can get around £450 worth of scrap, which is why a lot of floats have been scrapped,” says Hall.
“But first, we always check the condition of the batteries. No need to throw them away if they still have two or three good years left.
The milk floats are also sturdy. “You rarely see one that comes in second in a crash,” says Hall. “But a lot of the floats have been sunk into the ground, and most of the old milk float engineers no longer exist.”
But in addition to restoring the old floats to their original state, Hall intends to modernize them. “We now have a prototype lithium-ion set [of batteries] which will plug into the existing configuration. As battery technology advances and the cost goes down, we expect the cost of our setup to go down as well.
The improvements aren’t just about efficiency. The weight gain between old-fashioned lead-acid batteries and modern lithium-ion is huge.
“We use a 30 kW set from a Nissan Leaf. The total weight, including the bespoke battery box, charger and management system, is 350 kg. This replaces the 1100 kg lead acid battery. Another benefit is that you can then use the existing electric car charging network,” says Hall.
His workshop is full of milk floats in various states of disrepair and renovation, but there’s so much more.
I ask if Hall considers himself a collector or an enthusiast. “My place here has often been described as an orphanage of vehicles, I’m excited about buying and selling, rather than having a large collection. It’s exciting to see how things are repurposed and how they help people earn a living.
“We live in a disposable society, so with the floats it’s one of the last old school vehicles, but that’s only because they were built so tough that they’re still around.
“There’s something about a milk float that puts a smile on someone’s face. Old police cars are less…”
But despite all the nostalgia, there’s a serious side to Hall’s work: He wants to reinvent the milk float for today’s needs.
“We need to run more floats. Not just milk, more like a mini version of your main street, like a local store. Small independent businesses under pressure, such as butchers, bakers and florists, can share a database of people – especially the older generation as there are many more people isolated due to increased shopping in line.