This 1968 Volvo DR861 is the oldest articulated hauler in operation in North America

Updated Jul 20, 2016
Amswede Corp. owner Tomy Stenvall (center) with his 1968 Volvo DR861.Amswede Corp. owner Tomy Stenvall (center) with his 1968 Volvo DR861.

It might not be the prettiest machine in his fleet, but Tomy Stenvall’s 1968 Volvo DR860 articulated hauler is certainly his most prized.

But the truck isn’t just a novelty antique at Stenvall’s Amswede Corporation in Chula Vista, California. Since the early 1990s, the DR860 has been used on a daily basis as a water truck on jobsites that require dust control or soil mixing, according to a Volvo Construction Equipment press release.

And recently, the truck earned Stenvall a trip to his home country of Sweden as part of Volvo’s 50th anniversary celebration of the articulated hauler.

Volvo developed the first tractor connected to a trailer via an articulating hitch in 1966, with the introduction of the DR631, which has been since dubbed “Gravel Charlie.” This machine is credited with starting the articulated hauler category, a highly maneuverable machine that can haul tons of material over muddy, rutted rough terrain.

RELATED >> A look back at 50 years of the Volvo articulated truck

For the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, Volvo CE wanted to find the oldest Volvo articulated hauler still in use on a North American jobsite. Stenvall’s ’68 DR860 now officially holds that title. As such, he was flown to Volvo’s BraĂĄs, Sweden, facility and took part in an event last week.

As it turns out, both Stenvall and the truck call Sweden home.

“I left Sweden in 1982 to escape the snow, and I wound up in Southern California where I started Amswede, which I named after my connection to America and Sweden,” says Stenvall. “…I needed something that was more agile than a typical Gi-series water truck, but not as clumsy as a water wagon. So I looked overseas and ended up getting my hands on this DR860 from a tunneling company in Sweden. I paid $7,000 and they shipped it over in a container. We reassembled it, lengthened the frame and put a water tank and ag pump on it. It’s been with us ever since.”

RELATED >> Volvo CE unveils 60-ton A60H articulated dump truck

Though customized, the truck is still running on its original, 48-year-old transmission. In fact, Stenvall only last year replaced the original engine with another vintage workhorse, a 5-liter TD50.

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“If there was an hour-meter on this truck, it stopped working a long time ago,” says Stenvall. “If I had to estimate, I’d say I’ve put at least 1,000 hours per year on it for 25 years. And it was already 23 years old when I bought it—that’s a lot of hours on this truck.”