2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Volvo articulated hauler, and as part of the yearlong celebration, Volvo held a contest to identify the oldest Volvo articulated hauler still actively working on a North American jobsite. After reviewing the submissions, the winner was identified as Tomy Stenvall of Amswede Corporation, Chula Vista, California, who runs a 1968 Volvo DR860 on almost a daily basis. As a reward for his impressive equipment upkeep, he was sent to participate in the weeklong celebration of the articulated hauler at Volvo’s Braås, Sweden, facility from July 13 through 18, 2016.
For Stenvall, it was a homecoming.
“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,” Stenvall said. “To be back and to get the chance to visit the Volvo facilities was quite an experience. There were big customers from all over the world at this event—some were buying 30 or 40 articulating haulers at a time — but I was the one getting the royal treatment, all because I have an old truck. It was outstanding.”
For Volvo, however, it’s more than an old truck—it’s testament to a legacy worth celebrating. Stenvall’s 1968 Volvo DR860 has been a staple in his fleet since the early 1990s and continues to be a daily contributor on jobsites that require dust control or soil mixing. “If this had been a beauty contest, we wouldn’t have made it very far. This truck has been through a lot over the years,” Stenvall said. “But it’s still going strong.”
Stenvall originally purchased the DR860 because there was nothing like it available in the U.S. at the time. Having grown up in Sweden and worked in the earthmoving business, he was well-acquainted with Volvo articulated haulers.
“I needed something that was more agile than a typical Gi-series water truck, but not as clumsy as a water wagon,” Stenvall said. “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.”
Today, his customized DR860 is still running the 48-year-old original transmission, and it was only a year ago that he replaced the original engine with another vintage 5-liter TD50 engine from a previously scrapped cab-over-engine truck in his yard.
“If there was an hour-meter on this truck, it stopped working a long time ago,” Stenvall said. “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.”
In addition to not knowing the true hour mark, initially, the exact age of the DR860 was unclear. When the “Still Hauling” contest was announced, Stenvall’s equipment dealer, Mike Burrell of Volvo Construction Equipment and Services (VCES), helped him research the age. “I knew his DR860 was the oldest I had seen—we just didn’t know how old,” Burrell said. “We couldn’t find any serial numbers stamped in the frame, but after a thorough inspection, we were able to find an identification plate on the transmission. We sent the number to Volvo, and they told us it fell within the range associated with the 1968 production year.”
With that information in hand, he helped Stenvall enter the contest.
“Sure enough, he had the oldest working hauler,” Burrell said. “I was really excited for him to win the trip to Sweden. He’s just one of those guys that never stops working. I bet he hadn’t taken a vacation in 20 years.”
One of a Kind
Stenvall isn’t just a hard worker, he’s an outside-the-box thinker. His unwillingness to settle for a standard water truck 25 years ago is indicative of his approach to equipment acquisition today.
“Nothing we use is off-the-shelf,” Stenvall said. “We build it to do exactly what we want.”
Stenvall runs a fleet of customized Volvo wheel loaders for his recycling business, which are equipped with quick couplers, third valves, and according to Stenvall, “the biggest grapples you’ve ever seen.” Stenvall and VCES worked in collaboration with Medford to custom-build modified forestry grapples for his Volvo L150C, L180E and two L220Fs.
“We use them for handling waste, demolition of motor homes and boats — you name it, and they can handle it,” Stenvall said.