Beloved bubble

By: Warren Aitken


This 1977 F86 Volvo is Byron and Shaylee Kriesch’s pride and joy come show season but it is also their workhorse around the farm

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If you had spotted the photos of this extremely tidy F86 Volvo and thought ‘Wow, I had better have a read about this incredibly cool restoration project’ then I’m afraid you are out of luck, it’s not a restoration project.

If you are looking for a technicality and think instead I’m going to call it a rebuild story and impress you with my knowledge of the difference between the two, then you are also out of luck.

The reason being, in order for it to be either a restoration or a rebuild story you need a truck that has been worn down enough to either be restored or rebuilt. This incredible little Volvo has never been let go that much, unless you consider a few engine running repairs as a rebuild, this little beast has spent its entire working life around a small portion of Queensland and racked up less than half a million kilometres.

So, my friends, this is more like a tribute story; to one of the hardest-working little Volvos around.

Second owner, the Hewitts, used the little F86 Volvo to cart stock between their properties and to local sales

Like me, this classic came off the line in 1977. Unlike me, however, it is holding up extremely well for its 43 years of life. Even now the original paint has a deep red shine to it that I can only manage could be attained after three days in the sun.

The truck was first bought by H.M Rudduck & Co and was used to cart cattle from their Woodford farm to Cannon Hill and often the Kilcoy meat works. The huge TD70E engine was pumping out a massive 202hp (151kW), meaning, with a load of cows on, it may not have been setting land-speed records getting up and down all the hills, but you can bet the cows were almost as comfy as the driver at the time. Although the truck was busy it never really racked up huge kilometres, it clocked up even less when H.M Ruddock’s sold out to Doug Nichols and the truck ended up just filling in a carpark for a while.

Eventually, the little F86 was spotted by Nelson and Judy Hewitt from D’Aguilar, Queensland and began its second chapter. The Hewitts were well known for their Holstein Friesian cows and attended many country shows to display them. The little F86 Volvo was the perfect truck for them to cart stock around with. Not just to shows, but with a dog trailer in tow it was also used for moving cattle between their properties and to local sales.

The truck was well cared for and lovingly maintained, ensuring that it was still working hard as it approached its fortieth birthday. Before it got to its fortieth, though, it ended up in the hands of its current owners, Byron and Shaylee Kriesch.

The original bulbar got a new coat of paint as well, whilst the cab remains untouched, aside: from an intense cut and polish

DOWN ON THE FARM

The Krieschs own about 50 acres of farm land in a small area of Queensland called Cloyna. Yeah I had never heard of it either but I must say it was a beautiful spot to go do photos. They run a few cows on their land as well as breeding some dogs, raising some kids and owning one of the angriest, most aggressive sheep you will ever meet. Damn thing kept wanting to charge every time I turned my back on it. Traumatic experience I’m telling you.

So, with a bit of cattle to move around, Byron decided he wanted to get himself a little farm truck. Though a farmer at heart, Byron currently drives interstate for a local company, running from Brisbane to Adelaide every week in a Western Star – the room and power of which don’t compare to his previous farm truck experiences of an old J2 Bedford or beat-up old ACCO.

For his farm truck Byron wanted to pick up something that he could take to a few old shows as well.

"I’ve never been a Volvo man," Byron admits, "but when this thing came up it was the right price and I do have a thing for the old bubble cabs."

It really was right place right time kind of thing. Byron’s wife Shaylee knew of the truck as she’s a local girl and it had been in the local area all her life. Her dad dropped word it was for sale and Shaylee and Byron quickly snapped it up.

Byron gave the chassis a fresh coat of paint, as he did with the stock crate

SPRUCE UP

Once again full credit to the previous owners as the F86 was in top-notch condition. The little TD70E did need some refurbishments when the head gasket went. Byron took the time to do the injectors, sleeves, gaskets, the whole lot. Might as well get her good as new again, he thought.

When I asked how difficult it was replacing parts on a 40-year-old motor he heaps massive praise on Western Truck Group in Toowoomba whose parts team went above and beyond, matching up parts and sourcing the right pieces from around the country. Mechanically there wasn’t much else needed doing, just a clutch plate and a couple of brake boosters and valves and that was really it. Most things were worn with age rather than use; though the passenger seat needing recovering –a sure sign someone was getting a lot of use out of it.

Byron gave the chassis a fresh coat of paint, as he did with the stock crate. "We used the wrong paint on the crate though," he admits as we notice the large parts flaking off.

An interior to match the classic exterior

The original bullbar got a new coat of paint as well, whilst the cab remains untouched, aside from an intense cut and polish that is. It’s still amazing for a 43-year-old paint job. Byron did replace a couple of the lights with LEDs but has kept the old-school exterior which works well.

All in all, there has not been a need for much change or many repairs to the old girl and she still stands up well.

"The biggest run I’ve done was to Gin Gin, about three hours," Byron admits, "but with a load on her I’d have no problems driving it anywhere, it’s comfy as."

Which makes you think of the level of luxury the F86 must have brought to the industry in the 1970s, if it can still be classed as comfortable in the 2020s.

There we go folks, it wasn’t a restoration, or a rebuild; it was just a shout out to a working piece of history. As the F86 approaches its 43rd birthday Byron and Shaylee still have a few plans to clean up some of the aging pieces of their beloved Volvo. It is their pride and joy come show season but it is also their workhorse around the farm. The bubble hasn’t burst on this 1977 F86 Volvo.

The Krieschs run a few cows on their land as well as breeding some dogs, raising some kids and owning one of the angriest, most aggressive sheep you will ever meet

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