Classic Machines Loaders

Classic Machines: The Volvo LM841 wheel loader

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but Swedish company Volvo have been manufacturing wheel loaders now for over 60 years.

Volvo’s first wheel loader was known as the model H10, and, as occurred in many other countries, it was based on a farm/agricultural tractor with a loader frame added on the back with the machine effectively operated in reverse.

This is also how Hough, Tractomotive and many other manufacturers got their start in the wheel loader industry.

Known as the H10, the machine was introduced in 1954 and was a 2-wheel drive loader, powered by a 3-cylinder 35 horsepower diesel engine with 5-speed manual transmission. It was usually fitted with a one cubic yard bucket.

A tray was placed in front of the machine’s radiator to hold concrete or steel slabs to provide extra counterbalance when operating.

It featured a couple of notable ‘firsts’ in the developmental history of wheel loaders – parallel lifting arm geometry and a quick coupler so other attachments could be used.

This whole concept was rather revolutionary for 1954.

From the start, Volvo have always been very safety and operator-focused and the H10 was no exception, putting the operator right up front with an excellent view of the work area.

Over the intervening years the design was refined and improved upon until we get to this month’s review subject and last of the H10 lineage, the LM841.

Introduced in 1972, the LM841 formed part of Volvo’s “all-rounder” series of machines, meaning that they were fit for almost any purpose the customer wanted to use them for – a true utility machine.

Featuring all wheel drive, the LM841 was a true wheel loader, having long lost the ‘agricultural’ appearance of the original H10, and was almost twice the size of it’s ground breaking forebear.

Powered with a 313 cubic inch displacement Volvo D50B diesel engine, the LM841 had a 4-speed powershift transmission and a choice of buckets up to 2 cubic yards.

During 1975 the LM841 received an upgrade in the form of a new engine, the 118 horsepower Volvo model D60A.

This was a larger displacement engine than the previous model D50B engine – 334 cubic inch vs the 313 cubic inch D50B – and further extended the engines reliability by removing internal stresses.

In the mid 1970s, the LM841 was one of the few rear wheel steer wheel loaders still available from a major manufacturer.

Although Volvo had already begun to market articulated steer machines, the LM841 remained in production because it was so popular.

The LM841 was finally discontinued in 1978 with Volvo manufacturing almost 2,300 machines of the type.

LM841’s were well liked by owners & operators alike as reliable and tough machines. They were equally at home in quarries, road construction or the logging skid or feeding hoppers at concrete & asphalt plants.

This is the machine that set Volvo up in the wheel loader business, the H10. It’s agricultural background is very obvious. The operator entered the machine through a door in the front of the cab. Extra counterweight was added via a shelf welded to the mainframe at what used to be the front of the machine. The bucket held 1 cubic yard. This preserved example of a 1954 H10 is located in Eskilstuna, Sweden at the Volvo Museum. (Photo: authors collection)
This is the machine that set Volvo up in the wheel loader business, the H10. It’s agricultural background is very obvious. The operator entered the machine through a door in the front of the cab. Extra counterweight was added via a shelf welded to the mainframe at what used to be the front of the machine. The bucket held 1 cubic yard. This preserved example of a 1954 H10 is located in Eskilstuna, Sweden at the Volvo Museum. (Photo: authors collection)

A 1973 Volvo LM841 described

 Entirely manufactured by Volvo, the LM841 was powered by a 6-cylinder, 112 horsepower Volvo D50B diesel engine.

Mated to a 4-speed powershift transmission, the machine had active 4-wheel drive at all times and a diff lock in the front differential to prevent wheel spinning.

Power boosted steering was standard and gave the machine a turning radius of just over 18 feet.

Air over hydraulically actuated disc brakes were standard.

The loader frame was manufactured integral with the massive main chassis with the main loader arms being pinned just behind the cab and lift and tilt cylinders mounted to the main body of the machine.

Hydraulic hoses were well routed out of harms way as were the lines to the machines quick coupler.

A large bumper was fitted to the rear of the machine and formed part of the rear counterweight with stop and reversing lights inset into the casting for safety.

The long steel plate loader arms gave the LM841 considerable reach meaning the operator did not have to get too close to trucks when loading or stacking.

As mentioned previously, Volvo utilized a quick coupler on the loader arms and were the first manufacturer to do so.

The operator sat right up front with access though a door in the front of the cab.

Getting in and out was probably not the easiest as one had to climb over the loader arms to get into the cab.

LM841 at work on an industrial building site. At this stage of the machine’s development all resemblance to the original H10’s agricultural heritage has just about vanished. The LM841 was an exceptionally rugged machine and could handle all manner of work. (Photo: authors collection
LM841 at work on an industrial building site. At this stage of the machine’s development all resemblance to the original H10’s agricultural heritage has just about vanished. The LM841 was an exceptionally rugged machine and could handle all manner of work. (Photo: authors collection

However, Volvo also had another first here as the cab was rubber mounted, sound insulated and fully safety certified – long before ROPS became mandatory for this type of machine.

Inside the cab the interior was fairly Spartan with a central steering column and loader controls and operating instruments located on a console to the operators right.

Visibility was excellent except to the rear as the machine had quite a long rear hood.

Volvo attempted to alleviate this somewhat by angling the rear hood downwards at about a 20 degree angle.

For the day, the machine was quite easy to service from ground level, much thought having been given to the mechanic to perform his daily duties!

Optional attachments

As befitting a machine with a quick coupler, Volvo offered quite a range of extra’s to outfit the LM841.

It was a real materials handler and well ahead of its time.

General purpose buckets from 1.7 to 3 cubic yards, and light material buckets up to 5.2 cubic yards could be readily attached along with log forks, log grapples, a finishing dozer, snow removal equipment and all manner of lifting apparatus. An extra 2 hydraulic valves could be added to the main hydraulic system for use with log handling equipment or other attachments that required a hydraulic function.

The NZ connection

There were quite a few LM841 loaders imported into New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the records of the then franchise holder Dalhoff & King have not survived and it is not known just how many of these machines were imported.

Your author would be interested to know if any of these machines are still around or in operation.

For the diecast model collector

As a refreshing change, the author is pleased to report that there is a model of the Volvo LM841 available.

This is offered in 1:50th scale by respected diecast manufacturer NZG from Germany. On the down side however. it, like the real machine, is long out of production but can be found occasionally on online auction site Ebay.

Expect to pay over NZ$200 for a reasonable example.

Brief specification Volvo LM841

Engine:            Volvo D50B 6-cylinder naturally aspirated diesel engine rated at 112 flywheel horsepower at 1700 rpm.

(Note: from 1975 on, the LM841 was fitted with a 118 flywheel horsepower Volvo model D60A 6-cylinder engine until the type was discontinued)

Transmission: Volvo 4-speed full powershift transmission with integral torque converter.

Top Speed:     16.5 mph (26.5 km/h)

Steering:          Twin hydraulic booster on rear axle

Turn Circle:     18’ 8” (5.7m)

Brakes:            Air over hydraulic discs on front axle.

Tyres:             Front Axle: 18.4×34 E3            Rear Axle: 14.9×24 E3

Bucket Size:    From 1.7 cubic yards through to 5.2 cubic yard (light material)

Length:            18’ 10” (5.75m)

Width:             7’ 3” (2.2m)

Height:            9’ 1” (2.76m)

Op. Weight:    10 tons

The Volvo LM841 wheel loader

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