An old-line heavy truck series is back. "T-Line" trucks, the most recent iteration of vehicles rooted in Diamond T and Reo trucks dating to the early 20th century, include three models offered by Diamond Vehicle Solutions LLC of Harrisburg, Pa., which for five years has been supplying parts for still-running trucks here and overseas.

"The T-Line is a blend of vintage Diamond T heritage and modern engineering," the firm said in an announcement last week. Seven complete trucks were built early this year for export to Equador, and the company is ready to custom-build complete trucks for domestic and overseas customers, said Joe Whitman, director of operations.

Meanwhile it supplies chassis and glider kits, along with service parts for existing Diamond Reos, Diamond Ts, and Reos as old as 1949.

T-Line's catalog includes one long-nose and two medium-nose models designed in 1996. It offers components from established makers and will custom-design trucks to customers' needs. The company builds its own main frames and other parts, and outfits basic cabs it obtains from Navistar International; it offers Caterpillar and Cummins diesels, Eaton and Allison transmissions, and Dana and Meritor axles. It will begin using International engines, starting with the MaxxForce 7 V-8, as Cat phases out its truck engines in '09.

Diamond Vehicle Solutions is a small company with limited finances, but has been able to engineer EPA-legal diesels into its chassis because "we're engineering people here," Whitman said, adding that he and others are veterans of a predecessor company that began building Diamond Reo Giant trucks in the late 1970s. "Plus we've had good relations with some of the supplier folks who have helped quite a bit in this."

Diamond Vehicle is an offshoot of the enterprise begun by a Diamond Reo dealer, Loyal Osterlund, who obtained the legal rights to the name, spare parts and manufacturing dies following the old Diamond Reo Trucks' bankruptcy in 1975. He added the Giant moniker. After Osterlund retired the company was run briefly by a son, then shut down in 1997. Under new owners it built trucks using the Diamond T name until '99, and investors again revived it in '03. Last year, work moved into the Harrisburg plant built by Loyal Osterlund in the early '80s.

"Like Osterlund Diamond Reo, we target the vocational market," Whitman said. It plans a "package" mixer truck with a rear-discharge drum obtained from a supplier, and might do a dump version, too. "There's been no truck production lately, but we did some chassis kits to refurbish old Giants - customers take cabs, hoods, and powertrains from old trucks and place them on the new chassis. We have done gliders and could do more," using 1999 to '03 diesels.
 

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