I am not a wise man, nor have I ever claimed to be. Reading through my past editions of Old Work Truck Chronicles will prove that to anyone. Buying my 1966 Ford F600 was the first step down a hard, painful road. And then, after daily driving it for a while, I was convinced I needed another. So, I traveled more than 500 miles roundtrip to buy a ’63 International Loadstar 1800. The results have been… mixed, to put it gently, but that’s only partially the trucks’ fault. The rest is all mine.
We’ll start with the Ford. Last time I wrote about it, I was relying on the 55-year-old inline-six to get me from Point A to Point B every day. The engine itself is and pretty much always has been solid, but I spent months-yes, plural-tracking down a fuel issue. I took off the carb, replaced the steel lines to avoid vapor locking, relocated the fuel pump from the engine bay to under the cab and… nada. I’d make it to 50 mph, feeling optimistic and even making it to my destination every once in a while. Then it’d cut out completely, leaving me stranded with an 8,500-pound truck to drag home one way or another.
My pal Brian snapping a photo before taking off. It had taken me 40 minutes to drive three miles, but it died for good a few hundred yards from my house.
“What if it’s the spark?” I asked myself. I then swapped the old distributor for a single-wire unit that got rid of the points and condenser, but as you’d guess, a breakthrough eluded me.
Finally, after unbolting the in-cab fuel tank and tracing from there to the carburetor, we found a 12-inch section of fuel hose hidden behind my brake booster that had totally collapsed. It was most likely original and almost certainly the cause of my headaches that involved several full days and a few hundred bucks trying to fix it.
I drove it a couple times after this, pulling hills and pushing the pedal to the floor, basically begging the fuel problem to return if it dared. Well, it inevitably happened again after taking it on a parts run to get spark plugs for the International. I was only a mile and a half from home and it wasn’t long before a Lowe’s delivery truck driver offered to tow me back. A real stand up guy, he was.
That made me feel even worse when his truck broke trying to push mine out of the way. He pulled me to the middle of the dirt road in front of my house, and he chose to push the Ford out of the way to save time, which was fine by me. The problem is, his Freightliner’s bumper has breakaway ends that swivel and detach upon impact-after nudging up to my truck and pressing the throttle, the bumper bent back. He got out and tried to straighten it, only for it to let go when he was pulling, leaving him lying on his back in the middle of the road with a hunk of bumper on his chest. Yeesh.
We spent 20 minutes reinstalling his Freightliner’s bumper in the rain. I agreed to give him a beer should he ever find himself in my neck of the woods again, preferably off the clock.
Luckily, the International was running well enough to push the F600 into my yard, where it’s sat ever since.
It took a good deal of work to get the Loadstar in shape beforehand, of course. It ran great during my test drive as well as my first stroll around the block after bringing it home. Tragically, when parking it from said stroll, I shifted the two-speed rear-end while in neutral before turning the ignition off, causing it to hang up between high and low. When I got in it the next day, I started the trusty 345 V8 and shifted into gear, only for it to sit still. It would idle with the lever in position for first, second, third gear and so on with the driveshaft spinning as if to taunt me and my misfortune.
Following more hammer swings than I can count on the two-speed motor, it finally engaged and I was on my way. Something still wasn’t right, though, as I sensed a major miss on at least one cylinder. It got so bad by the end of my drive that I coasted into our family’s campground, the International’s engine having died before I came to a stop. I then forgot to turn the key off before letting it sit overnight, burning up the points and condenser. After jumping it with my wife’s ca…