Yesterday afternoon, after spending much of the day working around the house, I sat on the couch and checked my email with the dog curled up next to me. I hit Marketplace and did my usual search, figuring I’d see the same ragged out Scouts and a couple of trucks before signing off. Cycling through my search terms, a new listing caught my eye, and the location made me sit up on the couch: Middle River, about 20 miles from here. The picture was of a red IH Travelall of unknown vintage sitting in the side yard of a house, listed for a tantalizingly low price. I immediately messaged the guy and about five minutes later added my phone number, then continued about my day.
A few hours later the seller called me and we set up a meet for first thing Monday morning. I got my usual kit together: a magnet, a flashlight, a strong screwdriver, a 15/16″ socket on a long bar (to put on the crank bolt to see if the engine is free), my $30 borescope, and some gloves. At 8:45 I was sitting outside his house with a cup of coffee, and he waved me into the yard to look it over.
What I found was, as always, worse than the pictures showed, but strangely better than all the other rigs I’ve seen around here. It was a mid-60’s C1100 with Custom badges on the doors. The seller told me his brother had bought it years ago and had it towed from Virginia to his house, where it sat outside for years before it was moved last week and put up for sale. The paint was rough all over the outside; there were blooms of open rust on the doors and fenders. The driver’s rear quarter was crispy around the wheel arch. There was obvious bondo in several spots. The passenger’s rear corner was crunched at some point. And the grille was completely missing. One thing that didn’t show in the photos online was that the passenger’s rear glass—the most unobtanium part of a Travelall—was cracked in several places. The windshield also was cracked in several spots. There were no brakes, but he transmission and clutch weren’t frozen.
Inside, someone had pulled all the seats out and replaced the rear bed with a custom carpeted platform, then bolted two seats of indeterminate origin in the cabin. There was custom upholstery bolted to every surface—walls, ceiling, over the rear doors, and over the windshield. But the dash was clean, the dashpad was in one solid piece (also a shock) and the switchgear all looked to be in decent shape. Under the floormats, the front floors were intact but very damp.
We talked for a good long time about cars and health and life as I looked it over, and he brought a battery out to see if it would catch. It had an International V8 of some size with an aftermarket AC unit plumbed in, and all the moving parts were present. It cranked right over, which was a good sign, but we couldn’t get it to fire with two different coils. The distributor was like no other I’ve seen on an IH motor; I was dumbfounded as to what make or model it was. As we talked, his phone beeped and beeped; he sheepishly showed me a list of 30+ inquiries beginning with mine from the previous evening. He said he’d been swamped with messages since he posted it, one guy even calling at 5AM.
I thought about it for a few minutes and asked him if he was flexible on the price; he thought for a minute and brought it down $250 less than the listed ask. I shook his hand and a deal was struck. This truck has no title, so I did a bill of sale purchase; I’m going to have to do the Vermont title thing to get it registered correctly here. But this came in at a fraction of my budget, so I couldn’t pass it up.
I’d done some research on towing companies the night before so I had a good one to call, and within 1/2 hour a rollback was beeping down the street to where we’d pulled it out of his yard. After heading back under the tunnel to the house, I moved cars out of the driveway and the tow operator dropped it to the side of the garage where it’s out of the way. The rear bumper on this thing is gigantic, and there’s a heavy duty hitch welded to the frame below.
After getting some lunch and work done in the house and giving the dog a well-needed bath, I figured I’d take advantage of the 60˚ weather while I had it and busted out the pressure washer to blast off several years of grime, moss, and flaking paint. This also removed one of the crumbling aftermarket trailer lights mounted above the barn doors. As I cleaned black gunk off the roof, I found a 1″ diameter hole in the center from some kind of radio aerial and figured I’d better cover that before tomorrow’s rain hit. I sanded the edges down with a wire wheel and used some basic painter’s caulk to seal it with a plastic lid. Temporary, but effective.
The passenger’s front tire is garbage—it would never hold air—so I jacked up the front of the truck, put it on a stand, and pulled the tire off. It’s a 16″ rim with a LT215/85 R16 mounted, so I threw it in the back of the Scout for a weekday dropoff. Tires this size are pretty plentiful, so I’ll see if I can find something inexpensive.
Because one of the barn doors wasn’t closing all the way, I got a screwgun out and popped the screwcaps off the upholstered panels and removed them. I was shocked to find both doors in almost perfect condition; the metal looks as good as new, even underneath. They don’t close perfectly, but they’re not held shut with a ziptie anymore either. Intrigued, I took off the rear driver’s door panel to find that door in similar shape. The passenger’s rear panel was hiding some serious dirt and debris, and was wet to the touch—so I was glad to have that one off and not collecting more moisture. Then I got caught up in pulling a bunch of the upholstery off the walls and made a pile of smelly dusty crap in the center of the truck. By 5PM I knew I had to stop, because I had more work to do inside the house, so I buttoned everything up and called it a night.
I’ve got a long list of things to tackle now, but the first one is going to be writing to the Wisconsin Historical Society for the Line Set Ticket on this rig to see where it’s from and what it came with. Then I’ve got to find a new tire and get it mounted so that it’s off the jackstand and on its feet. And I have to start the titling process to get it in my name, plated and legal.
Meanwhile, I messaged the guy up in New Jersey with the blue pickup to see if he would sell the NOS gas tank he had sitting in the bed of the truck; hopefully he hasn’t sold it, because the ad is now down.
I just couldn’t wait for later to catch up on these posts I had somehow missed!