Ready For Harvest: 1946 International Harvester

By Jeff Bennett

It really is a shame that hobbyists don’t seem to take advantage of the bargains that are out there in vintage medium and heavy duty trucks.  To be honest, trucks deemed heavy duty back then probably wouldn’t even be considered medium duty the way we see things now.  At any rate, a lot of these trucks were driven into the ground and either scrapped for peanuts or left out back to rust to the ground.  However, a few manage to survive, and a handful are even in running condition.  This truck, which is just waiting for a collector that isn’t afraid to try something new, is one of those survivors.  Found here on craigslist in Dunlap, Tennessee, this 1946 International flatbed dually still runs and is ready to either go back to work or enjoy a nice retirement.  At the low price of $3200, this old farm truck is a cheap way to get into the hobby.

1946 was the first year that you could purchase a new vehicle after World War II, and demand for all types of vehicles was brisk.  Whomever ended up purchasing this truck that year was very fortunate to have it.  The postwar years were, for the most part, boom years, due to America basically being the only major country that retained its industrial capacity.  We ended up providing goods and services for most of the world until the other countries got back on their feet.  It would be interesting to know where this truck has been and what jobs it ended up doing since it rolled off the assembly line.

The flatbed on it now gives us a clue, as does the stake pockets attached to it.  It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe this truck spent most or all of its life on the farm.  Farm trucks often end up with low odometer readings, but all of those miles are tough ones.  For its age, this truck looks to be in good condition.  While it obviously was never a garage queen, it probably benefited from being stored under cover most of its life.  The pictures above show a distinct lack of rusted through areas, and the original green paint is still evident in a number of places.

One interesting thing we see on the back of this truck is the rusty bed springs and some type of equal sized metal framework.  I believe this is part of the electrocution machine featured in Rambo II, and you may be able to get the seller to throw it in with the sale.  The Russians were formidable adversaries, both then and now, but you have to admire their ability to coerce.  If you ever get it running again, please drop me a line.  Rambo II is one of my favorite eighties movies, and I would be proud to be tortured on this device.  Not that I have anything really interesting to divulge.  Also evident is a car hood and a drag tire.  Perhaps the lure of speed is why this truck is now up for sale.

Inside, we see that the floor boards are in really good shape, except for maybe a few small pinholes.  The industrial strength vinyl seat still looks useable, as does most of the dash.  The only problem I see is a lack of both a glove box door and a radio.  I guess if you didn’t have Van Halen back in the day, you were better off waiting for the good stuff.  Other than the lack of tunes, I do see two other interesting features.  The first is, I believe, a way to activate an overdrive.  It looks like a cable, and is attached to the shift lever.  The second set of curiosities are the pieces of steel resting on the seat next to the water bottles.  I think this forms a hand crank for the engine.  These were pretty much disappearing from vehicles by this time, so it may be for another purpose.  While we are not given any information or pictures concerning the engine, we do know that it runs.  Can you imagine cranking an engine big enough to move this truck around with a hand crank?

Another shot of the dash shows everything to be intact and restorable.  You could probably clean everything up and use it as is.  One good bit of news is that the windshield frame looks to be in fairly good condition.  It also appears that it cranks out to allow cool air to enter the cab.  I would imagine that this was a very appreciated feature by anyone stuck behind the wheel in a Southern summer.

So, what we have here is a running and drivable postwar truck that is in very good condition.  If it were a pickup, then collectors would probably be fighting in the barnyard over it as you read this.  However, the size and dual wheels will scare a lot of people off.  That is too bad, for this truck is worth saving.  Trucks like this can still be used as a back up to more modern trucks.  To give you an example, Florida Power has a Mack Bulldog from the 1920s that was restored by employees a number of years ago.  The truck still gets occasional use when hurricanes strike, as it was designed to winch up power poles.  This particular truck could be anything from a neat display at the end of a rural driveway, to a parade vehicle, and even a unique addition to a business fleet.  Or, if you have the driveway room, a cheap way for the average guy to get into the hobby.

You could fix it up here and there, and still have something fun to take the family to the ice cream shack in.  Of course, your mother in law can ride on the flatbed.  Try not to go around corners too fast.

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Comments

  1. kevy

    I had a 1949 kb3 panel truck like that,we bought it and drug it out of the woods,had more fun with that thing. The best feature was the crank out windshield. it was a standard oil truck set up for hauing 55 gal barrels. We used it for a rolling keg party. My dad always shook his head when I drug something home. He was a diesal mechnic so that is the last thing he wanted to do when he got home.

    1+

  2. Jim in AL

    I see the hand crank hole and support bracket in the photo of the front end. Also, you missed the ALASKA license plate!
    If I had a spare $3200 laying around I would buy this in a heartbeat… The better half would probably have a different idea.

    2+

  3. Wayne

    The switch on the gear stick is for the 2 speed diff which enables you to split all gears, thereby doubling the amount of gears in the gearbox. The “crankhandle” on the seat looks like an improvised wheel brace, as it seems to have an internal hexagon on the end.

    6+

    • Loco Mikado

      Yep, it is the switch for the 2 speed differential. The two trucks at my BIL’s wheat ranch in Sask had them, one was a 4 spd the other was a five spd both with 2 spd differentials. Drove his trucks from 8am to 12am helping out at harvest time.

      L

      5+

  4. DrinkinGasoline

    Truth be told, this one could walk the walk long before any talked the talk in it’s class. They’re called cornbinders for a reason.

    1+

  5. Kevin W

    International made some neat looking trucks back in the day, not to mention stout as can be. For a number of years, they even held the #3 spot in sales. Hard to believe they haven’t gained more in popularity, they’re pretty sharp when fixed up right. The only problem I see with these trucks is parts availability, namely trim and mouldings.

    2+

  6. DrinkinGasoline

    A late 1930’s, 40’s bed boxspring laying on the flatbed next to a racing slick tire…too funny 🙂 BTW, I have one of those queen sized boxsprings….it was my Grandmother’s. Never a bed so comfortable than a mattress with it underneath ! I media blasted it, then POR-15, and my wife stitched a quilted cover for it and it’s on our bed as I type…ZZZzzzzz.

    2+

  7. geomechs

    Sure were lots of them out west in the Chinook Belt. The K-5 and KB-5 were some of the most popular farm trucks at that time. They sure weren’t a power house but then, neither was anything else on the farm. A Green Diamond 232 will likely be the motor that powers this one. Go up one notch to the K/KB-6 and you could have the Blue Diamond 269, which made them a lot better movers.

    2+

  8. Shawn Baker

    Always felt the ’47 KB6 had the better looks. Had the headlamps on the fenders and fog lamps on the front. Think I still have the crank for starting it too.

    1+

  9. leiniedude

    I agree Jeff, Chump change. Not that I need another old slow rig, but I sure like them. If she was closer I would have it. I really have no use for it, but so what? I really do not care for radios in my old rigs anyway. You end up missing the jazz from all the other cool noises and odors. Thanks for posting, Mike.

    4+

  10. Rex Rice

    My Uncle was able to buy a new 1-ton pickup during WWII since he needed it for his business, (wood & coal). He brought it home smelling of green enamel and had me ride with him as he opened up on a straight stretch of road. “Watch the speedometer!” he shouted as he gripped the wheel. With the new engine screaming, I watched it reach 67 MPH. It sounded and felt like 167 MPH.

    4+

  11. dodgedude

    The dash is complete including the glovebox cover with the printed instructions for using the 2 speed rear (control on the gearshift). With the Dayton styled wheels, 22.5″ radials could be mounted on these spoked hubs to give it a slightly higher gear ratio and eliminate the problems of the locking ring rims. This is an excellent starting point for a truck restoration.

    1+

  12. Snotty

    I drove a “47” KB–5 when I was 12 yrs. old to the grain elevator in western Ks. Like this one it had the heavy spoked wheels, also had the chrome strips on the grille and the lower part of the front fenders, which I don’t see on this truck. These trucks have a very cool front end on em that was distinct to International. Dad installed a fan on the dash to complement the crank open front window. That was A/C on the farm in the late 40’s.

    0

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