Hauler Potential: 1975 International Harvester

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When we think of parting out vehicles or snapping up good projects from an auction, most of our minds wander to old Mustangs or gray-market Euro imports. What’s interesting to see is that some folks prefer their sales and part-outs on a larger scale, such as with this 1975 International Harvester CO181OB here on eBay that is a former fire truck in the early stages of being stripped of useful firefighting equipment, and may be parted out further if a buyer doesn’t come along. 

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This particular firetruck was used by a volunteer squad, according to the listing. Whether that translates to lighter use or smaller fires is unknown, but it’s clear the caretakers of this cab-over rig took pride in keeping the ‘ol girl cleaned up. The interior remains in excellent condition, with clean gauges and no messy wiring hanging like Christmas lights beneath the dash.

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The seating surfaces remain in great condition as well. The seller drove this truck 200 miles home after acquiring it, and claims the rig ran without issue. With only 15,000 original miles, one would hope so – but then again, if municipal vehicles get limited use, they also have a tendency to be ignored and forgotten when it comes to proactive maintenance. The seller does note that the firetruck will need a clutch slave cylinder and portioning valve in the near future.

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The name of the town on the side of this International is Glouster, which might make you think first of the famous New England fishing town off the coast of Massachusetts. But the spelling is just slightly different, meaning this lightly-used piece of firefighting equipment likely came from Ohio (which would also make a 200 mile trip to its current location in Indiana more feasible). While it’s attractive as an original firetruck, the seller points out it could be a good car hauler with some modification – how would you use it? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find.

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  1. Peregrine Lance

    A question: Why hasn’t some kind of notice gone out from the owners of this fine I-H truck, to little towns all over America, advising that a vehicle that probably originally sold for the low- to middle-six-figures is now available for a fraction of its value? Donated time by professional wrench jockeys could make any repair a cinch; perhaps “payment” could be in the form of carting off the community’s old “true” barn finds for scrap steel and thus reap two “good-deeds” from one truck! It always puzzles me when I see a vehicle like this not having found a worthwhile life post first-assignment….One more point: In 1975 I bought a 1960s 30-foot I-H schoolbus, converted it to business use, and had the BEST automotive tool I’ve ever owned. It came from New York, where excellent safety laws mandated that each roof bow at a window had to be the strength of a crashbar. The truck in no way rivalled this one for quality or potential; but I’ll bet it’s still on the road! (A granny-gear to beat all granny-gears; a power “Venetian blind” cover for radiator control; the trusty “Wig-wag” break-pressure system…..the memories are sweet!) Donate it, fellas–and thumb your nose at the IRS for life!

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    • CJay

      It’s easier to keep an old truck that has been owned by a fire company in service. Pump certifications, fire safety laws and insurance regulations would make it difficult to return this good ole work horse back into fire service.

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    • Tony Grazziano

      The reason there are so many of these trucks is that they start having problems getting their pumps re certified and the ladder trucks need to have their ladders re certified. Most departments take excellent care of their equipment and the smaller departments don’t put many miles on their vehicles. If you are a collector of fire trucks and emergency equipment you need to have a place inside to store them and if you don’t like most people, they end up outside and the weather destroys them over time.
      I have owned a few over time and between the storage and repairs it is far too much for my budget when you have a family to raise. The collectors that can afford the hobby take very good care of their collection, plus they can tell you about the liability they have if they have young passengers. The ladder trucks that 85 to 105 foot ladders usually have a lot less miles on them but those can take two to three spaces of a pumper. I would love to own a tiller but thinking with common sense I have no place to put it and I love the trucks too much to leave them out side so I decided on another direction and have 400 scale models and if I buy anymore my wife will start looking for a place to store me.

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  2. Mike

    A lot of the problem with listing it for other Cities For Sale or trade has to do with the Insurance Rating that a City Volunteer Dept. has and can provide for the people that live in the City. What I mean by that is the readiest of the Volunteer Fire Dept. its staff and equipment. I was a Volunteer for many years with the local town, every couple of years the State of Missouri would do a review of the insurance rating of the equipment and the readiest of the Dept., that then reflects of the rating for the insurance that the home owners pays for home insurance. One of the things that the States rates each dept. on is the age of the equipment. This unit being 40 years old it has basically out lived the usefulness or rating of the unit. I can guarantee that parts for the pump are nearly impossible to find and if you can find parts they will be used parts, the controls are so out of date that they also are hard to find, when a State comes in to review your dept. they will look at all equipment, if you have a piece of equipment that is out of service they will look at what is being done to it to get it back up and running, or if it is even repairable, if it can not then that can be a mark against your rating, they will review all training logs for each volunteer and so on, it is easy 2 day event for your Dept.
    Some years back when I was still evolved with the local dept., we had a couple of units that were at least 25 years old, and we traded them in on a new unit, and we basically gave the units away because there was no market for them anymore. We even tried to give one of them away to the local fire academy that works with our local community college which we doing a lot of our dept. training at and they did not want it, you have to understand that small town USA has to pay the insurance for the equipment also, and pay for the training of all Volunteers one way or the others to help keep the insurance rating for the town the best it can get, because that also can effect the businesses that come to town for the rate of insurance they will have to pay out for their business.
    It all boils down to insurance cost basically anymore. A unit like this will more they likely be purchased for pennies on a dollar but a salvage company that takes them and parts out the unit to keep other small town units running for as long as possible. Which in my opinion is a waste of a onetime great piece of Fire equipment.

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  3. Peregrine Lance

    Comments of CJay and Mike are very helpful to understanding a service truck’s “afterlife”–although it’s heartbreaking to see Bureaucracy the only real winner here.

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  4. Fred

    Thanks for taking the time to explain it Mike. Everyone wants old fire equipment to be useful to someone out there, but it’s good to know exactly why it doesn’t always work out from someone with inside knowledge.

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  5. angliagt

    I believe a “Squad” is mainly used for medical aid calls.
    And as Mike said,when they get older,the expenses (& paperwork)
    go up.And sometimes the cost of repairing/updating a pump on
    these is cost prohibitive.
    It can also be like an older car – you replace the pump,
    & then (due to age) things start needing repair,one after another.

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  6. Van

    This is a sad story.
    We grew up in the 70s and it doesn’t seem that old.
    Fire trucks probably receive the best maintenance of any vehicle on the planet, and it’s not enough.
    I keep asking my wife if I can use one to build a camper. I would need to change the axle ratio

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  7. ImpalaGuy

    Hope this works as a link. This is a ramp hauler, with indoor space under the ramp, converted from a firetruck. Bills itself as “Where’s The Fire” Racing. I’m sure you can figure out the acronym.


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  8. Van

    WTF are you trying to say fire breath.

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  9. HoA Howard AMember

    While it is a clean unit, as to be expected, these really were miserable trucks to drive. They did turn real tight, making them ideal for cities and fire duty, but they were hot, noisy, hard to see on the right side( like most cabovers) rode rough ( like most cabovers), shifting was a pain ( again, like most cabovers) hard to work on, just not the best. I drove an asphalt truck like this for a while, and I hated it. I tend to agree with the others, it should go to a cash strapped community ( take your pick) as a backup unit for the 2 or 3 times they might use it. CJ and Mike made it clear why they don’t do that, which I feel is too bad. I always wondered why these towns have to have brand new 1/2 of a million dollar units,( or whatever) sitting doing nothing, and a budget crisis, to boot. Was the old unit really that bad? Couldn’t update it? Anyway, we never really see what happens to all these fire trucks that show up here. I’d bet most get junked.

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    • JeffAuthor

      Interesting feedback on the cab-over design. Figured there was a reason we don’t see much of them anymore! And yes, there is a retired rig from the city of Beverly, Mass., sitting in a junkyard in North Bellerica. Shame.

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  10. Woodie Man

    ” Honey, what the heck is that in the yard?”

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  11. Mark S

    I’d say strip the box off the back, shorten the wheel base, install a two speed axle with highway gears and fifth wheel equipment. The truck could be then used for anything from stock trailer hauler to RV hauler. IMHO that is about all its good for after being decommissioned.

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