Your Own Water Hauler: International KB-6 Truck

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This International Harvester KB-6 water truck apparently belonged to a private home prior to a well being put in, providing that owner with daily water transport needs. I can’t quite imagine telling my spouse and kids that they’ll get fresh drinking water from an old water truck in lieu of an actual well, but stranger things have happened. You’ll find this International here on craigslist with a $2,800 asking price and the option to retain the water tank and pump. 

I sure as heck would want the tank and pump if I were entertaining buying this rig. The reason being is that the water tank is the best part of the story! Years ago, I worked in the construction field and our equipment manager was a wonderful guy who was a vintage truck and train enthusiast. He spent months finding a classic rig to serve as the company’s water truck on construction sites, and this reminds me as the type of apparatus he’d try and buy and restore, simply to keep an old girl working.

On a related note, I could see a young construction company being open-minded enough to buy and lightly restore a truck like this for jobsite duty. Certainly, the larger firms are much more corporate at this point and couldn’t risk putting its drivers in an antique truck like this, but for a startup, this is a conversation starter! Of course, using it as a farm appliance makes sense as well. The interior is dirty and tired but appears mostly complete, and glass is intact.

The International is listed on the Los Angeles craigslist page, and more specifically, the Antelope Valley which is on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. That explains the backdrop, which certainly shows nothing representing the L.A. skyline in the background. While I’ve made my preference for retaining the water tank, would you buy this one bare and rebuild it differently? What would you use this vintage KB-6 for? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey for the find.

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  1. Richard

    Fill it with cold beer and head for the Playa!

    Like 2
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    Always a lot of appeal for the KB trucks. I’m trying to figure out what I would do with a rig like this. The tank is WAY too big for a single axle. A lot of water in that. But the truck is great. I might add that they all look real nice when they’re fixed up too.

    Like 3
    • BR

      Yep. At 10 lbs./gal. (including tank) puts it way over a KB-6 GVW rating.

      Like 1
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Agree on the tank size. I’m no expert on trucks and capacities, but I know from working in the low-rent low-volume Ohio oil fields as a kid that the oil transport company trucks with single axles had small tanks (capacity about 45 barrels or 1900 gallons). Anything higher capacity e.g. the 85 barrel (3600 gallon) trucks were tandem axles. Oil is, of course, lighter than water, so a given volume tank/truck can haul less water than oil. This tank looks closer to the “big” size.

    So I hope the future owner is careful with how much water they transport.

    Cool truck, I hope it lives on. But I realize, even given the ruggedness of these sorts of trucks, that parts wear out and break. So unless it is a generic piece available at NAPA, something simple could be its death.

    Like 1
  4. Howard A. Howard AMember

    I would drive this,,very,,,very,,carefully. Only one tiny cable holding the tank on, and the fact it hasn’t gone over yet, is amazing, especially as it got sloshing. I doubt it’s for drinking water, they have a bunch of uses for water trucks, mostly for keeping dust down or spraying fruit trees when it gets cold. Cool old truck, not sure about the tank part.

    Like 1
  5. Mountainwoodie

    Man, that Ikey H, has some eye!

    Like 2
    • Ikey Heyman

      Thanks, but I submit some real turkeys too, stuff I like but probably nobody else would!

      Like 1
  6. AZD

    Would love to save this one but I’d want to check out the rear axle and frame first. If it’s not cracked or bent then I think a flatbed is in order.

    Very nice looking old trucks. The KB6 has the longer hood and different front styling compared to the 5 and lower. It should have a Blue Diamond engine. Parts are available… but a modern diesel would fit with no problem and maybe weigh less.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      I would want to check the frame too. The truck in the photo I submitted yesterday used to pack a backhoe. The frame was completely trashed when the present owners got hold of it. The owners went to a lot of pains to cut off the fish-plates and refinish it properly. When I first saw the truck they still had a long way to go, but they worked at it and ended up with what you see in the pic.

      Like 0
  7. Richard

    OK, OK. Ditch the tank and put a hot tub there.

    Like 1
  8. sourpwr

    I had a 1949 KB6 a few years back. It was a 2 1/2 ton grain hauler made into a car hauler. A beast it was. Crank out windshield / fenders must have been 1/4″ thick/ leaf springs like a stack of pancakes. I still have the headlights. Good memories

    Like 0
  9. Ken

    “I can’t quite imagine telling my spouse and kids that they’ll get fresh drinking water from an old water truck in lieu of an actual well, but stranger things have happened.”

    Apparently you’ve never lived on a farm out in the sticks. Lots of farmers where I grew up had to haul water for drinking, showering, cooking, etc. Most of them had large tanks below their homes for storage, so they didn’t have to haul water every day. My uncle hauled his with a 1951 International L-160. I don’t know how large the tank was in gallons, but it wasn’t as large as the one on this truck.

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      There’s lots of farms still have to haul water. I used to haul water for a friend when he got sick and couldn’t operate the truck. It was a ’56 Chevy 3-ton with a 261 and 4×2. There was a 1,000 gal. tank in the back and when it was even half full, you knew you had a load. Of course, the sloshing around made things unpredictable at best…

      Like 0
  10. BR

    FYI – The “sloshing around” is called free surface effect.

    You’re welcome.

    Like 1
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      Thanks BR, I used to haul liquid fertilizer, thats not what we called it.

      Like 1
      • BR

        I was a sales engineer for IH trucks back in the ’70’s, also a test driver for PACCAR. Curious what you called it? :D
        That sort of tank is not meant to be used on trucks. Truck tanks of that size will have longitudinal and transverse bulkheads with limber holes, or will be compartmentalized. Clearly a foolish endeavor.

        Like 0
    • Howard A. Howard AMember

      Whatever it’s called, without baffles, liquid is the hardest thing to haul. Turns clean underwear into soiled.

      Like 3

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