SEPTEMBER 16, 2012: 1941 INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER – THIS IS HOW THEY USED TO SPEND TAX DOLLARS

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This IHC started life with the County of Camrose, Alberta, Canada as a school bus back in the early 1940s.

 

Those were the golden years for taxpayers because governments spent every tax dollar like it was their own so money was spent efficiently.

 

This old corn-binder was no exception.

 

The Camrose County administration decided that this school bus still had potential in its post-school bus years so they cut two feet off the deck and turned it into a tow truck. That’s the kind of forward thinking that is lost in 2012.

 

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Grant Carlisle is the current owner of this monument to efficient government and he is the perfect guy to put behind the wheel of the old IHC. His father in law worked for the County and he bought the truck after its 20 year run under the Camrose administration.

 

He explained, “my father in law bought it, drove it for awhile and then it sat since ’75”.

 

Grant is a hands-on guy and that’s probably the only reason he has the truck because his father in law challenged him from the beginning. Grant explained, ” He told me if I could start it, I could have it”. That wasn’t a real problem for a mechanically inclined guy like Grant as he added, ” I put some fuel in it directly from a gas can line, boosted the battery and she fired right up. After that I played with it awhile to get it running right.”

 

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The real challenge came when he wanted to get it road worthy. The old split rims were a big problem but Grant was undaunted, “I was raised on a farm and some places wouldn’t even touch them. They thought they were illegal than the tire store that would do it wanted 60 bucks a wheel. Like I say, I was raided on a farm so split rims don’t bother me. I chained it up right, put a bit of air in at a time and did the job myself”.

 

Grant did all the work on the front end and brakes but he did run into problems because this truck is so far in the past new automotive techs have major problems with old tech vehicles yet the truck had to be safety certified by a licensed shop as an out of province vehicle because it hadn’t been on the road in almost 30 years.

 

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The problems with “old tech” began early. Grant explained, “They phoned me to tell me that the battery was dead because nothing happened when they turned the key. I went down there and showed them the floor starter”.

 

Later on, there were several disputes as Grant recalled,” They had major problems with the ball joints until I went down there to show them that the truck had king pins. They wanted to pull it off the road because it didn’t have power steering, power brakes, radiator reservoir or signal lights. I had to go down there every time with a copy of the Motor Vehicle Act to show them the regulations on antique vehicles. Plus they had a problem with inspecting the new brake lines so I went down there again and showed them the inspection notch that I cut so they wouldn’t have the big job of taking them apart”.

 

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They had more problems with the lack of seatbelts but Grant pulled out the regulations and proved that it was okay to run without seatbelts in an antique vehicle. That theory was tested early after Grant met a very zealous rookie police officer, “he wrote me up for hundreds of dollars in seatbelt violations, signal light violations and a few other things like not enough lights on the roof. I was in the Police Chief’s office that afternoon, he apologized for the rookie and tore up all my tickets because he was old enough to remember these trucks”.

 

Now he says,I like pulling up beside a cop because I know the seatbelt thing doesn’t apply so I keep a copy of the regs in the cab”.

 

Grant has had the IHC for 8 years now and most of his driving is done around town and to local show because this old truck has a maximum speed of around 35 mile per hour plus it’s not easy to drive, “it’s non synchro so you pick your gears carefully”.

 

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This truck has won several trophies in its class because it is a very original example of a period correct IHC working truck. Grant enjoys the truck for what it is – a great example of improvisation that you don’t see in the 21st Century.

 

He’s done a few things to bring it up to modern standards like converting it to 12-volt but essentially this old IHC is going to stay stock under Grant’s watch for a few reasons. Customizing it makes it require more safety equipment plus he adds, “Nobody can start it if I leave it stock”.

 

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The biggest reason is simply this…the truck reflects an era when tax money mattered to the people in charge and Grant doesn’t want to change that philosophy.

 

No taxpayer would.

 

Jerry Sutherland

 

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