Nicholas Fluhart

May 5, 2013

Project Loadstar: Front Leaf Springs

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 5:38 pm
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The next issue I decided to address, and the topic of this forth installment of the Loadstar project, is the front suspension.

I noticed the truck sitting low in the front, and with 8.25-20 tires, the wheel wells shouldn’t be so full. I crawled under to take a look and the problem was immediately noticed. The front springs are worn out. A leaf spring should have a natural arch to it. These were collapsed and the shackles were flattened back. Well, that explains the low ride height, now the question is what can I do to fix it?

Hard parts are a challenge because they are hard to find in my area. While there was an International dealership here years ago, surviving Loadstar trucks are virtually non existent around here.  I thought about repairing my existing springs. I know leaf springs can be “re-sprung” by putting them in a fixture, heating them evenly, and then applying a cooling process. The only problem is that I have no idea what that process is or what’s involved. If done improperly, the springs will be weakened and useless. So I quickly ruled out fixing what I have. The next possible solution is to find a set on another type of truck and modifying them to work on my truck. I would essentially build my own springs using parts from both. That sounds much more feasible.

So I set out to find a donor truck. The most common trucks around here are Ford F-600, F-700, etc. The good news is, I have a friend with a junk yard who has several of these old trucks. The bad news is, the Ford leaf springs mount differently than my International springs, so we would have to do something to make it work. Nevertheless, after wondering around in the woods my helper and I found a good donor truck: a Ford B-700 school bus laying on its side.

Donor TruckThe bus springs were thicker than the Loadstar springs, and they were in great shape. They’ll do just fine. Since the bus was on its side for whatever reason it made it very easy to get to the springs, which are very heavy by the way. Once back at the shop, we made some comparisons. Although the bus springs were thicker, they were the same width as mine which will make our job easier. Furthermore, we decided to use the top spring from the Loadstar, so the mounts and attachment length would be correct for the frame. We would then attach the rest of the leaves from the bus springs under the top spring providing more than adequate spring capability. This requires disassembling both sets of springs, matching up the proper number of leaves, and then assembling the new combination. We use a torch to cut off the old brackets and rivets not to be used.

Disassembling Leaf Spring

Then we put the assembly in the hydraulic press, loosened the center bolt that holds the springs together, and slowly let the pressure off.
Reassemble In Press

We match up the leaves to be used and assemble the spring.

Leaves Matched Up

Here’s the finished spring…

Spring

Now, before we can reinstall it on the truck, I have to address another problem that was reveled when we removed the springs: worn out shackle bushings and pivot bolts. From lack of lubrication, the bushings were worn through completely, and the bolts were almost worn in half.

Worn Shackle Bolt
I jumped online and surprisingly located some new bushings.

New Bushings

To save on cost, I decided to repair the worn pivot bolts instead of replacing them. I welded in the worn area on each bolt to build it up to the proper thickness. It took a few passes with my antique Westinghouse A/C Arc Welder.

Worn Bolt Welded Bolt

Ideally, a machinist’s lathe would be used to turn the bolt back into the correct diameter. However, I don’t have a lathe. So in lieu of expensive machine tools, I carefully used my bench grinder to dress the bolt…and it turned out pretty good I must say.

Dressing the Bolt Finished Bolt

These bolts are hollow with a passage for grease to be pumped in at one end. The grease flows out to the bushing through a hole in the side of the bolt. To clear the weld from the grease hole, I finished up by using my drill press to re-drill the holes. The bolts fit into the bushings perfectly.

Spring Bolts/Bushings

Upcoming, we’ll address reinstalling the springs, finding some good tires, and other chassis related stuff. Until then…

April 28, 2013

Project Loadstar: Hydraulics

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 6:56 pm
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In the third installment of the Loadstar project, I’ll be addressing the hydraulics that operate the dump bed. Like most IH trucks that were fitted with a dump body at the dealer, this truck has a GarWood hoist body, i.e. dump bed, produced by GarWood Industries founded by the famous inventor and boat builder/racer, Garfield “Gar” Wood.

The hydraulic system on this truck is fairly simple. The transmission has a power takeoff (PTO) operated from the cab. When the PTO is engaged, power from the engine is diverted through the transmission and out of the PTO via a drive shaft. The PTO drive shaft drives a hydraulic pump that provides pressure to the dump bed cylinder operated by the hydraulic valve which is engaged with a lever from the cab.

To start, and to make things a little easier, I used one of my forklifts to raise the dump bed enough to easily access most of the components.

Hydraulic Repairs

As I noted in the first installment of the Loadstar project, the PTO engages but the hydraulic valve doesn’t seem to be operating. To visually inspect it, I got my helper to crawl under the truck and watch the linkage while I operated the lever from the cab. Below you see the levers in the cab. We have the main gear shifter with the button for high and low range. The next lever to the right of the gear shifter is the parking brake lever. The next one to the right is the lever that operates the hydraulic valve. The next lever on the far right operates the PTO.

Levers in Cab

The linkage looked good, but we were able to determine that the plunger on the hydraulic valve was stuck from dirt and corrosion. We would need to remove the valve and disassemble it for cleaning. In the photo below, you see the view from the under side. The red mechanism with the drive shaft connected to it is the PTO on the side of the transmission. You can see the linkage connected to the PTO plunger going up to the lever at the right. The lever on the left would have linkage going to the hydraulic valve not shown, but we removed it before removing the hydraulic valve.

Under Side

In the photo below you see the other end (top side) of the PTO drive shaft (the smaller shaft in the lower right) which is connected to the hydraulic pump. The hydraulic valve mounts directly on top of the pump and is removed in the photo below.

Hydraulic Valve Removed
We took the valve into the shop to disassemble it. We removed the plunger and polished it with a wire wheel on one of my bench grinders.

Disassembling Valve
Once the valve was cleaned and reassembled, we cleaned the mounting area on the hydraulic pump and reinstalled the valve and hoses as seen below.
Valve Reinstalled

Now it’s time to fill the system with fluid. Most hydraulic systems have a stand alone reservoir which contains the hydraulic fluid. However, in this case the hydraulic cylinder itself has a self contained reservoir. Below you see a photo of the cylinder assembly. On each end of the cylinder there is a fill plug for adding the fluid.

Hydraulic Dump Cylinder

After everything was done, the moment of truth arrived. I started the engine, engaged the PTO, and pulled the lever operating the hydraulic valve, and…success! The dump bed works perfectly.

More fun stuff ahead. Until next time…

April 21, 2013

Project Loadstar: Brakes Part 1

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:59 pm
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In the second installment of the Loadstar project, I will be addressing the brakes. To make it possible to at least operate the truck around the yard, and certainly anywhere else, I figured the first mechanical repair attempt should be the brakes. It appeared that all the rear brake lines were replaced recently before the truck was taken out of service, however the front lines appeared to be original and in poor condition. I inspected the master cylinder. The fluid was low and the piston was stuck at the bottom of the bore. I knew I would probably need a new or remanufactured master cylinder if I couldn’t get the piston unstuck in order to rebuild it, but why was the fluid level low? The previous owners told me the brakes worked when they parked the truck, but they were having to add fluid regularly due to what they said was a leaking wheel cylinder. I began looking for leaks. I check the inside of the wheels/brake drums for leaky wheel cylinders. No sign of a wheel cylinder leak now or ever. Also, the brake shoes looked really good. I checked the firewall around the master cylinder location, and again, no sign of a leak. Oh well, it will all come out in the wash when I repair the master cylinder.

Turns out the master cylinder was beyond repair. I ordered a remanufactured unit with a 1-year warranty and front brake lines from Bumper to Bumper/Crow-Burlingame. You see the brake master cylinder in the photo below; it is the one on the left and the clutch master cylinder is on the right.

Master Cylinder

The front rubber brake lines were still available, but I couldn’t find the intermediate lines around the vacuum booster which is located under the driver floor on this truck, so I used steel lines there. Below you see one of the new rubber lines connecting from the frame to the wheel cylinder.

Rubber Brake Line

Results: Well there is good news and bad news. The good news is the brakes bled out and the master cylinder works fine. The bad news is that the vacuum booster is not working and I have no power brakes. At least I can move the truck around the yard and stop, although stopping requires me to fully stand on the brake pedal. This most assuredly would be difficult if the truck was loaded. Looks like I’ll be addressing the booster later on, but first I definitely need to power wash the frame and chassis; it has years of caked on mud from the oil field.

Until the next installment…

April 14, 2013

Project Loadstar Supplemental

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:37 pm

I’ll start this post by writing a little about my thought process on this whole thing. After the truck ran so good on the drive home, I was somewhat convinced to keep it around to haul junk or the occasional load of…whatever I could fit in the back. It’s just so handy having a dump truck around the house, ya know? The problem is that this old rig needs some, what I thought to be at the time, “minor mechanical attention” as well as a cosmetic makeover. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to be seen driving this thing around with junk hanging out the back, smoke bellowing from the exhaust, and looking like the Beverly Hillbillies. So the question is what type of work will it need and to what extent would I “restore” the cosmetic condition of this abomination of a truck? Would it even be worth it?

Well, “worth” is a subjective term. If time and money are the only considerations, then the answer is maybe to probably not. The fact is I could buy one already in usable shape for what it would cost me in time and parts to restore this one to roadworthy status, but there are other factors to consider. First, I’m a weirdo. I love old trucks and equipment, and to me there are few things in life more rewarding than bringing one of these old rigs back to life as a functional, usable, apparatus. Second, projects require study and learning which are a lot of fun when the topic interests you. Further, the experience gained from such endeavors lends to a greater depth of wisdom concerning future projects. Third, since I’m qualified to do virtually all the work myself, my primary real-money expense will be parts, and I think the parts bill on this thing would be less than the cost of buying a working truck. Also something to consider, when I’m done with this truck I’ll know exactly what I have as opposed to having bought one for the same money and really knowing nothing about its reliable mechanical condition.

So, in light of the above reasoning, I’ve decided to go for it. My plan is to review the mechanical condition, fix what needs fixing (within reason and scope of my intended use), and put a moderately decent paint job on it so I don’t look like Uncle Jed driving this thing around. In other words, it will be a Jeff Bradshaw “Redneck Restorations” type of project: fix what needs fixing, and get it looking decent.

Time to check it out and see what I’m in for…

Loadstar Inspection

April 7, 2013

Project Loadstar: The Purchase

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:33 pm

So I ran across a deal on an old dump truck. It’s a 1966 International (IH) Loadstar 1600. I was purchasing a Mack winch truck, and really had no interest in this Loadstar, but they made me a deal I couldn’t refuse. Now, after looking at this old, abused, neglected truck, the question for most people would be “to scrap or not to scrap”. By the way, this truck actually runs, so it would have been easy to drive it across the scales, put a few hundred bucks in my pocket, and call it a done deal. However, if you’ve ever read any of my posts you would probably realize that scrapping old trucks and equipment is a sin. I won’t get into that now, you know, the whole thing about crushing these old classic machines and sending them to China to be returned as cheap tools, but suffice it to say that scrap was not on my mind when I bought this truck. In fact, lots of things were on my mind: using it for a yard truck, or perhaps to haul an occasional load of who knows what, or maybe even putting a halfway decent paint job on it as to not look like the Beverly Hillbillies when I drive it down the road. Whatever I may have been thinking, I was NOT thinking of doing all the things I actually did to this truck…things you will be seeing in upcoming posts. I had no special spot in my heart for Loadstars. In fact, I thought they were kind of ugly. My, how things change. The Loadstar saga begins here.

As I Found Her

This old truck has had a hard life. It was purchased new in 1966 by the City of Magnolia, AR street department. It faithfully fulfilled it’s duties hauling asphalt there for a number of years on the “Pothole Patrol” before being purchased by a Magnolia trucking contractor which used it to haul gravel and such. Once they used it up, an El Dorado based oil field drilling/production company bought it, and this is where it saw the toughest work, and subsequent abuse, it ever encountered. While most trucks enter into an easy retirement of occasional use on a farm or something, this elderly rig was put through the paces on the rough oil field roads of southern Arkansas hauling an oily sand mixture to be spread on said roads. The truck was sidelined from business use in 2005. It was then only used by the oil company to occasionally haul a load of scrap iron. When I found it in May of 2010, it had been sitting in the spot you see pictured for at least two years without being run during that time. It had a flat tire, collapsed leaf springs, no brake pedal pressure, missing glass, severe rust…you name it. With the missing driver window and rolled down passenger window (probably for 10 years) it had rained in the truck and rusted up most of the controls and knobs as well as rusted holes in the floor big enough to operate the truck Flintstone style. Nevertheless, I bought it, so now I have to do something with it. It’s one of those “ran when parked” trucks so I figured I could get it running and drive it up on a trailer or maybe even drive it home if I were brave enough.

The first order of business was to see if she would crank. Believe it or not, with a hot battery and some gas, the old girl fired right up. The engine ran smooth and was actually quiet, however it did smoke. Before I could test drive it, I had to get the tires up on it, or see if they would even hold air, so my buddy came out with his F-600 4×4 which has on-board air.

Backing up to the Truck

We aired up the tires and they held. Amazing.

Airing up Front Tire

Next I checked the vitals to see if she would make a test run down one of the oil field roads. While the clutch seemed to work good, the brakes where nowhere to be found. I’d have to go slow, gear down, and use the emergency brake. I also checked to see if the dump bed would operate. The PTO did engage, but the dump wouldn’t work. Oh well, I’ll take a closer look at that later.

Pre Trip

Well, the short of it is that the truck drove as good as could be expected, considering. Some positive things: the transmission worked good. The engine seemed to have enough power. I couldn’t test the 2-speed rear because the switch was corroded and stuck in low range. Anyway, I figured she was good enough to drive home. One of the guys that worked for me was a former truck driver, so he volunteered to drive it back to the Omni Complex. It was a least 8 miles, and then partially through town mind you, but he made it back. I stayed right on his tail in my truck, kind of like a smokey and the bandit thing, in case we encountered opposition to our “you-risk-it of Omaha” insurance policy. I was certainly tired of breathing the fumes from that old beater; however, it all went smooth. Made it home.

Made it Home

Next time we’ll go over the truck more closely and I’ll decide what to do with this old rig. Until then…

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