As I revealed in previous installments of Cornbinders Of A Lifetime, by the time I got both my Cab Top and Travel Top Scouts back on the road after their naps, I had a serious case of IH addiction. So like so many others before me, I was ready to move on to the “harder stuff”.
One characteristic of a true IH addict is the regular cruising of IH forums, eBay and Craigslist, in search of the next fix. On one of the forums I found a Travelall for sale. It had not sold on eBay, and since then the price had dropped steadily . Finally one of the respected members of the forum posted, “Check out this Travelall–I’ve seen it in person. Someone get it.”
That was enough for me to call the seller. His numerous ads had stated that it had a rebuilt engine and transmission, and that it was a 2WD half-ton unit, but didn’t specify which model. One of my biggest questions was if it was a 1010 model. In Binder speak, that translates to a 2WD half-ton with the torsion bar IFS and disc brakes. Among Binderphiles, such torsion bar IFS rigs are considered the Cadillacs of Internationals due to their smooth ride and car- like handling. I wanted a cruiser, and it had to be a 1010.
Ever since introducing IFS in 1961, IH had touted the 1000 series’ soft, cushy, car-like ride and handling–not a huge surprise, considering the front suspension was originally designed for a car. On the heels of the introduction of Mopar’s famous torsion bar front suspension, chassis component supplier TRW surmised that torsion bar suspensions would be the next big thing. They wanted a piece of the pie, so they decided to design one on spec and see if they could find a buyer. The general consensus is that their target customer was Ford, since their 1961 design used the Ford wheel-bolt pattern, but the suspension eventually found a home at International. Eventually it even found a home in a car the Moh’s Ostentatienne Opera Sedan used a 1967 Travelall 1000 chassis.
Once the seller had confirmed the IFS, I made arrangements to go to Portland one Friday evening. In the time he’d owned it he hadn’t driven it much, and it was proving to be more than he could handle. For one thing, it was eating starters; a chain that specialized in starters and alternators had already replaced three within a short time. At the time they installed the third, he was told that they would not warranty another one. The front tires were showing wear that indicated something loose in the front end, something he’d mentioned before. What made him the proudest, though, was that he had installed a new Edelbrock carb in place of the previous Holley, which he claimed was so gunked up that he tossed it.
The truck was nicely equipped, with custom interior and exterior packages, bucket seats and console, A/C, automatic transmission, auxiliary transmission cooler, power steering and brakes and factory-installed class III hitch and trailer-tow wiring. One unusual thing is the business-in-front, party-in-back Mullet- style floor covering. Carpeting is part of the custom interior package, but a rubber floor mat had been specified for the front-seat area. The asking price of $750 was quite reasonable for a rig with only about 10,000 miles on a rebuilt drive train, so I made the deal. The seller included a box of parts containing A/C equipment not re-installed when the engine was rebuilt, along with all the receipts.
Not being as adventurous as I once was, we decided to spend the night in Portland and drive home in daylight. It barely restarted when I set out for the gas station for a fill-up. I also found that the transmission up-shifted way too late, and it didn’t have the power I expected. The front end definitely wobbled some, so I kept to the slow lane. The wife and kids followed me, but not too closely behind.
Once home, my first order of business was finding out what was wrong with the front suspension. The receipts showed that everything in the front end had been replaced except the center link. That part is obsolete, but through research I knew I could find one at Rare Parts, a maker of obsolete suspension and steering components. Meanwhile, I started attacking some of the other issues. When I got underneath, I discovered why starters wouldn’t last: Somewhere along the line the exhaust shield had been removed. A replacement heat shield and starter from my parts stash resolved the problem.
Next up: Diagnosing the transmission. International had switched to the Chrysler 727 in 1972, which controls shift points via a throttle-valve linkage instead of a vacuum modulator and kick-down linkage. Unfortunately, when people see a rod connecting the carb to the trans they assume it’s a kick-down linkage and adjust it accordingly. Complicating things further was that the Edelbrock carb, based on the old Carter AFB, is wider than the Holley. That meant the linkage was rubbing on the carb and thus not aligned properly. The fact that the Edelbrock uses a slightly smaller primary and slightly larger secondary bore than the Holley also meant that the secondaries could open only partially before hitting the intake.
Thankfully, many people have installed an Edelbrock on their IH, so the info on how to make things work right was just a couple of clicks away. The other issue was that IH used a one-size-fits-all throttle linkage for both two- and four-barrel applications, and the improperly adjusted primary bores also weren’t opening fully. Once all that had been squared away, it had tire-smoking power and proper shifting. Problems two and three had been solved.
I set out to get the A/C working again; while re-installing the parts, I found the threads on the condenser buggered up. A new condenser was going to be a little harder to find, but I knew of a website, car-part.com, with listings from wrecking yards across the U.S. I found a condenser at a yard in a small town in Montana, only about an hour off I-90– a road we’d be traveling soon on the way to visit my wife’s relatives in North Dakota. On the return trip we made a little detour to the wrecking yard, where a lot of IHs were scattered about. I climbed through a number of them and scored a lot of hard-to-find parts, including one of two NOS grilles dropped there by the local IH dealer when he closed up shop.
After we got home I installed the condenser and a new drier, and then charged it up. Now I had nice, ice-cold A/C, which was most welcome when temps started climbing. Unfortunately those warmer temps did not agree with the “Edelboil” carb. If it was over 75 degrees outside, idling at a light for more than a few seconds caused it to load up and, occasionally, die completely. On shut-down you could even hear the fuel boiling in the carb. I’d bought this thing for a summer cruiser, and this just wouldn’t do.
I’d been collecting the parts required for an EFI conversion on my Cab Top, but now I decided the Travelall had the greater need. I chose to use Megasquirt to control a GM TBI unit, welded in a O2 sensor bung, mounted the fuel pump, and then ran the wiring. On a shelf at the shop I found a TBI unit with the elusive larger “cop car” injectors, and I rebuilt it. I knew the hardest part involved tuning the warm-up enrichment tables, so on a slow day at the shop I got it all warmed up, swapped the fuel lines and installed the TBI.
When I went to crank it up it barely ran. A look at the injectors revealed that one of them wasn’t working. I tried swapping the injector wires, but it still wouldn’t squirt any fuel. The engine had already started cooling down, so I went back to the core shelf and found a unit with the standard 350 injectors and swapped them in. Now it fired up easily, and with the Megasquirt’s auto-tune function turned on it quickly found a good idle. I hopped on the freeway and headed home. It didn’t take long until the auto-tune stopped making corrections. Once I got it all dialed in, the fuel injection did cure the warm weather driveablity issues and raised my mpg from 9-10 to 11-12 in normal driving.
With that all squared away, it was time for a little personalizing. First up was giving it a rake. As with Mopar’s torsion-bar cars, it has an adjustable rear anchor. After a couple of minutes with a socket wrench, I had the rake I desired. On eBay I found Per-Lux fog lights, the same kind IH sold in their Neccessories catalog when the wagon was new, and I installed them in the provided front bumper mounts for an even lower look. Some Lucas Tri-bar style headlight “covers” over Hella E-code headlights added a little custom touch while providing higher-quality halogen lighting. From Craigslist came Scout II chrome rallye wheels that were drilled and tapped to take Ford truck center caps. Big (275/60-15) and little (235/70-15) tires completed the look I was going for.
This is the one IH that all the family loves to cruise in. It actually gets more compliments and admiring looks than either of my Scouts. My favorite incident happened one day as I was cruising down the freeway in the slow lane. A new Shelby Mustang came up alongside me; the young lady driving it slowed way down, gave my IH a once-over, and then gave me a thumbs up before she sped off. Also, a surprising number of people, usually female, tell me that their grandfather, uncle or dad had one “just like it.” Unfortunately, the past few summers have been busy, so it hasn’t been on the road for awhile. That explains its sad state in the pictures. In truth, my favorite summer cruiser is now my Marauder, but never fear–the Travelall will ride again!