International Harvester 1953 (2)


We have an Exciting New Build, this 53 International came to us from out of State. This is almost the same truck as our other International. 

The Harvester is all Original and pretty clean, the difference between this truck, and the 53 International we are currently building is the long bed. This truck seems to have all the gauges, handles, options and is in very good shape.

The New 53 International project has its own spot in the shop. Were going to need some room to be able to take this truck apart. The truck is very original, it looks to be almost 100% complete.

The inside still has all the original equipment as well, the green shag carpet was put in years ago when the owner was in high school. Hard to believe we have 2 of these trucks in our shop.

Let’s start taking things apart and see what we find. The front lights need to come apart, it looks like someone put tin foil inside the light to make it reflect better. The light housing is pretty rusted out.

There are about a million little bolts that hold this front nose section together, it took a lot of time and loads of penetrating spray to get these bolts out. We’ve been here before, the dismantling of the truck is a pretty big chore.

The whole front clip is off, the engine and frame look just like the other 53 project. There were some oil leaks that caused all kinds of dirt and rocks to be stuck to the frame. Always a big job to clean all this up before it gets sand blasted.

The pictures always make it seem like things are moving along pretty fast, but the truth is, it took the better part of a day to remove the front end pieces. There were some critters living in the cowl area too.

The engine looks complete, it’s pretty dirty, but everything will come apart and get cleaned up. This is starting to bring back lots of memories.

The Harvester is still slowly coming apart. Taking apart a vehicle this old takes time, everything is rusted or needs to be cut off.

The rear fenders are off and the running boards are gone. The drivers side step was removed first then the gas tank dropped. The tank sounds pretty rusty inside.

Here are some shots of the drive train when it came in. You can tell that this truck has been kept very original, trying to find something this old that no one has altered in some way is pretty hard.

The typical oil leaks over the years has left lots of built up grease and oil all over the front of the engine compartment. The interior is all original besides the shag carpet, the owner said he installed the carpet years ago when he was a kid. 

The interior can now start to come apart, it looks like there has been something living in the cab. This brings back memories, We had a large Rat living in the Original 53 International we started. The seat and carpet will come out first.

The seat took some time to unbolt, in many cases we have to cut the original nuts and bolts to remove them. The carpet is just rolled up and thrown out. The floor looks pretty good, most of what we are finding is surface rust.

Even the cab floor near the pedals look pretty good. Most of the floor panels should come out and stay intact. The underside of the dash looks pretty clean, the wires are very brittle, but everything seems to be in place. Finding replacement parts for a truck of this type is very difficult.

The picture on the left is cotton above the original headliner. A critter has pulled the cotton into a corner and made a nest. Unfortunately this nest held moisture for a long period of time, this caused rust to penetrate the roof skin.

The dash is taken out and now you have access to all the other equipment. The heater, wiper motor and other stuff can now come apart. Looking at the back of the dash shows the gauges look pretty clean.

The heater box is the original equipment, we will carefully remove this with the option of using the heater box in the future. The steering wheel has been the most stubborn piece so far, it will not come off and it is so brittle it is just braking into pieces. I’m afraid the steering wheel will need to be cut off and thrown out.

Here’s another shot of the steering wheel, the hard plastic is so brittle that we can’t get the wheel off. We will have to make saw cuts into it until it’s been removed without damaging the shaft under it.

The Interior has been pretty much cleaned out, there are still pieces to come apart but the main part has been removed. The truck has been a pretty good challenge so far.

The 53 International needs to keep coming apart, the bed is a good next choice to remove. We will set the truck box out of the way after its removed, it will be one of the last items to get restored.

The frame is rusty but looks pretty good, we will have the frame sand blasted once everything has been unbolted. If It looks really long? it’s because it is, remember its a long bed.

There are still plenty of items that need to be taken off inside the cab. The tranny cover was the first to come off. The floor bolts are tight and rusted, but they are still good hardware.

The floor pan that bolts to the bottom of the firewall comes off next, it was about the same, bolts are a little rusty but everything came out without striping out. The steering can come out and next the truck cab will have to come off.

The engine is coming apart before it gets pulled from the truck. These straight 6 engines are very heavy, they put loads of stress on a big block engine stand.

The transmission on these old truck are very tricky to separate from the engine. Most transmissions just unbolt, this setup has the clutch pack that drops out the bottom while things are coming apart.

The 53 International was a real work horse in most cases, this one seems to have had a few oil leaks over the years. This is one of the reason that most shops will not restore an old truck like this, it really takes a lot of work to get them apart and all cleaned up.

With the cab un-bolted and slid back, we have plenty of room to get this drive train separated and out of the truck. Finding all the bolts beneath all the oil, grease and gunk was the tough part. Good thing we have another International in the shop to compare.

The engine is free from the truck, not sure if this has ever happened to this truck. Everything looks to be pretty original at this point. It going to take a lot of scraping and degreasing to get these parts anywhere near clean.

The 53 International is coming along pretty good, the cab has been removed and is in the body shop. The frame needs to come all the way apart and get cleaned up. This frame looks to be in very good shape!

With the cab off, we can focus on getting the rest of the chassis apart. This will be the biggest chore yet, these parts are all rusted and have years of dirt and mud caked to them.

It’ll take patients to get things dismantled and salvage as many parts as we can. Some of these parts have so much mud and grease on them, that it’s hard to know where to start.

The frame is bare and all the pieces have been removed. There is still a lot of scraping and cleaning to do before the frame can be ready for power coat. There are a few parts that will also get powder coated with the frame.

The cab is pretty clean, we will start by filling holes on the firewall and fixing rust. The hole in the roof will be fixed while we fill the holes in the firewall.

The cab is marked and the holes that need to be filled are being sanded and all the paint removed. The cab has been put on a car dolly to make it easy to move around the shop.

The first obvious sign of rust was on the roof, the International will need this area cut back to remove all the rust. It didn’t look that bad, but the amount behind was much bigger.

A closer look at the rusted roof area shows that a nest was built inside. This is the reason the roof had this rust only in one spot. Also the firewall is getting holes filled that won’t be used in the future, we will re-drill some of the holes and give it a cleaner look.

We will start by cutting out all the rusted area, then we make a new sheet of metal the same size and shape and tack it into place.

We have welded in the sheet metal and ground smooth the roof skin. That takes care of the rusted area on the top. The International Harvester firewall is coming along nice, the holes are welded up and some filler applied to smooth the firewall.

We have to take off the old paint to look for any more rusted areas, the body is in really good shape. There is almost no rust, the old paint did a great job in preserving the sheet metal.

The cab is looking really good, this 53 International is pretty clean. The back cab corners are usually the first parts to rust on these old trucks, the sheet metal on this one is good. The body work is coming along pretty fast because we had very little metal work to do.

This 1953 International is looking real good, the body was already pretty straight. The body filler and primer you see is a thin layer to get the truck very smooth and flat. A great paint job always takes great body work and prep to get a really nice finish.

The International cab and doors are ready for a solid coat of primer, the bodywork is done! This cab was very clean, after little rust repair and filling holes, all we had left was to get the bodywork real straight. 

The spots you see are very small imperfections that needed attention. There’s only some attention to detail that need to be done, we will go over the  body one more time before we spray the color.

The door skins are ready, but we still need to take out all the parts that make up this door. You can see a shot of the inside, its pretty clean. The window felts and rubber is gone, but the supports and channels look pretty good.

The 53 International P/U doors are coming apart, the glass is out and now we can disassemble everything else, trim, channels, handles, stops and all the parts that come off.

The attention to Detail is what sets Prescott Hot Rods apart from other shops, we take the time and do the job right. In this picture we are stripping off all the old paint to make sure there is no rust, we will spray etching primer on the door jambs before we are finished with the doors.

The bodywork on the doors is pretty much done, we need to spray them with primer and see how good they look. We smoothed out the door jamb areas as well. The bodywork needs to be better than what was stock back in 1953.

Now that the frame is apart, we need to get these parts cleaned up and ready for powder coat. The straight axle from the truck is fun to clean, we need all of the grease, grime and oil removed before it can get a nice coat of black powder coat. Most of these parts will require hours of scraping before pressure washing them.

We put the 53 International doors in the booth, after a coat of primer they will get blocked out and we can see how straight they are. This means the cab and doors are almost ready for paint.

The transmission for the International Truck is all degreased, we need to open it up and see how things look inside.

These old manual transmissions are almost bullet proof, the inside look about as good as it did when it was new. With the inspection cover removed we can see that the teeth of the gears look great. We can also check for any metal or wear in the pan.

With the cover sealed back up, its time for a good coat of paint, this transmission looks better than new. It’s ready to be put in the chassis when it gets done with powder coat.

The rear fenders have had some welding done on them. cracks were repaired and now we are removing all the old paint. We still have some dent to bang out before we start to get these fenders straight.

The 1953 International Harvester’s frame and front axle are back from powder coating, they look great! The frame looks better than the day it rolled off the line. The powder coating will give it a very durable finish and keep it looking brand new.

The fenders for the International are all being done at the same time. The front fenders are a little rough, they also have the inner fenders to deal with.

The hood is ready to have the paint striped off. The bodywork on the 53 International is coming along pretty good. Sheet metal work always adds a lot of time to your project.


Data Loss….


The truck bed of the 1953 International needs to be gone over, just as careful as the truck cab. The color that was picked will make the any defects stand out. The body may look straight, but once you put this color of paint on it? it will show every flaw.

Looking at the inside of the truck bed, we can see there are also lots of details to repair. From holes that are no longer needed, to dents in the single wall steel. The only way to make single wall steel look good on both sides? is to hammer and dolly it. This can eat up hours really fast.

There are plenty of companies that build Hot Rods, but not too many that specialize in Complete Original Restoration. This takes a lot of research and special skills, knowing how to repair things the right way.

After the hammer and dolly work is finished, we still need to use body filler to smooth areas. When finished, the body will look show quality, much better than factory. If we tried to paint an original body from the factory in 1953 with today’s base coat clear coat paints…The results would be terrible! The bodies were very rough, but the old school low gloss paint hid everything.

Even the tailgate needs to gone over. It may look pretty straight, but it has plenty of little dents that would be very obvious if we just ignored them and painted it. Getting a show quality paint job is all in the body and prep work.

The engine is finished being machined and getting ready for paint. The color is hard to tell from these photos, but it’s just a gloss black. Once dry we can get it ready to drop back in.

Before we can install the motor back into the frame, we need to install the transmission. These old manuals are pretty tricky, the clutch pack has to get assembled while the trans is bolted on.  Now it’s ready to bolt back in place.

There are lots of other parts that need attention when building a restored vehicle. Do you use a 60 yr old radiator? Not when there are good Aluminum replacements. The old gas tank is not available, so we need to salvage it. It had to be sent out and chemically dipped to remove the interior rust.

Once the parts are cleaned, we can get them into paint. The parts need real paint, not just sprayed with an Aerosol can that will fade. Restoring an vehicle the right way is very very expensive! There are plenty of shops that will hot rod these old trucks, but complete restoration, most shops won’t even bother with it anymore.

We are jumping ahead a little on these photos. At this point the drive train is getting put together pretty quick. You can see that even the New Carburetor has been installed.


















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