International harvester phase one complete

A Journey with an International Truck

In this phase of my life, the International truck became my story. With a lot of help, I managed to get it to this point. From here, I drove it for around 50,000 miles, and I must say it was an exhilarating experience—a rat rod before rat rods were even a thing.

However, the subsequent years were challenging. I lacked the necessary skills and funds to address what the truck truly needed. That’s when I started working for a company called Factory Muscle. My role involved designing t-shirts for various muscle cars from the ’40s and ’50s. It was during this time that I got to know Steve Banker, who was my contact at the shop. Steve was responsible for building most, if not all, of the cars there.

I reached out to Steve a few times, hoping he’d assist me with my International truck. Unfortunately, he declined, stating that he would never work on an International. Disheartened, I put the project on hold.

But fate had other plans. After a year or more had passed, Steve surprised me by showing up at my office one day. “Let’s go,” he said. Confused, I asked where we were headed. His answer? To retrieve my truck. With a trailer in tow, we embarked on an unexpected adventure. All I could think about was how I’d manage to pay for this unexpected turn of events. Steve reassured me that we’d figure it out together.

Over the next year or so, my routine involved dropping off my daughter at school (kindergarten or 1st grade) and then heading straight to the Factory Muscle shop. There, they’d point at various parts of the truck and instruct me to take them apart. Hours would pass as I struggled with each task—until Steve or someone else from the shop would step in and demonstrate how it should be done in just a couple of minutes. Frustrated at times, I’d ask why they always seemed to find solutions effortlessly. Their response? “That’s how you learn.” And indeed, those moments taught me invaluable lessons.

Day after day (except weekends), I worked tirelessly on this mechanical beast—four to five hours at a stretch—until it was finally roadworthy.

Sometimes, I’d bring my daughter along to the shop; she’d hang out and take photos while I grappled with unfamiliar parts and processes. Looking back, I realize how little I knew about what I was doing.

Then came the pivotal moment: Steve asked me what kind of motor I wanted for the truck. Uncertain, I turned the question back to him: “What would you do?” His response? “Put a big block in it.” Although I wasn’t entirely sure what that entailed, I agreed.

To fund this project, I resorted to unconventional means—I’d draw something or paint a picture in exchange for necessary supplies or services. Reflecting on all the effort that went into restoring that old International truck, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude toward those who supported me throughout this journey.