|Felgers restore International 'Red Baby'|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:28|
(Allan and Marolyn Felger are pictured with the 1924 International “Red Baby” they have labored to restore. Purchased in 2005 the work took six years to complete.) photo by perry
by Scott Perry
They called them “Red Babies” back in the day. In the 1920’s, International Harvester had a number of trucks painted bright red and sold them to International dealers throughout the country for use as service vehicles.
There were approximately 1,000 built and 10 or 12 of them are known to exist today.
One of those 1924 model International Trucks, a Red Baby, has been restored by Allan and Marolyn Felger of Northwest Allen County.
The project truck was purchased by the Felgers in 2005 at an auction near Hanna, a small town not far from Valparaiso, in Northwest Indiana.
Actually, Marolyn blames, or credits, her brother for the purchase. When her brother accompanied Allan to the auction, she understood it was her brother who was interested in the vehicle and not her husband. She found out differently when she received a call later that day that said guess what your husband just bought?
The truck, which was found stored in a barn, was in decent shape for an 80-year-old truck. Certainly an antique, but, as Allan pointed out, it’s only 18 years older than his cousin, Bob Allman of All-Printing and Publications.
Lettering on the truck indicated the truck once belonged to ESF Towing from Gay Mills, Wisconsin.
It now boldly displays its current owners, the A&M Felger Family of Churubusco, Indiana.
Mechanically, Allan was pleased to discover that the engine was not seized-up.
He had the carburetor rebuilt. Replaced wires and spark plugs, scraped the points and the engine took off.
The engine is still being fine-tuned and Felger attributes a portion of the roughness to the new fuel containing ethanol that is used today.
It is interesting to note the engine used in the International trucks was a Lycoming engine. Lycoming is well-known for their contribution to the aircraft industry. The truck is also equipped with a Muncie 3-speed transmission.
When the truck is running more smoothly, the Felgers plan to drive in parades. As of now, they participate in shows including the most recent drive-in that took place in Columbia City August 4th.
The Felgers have restored the vehicle to as close to original as they possibly could.
Original wooden parts to the truck include the doors, the back of the cab, the wooden spoke wheels and the steering wheel.
And the original “Eoogah” horn works just fine!
The truck, which has been disassembled and re-assembled six times since owned by the Felgers, was dismantled and sandblasted before being painted the bright red color you see in the picture.
The front wheel wells were original while the running boards and rear fenders were manufactured by Leo Molargik, whom Allan credits for any of the metalwork completed during the restoration process.
The mechanical rear brakes are original as are the hand-crank windshield wipers-a feature the Felgers do not plan on using, as they never intend to have the vehicle out in the rain. A decision was also supported by Marolyn who was quick to point out the need for the custom built trailer that was needed to haul the truck to and from shows.
As you can imagine, replacement parts are difficult to find. The search has led Allan to Kansas to purchase a chassis for parts and a trip to Wisconsin that did not reveal the parts that were needed.
While the four tires are new, it took Coker Tire of Chattanooga, Tennessee nearly one year to manufacture and deliver the set to the Felgers.
While cleaning out the truck soon after it was purchased, Allan and Marolyn found a 1936 vehicle registration and an electric bill for $1.95.
The couple continue to look for collectibles from the era.
A couple of their “finds” to date include a toy truck which is a replica of the one they have restored and a hand-held fan which was a common form of advertising.
Allan and Marolyn enjoyed working side-by-side on the restoration project, which took nearly six years to complete. The couple enjoys travelling to various shows and sharing their efforts with others.
They are thankful for the family, friends and neighbors who helped in many ways throughout the process.
When asked if they would tackle another project like this one, after a short pause, Allan indicated it would have to be another model year.
He then confessed there was probably a tractor or two in the barn he could dive into.
Mr. Felger also offered a bit of advice for anyone wanting to tackle a project of this magnitude.
“If you’re going to start on a project, don’t rush and have a lot of patience,” said Allan. “It also helps to have an understanding and supportive wife.”
(One of the items Allan and Marolyn have collected is the replica toy truck painted red to match its full-size counterpart.) photo by perry
(The photo display chronicles the progress made on the vehicle from the day it was found in a barn and purchased at auction to the finished product.) photo by perry
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