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The love of a Lockhart local

The International has been restored from the ground up.
The International has been restored from the ground up.

The International Harvester brand name has been long respected in rural Australia, with the International Harvester logo adorning all manner of trucks and farm equipment for over 100 years. The International brand name was established in Australia in the early part of last century, and a well restored example from that era can be found in Laurie Baker's 1936-model International C-30.

Laurie, from Lockhart in New South Wales, had his truck on display at the recent Lockhart National Historic Truck and Commercial Vehicle Show, with the truck having being purchased in and worked its entire life around the rural Riverina town.

Produced at International Harvester's plant in Chicago, Illinois, the International was shipped to Australia and fitted with a body by Peters, Bryden and Peters of Balmain in Sydney, and was rated with a loading capacity of 70 hundredweight which is around 3.5 tonnes in today's metric numbers. Brought to the Lockhart area by the local International dealer, the truck was purchased by the Bender family, local cropping and livestock farmers based just outside the town. As the only truck of its type in the area the truck earned its keep through and after the war years working around the district, including carrying livestock to Wagga Wagga some 65 kilometres from Lockhart. Working throughout the local area on short trips did not put a lot of mileage on the truck, and over its 81 year life has only covered 47,000 miles.

Having seen the International on the Bender's property over the years, Laurie Baker purchased it with the intention of giving the truck a full restoration. "It had 40 years on the farm, with not many trucks about at that time a lot of people around the area remember it. It spent 20 years in my shed and I hooked into the restoration when I retired,” he said. Despite the general wear and tear that is inflicted on working trucks, the International had been well maintained and looked after over its working life, with Laurie purchasing the truck complete with the original manuals and a set of spare plugs under the front seat.

Laurie Bender with his International.
Laurie Bender with his International.

The restoration and refurbishment of the International took Laurie four and a half years, with the truck as it is presented today 90% original. Laurie undertook most of the restoration work himself, with his son Wayne using his mechanical background to rebuild the engine - which was still in very sound order, with the original pistons and other componentry going back into the rebuilt motor. The body and timber tray was also restored, complete with the G-Well bag lifter attached to the tray, an invaluable tool for loading bags of grain and seed. Laurie had the seat upholstered in Wagga Wagga and took on the bigger jobs, such as repainting the truck himself. Laurie reckoned the trucks' two tone paint scheme was unique as it was bought to the area as a demonstration model, and has restored the vehicle's distinctive green and cream colours to its original design.

With its modest output of horsepower, the C-30 trundles along the road at around 30 miles an hour, with the truck not venturing too far from its home base. Laurie is considering getting a trailer to carry the truck to other shows and events around the district, saying, "It's too slow for the highway.”

At home Laurie has another International-themed restoration project under way, grafting an AA-Model cab over a Holden HQ body to turn it into a one-of-a-kind rat-rod type of vehicle, which is a bit of a departure of the relatively straightforward restoration of the C-30. Concluding the discussion of his restoration projects with a smile, "As you get older you have to have something to do or you go madder quicker.”

Topics:  heritage international restoration truck truck show

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