Progress !

1956 International SM-122 Metro-Lite Van

I have made some headway and the truck has made its share of maiden voyages. My first set of goals consisted of getting the driveline back into useable shape, then get the multiple layers of paint off the truck and get it into Epoxy Primer (thanks to the OLDIHC member who offered the epoxy option).

It took a great deal of work to get the paint stripped from the metal areas, but the fiberglass areas were easy. The paint did not come off in one pass, and there are plenty of rivets to work around.

You'll note a few holes in the aluminum, and some of these turned out to be a real challenge. The lower holes in the back bed area were easy to fill with a spool of aluminum, some argon gas and the wire welder. However, the holes in the upper panel, and upper roof edges were not so cooperative. The 'Display Area" on this truck has that darker color and I thought it was simply that color from being tempered. I tried to fill them with the wire welder, but the puddle of aluminum would never take to the base material. I had already read somewhere in the original literature that the upper roof rails were magnesium, so I could understand why they would not weld. After the sides wouldnt take to welding either, I went back and looked at that literature and they claimed the sidewalls too were made from magnesium. Further reading about magnesium, and it turns a dark color when exposed to air...... That explains a few things ! I ended up sanding the whole area making it shiny aluminum looking again and hopefully the primer should stick

Up top, along the roof edge rails, I was already aware of the corrosion in the magnesium. There was a LOT of it. Turns out, magnesium really is not an ideal product for outdoor use if you want it to last. My big concern is that there is a lot of similar but smaller spots on the "Display Area" from the last scraping job someone did to get the logo off. When you scrape magnesium, I guess that some of the scrapers blade can leave small deposits on the magnesium, and that is how the corrosion begins from dissimilar metals.

How many spots like this were there ? LOTS !!! In order to clean them up, I ran thru every spot I could using a ball shaped diamond wheel in the Dumore Grinder, so that the primer would take hold. Getting all the paint off around all those rivets down in the gutter was also a challenge, but I did get all that paint off.

Below is a photo of where there was at one time, a roof rack mounted on those rails. Obviously, no one thought to put any kind of barrier between the aluminum (magnesium rather) and their steel mounting plates. These areas are quite nasty. For all the repairs in the magnesium, I had little option but to grind out a pocket on the inside and outside, then use fiberglass mat and resin from both sides. When that was hard, I ground that to just under the surface level, then put over the top a miracle putty from AVES This stuff may or may not work because of the expansion of the surrounding material. Because I will not be working on an actual paint job until next year, I will have time to see what happens. The stuff comes highly recommended from some local repair shops.

So, finally, Epoxy Primer ! My only wish is that.... I wish I would have had it tinted to willow green before I sprayed it. I just might change my first thoughts about painting. I'm afraid that it will be near impossible to really get those side display areas clean enough for a real shiny paint job to last long. So, I am going to explore painting techniques that make it look weathered or original. It will be more flat, or flat in some areas, shiny in others, maybe even wore thru in spots. That way, when stuff does start creeping out, it still looks original, and I really dont mind that look. The hot ticket in the street rod world is that "rat rod" look.... a totally original body with all the right "patina", but a good trustworthy driveline underneath.

I got new door handles all the way around from Mill Supply. They do not match the originals well, but at least I can lock up the truck.

Well, thats about where the hard stuff ends for this year. I am still going to weld up those holes in the hood area, and the large holes covered up with galvanized in the back corners. Also, I will replace those side windows with new flat glass, but leave the other glass until I am going to paint the thing. Then I hope to spend a little time little time to track down the original front markers (they were rectangular), a better front IH emblem, a matching passenger seat, 4 nice hubcaps and some 17.5" trim rings. (I might take some 17.5" dually stainless simulators and cut the trim ring portion off for some temporary trim rings).... whatever I need to make it complete, I want to find it. Then next year, I can start reworking one panel at a time getting it ready for paint.

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Thanks for looking !


UPDATE ! A fellow from California twisted my arm hard enough for me to let go. I guess things didnt pan out as he hoped, and another Californian bought it from him. This guy is REALLY serious ! He has a picasa image page here:

He sure is doing a fantastic job !!