One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned over the years is to never leave an engine sitting without an air cleaner over the carburetor.

 Even with the hood closed on a vehicle that sits outside – or maybe even inside – water will get into an engine and quickly make a mess of things. Maybe water condenses on the underside of the hood and drips in the carburetor. I don’t know how it happens. I just know that it does happen.

 Like on a rusty old International R120 truck I decided to work on recently. It ran fine the last time I drove it several years ago. I put fresh gas in it, hot battery, filed the points. Hit the starter. Nothing.

 Stuck tight as the devil. I took out the starter and tried to move the flywheel with a pry bar. Nothing. Soaked it a few days in penetrating oil. Nothing.

 Finally, we pushed it into the barn and took off the cylinder head. That’s a chore. Thank goodness Steph is still young, agile, and strong.

 Number Three cylinder was full of water and rust. We took the oil pan off and removed the rod cap for that cylinder.

 We heated the cylinder really good with the torch and used a big wood block and a bigger hammer and finally knocked it down a bit. Then I got under the truck and knocked it back up and eventually out.

 The rings were stuck hard to the piston, so it was a slow process of cracking the rings into pieces by hitting them with a punch. Then we pried the pieces out.

 When they were all done, I cleaned the grooves and the piston was ready to go back in. Then I took the one intake valve out – the one where the water went in. I ground that valve and the seat and the engine was ready to go back together.

 Thank goodness it ran as good as before.

 Now that it’s back running again, we’re planning to take an old raggedy body off of a 1966 Ford F350 and put it on the International. (It should be a good match since the truck and the body both have seen better days.)

 While we have the body off the Ford, we’re going to give it a backyard paint job and build a new, longer body for it. But that’s a job – and a blog – for another day.

 Thanks for reading.