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I’ve been keeping an eye on the classifieds for months now, looking for a particular kind of truck to appear. I’ve always liked the lines of the C model IH pickups of the 60’s; there’s something very unique and interesting about the shape of the cab, how it meets with the hood, and how the lights and grille were adapted over the years to fit the lines of the truck. Both the square and stepside beds look good, and I’d be happy with either one; the longer stepside beds feature a divot in the driver’s wheel well to fit a spare—a feature that originates with roadsters of the 1920’s with spare wheels mounted behind the front fenders.

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The interiors are spartan and utilitarian, but there’s a real nice design language around the later dashboard design, and the non-linear, organic shape of the inside door cards is very 60’s. In short, I’d love to have one of these, and it’s been on my mind a lot in the last couple of months.

I wrote about the last one to catch my eye late last year, but I waited too long and the listing disappeared. On Saturday a little red 1100B appeared out in East Baltimore for a low price, and I sent Brian a text with the listing:

After some back and forth with the seller, I drove out to look at it Sunday evening.

Having really looked over some of the pictures before arranging the meet, I knew what to expect, but as always, seeing things in person is so much better. This truck actually has a lot going for it; the 6-cylinder IH engine sounded good even though the seller couldn’t keep it idling without staying on the gas. The rear bed is in decent shape except for some rust holes in the center and dinged-up rear caps. The tailgate is rusty in several places but does open and close. The back of the cab is in good shape. The doors are decent, close correctly, and the rockers and sills are in excellent shape. There’s a hole the driver’s side floor. And everything is there except for the headliner. The front of the cab is crispy, though—where the cab meets the fenders is rough and the fenders themselves are junk. The front valance is rough. It looks like someone parked it with the nose hanging outside a garage door, and all of the weathering happened in front of the windshield.

For the motivated buyer it might be a good project—but there were enough strikes against it that I decided to pass. If the cab had been solid, I could have found two replacement fenders. If it was a floor shift instead of a three-speed column I might have looked twice. If the bed and fenders were in better shape, it would have been worth buying to wait for a donor cab. But this wasn’t the truck for me. I’ll keep looking, and maybe the right one will show up.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: June 27, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration, Scout | Comments Off on Little Red Pickup

This weekend Jen and I decided we needed a break. We’ve been running nonstop for three months; between sorting out her Dad’s situation, the end of school for Finn, work and other obligations, we’re  all worn down to nubs. Finley got sick last weekend, coughed in Jen’s face a couple of times on Monday (thanks, Finn) and got her sick too. We were at her Dad’s house all day Sunday and I came home right into three days of travel to D.C. for video shoots while Jen took on a mountain of short-notice design work.

Video shoots are fun, for the most part; there’s a lot of technical stuff I have had to dig back up and remember, especially because I’m training a full-time video producer and a video intern as we go. But it’s a lot of running and setting up and testing and checking and then there’s the waiting and then there’s shooting and reshooting and staying on top of the technical stuff while also listenting to the content because that sentence was just a little too long, could you please go back and try it again? Then we have to break it all down and either move somewhere else or at least organize the footage and get it ready for production. By the time Friday rolled around I was wrung out.

We begged off on all responsibilities and slept in both days this weekend, which was heavenly. Hazel read the room correctly and allowed us to doze in bed until 8 both mornings, which was awesome; I crept out of the house on Saturday and took her on a long neighborhood loop—a 2 mile walk she desperately needed. On my return I got Finn involved in some long-delayed yard work: She broke down one of the empty wood cradles while I sprayed Roundup on the weeds behind the greenhouse and cut the brush back along the garage. We made a dump run and did some other errands, and then we both cleaned the house while Jen had brunch with a friend. It’s amazing how much a clean bathroom is good for mental health.

Sunday was even slower; Jen and I crawled out of bed at 8:30 and rallied to walk down to the coffee shop by 9. We hit the farmer’s market for some empanadas and wore Hazel out on the long loop, then futzed around the house until Finn woke up. We had some errands to run so we dropped her off in Ellicott City to walk around while we hit the Ace hardware for some stuff, and then the liquor store for supplies (Baltimore County is still under Prohibition-era blue laws) before heading for home.

I ordered a boat tank from West Marine along with some fittings last week, and it showed up on Sunday morning: it’s a sturdy 3-gallon jerry can with a no-spray lid, a built-on gauge, and a feed fitting. I’ve got fresh fuel hose but had to look for a brass fitting to screw into the carb itself, and Amazon will deliver a 4psi fuel pump this week. With all of that assembled, I can bypass the mechanical fuel pump on the Chrysler and hopefully get her running steadily the next time we visit. I also have to break the brakes down and see what that situation looks like—but for now a couple of 2×4’s in the driveway will prevent us from coasting off into the woods.

I’m writing this now from the comfort of our front porch: the fan above us is moving the air briskly while rain patters the windows outside. We’re sipping on our second mix of Suburban Anxiety, and they’re going down smoothly. Jen has another mountain of work to tackle, and I go back to D.C. for another video shoot tomorrow—but right now, we’re relaxed.

Date posted: June 26, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Gas is still $5 a gallon, but that didn’t stop me from taking the Scout over the bridge to Chestertown to pick up a day’s work on the schoolbus. The forecast for the weekend was a beautiful 81˚ so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Brian has gotten a ton of work done since I saw it last—we put the battery box in all the way back in April—as Robbi and Matthew make firm travel plans for the fall. I pulled into the driveway to find a completely painted bus with scenes of kids and animals reading books from the headlights to the rear bumper.

The roof tent had also come in, and they’d put a platform down, screwed it into place, and hooked up the electrical system for the motor lifts. Inside, Brian had roughed in cabinets around the sink area and opposite the aisle for the locker fronts. Instead of using the locker cubbies they asked him to seal the doors and use the locker fronts as two swinging doors to conceal a set of sliding drawers.

We got to work trying to diagnose a faulty electrical motor on the roof tent, then moved inside to work out cabinetry. I cleaned, painted and installed a floor baffle for the heating hoses directly under the kids’ seats, and when that was done we set up an assembly line to cut and build the shelves and drawers. By 5:30 we had those in place and then installed a shelf cubby over the captain’s chair on the passenger side, which will be mirrored on the driver’s side over the kids’ seats.

I hit the road for home at about 7, driving into a beautiful setting sun over the Bay, feeling very fortunate for the ability to work with my hands and make visible progress on a project with a clear end goal.

On Sunday we packed the CR-V and headed down to Bob’s house to continue sorting things out. After eating lunch I headed out into the garage to continue working on the Chrysler. When I was there last, there was no spark at the plugs and I didn’t know why. I’d bought a $9 tool to test it conclusively, and my suspicions were correct. The next point of failure were the points and condenser inside the distributor, so I swapped those out with some new parts in about 10 minutes. With Bob behind the wheel, we tested for spark again, and there was success!

I squirted some gas down the carb and had him fire it off, and it caught and turned over for a few seconds until the gas evaporated. A couple more tries, some more gas, and she caught and ran—loudly and choppily, but she ran! The smile on Bob’s face was huge.

The next steps are to buy a boat tank—basically a small jerry can designed for a motorboat with a built in float and pump—and hook that directly to the carburetor. That will take care of providing fuel. If I can keep her running from the carb, we can test the transmission to see if she’ll pull out of the garage, and I can pull the drums off the rear wheels to diagnose the brake system. I’m sure that will be a leaky nightmare.
I’ve already cleaned the front seats off with 50/50 water and vinegar to kill the mildew growing there, but the back seats need extra love and attention. Getting it out into the driveway will also let us wash off 40 years of dust and grime and really assess the condition of the paint. There are a thousand little dings and chips from being a shelf in the garage for years, so I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I bet we can cut and buff a shine back into the paint with some work. I also want to use some engine degreaser and the pressure washer to shine up the engine bay.

If I’m completely honest, a part of me didn’t believe I would be able to pull this off; I’m mechanically adept but this project is a lot more than I’ve ever attempted, and there were many places I could have screwed it up. I like to think I’ve learned to be patient and careful as I’ve gotten older, and that approach paid off with every obstacle the car threw at me. The next couple of months will prove out the theory, I guess.

I had Monday off, so we all enjoyed sleeping in. Jen took care of some work in the morning while I pressure washed the front stairs and fooled around in the garage, and in the early afternoon we drove out to Frederick to spend a little family time together. We got some lunch at the Tasting Room, which was about ten steps up from where we took Bob for dinner (the Cracker Barrel was the only place open without a half an hour wait) where we sipped fancy coctails and ate a delicious late lunch.

From there we walked through the town, stopping in various stores for Finn to shop through. I found a cheap Django Reinhart LP at the used record store and Finn found some inexpensive jewelry. We stopped and met several dogs who all put Hazel to shame for their calm and relaxed natures. She was our alarm clock, so at about the four hour mark we headed for home. We all spent the evening quietly doing our own things, enjoying the cool breeze, happy to be together.

Date posted: June 21, 2022 | Filed under cars, family, friends | Leave a Comment »

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I intended this to be a 360˚ photo you could pan around in, but apparently Flickr’s support of 360˚ photos took a shit and died. And their forum posts around the problem all date back to 2016. yay technology.

Date posted: June 20, 2022 | Filed under cars, photo | Leave a Comment »

This never gets old.

Date posted: June 16, 2022 | Filed under humor | Leave a Comment »

This week’s Earworm is a track by Sleigh Bells called SWEET75. The album track is good but this live version is about ten times better:

It’s an interesting song. The drum breaks are odd in their placement and construction, but the hook is solid and they work it hard. I dove into their back catalog and can’t say I enjoyed most of it—there’s a lot of noise rock and overprocessed elements I can’t get into, but a track from their previous album also caught my ear:

This is an even stranger construction; the chorus has nothing to do with the verse other than the key it’s in, but they hang it together really well. And damn, that woman can sing.

Date posted: June 14, 2022 | Filed under music | Leave a Comment »

We returned to Lexington Park this weekend to keep things moving at Jen’s Dad’s house, and I think we made some excellent progress on a couple of fronts. I packed our pressure washer in the Honda and used it to clean off the front porch and walkway, which was very much overdue and very satisfying. As I sprayed the ceiling I was flashing back to my freshman-sophomore college summer job, when I spent a fair bit of time running a commercial pressure washer off the back of a flatbed ford, spraying horse barns, pavilions, houses, boats, trailers, and miles of fence on the days I wasn’t painting. Good times.

I brought a box of new plug wires for the Chrysler and installed them, then pulled the cap off the distributor and cleaned the points and breaker with some sandpaper. After all of that, I’m still not having luck getting her started, and I’m running out of ideas as to what the problem is. I have to do some more research into how to test for spark and what the failure points could be before I throw in the towel and arrange for a tow to a shop.

This is a mix someone put together of a bunch of obscure Boards of Canada tracks that I always forget about; I’ve got their entire discography on the music server and always forget to spin the lesser-known EPs and demos. Excellent working music. Hiscores is a standout track.

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Jen and I finished the first half of the new Stranger Things season, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. I have minor quibbles with the direction they took some of the characters, and I could do without several of the B stories, but overall I’m happy with where it’s going and I can’t wait for the second half.

Date posted: June 14, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Gas has hit an all-time high of $5 per gallon around here, so my trips in the Scout are generally limited to short errands around town. I wound up leaving it at home for my trip up to New York last weekend, partially because the forecast for both travel days called for rain, and partially because of gas prices. As it turned out, there was little rain both days, and the weather was cool and mostly sunny. But I got 33 MPG in my Honda, and I can’t beat that.

This weekend, I spent some quality time messing around in the garage, and some of that time was spent on Scout stuff.

The gas tank has been sitting for a month or so waiting for me to get around to putting the sending unit in place. I didn’t know how to get the unit screwed in place with the thick rubber washer they provided. There’s a locking ring that goes over the sender and under three flanges welded to the tank, and the washer is too thick to make it easy to install. What I finally did was get one of the wings on the washer under a flange, and then carefully get the other two started with a couple of screwdrivers and some luck. Then, with some gentle taps with a hammer to spin the washer, I got the whole thing mounted and working. I have to take it back off to test the whole unit (and troubleshoot the wiring issue) but at least now I know I can get it installed.

The next thing I fooled with was pulling the trim off of one of the Flintstone doors to see what it would look like on Peer Pressure. I’ve had the guts of the door open several times, so it took about five minutes to get into the door, and then it was a simple matter of pinching the clips to release the trim.

I have to say, it looks kind of cool but also like I’m dressing up a pig. I like how the trim breaks up the big slabby purple area, but if I was to put a full trim kit on, that would imply I like the purple color, which I really don’t, or that I intended it to be this color and have now given it my stamp of approval. In any case, I don’t have a full set of trim pieces for in front of the doors or around the rear wheels, so at this point it’s not even an issue. It’s interesting to think about, though.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: June 13, 2022 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Saturday Tinkering

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It occurs to me I’ve not mentioned how the deer skull turned out since I boiled it last month; it’s been mounted to the side of the garage since then. I think it came out pretty good! I didn’t use a ton of hydrogen peroxide to bleach it, but I like the way it came out, and for a grand total of maybe $10 it’s a nice piece to decorate the yard.

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I’ve had Invisalign in for a couple of days now, and I guess I’m getting more used to them. As much as I can get used to having plastic sofa covers on my teeth all day, every day. Overnights are the easiest, because by now my palate has gotten used to the position the trays have pushed it into. I’m supposed to change them every week, so the first day of the change is going to be a total drag.

It’s shifted a lot of my daily habits, which is for the better, I think. For example, I obviously have to take them out each time I want to eat something. Sounds easy, right? Well, because my teeth are aligned so poorly, it takes a bit of work to get the trays out—and it’s not very comfortable. I have to start with one side way in the back and work my way around. The plastic can hurt my gums if I do it wrong, and my whole jaw is sore to begin with, so chewing is a delicate matter. And because I’ve got all these nubs glued to my teeth, the inside of my mouth is tender from them rubbing so much.

I had to find a way to surreptitiously pull them out at a company meeting on Thursday before lunch, then quietly run to the bathroom to wash them out and pop them back in. The next step is to set up a tiny travel kit for them with a mini toothbrush and toothpaste that’ll fit in a pocket.

Invisalign would actually be a great way to aid a diet, because it makes grabbing a quick snack an investment of time and effort: take the trays out, wash them, gently chew something, brush teeth, brush trays, reinsert. Where I used to graze a lot during the afternoon now I’m strategically planning what to eat and when. It’s also good for brushing habits: if I’m brushing at least three times a day after each meal, I’m finally fulfilling the wishes of all of the dentists I’ve ever seen, 40 years too late.

Date posted: June 11, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Yeah, pretty much want to rip my own face off.

Date posted: June 9, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »