So the good news: the bumper is on! I shot it with a can of etching primer and then a final coat of heavy implement black, and it looks great! The whole front of the truck looks much better now. The license plate looks great in place. Overall I’m stoked with how this worked out.
The problem is that sometime between Tuesday and today, she developed a starting issue. I got absolutely nothing from the starter at first, so I checked the battery with a multimeter, which was giving me a little more than 12 volts. After looking over all the wiring and finding no breaks, I pulled the Accord in and was able to jump the engine with some difficulty—lots of chattering from the starter and then some slow cranking. I let it run in the driveway for the 15 minutes it took to swap bumpers, shut it down, and was rewarded with chattering again. I was meeting Brian in Annapolis for dinner, and, disappointed I couldn’t take the Scout, I set it up on the trickle charger and left. When I got home, nothing had changed.
Tomorrow I’m going to have Jen help me test the leads on the starter, clean them off, and see if that does anything. If that’s no good, I’ll take the battery back to AutoZone and have them replace it for a new one under warranty. And if that doesn’t work… I’m not entirely sure what to do after that.
In related news, the guy who owns one of the two Scouts I saw back in January has listed the darker Scout II for $3500 on Craigslist. Not that I need a rusty carcass. But those door inserts would be cool.
So I did find a welder within easy rental distance, and on Sunday morning, after we were walked and fed, I ran out with Finley and grabbed it, along with some stuff for her fort. When that project was done, I turned my attention to the bumper.
I knew I was going to be getting something not quite as good as Brian’s gas-shielded MIG welder, so I wanted to practice and get things dialed in before I messed up my good metal. This was a Miller 120 wire-fed MIG, so I made sure I had the right thickenesses dialed in and started messing with some scrap on the bench. After some welding and grinding and welding and grinding I had what I thought was the right setting for the machine, and moved out to the driveway where I had the bumper set up on some sawhorses.
The first bracket went on reasonably well on the front, and I filled the back with about four passes to make sure it didn’t go anywhere. I think I had to do three in front and four in back, pausing to grind and brush between each for clean metal. The second went on a little smoother in the front and I got enough of the back filled to feel comfortable. Let’s be clear, there was a lot of booger and spatter and I missed the joint several times completely. This was not perfect.
Then I used a stepper bit to drill two holes into the bumper itself (shudder) and then welded two captive nuts to the outside for a license plate directly in the center. Once that was done and cleaned up with the flap wheel, I mounted the whole thing on the truck and test-fit the lights.
So the next step is to fill the gaps with a little bondo, sand things down, and get ready for paint!
I made a little progress with the bumper project over the last week, up to the point where I need a welder. To recap: I originally bought 1/4″ box steel which wound up being way too thick, and bought another length of 1/8″ box steel which worked out perfectly. After a little coaxing I cut the edge off the bar and then cut two sections from that, leaving me with a pair of C-shaped sections ready for pilot holes.
I used a stepped drill bit in the drill press and then ground off about 1/8″ of each edge to get them flat, parallel, and shallow, then test fit everything on the bench.
As for welding, Brian took his rig back a month or two ago so I’m without anything here to use (and truth be told, the welds I was making before he came and got it were terrible). I called a local mobile welder who quoted $125 just to come out; while everybody’s got to make a living I’m having a hard time rationalizing that when I could spend another $150 and get a decent 110-amp starter MIG for myself. Or, I could spend $40 and grab a simple 110 MIG from the local rental center, and I wouldn’t have to deal with yet another large tool taking up space in my already cramped garage….perfect!
That was fast. This 45-lb. beauty showed up on my doorstep this afternoon, and being that it’s 60˚ outside, I had to go out, unbolt the stock bumper, and do a test fit. It looks fantastic, and the workmanship is excellent—better than I was expecting, actually. The clevis mounts aren’t flush-welded—they go all the way through to the back of the bumper through two holes and are welded on each side. The welds are clean and tidy. The bull bar doesn’t stick out too far, something I was afraid of.
It’s raw metal, so I have to pull it back off and bring it inside so it doesn’t flash rust. Then I can weld on some lamp mounts, drill and tap license plate holes, clean it good, and spray it with some black paint.
I went ahead and ordered a bumper! The way the ordering process went was a little strange; the contact from the Facebook page sent me an invoice via PayPal (keyed to the name of the fabricator) so I used my credit card to purchase it. This way I’ve got their built-in protection working for me. I got a notification from UPS that it was shipping yesterday(!!!) but then the contact messaged me on Facebook the same day asking if it was for a Scout II or an 80/800. Later that evening UPS updated me and told me it wouldn’t be delivered tomorrow, which left me with equal parts sadness and relief. And there’s no update on shipping yet.
I’m already thinking ahead to modifications and how I’m going to weld a set of brackets on under the pushbar to mount a pair of fog lamps, as well as a pair of captive nuts to accept a license plate.
I was in on a long empty zoom call this morning where I was just listening, and noticed that I was getting a lot of spam comments on oldlinestatebinders.com. I’d set up the site back in October but never really worked on it since then. I logged in and set up Akismet, which will shut the spam right down, and updated all of the themes and plugins. While I was listening, I swapped the theme and replaced the stock photos with some stuff from previous events.
Clearly, I need to get some more T-shirt designs finished and get them posted.
I’ve seen a guy selling front bumpers on Facebook Marketplace for a couple of months now. They’re basic prerunner-style bumpers, with a large pusher bar, two clevis mounts, and upturned edges, much like the bumper Brian and I built. They’re built from 3″x 4″x 1/8″ box steel, while my rear bumper is 2″ x 6″.
(through the magic of Photoshop, I can simulate the look)
But the thing that caught my eye first was the price: $280 including shipping.
I did a quick google search and found the company website where they’re selling the same thing for $15 more without shipping, and so this sounded like an even better bargain. I’ve got a little less than this amount left in the Scout kitty, but I just sold a spare camera lens a few weeks ago, so I think I might pull the trigger on this.
As much as I love the ’72 grille I’ve got, and the overall look of the front my truck, there’s always been something missing. This would be a good start, and would be easily modified for a winch or fog lights.
I got my monthly email from Super Scout Specialists today, and one of their featured items is a rear swingarm bumper that’s currently on sale for 10-15% off until the end of November. Their bumper is a traditional square 2×6″ tube with a tapered bottom. Their swingarm is a single piece of bent tube, hinged on the right side with a lifting bar/pin lock on the far left side. The tire mount point is directly in the center of the tailgate. I see no provision for a license plate holder of any kind in their photos. They offer several customizations, so I priced out a swingarm model with two D-ring points, for a total of $807.
GRC Fabrication sells a swingarm bumper that looks just as beefy. It’s also a square tube base, but the hinge is on the left side. The arm is two tubes forming a welded triangle, and the way they have the standoff built there’s room underneath for a Hi-Lift behind the tire. The standoff is mounted offcenter to the left, so it’s closer to the hinge and directly behind the driver’s seat, and there’s space on the right side of the swingarm for a jerry can holder/license plate. I spec’d out a version on their site with no jerry can mount and two Hi-lift tabs for $1,175. I also had the opportunity to look at one of these in person at Nationals last year, and I liked what I saw.
The big question here is: would I rather try to (re)build the bumper I’ve got, or buy something that’s engineered to work out of the crate?
Looking on the Binder Planet, I saw a build where a guy is fabricating his own bumpers, and took some pictures of the mounts he built before he installed them. It shows exactly what I’d have to do with mine: remove the two square standoffs and either raise or lower them so that a thick bar support can be welded to their bottoms which will bolt up directly to the bottom of the frame rail. This would provide a lot more perpendicular support to the bumper and eventual swingout arm.
From what I can see he might have welded the supports to extend all the way to the bumper box itself to gusset the structure as much as possible, which is a great plan.
So, first I’d have to pull my bumper off completely. This is what mine looks like now, from the inside of the bumper facing out, and from the side (body on the right side):
I’d have to grind off the standoffs and buy new box channel to reach down to the bottom of the bumper edge. Next, I’d cut new mounting plates and weld them to the standoffs. Finally, I’d build and weld two plates along the bottom of the bumper and standoffs that extend to the factory jack mounts on the bottom of the frame.
This would theoretically give the whole assembly the vertical support it needs. All of this would require removing the trailer hitch and getting some longer bolts so that the new bumper mount will sandwich between the frame and the hitch mount.
After that, I’d have to radically alter the geometry of my swingarm. The tire needs to be lowered and moved closer to the hinge so that there isn’t as much unsupported weight bouncing around. In hindsight I welded the hinge on the wrong side—If I’d been smarter I would have put everything on the left side so that the tire isn’t blocking the view over my right shoulder. So the hinge would have to be ground off, and I’d need to rebuild the swingarm from scratch—lower and left-aligned so that the center of gravity was closer to the bumper and frame. Essentially, I’d be copying the GRC Fabrication design in a simpler fashion.
I’m not confident enough in my welding skills to trust them to be strong enough, so I’d have to hire someone for the finish welding. And there’s also the cost of materials—which are harder to get these days; the local steelyard closed down and the only way I’d be able to get the stuff I need is online ordering.
I think I’m beginning to answer my own question here.
The big question for GRC is: how does their unit mount to the body? If it’s just a set of standoffs that mount to the back of the frame box, than that’s no better than what I already have. And could I use my existing hitch mount if I had a set of longer mounting bolts?
I got tired of dealing with a swingarm that performed no function, so I broke down and pulled it off this afternoon. I had to disassemble part of the tailgate to get the license plate wire run back up to the OEM light, but once that got sorted out the rest went easy. Up until I tested the light, which doesn’t work. It was fine when I disconnected it a few years ago, so it could be the bulb is dead, or the socket isn’t grounded properly, but I ran out of time to test it. I may have to break down and buy a new one from Super Scout Specialists later in the summer.