Brian texted me last week to see if I was available for some junkyard picking, and we set up a time on Sunday afternoon to meet. He picked me up in the white Scout and we headed over to Jessup to see what we could find. He was looking to supplement the electric steering parts we pulled from a Versa back in October. Apparently we didn’t get everything we needed; we’d just grabbed the motor and called it done, when we also needed the bracketry, shaft, and other assorted wiring.
After a few minutes to get our bearings, we found a Versa with some serious front-end damage and found that someone had already pulled the driver’s door, steering wheel, and most of the dashboard apart. All the bracketry we needed was intact, and without the door it was even easier to get what we needed from under the dashboard. After about 20 minutes of futzing we pulled the entire assembly out and continued on our way.
I was there for three things, one of which was Scout related: the horn in Peer Pressure is the wimpiest, most pathetic little toot of any vehicle I’ve ever owned. It sounds like an Italian scooter. I wanted to find something that had some more chutzpah. I did some Internet searching and found that higher-end 80’s Cadillacs came with 4-note horns (an individual horn for each note) that are loud enough to wake the dead. The W126 Mercedes was second on the list followed by 90’s GM minivans, so I was able to narrow the search down on the yard’s handy inventory tool. As luck had it, there was a 300SE in the yard with my name on it. We found it pretty quickly, and someone had already removed the entire hood assembly, exposing the horns mounted to the radiator. All I had to do was put a 13mm socket on one bolt and disconnect the wiring, and they were in my hands.
We then looked for an eighth gen Honda Accord so that I could pull the passenger’s rear door lock assembly (mine has never locked or unlocked remotely since the day we got the car) and after ten careful minutes we pulled it from a wrecked black model with leather seats and four blown airbags.
Wandering around the junkyard, we happened upon a Sprinter van that had given up its engine, and I pulled another horn from behind the front bumper. It was getting late, and Brian’s motor assembly was getting heavy, so we called it a day and paid for our prizes.
Looking over these three horns on the bench, they’re identical—Mercedes apparently hasn’t updated their design in decades—apart from the note. The 300SE came with a 335hz and a 400hz horn wired in pair, and the Sprinter came with a 335hz. I’m going to start with the single from the Sprinter and see how it sounds in relation to the wuss stock horn, and if I need Get The Fuck Out Of My Way Loud I’ll put the dual set on and see how that does.
As for now, it’s cold and rainy (actually, snowing today) so Peer Pressure sits quietly in the garage, waiting for warmer weather.
We met the new neighbors on Tuesday. After more than six months of intrigue, random realtor showcases where carloads of strange people showed up to the house and wandered around the neighborhood shouting (yes, this did actually happen) and long periods of inactivity, a very quiet couple moved in soon after we got Hazel. Jen met them one day when she had a stoned dog out in the backyard after she’d been hit by the Prius, and couldn’t really talk to them much. She resolved to properly welcome them to the neighborhood with some flowers. We walked over after dinner and rang the bell; they invited us in and we stood in the foyer of the house and talked to them for about 20 minutes. They are lovely people and we got along very quickly. We agreed to organize a dinner with them after the holidays and get to know them a little better.
Renie was in town on Wednesday courtesy of the FAA, and she was able to get a hotel very close to the office. We met up and got some dinner at Union Station on Wednesday night and did a debrief from Thanksgiving; it was great to get some quiet time to catch up with her where we weren’t making food or driving somewhere or cleaning up something.
Carni, my lead designer, left us on Friday after over five years with WRI. Back when I was the whole design department, I knew I needed to hire someone to help with the rapidly increasing workload. After looking at a pool of over 200 applicants, his work stood clearly out above the rest, and I was lucky to get him. An incredibly capable designer, I leaned on him a lot for many different things while I was focusing on the larger picture and learning how to be a manager. As he grew into a larger role, I made sure to get out of his way and let him run with the things he wanted to tackle. He’s moving to a local studio that focuses on data visualizations, which is where his interests have been for several years, and I couldn’t be happier for him. But now I’m scrambling to find someone who can do a quarter of what he could, and I’m going to have to fill in for the rest.
One of our awesome Advent activities this year was to meet up with the Morrisses and make sock monkeys at the American Visionary Art Museum. The girls did this two years ago when I was laid up in the hospital, and they had a great time together, so we put it back on the calendar. At the top of the back warehouse there’s a huge open room where the staff had set up scores of tables with basic necessities—bags of stuffing and some directions. You are expected to bring socks and scissors, and they supply thread, buttons, and other decorative elements. We found a table and got to work, making friends with a young woman who was sock monkeying solo. It’s incredibly satisfying to sit and stitch something together with friends; I can almost see the allure of a quilting group (but there’d need to be copious amounts of alcohol). I chose a striped sock and used the most basic of stitches, while Jen used a hook-and-loop and made hers more professional. Three hours later we realized we were all famished (somehow it got to be 1PM without us noticing). We packed up our monkeys and drove down Key Highway to Little Havana and chowed down on delicious cuban-inspired food. It was great to hang out with them, and I have to say, my sewing skills were not too bad!
Sunday morning I spent tinkering around the house getting small tasks done; I ran the Scout up and realized the 11-year-old battery is probably due for a replacement. I straightened up the backyard and cleaned up the garage, then went downstairs and organized a bunch of stray boxes. It’s at the point where I need to put proper shelves in along the wall in the ice room, because we’re out of wall space for racks and there’s no clear floor space. Another holiday break project will be building a longer laundry sorting area and organizing the shelves on the west wall.
One of our local Scout friends sent out a call for help this week via text: he’d located an original International Harvester fridge and was asking if anyone could help him move it from a basement in Woodlawn up to his house in Timonium. Intrigued, Bennett and I answered the Bat-Signal and we made plans to meet up at the house on Sunday morning.
For those that might not know, IH produced refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners for a short period of time directly after World War II up until 1955, when they sold the division to Whirlpool. (The fridge on Friends was an IH model). The idea was that they would use their existing distribution channels to sell products to rural communities that had just been electrified, which is pretty clever, actually.
Bennett picked me up in Heavy D and we met Stephen in front of a 1950’s saltbox off Liberty Road. The house, and neighborhood, had clearly seen better days, but George, the owner, welcomed us inside his cramped, neat little house and led us down to the basement where we found our subject: a 1951 Model HA-84 refrigerator in very good condition, lined up against a wall. After measuring the doorways and the unit, I found a way to remove the door and we pulled all of the interior parts out—All either made of enamelware steel or glass, no shitty plastic here.
With George’s heavy-duty furniture dolly, we got it out the back door, pivoted in a tiny area, and then hauled it up the basement stairs to the backyard. From there it was pretty easy to move down the driveway, and the three of us deadlifted it up into the back of Heavy D’s bed.
At Stephen’s house, we brought it up the back stairs and into his dining room, where we stood it upright and put all the parts back on. It’s really in fantastic shape—all the internal parts are present and not broken, which is amazing. The steel on the outside is faded but will probably polish up well after a cleaning. The chrome is all in excellent shape. And from what we understand it runs perfectly.
We hung out and shot the shit for a while, including looking over Stephen’s IH Cub tractor and his new Scout 80 project, then grabbed some lunch before parting ways. All in all, a fun way to spend a gloomy Sunday, even if it wasn’t directly truck-related.
Hey, this is cool! The guy standing at the table talking to people, and working at the computer in the following shot, is Matt, my roommate from college. He’s not getting any fat Adobe money for his work, but it’s pretty sweet!
As shown in the time-lapse I posted earlier, we made some serious progress on Bennett’s injection project. Brian stopped by my place at a little after 8, chilled from a top-down ride over the bridge in the white Scout, so I made him a cup of coffee and we got him warmed up before humping a cabinet up into the new bathroom and then hitting the road.
Bennett had an array of tables set up in the driveway with Brian H, and they’d organized parts but waited for us to arrive before tearing anything down.
The Brians crawled under the truck to start dropping the tank while Bennett and I looked over the instructions for the carb and began yanking hoses and linkage off his mud-caked Thermoquad.
Soon we had the intake open and clean and started test-fitting the mounting plate, got the new throttle-body mounted, and started working out the wiring.
In back, Brian braved buckets of mud and rust falling into his eyes to get the tank dropped and mount new hoses, then installed the fuel pump under the driver’s door.
After a quick lunch, we got back at it and re-hung the fuel tank while Bennett drilled a hole in the firewall to pass the new wiring loom through to the glove box. At about 3 Brian and I had to head out so that we could make it to the junkyard before closing, but we left Bennett in good shape with most of the heavy two-person tasks complete (re-mounting the fuel tank is a pain in the ASS).
At the junkyard, we were looking for an electric steering motor from a Prius, a Versa, or a Kia Soul to modify the manual steering he’s got in the white Scout. Crazy Ray’s was bought by a national conglomerate a while back (it’s been a year or two since I’ve been) which means they now have an app that lists the inventory at all of their yards (!!!) and the stock is all lifted up on welded steel rim jack stands. They’ve cleaned up the operation a ton and it’s much easier to find things now—they even provide rolling engine lifts.
We found the one Prius in the yard but the motor was already gone, so we moved on to the Versa. After some digging under the hood (I figured it would be at the end of the steering shaft in the engine compartment) I was ready to give up but Brian looked under the dashboard and realized it was integral to the steering column. Once we figured that out it was an easy thing to tear down the dash and pull the unit out.
We made it out of the yard at closing time, said our farewells, and headed home. Turns out we left some of the required parts behind—we needed to grab the control module and something else, so he’ll have to go back and grab those things this weekend.
Hey! Look at that. That’s Bennett at the wheel of Peer Pressure on our way back home this weekend. I have few action shots of Peer Pressure taken from other vehicles, so this is cool to have, even if I’m not driving.
I topped off the fluids in the Scout on Saturday, put the spare tire back in, and put the bikini top on in preparation for our trip to Ohio on Wednesday evening. Our plan is to meet up at my place, where Brian will drive in from Delaware, Ray will come down from Pennsylvania, and Bennett will drive over from Columbia. We’ll split the two passengers among us and drive out to Brian’s cabin in WVA to overnight, then continue on in the morning from there. It should cut about 2 hours off of the overall commute.
While I was farting around in the engine bay I remembered that the mounting holes on my radiator overflow tank were broken and looked through my stash for a spare. Luckily I’d pulled one off the Scout I parted out in Wheaton 10 years ago, and it was in excellent shape. I spent 10 minutes with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers swapping them out.
Speaking of parts scouts, this ad showed up on Craigslist this morning. A guy is selling a ran-when-parked Scout and a second “clean body” for a total of $6,000. Before I get into a back-in-my-day rant, I’d like to wish this guy luck; if he can get $6,000 for these trucks, more power to him. But even with the inflated prices Scouts are beginning to command, that price for these trucks is astronomical. $6K should fetch a running vehicle and a donor body with a clean title. If this guy spent a day cleaning up the red truck and getting it running, he’d have a much better chance of selling both. As they sit, I’d give him maybe $1500 tops and offer to haul them away.
I’m sitting out on the deck of the beach house in 80˚ weather pretending the sun on my crispy face doesn’t sting too badly. The air is blowing in from the water and the waves are gently beating the shoreline about 300 yards from here. It’s Friday and we’re all settled comfortably into a lazy beach schedule: rise when we feel like it, stumble around the house and make some coffee, lay about in our PJ’s until we’ve rustled up some breakfast, and then slowly make preparations for the beach. By about noon or so we’re packed and ready, and we head out to the warm sand.
We got here at the tail end of the brutal heatwave that gripped the East Coast, so our first two days on the beach were a challenge. The heat was intense and the air wasn’t moving so we baked on the sand and were assaulted by clouds of horseflies; the only saving grace was that the ocean was warm and horseflies can’t bite underwater. On Tuesday the storm blew through and cooled everything down, so the rest of the week has been idyllic: temperatures in the high 80’s, a 5-10mph wind blowing from the south, and cool ocean water with 2′ waves to jump around in.
This year we’ve scaled way back on our culinary requirements; in years past we’ve gone the extra mile to source and prepare wonderful dinners. This year we’re all in EASY mode and not stressing ourselves out by spending two hours on a gourmet meal. Lunch is sandwiches in the cooler and bags of cheesy-poofs (we brought seven bags between two families), a spiked iced tea/lemonade mix for the ladies and cold Coronas for me, and various snacks we’d never allow the kids to eat on a regular day. By 3PM we’re lit and the day rolls smoothly on from there.
The house itself is comfortable and appointed well. While nothing is ever laid out how I’d arrange it, this one has everything we need and has enough room for us all to come together and separate when we need space. The kitchen is large and easy to use. And the outdoor shower is large enough to fit three sandy bodies at once.
Few things in life relax me more than a house at the beach; I love the rhythm of the days here and the sounds and smells. I love the giggles of my girl jumping the swells, a manhattan on the deck under the stars, throwing my nephew into the waves until my arms are sore, the scent of salt air on the back of my wife’s neck, the feel of sand between my toes, and going to bed tired and sore and slightly drunk and very happy we are all together.