Brian stopped by last Sunday for a couple more hours of messing around with our ammo boxes, and while we didn’t finish them, we got a lot more done. The first thing we did was to slice four rubber stoppers in half, countersink the bottoms, and drill four holes in the base of the boxes to mount them as feet. When that was done we sorted out the rear mount situation to lock it into the base of the truck. What we’re doing is welding a C-channel to the back side of the box and another C-channel to a metal plate that mounts to the bed of the truck. The box side hooks in to the bed side, and when the front of the box is locked into place, that should keep the whole thing from being removed.
My neighbor’s dad is an old-school gearhead. When I met him for the first time he was behind the wheel of a maroon late-model Dodge Challenger. Soon he replaced that with a blue model. And a couple of years ago he showed up with a bright yellow ’68 Camaro with an angry, lumpy cam and racing slicks. I walked out and talked cars with him for a while, and we got on the subject of paint. He was looking to get rid of the yellow as soon as he could, and I mentioned I was looking to get rid of the purple on Peer Pressure just as quickly. We talked about leads and shared what we knew. Time passed, and I would hear the Camaro rumbling up the street now and again. This spring it showed up silver—I thought he’d stripped it down to bare metal—and then a pair of black stripes appeared up the hood. It looks a million times better; the silver accentuates the lines of the car and it looks much, much meaner.
A week and a half ago I was walking Hazel and we saw him at the 7-11 at the far end of our route. We got to talking and he asked if I was still interested in painting the truck; he’d retired a few months back and built himself a spray booth to reshoot the Camaro, and was now taking on painting jobs. I said HELL YES in no uncertain terms, and told him to slot me in for the spring—he’s got a car lined up to work on in the fall, and I don’t want the truck off the road for too long.
I’m not looking to spend months with a block sander and Bondo to get the metal on PP perfectly flat; I’d be happy with a decent 10-footer as long as the paint was all one color. I’ll have to hustle in the fall, though, because there are several things that would need to be addressed before it went in to the booth:
- One or more of the three windshield frames needs to be cleaned up, sanded, have new metal welded in to the windshield lip, get filled with chassis encapsulator, and made ready for paint.
- All of the random holes on PP’s body need to be sanded down and filled, preferably with welds, and then smoothed over for paint. This includes the old mirror mounts on each door, the trim mounts along the bottom of the body, and the snap holes along the back of the tailgate.
- The orange hood needs to be sanded down and cleaned up at the very least—it’s pitted along the front edge.
- The dent in the rear endcap from the swinging bumper needs to be knocked out and filled.
- Whatever I do, I want to paint the Traveltop white for a classic ’70’s look. It needs a whole lot of attention on its own: there are multiple places where the PO screwed into the metal and left them there, so all of those need to come out and be plug welded. The rack needs to come off, the windows need to come out, and the rain gutter needs to be sandblasted and re-sealed. I’d also like to add some sound deadener to the interior.
- Finally, any and all spare panels I’ve got should be cleaned up and shot with the same paint, if possible.
I have experience with sanding and Bondo, having done some extensive slap-hammer and sanding work on my old VW bus thirty years ago, and I’m sure a middle-aged Bill can do a much better job than a 17-year old Bill.
I bought some new tools last weekend, including a second angle grinder and a pneumatic DA sander, and I’ve got a bunch of consumables on order from Amazon including wet/dry sandpaper, etching primer, and a copper welding backer, as well as a can of chassis rust encapsulator.
So, in order of importance, I’ve got to:
- Do a walk-around and inventory all of the issues on the body
- Practice welding holes closed in washing machine steel
- Sand chips in paint around the tub and sheetmetal
- Knock down any drips in the purple paint
- Sand and weld the holes shut in the body
- Bondo and prep those areas for paint
- Remove all badging and chrome
- Pull glass from the second spare windshield
- Evaluate and choose the best candidate for repair
- Plug holes on the good spare
- Encapsulate rust inside the frame
- Weld in good metal around the inside lip
- Prep for paint
- Plug holes in white fender
- Use aircraft stripper on the blue fender, sand and repair
It’s going to be a busy fall, I think.
So the Harvester Homecoming is actually going to happen this year; I have no idea how they’re going to arrange things so that there’s social distancing, but I’d wager the boundaries will be pretty porous. I’m skipping this year for obvious reasons, but my eventual goal is to make it to the 2022 event, COVID willing.
Back in college, I used to frequent a place in downtown Baltimore that spoiled me for surplus stores for ever after; in what was then a lousy neighborhood there was a warehouse storefront with several old military chests chained to a steel post outside a heavily reinforced door. Inside, a showroom was filled with new camping and mil-spec gear, haphazardly placed and barely organized. Down a tall flight of stairs into the basement of the building, however, was a city block-sized space full of surplus gear, piled high on 10-foot shelves that stretched from one side of the building to the other. This was the kind of place where you could still root through 5’x5′ cardboard bins filled with surplus fatigues for elusive SL-sized Vietnam era jungle pants; there were shelves stacked with tank periscopes, racks of cold-weather coats, an entire section devoted to ALICE packs (the most uncomfortable backpack ever invented), tents made of stinking olive green oiled canvas, bins and bins of 80’s era combat boots—this was where I bought my first pair—and in the far back there were honest to god oscilloscopes sitting next to unidentifiable electronic equipment that was probably used to call in missile strikes. We’d roll down there every couple of months to check things out, much like visiting the IKEA, and usually find something interesting to buy for cheap. Half of my college wardrobe was made up of surplus clothing or thrift-store finds.
About four years ago they picked up and moved north into the Hamilton neighborhood on the east side of town, and I figured they were my best (and only) local shot for 30mm ammo cans in stock. The guy on the phone claimed they had them and quickly hung up before I could ask about pricing or condition, so I was somewhat skeptical about what I’d find. Their current Yelp reviews are less than optimal, but I figured I’d take the chance. I drove the Scout in on Saturday morning and found the place in downtown Hamilton, empty of people; it was maybe 1/20th its original size, now occupying an old beauty supply store. The scene inside was as disorganized as the old basement had been. After a few minutes I found the ammo can section and was annoyed to find they didn’t have any of the size I wanted, and the guy in the store was less than concerned with helping me find any. I spent a total of about 5 minutes in there and left, disgusted with the whole situation.
Back at home, I found them for sale online and for $10 in shipping I’ve got two on their way to the house, due here by Saturday.
I saw this picture in my Instagram feed and it got my brain thinking about a lockable security container again. See that green ammo can on the right side?
That’s a 3omm ammo can, which measures 9″ x 17.5″ x 14.5″, and weighs 21 lbs. For $~35, I could easily adapt this into a lockable container for the back of the Scout for more tool storage. I’d have to do a couple of things to it though. First, I’d weld a loop on the box and cut a hole on the handle for a padlock of some kind. Then I’d need to set up a fastening system on the bottom of the bed to secure it to the truck. I’m thinking I’d cut down a loop of metal and weld it to a square steel plate. That would be bolted to the floor of the truck, or better yet, weld a pair of captive nuts under the truck so that the only way to pull the loop off would be from under the can.
After cutting a slot in the bottom of the can to accept the loop, I’d use some kind of lock or steel bar through the loop, inside the box, to secure it in place. The point of all this is to be able to quickly pull the can out of the truck when it’s in the way and have only the loop in place (or also be easily removed).
I’d immediately discounted the idea of an ammo box a while back because I was only thinking of the 7.62 and .50 cal cans, which are smaller in dimension than the 30mm cans. I have a .50 cal can and it’s roughly half the size. This looks like it’s the perfect size and shape for my plans, and the only other things I’d need to make this happen would be a welder, gloves, and helmet– something I’ve been considering the purchase of for years. There’s nothing like a project to make things happen! And, after some practice, I could then start welding and repairing my spare windshields and other sheet metal to prep them for paint.
I’d started planning for a spring workday here at the house a few weeks ago. I sent out an email with a calendar poll for weekends in April and had pretty much settled on a day—then the virus hit. So I sent a follow-up email to postpone until May, in the hopes that things will have blown over by then.
In the meantime it looks like I’ll have some time on the weekends to get things done, and I’ll need to get outside for sunshine every day. So I ordered a part for the truck: a new (remanufactured) starter motor to replace the used unit Bennett and I installed in 2011. Mine has been grinding intermittently for years now, and I’d like to get ahead of it before it craps out completely at an inconvenient time and place.
Next, I’d like to fix my turn signal cancel cam, which has been broken since the day I bought the truck, and while I’ve (theoretically) got the wheel off, I can replace the ignition key cylinder with a new unit and new key. I’ve got a wheel puller I bought at Carlisle years ago ready to go, so it’s just a matter of setting up the puller correctly and taking things apart.
Finally, I can take some time to reroute the speaker wire that’s been hanging down below my dashboard and stuck under the transmission tunnel cover and properly send it out through the firewall and down the frame rail. It’s a small thing to clean up an ugly truck, but every little bit helps.
One of the projects on the horizon for spring is to figure out how to shoehorn my new compressor into an already crowded garage. It’s pretty clear I’ve got to put it along the back wall, but there’s no power back there and that area is full of other stuff. I’ve had to stack stuff one top of stuff because there’s no place else to put it, which makes me unhappy. If I can get rid of the first compressor, that frees up a pile of space under the workbench, which I can then rebuild into shelving. That should free up floor space and the puzzle pieces will fit better.
The first order of business will be to extend power to the back corner. I’ve got two circuits in the garage currently, switched power up over the ceiling for reclaimed fluorescent lights and unswitched power going behind the workbench. It’s pretty obvious that I’ve got to extend the unswitched power further back so that I can run the old fridge and the compressor next to it under the window. This means I’ve got to move a pile of parts, including my spare hood, to other locations.
One of the things I haven’t really been taking advantage of is the space up in the attic, which is currently filled with piles of unbacked insulation from the front porch project. There’s a lot of space up front that I can use for stashing things I don’t need during the summer (when the hardtop goes up on the lift, it blocks the access door) but I have to get rid of that insulation first. Baltimore County has a program where they’ll accept donated materials, and all of this insulation is pretty clean as far as I remember, so when there’s a warm spell, I’m going to get a paper suit, haul it all down, and bag it for donation.
First up on the accessories list for the compressor will be a filter for the outgoing air. Next, a good impact driver and a set of sockets. I’ll probably hit Harbor Freight for that. In the spring I’ll pick up a sandblaster attachment so that I can start blasting parts clean. Finally, a decent HPLV gun will give me the ability to spray decent paint on those parts and get them ready for hanging.
I had a little time Saturday afternoon, in the 70˚ weather, to look over the horn situation on Peer Pressure. The horns are located behind the driver’s headlight on the front side of the radiator support, so you have to pull the headlight to access it. What I didn’t realize is that there are actually two horns, wired in sequence.
You can see both of them in the shot above: The first one in line is mounted straight to the support, facing downward. The second is to the left, mounted on its side. Clearly, one of them isn’t working. I pulled the wire from the first horn to see which one was bad; the second horn fired just fine.
So, I cleaned up the wires on my Mercedes horns, grounded one lead to the body, and hooked the other one to the hot wire. Here’s the difference (Mercedes horns first, stock horn second):
The stock horn is welded to the mount, so I can either cut it off and reuse it for the Mercedes horns, or fabricate a new mount. The stock horn is toast so I don’t see much use in keeping it.
But I don’t know if I like the tooty sound of the Mercedes horns either.
On Sunday I was back out in the beautiful weather, and went through some of my small parts bins to organize what’s out there; I’ve been squirreling stuff in there for years and I’ve lost sight of my inventory.
Most of the stuff in these three bins are smaller parts—going clockwise, I’ve got a lot of lights, light buckets, and mounts, as well as lenses. At 5 o’clock there’s one door scissor—I don’t know what side—and three wiper motors. At 7 o’clock there are two plastic defroster vents. Above that I’ve got a set of door hinges that weigh about a thousand pounds. To their right are a set of drum brake pads (they are now with their mates on the shelf). There’s a fuel pump at 9 o’clock, several wiper and door lock linkages above that, and two kick panel vents above that. In the center there are several tubs and envelopes of hardware, a spare washer bottle, and two door lock assemblies.
In some of the smaller tubs I’ve got a spare set of outer doorhandles, six window cranks, six inside door handles (four left and two right) and two pairs of wing window locks (the part that sits on the top of the triangle). There’s also a tub with wing-vent plugs—anyone with wing-vent windows knows what I’m talking about.
One of my next steps is to purchase a third parts organizer to split out the Scout-specific hardware I’ve got scattered among boxes and bags—the stuff that’s expensive to replace. Things like the allen bolts that secure the window crank to the door, the shallow locknuts that hold the door hardware in place, or the gigantic bolts that secure the door hinges to the chassis. Having all of that in one place would make life much easier.
I’m also going to have to add some new large bins for the oversized parts that are loose on the shelf.
I had the Scout out a couple days before Christmas to run some errands, and she ran great after a warmup in the driveway. The new battery has a lot more power than the old one ever did. About halfway through my trip, while accelerating, I heard and felt a Ting! behind the steering column, from somewhere behind the dash. Alarmed, I did my usual scan for damage, and felt nothing different through the pedals or in the sound of the engine. She continued running straight and true, and the engine was strong and responsive. I continued on and filed that away in my brain for later diagnosis.
A little later it became clear what the issue was: my speedometer needle was bouncing all over the place. For most mechanical speedo cables the cause is the same thing: at some point the grease in the wire got gunked up with age or dirt, and the teeth have started slipping. I’ve got a couple of different options to fix it:
- I can buy a new speedo cable and install it: about $40 from a Light Line vendor.
- I can pull the existing cable and shoot graphite into each end, hopefully cleaning out and clearing up the binding problem, as long as the teeth are still intact.
While I’m in there doing this, I could update the gears in the instrument cluster to reflect the difference in tire size from stock to where they are now; this would show the proper speed and ensure the odometer is recording the right distance.
For Christmas, I asked for a 12 volt bench power supply so that I can pull the instrument cluster and put it on steady power to troubleshoot the lights, as well as the other gauges I’ve got in my spares bin. (After doing some more sleuthing I realized I can do the same with two 6-volt batteries wired in sequence, but oh well). So the first thing to do will be to wire up one of my spares and see if I can sort that out first. Once I know what I’m doing, I’ll pull the working unit and fix that, as well as address the speedo cable issue.
Not much to mention here, other than the fact that I ran up the girl twice over the weekend, once to pick up the Christmas tree, and another to just get her up to temperature and get fluids running through the system. I did notice that even though I’ve had her on a battery conditioner for three years, there’s a decrease in the amount of cranking power I’m getting. After 11 years, I think it’s probably time to replace the cheapo Advance Auto house brand I threw in there when my budget was tight. I noticed this weekend that Costco carries Interstate batteries, and I’ve had good luck with that brand in the past. I’m going to nurse her through the holidays and upgrade in January.
The bottom line is high-quality paint jobs and the supporting bodywork can be had for much less than the cost of a concours-level restoration, but time is the factor in all projects…
At a labor rate of, say, $90 an hour, that’s $36,000 before the first drop of paint is applied…Total labor hours in the 400- to 500-hours range is reasonable for a non-concours job, which puts our friend Jeff’s estimate for his Mach 1 right in the ballpark.
My paint isn’t flaking off and the metal underneath is still in good shape. I guess I’m sticking with purple for the time being…
I’m not on Facebook much, but I jumped on there the other day, following a link from somewhere else. On the Super Scout Specialists page they announced that the next Nationals will be in 2021, skipping next year for the Harvester Homecoming, which is held a little further west in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve got mixed feelings about this, as we had such a blast this year, but my family has tentative plans for a long vacation next year that might impact a trip to Ohio anyway.
While we were out there, I talked to Bennett about the historic license plates he has on his D Series truck, and learned that it’s a $25 one-time fee to switch from current Maryland plates to a set of antique plates correct for the year of your vehicle—if you can find them. The local antique store in town had a bin with about 20 different plates, in pairs and in singles, and I found a clean set of 1976-era plates for a total of $15. This is a screaming good deal, as eBay’s average price for two is about $60. I could have gone with Bicentennial plates but I didn’t like the look of them—red lettering over a white plate will look better with a dark purple paint job.