So here’s a list of the haul from Flintstone, so that I’ve got a record of what I dragged home.
In no particular order:
- The steering wheel—I got the entire thing all the way to the steering box, and I even found the horn button on the floor
- The plastic steering wheel column cover, in black
- The steering box—Got it, along with one chewed up castle nut.
- The lower tailgate latch assembly—I took some time and got the latch, the button, both rods and latch arms
- One of the latch arms from the liftgate
- 4 bolts where the windshield connects to the roof
- The washer bottle—this came off cleanly, along with the little hoses to the squirters (Mine got squashed last summer)
- Hubcaps—I found one front and one rear.
- The coolant overflow tank—although all of the mounting tabs crumbled when I pulled it off
- Light buckets—I got three good side markers and one taillight lens, along with one front turn signal. The rest were trashed.
- Both of the 1978 headlight surrounds—the grille was in pieces on the ground underfoot
- The complete dome light assembly
- The automatic transmission shift cover
- Another glovebox door
- All of the dash gauges, and the dash surround (although that is chewed all to hell; I have three spares in the basement)
- The ashtray—apart from two stubbed-out butts, this is in perfect shape
- The license plate assembly—it’s a hinged model
- two sets of sun visors, both somewhat swollen, and all associated hardware
- A rusted but recognizable tailgate from a 1961 Scout 80, with the IH logo embossed. What I’ll do with this I don’t know, but I got it for nothing.
- An emergency brake setup from the same ’61, which Brian can use in his 800.
The stuff I wasn’t able to get, based on my original list:
- Both front hubs—Dave wanted to keep these with the axles, so I left them.
- The heater motor unit—this was trashed underneath and I didn’t have the time to dig deeper.
- Inner fenders—completely trashed.
- Door strikers from both sides—of four bolts I was only able to get one to budge, after repeated abuse with the impact driver.
- The transmission tunnel cover—this Scout came with factory air, which meant the A/C ducting prevented me from getting the top two bolts off the cover.
- Rear armrests—both of these were moldy black. No thanks!
- Side moulding—someone had come along and stuck a sheet metal screw in the middle of each of these, presumably to hold them on, which had then rusted to the body. I was able to get one off cleanly, but the rest are still on the truck.
- The interior fiberglas panels—both of these were drilled for janky-looking shoulder belts, and there was a wood block drilled into both of them in the back. I passed. I’ve got a spare set in the garage attic.
- The cowl cover—the bolts holding this on were rusted solid. I have a spare from the Wheaton scout.
- Evap gear from the rear access port—not enough time to get into this
- The slider windows—here I also ran out of time.
- The windshield—this was actually in decent shape, but there wasn’t enough time. I’d go back out there for the glass before he scraps it, if someone else wanted to join me.
As for me, my soft desk hands are covered in annoying little cuts. I’ve got two particularly annoying gashes right above the nail on my left middle finger and the top of my right thumb (the kind that catch on the pocket of your jeans or get wet and open back up doing the dishes). I have an abrasion along my right wrist up to my elbow. I’ve got a 2″ gash on the top of my left knee from the old Scout 80; if I get lockjaw in the next couple of days I’ll know where that came from.
So now I’ve got to dig out the bins and organize everything into their right place (there’s one bin for exterior parts, one for interior parts, one for electrics, etc.) The steering wheel will be disassembled so that I can see if the turn signal canceling cam is intact; if so that’ll go into Peer Pressure with a new lockset. Knowing how all of that comes apart on a spare will keep me from completely trashing my working setup.
The power steering pump will get hosed with Simple Green and then powerwashed to the bare metal; this will be set aside for a core trade-in when I order whatever new pump I buy. I’ve also got several starters and one brake booster that might fetch $20/each for a core charge.
The 1980 light surrounds, transmission cover, and hubcaps will probably go up for sale, along with the other shifter cover and OEM center console I’ve got sitting on the shelf.
It’s funny—for a while, I’ve looked back on parting out the Wheaton Scout and wondering why I didn’t pull more off that rig; having just spent the good part of a day wrestling with this truck (both of them equally rusty) I think I may have gotten less from this one than I did from that one. And I was better prepared this time. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time on the steering gear.
Like the rest of America, I’ve been chained to my desk indoors all winter, waiting for warmer weather and the chance to get outside and pursue my hobbies in some semblance of normalcy. Being chair-bound for weeks has been bad for my health, both mental and physical. Jen says I’ve been cranky for a while. It’s taking longer and longer to leave work behind, even though it’s only steps from the living room. My neck has been bothering me for months, and my right shoulder and arm are aching each night as I store up stress—further irritated by clacking a mouse around a desk during endless Zoom calls.
Knowing the weather was going to be sunny and warm this week, I took a mental health Wednesday, loaded up the CR-V with recovery tools, and hit the road for Western Maryland. The Scout I pulled the doors from was still sitting up in the woods, and Dave, the owner, had reached out to see if I wanted anything else before it got hauled off to the crusher. I’d looked it over when I was out there the first time but had run out of warm daylight to really focus on stripping it and I knew there were a bunch of other things I wanted to grab.
I got out to Flintstone at 11 AM and met Dave in his driveway. I’d intended on bringing him coffee for the morning but missed my chance to pull off into a town big enough to feature a coffee shop—Flintstone has one general store and no traffic lights—so I was empty handed when I masked up and walked out to greet him. He was busy getting his garage straightened up and told me I had free rein on the Scout and to holler if I needed anything.
I backed the CR-V up the hill and organized my tools for the jobs at hand. Then I busied myself with hosing all of the problematic parts with PBlaster and waiting for that to do its magic. While that was working I started with the low-hanging fruit: light buckets, emblems, any moulding I could get off (not much), simple dash parts, and other small items. The whole hood was already off the truck so that got set aside and I had full access to the engine bay, where two of my main targets lay: the steering column and the power steering box. This Scout was a 4-cylinder so there was plenty of room to work: it’s essentially a V-8 with the driver’s side cylinder bank chopped off, so there’s a huge empty space over the steering column. After some basic wrangling I got one of the two bolts on the rag joint off, but the other refused to budge; taking a break, I went inside the cab and disassembled the dash so I could get the plastic surround off the column and remove the mounting bolts underneath.
Waiting for more penetrant to work, I went to the tailgate and picked that clean: I got the entire latch mechanism, both latch arms, the button, and the license plate mount (a hinged model, something desirable).
Moving back to the engine bay, I put a pair of vice-grips on the stubborn rag joint bolt and was able to separate it from the PS box, and with that I got the entire steering column out. The PS box was next; after some work on the cotter pin and castle nut I was able to separate the drag link and then get the entire unit off the frame.
While I was working one of Dave’s friends wandered up the hill and struck up a conversation: a nice man named Paul told me through a thick accent that he was a farrier and had worked on horses from Syracuse down to Virginia and everywhere in between. Fascinated, I listened to him tell stories of helping fix horses as I pulled the dashboard apart.
By 4:30 I was winding down. The heater box was rusted through along the bottom and I had no way of getting the rest of it off without taking a sawzall to the outer fender (which I didn’t have) so I left that. Packing up my gear, I drove back down the hill and made a deal with Dave for the parts I’d gotten. Then I asked if he was scrapping the old Scout 80 carcass I’d parked next to up the hill, and if I could pull the E-brake assembly off for Brian, whose pretty Scout 800 did not come with one. Some short work with the impact driver and some wrenches and it was in my hands. Walking back down the hill I spied a beat-up early 80 tailgate—the one with the embossed IH logo, not the Scout script—and made a deal for that too.
With everything packed away in the CR-V, I hit the road and made it home at dusk for dinner with the girls. As I sped back down I-70, stinking of PBblaster, power steering fluid, and fresh dirt, I realized I had no pain in my shoulder, arm, or neck, and that I was recharged by being outside in the sunshine, working on my own time, doing something I love.
The guy out in Flintstone with the ex-dealership Scout I pulled parts from still has his truck. During my first visit I was being chased by snow, cold weather, and the sun setting, so I wasn’t able to stay as long as I wanted to pull parts, and I spent too much time heating bolts to pull a hub I didn’t directly need. I’m planning a trip back out there to grab more stuff, because I could be spending winter quarantine time refurbishing parts inside when I can’t be working outside.
I did a shitty job of remembering what to pull while I was there last time, so I’m making a list this time, in order of desirability:
- Both front hubs—I’d like to clean and refurb both of these
- The heater motor unit—we looked at pulling this in December, but there just wasn’t enough time to pull the fender off. It’s pretty rusty but maybe worth salvaging…
- Inner fenders, if they are clean (moon shot)
- The steering wheel—there’s a ton of good stuff in there, including the turn signal canceler, and I’d like to practice pulling the wheel off a spare
- The steering box—it would be good to have a core for rebuilding
- The lower tailgate lock assembly—the spring in my mechanism tends to jump off the cam, which means every three months or so I’ve got to break down the tailgate and reset it
- Door strikers from both sides
- Rear armrests—these are rare in good shape
- 4 bolts where the windshield connects to the roof (always good to have stock spares)
- Any side molding I can get off cleanly—I’ve now got 2 sets of door molding but I’d like to have the pieces that go in front of and behind the door. Peer Pressure is drilled for fancy exterior molding
- The washer bottle
- The fan shroud—I don’t remember seeing this, but they are rare on the ground
- The interior fiberglas panels—especially the middle section over the rear liftgate, if it has the switch
- The hubcaps, if I can find all four
- The cowl cover
- Any spare light buckets that are in good shape
- Both of the 1978 headlight surrounds
- Any good badging
- The dome light
- Transmission cover and plastic shift plate
- Any of the evap gear from the rear access port
- The ashtray—you laugh but I’ve only got one spare
- The slider windows, if they’re still there
- The license plate assembly—it’s a hinged model
So I’ll pack another rescue box, run out to Harbor Freight for an impact driver, buy another can of PBBlaster, and plan an early departure so that I can get as much sunlight as possible.
The verdict: it’s perfect. Both Finn’s bike and mine fit with no fuss at all (I was worried about my top bar being a bad fit).
Today I spent a little time looking over the doors I bought last weekend. I stuffed them right inside the front door of the garage when I got home last weekend, so they were in the way of a lot of things. We had to remove the passenger door without the hinges due to clearance issues when I was in Flintstone, which meant the whole door had to come apart before we got it off the truck, and I brought it home partially disassembled. Knowing how I am with parts, I figured I’d better put it back together before I forgot where everything went.
After I’d put the steel panel, window crank and door handle back on, I moved some parts out of the makeshift shelving unit I built (don’t judge, the whole garage is cockeyed) and reorganized the Scout section. There’s just enough space under the tall shelf to stand them up on end without hinges, so I pulled the driver’s door apart, removed those hinges, and buttoned everything back up again.
Both doors are rusty in their own way. The glass on the passenger door is in better shape than the other, especially the wing window, where the rubber is intact and the hinge and spring assemblies are still intact. The driver’s door is in worse shape overall, probably because it was parked upslope in Dave’s backyard and thus exposed to more of the elements.
I also started looking into the T-handle for the rear lift gate; it’s got a lock that’s pretty well calcified into the housing. I shot it full of PBBlaster and let it sit over the weekend. The lock barrel removal requires having the original key, which is still sitting in the ignition of the truck out in Flintstone. You have to unlock the latch while pushing on a small pin inside the handle housing, which releases the whole thing from the handle. I’ve got Dad’s set of lockpicks from the repo days, and picking a 4-tumbler GM lock from the 1970’s shouldn’t be too hard—but doing that while pushing the pin is going to require two more hands. We’ll see…
Looking through 10+ years of jumbled parts, I found that I’d acquired a 2-barrel Holley carburetor at some point which fits the spare air cleaner sitting on the shelf (the diameter of the opening is too small to fit a Thermoquad). This is in addition to the Holley 2100 I’ve already got—but I haven’t been able to ID this one yet. I think I’ll get the Simple Brown out and soak it for a week to clean things up, and then disassemble it to take a closer look.
Parts are getting harder and harder to find on the ground these days. Where 10 years ago someone might post a grotty truck and some boxes of parts on Craigslist for $500, these days Facebook Marketplace is where the stuff is, and there are more ads on Craigslist for people wanting to buy parts than sell. And the online vendors are getting more and more money for used stuff: A set of used door hinges are $150, for example—something that might have been $10 apiece in the bottom of a cardboard box a decade ago.
I don’t post on FB but I’ve kept my zombie account there, and I check the listings weekly for anything nearby. This past Wednesday a very roached-out truck appeared in Flintstone MD, just beyond that narrow spot in western Maryland where the state is the width of a parking lot. I reached out to the seller to ask about the doors, each of which feature a decal advertising the local International dealer, and when he agreed to $30 for each of them, I started making plans to go get them. He couldn’t meet during the weekend so I took a day off from work to drive out there.
My recovery kit held all the normal stuff—sockets, wrenches, hammer, drill, etc., but I also threw in a propane torch for heating bolts, heating handwarmer packs, a mini camp stove and some tea in case I was really cold, some Clif bars, and several tarps. I wore two layers of pants and three layers up top, knowing Western Maryland is usually 10˚ colder than here.
The drive out there was excellent; I was facing away from the sun, the sky was clear and blue, and the truck ran like a top. I made it to the house by 11 and pulled up behind the barn. The seller was actually listing everything for his (grandfather?) and actually left after he’d led me to the house, so I was there with Dave, the owner of the house and the Scout.
He was happy to hang out and help me pull parts, so I masked up, we put a breaker bar on the door bolts, and actually had them both off in about a half an hour. Looking over the rest of the rig, there wasn’t much to be harvested; the engine (a 196 4-cylinder) was covered in scaly rust, and my attempt to pull the heater box was unsuccessful. I had also wanted the front hubs, and bought good-quality snap ring pliers to remove them, but he wanted to keep them on the truck. I did wind up pulling a hub from a spare Dana 27 axle laying in the yard for Brian, whose Scout this will fit. It came off the axle easily except for one Allen bolt, which we had to heat and then cool to break free.
Dave was a super-nice fellow; we kept conversation mainly on trucks and our collective shock at how easily things were coming apart. In the land of pro-Trump yard signs there was mercifully no talk of politics. Dave has two other Scouts, a ’63 he uses for plowing, which looks well-loved, and a ’61 that he pulled apart to keep the ’63 going. They both have a lot of character to be sure. Our conversation drifted a little as we were wrapping up and he shared with me that his wife had passed several years ago and that he was working on cleaning the place up; it was obvious he was happy to have someone there to talk to, so we chatted for awhile about cancer and his motorcycles.
The only other thing I grabbed before leaving was the T-handle from the rear lift gate. We tried to get the mechanism out but it was rusted inside pretty well, so I gave up on that when I saw that it had begun snowing. After getting everything into the Scout I said my goodbyes and headed East. Traffic was light and I made it back home by 4:30 as the sun was just dipping behind the trees, which was fine by me.
So I’ve got two extra doors—this in addition to the two in the garage—but there are a wealth of good parts on each: the hinges are in excellent shape, the glass is good, the interior panels, armrests, handles and cranks are good, and the interior scissors both work. Plus, there’s an intact chrome strip on each one. I wasn’t able to budge the short chrome pieces on the front and rear fenders, but these pieces look real nice and should clean up well.
I’m kicking myself for not having pulled more while I was there (hindsight always being acute) but I enjoyed my day and I’m happy with what I was able to recover. If he’s still got it in the spring, I may head back out there for some smaller stuff—the tailgate latch assembly, the dome light, the hubs, maybe the steering wheel assembly, the gas evap elements, and some other hard-to-find parts.
I’m writing this covered in baking soda, waiting for the rest of the family to finish showering so that I can wash it off, and feeling pretty good about things. On Sunday afternoon I bought a $70 Harbor Freight sandblasting kit and a $40 bag of blasting media so that I could continue cleaning off the windshields. It took about 3/4 of a beer to get everything assembled; the directions are mostly pictures and designed by drunks with limited understanding of a 30-year-old Xerox machine. Using the pictures in the instructions, the picture on the cover of the box and a lot of common sense I was able to figure out how to put everything together, and after masking up I dumped some media in the tank and had at it. Once I dialed the flow coming from the bottom of the tank in, I was able to get the maximum effect with the minimum amount of media.
Soda doesn’t do much for rust but it sure takes the paint off quickly and well. I put about 1/2 the bag through the tank and worked over both windshields, focusing on places around obvious rust and scratches. I guess I’ll have to switch over to actual sand or maybe walnut shells to get the heavy rust off. I did find that the second windshield has one pinhole area on the top flat surface, which I hadn’t noticed before.
When I was done I realized the entire driveway was covered in blasting media, and I freaked out a little bit. But then I hit it with the hose and it all melted away. Clearly I need to build a cheapo plastic blasting cabinet so that I can reclaim the media and use it again, especially when I’m blasting small parts.
I drove down to my friend’s house Saturday morning to pick up the $50 soft top, and after running some errands this afternoon I took about an hour to check it out in the driveway. The verdict: I scored a hell of a deal.
It’s probably thirty years old at this point (Kayline went out of business in the early 2000’s) but the canvas is all holding up extremely well. There isn’t a tear or rip in any of it that I can see. The windows, which are usually the first thing to yellow and crack due to UV exposure, are clearer than the ones on my black top.
He wasn’t kidding about the seams coming loose: there are several places where the stitching has come undone and will need to be re-sewn, mainly along the driver’s side zipper, and up front above the passenger door along the drip rail.
I laid it out on the driveway and checked out all the parts. He included all the bows and hardware, and from the looks of things they are the stuff that’s aged the worst. The door frame units both suffer from serious rust. The aluminum snap channels are all dinged up pretty well, and the windshield channel is bent. But it’s nothing some sandblasting and a good paint job can’t fix.
I laid it out over the black top and took a few pictures, and then said fuck it and pulled the black top off completely. It took about 10 minutes to snap it in place, arrange the rear strap (one of which is missing, sound familiar?) and roll up the windows, and I had it on completely. There’s only one crack in the windows, about two inches long, on the driver’s side about halfway down, but everything looks clean.
I’m going to leave it on for a week or two and wash the black top (it needs a wash desperately, as does this one) and then decide which one to keep on for the rest of the summer.
I saw an ad show up on Craigslist for a dirt-cheap Kayline softtop down in Arlington and checked my Scout fund to see if I had the money available to snag it. Given that new Softtopper units cost ~$1,000 to start, I thought that $50 was a steal for what was offered: “Good for parts or pattern. Could be used, but the rear section is coming apart at the seams. All plastic windows appear to be good. The bows and attachment structures are all there.”
My black soft top has been on the truck since I got it, and it’s definitely ratty, but still holds together. I’m no stranger to repairing the canvas—I’ve restitched the seams on the black top twice. This one is light tan, which could look good or look like shit on Peer Pressure, but for $50 I was willing to give it a shot, especially if the windows are as clear as they look in the ad. Besides, I’d have the sides rolled up 95% of the time anyway. And if I was to repair the canvas section and get it in better shape, with the spare set of bows and mounting hardware I’ve already got, I could resell it for ten times the purchase price, which isn’t a bad deal either.
I called him up and we chatted for about ten minutes; he’s been into Scouts for as long as I have and seems like a nice guy. We traded pictures of our rigs and I told him I’d let him know the next time we were planning on a workday.
Meanwhile, I asked one of my designers, who lives in Arlington, if she could go and grab it for me. I Venmo’d her $50 for the top and $20 for beer, and she’s now got it sitting in her basement waiting for me to pick up.
At the junkyard, after looking unsuccessfully for a CR-V part, I noticed a PT Cruiser with black fabric seats. This got my brain whirring; the replacement PT seats I’ve got are gray fabric and the rest of Peer Pressure’s interior is black (well, minus the original bench seat). The ones I saw were soaked by Hurricane Isaias two days later, but it’s something to look out for every month or so when I return—$60 for two seats is a cheap way to dress up the girl.
* * *
On Instagram of all places, I saw that Roedel Brothers is going to release a replacement dash pad for the Scout II, starting at $375 after a core fee. I’ve got two in my stash, the black one I bought ten years ago and the original green one that came with Peer Pressure. Neither is perfect, but they’re good for now and it’s nice to know new repro parts are coming onto the market.