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.
I made an addition to the garage this weekend, something I’ve been considering for some time: a standing air compressor. I have a rolling compressor I got from Bennett back when he was cleaning out his Mom’s house, and it works pretty good. It’s 25 gallons with a 4HP motor, and I was just barely able to tuck it under the workbench, where it’s sat for two years. But I remember something my Dad said about his old rolling compressor, something about the release of air being inconsistent (probably because the output of the gun he was using was overrated for the compressor).
Anyway, I’ve been looking for something that will hold more air and put it out cleanly, and about a week and a half ago a bright red Craftsman unit came up on Craigslist. I let it sit, and it didn’t go anywhere. Then I got to thinking about what I could still get for the one I’ve got, and how this one would fit much easier in the garage (back by the fridge, under the rear window). I had a little over $200 left in the Scout fund, so I emailed the guy and did the deal this afternoon.
This one is a 33 gallon unit, and it’s about 10 years younger than the roller. It’s a heavy mother. It took the two of us to deadlift it into the Scout, and I had to do some careful maneuvering in the driveway with our old kitchen door and the spare tire to get it back down onto the ground by myself. But it’s clean, it works, and it will get me one step closer to sandblasting and refurbishing spare parts.
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.
I took the Scout out on errands Sunday before the first snow of the year. The weather was in the 50’s so it was good to get outside in the sunshine. I used the last of my starting fluid to wake her up so I thought I’d stop off at the auto parts store to pick up some more. When I came back out and cranked her over, the battery decided it was too tired to go on. I guess after 11 years I can’t complain too much; it was a bargain battery anyway.
$150 later, I put a new one in place of the old, hooked the terminals up, and she roared to life with vigor. While I was out, I got three thumbs-ups, a honk and a wave, and two guys telling me they love the Scout.
Not much to report on the Scout front, other than just getting things done. Last weekend we were out at the Home Depot hauling mulch and soil. This weekend we were…out at the Home Depot hauling mulch and soil. Before that, though, we made two trips to the dump with the remains of the greenhouse foam and plastic, as well as two barrels of trash and assorted wood. There will be another two dump runs made next week because I’ve already filled the barrels again.
I also took advantage of the fact that our new neighbors haven’t moved in and drove across their back lawn to straighten up the fenceline on the other side of our house. When the fence was put in, they poured concrete footers about 3″ deep and drove the posts the rest of the way into the ground. That was probably 20 years ago, and several of the posts were sagging. I threw a tow strap on them and pulled them upright, then drove wedges alongside and underneath, and got them to stand upright again.
She’s running well but I’m more and more concerned about the steering, so I want to move the timetable for getting it fixed sooner than later. The weather is getting warm and I’d like to get the traveltop off, but I don’t want to do that until she’s been over to the alignment shop and back, considering they’re on the other side of Baltimore and it’ll most likely be a couple of days to have the work done. I’ve been waiting on cashflow to pull the trigger, but March-April bills have been killing me. Hopefully May will bring a little extra cheddar to get this done.
I did take about 15 minutes to break down the dashboard and slap a new 4″x8″ speaker in place this afternoon. I went with the cheaper of the two options and used the feed from the left front speaker. It probably won’t make much difference at 60mph but rolling around town it’ll be nice to hear some tunes coming from up front.
I saw an ad on Craigslist (I know, I’m so old-school) for a set of Scout II fenders this week and followed up with the seller. The fenders looked OK from the front but the low price led me to believe they were in worse shape than they appeared. I’ve already got three spare fenders hanging in the garage, so my need is not immediate, but I figured I’d see what kind of shape they were in. I traded some texts and a phone call and set up a time on Sunday afternoon to look them over.
I knew I had the right house when I pulled up and saw a rusty Scout 80 parked in front of a faded Saab Sonnett; clearly this man had eclectic tastes in automobiles. I looked over the fenders in a light drizzle and the seller came out to talk with me; he’s a weird car nerd like me and we talked for about ten minutes before I thanked him for his time and hit the road. They were too far gone for me to want to deal with them; the areas behind the wheel well were all crispy and there was rot setting in at the top corner by the cowl notch.
Meanwhile, I’ve got an order in with Super Scout Specialists for a lineset ticket keyed to the VIN number I found on the frame back in 2009. I figured I’d at least try to learn where the frame (and possibly, the engine) came from, even if the body is a mystery.
These are the endcaps I’m buying from Bennett. Technically I don’t need two of them–my passenger endcap is dented from the swingarm, and the driver’s side is OK–but it’s always good to have spares.
A couple of months back, when I was laid up, I got word that Bennett’s mother had passed. I met her once during a workday, and she was a real nice lady–she was even kind enough to make us all lunch. Now that her estate is being settled, he’s got to clear out the stuff he’d stored at her place. So he’s divesting himself of all but the essentials: a ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk has been sold, a ’63 Valiant is still awaiting a buyer, and he’s sorting through the rest of his fleet. Most importantly, he wanted to move his ’53 IH R-110, named Phantom, out of the barn at the farm to his home garage. I’d offered to help months ago, and was looking forward to spending a day getting dirty moving trucks with friends.
First we had to make room, so I met he and Brian at his house to help move stuff from one bay of the garage to the other. I had to be careful not to pick up anything heavy so that I wouldn’t mess up my stomach, which is still healing, but tried to be as helpful as I could. When we had enough space cleared to fit a full-size pickup, we hopped in his brother’s Ford and headed up to the farm.
Upon arrival, we were faced with about 20 years worth of parts storage and cleanout. Actually, he’d already gone through a LOT of the stuff up there and moved, junked or sold it, but there’s still a bunch left. In front of the garage sat a spare R-series frame and bed loaded with parts he’s selling in bulk, so we continued piling stuff into that bed for disposal. Next, we reorganized a spare bed that was sitting on Phantom’s existing bed, spinning it 180 degrees so that it would fit neatly into the raised platform in his garage with the tailgate open.
We strapped that down to the bed and continued moving parts to the back of the Ford when we realized how many spare R-series parts he still had in the garage. I suggested we throw those in the back of Heavy D, which had been parked the farm, and I’d drive that home behind them. Quickly, we filled the beds of the Ford and the IH pickups with priceless 70-year-old sheet metal until there was no more room.
When we finished that, Bennett re-oriented the trailer and we started winching Phantom up onto the bed. This took some time and skill, but Bennett is a pro at this stuff and soon we had the whole thing strapped down and ready to go. Among the stuff he was getting rid of were two clean reclaimed Scout tailcaps and a full-size steel rim, which I grabbed, and he offered me a 25-gallon compressor and a heavy-duty toolchest, all for a price I couldn’t refuse.
When it was time to saddle up, I followed them down the hill and onto 40 in Heavy D, marveling at how different the driving experience in his truck feels. It’s got an identical engine/transmission combo as Peer Pressure, but the engine was built with a hotter cam so the idle is completely different and the transmission feels much smoother. It reminds me a lot of driving my Dad’s old Ford wrecker from our repossession days in terms of ride and steering: the suspension is softer than Peer Pressure (Conestoga wagons are softer than Peer Pressure, to be fair) and the oversized tires made steering something that had to be planned in advance. Still, I loved it. I can’t remember the last time I drove a full-size pickup with butterfly windows, a bench seat, and a CB radio, but it’s been too long.
Returning to his house, we scratched our heads until we came up with a solution for how to get a heavily loaded trailer up the embankment of his driveway without cracking the concrete: we shoved some 2×4’s under the trailer tires to lessen the angle. Once we’d done that, and with a little scraping, Bennett was able to center a 22′ trailer with a longbed Ford in front of his narrow garage door with only two minor adjustments before shutting it down. For reference, this would be as easy as parking the Queen Mary in a phonebooth backwards with an outboard motor.
We used a snatch block around a concrete support pillar to winch the truck backwards off the trailer and got the second bed within inches of the raised platform it would be stored on; then it was a matter of backwoods engineering to jack it high enough to get the edge of the bed onto the lip of the platform. Once we had that done, it was a simple matter of using some 2×4’s to gain leverage and some pushing to get it in place. At this point I had to leave to meet the girls for an appointment up in Pikesville, so I said my goodbyes and cranked the Scout up to meet them there.
After the meeting, when I got in and turned the key to start it, I heard a POP from under the hood, and found that she wouldn’t catch. I added some gas to the carb, filled the tank with the remainder from my rotopax (remember, the gauge is still inoperable) and tried again: no luck. On further inspection, I realized the distributor cap was loose, and realized that the POP had been from gas vapor sneaking back into the distributor from a bad vacuum control diaphragm: when I turned it over, the vapor sparked and lit, popping the cap off and sending the rotor someplace I couldn’t find.
I fooled with it for a while, but was exhausted from the day, and the girls were waiting for me and for dinner. We returned home to eat, and did some investigation online before calling USAA to arrange for a tow back to our local garage. I’d added towing to our coverage a couple of years ago with this very thought in mind. Then I drove back up and waited for the truck to arrive. The guy driving the flatbed was a pro and we quickly got it loaded. I followed him to our neighborhood garage and we dropped it out front with an apologetic note to Jeff, the owner, describing the problem.
This afternoon I talked to Jeff and he’d already found the problem and ordered the part; hopefully it will be fixed sometime tomorrow and I can pick her up on Wednesday morning.
The dash on my Scout came to me painted the same disgusting shade of purple the rest of the truck is. I’m stuck with it for the time being, until I pay someone to rewire the whole truck (that’s not a challenge I currently feel up to). Because I’m stuck with the dash, I’m stuck with the glove box door, which appears to be different than my old Scout and both of the spare dashboards I own. The difference is in the lock mechanism and its strikeplate. Most Scouts I’m familiar with came with a Chevrolet-sourced lock mechanism (IH raided parts bins from Chrysler, Chevrolet, and AMC liberally) that looks like this:
Mine came with a much earlier pushbutton design that looks like this (minus the keys):
The problem is that these are made out of cheap cast pot metal and break down over time. Mine is barely functional and never worked properly when I got the truck. I’d love to be able to use the glove box for stuff, but currently it’s empty and rattling.
Ordinarily I’d just swap it out for the Chrysler lock barrel, of which I have three in my parts bins. I did in fact try this, but it turns out the striker plate bolted to the dashboard isn’t compatible with the Chrysler lock. So I’m stuck with the old-style pushbutton, which I’m finding is hard to source for an affordable price. This site, specializing in Willys trucks, wants $5,000 for this part. This eBay site wants $44. This site doesn’t have a price listed.
I can’t find a non-keyed version of this lock anywhere, but I do see a Jeep lock button that looks similar in operation, averaging around $30:
Depending on its size and diameter, I might be able to make this work, but I’d have to take a $30 chance on it. Or maybe I’ll wait until I see a CJ in the junkyard and try to nab one for cheap.
I follow a bunch of Scout people on Instagram, some of whom are prolific posters and use it to their advantage. Others are quieter but show off some good stuff. I’ve been aware of GRC Fabrication from the Binder Planet but haven’t really done much investigation of their products until I saw a post with their Scout II rollbar. It looks pretty good from the few pictures I can see, but I’d like to know how it mounts to the floor and where. If the front legs mount the same way the factory bar does (folding down the front of the step) and use the same bolt holes, I’d consider buying this to replace my rollbar–and adding rear seatbelt hookups for Finn. The price is right; I just want to know about the mounts and how strong the bars are.