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.
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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.
There’s an International dealership down the road from me in Ellicott City that I’ve been aware of since I was in college, and back in the days when I was sourcing parts for Chewbacca I bought some parts from a guy that worked there, including a windshield that still sits in my garage. From the grapevine I’d heard that he got out of the biz after the first EC flood came through and wiped out his parts stash, but apparently he’s still hauling rusty junk out of the woods. A few weeks ago I saw a post on Craigslist for a travel top and some other parts on a junker and realized it was parked up behind the dealership, and this morning I thought I’d go take a look at it on a quiet Sunday morning. The truck is still there, and hasn’t changed since the post went up. It’s a crusty 1980 Diesel from Arizona missing both front fenders, but it looks like there might be some decent interior parts left, including a three-piece rollbar that looks like it would reach further back than the one in Peer Pressure.
He’s got some other rigs parked up there as well, including this ’78 that gets worse the closer you stand to it. I’ve never see two front fenders rust out like that; I have no idea what the cause might be.
There’s also this 1980 with the letters GMS printed on the side; Bennett tells me it stands for Green Machine Sport, which was a special package made that year to dress things up. This one is in about the same condition as the white Scout on the rollback, but at least all the parts are there.
I don’t know what he’s planning on doing with these. I reached out to him via Messenger to inquire about the rollbar, and he says he probably has plans for it, but he’d let me know if he was going to sell it. So we’ll see.
The bag I ordered from Amazon finally arrived this week, so I did a test fit of all the spares in my emergency kit. The bag itself is nicer than I was expecting. It’s made of durable, high quality ballistic nylon that doesn’t feel like heavy cardboard or thin tissue paper. It’s set up with MOLLE straps on the outside, and has three interior pockets that make separating the contents easy. I bought the tan color so that I can see what’s inside easier.
I used one interior pocket for spark plugs, one for bulbs of various sizes, and the largest for hose clamps and zip ties. In the main compartment are my spare box wrenches, distributor parts, tire plugs, one fuel filter, fuses, a spare spark plug wire, and some spare Scout-specific bolts.
It’s a tight fit in the Tuffy console, especially with my tool roll, flashlight, tire iron, and other assorted gear, but I like having it all contained and organized instead of rolling around free underneath everything in there. Clearly I need to do some more research on an additional lockbox, but this is a good start.
It’s been two weeks now since I put the starter in the Scout and I’ve had it out multiple times on short trips around the area. Not once have I heard the terrible grinding noise from the starter, which leads me to believe the problem is solved. It’s nice to make upgrades that work.
I ordered a cheap military-style toolbag from Amazon last week that should fit snugly inside the front of the Tuffy console, which will hold an assortment of spare parts and tools. I’ve got a collection of stuff already organized, and a list of other stuff to buy and have on hand for breakdowns:
- Zip ties
- Stainless hose clamps – I bought three sizes, for the radiator, hydroboost, and heater hoses
- Spark plugs – I have a spare set of Autolite 303’s that came to me.
- Distributor cap – NAPA FA85, and points – NAPA CS757P
- Fuel filters – I’ve got two: Wix 33032 and a Purolator F20011
- Bulbs – both 1157’s and BP194LL’s. I’ve got both bulb and LED 194’s
- Tire plug kit – it’s already saved my bacon.
- Rain-X – comes in handy when the wipers are slow
I need to pick up a few more things:
- Fan belts (the three on PP are: Gates 7350, 7525, and 7612)
- Thermostat – I need to find a pair of RobertShaw 370-FHT‘s, or something as good.
- Spare coil
- Spare plug wires (???)
Outside of this kit, I’ll also have oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant in back, somewhere…
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.