I was away for most of the last week and a half, but I did get some time before we left to rough in the new brake line I was sent by the Scout Connection a few weeks ago. Saturday afternoon after we returned, I got tired of laying around the house and decided to go out and finish welding up the patch I’d started two weeks ago. Overall it went pretty well; I think I would have done it completely differently in hindsight, and I bet I’ll have to go back and cut it out at some point, but for now it’ll hold.
On Sunday I wanted to tackle the biggest hurdle the project has thrown at me so far: bleeding the brakes. I bled the master cylinder and hooked it up to the main lines, then had Finley come out and pump the brakes for me while I opened the line on the rear wheel. When nothing happened where I was, I looked underneath and realized the system was leaking at the distribution block: I hadn’t gotten it connected correctly. So I jacked the whole front end up and got underneath to really diagnose the situation, and after staring at it for a while I sorted out what was going on: I hadn’t tightened the soft line down enough to the block. So I disconnected it at the master cylinder and spun the whole hose to really tighten it down. With that done I hooked everything back up and had Finn pump the brakes on all four corners while I bled dirty brake fluid out of the lines. When I’d gotten that done, I put the wheels back on and lowered it to the ground. Then we did the clutch system and got that bled out. With that, the brakes should be 90% done. I’ll have to re-bleed them at some point in the near future to get the last bubbles out, but it’s enough to stop the truck once I get the clutch issue sorted out. It’s been a long learning process, but I sure hope I don’t have to deal with brakes again for a while.
While I had two wheels off the ground, I took the opportunity to swap the fourth rim to the driver’s front and put one of the original three on the back rear. What I found kind of shocked me: the original rim sits the same distance away from the inner edge of the wheel tub as the new rim did. The only difference between the new rim and the others is that the holes for the wheel studs are thicker and the studs don’t extend through as far as the others, which means there isn’t as much of the lug nut on the stud. I think I’m going to invest in a set of ET (extra thread) lug nuts for the whole truck—I just need to find someone who has 5 left-turn nuts in the size I need.
I’m anxious to diagnose the issue with the Scout, because I want to know what ‘s wrong but also because I want to drive her. I went out after dinner Monday night to check the timing to see if it was advanced or retarded, which could be the cause of my mystery sound. I had an old yard sale Sears timing gun that I hooked up to the battery and #8 wire (Scouts use the #8 wire instead of the more commonly used #1 wire on most GM/Ford products) but I got no light from the gun at all. On the bench I broke it down to reveal old capacitors and components that had probably fizzled out during the first Bush administration, so I hit the Harbor Freight for a new unit.
Back under the hood I cleaned off the timing marks and chalked the pulley. When I set the gun to 0˚ and ran it, the chalk hit at about the 15˚ mark—but I hadn’t run the engine or disconnected the vacuum advance yet, which meant the reading wasn’t entirely correct. It was getting dark by this point so I shut her down and put her back in the garage to avoid the rain forecast for the evening.
Thursday evening I went back outside to give it a second go; this time I was able to plug off the vacuum advance and get things ready for a proper diagnosis. While I was getting a wrench on the hold-down bolt, I was holding the distributor body and it spun under my hand with a little bit of pressure—which told me it wasn’t tight for a while. When I put the gun on it, the chalk showed up at about 15˚advanced, so I spun it back to 5˚ and listened to the idle settle down.
Tightening that off, I noticed some smoke coming off the manifold on the passenger side, which makes me wonder if there’s a leak between the manifold and the block. I’ve been smelling something from the engine for a while, and I wonder if that could be the culprit—it would certainly explain the additional noise.
Meanwhile, my oil sample is safely in the hands of Blackstone as per the USPS’s tracking service. Going on past experience, it’ll take 2 weeks or so to hear back from them on what the oil can tell us. I’ve got a new Fuel-Pro gasket sitting behind my desk for the next major step: dropping the pan to see if there are any chunky bits at the bottom.
While I had the timing gun out, I figured I’d throw it on the Travelall for giggles to see what the timing looked like there. I’d solved the high idle issue I had before by re-connecting the PCV valve on the back of the valley pan, but because I’d cranked all of the idle screws in all the way, I had to spin them back out. The engine is running sloppily now, loping around like it’s not firing correctly, and the exhaust is abhorrent—the girls flipped out because it quickly filled the house. I’ve got to get this thing mobile quickly so I can move it away from the windows to properly work on it. In any case I couldn’t get a good enough look at the chalk before I was forced to shut her down. New PCV valves from that era are hard to find, but I think a new one will help out immensely.
While I was digging around in my parts bins I pulled the two mirrors out and mocked them up on the side of the truck. They look great! I’ve got to go back through my reference photos from Nats and see how other owners mounted the top mounts to their doors; I’ve got a very small vertical area to work with and I’d prefer not to mess up the mounting surface for the weatherstripping, which may be my only option.
At the bottom the two holes pre-drilled for the old mount aren’t wide enough for this setup; I can easily drill a new hole and add a backing nut inside the door. I think what I might do is (with my new fancy welder) cut a small thin plate, weld two shallow bolts to that, drill holes through the door, and feed the bolts through the holes so it’s as flat as possible.
Another thing I noticed was that there are three dimples in the passenger side windshield frame for where a sun visor would have been mounted; I think this thing was as stripped-down as possible when it left the factory.
I’m talking to a guy from the Binder Planet who offered up a rear Travelall seat back in February, and who has some other assorted barn door parts left from a project. He’s able to meet in Rhode Island, so I think my plan is to rent a pickup and drive up there over a weekend, stay the night somewhere local, pick up the parts, and drive back the following day. If I time it right I might detour up to Mahopac to say hi to some high school friends on my way back home.
I made progress on the Travelall on Sunday afternoon after I’d knocked out a bunch of other tasks around the house. I’m still working on the inoperable brake and clutch system, so I started by disconnecting the hard lines to the master cylinder and rigging up a bench bleed system so that I could test it out. The system primed itself quickly, and after I knew it was working I had to fight the hard lines to get them reconnected to the cylinder. When that was done, I jumped back in the truck and tried both pedals. Amazingly, the brake pedal now had lots of resistance, but I still wasn’t getting anything out of the clutch pedal.
Leaving the brakes for the time being, I tried multiple methods for bleeding the clutch cylinder with no success. In the middle of all of this, I jumped in the Scout to move it up the driveway and mistakenly drove over the brake fluid bottle, sending brake fluid all over the driveway and on the back of the Accord. I had to spend the next hour and half hosing off the driveway and washing the car to make sure brake fluid didn’t eat away at the paint or asphalt. That sucked.
Monday afternoon I rallied after spending a nice aimless morning sitting on the couch and fighting off the urge to take a nap. I re-read the bleed directions for the slave cylinder, then went out and got it set up for a two-person operation. With Jen’s help on the clutch pedal I was able to bleed all of the air out of the line and the cylinder into a catch bottle, then buttoned everything up in the expectation that I’d be able to put it in gear.
Unfortunately, all I could do was grind gears. There’s a chance the clutch rod isn’t adjusted long enough to throw out the clutch all the way, but beyond that I’m pretty stumped. I’m going to run through some more diagnostics now that the pedal actually works, and see what I can find.
I also attempted to bring the idle mixture down on the carb, with no success. She really wants to idle high for some reason; both screws are pretty much all the way in the bore of the carb, and I brought the curb idle screw in a bunch as well. Spraying starting fluid around the base of the carb revealed no vacuum leaks, and every hose coming off the carb or manifold is either connected or plugged. So I’ve got to sort that out as well. The challenge moving forward is that the weather, which has been remarkably mild and friendly through the first half of June, is about to turn wet and rainy, and I might not be able to do much with this forecast.
Moving to the Scout, a lot of the advice I’m reading on the Binder Planet has me confused; there are some saying my symptoms point to actual rod knock and some that don’t. I only hear it when I get on the gas, so I’m unclear as to whether or not this is knock or could be something to do with the timing or possibly a water pump going bad. The other thought is that the heat riser valve itself is bad, or there’s another exhaust leak somewhere else. I’ve got a cheap Harbor Freight stethoscope so I’m going to pull a tire today and take a listen to see if I can hear anything with that at idle. Then I’ll dig my timing light out of the box and check the timing itself to see where that stands; if it’s retarded or advanced I’ll bring it back to zero and see if that helps. Then I’ll try the next non-invasive diagnosis—one of the accessories going bad, or a hidden exhaust leak.
The next step will be to take the Straight Steer bar off, drain the new oil and drop the oil pan itself to see if there’s any metal at the bottom—if there is indeed a bad bearing or worn cam lobe, something solid should show up at the bottom of the pan; if there is and it doesn’t stick to a magnet it’ll be bearings.
Last weekend was focused on brakes and brake lines. I had a little time Saturday afternoon so I put the front axle on jack stands and pulled the driver’s side wheel off. These drums are different than the rears; the drum is integrated with the studs, which means you have to pull the dust cover off, unlock a castle nut, pull out a lockwasher and the outer bearing, and slide the whole assembly off the spindle. What I found was a very clean spindle packed with new grease, but I couldn’t get the cylinder off the backing plate until I whacked it with a hammer. The brake shoes are an inch larger than the rears and the cylinders are single-piston, so there was some verification needed before I ordered new parts. I also pulled the old clutch slave cylinder off, cleaned the piston, and installed the new one.
Looking at other installations of brake and clutch lines of this same vintage I’m noticing that there are loops of tube directly under the master cylinder before the line heads off in whatever direction it’s going; I’m considering redoing the line to the clutch slave this way. The old line went directly to the slave with no loop—just a strange soft line junction in the middle that crumbled in my hands—so I’m not sure what the right answer is.
On Sunday afternoon I got a bunch of brake parts in from Amazon—two sizes of steel tube, a bender, and a flaring tool along with a pile of fittings. I used the bender to sort of monkey a new cylinder-to-slave line over the other elements in the engine bay, flared the ends, and installed that in place.
Then I put the driver’s rear wheel up on a stand and attempted to replace a hard line from the brass tee mounted to the rear axle to the wheel cylinder. The old one took some effort to get off, but with a liberal amount of PBblaster and some application of heat it worked loose. I’m replacing lines with exactly what was there before, and this line called for 3/16″ tube. To my chagrin the fitting on the back of the wheel cylinder was 7/16″—larger than the fitting I had available for that tube—so I had to run out for new ones. Working backward I figured I’d replace the soft line connecting the hard line run from the front to the tee, but I couldn’t get that fitting to come loose for love or money.
It’s well and truly jammed up, and I’ve rounded the nut trying to get it off. So I can try to cut it off and flare the old tube under the truck, or (gulp) run an entirely new line all the way down the inside of the frame rail.
On Tuesday I connected the driver’s side hardline to the splitter block and moved over to the passenger side; unfortunately I had to cut that tube twice because the first one wasn’t long enough to reach.
Thursday I had a pile of brake parts in hand and tore down the driver’s front drum for the third time to replace the shoes, springs, and cylinder. One thing I didn’t have in hand was the soft brake line, so that’s on order as well as two new adjusting screws (in some hardware kits these are included, but they weren’t in the one I got). Remarkably the soft brake line assembly came off the truck with little effort (some PBblaster and a little heat from a propane torch) which was a relief. I keep saying this, but it’s true: the majority of the bolts on this thing are in really good shape compared to other East Coast trucks I’ve seen and worked on; with only a few exceptions, they’ve all come off easily. I’d put the whole thing together for the fourth time when I realized that the fittings on both sides of the soft lines were fixed, so I’d have to fasten the section going through the frame to the junction block, then disassemble the whole drum again, remove the cylinder and tighten it while it was loose, then bolt everything back up for the fifth time. But, that side is now done. The passenger side was much crustier than the driver’s side, full of dirt and debris, but now that I have a process down I should be able to knock it out quickly.
Meanwhile, I called around the area and found a mechanic to take a look at the leaky exhaust fitting on the right side of the Scout. For years she had a proper quiet exhaust, but as that fitting has gotten looser, she’s gotten louder. I’d really like to get it fixed, especially for the upcoming trip out west. I had to order the parts from California and I’ll have to bring the truck back to the mechanic to get it properly fixed.
In the quest to get the Travelall running, I started amassing a pile of new parts based on my attempts with friends smarter and more experienced than me. When Erick stopped over he shook his head sadly at my old distributor, so I ordered a brand new HEI unit and then had to wait while it was on backorder. During that time, I spent a total of about $8 on the correct points unit and five minutes installing it, and suddenly I had spark at the wires. So I pulled the carburetor off and soaked it in some cleaner Friday night, then followed a set of instructions online to rebuild it.
It was exceptionally clean inside, but the gaskets had all fused to the metal so I had to spend a good bit of time scraping and sanding the paper off all the surfaces. The accelerator pump diaphragm had solidified, so that got replaced. Once I’d cleaned everything reassembly was straightforward—the Holley 2300 is a very simple carburetor to work on compared to my Thermoquads.
Sunday afternoon, after chasing a generator all over town, I re-installed the carburetor and filled it up with fuel for giggles. This time I followed some of the advice I’d seen online and filled the bowl with fuel before turning the key over. After a couple of tries and the addition of even more fuel, I was happily stunned when she caught and turned over for a few brief seconds:
Flush with success, I started modifying fuel lines to simplify the delivery system and plumbed the boat tank/fuel pump combo to charge the carb. There were no leaks (huzzah!) so I primed the carb and turned her over: after thinking about it for a minute, she fired right up and idled immediately. I topped off the coolant and let her run for a few minutes, noting that the idle was fast—that’ll get adjusted this week—and that there’s a little clatter here and there. The tailpipe sounded good and only a little soot came out, which is a good sign there are no critter nests in the muffler.
So I’ve got a fancy HEI distributor that’s going right back to California this week for a refund. While I was idling the truck I started really looking under the hood and finally clocked that the clutch is a hydraulic system paired with the brake cylinder, which explains why both pedals have no life in them. I’ve got to source a dual cylinder and a shit-ton of soft brake lines as well as a flaring tool and start replacing those in order to get any kind of gear-changing going. Which is good, as the next project on the list is rebuilding the rear drums.
The truck is currently up on two jackstands with the rear wheels off, waiting for two new tires to arrive at my local NTB from TireRack. I pulled the drums off and I’ll have those resurfaced when I have the tire mounted, and I can spend evenings this week rebuilding each rear drum. I’m only mounting one tire because the fourth rim is 15″ and won’t accept the tire, so I have to source a 16″ rim with a 3″ backspacing and 4.5″ bolt pattern from somewhere (ideally, I’d find two).
I took advantage of some moderately warm weather and a mostly sunny day to get outside and attack some rust on the Travelall on Saturday. The first thing I did was get inside and start pulling the stupid running lights off the top of the roof over the barn doors; this required several different sockets, a pair of vice-grips, two screwdrivers and a cutoff wheel. When those were removed I started grinding out the rust with the wire wheel and then a flap disc.
Working my way around the side I made it to the rear door on the driver’s side and then cleaned up the metal where the old Travelall badge once lived; this is going to need a skim of bondo as well but at least it’s not completely flaking off.
Then I got the license plate holder off the rear door and cleaned that metal up; it’s going to need some love with a body hammer to flatten back out.
I pulled the door hardware off the two rear doors and removed the door cards for cleanup next. The insides of the doors are in excellent shape and just need a good vacuum. By this time it was getting cold outside so I switched to the sandblast cabinet and got it prepped for shooting the battery box hardware. The day before I bought the Travelall I’d spent some time refurbishing the box: I emptied the whole thing out, used seam sealer to plug the leaks in the bottom of the cabinet, then cut some wood to fit the replacement gloves that were 2″ too small to fit the original round seals. Last year I had issues with the box filling up with dust, making it difficult to see what I was working on, so I bought a vacuum separator from Amazon to help to pull the dust out of the air and into a can before it goes into the vacuum filter, where it would immediately clog everything up. It was on me to find the right hose and reducer to go from the box down to the separator, and then another to go from the separator to a shop-vac.
Sunday broke a lot colder than Saturday did, and I hit Harbor Freight for the hose elements to try and cobble something together. When I hit the vacuum section I saw their vortex separator which came complete with a hose and the right attachments for less than the Amazon version—so I bought it. With that and some other supplies, I came home and finished blast cabinet V2: a fully ventilated, airtight cabinet with working lights. I used new glass bead media to clean off some parts, and was generally pleased with the results. The only two drawbacks now are that I can’t run the compressor and the vacuum at the same time on the same circuit; my available power to the garage are two 110V circuits and it can be finicky. The other issue is that I need a true gravity feed for the media hopper—it’s currently a hose that sits in the pile of media but it frequently runs itself dry. I have to drill and install a true hopper at the bottom of the cabinet and link that up to the hose.
While the compressor was refilling I went out to the truck and farted around with it a little before the snow started falling. I got thirteen of sixteen bolts out of the passenger fender with little effort, which should have been a task that took me three weeks and five cutoff wheels. I hit everything I could see with PBblaster and a half an hour later I had a handful of rusty but intact bolts. The hardest part was accessing the bolts around the headlight bucket, but that was an ergonomic problem, not an oxidization issue. It’s really crazy how good a lot of this truck is compared to other trucks I’ve seen (and certain parts of this truck itself).
So next up is to order about three more cans of Rust Encapsulator, a handful of flap discs, a wire wheel, and a pot of Bondo, and hope for some warmer weather so that I can keep working on the roof. The goal is to get the roof cleaned up, sealed off, leveled out with Bondo, and ready for paint.
The other thing that has to happen pretty quickly is the purchase of a welder, so that I can weld up the holes in the roof over the barn doors before the water really gets a chance to settle in there.
I got started early on Saturday to prepare. First I humped all my tools outside and got the garage and the truck opened up. Then I organized all of the parts and tools and pulled the battery off the trickle charger. Then I pulled Autolite 303 plugs out of the Travelall and replaced them with a used set of 10,000 mile Autolite 85’s from my Scout. Feeling optimistic, I then swapped out the old ignition barrel with a new one I’d bought from RockAuto.
Brian showed up around eight, and we ran out to get coffee and donuts. Stephen and Bennett showed up a little after that, and we tried starting the truck—but nothing happened. Bennett began diagnosing what I’d done to bodge up the ignition system while Brian, Stephen and I began tearing out some of the useless mechanicals on the engine: the A/C system came out completely, the aftermarket cruise control was removed, and part of the trailer brake system. By noon we had the ignition problems sorted out and paused for some pizza and beer. Then we began diagnosing the starting problems.
The starter worked fine. We actually removed the passenger wheel and a bunch of the metal shielding along the inner fender to expose the starter and the engine stamping boss, and jumped the starter several times to chase down the electrical gremlins. When Bennett had the key sorted out we worked our way through the system with a tester to find the coil was OK but we weren’t getting spark to the plugs. I went around and swapped all the plug wires out with no change.
After a lot of tinkering, cleaning, and testing with the distributor we finally broke down and ran to the store for a new cap and rotor. We got the engine to catch several times but it didn’t run—we were frustrated at this point because we’d come so close. But the sun had gone down behind the house, the wind was picking up, the battery was running down, and it was getting cold, so we called it at about 5:30 and packed things up. I left the trickle charger on the battery to recover and packed things up.
We do have a few new discoveries: The engine is more than likely a 266, but we have no way of knowing for sure: there’s no stamping on the boss like there are in more modern SV engines. This one has a strange IH valve cover I’ve never seen—all the V8’s I’ve come across have four bolts. This one has two on the top and four on the bottom. And having pulled the valve cover off on the driver’s side, I have to say I’ve never seen a cleaner, newer looking valvetrain in my life. That’s VERY encouraging. More and more I think this was a municipal vehicle of some kind that was driven very sparingly, and then someone came along and built it into a summer camping vehicle. So the 40K miles on the odometer may be true mileage.
Either way, it was great to hang out with friends, spin wrenches and drink beer, and spend the day outside messing with old iron.
Having driven Peer Pressure over 180 miles last weekend, one of the things I’m noticing more and more are all of the squeaks and whistles and drafts in the cabin with the hardtop on. Figuring I needed something to work on over the winter, I ordered wing window rubber from Super Scout Specialists on Monday to replace the old cracked 1970’s vintage stuff on the truck. What this is going to mean is taking each door apart (again), pulling the wing window up and out, and figuring out how to pull the old rubber out. I think the driver’s side window spring is broken underneath, so I’ve got to figure out how to weld that back together or replace it with one of my spares. Then it’s a matter of figuring out how to install the new stuff without ripping it in half.
That gets a little complicated because I’ve got several spares with working spring but no latch, and several with a latch but a broken spring. So I have to see if I can Frankenstein something together from what I’ve got. I think I’ll probably use the worst of my spares to disassemble and figure out how the whole thing comes apart, and then use that to practice putting the new rubber in place.
The other thing I’m going to do while I’ve got the doors apart is re-felt the window tracks so that they slide easier. There’s a good video online about how to do the felts, so all I need are the materials. Luckily, I’ve got multiple spare tracks sitting on the shelf I can clean up and refurbish without having the doors torn apart for multiple weeks.
I also threw a new battery tray in the cart, because the one in the truck is in pieces and I’d really like to de-ghettofy the current setup—it’s currently held in with a clip and a bungee cord, and really needs a freshening. I’ll have to read up on how to clean up the inner fender, or even consider replacing it with my good inner fender spare. It will take some welding and fabrication to put something in place; this is more of a summertime when-I-get-a-welder project, but it’s good to have the parts handy.
I had time to myself today, so I went out to try and solve the mystery of the dead lightbulb behind my heater controls. Now that I actually have heat it would be nice to see what the controls say; at one time I knew exactly how they worked by muscle memory, but that was in the days of Chewbacca and I got the heat in this Scout working only recently. To get to the one bulb on top of the control box I found it easiest to pull the fascia plate off the dashboard and with it the radio; this is the best way of getting back there without cutting a hole in the firewall and going in from the back. The bulb installed was weird, in that it has two wires going in and was zip-tied in place at some point. All three of the spare dashboards I own have one wire and no zip-tie. Additionally strange is that this bulb is different than all of the other bulbs in the dash: it’s a 5GE 57 bayonet (or some equivalent) so I have to source a new one from somewhere—all of the spares I own didn’t work.
On the subject of fascia plates, I’ve been thinking about dressing up the one I’ve got or replacing it, now that the rest of the cabin looks better. I own five in total, the one in the truck and these:
The chewed up green one is from the Flintstone Scout. I don’t remember where I got the woodgrain one from. The bottom two are from other rigs that I can’t remember (the good green one is left over from Chewbacca days). I’m hesitant to touch the two good ones so I’m going to see if I can use the better of the two bad ones and make a clean hole for a DIN9 receiver. That’ll be tomorrow’s project, along with sourcing the correct lightbulb.
Walking the dog through the ‘Ville today I noticed a familiar green Scout parked at my neighbor’s house. The house belongs to a nice man named Steve, who passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m still in touch with his son. I sent him an email this afternoon asking after him and to see if he needs help getting her roadworthy—the last time we traded messages he was having problems with the carb and I don’t know if he got them sorted out. I sent along info for the guy who did the brakes on PP last year, and hopefully I’ll hear back from him sometime soon.