The word from the transmission shop is that the problem is not actually the transmission: it’s the rear driveshaft/U joint. Apparently it was in such bad shape the U joint had almost disintegrated and the driveshaft is out of balance. So the shop is rebuilding the joint, sending the driveshaft out for service, and putting everything back together. It’s going to be expensive to fix, but when compared to the cost of rebuilding the transmission, it’s a fraction of the cost I was expecting I’d have to pay.
After some back and forth and miscommunication, I dropped the Scout off across town this morning for caster correction surgery. I was a little nervous after the initial efforts failed, but I trusted the online reviews and an hourlong conversation with the owner in April and handed them the keys. At about 10:30 they called and the mechanic had an honest conversation with me: He said he’d worked on many different lifted trucks and because the tires were the size they were, he couldn’t promise the correctors would do much, especially as he figured it would take two hours a side to get them in. I figured I was in for a penny, in for a pound, and told him to go ahead anyway.
They got back to me at about 2:30 and said it had taken a lot less time than they figured—only one hour per side. He took it out on the road for a test run and said the tracking was much better, and that he was surprised at what a difference it made.
On the ride home, I noticed a big difference in the way she handled at speed. Where before every bump sent the wheels in a different direction, and expansion joints unloaded the suspension and sent the whole truck sailing on a random course, the steering is staying straight and true. Before, I spent a lot of time anticipating what I thought the truck would do and adjusting for it, which made for some white-knuckle driving. Now the small stuff is negligible and the expansion joints are tolerable. Because I was on mostly elevated highway around Baltimore I didn’t have a lot of flat straight sections to test the hands-off results on, but what I did try was straight and true.
It’s not perfect; the only thing that’s going to fix everything is a taller wheel and a thinner tire. But that’s something I’m not going to spend money on this year.
Saturday morning I made a pile of hash browns for the family, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran a bunch of tools out to the garage to get a long-awaited project started: installing a new aluminum radiator.
I’m always conscious of starting projects that I might not be able to finish in a weekend, and this time I was under the added pressure to getting it done by the afternoon, because we had family plans for Sunday. Additionally, I’ve got an appointment next Saturday across town to have the caster correctors installed, so I wanted to have everything road tested and ready. I have anxiety about having a broken-down truck sitting in the driveway with an appointment on the horizon.
First, I drained the coolant. It came out relatively clean, a little milky from age but not black. I got about two and a half gallons out from the stopcock and the lower rad hose into an old cat litter pan. Then I pulled the lower hose and the upper hose, disconnected the shroud mount and pulled that apart into two sections, and loosened the body bolts. Everything came off smoothly; nothing needed PB Blaster (although I used it) to get started, which was a blessing.
Once that was done, the old radiator came out easily. The bottom was getting corroded but it wasn’t as bad as my spare, where the bottom rail is disconnected from the frame.
Then I pulled the new one out of the box and slid it right in place—this time I stood and straddled the fenders to drop it in from the top. Hand-tightening the body bolts, I put new hoses on above and below. The lower hose needed a 2″ trim to avoid a bad kink in the bendy section but other than that they both slid right on. Next I hooked up the overflow tank for the first time since I’ve owned it: the old radiator was missing the brazed nipple on the cap valve. Then I installed and adjusted the shroud mount and shroud itself, tightened the body bolts down, and checked all of the fittings.
The only thing I didn’t have were two blockoff bolts for the automatic transmission inlet/outlet, so I ran around town to find a set and found them at Advance. They’re brass but I wrapped them in Teflon tape and tightened them into place.
Finally, I put about 2 1/2 gallons of new 50/50 antifreeze in the system, topped off the overflow tank (I need a new one, because the plastic mounting brackets have both snapped off), said a prayer, and started her up. I idled in the driveway for 15 minutes, pausing only to cap off the radiator once the bubbles stopped, and let her get up to temperature.
I had to stop at that point for dinner and other family stuff, so Sunday morning I took a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood to shake the hoses around and see how things held up. I chose a route that featured lousy roads (there are no shortage of those) and lights to stop at and some long stretches and banged her around a bit, and I didn’t see any leaks or steam. The temp gauge stayed pegged to the left side of the horizontal bar. Success!
Should I have flushed the system while I had it open? probably. In the fall I’ll have Jiffy Lube do it for me when I get the oil changed. Could I have saved money mixing antifreeze myself? definitely. But I was in a hurry and I had nothing else to mix it in.
Special thanks go to my pop, whose tools I inherited, which made everything much, much easier. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
I pulled the Scout out of the garage the week of the Polar Vortex and ran it up in the driveway, and she gave me a scare. I started hearing a terrible whine coming from the power steering pump at idle. I shut her down, topped off the power steering fluid, and restarted the engine, but it came right back and frightened me to the point where I scuttled my plan to run down the street for coffee and backed her back into the garage; I didn’t want the pump exploding in the driveway the day before I had to drive back up to Syracuse.
I was in NY State for my father’s funeral for most of last week, but took advantage of 60˚ weather and a work-from-home day yesterday to run her up again, thinking maybe the temperature was to blame. I was right. She fired right up and idled smooth out of the garage, and there was no sound to be heard at all. Whew.
Buoyed by that success, I gave Mike Moore a call to see if he’d be able to help fix my caster issues. True to his character, he told me he could certainly do it but I should really try to find a good, reputable alignment shop around here and have them install them–and not a “$49 alignment special” type place. He also gave me the industry name for the parts I’ve got: Camber Caster Sleeves. I also asked him for a price on what it would take to rewire Peer Pressure, and we talked about that for a while. I don’t have the money right now but it’s good to know what to budget for. Mike is a great guy and I’m glad I called him. I found a place with decent reviews across town and called them for a price; I’ve yet to hear back but will call and follow up tomorrow.
I’ve been having problems with my seat belt for a couple of months now. It won’t release enough for me to get it around my waist. If I’m on a slight incline it won’t release at all. No amount of gentle tugging, violent pulling, or gentle pleading would help. I decided I’d take advantage of 50˚ weather today to pull the ratchet mechanism apart to see what was wrong.
My seatbelt is based around a simple mechanism involving a single ball bearing in a cup. When the ball is stationary in the cup, the seatbelt has give and will release properly. When the ball is moved out of the cup by a strong force–say, a collision–it contacts a pawl which closes a ratcheting mechanism and stops the belt from releasing. Most of the online sources I found said the mechanism was probably filled with dust and the ball was stuck. I pulled it apart and shook out about a pound of dirt, straw, leaves, and dust, but the mechanism was still jammed. After blowing dust out of the cup with a can of compressed air, the mechanism started working and all was well again.
One thing that didn’t make it on the 2018 To-Do list was the creation and installation of a longer retaining rod to secure the new spare tire. Stock 1976 Scout wheels were 10.5″ wide and thus the rod mounted to the rear bed wall is a certain length. I’m now dealing with tires that are 12.5″ wide, and the rod is definitely 2″ too short. I bought a 12″ threaded rod and a 3/8″ coupling nut a while back, thinking I’d extend the length of the existing rod and cut off what I didn’t need, but after a test fitting I found that the coupling nut would most likely be right where I needed the wingnut to be, and if my license plate bolts are any indicator, the coupling nut would rattle itself loose after 100 miles. Then I thought I’d make my own rod, by heating the threaded rod and bending it in my vise. I used a propane pipe torch ad within about 10 minutes had the main bend complete but found the shorter bend a little harder to accomplish.
I tried mounting it tonight. Turns out it’s still about 2″ too short, which is a bummer. I’m going to order a 18″ threaded rod tomorrow and see if I can make that work.
Meanwhile, Brian noticed a Scout for sale online and sent the link to Bennett and I. In the huge cache of pictures linked to the ad I noticed how the seller is mounting his spare, and slapped my forehead. Why not get a flat piece of steel, cut it down, and use it for a mounting plate? Looks like I have a trip to the steelyard to make this weekend.
I’ve also set the wheels in motion for a Maryland IH meetup sometime in November with the usual crew of guys, plus a bunch of new faces we’ve met over the last couple of years. As of right now there’s no set destination and no firm date, but I put together a simple online poll and hopefully we’ll get our act together in a week or so.
I took some time this afternoon to address something that’s bugged me for years: the droopy snap tiedowns on the soft top that keep the sides rolled up. This top is probably 20 years old at this point, and has had a hard life, so I’m not surprised the elastic nylon they used for the tiedowns is permanently expanded and loose. The result is that the side and back of the soft top, when rolled up, hung loosely on all three sides:
I busted out my West Marine snap repair kit and put a new snap in each of the tiedowns about 1/3 of the way up. This cut out all of the slack and holds the rolls closer to the edges of the top, giving it a crisper look (and making visibility from inside the cab much better.
While I had her out in the driveway I pulled the radio out of the dashboard and chased down the reason why it hasn’t worked since the first brake workday: Alan pulled it out to test the fuel sender but the plastic wire connector on the back worked its way loose from the radio. 5 minutes of disassembly and checking wires had the radio back up and running.
Hagerty is doing a great job of producing videos with helpful information. This one is on how to use a multimeter, which took just 9 minutes to explain three fundamental principles I only now understand.
Whenever I take the Scout out for a drive, I’m on the alert. I’m listening to the engine, feeling the brakes through the pedal, gauging the transmission through vibrations in the stick. Does that sound right? Are we pulling to the left? When did that start happening?
Now that the brakes are fixed and I had my misadventure with the distributor a few weeks ago, I’m doubly alert. As it happens, I’ve started hearing a clattering nose at idle that wasn’t present a few weeks ago. Today I had a little time and got under the truck to tighten up the emergency brake cabling, which means I can let it idle with the brake on and know that it’s not going to roll backwards into the garage. After I did that I put a flashlight into the wheel well and immediately found the source of the clattering: the exhaust manifold gasket on the driver’s side is bad, so I’ll have to order two new copper bolts for that and replace it. When the passenger’s side crapped out seven years ago I bought two just to be on the safe side, so there’s still one in my parts bin. Probably after the camping trip next week.
Oh, and I used a Permatex kit to re-glue the rear-view mirror back on to the windshield, which had fallen off about two weeks ago. I hope it works.
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.