I spend most of my week sitting at my desk in front of a computer, so the last thing I feel like doing on the weekend is being indoors. This weekend was unseasonably warm in Maryland for November, so I took full advantage and worked in the yard for most of Saturday. In the afternoon I pulled both of my spare inner fenders down from the attic in the garage and looked them over. Neither one is in excellent shape, but some close inspection showed just what condition they were in.
The passenger side is the worst. There’s a lot of surface rust over everything, and it’s pretty crispy down around the wheel well—to the point where I wouldn’t be able to save the lower half if I tried. I’d have to cut out the bottom half and weld in new steel—but the whole section is made up of a compound curve with several mounting points that I’d never be able to mimic.
The driver’s side is in much better shape, but there are a few places where it’s rusted through completely. I put the wire brush on it and got a lot of the surface rust off, and then used the DA sander to go at some of the smaller sections. It’s pretty clear that I’m going to need some POR-15 or another rust encapsulator to seal the stuff I’ve sanded to this point, but there’s a lot more to be done on this section before I call it done. I’ll most likely just put the passenger side back up into the attic where it’s out of the way.
On Sunday it was still warm, so I decided that I was tired of the dead lights in the dashboard and decided to tear things down to fix it. I pulled the dashpad and the fascia plate over the radio off and got into the back of the gauges. It’s pretty easy to pull the sockets out but it’s much harder to get them back in place; I wound up having to pull the hose off the defrost vent in order to get behind the speedo and then I was able to get the three bulbs on top of that gauge out. I used my 12-volt tester to check socket/bulb combinations before I replaced them with LEDs; all of this took much longer than it sounds like it did.
After the sun went down I tested it out, and I can see the speedo again, and it’s clear! The LED bulbs have a bluish cast to them that I’m not thrilled with, but I’ll take what I can get until I have to get in there again—because the bulbs in the secondary gauges aren’t lighting up at all. I did forget to check both the 4wD and the hi-beam indicator, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow.
I got my monthly email from Super Scout Specialists today, and one of their featured items is a rear swingarm bumper that’s currently on sale for 10-15% off until the end of November. Their bumper is a traditional square 2×6″ tube with a tapered bottom. Their swingarm is a single piece of bent tube, hinged on the right side with a lifting bar/pin lock on the far left side. The tire mount point is directly in the center of the tailgate. I see no provision for a license plate holder of any kind in their photos. They offer several customizations, so I priced out a swingarm model with two D-ring points, for a total of $807.
GRC Fabrication sells a swingarm bumper that looks just as beefy. It’s also a square tube base, but the hinge is on the left side. The arm is two tubes forming a welded triangle, and the way they have the standoff built there’s room underneath for a Hi-Lift behind the tire. The standoff is mounted offcenter to the left, so it’s closer to the hinge and directly behind the driver’s seat, and there’s space on the right side of the swingarm for a jerry can holder/license plate. I spec’d out a version on their site with no jerry can mount and two Hi-lift tabs for $1,175. I also had the opportunity to look at one of these in person at Nationals last year, and I liked what I saw.
The big question here is: would I rather try to (re)build the bumper I’ve got, or buy something that’s engineered to work out of the crate?
Looking on the Binder Planet, I saw a build where a guy is fabricating his own bumpers, and took some pictures of the mounts he built before he installed them. It shows exactly what I’d have to do with mine: remove the two square standoffs and either raise or lower them so that a thick bar support can be welded to their bottoms which will bolt up directly to the bottom of the frame rail. This would provide a lot more perpendicular support to the bumper and eventual swingout arm.
From what I can see he might have welded the supports to extend all the way to the bumper box itself to gusset the structure as much as possible, which is a great plan.
So, first I’d have to pull my bumper off completely. This is what mine looks like now, from the inside of the bumper facing out, and from the side (body on the right side):
I’d have to grind off the standoffs and buy new box channel to reach down to the bottom of the bumper edge. Next, I’d cut new mounting plates and weld them to the standoffs. Finally, I’d build and weld two plates along the bottom of the bumper and standoffs that extend to the factory jack mounts on the bottom of the frame.
This would theoretically give the whole assembly the vertical support it needs. All of this would require removing the trailer hitch and getting some longer bolts so that the new bumper mount will sandwich between the frame and the hitch mount.
After that, I’d have to radically alter the geometry of my swingarm. The tire needs to be lowered and moved closer to the hinge so that there isn’t as much unsupported weight bouncing around. In hindsight I welded the hinge on the wrong side—If I’d been smarter I would have put everything on the left side so that the tire isn’t blocking the view over my right shoulder. So the hinge would have to be ground off, and I’d need to rebuild the swingarm from scratch—lower and left-aligned so that the center of gravity was closer to the bumper and frame. Essentially, I’d be copying the GRC Fabrication design in a simpler fashion.
I’m not confident enough in my welding skills to trust them to be strong enough, so I’d have to hire someone for the finish welding. And there’s also the cost of materials—which are harder to get these days; the local steelyard closed down and the only way I’d be able to get the stuff I need is online ordering.
I think I’m beginning to answer my own question here.
The big question for GRC is: how does their unit mount to the body? If it’s just a set of standoffs that mount to the back of the frame box, than that’s no better than what I already have. And could I use my existing hitch mount if I had a set of longer mounting bolts?
Here are the valve covers with two coats of etching primer. I scuffed them with some fine steel wool and shot them with International Red paint yesterday.
I have to touch up a few areas here and there, but I can’t wait to swap out the old ones for these!
The next thing I’m going to work on is the air cleaner housing, which looks pretty beat up. A fresh coat of paint will clean it right up.
My first go with the $70 Harbor Freight sandblaster went pretty well; I got a lot of paint off my two spare windshield frames but it didn’t do much to the heavier rust that was present. Doing some research on blasting media, I read that glass bead is much better at cleaning metal than soda, and that it’s also re-usable. So I went back to the Harbor Freight for a 35 lb. bag of 80 grit media and the Lowe’s for two cheap 33 gallon clear tubs, and fashioned an inexpensive blasting cabinet on my workbench in the garage. My test subjects were two spare valve covers I’ve had sitting in my stash, one with a desirable long fill neck: International used this cover in its large trucks but not in Scouts because the brake booster was directly in the way in the Scout engine bay. When I switched to Hydroboost I gained a bunch of space back in the engine bay, and should be able to swap this one out.
Once I had two holes cut in the sides of the top tub and found a spare plastic bucket to prop the covers on, I gave the glass a try. It was kind of scary how fast the paint came off. This media is much more aggressive than the soda. I had to add a hole in the top of the tub for the hose, and if I do this over again I’ll cut holes in the front of the bottom tub to make access easier. After dialing in the settings on the blaster, it cleaned both covers off quickly and cleanly. I cleaned a bunch of the grease from the inside of the fill cover and cleaned the mounting edge of each, and actually blasted the inside of the passenger cover. The driver’s cover needs to be washed out before I blast it properly.
Then I cleaned the spare dogleg I’ve been slowly working on, exposing all of the edges to get them ready for drilling out the spot welds. There’s a fair bit of seam sealer on there that I have to clean off, and then maybe I can pry the three sections apart to save the dogleg.
When that was all done, I had to spend a bunch of time cleaning up the mess. Two clear plastic tubs don’t mate up very cleanly, and opening and closing them tends to let a lot of the excess media blow around a bit. My workbench was heavily dusted in glass bead by the time I was done. I swept up the big piles into the collection at the bottom of the bin, and used some spare windowscreen to sieve out large pieces of debris from the used media. After two cycles, the media was clean, and reloaded it into the sprayer to go over the parts that still needed attention.
What I finished with looks better than I’d hoped it might: two valve covers that are ready for some finish sanding, an acetone bath, and then some International Red paint, courtesy of Ace Hardware. Then I’ll install them on the engine, where they’ll look like a painted French whore in a landfill.
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Two years ago, I designed a shirt using the face of the transfer case shift knob, and thought about printing some T-shirts to sell. I had a test print made and wore it to Nationals last year. A Scout vendor who attended the same show released a version of that shirt on their Instagram feed this spring. I’d also designed a series showing the grille faces from all iterations of the Scout II and set it aside because…life; they released a similar T-shirt design this summer.
For some reason, this really got to me. I should be making some money on my ideas. Several things were holding me back: I didn’t have anyplace to host the designs (I didn’t want them on my personal sites), I’m wary of the copyright issues around the IH trademark, and I didn’t want to be seen as a copycat. But it stuck in my craw.
The other night I saw a post by another Scout owner in Austin selling her own T-shirt designs and decided I just needed to pull the trigger: if they can do it so can I, and I figure my designs will look better. I bought the domain Oldlinestatebinders.com for $7 and I’ll be using that for a website and an Instagram feed, and I’ll use one of the T-shirt fulfillment vendors online for a while and see how things go. So far I’ve got the 4-wheel drive design, the T-19 shift pattern, the Oldlinestatebinders logo, and a series of grille designs almost ready to go. I figure some careful social media work might generate a little extra cash.
Hemmings has a good writeup on the Scout SSV, which was to be International’s successor to the Scout II. From what it sounds like, they were aiming for the fences at a time when they could only afford to polish what they had.
Light trucks, on the other hand, were becoming more of a bother to the company. It discontinued its Travelalls and pickups in 1975 in response to the 1973 oil crisis, had trouble meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy standards set to take effect in 1979, and faced a second oil crisis that year.
I’ve always thought the SSV was a hideously ugly design that looked more like a Tonka truck than a production vehicle; even if they’d been able to pull this out of their hat, I wonder how many of them they would have sold—it reminds me of AMC’s attempts to shake things up with the Pacer, and later the Matador. And we all know how that went.
There’s a presentation at the ACD Museum in Fort Wayne about this subject on Saturday, which I’d love to be able to listen in on—but it doesn’t look like they’ve accounted for, uh, COVID. It’s a shame, because I’d definitely log in to a ZOOM call if I could.
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 took advantage of a lazy Sunday afternoon to pull one of my two spare windshields out of the garage and throw it on some sawhorses. I’ve been hesitating on really digging in to the paint on the Scout until I get a firm date and commitment from my neighbor’s dad, so I thought I’d start on a windshield as a testing ground for new tools and my metal shaping skills until I can pin him down.
The tan windshield is the first one I bought, waaaaay back when I had Chewbacca, and I’ve been dragging it around with me ever since then. It came to me with no glass and a fair bit of rust, but the main panels weren’t in bad shape. I’d done some very light sanding years ago but stopped before I went farther than I was comfortable with. Today I put the flap wheel on an angle grinder, plugged into a podcast, and went to town on it.
The bottom edge is in much worse shape than the top, which I’d expect on any used windshield. Water collects inside the rubber gasket and eats away at the paint. There’s also rust on the bottom edges of the cowl where it sits on the top of the fender.
I went all the way around the edge of the windshield opening and cleaned both inside and out, and exposed as much of the bad metal as possible. Then I cleaned every other place I saw rust and was able to get about 90% of what I saw.
There are sections near the mounting bolts that I can’t get without a sandblaster, so that will probably be next on the list of tools to be purchased.
I covered everything visible with etching primer to keep it from flash rusting, and dragged windshield 2 out of the corner. This one came to me about 8 years ago, and it came with glass included.
On the surface it’s in better shape than the tan unit, but when you start looking closer, it gets ugly. A utility knife made short work of the windshield gasket, and once I’d made my way through that, the glass popped right out.
Both of the cowl edges are crispy.
When I move them both around, I hear the sound of rust and metal rattling around inside, so I know they’re both crispy inside as well; I’ve got a can of Eastwood Chassis encapsulator on deck for them both but I want to do some more investigation to see if I can access all of the interior through the holes I see.
So, next on the to-do list is to figure out what steel thickness I need for patch panels, summon my courage, and break out the cutting wheel on the tan windshield.
I went to put the Scout back in the garage the other night after dark, and when I hit the running lights I was greeted with the lovely sight of all of the dash lights glowing brightly in front of me. There’s about a one in four chance of this happening at any given time, so this was a nice surprise.
I took delivery of four bushings from Energy Suspension last week and carved out a half an hour to put one in on each side. It took some investigation online to know exactly what I was supposed to do, but once I found a couple of reference photos I got things organized and put them in properly. Both the bolts needed some PBBlaster to come off cleanly, but other than that it went quick.
The bolt on the driver’s side bottom has been replaced with a Grade 8 bolt, washer and locknut, and I have to get a little time next week to replace the bolt on the other side. She still rides like a truck, but the clanking from under the front suspension has disappeared, which is great.