I’ve been working pretty much nonstop on stuff for work, going on late into the night, so I decided to take a little mental health time during the day when the sun was out to go get my hands dirty on the Scout. I have a long punchlist of stuff that I want to get accomplished, but today I had to choose some stuff I could accomplish in a few hours, which left mainly cosmetic improvements. The first thing I did was to adjust the parking brake, which has been weak ever since we did the rear brakes. This is a pretty simple matter of loosening two bolts attached to a wire running to each rear brake drum, tightening the wire, and then retightening the second bolt. After tightening, I tested it and it felt good.
Next, I wanted to clean up the janky speaker wires I installed ten years ago when I swapped the original stereo for the new one. When I put it in, Finn was a baby and I had the duration of a nap to get any project done, so I hurriedly carved metal out of the dash, quickly ran wires from the holes hacked in the tub up to the transmission tunnel, and ran them out of the transfer case boot up into the dash. They’ve been there ever since. This was a pretty simple fix, but took some time, as I had to disassemble part of the dash, disconnect the stereo, and re-route the wires through an existing hole in the firewall. But once I was done, it cleaned the dashboard up really well.
While I had that apart, I put some new LED bulbs in two of the light sockets in the speedometer, which has been dead for several years. Getting to all five of these bulbs is a royal pain in the ass, because the only really good way to get the speedo out is to disconnect the hardline and unplug the speedo unit, which is dangerous, because the 50-year-old pins on the back of the units are notoriously brittle. So I fought with the lousy angle and the tangle of wires and the tiny bulb sockets and got two of the LED units in place. Then I buttoned up the dash and left a complete rewire and rebulb for a future day.
Then I tested the parking brake, and…it’s still weak. Two out of three isn’t bad.
I got a very heavy package delivered to the house yesterday: a shiny remanufactured starter motor from AC Delco. The weekend forecast is for warm weather but showers and thunderstorms, so I probably won’t be able to take advantage of the time to put it in.
Top: original crusty starter motor pulled in 2011. Bottom: sexxxxxy new reman unit. Y’know, I think I’m going to bust out the pressure washer and see if I can clean the old one up.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about are the points of failure and wondering what they might be. It’s been so long since we pulled the last unit, I don’t remember what the issue was—if it was making the same noise, stopping intermittently, or something else.
There’s the possibility that there are missing teeth on the flywheel, based on the sounds the engine is making when I turn the key. It could be that the solenoid isn’t working correctly, and getting stuck could be the reason I get a grinding sound. It could be that the contacts aren’t clean enough, which means there isn’t enough juice getting to the starter (the single biggest current draw on the whole truck). One other thought is that we didn’t get the bolts snugged tight enough in 2011 and they’ve come loose.
Once the contacts are clean on both sides, and the new starter is in place, I should be able to walk through the rest of the symptoms and figure out what’s happening. And hopefully, there will be no more grinding.
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.
One of the projects on the horizon for spring is to figure out how to shoehorn my new compressor into an already crowded garage. It’s pretty clear I’ve got to put it along the back wall, but there’s no power back there and that area is full of other stuff. I’ve had to stack stuff one top of stuff because there’s no place else to put it, which makes me unhappy. If I can get rid of the first compressor, that frees up a pile of space under the workbench, which I can then rebuild into shelving. That should free up floor space and the puzzle pieces will fit better.
The first order of business will be to extend power to the back corner. I’ve got two circuits in the garage currently, switched power up over the ceiling for reclaimed fluorescent lights and unswitched power going behind the workbench. It’s pretty obvious that I’ve got to extend the unswitched power further back so that I can run the old fridge and the compressor next to it under the window. This means I’ve got to move a pile of parts, including my spare hood, to other locations.
One of the things I haven’t really been taking advantage of is the space up in the attic, which is currently filled with piles of unbacked insulation from the front porch project. There’s a lot of space up front that I can use for stashing things I don’t need during the summer (when the hardtop goes up on the lift, it blocks the access door) but I have to get rid of that insulation first. Baltimore County has a program where they’ll accept donated materials, and all of this insulation is pretty clean as far as I remember, so when there’s a warm spell, I’m going to get a paper suit, haul it all down, and bag it for donation.
First up on the accessories list for the compressor will be a filter for the outgoing air. Next, a good impact driver and a set of sockets. I’ll probably hit Harbor Freight for that. In the spring I’ll pick up a sandblaster attachment so that I can start blasting parts clean. Finally, a decent HPLV gun will give me the ability to spray decent paint on those parts and get them ready for hanging.
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.
I saw a post on Instagram a couple of days ago featuring a mint-colored Scout with an interesting roll bar setup. In the comments, the poster mentioned he’d used a Jeep TJ rollbar as a base, cut it down, fabbed his own mounting plates, and made it all work. I commented that I would love to see more pictures of his setup, and it turns out he’s actually on the Binder Planet in a thread I’ve looked at before. He bought the whole cage two years ago for $100 and had the whole thing mocked up a month later.
What I like about it is that it’s a square cage that surrounds the passenger area—the rear of the cage fits over the rear seat so there’s more protection, and the whole thing has built-in shoulder belts. I like the look of it, and I love the fact that there are a ton of aftermarket products for the TJ bars—padding, speaker bars, new belts, and lights.
Our local junkyard has a Wrangler in stock every once in a while, and “large rollbars” are listed at $100.
I really think I’m going to be purchasing a welder this year…
This was a $40 mistake, but it’s fun to have video of the Scout on the road when I’m behind the wheel!