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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.

Date posted: September 16, 2020 | Filed under Inspiration | Leave a Comment »

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.

Also, I had a little time last week to fool around with fill welds after I got my magnetic copper backer, so I ground some paint off a panel scavenged from our old washing machine, drilled some holes in it, and filled them with the welder. It’s obvious I’m a bit too zealous with the angle grinder, as the metal has warped a bit, but overall I’ve got the hang of it, and I think with some careful and judicious application of Bondo I can clean up most of the outstanding holes on the truck.

Date posted: September 14, 2020 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a walkaround of the Scout, pointing out most of the visible scars, stains, scrapes and scratches.

One of the things mentioned in the video is purchasing a set of chrome trim pieces to install, instead of plug-welding and filling all 20 of the holes along the side of the body. Super Scout Specialists sells a set of trim that they claim is close to the original style, for $170. If I estimate the time I think it’ll take to plug and fill each of these holes (and there are several I wouldn’t be able to do unless I pulled the front fender off) that price looks more and more reasonable by the minute. Even if I spent $500 on a good set of used chrome, that math still holds up because it’s going to take a lot more than 10 hours per side to clean things up.

Date posted: September 8, 2020 | Filed under Paint | 1 Comment »

For the last month or so I’ve noticed clunking coming from the front of the suspension that’s been getting worse, and a couple of Saturdays ago I investigated. I haven’t touched the suspension in the eleven years I’ve had the truck, so I wasn’t going to be shocked if something was loose or broken. What I found was that the driver’s side top shock bushing had pretty much disintegrated and the passenger’s side was right behind it. The driver’s side was moving freely inside the mount, so I started researching repair options and replacement shocks. The ones I inherited are Black Diamond brand, which was a WARN industries sub brand up until the early 2000’s, when WARN got out of the suspension business completely. So there’s little to no information or available parts for these shocks.

Saturday afternoon I thought I’d do a little more research and tried to pull some serial information from the shocks themselves; what I found when I looked at the driver’s side was that the bottom bolt had come loose and the shock was banging around under the truck, completely free from the U-bolt pack.

I sourced a pair of new Grade 8 1/2″ bolts, washers, and locknuts at the local ACE hardware and ordered a set of Energy Suspension bayonet bushings from Amazon, which should be here on Tuesday. I jacked the truck up and reconnected the shock for the time being, and when I get the package on Tuesday I’ll take the wheel back off and put the bushing in properly on both sides.

Date posted: September 6, 2020 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Brian stopped by last Sunday for a couple more hours of messing around with our ammo boxes, and while we didn’t finish them, we got a lot more done. The first thing we did was to slice four rubber stoppers in half, countersink the bottoms, and drill four holes in the base of the boxes to mount them as feet. When that was done we sorted out the rear mount situation to lock it into the base of the truck. What we’re doing is welding a C-channel to the back side of the box and another C-channel to a metal plate that mounts to the bed of the truck. The box side hooks in to the bed side, and when the front of the box is locked into place, that should keep the whole thing from being removed.

My neighbor’s dad is an old-school gearhead. When I met him for the first time he was behind the wheel of a maroon late-model Dodge Challenger. Soon he replaced that with a blue model. And a couple of years ago he showed up with a bright yellow ’68 Camaro with an angry, lumpy cam and racing slicks. I walked out and talked cars with him for a while, and we got on the subject of paint. He was looking to get rid of the yellow as soon as he could, and I mentioned I was looking to get rid of the purple on Peer Pressure just as quickly. We talked about leads and shared what we knew. Time passed, and I would hear the Camaro rumbling up the street now and again. This spring it showed up silver—I thought he’d stripped it down to bare metal—and then a pair of black stripes appeared up the hood. It looks a million times better; the silver accentuates the lines of the car and it looks much, much meaner.

A week and a half ago I was walking Hazel and we saw him at the 7-11 at the far end of our route. We got to talking and he asked if I was still interested in painting the truck; he’d retired a few months back and built himself a spray booth to reshoot the Camaro, and was now taking on painting jobs. I said HELL YES in no uncertain terms, and told him to slot me in for the spring—he’s got a car lined up to work on in the fall, and I don’t want the truck off the road for too long.

I’m not looking to spend months with a block sander and Bondo to get the metal on PP perfectly flat; I’d be happy with a decent 10-footer as long as the paint was all one color. I’ll have to hustle in the fall, though, because there are several things that would need to be addressed before it went in to the booth:

  • One or more of the three windshield frames needs to be cleaned up, sanded, have new metal welded in to the windshield lip, get filled with chassis encapsulator, and made ready for paint.
  • All of the random holes on PP’s body need to be sanded down and filled, preferably with welds, and then smoothed over for paint. This includes the old mirror mounts on each door, the trim mounts along the bottom of the body, and the snap holes along the back of the tailgate.
  • The orange hood needs to be sanded down and cleaned up at the very least—it’s pitted along the front edge.
  • The dent in the rear endcap from the swinging bumper needs to be knocked out and filled.
  • Whatever I do, I want to paint the Traveltop white for a classic ’70’s look. It needs a whole lot of attention on its own: there are multiple places where the PO screwed into the metal and left them there, so all of those need to come out and be plug welded. The rack needs to come off, the windows need to come out, and the rain gutter needs to be sandblasted and re-sealed. I’d also like to add some sound deadener to the interior.
  • Finally, any and all spare panels I’ve got should be cleaned up and shot with the same paint, if possible.

I have experience with sanding and Bondo, having done some extensive slap-hammer and sanding work on my old VW bus thirty years ago, and I’m sure a middle-aged Bill can do a much better job than a 17-year old Bill.

I bought some new tools last weekend, including a second angle grinder and a pneumatic DA sander, and I’ve got a bunch of consumables on order from Amazon including wet/dry sandpaper, etching primer, and a copper welding backer, as well as a can of chassis rust encapsulator.

So, in order of importance, I’ve got to:

  • Do a walk-around and inventory all of the issues on the body
  • Practice welding holes closed in washing machine steel
  • Sand chips in paint around the tub and sheetmetal
  • Knock down any drips in the purple paint
  • Sand and weld the holes shut in the body
    • Bondo and prep those areas for paint
    • Remove all badging and chrome
  • Pull glass from the second spare windshield
    • Evaluate and choose the best candidate for repair
    • Plug holes on the good spare
    • Encapsulate rust inside the frame
    • Weld in good metal around the inside lip
    • Prep for paint
  • Plug holes in white fender
  • Use aircraft stripper on the blue fender, sand and repair

It’s going to be a busy fall, I think.

Date posted: September 4, 2020 | Filed under Future Plans, Paint | 3 Comments »

Brian left his welding rig in the garage last week, and it’s been out there calling to me since Sunday. It’s a beautiful new Hobart MIG setup with a gas hookup, built to switch between 230 and 115, so it can run off the wiring in my garage and still burn 3/16″ steel.

I had some box steel scrap laying around from my bumper project, so Wednesday night I covered myself in bug spray and busted out the angle grinder to clean surface rust off everything. Then I gloved up and started laying simple lines down. It took some time to get the rig dialed in, but once I’d sorted that out, I took some deep breaths and just focused on getting some good lines across the tube.

After I covered all four sides I cleaned of some smaller scrap and welded them to the side and the bottom of the tube, with the goal of not burning through everything.

I was able to get things dialed in well enough that I started thinking about a bottle jack mount and how easy it would be to put one together with some steel and the welder.

After working on Finn’s fort Saturday morning through to the afternoon, I stopped at 3:30 and turned my attention to the garage. I began forming elements with cardboard and then moved to cutting down some steel we’d picked up at Lowe’s. I started with a piece going down the front of the inner fender and attached an L-shaped section to that, curving back around to the side of the fender to keep the jack in place. After tacking it in to see if it worked right, I welded each side in and cleaned the section up.

Then after dinner I cut two sections of galvanized electrical conduit down and welded them to the tail of the L for both of the jack levers to sit in. This was tricky, as the steel bar was 1/8″ and the conduit was much thinner. I hit it with short burns to avoid blowing through the thinner steel, and after some practice with scrap steel I figured it out.

When that was done, I ground everything smooth, wiped it all with acetone, and shot it with some black paint. When I went to install it for the last time, the threads in the hole I’d been using gave out completely and the bolt spun freely. Disgusted, I moved it to a second hole about 1″ outboard and tightened everything down for the night.

Tomorrow I’ll see if my tap and die kit has a tap for the next bolt size up, and hopefully I can get the whole thing permanently installed. I’ve got some toolbox shelf padding in the basement that will go under the jack and keep everything from banging around.

 

Date posted: August 22, 2020 | Filed under Progress | 2 Comments »

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Brian dropped off his very slick welding setup on his way out to West Virginia Friday afternoon. It’s set up with a multi-voltage plug, meaning it’ll run on 230 or 115 volts, and it’s hooked up to a bottle of shielding gas. I meant to look it over on Saturday but I just ran out of time.

He rolled into the driveway on Sunday morning and we began work on securable storage bins for both our trucks. We took some time to talk over a plan, then visited three separate hardware stores to find a suitable staple. Once we’d done that and had a little lunch, we started measuring and cutting and tacking and head-scratching.

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The staples went on pretty easily, and we only had to knock each of them off once to reposition.

Don’t judge my boogery weld; I haven’t done any welding in anger in over ten years.

The thing I was having more problems figuring out was how to secure the backside, but after Brian and I futzed with it a bit, we realized the lip at the top would provide 90˚ of clearance if we bent it backwards 45˚, and then all we’d have to do is weld the sides of the rear latch to the bin. Once that was done, we had a locking, secure bin ready to be secured to the floor.

This is still a puzzle, because we’re trying to keep things removable and low-profile, but we’ve got a plan for the back latch and possibly a solution for the front.

In the meantime, I’m going to grab some scrap steel and go out and lay some beads down with the welder. I only put in some quick tack welds but it was fun and I miss welding so much. If I can talk Brian into it, I’d like to hang on to it for another couple of weeks until I get the bottle jack mount fabricated and completed. Only then will he be able to rip it out of my hands.

Date posted: August 17, 2020 | Filed under Friends | Leave a Comment »

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Date posted: August 15, 2020 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »

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.

Date posted: August 13, 2020 | Filed under Purchasing | 2 Comments »

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.

Date posted: August 5, 2020 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »