Sometimes being the Scout Guy in your neighborhood can bring unexpected benefits. About 10 years ago I bought a local Scout with some friends, towed it out of his driveway, and split up a bunch of parts he had stashed in his garage. (Part of me still kicks myself for not having bought the whole truck, but whatever). Yesterday afternoon he stopped by the house and dropped off a few more things he’d found stashed away; apparently he’s doing a deep clean and found a set of new steel endcaps, a cab mount, an armrest, and a jar of fasteners somewhere in his garage.
I asked several times if I could give him anything for the parts and he declined, so I offered him a ride the next time he was around.
In the meantime, the upcoming weather looks pretty clear, so I think I’m going to drive the Scout back over to the Eastern Shore for the week.
I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the Scout this summer, and she’s been running exceptionally well for me. My records show that I’ve put 1133 miles on since I went to Nationals, but as I’ve mentioned before my speedo calibration is wrong. If I do the math for my latest trip back from Chestertown, Google tells me my route from my last fillup was 87.5 miles. My odometer reads 77 miles. If I redo the ratio I worked out a couple of years ago I now come up with 100 miles true to 88 miles indicated (vs. 100 true to 78 indicated). This also checks out to +/- 1 mile when I apply it to my Nationals trip. When I do the (correct) math with the mileage recorded in my notebook, that works out to 2528 miles since the beginning of the year.
Doing some sleuthing, it looks like there’s a fuse blown or some other electrical gremlin between the switch on the dash and the wiper motor; the motor itself works fine when I put 12 volts to the contacts. From what I’ve read, the wiper switch itself has a breaker, and the switch doesn’t go through the fuse panel. I’ve put in a replacement switch from a different Scout to see if that fixed anything but I’ve still had no luck, so I’ll have to keep looking.
I got back from Nationals with shitty front brakes, a leaky gas tank, and a bunch of new parts to play with. First, I made a couple of calls and got brake work under control.
The gas vent line was probably the easiest win, so I sourced a brass barb fitting from Lowe’s and 4′ of 3/8″ gas line from NAPA with a new plastic filter. Swapping out the brass plug for the barb was easy, and the gas line went on quickly. I brought the line up into the driver’s rear fender, gaining access through the cover behind the spare tire, and lopped off about 1′ of the hose. Capping that with the filter, I zip-tied it to the other vent hose to keep it upright and buttoned everything up. Hopefully the tank will vent a bit smoother now, at least until I can sort out the larger issue with the sender.
At Nats, Brian and I brainstormed a way to add snap barrels to the back of the tailgate so that I can snap the back of the soft top closed, and after I sourced the small hardware (6/32″ stainless screws and nylock nuts) I drilled into the aftermarket aluminum diamond plate. There’s a divot in the top of the tailgate that the nuts tuck into neatly without touching the sheet metal; it wasn’t until Brian pointed that out that I realized the solution was that simple. D’oh! (Now I have to get the zippers fixed).
That left the windshield wiper issue as the next big problem, which I was not looking forward to diagnosing. I also needed to re-align the wiper arms on the windshield, and a little research revealed they are simple to remove and easy to reinstall. Taking the cowl cover off confirmed my suspicion that the linkage from the motor to the wiper arm had come loose—this has happened before.
A trip to the Ace Hardware provided a quintet of e-clips in the right size, and I pulled the motor out completely to reattach the arm. Years ago I’d pulled it out and was never able to get it back in completely, so this time I focused on figuring out the secret trick of tucking the end of the bracket around the mount under the cowl. It’s now snugged tight with two bolts in the correct position. Then I had to fight to re-attach the first arm to the second linkage, which is always a treat.
With that done, I started diagnosing the wipers themselves; there is no response in the motor when I turn the switch at all. I have a 12-volt bench tester, so while the motor was out I confirmed that it’s not smoked; it revolved freely. A voltage tester hooked to the ground wire shows there’s no power coming through from the switch on the dash, so now I’m trying to pull the switch out and source a replacement.
While I was out on errands I stopped at the Harbor Freight to pick up a cheap stepped drill bit that went wider than 1″ diameter. The new glove box lockset from Binder Boneyard is a plastic barrel that’s much wider than the stock metal unit, so I had to open up the factory hole and grind off the two threaded studs on the backside of the glove box door. (Fun fact: I realized I have four spare glovebox doors when I went looking for another part in my bins).
This took all of about 15 minutes. Then I had to adjust the crappy metal tab I’d made to replace the catch on the inside of the glove box; apparently my dash is from a particularly boozy Friday shift in Fort Wayne, and does not feature the same loop catch found in all of the other Scout II’s I’ve ever seen or parted out. Once that was done and I had it fastened in the right place, the door closes snug to the dashboard and now features a lock! I’d like it a little more if it was made out of metal but for the price it can’t be beat, and anything that’s truly valuable is going to get locked into the Tuffy console or the ammo box in back anyway.
The final thing I did was to drill a single hole in the grille for my new (used) INTERNATIONAL badge, add some good 3M double-sided auto tape, and mount it to the sheetmetal in the proper position. She looks like a whole new truck!
My records say I put 925 miles on the Scout, which means it’s actually around 1187 if I do the math, but Google figures it’s about 1050. I used roughly 77.6 gallons of gas this time, which puts my mileage somewhere around 13.5 mpg—which seems a little odd. I got about 12 on the last trip, and our route was almost exactly the same.
Some various reflections:
- My front brakes are scraping. I sourced a new local mechanic who can handle brake work quickly through another Scout guy in Ellicott City, and ordered rotors and pads today. I’m going to take the Scout camping in a week and a half, so I want them working right, and I don’t have time to futz with it myself.
- This was the most rain I’ve ever driven my Scout in. We were wet for 3/4 of the trip home, but everything worked as it should have. My wipers crapped out on the second half of the way back, so I’ll have to pull the cowl and replace the motor with a known good unit. While I’m in there I have to adjust the linkage to align correctly on the window.
- The gas tank is still a pain in my ass. I was dribbling gas after every fill up. This will require several fixes: I have to buy some gas-rated hose and rig up an overflow vent with a filter at the end to vent the extra air. Jim, one of the mechanics at Super Scouts, showed me how to do this on his pretty red Travelall. Then I’ll have to drop the tank and properly seal up the sender so that it doesn’t escape out the top. I said I was going to do this two years ago.
- In the fall when the soft top comes off I need to find a sail repair service in Annapolis and see if they can sew my zippers back on. The right one gave way on Saturday night when I was closing up the truck, so now both of them are shot.
- Brian helped me think of a way to install snap barrels on the aluminum sheet overlaying the tailgate so that I can snap down the soft top; this might actually work…
Part one of this story begins with the Scout in Annapolis, being looked over by my original Scout mechanic from 1997. To make a long story short, I needed new bearings and reached out to several mechanic friends, who were all backed up with work. My friend Mikey, who I know through a completely different set of friends, suggested Erick—another example of worlds colliding in amazing ways. I brought the truck down to him with the bearings and he had both the fronts replaced by about 6:30 Wednesday evening. I ran down there with Jen, picked the truck up, and hustled it back home in a light rainstorm. I’d already prepacked everything so it was fast to throw stuff in the truck, kiss the girls, and hit the road to meet Bennett at a park and ride out on Route 70.
From there we drove out to West Virginia to meet Brian at his family river house, and we cracked a beer on the porch before hitting the sack in a beautiful new air conditioned camp trailer they bought last year.
Thursday morning broke hot and only got hotter. The temperature was in the 90’s but the humidity pushed the index into the 100’s, so we checked fluids in the trucks, packed ice and water, had a quick bite to eat and headed west. We hit only one minor slowdown for construction, and stopped every hour or so to hydrate, gas up, and air out the backs of our shirts. Bennett kept the location of the barbecue joint we hit two years ago so we stopped in there for some lunch at about two, and it was worth the wait.
Back on the road, we navigated the evening rush hour around Columbus and then got cooled off in a downpour west of the city which then seemed to follow us. With the bikini top on the truck and a speed above 40mph, everything in the truck stayed bone dry through the worst of the thunderstorm. I’d prewashed the windshield with Rain-X before we left and that helped the visibility; I only had to use the wipers occasionally.
We rolled into the hotel by about 8PM and found the parking lot about 3/4 full of antique trucks. There were a bunch of folks to stop and chat with, and we finally broke off to drag some gear inside before it started raining again. We’d all agreed to avoid restaurants and as much indoor exposure as possible, so we ordered a pizza and had it delivered to the room while the rain passed. Then we headed back outside to meet up with friends and drink some beer.
Friday morning we got an early start, as a lot of the good parts would be fresh on the grass at entry, so we ate a quick breakfast, brushed our teeth, and hit the road for the airfield. After a brief stop at Tim Horton’s drivethrough we entered the grounds and made our way over to the rows, where Bennett and I set up next to each other and Brian got a sweet spot right across the lane from us. After checking in and picking up our swag we set up my EZ-UP (lifesaver) and wandered over to the parts area.
There were a lot of goodies to look over, and I tried to show some restraint for as long as possible. I got a ’72 emblem for the front of Peer Pressure’s grille (mine is missing) for $5, a day-night rearview mirror to replace my single-position mirror for $15, a $20 transmission mount (mine is toast) and a sweet shirt from GRC Fab for $15. There was a lot of other amazing stuff there that I would love to have bought.
We ran into a bunch of friends on the grounds and caught up with them, but by 1PM we were crispy and hungry. We retired to the tent to grill some hamburgers and chat with our neighbor Dave, who owns a last-day 1980 diesel Scout and who was happily eating some homemade ice cream from one of the vendors.
Sipping on a delicious chocolate milkshake from said vendor I heard the announcer offer a door prize to the first person who could produce an IH keychain. I hustled up to the podium and showed him my worn leather keyfob—the fob Chewbacca’s keys came on—and claimed a nice plastic ammo box to hold all of my new parts.
By about 4 we were thoroughly baked so we lowered the tent and headed back to the hotel. The tailgate party was just kicking off so we cracked some beers and I ran upstairs for a quick shower. Then we grilled some dinner on Peer Pressure and talked with friends.
We met a nice kid who parked an immaculate ’78 Rallye next to Brian’s truck and struck up a conversation; he’d spent the last two years working on it with his Dad and was obviously pretty proud of the results. Every nut and bolt was new. The paint gleamed. The engine was spotless. We complimented him on his work and told him to keep it out of the rain. Turns out he was from western Maryland and he’d trailered it in with his Dad that day.
Another man asked me a question about my grille, and I got to talking with he and his teenage daughter. She’d just bought a Scout and wanted to fix it up, and they’d driven four hours from Illinois to learn more about Scouts and how to do things. I talked with them for about a half an hour and answered as much as I could, then recommended a few more people to talk with. He said he was struck by how friendly everyone was at the show, and I assured him this was pretty normal.
Brian and I called it at about 11:30 and after downing some more water we crashed out.
Saturday we got up early to make sure we got our spot back, and after some lousy hotel food and a Clif bar we hit the road for the fairgrounds. Our spot was where we left it, as was the EZ-UP, and we set up camp for the day under cloudy skies and 65˚ temperatures. There were more vendors set up selling things so we hustled over to see what was newly available. I found a set of beautiful 2″ Stewart-Warner oil and amp gauges and got them for $15. Further down the line we stopped in to see Dan at the Binder Boneyard and I bought a locking glove box latch for $20, which should work better than the wiggly hunk of metal I’m currently running. Elsewhere I hemmed and hawed over an incomplete chrome trim set without the clips and walked away, feeling good about my self control.
I then spied a set of fiberglas inner panels and noticed the third section for above the liftgate door—this one had the cutout for a switch like mine. We figured Howie at Binder Boys would have one in stock. His booth is amazing; one half of his setup is two full tables of divided parts containers organized by fastener type, size, shape, and function—thousands of items. The other half is a trailer crammed with neatly organized large parts in racks and on shelves. He hustled into the trailer and within a minute handed me two to choose from, charging me $3 for the best one.
We headed back to the trucks to get some lunch, and then figured we should go over and check out IHPA’s booth up by the hangar. There we drooled over a lot of really nice stuff—including the brake kits we’d seen at Lee’s place. Brian struck up a deal and got a great price on one minus shipping. I got a decent deal on a set of liftgate struts for my truck and decided I’d hit my spending limit.
We visited with friends, got some more ice cream, and wandered through the rest of the show looking at the new arrivals. When they announced the raffle would start at 6 back at the hotel, we broke down camp and headed back there at about 4:30 to get our spots in the parking lot. I was fortunate enough to have a guy park a genuine SSII next to me, which we took time to drool over as the sun finally came out.
The raffle went off pretty quickly (I did not win anything, as usual) and the auction was lots of fun. There wasn’t a lot that I was interested in this year, so I kept my wallet in my pocket.
After the raffle, things broke up into smaller groups. I was feeling pretty worn down, so I called home and talked to Jen for a bit away from the crowds. We mingled a little and chatted with some folks, but were feeling pretty beat and headed upstairs at around 11.
Bennett and I had a long drive ahead of us (Brian was stopping off in West Virginia) so we bailed out of the hotel, ate some breakfast in the parking lot, and checked over fluids and fasteners. After topping off the important stuff we got on the road under cloudy skies. At the first service station a fellow with a crusty SSII on a trailer pulled up next to me, and I wished him luck with his restoration. Talking to him on Friday I learned he’d found one of only 50 Midas SSII’s in existence under a tarp out in the boonies, and he was going to rebuild the whole thing.
We drove into the morning gloom and soon it started drizzling. It was enough to cover the windshield but not enough to be dangerous, which was lucky for me because my wipers stopped working somewhere in Western Maryland. Again, with the bikini top up everything in back stayed bone dry. I think the worst part was that for the first hour I was cold— I was able to get to and put on my windbreaker but my legs were freezing until we stopped for a break and I could get under the hood to manually open my heater valve.
Beyond that, the ride home went off without a hitch. The roads were open, the rain let up right before Frederick, and for the final leg I drove with the top down and the sun on my back. I got into the house at 8PM and enjoyed some dinner with the girls in front of the TV.
Once again, our trusty old binders didn’t fail us. Once again, we had a great time getting out there, seeing friends, talking about trucks (and other stuff) and enjoying the summer in Ohio after it cooled off. We ate too much grilled meat off the tailgate, drank just enough beer, a lot more water, and avoided just enough rain to make it pleasant. Once again I had a great crew to enjoy the trip with, and I’m looking forward to next time.
Today I got a bunch of maintenance done on the Scout in preparation for the trip to Ohio. The two big things I wanted to knock out were draining and replacing the oil in the transmission and the transfer case, which had last been changed about ten years ago. The Scout has been leaking more these days. I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, but I’ve been a little worried it’s from one of those two places, and the only way to find out was to see if they were empty or not.
I started with the transmission first, and when the drain plug came out it looked like it was pretty full and the oil was dark but not black. There were no shavings in the pan, and the end of the plug was clean—a great sign. I used a $10 pump to add 4 quarts of 50W racing oil back in. Unfortunately, the information I’d found last night was wrong: It only takes 3.5 quarts, so I spilled a pint of it on the driveway when it came back out. Great.
Next up was the transfer case, and this time I was ready for spillage. The oil in there looked about the same, and it wasn’t low. Pulling the transmission tunnel cover made it easier to pump oil back into the case from the top, even though the hose kept on wanting to pop off the pump spout after everything got slippery. I poured the old oil in a container to be recycled and stored the remainder.
When that was done I showed Finn how to loosen the bolts on top of each front shock and we added rubber bushings above the shock mount. Apparently mine had disintegrated, and Lee pointed that out last week, pulling two used bushings from his shelf and handing them to me. Then I pulled out the death wheel and chopped a length of the comically long U-bolts holding my front shocks on. Lee had recommended that simple fix—I was prepared to buy a new set of heavy-duty bolts to replace them, but had never considered just cutting them. My plan is to find some fine-thread nuts that will fit and use those to clean up the threads of the bolts in case I need to remove or adjust things.
I also got a mechanical fuel pump from Rock Auto to carry as a spare, so that got added to the expedition list and will go in the lockbox out back with the spare coil, rotor and distributor cap, wires, belts, and fluids.
I got on the phones this week and called around to find someone to help with the bearings; my search led to Erick, an old friend from my early Scout days who worked on Chewbacca. He’s in Annapolis and has the time to help get them installed next week. I’ve got a pair on order from IHPA due to arrive on Tuesday, so hopefully he can get them installed next week.
On Monday I took a day off work and drove out to Lewes Delaware to visit a nice guy named Lee, who has been quietly working on Scouts exclusively for the past ten years. His bread and butter has been the wealthy beach clientele who can drop thousands on a rig each year for upgrades, but he’s helped average guys out like me as well. He was kind enough to take most of the day to talk with Brian and I, and I didn’t have enough space in my brain to hold all of the stuff we learned. His shop is stuffed full of IH parts and gear; he has two gleaming 392’s up on stands being rebuilt.
He was kind enough to put our rigs up on his lift, and we went over the mechanicals from the underside. Brian’s truck is, of course, in excellent shape (Lee had worked on it for the previous owner, and actually was trying to help him sell it at one point) and he showed us how to add rear disc brakes with the kit he and his son developed for one of the larger Light Line vendors. Then we put Peer Pressure up on the lift, and predictably he found some things that needed attention before driving to Ohio: both of the right side wheel bearings are in need of replacement, and the tie rod end is shot on the passenger side.
There was some little stuff that can get fixed later: when we put the front brakes on we put the hoses on backwards. At some point if I’m feeling sporty I can remove the shim on the starter motor; that’s only required for automatics. And I’m going to have to replace the transmission mounts pretty soon, as they are toast.
I also learned that the belt driven spaghetti-hosed lump next to my battery is an air pump, designed to thin out the particulates in the exhaust for 1970’s era emissions laws. Lee pointed out all of the smog hoses I can get rid of to plug vacuum leaks and help the engine run smoother. When that day comes, I bought eight specially-designed plugs to fill the holes left behind.
While we were there a bright yellow Scout came in on a flatbed from Colorado, freshly bought sight unseen from the internet. We walked out and looked it over with him, and even that was an education for us both. Dig that crazy chrome rollbar. It’s pretty incredible what Scouts are going for these days, and from what he says, some of the IH-specific parts are getting as thin on the ground as the trucks are. I mentioned what I had squirreled away in the garage and he told me I was sitting on a goldmine—and not to throw anything away.
We sat and shot the shit until about 5PM, and paid him what he asked; his time was worth much more but he refused to take anything beyond that.
I hit the road and was lucky enough to avoid all but about 3 minutes of a downpour in Glen Burnie, which actually cooled me off a little bit. The truck ran great both ways and I can’t be more pleased with the heat matting. According to the Googles I put 234 miles on the truck, although the odo says 194 for various reasons.
I’m headed over the bridge tomorrow to visit a fellow who goes by the name scout_guru on Instagram. He’s got a shop at his house and for the last ten years he’s worked exclusively on Scouts, and I’ve wanted to stop by and visit since before the pandemic. We’ve talked on the phone several times and he couldn’t be a nicer guy; I’m looking forward to the trip and to shooting the breeze with him.
I was smoking meat in the backyard yesterday and as a result I couldn’t venture far. So naturally I did some small Scout stuff. The big project was to finish moving snaps on the snap rail, and to bust out the plastic polish to see if I could clean up the windows on the tan top. After about an hour of washing, polishing, washing and polishing, I got all three windows looking pretty good! It’s much easier to see out of all three of them now, and the top snaps in place much better.
I vacuumed out the dust, reorganized some tools, and threw Brian’s ammo can in the back to bring to him tomorrow when we meet up. The oil is full and looks clean, and we’ve got sunny weather forecast for the day, so I’m optimistic.
On my way out of D.C. yesterday I fell in behind this engineering masterpiece, and many questions were asked:
- What is that bar those shocks are connected to?
- What is that bar connected to?
- Do the bars act sort of like torsion suspension along with the springs, to slightly soften what must be a kidney-punching ride?
- How did this man add leaf springs and what are those leaf spring hangers connected to?
- How does this handle at speed?
I mean, it’s drivable, as it made it up to the District from South Carolina, but damn.
One of the primary reasons I wanted a Scout was because the truck was designed to be convertible by cigarette-smoking men in the 1960’s who barely considered passenger safety or crash protection. Having a soft top for the summer is a primary concern, and something I factored into the purchase of both my trucks. I was lucky—both came with soft tops. There was a decade or so where nobody was making new ones—Kayline went out of business in 2001 and Bestop decided there wasn’t enough money in it and focused solely on Jeeps. Softopper is now making new units which are by all accounts excellent, but are eye-wateringly expensive—so I feel better about hoarding them. At this point I’ve got three:
1. The original Kayline top from Chewbacca, a snap-close model, in a color called Nutmeg, which is a medium brown color. I think this would look hideous matched with Peer Pressure’s blurple, so I’ve never installed it. It’s in very good shape—the canvas is clean, the zippers are all intact, the plastic windows are clear and mostly unblemished, and it has been sitting in cool storage for ten years. When I sold Chewbacca to Brian I was going to give it to him as a completion present but got a great deal on a used tan top and gave him the choice of the two; he liked the look of the tan top better (I agreed with his preference). I have the whole hardware kit for this— a set of padded bows, metal door frames, snap bed rails, and windshield rail.
2. The black Kayline top that came with Peer pressure, a Fastrac model, in black vinyl. This was used and in somewhat rough shape when it came to me on the truck. There are a couple of holes over the rear seat which thankfully haven’t gotten any larger. The zippers are plastic and work reasonably well but some of the tracks have come unstitched on each side. The windows are still mostly clear but need a good polishing, and the plastic tracks along the bottom edges are still in good shape. I have the entire hardware kit for this top. I’ve modified this one with snaps on the canvas door flaps and metal door frames to replace the useless velcro it came with, and it makes a huge difference.
3. The $50 tan top that’s currently on the truck, which is another snap model. The canvas on this one is in excellent shape, which is shocking. The driver’s side zipper has come almost completely off the canvas, and the rain flap over the passenger door is also coming unstitched. All of the windows are very clear, but there’s a vertical split on the driver’s side about four inches long. I have the entire hardware kit for this also. I modified this with snaps around the door canvas as well.
All of these need a good cleaning and the windows need polishing. Somewhere I’ve got some Meguiar’s plastic polish that can be applied with a soft buffing wheel that will help with visibility through the windows. At some point I need to wrestle the tan top inside and restitch the zipper, or find someone in Annapolis with a sail repair business who can fix it up for me.
In the meantime, because the tan top is a snap model, I drilled one of the two snap rail sets out to match the existing holes in the bed rails. The driver’s side went on with a little finagling. Once it was mounted I found that the front snaps went on easily but the back snaps were too high by about 2″ at the endcaps. The way the top fits, the edges will never reach the snap rails, even when it’s heated up by the sun. The passenger side went on easier, and I dug into my snap replacement kit and installed four new barrels on each side so that I can (mostly) close it up with the bows loose. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was.