Now that Brian is finishing up work on his house and it’s getting warmer, the hunt for a new Scout has begun. He’ll have a garage to put it in shortly, so we’re casting about to see what’s available in the Mid-Atlantic region.
His needs are pretty simple: He’d like a running, driving Scout with minimal required bodywork. In reality, we could find him an inoperative example and have the mechanical stuff done easily; the body is the most important part of the equation, and that’s hard to find these days, as mentioned before.
I spied a shiny silver Scout on Craigslist late last week and shot him a text, and he contacted the seller immediately. Online, it looked great: a new engine, a soft top, decent body panels, and the price was fair. On closer inspection the pictures showed the issues that the seller did disclose: the door panels looked toasty, there was some visible rust in other areas, the pillars around tailgate were wider at the top by about 1/2″, etc. We knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but we had to do our due diligence.
We met up in Federal Hill and found the truck parked on the street. The seller was running late so we had about 45 minutes to go over it by ourselves with no pressure, and what we saw got more disappointing as we looked closer.
I should stop here and say that this was probably the best-looking Scout I’ve seen since Peer Pressure. For an east coast Scout it was in fantastic shape. But for Brian it was past the point of “easy project” and firmly at “involved overhaul.” In terms of real-world rigs it wasn’t at end-stage Chewbacca level (running roughly, doors sagging, floor shot, body mounts toasty) but it needed a lot of TLC to get right. Both doors were pretty much shot. The windshield cowl was toasty on both sides. The inner fenders were crispy and the driver’s outer fender was on its way out. The interior was a mishmash of poorly attempted fixes and bad ideas: the front seats were captain’s chairs cut out of some kind of customized van and bolted to the Scout floorpan.
But it did have its pluses; the floors were all solid inside and underneath, the engine was brand new and purred like a kitten, it had a $1,000 soft top installed, with a hard top that came along with it. It was a good platform for a sympathetic restore that wouldn’t be impossible to do (see: Chewbacca) and he’ll get the money he’s asking for it.
We talked with the seller for a while and went over the history, asked a couple of questions, and had him start it up. Brian went for a spin around the block while I chatted with the seller, and on his return Brian basically told him thanks but he wasn’t interested.
We hadn’t gotten our hopes up too high, so the letdown wasn’t bad; we continued down Fort Avenue and got some tacos and a beer to drown our momentary sorrow. There will be other Scouts out there, and we will find Brian the right one.
I was anxious to get the Scout on the road after getting back from Colombia this weekend, but I knew there was an issue I needed to address first: the passenger door latch mechanism had spun forward so that it wasn’t engaging the door pin, so the door wouldn’t close. I’ve been through this before with the driver’s door, and eventually swapped out the mechanism for a spare I’d pulled from the Wheaton Scout. As I dug into this latch I realized I was going to have to do the same thing for the passenger door. The complicating factor is that the latch assembly is tucked tightly behind the rearward track for the door glass, and won’t come out without the track out of the way.
(Purple over gold poly. Gorgeous, I know. This is after the glass came out).
Looking at my own directions, I started pulling the butterfly window but soon remembered that was not necessary. I cranked the main window down, pulled the clips off the scissor assembly, unscrewed the tab atop the butterfly frame and pulled the window out of the way. The track came out easily but the rivets holding the screw plate to the track finally gave up and broke off after repeated abuse.
(Broken track on the bottom: note the mounting plate has come de-riveted. Two spares are at the top).
Luckily I had pulled two spares from the Wheaton Scout. There was a bolt stuck in one of the screw holes, so I hit it with PBlaster, then heated it up on the bench grinder, and with a set of channel locks it came right out. The latch assembly and track got hit with some white lithium grease before I bolted them in, and the whole door went back together quickly. Then I tore the driver’s door down and did the same with that assembly to get the window moving more smoothly on its tracks.
(Bad latch on the right. The cam was not under tension from the spring, so it barely worked).
Once everything was buttoned back up I took her out for a spin around the block and the first new gas she’s had since December of 2017. The brakes feel tight and even–the pedal is firm and catches much quicker than the old manual booster ever did, and the truck doesn’t pull to either side like it used to. I still have to adjust the drums by reversing and braking, but overall I’m thrilled with the upgrade.
As I drove down Frederick Road, I caught sight of the Diesel Traveler coming my way and waved to the owner, who passed me on the narrow street. I turned around and gave chase but lost him as he crossed Rt. 40. At some point, I’ll catch up to him.
Update: we saw him parked nearby this afternoon when we went out for lunch.
My Scout friends came back on Sunday to help me button up the rear drum brakes on Peer Pressure. When last we left off, we’d put new pads and hoses on the front discs but when we pressurized the system one of the rear cylinders blew out under the increased pressure from the hydro-boost. It was getting late, and everyone was tired, so we agreed to meet again to finish it up. In the week following I bought a new set of drums to match the shoes I got with the Scout, as well as a full spring kit and two adjustable valves.
Bennett and Dennis came by in the early afternoon, bundled up for the freakishly cold weather (the day before, it had been sunny in the high 80’s) and we set to work. First we jacked up the rear and put the axle on jack stands. Then we pulled both wheels. I told Dennis I’d never done drums before, only discs, so he sat with me on one side while Bennett had the other side to himself. We pounded and pried off the drum on the driver’s side, mangling one of the clips in the process, and tore down the drum.
Dennis stepped me through the rebuild process patiently until we got to the clip that had been mangled, and then I had to get on the phone to find a new one. Luckily a local parts store had the kit we needed in stock, so we ran out to grab it.
I had inherited a set of brake shoes when I bought the truck, so it was a bit of a toss-up whether they would fit in the drums I got from NAPA. It turned out I needn’t have worried, and they went in without a hitch. Somehow Bennett got his side’s clips, springs, notches and pins aligned correctly and installed before Dennis and I did.
The shoes on the truck were still in excellent shape (as were the drums, actually) but we replaced everything while we had it open. Bennett had to reflare both brake lines because the fittings had rusted to the cylinder, which took time. Then we bled the whole system out, reflared a leaky fitting, and bled it again. At that point everything was holding pressure so Dennis fixed the brake light switch and we opened the barn doors for a test ride.
The difference is immediate and dramatic. The pedal throw is similar but the brakes dig in and hold a lot faster than they ever did before; the whole truck comes to a stop much faster and with purpose while the old system took a lot of frantic stomping and swearing to work. It’s going to take some getting used to, but that’s the kind of progress I like. It’s great to finally have this project completed.
I’m continually amazed and humbled at the generosity and patience of my friends, and I am thankful for their time and expertise. And they’re a lot of fun to hang out with. I really don’t know how I would pursue this hobby without them.
Last night’s cold and gusty weather continued into today, freshly piled leaves cluttering up all the places I’d raked in the rain last weekend. I had guests coming to the ghetto garage, so I tried to church it up as much as possible. Ray arrived from PA early, and stopped to pick up coffee and donuts for me. Bennett arrived soon after, and then Brian, Dennis, Brian H, Carl, and Alan. We stood around and shot the shit for a little while, and then dove into our list.
The Hydroboost unit went in with little fuss, although I can’t take any credit because I wasn’t doing much of the work. Bennett, Ray and Dennis are the subject matter experts, so the rest of us sort of stood around in my crowded little garage and watched as they worked their magic. Bennett pulled the battery, removed the stock brake booster and cleared the lines.
Ray set up the aluminum standoff block and drilled new holes in the Astro mounting plate while Dennis pulled the assembly under the dash apart. Within an hour the main unit was bolted in place and the hoses were run. There was some concern over the hard lines going from the pump to proportioning valve but Bennett showed his skill with a flare tool and had new ones bent and fitted in an hour.
While we had the brake system pulled apart, it made sense to pull the wheels and go through the brakes. However, NAPA failed me on Thursday and did not put my order through for pickup on Friday, so the pads, calipers, cylinders and other parts I’d ordered never arrived. Bennett raided his considerable parts stash and brought a new set of front pads, but when we pulled the front wheels off and looked at the calipers (and banged on them with a hammer) it was clear we would need replacements. I started working the phone, and a different NAPA came through for us. Somewhat stalled, we took a break for lunch at the local diner, and by the time we were done the parts were waiting for us.
Back in the garage the new calipers went on smoothly, and we bled the brake system from the front to the back. A few adjustments to the pedal were made, a legacy vacuum hose to the old booster was plugged, power steering fluid was procured and added, and the truck was idling smoothly with no squealing from the pump. However, Brian noticed the rear passenger brake started leaking heavily, so we shut the truck back down again. Apparently the brake cylinder blew up with the increase in pressure from the pump.
It was 6PM, getting cold, and already dark, so we called it a day at that point. I’ve got a list of parts to buy for the rear brakes–mainly a spring refit kit and two new soft brake lines, because I have shoes and bought cylinders today. We’ll pick up part two in a couple of weeks.
I got a really nice letter from Bennett, one of my local Scout friends, when I was laid up last month. He offered to get our local group of IH guys together and get some work done on Peer Pressure while I was laid up, the generosity of which blew me away. We set up a date in early March and he had me put together a list of stuff I’d like to tackle: Hydroboost, fuel sender, and maybe something else if we have the time.
The Hydroboost project involves removing the big stock brake booster and replacing it with a GM hydraulic unit sourced from an Astro van and hooking it into the power steering pump. What this does is improve overall braking power, allow for added stopping power in the event of an engine shutoff, and make more room in the engine bay. Back in 2013 I assembled all of the parts but stalled out, because I don’t trust myself enough to follow the sparse instructions found online or bleed the brake system correctly by myself.
Clockwise, from upper left: Astro brake unit, power steering hoses, power steering adaptors, aluminum standoff block, brass fittings.
So I’m sending this photo over to Bennett and Ray, the acknowledged experts, to make sure I’ve got everything I need. I’ve got to pick up new brake fluid for sure, but hopefully everything else is correct.
My cousin sent this to me last week, and I recognized the rig after seeing the custom rear bumper. It was featured in a build thread on the Expedition Portal that wound up lapsing. Now it’s being offered for $70-90K at auction. Unreal. There are things I would have done a little differently (the wheels sit strangely offcenter in the wheel wells, a casualty of the lift they installed) but overall it’s a nice build.
A text conversation today with Mr. Scout reminded me that I wrote this back in July but never posted it. For posterity’s sake, here we go: I happened upon a new Scout to the neighborhood and stopped to check it out.
Looking it over, I noticed it was sitting on more street-focused tires mounted on stock rims, and I liked the look of them. I’ve been thinking for a long time about switching out the Mud Terrains I’ve got for something quieter and more comfortable, given that my driving is mainly on-road. It was for this reason that I bought a set of four wheels from Brian H. a few years ago–dry-rotted tires on a set of freshly powder-coated steelies.
My hope was to put a narrower set of tires on her, something with a smoother ride but equal height, but it’s impossible to find anything narrower than 11.5″ wide at anything above 29″ tall unless I want an even more aggressive tread.
This Scout is on General Grabber AT2’s at LT33X12.5R15, which is wider than I was considering but taller than I expected. His Scout was sitting on a comparable lift and the size in the wells looked right (I’m trying to avoid putting tiny tires on a tall truck). They are also reasonably affordable vs. comparable BFGoodrich or Goodyear tires in the same size. I’m not in a financial position to buy them outright, but I think I could sell the Mud Terrains on Peer Pressure minus rims and make some of that money back this spring.
In between Scouts, nine years ago, I went up to White Marsh to look over a Scout on Craigslist. What I found was a rough example with a lot of rust, bondo, and primer. It was a non-runner, up on a trailer, and the victim of questionable aftermarket mods, the best of which was a chain steering wheel and skull shifter knob. I snapped a picture and left.
Imagine my surprise when a Scout showed up on Craigslist this week with the same shift knob. A little comparison shows it’s the same Scout with a new steering wheel. The rest of it looks exactly the same: rust, bondo and primer.
I didn’t buy it then and I wouldn’t buy it now.
I ordered a lineset ticket for the VIN on Peer Pressure a month ago or so, and it came in this afternoon. I always figured the plate was not original to the body, because it’s screwed in with sheet metal screws, but I was never really sure. From what it says, the original shell was built on August 18, 1975, in Kansas City for Bob Post Chrysler Plymouth in Aurora, Colorado. It was painted Solar Yellow, Code 4410 (a 1976 color), and it had a 304 V-8 with an automatic transmission.
My body shell was originally painted Gold Poly, a 1975 color, and as mentioned before, is not original to the frame. This basically just confirms it. My only shot at identifying it now is finding the VIN chalked on the body somewhere.
The dash on my Scout came to me painted the same disgusting shade of purple the rest of the truck is. I’m stuck with it for the time being, until I pay someone to rewire the whole truck (that’s not a challenge I currently feel up to). Because I’m stuck with the dash, I’m stuck with the glove box door, which appears to be different than my old Scout and both of the spare dashboards I own. The difference is in the lock mechanism and its strikeplate. Most Scouts I’m familiar with came with a Chevrolet-sourced lock mechanism (IH raided parts bins from Chrysler, Chevrolet, and AMC liberally) that looks like this:
Mine came with a much earlier pushbutton design that looks like this (minus the keys):
The problem is that these are made out of cheap cast pot metal and break down over time. Mine is barely functional and never worked properly when I got the truck. I’d love to be able to use the glove box for stuff, but currently it’s empty and rattling.
Ordinarily I’d just swap it out for the Chrysler lock barrel, of which I have three in my parts bins. I did in fact try this, but it turns out the striker plate bolted to the dashboard isn’t compatible with the Chrysler lock. So I’m stuck with the old-style pushbutton, which I’m finding is hard to source for an affordable price. This site, specializing in Willys trucks, wants $5,000 for this part. This eBay site wants $44. This site doesn’t have a price listed.
I can’t find a non-keyed version of this lock anywhere, but I do see a Jeep lock button that looks similar in operation, averaging around $30:
Depending on its size and diameter, I might be able to make this work, but I’d have to take a $30 chance on it. Or maybe I’ll wait until I see a CJ in the junkyard and try to nab one for cheap.