After practicing my mechanical skills last weekend, swapping out plugs on Saturday was fast and relatively easy. The only issue I had was getting the #6 plug started; for some reason it didn’t want to thread in to the hole. Once I got that, the rest were easy. I left the #1 plug for last, as the position of the power steering pump makes it difficult to get a ratchet on the end of the socket. (Pro tip: a 3/4 box end wrench on the socket does the job nicely). The Autolite 303’s came out oily and fouled, and that was only after 75 miles or so.
I did a quick test run after the engine bay was buttoned up, and she runs better than ever. Lesson learned: the 303’s are in the trash.
I’ve had new spark plugs in the truck for a week and it hasn’t run this shitty in the 10+ years I’ve owned it. Startup is OK but the engine runs rough and slow, the idle is choppy, and throttle response is abysmal—to the point where I’m afraid the engine will die before the acceleration picks up. Finn and I drove about 25 miles to and from the pick-your-own farm out in Woodbine yesterday, and while it did OK at cruising speed I wasn’t impressed with anything else.
Autolite 303’s are NOT recommended in an International 345 V-8; don’t believe what the parts monkeys tell you. I have eight new Autolite 85 iridiums sitting here on my desk waiting for the weekend, and the 303s will be coming out as soon as possible. NOTE: Amazon and RockAuto don’t offer 85’s in their list of recommendations, but I’ve run 85’s in Peer Pressure for 10 years.
I also swapped out the two courtesy lights at the corners of the dashboard, which were standard filament bulbs, with new LED lights I found on Amazon. It was hard to find replacements for these odd-sized 293 bulbs without the right search terms, but Amazon offers a Sylvania filament-based 10-pack. The passenger side wasn’t working so I pulled the bulb out and cleaned the contact before putting in the LEDs. The LEDs aren’t made as well as I’d like for the money—being bayonet-style they go into the socket and turn to click into place, and what I found was that the metal sleeve holding the two contact prongs was moving independently of the light itself. They are bright and throw lots of light into the cabin, though, and I like that.
I spent a rainy Saturday futzing in the basement, and came upon the three horns I’d bought for the Scout sitting on the workbench, waiting for me to finish the mounting bracket. When last I looked at it, I’d cut down a piece of metal and bent it, but that was as far as I got. I cut the long edge down, ground down the sharp points, added two mounting holes in with the drill press, and painted it with some Rustoleum. While that was drying I pulled the headlight back out and soldered two connectors on to the wiring harness on the single Sprinter horn, then covered the wires with heatshrink tubing. When that was finished, the whole thing mounted up pretty quickly, and I grounded one of the leads to the headlight bucket. Now the horn sounds like an angry European delivery van—but it’s much, much louder. Definitely an improvement.
On Sunday I had some free time with Finley so I figured I’d show her how to change spark plugs. I’ve got a set of Autolite 303’s that I got with some other parts from Brian H. and figured I’d use them as a teaching tool. We started on the driver’s side and worked from front to back. I changed them back in August of 2012 and there was a wide range of wear on the electrodes, from carbon to sludge, so I was a little nervous to see how these looked when we pulled them out. The first couple came out looking clean with just a little tan carbon present, and as we went around they all matched up almost exactly—which means she’s running perhaps slightly hot.
I walked Finn through the basic way an engine works, the importance of firing order, showed her how to pull each plug out individually, hand-tighten the plug before laying on the socket wrench, and hook the wires back up.
The engine fired right back up but she runs a lot rougher now—I seem to remember reading on the old IHC Digest that 303’s aren’t recommended, as well as Champion RJ11Y/RJ12Y/RJ12YC’s, which are always the first to pop up on all of the auto parts websites. Strangely, when I put in Autolite 85’s I get big angry warnings saying THIS DOES NOT FIT YOUR 1976 INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER SCOUT but I ordered eight from Amazon and I’ll replace the 303’s next weekend.
The other thing I’m cogitating on is fabricating a mount for my bottle jack, which is a lot easier to use in a pinch than the Hi-Lift. Chewbacca had a mount on the inside passenger fender half, and even though it’s been twelve years I remember it looking factory-installed. There are no holes in my sheet metal that lend themselves to a mount. There’s no indication anything ever lived there, actually. There’s one threaded hole on the front wall that will be the jumping-off point for what I make—it’s the fender bolt directly to the left of the jack in the picture above. Cardboard bending and cutting will commence shortly.
I did it again. Apparently I’m so happy to get out into the real world, I’m ignoring posted speed limits.
The bag I ordered from Amazon finally arrived this week, so I did a test fit of all the spares in my emergency kit. The bag itself is nicer than I was expecting. It’s made of durable, high quality ballistic nylon that doesn’t feel like heavy cardboard or thin tissue paper. It’s set up with MOLLE straps on the outside, and has three interior pockets that make separating the contents easy. I bought the tan color so that I can see what’s inside easier.
I used one interior pocket for spark plugs, one for bulbs of various sizes, and the largest for hose clamps and zip ties. In the main compartment are my spare box wrenches, distributor parts, tire plugs, one fuel filter, fuses, a spare spark plug wire, and some spare Scout-specific bolts.
It’s a tight fit in the Tuffy console, especially with my tool roll, flashlight, tire iron, and other assorted gear, but I like having it all contained and organized instead of rolling around free underneath everything in there. Clearly I need to do some more research on an additional lockbox, but this is a good start.
It’s been two weeks now since I put the starter in the Scout and I’ve had it out multiple times on short trips around the area. Not once have I heard the terrible grinding noise from the starter, which leads me to believe the problem is solved. It’s nice to make upgrades that work.
I ordered a cheap military-style toolbag from Amazon last week that should fit snugly inside the front of the Tuffy console, which will hold an assortment of spare parts and tools. I’ve got a collection of stuff already organized, and a list of other stuff to buy and have on hand for breakdowns:
- Zip ties
- Stainless hose clamps – I bought three sizes, for the radiator, hydroboost, and heater hoses
- Spark plugs – I have a spare set of Autolite 303’s that came to me.
- Distributor cap – NAPA FA85, and points – NAPA CS757P
- Fuel filters – I’ve got two: Wix 33032 and a Purolator F20011
- Bulbs – both 1157’s and BP194LL’s. I’ve got both bulb and LED 194’s
- Tire plug kit – it’s already saved my bacon.
- Rain-X – comes in handy when the wipers are slow
I need to pick up a few more things:
- Fan belts (the three on PP are: Gates 7350, 7525, and 7612)
- Thermostat – I need to find a pair of RobertShaw 370-FHT‘s, or something as good.
- Spare coil
- Spare plug wires (???)
Outside of this kit, I’ll also have oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant in back, somewhere…
I’ve been meaning to replace Peer Pressure’s starter for years now, but 2020 was the first year it appeared on my to-do list. Today was the day I decided to get it done. Work has paused on the porch project while we wait for polyurethane to cure, so I found myself with an overcast Sunday to work with. I figured the best way of getting access to everything was to pull the wheel completely off, so I used a bottle jack to get the wheel up in the air, braced it with a jack stand, and pulled it off.
Once that was done, it was a pretty simple job of pulling both leads from the old starter, loosening the mounting bolts, and letting it fall into my hand from above. Looking into the hole, it looks like the flywheel is in decent shape, so my guess is that the solenoid wasn’t engaging completely with the teeth and making that terrible grinding noise.
With that done I swapped the spacer onto the new Delco starter and clanked it around until it was in place. I cleaned off both bolts and tightened it up, then reconnected the wires and made sure everything was tight before replacing the wheel and putting it back on the ground.
Reconnecting the battery, I got in and turned the key: She fired right up, and sounded great! the starter has a different sound than the old unit, but it’s something I can definitely get used to.
After that was done, I futzed around with a couple of other small things I’ve been thinking about: the driver’s window is binding up again, so I pulled the panel off and replaced the front spring clip, which continues to come off, with a different one from my spares. Then I tightened up all of the bolts and put the door back together.
Next, I thought I’d fix the bent bedrail caps that have been bugging me since I got the truck. To explain: the soft top has a C-channel hinge mounted in the middle of the bedrail that serves as a mounting point for both of the hoops. The hinge is screwed into a metal cap that IH provided to cover the top of the bedrail. Over the course of several off-road excursions, the previous owner bashed the soft top into stuff and thus bent the caps all to hell. They have looked janky for years and I figured I’d finally straighten them out as best I could. Using a vice and a body hammer I got both of them as close to straight and level as possible, then hit them with some Rustoleum before replacing them and tightening everything down. It all looks worlds better now.
This old warhorse showed up on Craigslist this afternoon; $1500 for some rust held together with what looks like Glacier Blue paint. 4cyl/manual. It’s being sold by a dealer, so it’s more than likely they drug it out of a field somewhere and are advertising it to get some of those sweet sweet Icon dollars.
I would give them maybe $300 for this as it sits; I doubt anyone wants a blue interior, unless it’s got a tilt wheel. The engine is worthless but the transmission and running gear are valuable. And maybe the hubcaps.
I ran a bunch of errands in the Scout this weekend, taking advantage of the lovely 70˚ weather, and toward the end of Saturday I decided to pull the top off with Finn’s help. As with years past, it’s been getting easier and easier to pull off with practice, and we had the whole thing removed in a half an hour. The part that takes the most time is winching it up into the rafters, but even that went quicker than last year. The soft top is now in place, and Jen and I enjoyed a breezy drive out to the Home Depot on Sunday—life is good!
While at the HD I sourced a 8/32 hex head bolt and brought it home to fit into a spare rearview mirror. The one that Peer Pressure came with (bottom) is somewhat narrow and is beginning to delaminate at the top and the bottom, so I thought I’d replace it with a larger, cleaner one (top). The only drawback is that the replacement doesn’t have a daytime/nighttime refractor tab at the bottom—but I do about 2% of my Scout driving at night, so it really doesn’t matter much anyway.