I just found out via text that Brian had a catastrophic fire which leveled his garage today, enveloping part of the house. Brian and his family are OK, but Chewbacca, which was sitting in the bay of the garage, is likely destroyed. The pictures he texted me show a pile of charred timbers sitting on the shell. I can’t believe it. It’s a shit end for a reliable, faithful truck that I was sure would outlast Peer Pressure.
Image pulled from the Chestertown Volunteer FD Facebook page
For anyone following along, Chewbacca was my first Scout, and I secretly sold it to Brian’s wife as a Christmas present for him. He spent a year restoring the whole thing, using a Kentrol tub and new parts wherever possible, and the result was a work of art. Some might say it was a different truck entirely, quoting Theseus’ Paradox, but I always knew her beating heart was the same.
I went into the project convinced I was going to be a ace wrench in no time, though. Surely, even a clumsy and sheltered city boy like myself could learn how to repair and maintain a machine as basic as a tractor.
Andrew Collins over at Jalopnik totals up what a year cost him to own a Scout that he traded for a high-mileage Toyota Tundra. I’d say he made out pretty good.
Peer Pressure has been out and running strong all spring. I haven’t done a thing to her other than keep her running weekly through the winter, and she has responded by staying dependable all year. I haven’t tackled any kind of major project because money and time have been tight. I’ve also not talked to any Scout friends in months; they mostly converse via Facebook which I haven’t been on in over a year. I did have to hop on there last week and found that Wagonmaster Brian is now without a Wagonmaster. He decided to sell it and pick up an Edsel Pacer instead. After the 4th of July I’m going to see if I can organize some beers with the locals and see what’s happening.
On the way home from getting some frozen yogurt last Friday night, I spied a familiar shape parked at a local gas station and swung the car around to get a better look. It was a primer gray ’80 Traveler with fresh Maryland plates, and as I was preparing to shoot a picture, the owner came walking up. We got to talking, and he told me it was a relatively new purchase he’d gotten from out west. I got his card and dropped him a line last week, offering a beer and conversation if he was interested. We’ll see if he reaches out.
So all three main sections of Good Carb are washed and drying on the bench. I dunked them each in Simple Green for a couple of days and then scrubbed them with a toothbrush, and 99% of the crud came right off. After a rinse with warm water, they look close to brand new. I’m going to let them dry completely and then start tearing down and replacing parts next week.
I reassembled the stunt carburetor I’ve had sitting on the bench since the end of January and put it aside so that I could tear down the good one. Actually, Jen needed the box that the rebuild kit came in for something, so I figured I’d straighten up the bench while I was moving the parts around. Once I’d gotten that put back together, I looked over the good one and started pulling it apart. I was pleased to find it’s in really clean condition, with a little dust in the phenolic bowl, a tiny bit of corrosion around the air horns, and a lot of clean metal everywhere else. The floats are almost brand new (but will be replaced with brass) and the internals are all clean as a whistle. There was a little leftover gas trapped in the horn that made the basement smell, so I moved it out to the garage this morning, where it’ll get a good dunking in carb cleaner.
…Nothing, really, has happened. Peer Pressure is running well, if a little rich, but she started right up all winter long and after a little bit of lifter tick the engine warms up and smooths out really quickly. I actually drove her a lot more this winter than most because we didn’t have as much snow, which meant less salt on the roads.
So let’s update the To Do list for 2017, in order of high-to-low probability:
Adjust the Tuffy console forward 2″. It still gets in the way of folding and tumbling the rear seat. I tried moving it forward last year but what I’m probably going to have to do is drill three new holes in the bottom of the console to get it in the right spot.
Adjusting the doors again. The striker on the passenger door doesn’t latch unless you slam that fucker shut.
Replace the windshield. It’s as difficult to see out the front of the truck as it was before. Thing is, I have no idea what shape the frame on the truck is in; I could take the current glass out and find the metal is completely shot. However, I’ve got two other frames in the garage that could be rustproofed, fixed, and painted. So the first step would be to pick one and rehab it.
Install the goddamn Hydroboost. Again, carried over from last year. I’m going to bribe Bennett with some beer and pizza and have him help me with this over the summer.
A new radiator? I thought this might be easy and relatively cheap but it’s not.
Option 1: a Champion Radiator, plus shroud and electric fans: $466. Ouch.
Option 2: an RnD radiator for $375. I have to check and see if my existing shrouds will fit.
Buy new road tires. Again, this is expensive. The trick is to find a narrow set of 32s so that it doesn’t look like I put toy wheels on. Seems like most 32s come 11.5″ or wider. Cooper Discoverers are very road-looking, while BFG T/A KO2s are more aggressive. I can actually get these from Amazon in 10.5“, but I don’t have $750 for that laying around yet. [BP search link]
When I was a kid, I spent countless hours of my life building with LEGOs on the floor of the family room. I’d build something, take it halfway apart, put it back together again, and then repeat that cycle until I got it just the way I wanted it. All of this was unwitting practice for my adult life, where I’ve disassembled computers, electronics, power tools, engine parts, and other assorted machines without fear of being unable to re-assemble them.
So, working my way through the videos I’ve downloaded, I decided I’d start disassembling the dirty unit first to get my practice in.
Most of the linkage came off relatively easily, and when I understood the secret Thermoquad disassembly trick (two hidden screws under the primary butterfly) the whole thing came apart pretty easily. It was then when I understood why it was so filthy. At some point it had gotten a lungful of water or mud, because both chambers were full of brown crud. The underside of the resin bowl was filled with corrosion and blackened carbon. I began to get nervous, thinking I’d never get it cleaned up.
Into a bucket of concentrated Simple Green it went, and after about an hour’s soak the resin bowl came out looking brand new. I scrubbed it with a toothbrush and bottle cleaner to get the residue out, and let it dry on the bench.
Then I threw the top air horn in to let that soak. Corrosion had crusted over everything made of ferrous metal; the float arms were rusted solid. The whole thing looked charred and sooty. I figured I’d try the detergent to see how clean it would get first.
After about two hours I was shocked to find it had turned Simple Green to Simple Brown, and most of the soot had disappeared. The aluminum appeared much cleaner, and the metal parts were more visible.
It’s still pretty fucked up, though; Simple Brown can’t dissolve whatever that white crusty stuff is in the upper left, and the well under the float (that black square thing on the left) is filled with it. It’s going to soak overnight, and then if I can’t get the parts free I’ll put on some gloves, take it outside, and hit it with the carb cleaner.
Santa (technically, my sister’s boyfriend) brought me a lovely gift this Christmas: a carb rebuild kit for my spare Thermoquad including all of the gasketry, springs, and other small parts needed to overhaul the mechanical bits. Introduced by Chrysler in 1969, the Thermoquad is a four-barrel carburetor designed with two small primary and two large secondary bores. At idle or cruise, the primary bores supply fuel to the engine in small amounts for efficiency, and under load or acceleration the secondary bores open up to dump fuel into the engine, adding power. It’s built around a phenolic resin chamber sandwiched with two aluminum plates, which was supposed to keep the temperature of the upper bowl 20˚ lower than standard metal carburetors of its day–because vapor lock was standard equipment on a 440 big block. So I’m going to have to study up on this Malaise-era marvel of engineering.
My engine, near as I can figure, is a 1979. As the 70’s wore on and emissions standards got stricter, engine displacement decreased and smog equipment strangled engines. IH trucks weren’t as strictly governed as passenger vehicles of the era (trucks over a certain weight and load limit were exempt from CAFE regulations, hence IHC advertising the Scout as the XLC in 1975 onwards) but smog equipment was still added to pass emissions tests, and the carbs got more complicated as the decade drew to a close. The Thermoquad sprouted all sorts of ports and valves and complicated linkages to govern choke, temperature, airflow and throttle, and the result is a lump of metal that looks like C-3PO screwed a pinball machine.
I’ve got three Thermoquads in my collection. The first is the one that came on Peer Pressure, which I had overhauled by my friend Rodney a few months after I got the truck. Tracing the serial number (9128S), it was originally made for a ’79 IHC 345ci engine with an automatic transmission. Rodney is a gearhead of the first order (he has a slingshot dragster parked in his driveway) and no stranger to carburetors. He made it sing, but that was eight years ago.
The second is a spare I picked up from a fellow north of Baltimore. This too is a 9128S. It’s the spitting image of the one on Peer Pressure, minus the funky extra linkage on the throttle arm to the left. It’s also the rebuild candidate and the one I’ll be working with here.
The third is a spare I picked up from my friend Jason, who converted his Traveler over to fuel injection two years ago. Tracing the serial number (9203S), it was originally made for a ’79-80 IHC 345ci California smogged engine with an automatic transmission. The top of the air horn at the fuel inlet is different, and there is one vent tube where my other carbs have two. It’s also super crispy and in need of a major wash. It will be my bench reference and possibly a source of spare parts.
The first order of business is to arm myself with knowledge. I downloaded a series of getting-to-know-you videos from YouTube where a gentleman steps through the features of the TQ, and another where he goes through the steps of rebuilding one. I’ve got the original ’72 Chrysler TQ service manual, an updated ’82 Federal Mogul manual, and the Dave Emanuel bible.
The first order of business is to clean them both, which will require a bucket of Simple Green and a couple cans of carb cleaner, which I’ll pick up this weekend. Then it’s on to the teardown.
I thought I might get out and shoot a couple of pictures of the Scout with the changing leaves in the background before they all got blown away. It was a good thing I did, because they all got blown away today.
Wow, it’s been several months since I’ve updated here. There really hasn’t been much to add; Peer Pressure has been running reliably and well all summer and I haven’t had a whole lot of time to make any upgrades or do any serious work. About all I’ve done is add a bicycle quick release to the underside of the rear seat. I broke down last weekend and put the hardtop on, which was hard because it was 80˚ on both days. Today was 60˚, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than wrestling a 300-lb. pile of metal in the middle of November.
I am looking at one of the Champion aluminum radiators to replace the original one I’ve got; the outlet on the filler neck to the overflow tank came to me disconnected where the copper had been brazed. Mr. Scout has one in Chewbacca and says it works great. I may also buy a rebuild kit for my spare Thermoquad and tackle that inside over the winter months. (I’ve been saying that for three years now…)