I stopped in to the Harbor Freight and picked up the cheapest auto-darkening helmet they had along with some small welding magnets, but the guy at our local Home Depot rental counter looked confused when I told him they offered welders on the website, and assured me they didn’t have any. So I’ll have to take a day off, go to our rental outlet, which isn’t open on weekends, and get one there.
Sunday was supposed to be wet all day but shaped up to be sunny and warm, so I took advantage of it and pulled the roof off the truck. This year I’m modifying the setup in the garage a little to move the top backwards so that I can pull the truck in a little further, but I need another set of ratchet straps and a 2×3″ to finish it up. We then took a ride to the Home Depot with the top off and the entire family enjoyed the sunshine. I didn’t have time to pull out any of the soft top hardware and install it, so next weekend I have to decide which color I want this spring: black, nutmeg, or tan?
Otherwise, she’s running smoothly. There’s an intermittent squeal from the power steering belt that alarms me, so I’ll put some belt dressing on that to see if it helps at all. The manifold bolt I replaced makes a huge difference in the engine note; everything is much quieter now. She is being a little finicky on hot starts—it takes some cranking to get her to catch, which tells me there’s something in the carb that needs adjusting.
I made a little progress with the bumper project over the last week, up to the point where I need a welder. To recap: I originally bought 1/4″ box steel which wound up being way too thick, and bought another length of 1/8″ box steel which worked out perfectly. After a little coaxing I cut the edge off the bar and then cut two sections from that, leaving me with a pair of C-shaped sections ready for pilot holes.
I used a stepped drill bit in the drill press and then ground off about 1/8″ of each edge to get them flat, parallel, and shallow, then test fit everything on the bench.
As for welding, Brian took his rig back a month or two ago so I’m without anything here to use (and truth be told, the welds I was making before he came and got it were terrible). I called a local mobile welder who quoted $125 just to come out; while everybody’s got to make a living I’m having a hard time rationalizing that when I could spend another $150 and get a decent 110-amp starter MIG for myself. Or, I could spend $40 and grab a simple 110 MIG from the local rental center, and I wouldn’t have to deal with yet another large tool taking up space in my already cramped garage….perfect!
A brief update: I’ve got new bolts in hand for both the bumper and foglight brackets from Fastenal: 1/2″-13 x 5-1/2″ Grade 8 hex bolts for the bumper and 3/8″-16 x 3/4″ 18-8 stainless carriage bolts for the brackets. I also got a 1′ length of 2″x2″ .250 wall box steel delivered to be cut down into a pair of C-shaped brackets. Unfortunately, the metal cutting blade I bought could not make it through the steel, and truth be told, it’s way too thick anyway. So, I’m going to order some .125 wall and use that instead. I’ve found a local welder who can put them on for me, which should only take a half an hour. I’m also going to have him weld the lock hasp on the bottom of the ammo can and put that job to bed as well, because it’s springtime and the top is coming off soon.
Another thing I stumbled upon was a “fuel sender test kit” from one of the parts vendors, which is basically just two lengths of wire and some instructions, something I should be able to build and use myself in a half an hour. The key are the directions, which look like they could be even more helpful—the only issue is getting a wire to the top of the tank itself, but as I’d like to rework the hoses anyway, I might spend a day dropping the tank and working on it.
I had a little bit of time over the weekend to do some Scout stuff with the weather beginning to warm up, so I got right to it. The first thing on the docket was to bust out the sandblaster and remove the paint from a couple of parts I’d picked off the Flintstone scout: the license plate mount, the firewall bracket for the steering wheel, and the latch mechanism for the tailgate. Without remembering that I had better luck with glass bead, I used up a bunch of baking soda and got most of the old grungy paint off of the parts.
There’s a fair bit of pitting on the mount, so I wire-wheeled everything and shot it with a coat of rust encapsulator to keep it sealed tight. The entire socket needs to be replaced, so I’ll source an LED unit (or reuse one from the old swingarm setup) at some point in the future. The spring in the tailgate latch had slipped its cog so I reset that, cleaned the grime out with a wire brush, and shot it full of lithium grease.
A few things I’ve learned from using a $20 homemade sandblasting setup:
- It pays to have a pile of parts to do all at once. Setting it all up for one part is a colossal waste of time.
- A $200 blast cabinet, while pricy and bulky, looks more and more like a good investment. Healthier, too.
- Sandblasting with the right media in the right conditions is immensely satisfying.
Sunday’s project was fixing the driver’s side exhaust donut, which has been leaking for several years. I had the truck out yesterday for some errands, and what had been a low bub-bub-bub-bub last fall had progressed to the BRAP-BRAP-BRAP-BRAP of a straight-piped Harley over the winter.
This involved shooting the flange bolts with PBBlaster and letting them soak, which predictably had no result. No matter how I tried the outside bolt would not budge, which of course meant the inner bolt was never going to move. I used a small reciprocating saw to cut the outside bolt in half and then realized that the inside bolt was still snug—so I decided to leave that one alone. One copper bolt and two nuts later, the flange is snug around the manifold again. The difference is amazing: driving through Ellicott City to go pick up beer this afternoon, she purrs again; heading up the hill toward home no longer sounds like we’re beating a war drum on the march to Valhalla.
Saturday afternoon a new set of Hella fog lights appeared on the doorstep, which will require some slight modification to mount to the new bumper. I went with LED units because the wattage is lower and the draw on 45-year-old wiring and the alternator will be gentler. This kit came with black covers which I will have to swap out with OG white ones sometime in the future.
The current plan is to order a length of 2″x2″x1/4″ wall square tubing, chop that into 2″ sections, and then chop one of the walls off to make a strong, geometric C. Flipped on the side and welded to the top of the bumper, they will be mounts for the lights so that I don’t have to drill into the bumper itself. This is going to require the services of a local welder, as Brian came to pick his MIG a couple of weeks ago. (Or, I drive out to his house and we bumble our way through some booger welds ourselves). Either way I’m dying to get it moving along so that I can mount it. I’m still on the fence about whether I should powder-coat or just shoot it with rattlecan black here in the driveway. The paint on the rear bumper has held up really well in the nine years since I painted it; I do like inexpensive solutions…
And in the RockAuto cart this afternoon:
- A new temperature sensor—suddenly the gauge is reading zero, and I’d like to have a firm idea of how hot things get this summer. I put a laser thermometer on the water neck and it read 165˚, which means the thermostat is doing exactly what it should be.
- An air cleaner intake hose to replace the chewed up dryer hose POS I’ve had in this engine since I got it.
Current events have me looking back on a lot of my history, and it seems like some of that history is catching up with me, too. I popped on to the Binder Planet while we were on vacation and saw a post in one of the main forums about the passing of a familiar name: John Hofstetter, who used to frequent the IHC Digest (a precursor to webforums, back when email was the next evolutionary step beyond BBS). He was an old-timer then, someone who always had a minute to help a young shit like me figure something out in the days before YouTube and when the pictures in reprinted service manuals were too dark to be usable. That led me to another thread started back in 2017 asking where all the old timers were: as I read through the posts I realized that a lot of the guys I’d learned from back in the day are gone, and I’m now the age they were when I got into Scouts. That was sobering.
So here’s a list of the haul from Flintstone, so that I’ve got a record of what I dragged home.
In no particular order:
- The steering wheel—I got the entire thing all the way to the steering box, and I even found the horn button on the floor
- The plastic steering wheel column cover, in black
- The steering box—Got it, along with one chewed up castle nut.
- The lower tailgate latch assembly—I took some time and got the latch, the button, both rods and latch arms
- One of the latch arms from the liftgate
- 4 bolts where the windshield connects to the roof
- The washer bottle—this came off cleanly, along with the little hoses to the squirters (Mine got squashed last summer)
- Hubcaps—I found one front and one rear.
- The coolant overflow tank—although all of the mounting tabs crumbled when I pulled it off
- Light buckets—I got three good side markers and one taillight lens, along with one front turn signal. The rest were trashed.
- Both of the 1978 headlight surrounds—the grille was in pieces on the ground underfoot
- The complete dome light assembly
- The automatic transmission shift cover
- Another glovebox door
- All of the dash gauges, and the dash surround (although that is chewed all to hell; I have three spares in the basement)
- The ashtray—apart from two stubbed-out butts, this is in perfect shape
- The license plate assembly—it’s a hinged model
- two sets of sun visors, both somewhat swollen, and all associated hardware
- A rusted but recognizable tailgate from a 1961 Scout 80, with the IH logo embossed. What I’ll do with this I don’t know, but I got it for nothing.
- An emergency brake setup from the same ’61, which Brian can use in his 800.
The stuff I wasn’t able to get, based on my original list:
- Both front hubs—Dave wanted to keep these with the axles, so I left them.
- The heater motor unit—this was trashed underneath and I didn’t have the time to dig deeper.
- Inner fenders—completely trashed.
- Door strikers from both sides—of four bolts I was only able to get one to budge, after repeated abuse with the impact driver.
- The transmission tunnel cover—this Scout came with factory air, which meant the A/C ducting prevented me from getting the top two bolts off the cover.
- Rear armrests—both of these were moldy black. No thanks!
- Side moulding—someone had come along and stuck a sheet metal screw in the middle of each of these, presumably to hold them on, which had then rusted to the body. I was able to get one off cleanly, but the rest are still on the truck.
- The interior fiberglas panels—both of these were drilled for janky-looking shoulder belts, and there was a wood block drilled into both of them in the back. I passed. I’ve got a spare set in the garage attic.
- The cowl cover—the bolts holding this on were rusted solid. I have a spare from the Wheaton scout.
- Evap gear from the rear access port—not enough time to get into this
- The slider windows—here I also ran out of time.
- The windshield—this was actually in decent shape, but there wasn’t enough time. I’d go back out there for the glass before he scraps it, if someone else wanted to join me.
As for me, my soft desk hands are covered in annoying little cuts. I’ve got two particularly annoying gashes right above the nail on my left middle finger and the top of my right thumb (the kind that catch on the pocket of your jeans or get wet and open back up doing the dishes). I have an abrasion along my right wrist up to my elbow. I’ve got a 2″ gash on the top of my left knee from the old Scout 80; if I get lockjaw in the next couple of days I’ll know where that came from.
So now I’ve got to dig out the bins and organize everything into their right place (there’s one bin for exterior parts, one for interior parts, one for electrics, etc.) The steering wheel will be disassembled so that I can see if the turn signal canceling cam is intact; if so that’ll go into Peer Pressure with a new lockset. Knowing how all of that comes apart on a spare will keep me from completely trashing my working setup.
The power steering pump will get hosed with Simple Green and then powerwashed to the bare metal; this will be set aside for a core trade-in when I order whatever new pump I buy. I’ve also got several starters and one brake booster that might fetch $20/each for a core charge.
The 1980 light surrounds, transmission cover, and hubcaps will probably go up for sale, along with the other shifter cover and OEM center console I’ve got sitting on the shelf.
It’s funny—for a while, I’ve looked back on parting out the Wheaton Scout and wondering why I didn’t pull more off that rig; having just spent the good part of a day wrestling with this truck (both of them equally rusty) I think I may have gotten less from this one than I did from that one. And I was better prepared this time. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time on the steering gear.
Like the rest of America, I’ve been chained to my desk indoors all winter, waiting for warmer weather and the chance to get outside and pursue my hobbies in some semblance of normalcy. Being chair-bound for weeks has been bad for my health, both mental and physical. Jen says I’ve been cranky for a while. It’s taking longer and longer to leave work behind, even though it’s only steps from the living room. My neck has been bothering me for months, and my right shoulder and arm are aching each night as I store up stress—further irritated by clacking a mouse around a desk during endless Zoom calls.
Knowing the weather was going to be sunny and warm this week, I took a mental health Wednesday, loaded up the CR-V with recovery tools, and hit the road for Western Maryland. The Scout I pulled the doors from was still sitting up in the woods, and Dave, the owner, had reached out to see if I wanted anything else before it got hauled off to the crusher. I’d looked it over when I was out there the first time but had run out of warm daylight to really focus on stripping it and I knew there were a bunch of other things I wanted to grab.
I got out to Flintstone at 11 AM and met Dave in his driveway. I’d intended on bringing him coffee for the morning but missed my chance to pull off into a town big enough to feature a coffee shop—Flintstone has one general store and no traffic lights—so I was empty handed when I masked up and walked out to greet him. He was busy getting his garage straightened up and told me I had free rein on the Scout and to holler if I needed anything.
I backed the CR-V up the hill and organized my tools for the jobs at hand. Then I busied myself with hosing all of the problematic parts with PBlaster and waiting for that to do its magic. While that was working I started with the low-hanging fruit: light buckets, emblems, any moulding I could get off (not much), simple dash parts, and other small items. The whole hood was already off the truck so that got set aside and I had full access to the engine bay, where two of my main targets lay: the steering column and the power steering box. This Scout was a 4-cylinder so there was plenty of room to work: it’s essentially a V-8 with the driver’s side cylinder bank chopped off, so there’s a huge empty space over the steering column. After some basic wrangling I got one of the two bolts on the rag joint off, but the other refused to budge; taking a break, I went inside the cab and disassembled the dash so I could get the plastic surround off the column and remove the mounting bolts underneath.
Waiting for more penetrant to work, I went to the tailgate and picked that clean: I got the entire latch mechanism, both latch arms, the button, and the license plate mount (a hinged model, something desirable).
Moving back to the engine bay, I put a pair of vice-grips on the stubborn rag joint bolt and was able to separate it from the PS box, and with that I got the entire steering column out. The PS box was next; after some work on the cotter pin and castle nut I was able to separate the drag link and then get the entire unit off the frame.
While I was working one of Dave’s friends wandered up the hill and struck up a conversation: a nice man named Paul told me through a thick accent that he was a farrier and had worked on horses from Syracuse down to Virginia and everywhere in between. Fascinated, I listened to him tell stories of helping fix horses as I pulled the dashboard apart.
By 4:30 I was winding down. The heater box was rusted through along the bottom and I had no way of getting the rest of it off without taking a sawzall to the outer fender (which I didn’t have) so I left that. Packing up my gear, I drove back down the hill and made a deal with Dave for the parts I’d gotten. Then I asked if he was scrapping the old Scout 80 carcass I’d parked next to up the hill, and if I could pull the E-brake assembly off for Brian, whose pretty Scout 800 did not come with one. Some short work with the impact driver and some wrenches and it was in my hands. Walking back down the hill I spied a beat-up early 80 tailgate—the one with the embossed IH logo, not the Scout script—and made a deal for that too.
With everything packed away in the CR-V, I hit the road and made it home at dusk for dinner with the girls. As I sped back down I-70, stinking of PBblaster, power steering fluid, and fresh dirt, I realized I had no pain in my shoulder, arm, or neck, and that I was recharged by being outside in the sunshine, working on my own time, doing something I love.
I saw this in the usual crop of sale listings and laughed my head off. This is like a time capsule of late ’80’s early ’90’s influences.
Jawbreaker was/is a seminal punk band from the Grunge days; Rock Shox made the first front suspension forks for mountain bikes in the early ’90’s (I have one on my 1994 Cannondale). Cycle News was a motorcycle magazine, back when they used to publish those. That Just Say No sticker is late 80’s. B&M, Wiseco, Bell, and Crane stickers are on every toolbox from here to Alaska.
Here’s the first in a series of videos by a guy who pulled a family-owned Scout out of a field, drained the gas tank, and fired it right up after five years (I might have pre-oiled the cylinders first, but that’s just me):
Related to this, Anything Scout is making a series of videos about how to find a Scout and what to look for. It’s based on what they look for in a donor for his restorations (they are the guys behind New Legend 4X4, who are the leader in top-dollar ICON-style restomods) so they’re particular about what they are looking for, but there’s some good information in there.
More specifically, this is one they did about how to look for a Scout II:
I’m going to be adding some fog lights to Peer Pressure in the next couple of months. In a strange bit of coincidence, a link to this video by Holley popped up in my feed on how to wire a relay in an automotive application:
Not that I’d do this right now, but this is an interesting article, with links and estimates, on how to set up a car with permanent solar panels, an inverter, and a battery.
That was fast. This 45-lb. beauty showed up on my doorstep this afternoon, and being that it’s 60˚ outside, I had to go out, unbolt the stock bumper, and do a test fit. It looks fantastic, and the workmanship is excellent—better than I was expecting, actually. The clevis mounts aren’t flush-welded—they go all the way through to the back of the bumper through two holes and are welded on each side. The welds are clean and tidy. The bull bar doesn’t stick out too far, something I was afraid of.
It’s raw metal, so I have to pull it back off and bring it inside so it doesn’t flash rust. Then I can weld on some lamp mounts, drill and tap license plate holes, clean it good, and spray it with some black paint.