I topped off the fluids in the Scout on Saturday, put the spare tire back in, and put the bikini top on in preparation for our trip to Ohio on Wednesday evening. Our plan is to meet up at my place, where Brian will drive in from Delaware, Ray will come down from Pennsylvania, and Bennett will drive over from Columbia. We’ll split the two passengers among us and drive out to Brian’s cabin in WVA to overnight, then continue on in the morning from there. It should cut about 2 hours off of the overall commute.
While I was farting around in the engine bay I remembered that the mounting holes on my radiator overflow tank were broken and looked through my stash for a spare. Luckily I’d pulled one off the Scout I parted out in Wheaton 10 years ago, and it was in excellent shape. I spent 10 minutes with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers swapping them out.
Speaking of parts scouts, this ad showed up on Craigslist this morning. A guy is selling a ran-when-parked Scout and a second “clean body” for a total of $6,000. Before I get into a back-in-my-day rant, I’d like to wish this guy luck; if he can get $6,000 for these trucks, more power to him. But even with the inflated prices Scouts are beginning to command, that price for these trucks is astronomical. $6K should fetch a running vehicle and a donor body with a clean title. If this guy spent a day cleaning up the red truck and getting it running, he’d have a much better chance of selling both. As they sit, I’d give him maybe $1500 tops and offer to haul them away.
The Scout is finally home after two weeks in Essex having the rear driveline worked on. The issue, as mentioned before, was that the rear U-joint was beginning to disintegrate, taking the yoke and driveshaft along with it (and in the process one of the rear brake cylinders). The shop rebuilt the U-joint and yoke, had the driveshaft rebalanced, and repaired the rear brake line.
Jen drove me out to Essex this morning and we picked it up; the transmission shop (Jim Jennings, who I recommend highly) provided some pictures of the damaged parts before sending me on my way.
The work made a huge difference in how she drives. Shifting into and out of gear is smooth and crisp again, and the repair to the brakes also made a big change in how she stops at speed.
So, that’s good news. I’m going to clean her up and get things ready for the drive to Ohio, which means stocking up on oil, coolant, and ATF. I did smell coolant on my way home from Essex this morning, so I’ve got to look over the coolant system and see how full the radiator is (and if the overflow tank is pulling correctly).
I also called a company in Columbia to inquire into adding a kill switch sometime in the future; they figure it’ll take about an hour and be a pretty simple procedure. Scouts are getting more and more desirable, and I’m conscious that it’s a rare vehicle with a 1970’s-era ignition lock and no roof. And opening the hood to pull the coil wire all the time can be a drag.
The word from the transmission shop is that the problem is not actually the transmission: it’s the rear driveshaft/U joint. Apparently it was in such bad shape the U joint had almost disintegrated and the driveshaft is out of balance. So the shop is rebuilding the joint, sending the driveshaft out for service, and putting everything back together. It’s going to be expensive to fix, but when compared to the cost of rebuilding the transmission, it’s a fraction of the cost I was expecting I’d have to pay.
Peer Pressure rolled out of the Jiffy Lube on Saturday morning with new oil in the engine, pumpkins, and transmission, and… the transmission still sounds shitty. I was hoping $30 of new 50wt. racing oil would quiet the chattering in the box, but it was not to be. So, I called a transmission shop on the other side of town, who come highly recommended (who also replaced the throwout bearing in my Mazda B2000 about 25 years ago) and talked to the owner, who could not have been more accommodating. When I told him my situation (upcoming vacation, IH Nationals in early August) he told me to bring it in Friday before we leave town and he’d put it in a covered storage facility across the street where he keeps street rods and other customer vehicles that can’t be outside. While we’re away he’s going to look it over and let me know what’s going on. It’s not going to be cheap, but I’ll feel better driving 500 miles after the pros fix it correctly.
Look what showed up in my Amazon Prime box this afternoon: an AMT Scout model.
I’m going to tuck this away for the cold winter months when I can’t get in the Scout and drive it.
Meanwhile, I’m looking at getting Peer Pressure in to the local Jiffy Lube for a fluid change this weekend. She’s only had about 12,000 miles on her since I bought her, but the last change was in 2012 and the transmission is beginning to make a disturbing clunk between 3rd and 4th gear. It could just be low gear oil, or it could be that the transmission is slipping. I’m going to try the $100 fix first before I have to deal with a $1000 rebuild, and we’ll see how that goes.
After some back and forth and miscommunication, I dropped the Scout off across town this morning for caster correction surgery. I was a little nervous after the initial efforts failed, but I trusted the online reviews and an hourlong conversation with the owner in April and handed them the keys. At about 10:30 they called and the mechanic had an honest conversation with me: He said he’d worked on many different lifted trucks and because the tires were the size they were, he couldn’t promise the correctors would do much, especially as he figured it would take two hours a side to get them in. I figured I was in for a penny, in for a pound, and told him to go ahead anyway.
They got back to me at about 2:30 and said it had taken a lot less time than they figured—only one hour per side. He took it out on the road for a test run and said the tracking was much better, and that he was surprised at what a difference it made.
On the ride home, I noticed a big difference in the way she handled at speed. Where before every bump sent the wheels in a different direction, and expansion joints unloaded the suspension and sent the whole truck sailing on a random course, the steering is staying straight and true. Before, I spent a lot of time anticipating what I thought the truck would do and adjusting for it, which made for some white-knuckle driving. Now the small stuff is negligible and the expansion joints are tolerable. Because I was on mostly elevated highway around Baltimore I didn’t have a lot of flat straight sections to test the hands-off results on, but what I did try was straight and true.
It’s not perfect; the only thing that’s going to fix everything is a taller wheel and a thinner tire. But that’s something I’m not going to spend money on this year.
It’s the cleanest thing on the Scout, and it’s hidden in the engine compartment.
Saturday morning I made a pile of hash browns for the family, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran a bunch of tools out to the garage to get a long-awaited project started: installing a new aluminum radiator.
I’m always conscious of starting projects that I might not be able to finish in a weekend, and this time I was under the added pressure to getting it done by the afternoon, because we had family plans for Sunday. Additionally, I’ve got an appointment next Saturday across town to have the caster correctors installed, so I wanted to have everything road tested and ready. I have anxiety about having a broken-down truck sitting in the driveway with an appointment on the horizon.
First, I drained the coolant. It came out relatively clean, a little milky from age but not black. I got about two and a half gallons out from the stopcock and the lower rad hose into an old cat litter pan. Then I pulled the lower hose and the upper hose, disconnected the shroud mount and pulled that apart into two sections, and loosened the body bolts. Everything came off smoothly; nothing needed PB Blaster (although I used it) to get started, which was a blessing.
Once that was done, the old radiator came out easily. The bottom was getting corroded but it wasn’t as bad as my spare, where the bottom rail is disconnected from the frame.
Then I pulled the new one out of the box and slid it right in place—this time I stood and straddled the fenders to drop it in from the top. Hand-tightening the body bolts, I put new hoses on above and below. The lower hose needed a 2″ trim to avoid a bad kink in the bendy section but other than that they both slid right on. Next I hooked up the overflow tank for the first time since I’ve owned it: the old radiator was missing the brazed nipple on the cap valve. Then I installed and adjusted the shroud mount and shroud itself, tightened the body bolts down, and checked all of the fittings.
The only thing I didn’t have were two blockoff bolts for the automatic transmission inlet/outlet, so I ran around town to find a set and found them at Advance. They’re brass but I wrapped them in Teflon tape and tightened them into place.
Finally, I put about 2 1/2 gallons of new 50/50 antifreeze in the system, topped off the overflow tank (I need a new one, because the plastic mounting brackets have both snapped off), said a prayer, and started her up. I idled in the driveway for 15 minutes, pausing only to cap off the radiator once the bubbles stopped, and let her get up to temperature.
I had to stop at that point for dinner and other family stuff, so Sunday morning I took a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood to shake the hoses around and see how things held up. I chose a route that featured lousy roads (there are no shortage of those) and lights to stop at and some long stretches and banged her around a bit, and I didn’t see any leaks or steam. The temp gauge stayed pegged to the left side of the horizontal bar. Success!
Should I have flushed the system while I had it open? probably. In the fall I’ll have Jiffy Lube do it for me when I get the oil changed. Could I have saved money mixing antifreeze myself? definitely. But I was in a hurry and I had nothing else to mix it in.
Special thanks go to my pop, whose tools I inherited, which made everything much, much easier. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.