Bennett and Brian were headed up to pick over a Traveler in a junkyard in Mt. Airy today, so I tagged along. It was already gone through pretty well, but after a few hours of effort, we got the right inner fender, driver’s door, power steering pump, and some other goodies off it. I grabbed the starter, a hub assembly, the oil pump, both valve covers, some decent door rubber, and a very clean headlight switch, among other things. Now we need to figure out how we’re getting the engine from Brian’s house to my garage.
As shown in the time-lapse I posted earlier, we made some serious progress on Bennett’s injection project. Brian stopped by my place at a little after 8, chilled from a top-down ride over the bridge in the white Scout, so I made him a cup of coffee and we got him warmed up before humping a cabinet up into the new bathroom and then hitting the road.
Bennett had an array of tables set up in the driveway with Brian H, and they’d organized parts but waited for us to arrive before tearing anything down.
The Brians crawled under the truck to start dropping the tank while Bennett and I looked over the instructions for the carb and began yanking hoses and linkage off his mud-caked Thermoquad.
Soon we had the intake open and clean and started test-fitting the mounting plate, got the new throttle-body mounted, and started working out the wiring.
In back, Brian braved buckets of mud and rust falling into his eyes to get the tank dropped and mount new hoses, then installed the fuel pump under the driver’s door.
After a quick lunch, we got back at it and re-hung the fuel tank while Bennett drilled a hole in the firewall to pass the new wiring loom through to the glove box. At about 3 Brian and I had to head out so that we could make it to the junkyard before closing, but we left Bennett in good shape with most of the heavy two-person tasks complete (re-mounting the fuel tank is a pain in the ASS).
At the junkyard, we were looking for an electric steering motor from a Prius, a Versa, or a Kia Soul to modify the manual steering he’s got in the white Scout. Crazy Ray’s was bought by a national conglomerate a while back (it’s been a year or two since I’ve been) which means they now have an app that lists the inventory at all of their yards (!!!) and the stock is all lifted up on welded steel rim jack stands. They’ve cleaned up the operation a ton and it’s much easier to find things now—they even provide rolling engine lifts.
We found the one Prius in the yard but the motor was already gone, so we moved on to the Versa. After some digging under the hood (I figured it would be at the end of the steering shaft in the engine compartment) I was ready to give up but Brian looked under the dashboard and realized it was integral to the steering column. Once we figured that out it was an easy thing to tear down the dash and pull the unit out.
We made it out of the yard at closing time, said our farewells, and headed home. Turns out we left some of the required parts behind—we needed to grab the control module and something else, so he’ll have to go back and grab those things this weekend.
One of the challenges and quirks of driving 50-year-old vehicle is that we are slaves to the fickle black magic of carburetion. Many carburetors before the 1970’s were simple devices with few moving parts, but as emissions and fuel economy standards were implemented by the government, engineers added all kinds of hoses and vacuum lines and secondary linkages on carburetors to eke every last molecule of economy out of them while they scrambled to update their ancient engine designs. My carburetor is one of the last evolutions of this need for economy and power: a Thermoquad, which looks like R2-D2 barfed up a mechanical hairball.
Electronic fuel injection finally came of age in the 1980s and made the mechanical complexities of carburetors obsolete. As carbureted engines are increasingly rare on the road, it’s getting harder to find mechanics who know how they work and what to do with them. It’s also a pain in the ass to get a carbureted engine started after a week of sitting.
So it’s with great interest that I’m headed to Bennett’s this weekend to help him install EFI on his Scout. He bought a premade kit from Hamilton Fuel Injection—the manufacturer whose tech seminar we attended at Nationals this year. It’s pricy to buy outright, but his reviews are impeccable and he tailors each kit to a specific IH engine, as well as helps tune the unit after it’s installed. I’m very curious to see how easy it goes in, and as I mentioned before, I’m seriously considering it as an upgrade to my engine.
Brian and I are also going to hit the junkyard to see if we can find an electric steering pump for his Scout, which came with manual steering from the factory. It’s been a long time since I’ve walked the rows at Crazy Ray’s so I’m looking forward to the day with anticipation.
About a month ago, Brian blew one of the cylinders on the front brakes of his shiny new Scout and decided it was best to just upgrade the entire thing from drums to discs instead of fixing the old technology. We local guys traded emails around to organize a work day, and settled on April 6. I loaded up Peer Pressure with some basic tools, stopped over to Bennett’s house to pick him up with a load of specialty tools (brake tools are exotic and having the right ones is the difference between a great Saturday and a miserable weekend), and then we headed across the bridge to Brian’s house. There we crawled over his new Scout ooohing and aaahhing at the shiny metal and clean mechanical bits before jacking it up on stands and breaking the wheels down.
Having done mine last year I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the process but getting his drums and backing plate off (he has a Dana 27 axle, the smaller cousin of the Dana 44) required removing the hubs. I’ve pulled several hubs off—the wrong way—so watching over Bennett’s shoulder on the passenger side was super handy. After he’d gotten halfway done I went over to the driver’s side and with Brian’s help we got that hub off ourselves. From there it took a little test fitting to put the caliper mounts in the right place, and suddenly the rotors were installed and in place. We kept joking that everything is much easier to work on when it’s not covered in 40-year-old grease and there isn’t rust falling in our eyes.
When we’d gotten the rotors and calipers on and the brake lines swapped out, we bled the system and Brian took it out for a test. It was still pretty spongy so we bled it again, and then a third time. It never did get as strong as a Scout II, which has a full size brake booster, and nowhere near the power of hydroboost, but it’s stopping straight and it feels good. It’s really a beautiful Scout. The guy he bought it from had excellent work done, and it’s about as close to a new Scout as I’ve ever seen. The engine (a 4-cylinder) purrs and there’s no oil on the engine at all.
By this time it was about 4, and even though I’d brought my radiator and a flush kit I knew it was too late to start on that. We sipped some beer and shot the breeze until about 5, and then packed up to head back home.
Bennett hasn’t been able to run Heavy D (his D-series pickup) because of a blown hub left over from some adventures at Pinelands, and mentioned that he was running up to Barnes IH for a replacement on Sunday. I remembered I had a spare I pulled from the Traveler we found in Mt. Airy back in 2013 and told him it was his for the taking. We also talked about the lovely ’66 Mustang sitting in his garage waiting for new brakes and I told him to name the date so that we could set up another work party.
Peer Pressure ran like a top the whole way out and the whole way back; about 160 miles. I did throw a quart of oil in her before I left and that made a huge difference in the sound and feel of the engine.
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.
To recap: In early January, I pulled two gray cloth seats from a junkyard 2004 PT Cruiser. All it took was a 13 and 11mm box wrench, and one disconnect for the seatbelt sensor. They aren’t light, but they’re lighter than seats from a 2001 model, which had integrated side airbags.
These have built-in side armrests that fold up out of the way. They interfere with the placement of my Tuffy console, so I’ll be removing them. The female side of the seatbelt is integrated into the side of the seat, so that will need to come off as well.
The slider rails are held together with a plate in the back. They are longer than stock Scout bases, but the width of the rails is perfect. Originally, I thought I was going to have to build extender plates for each of the bases to reach the front mount points because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get bolts to fit in between the slider rails. When I really looked it over, though, I realized I was going to have to drill a hole for a bolt between the rails anyway. I picked up some grade 8 stock and test fit everything to check the clearances, and it worked perfectly.
Here’s where the plastic comes off. a T50 Torx bit will remove the seatbelt anchor.
On the side, pry the cap off with a flathead screwdriver. A T45 bit will take off the armrest and a standoff that locks the arm into place. The driver’s side is backed with plastic, so the seat doesn’t look bad with the armrest gone. The passenger’s side doesn’t have it.
I’ve been using a spare set of bases to mock things up on, but they are both rusted at the bottoms enough that I wouldn’t put them back in service without welding in some serious support. I took a second look at the bases I had, with tracks welded to the top, and decided to try a little surgery with an angle grinder.
After some careful cutting I got the tracks off and ground the edges off to a smooth surface, then sanded all surface rust and scale off. Then I wiped everything down with acetone to clean off any oil or grease.
To attach the bases to the tracks, I used the stock bolts from the seat in the rear. There are two threaded bolt holes in the back. I used the one closest to the front, then marked the holes for the front bolts and drilled them. Then I used a set of 3/8″ x 1″ Grade 8 bolts threaded in from above to attach the front of the seats to the tracks. The seats slide cleanly.
The project got sidelined for a week while I waited for Eastwood to send me rust converter. I used a brush to put it on, but the next time I’m at Target I’m going to pick up a cheap spray bottle for application–it’s much easier that way. I hit everything I could see and let it sit for 48 hours.
Then all the bare metal got a coat of etching primer and two coats of Rustoleum satin black.
Then I attached the seats back on the bases and put the bases back into my Scout. Compared to 30-year-old Chrysler seats, 10-year-old Chrysler seats feel like they just rolled off the factory floor, even if they don’t exactly match the rest of the truck–but then, nothing matches on this truck.
Postscript: One other nice feature is the fact that the passenger seat folds completely forward. So transporting 10′ boards without resting them on the fabric cover of the console is easy.
One of the things I pulled off the junkyard Traveler last weekend, almost absent-mindedly, was the door rubber from both sides. I wasn’t even thinking about it when I first saw the truck, but as I worked around and inside the cab, I realized it was in very good shape. I’ve been looking for something to cut down on the door rattle on both sides, and having the air leaks plugged when the traveltop is on would be fantastic. I’ve got a set of rubber that came with the top I bought in the spring, but that’s all in one piece and I don’t want to cut it. This set looked great except for a few spots where it had deformed, so I didn’t feel bad about chopping it into smaller sections. I put a vertical strip down the A pillar from the top of the windshield to the dogleg and cut another vertical piece for the B pillar. The lip along the floor is still intact in some areas but there isn’t enough to justify covering it, so I left it. The driver’s door closes perfectly, but the passenger door, which has always been problematic, refuses to shut at all now due to the way it’s hung– inboard and toward the rear of the truck. The rubber is too thick between the edge of the door and the bottom of the A pillar. At some point I’m going to have to adjust it to fit better if I want door seals.
I ordered a set of thin stainless locknuts from Fastenal before our vacation and they arrived today. The replacement hardware I installed on the soft top bows works great, but the locknuts were just a little too fat to let the threads on the bolt reach the nylon, so they kept rattling themselves off. (Brian H. found this out the hard way on our way back from Mt. Airy this weekend). The new set works perfectly, allowing the bolts and bows to move freely but fasten tightly.
Peer Pressure is squirrelly. Suspension mods installed by the previous owner make the ride stiff; at highway speeds expansion joints and large bumps render the steering vague as the body floats up over the springs and back downward. Braking has gotten dicier since I bought the truck. Moderate pedal pressure these days sends the front and rear in different directions as the pads and calipers grab at different points.
Among the many repairs and upgrades I’d like to do is one of the (I’m told) easiest and most inexpensive improvements to the braking system: the Hydro-Boost. A system originally installed in GM products the world over, it’s an improvement on the old big round booster design Scouts were installed with, because it does away with vacuum-powered braking in favor of fluid power supplied by the power steering pump. It seems to be a pretty popular mod for a lot of vintage cars. Following a thread on the Just Internationals forum, I ventured out to the junkyard with my brother-in-law in search of an Astro Van with ABS brakes. We found four with and two without—the difference being the ones without ABS have the big round brake booster we’re looking to discard. I found an ABS Pontiac Safari already propped up on tires waiting for me, so early this morning I got to work.
I disconnected the hose running across the top, then the right-side hose that ran to the power steering pump. Thankfully, someone had already pulled the radiator, so I had a ton of room to work with.
The left-side hose running down underneath was very difficult to get off (I didn’t have metric wrenches) so I punted and cut the hose as close to the top of the metal line as I could. I used a pair of channel locks to snip the coiled metal hose running to and from the ABS computer (the big box directly below the hydroboost assembly) below the proportioning valve because those bolts were not coming off for love or money.
Finally, I crawled inside and used a long 15mm metric socket to take off four mounting bolts on the bracket. Hopefully other used Astros will be cleaner under the dash than mine was.
Then, a bunch of wrestling, tugging, pulling, and twisting got the whole assembly free. GM didn’t leave a lot of room in the engine bay to work with, so I removed the top fitting to clear the cowl and put it back on when I was done.
Stay tuned. Next I’m going to assemble all the parts needed to retrofit the assembly.
I got a Facebook message from Mike in Colorado the other day, who said he’d found a local junkyard and scored a pile of Scout badges for his resto project. He asked me if I needed anything, and I told him I was looking for a set myself; Peer Pressure was clean-shaven when I got her (minus one IH badge on the driver’s fender). Lo and behold, look what appeared on my doorstep yesterday afternoon:
The real miracle is that ALL of them still have their mounting posts. Getting pot-metal badges off without breaking them is something akin to magic; he was able to keep them all intact. Now I must find a suitable gift to send in return….
We’ve got plans to go see some friends this weekend, starting with a junkyard expedition somewhere on the east side of town. A fellow gearhead (with British and German proclivities) spotted a yard while driving with his daughter and asked if I’d like to go scope it out. While I’m there, I’m going to be looking for a good Astro van so that I can pull the entire brake booster assembly in order to do a Hydroboost conversion on Peer Pressure. When that might actually happen, I don’t know, but I’d like to have the parts for it stashed aside.
Update: Only one Astro was located, and the booster assembly was rusty enough that I passed on it.