My Scout friends came back on Sunday to help me button up the rear drum brakes on Peer Pressure. When last we left off, we’d put new pads and hoses on the front discs but when we pressurized the system one of the rear cylinders blew out under the increased pressure from the hydro-boost. It was getting late, and everyone was tired, so we agreed to meet again to finish it up. In the week following I bought a new set of drums to match the shoes I got with the Scout, as well as a full spring kit and two adjustable valves.
Bennett and Dennis came by in the early afternoon, bundled up for the freakishly cold weather (the day before, it had been sunny in the high 80’s) and we set to work. First we jacked up the rear and put the axle on jack stands. Then we pulled both wheels. I told Dennis I’d never done drums before, only discs, so he sat with me on one side while Bennett had the other side to himself. We pounded and pried off the drum on the driver’s side, mangling one of the clips in the process, and tore down the drum.
Dennis stepped me through the rebuild process patiently until we got to the clip that had been mangled, and then I had to get on the phone to find a new one. Luckily a local parts store had the kit we needed in stock, so we ran out to grab it.
I had inherited a set of brake shoes when I bought the truck, so it was a bit of a toss-up whether they would fit in the drums I got from NAPA. It turned out I needn’t have worried, and they went in without a hitch. Somehow Bennett got his side’s clips, springs, notches and pins aligned correctly and installed before Dennis and I did.
The shoes on the truck were still in excellent shape (as were the drums, actually) but we replaced everything while we had it open. Bennett had to reflare both brake lines because the fittings had rusted to the cylinder, which took time. Then we bled the whole system out, reflared a leaky fitting, and bled it again. At that point everything was holding pressure so Dennis fixed the brake light switch and we opened the barn doors for a test ride.
The difference is immediate and dramatic. The pedal throw is similar but the brakes dig in and hold a lot faster than they ever did before; the whole truck comes to a stop much faster and with purpose while the old system took a lot of frantic stomping and swearing to work. It’s going to take some getting used to, but that’s the kind of progress I like. It’s great to finally have this project completed.
I’m continually amazed and humbled at the generosity and patience of my friends, and I am thankful for their time and expertise. And they’re a lot of fun to hang out with. I really don’t know how I would pursue this hobby without them.
Last night’s cold and gusty weather continued into today, freshly piled leaves cluttering up all the places I’d raked in the rain last weekend. I had guests coming to the ghetto garage, so I tried to church it up as much as possible. Ray arrived from PA early, and stopped to pick up coffee and donuts for me. Bennett arrived soon after, and then Brian, Dennis, Brian H, Carl, and Alan. We stood around and shot the shit for a little while, and then dove into our list.
The Hydroboost unit went in with little fuss, although I can’t take any credit because I wasn’t doing much of the work. Bennett, Ray and Dennis are the subject matter experts, so the rest of us sort of stood around in my crowded little garage and watched as they worked their magic. Bennett pulled the battery, removed the stock brake booster and cleared the lines.
Ray set up the aluminum standoff block and drilled new holes in the Astro mounting plate while Dennis pulled the assembly under the dash apart. Within an hour the main unit was bolted in place and the hoses were run. There was some concern over the hard lines going from the pump to proportioning valve but Bennett showed his skill with a flare tool and had new ones bent and fitted in an hour.
While we had the brake system pulled apart, it made sense to pull the wheels and go through the brakes. However, NAPA failed me on Thursday and did not put my order through for pickup on Friday, so the pads, calipers, cylinders and other parts I’d ordered never arrived. Bennett raided his considerable parts stash and brought a new set of front pads, but when we pulled the front wheels off and looked at the calipers (and banged on them with a hammer) it was clear we would need replacements. I started working the phone, and a different NAPA came through for us. Somewhat stalled, we took a break for lunch at the local diner, and by the time we were done the parts were waiting for us.
Back in the garage the new calipers went on smoothly, and we bled the brake system from the front to the back. A few adjustments to the pedal were made, a legacy vacuum hose to the old booster was plugged, power steering fluid was procured and added, and the truck was idling smoothly with no squealing from the pump. However, Brian noticed the rear passenger brake started leaking heavily, so we shut the truck back down again. Apparently the brake cylinder blew up with the increase in pressure from the pump.
It was 6PM, getting cold, and already dark, so we called it a day at that point. I’ve got a list of parts to buy for the rear brakes–mainly a spring refit kit and two new soft brake lines, because I have shoes and bought cylinders today. We’ll pick up part two in a couple of weeks.
I got a really nice letter from Bennett, one of my local Scout friends, when I was laid up last month. He offered to get our local group of IH guys together and get some work done on Peer Pressure while I was laid up, the generosity of which blew me away. We set up a date in early March and he had me put together a list of stuff I’d like to tackle: Hydroboost, fuel sender, and maybe something else if we have the time.
The Hydroboost project involves removing the big stock brake booster and replacing it with a GM hydraulic unit sourced from an Astro van and hooking it into the power steering pump. What this does is improve overall braking power, allow for added stopping power in the event of an engine shutoff, and make more room in the engine bay. Back in 2013 I assembled all of the parts but stalled out, because I don’t trust myself enough to follow the sparse instructions found online or bleed the brake system correctly by myself.
Clockwise, from upper left: Astro brake unit, power steering hoses, power steering adaptors, aluminum standoff block, brass fittings.
So I’m sending this photo over to Bennett and Ray, the acknowledged experts, to make sure I’ve got everything I need. I’ve got to pick up new brake fluid for sure, but hopefully everything else is correct.
We had a real nice turnout for our Maryland meetup last night, although Brian and I were the only ones to show up in a Scout. Erik and Brian came over from the Eastern Shore, and our two Brians came even though they don’t currently own IH. Bennett surprised Brian with a check from partial proceeds of the auction at Nationals this year, which was super cool of everybody there. We caught up over beers, told stories, and made tentative plans to get together in the fall.
This is Chewbacca as they dragged her out of Brian’s garage. God, what a sad sight.
The local Scout guys are getting together next week to catch up, which will be great–I haven’t seen anyone in over a year. I’m hoping a few of the guys I haven’t met yet will show up. There’s Dwight, who lives right near the train station I use, who has a pretty green Terra. I’m going to send another email to the guy with the diesel Traveler I saw last month. And, there’s another new Scout in our neighborhood, under a tarp by the high school. I’ve stopped over there a couple of times but it’s always under cover. I’m going to ring the doorbell this weekend and see if the owner is home and likes beer.
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.
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.
Saturday I drove over to Brian’s house to join a bunch of guys helping him transplant a refreshed 345 into his Wagonmaster. The morning was gray, and I tried every rationalization I could to drive Peer Pressure over with my Hydroboost parts to see if I could have some of the experts help me install it. As I was loading up, rain started to fall and the radar showed a huge front moving in, so I switched to the Honda and begrudgingly drove over.
Almost everybody else had the same strategy I did, because there were only two other Internationals there out of twelve guys.
I stood around and soaked in as much of the knowledge as I could, offering help, a flashlight, or spare hand wherever I could. I’m not experienced enough by years to attempt a transplant myself, but seeing these guys do it so quickly is an inspiration.
By noon the engine was mated to the transmission and in the truck, and as I left at 3:30 the carb, AC, distributor, starter, and alternator were all installed.
Via a Facebook post later in the day, they got it running at about 6:30 that evening. Not bad!
Mike in Colorado sent me a nice big box full of weatherstripping seals for my Traveltop, which I’m very, very excited about. As stated before, I’ve got to get some Eastwood encapsulator and treat the rails before I put new windows in, but before I tackle that, I’ve got to get lighting in the garage sorted out. I looked at some new fluorescent fixtures at the Lowe’s last night and realized I don’t have to buy anything new: all I’ve got to do is wire outlets into the ceiling and plug my existing lights in. I’ll have extra outlets if I need something overhead (it’ll be on a switched wire, but that’s OK) and I’m not out $100 in materials. I am, however, sending Mike a check for the rubber.
Having finally brought wired power to the garage, I thought it would be a good idea to add a battery conditioner to help the Scout make it through the winter. I generally get out and start her up every weekend during the snowy months to keep systems lubed and working (three of the saddest words in the English language are ran when parked) and there have been some days when I’ve needed to pull one of the Hondas up to jump the battery. I found an inexpensive battery conditioner on Amazon and got it delivered a few weeks ago. It’s meant to keep the battery topped off, which is just what I need.
I heard from our friend Mike in Colorado after a long quiet spell, who has been driving his shiny Scout daily after rebuilding it from the ground up. He offered me a spare set of traveltop window seals he’s got sitting in his garage, which is fantastic timing. I’ve been eyeballing my traveltop in the garage, thinking it would be wise to get it back on the truck before things get really cold. I’ve got experience putting a traveltop on in December in a chicken barn as the sun was setting, and as the last three or four bolts went in my fingers went numb.
My top has solid side windows but I’ve got a set of sliders from the crappy top I chopped up in the backyard, and the seals they came with are OK but not new. One of my goals before it goes on is to knock down and shoot the rust inside along the bed rails with some Eastwood encapsulator and then cover them with etching primer. It’s in great shape overall but there are a bunch of inexplicable screw holes on the roof that need to be welded shut–something I’d like to test out a new welding rig on.