I’m not on Facebook much, but I jumped on there the other day, following a link from somewhere else. On the Super Scout Specialists page they announced that the next Nationals will be in 2021, skipping next year for the Harvester Homecoming, which is held a little further west in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve got mixed feelings about this, as we had such a blast this year, but my family has tentative plans for a long vacation next year that might impact a trip to Ohio anyway.
While we were out there, I talked to Bennett about the historic license plates he has on his D Series truck, and learned that it’s a $25 one-time fee to switch from current Maryland plates to a set of antique plates correct for the year of your vehicle—if you can find them. The local antique store in town had a bin with about 20 different plates, in pairs and in singles, and I found a clean set of 1976-era plates for a total of $15. This is a screaming good deal, as eBay’s average price for two is about $60. I could have gone with Bicentennial plates but I didn’t like the look of them—red lettering over a white plate will look better with a dark purple paint job.
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.
Peer Pressure has been running strong and smooth the last couple of weeks; I’ve had her out every weekend since the top came off. She’s hauled bags of dirt and mulch from the store, garbage to the dump, and run multiple errands around town—basically whenever I have an excuse to go out and get something. I’ve been poor at shooting any pictures, because I haven’t ranged far from home, so the sights are all the same. But I’ve got some plans for her in the next couple of weeks, stuff that’s making me excited. The first thing is replacing the old radiator with the new aluminum unit I bought back in March.
This should be a straightforward procedure. I don’t have any extra cooling gear hooked up to what’s there right now (no transmission cooler, although adding one eventually would be a wise move) so it should be a matter of draining the block, pulling the hoses, detaching the shroud and shroud mount, and unbolting it from the body. Hopefully it’ll pull out without any fuss. Next I flush the block with a kit I bought and clean everything out. Then I put the new unit in and bolt everything back into place. Hopefully the shroud I fabricated will install with little fuss; if anything I’ll have to drill two new holes to adjust for the new radiator. I’ve got this coming Saturday blocked off to accomplish this, and I hope it goes smoothly.
Second, I’ve got an appointment with an alignment/front end shop over on the East side of town to put the caster shims in, as well as go over the front end and tell me what’s in need of repair. This will happen in two weeks, and I’m going to wait there while they work on it. Hopefully we won’t need to order out for any parts, but you never know. I have a feeling they’re going to find some bushings and other parts that are worn, and that will almost certainly require new parts. In which case I’ll just Uber home and wait for the work to be done.
With those two things completed I’ll feel much better about a drive out to Ohio for Nationals this year. I’m really hoping the caster shims help out the handling issues, because I miss having a Scout that tracks straight. If things don’t improve dramatically, I’m going to start saving up for some 16″ steel wheels I can mount a skinnier tire on, and I’ll have to take a loss on the wheel/tire combo I’m running right now. But that will come next year.
After several unsuccessful months of listing my tires on Craigslist, I finally got someone to come through with a real offer. Since August of last year, I’ve had several people inquire and then flake out, which isn’t really anything new for CL. I had one dude offer, then flake out, then pop up a week later offering $50 less, for months at a time. I was never that desperate to get rid of them, so I didn’t pay much attention to him. But it was slightly annoying.
This morning a guy stopped at the house to pick them up (thus allowing me to avoid driving up to Timonium to deliver them for an extra $20) and after a brief once-over and exchange of Benjamins we loaded them up into his truck. He’s got a YJ with some tiny little tires on it, and he sent me a picture of it after he’d had them mounted and installed.
Not too bad, although I dislike YJs intensely.
With that sale, I recouped 1/3 the original purchase price of the Scout. To celebrate, I ordered a new 3-core Champion aluminum radiator and an upper and lower hose. My cooling system has been ignored since I bought the truck, so it’s high time to look it over and improve. I’m going to buy a flush kit to clean out the cooling passages, drop the new unit in place, and finally get it hooked up to the overflow tank (the nipple on the side of the port came unbrazed and the overflow tube hasn’t been connected in 8 years). One thing I have to research is how much differently the aluminum unit is from the stock radiator; I’ve got to be able to install my fan shroud extender on the new unit and I have no idea if there are any bolt holes supplied.
So I got to thinking yesterday about our upcoming trip to the IH Nationals in Ohio. I’ve owned Scouts for over 20 years and never made it out there to the Big Event, only the East Coast regionals at Carlisle twice, once with Chewbacca and once with Peer Pressure. I am as hesitant to go to Ohio for the same reasons I was hesitant to take her to the Eastern Shore: Something could happen. She could break down in any one of a million ways. We could get rained on the whole way out there (not the end of the world, but my wipers only have one setting: SLOW).
But as I thought, I realized I was holding myself back for some pretty dumb reasons. The 270-mile trip to the Eastern Shore was as good a shakedown cruise as I’m ever going to get for a 7-hour trip to Ohio. I’ll be with Brian, who will provide humor and good judgement should something go wrong. I’ll be on a major route that’s sure to be transited by other IH fans on the same journey. I’ll be surrounded by experts who can help diagnose and repair pretty much any issue I may have once we get there. I’ve got new tires on the truck that are much kinder than the ones they replaced. I’ve got newer, better insurance with a solid towing package.
I texted Brian in the middle of the day and told him what I was thinking and he helped talk me into it.
Today I made an appointment to have the alignment done on Friday morning at 8:15, which means I should be able to get on the road by 9. My hope is that it will solve the wandering issue and even out the wear on the tires. I’m going to bring the four Mud-Terrains and see if I can sell them while I’m at the show, along with an automatic transmission cover, a center console, and a spare set of Kayline bows I’ve had sitting in the garage for years.
Meanwhile I’m making a list of all the other crap I need to bring along:
- Fluids: antifreeze, brake fluid, ATF, water
- Spare hoses and hose clamps
- Bikini top for the journey
- Anxiety medication.
So, with major travel and vacation in the rear-view mirror, the next things on the to-do list are:
Insure Peer Pressure through Hagerty for a fixed replacement price. This has been long overdue.
- Fix the driver’s side manifold-to-exhaust leak. I need to source two copper bolts like I did for the passenger’s side, and find some patience when I try to pull the old ones off.
New road-going tires. This has been something long-delayed but when I get the first couple of teaching paychecks in hand, I’m going to spend it on five new tires and sell the four that are on the truck now.
- Sandblast one of the spare windshields to get it ready for welding repairs, primer, and paint. I’d like to get one of them prepped and have new glass installed so that I can pull the one on the truck off and put a clean one in its place.
Now that Brian is finishing up work on his house and it’s getting warmer, the hunt for a new Scout has begun. He’ll have a garage to put it in shortly, so we’re casting about to see what’s available in the Mid-Atlantic region.
His needs are pretty simple: He’d like a running, driving Scout with minimal required bodywork. In reality, we could find him an inoperative example and have the mechanical stuff done easily; the body is the most important part of the equation, and that’s hard to find these days, as mentioned before.
I spied a shiny silver Scout on Craigslist late last week and shot him a text, and he contacted the seller immediately. Online, it looked great: a new engine, a soft top, decent body panels, and the price was fair. On closer inspection the pictures showed the issues that the seller did disclose: the door panels looked toasty, there was some visible rust in other areas, the pillars around tailgate were wider at the top by about 1/2″, etc. We knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but we had to do our due diligence.
We met up in Federal Hill and found the truck parked on the street. The seller was running late so we had about 45 minutes to go over it by ourselves with no pressure, and what we saw got more disappointing as we looked closer.
I should stop here and say that this was probably the best-looking Scout I’ve seen since Peer Pressure. For an east coast Scout it was in fantastic shape. But for Brian it was past the point of “easy project” and firmly at “involved overhaul.” In terms of real-world rigs it wasn’t at end-stage Chewbacca level (running roughly, doors sagging, floor shot, body mounts toasty) but it needed a lot of TLC to get right. Both doors were pretty much shot. The windshield cowl was toasty on both sides. The inner fenders were crispy and the driver’s outer fender was on its way out. The interior was a mishmash of poorly attempted fixes and bad ideas: the front seats were captain’s chairs cut out of some kind of customized van and bolted to the Scout floorpan.
But it did have its pluses; the floors were all solid inside and underneath, the engine was brand new and purred like a kitten, it had a $1,000 soft top installed, with a hard top that came along with it. It was a good platform for a sympathetic restore that wouldn’t be impossible to do (see: Chewbacca) and he’ll get the money he’s asking for it.
We talked with the seller for a while and went over the history, asked a couple of questions, and had him start it up. Brian went for a spin around the block while I chatted with the seller, and on his return Brian basically told him thanks but he wasn’t interested.
We hadn’t gotten our hopes up too high, so the letdown wasn’t bad; we continued down Fort Avenue and got some tacos and a beer to drown our momentary sorrow. There will be other Scouts out there, and we will find Brian the right one.
A text conversation today with Mr. Scout reminded me that I wrote this back in July but never posted it. For posterity’s sake, here we go: I happened upon a new Scout to the neighborhood and stopped to check it out.
Looking it over, I noticed it was sitting on more street-focused tires mounted on stock rims, and I liked the look of them. I’ve been thinking for a long time about switching out the Mud Terrains I’ve got for something quieter and more comfortable, given that my driving is mainly on-road. It was for this reason that I bought a set of four wheels from Brian H. a few years ago–dry-rotted tires on a set of freshly powder-coated steelies.
My hope was to put a narrower set of tires on her, something with a smoother ride but equal height, but it’s impossible to find anything narrower than 11.5″ wide at anything above 29″ tall unless I want an even more aggressive tread.
This Scout is on General Grabber AT2’s at LT33X12.5R15, which is wider than I was considering but taller than I expected. His Scout was sitting on a comparable lift and the size in the wells looked right (I’m trying to avoid putting tiny tires on a tall truck). They are also reasonably affordable vs. comparable BFGoodrich or Goodyear tires in the same size. I’m not in a financial position to buy them outright, but I think I could sell the Mud Terrains on Peer Pressure minus rims and make some of that money back this spring.
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.