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.
I follow a bunch of Scout people on Instagram, some of whom are prolific posters and use it to their advantage. Others are quieter but show off some good stuff. I’ve been aware of GRC Fabrication from the Binder Planet but haven’t really done much investigation of their products until I saw a post with their Scout II rollbar. It looks pretty good from the few pictures I can see, but I’d like to know how it mounts to the floor and where. If the front legs mount the same way the factory bar does (folding down the front of the step) and use the same bolt holes, I’d consider buying this to replace my rollbar–and adding rear seatbelt hookups for Finn. The price is right; I just want to know about the mounts and how strong the bars are.
…Nothing, really, has happened. Peer Pressure is running well, if a little rich, but she started right up all winter long and after a little bit of lifter tick the engine warms up and smooths out really quickly. I actually drove her a lot more this winter than most because we didn’t have as much snow, which meant less salt on the roads.
So let’s update the To Do list for 2017, in order of high-to-low probability:
Adjust the Tuffy console forward 2″. It still gets in the way of folding and tumbling the rear seat. I tried moving it forward last year but what I’m probably going to have to do is drill three new holes in the bottom of the console to get it in the right spot.
Adjusting the doors again. The striker on the passenger door doesn’t latch unless you slam that fucker shut.
Replace the windshield. It’s as difficult to see out the front of the truck as it was before. Thing is, I have no idea what shape the frame on the truck is in; I could take the current glass out and find the metal is completely shot. However, I’ve got two other frames in the garage that could be rustproofed, fixed, and painted. So the first step would be to pick one and rehab it.
Install the goddamn Hydroboost. Again, carried over from last year. I’m going to bribe Bennett with some beer and pizza and have him help me with this over the summer.
A new radiator? I thought this might be easy and relatively cheap but it’s not.
Option 1: a Champion Radiator, plus shroud and electric fans: $466. Ouch.
Option 2: an RnD radiator for $375. I have to check and see if my existing shrouds will fit.
Buy new road tires. Again, this is expensive. The trick is to find a narrow set of 32s so that it doesn’t look like I put toy wheels on. Seems like most 32s come 11.5″ or wider. Cooper Discoverers are very road-looking, while BFG T/A KO2s are more aggressive. I can actually get these from Amazon in 10.5“, but I don’t have $750 for that laying around yet. [BP search link]
As with last year, I’ve got a list of stuff I’d like to get accomplished this year. Last year’s list was pretty successful, in that I got most of it done or at least attempted, and it was handy to refer back to. So, this year’s list, in order of things that will most likely get done to the longshots:
Adjust the Tuffy console forward 2″. It gets in the way of folding and tumbling the rear seat. But that’s it. It’s just an annoying 2-person job.
Flip the rear seatbelts 180˚. I put them in backwards when I finished the bedliner project, and they are harder to feed through the seats. This is also an annoying 2-person job, or one guy and a vice grip. Done 7/15
Rebuild spare carb. It’s been sitting on my shelf for four years. I’d like to get a kit for it and have it ready and waiting.
Install Hydroboost. Yep, carried over from last year. I’m going to bribe Bennett with some beer and pizza and have him help me with this over the summer.
Replace the windshield. I priced out a new one from Safelite, and they are about $300. The gasket is another $70 from Super Scout Specialists.
The question is: is the frame on the truck in good enough shape, or should I sand and refinish one of my spares? Either way, the one I’ve got is a mess and it’s time for a replacement. Update: Turns out I’d forgotten I have good spare glass in the garage. I need to clean some black sealant off the edges, but overall it looks like it’s in good shape. So the plan is to clean the better of the two frames I’ve got, prime and paint it, and swap it out for the one I’ve got.
Buy kick panel sheet metal and doglegs. Just to have on hand. I’ve got a passenger’s front dogleg I hacked out of the brown forest Scout six years ago with a Sawzall; I just need to sand the paint off, drill the spotwelds out and separate it from the body metal.
Buy new road tires. The BFG’s I’ve got are in great shape and have lots of tread left. And they look cool. But they’re louder than a jet engine. I’ve got a set of stock 15″ steelies with dry-rotted tires I could mount a quieter road-going set on, and perhaps sell the M/T’s to someone who might use them. I’d like to keep my black wagon rims though. The trick is to find a narrow set of 32s so that it doesn’t look like I put toy wheels on. Seems like most 32s come 11.5″ or wider. Cooper Discoverers are very road-looking, while BFG T/A KO2s are more aggressive. I can actually get these from Amazon in 10.5“, but I don’t have $750 for that laying around yet. [BP search link]
Rebuild the top end of the spare engine. Far off in the future, but still something I’d like to start preparing for. First up is a decent stand to mount it on.
Looking over the sheet metal recently, I realized the inner kick panels are probably the worst area on Peer Pressure (that I can see). Super Scout Specialists has new kick panels for $60/ea. or $36/ea. for the lower halves. One of my wish list projects is to have these areas cut out and replaced with good metal. First I’ve got to go out and survey each area to see if I need full panels or if I can get away with buying half heights.
While I’m there, I’m going to preorder the International Scout Encyclopedia, which looks like it could be an interesting reference book.
I’ve always had a lot of projects planned for the Scout. I tend to research a particular improvement, gather the materials together to get the project started, and then wait patiently for the time to get it done. As a result I’ve got a ton of stuff laying around and no idea where to start (or what I’ve got, as some of the stuff has been laying around here for a while). So here’s an unordered, unfinished list to get everything out of my head and into one place: something else to consider is the money I’ve put into these projects without getting anything done. It’s time to make some progress before I buy anything else. So, without further preamble:
- Install new steering wheel. I’ve got the wheel and a puller. I’m stalled on this for time, and because the puller wasn’t working correctly; I need two longer grade 8 bolts to screw into the retainer plate to get the factory wheel off. I also want to replace the ignition lock barrel and the turn signal cam while I’m in there.
New side indicator lights. I’ve got one completed. I need to pull the headlight bucket out to reach the disconnect behind the inner fender so that I can unplug the original and replace it with the new one.Turns out the wiring I’ve got has no quick connector on the outside of the inner fender, so there’s no way to add the lights I’ve got without cutting and splicing my wires.
Mounting the Rotopax. I cut and prepared a metal backing plate for the inside of the inner fender.Done! Mounting new seats. I’ve got the seats. I need to repair or replace my bases, and drill into the seats to properly mount them to the bases. Then I can put them in. They need a good cleaning, too.Done!
- Hydroboost. I have the reservoir, the standoff plate, and all the hoses and fittings. I need someone who’s done it before to help me put it in.
Slider windows and weatherstripping. I have new seals and sliders sitting in the garage. I need some warm weather to loosen up the rubber and some Eastwood rust encapsulator to clean up the window openings.
- New side rail covers. I bought these last summer and haven’t had the balls to drill into them yet. They need to be primed and painted.
So unless some kind of miracle combination of time, money, or opportunity comes along and I inherit a car-sized paint booth, adopt an engine mechanic, or win the lottery, I’m going to try and get these jobs accomplished this year before I tackle anything else. That is, of course, if nothing breaks.
Finn and I spent some good time running errands with Finn in the Scout this weekend, and it reminded me that I need to order and install new rear seatbelts. They are original to the truck, as far as I know. Finn pulled the female clasp side off of the belt early in the fall, so I shifted her carseat behind the drivers’ side. I’d like to get something more modern and reliable, as well as male clips that reach a little further. The big pain in the ass will be crawling under the truck to put a pair of vice-grips on the tiedown bolt in the center of the bed; at the very least I’ve got to measure everything and figure out what I’ll need for a warm day’s project.
I’m also going to spend a little cash on these LED marker lights and modify them for use, based on this thread from the Binder Planet. Eventually all the lights will go to LEDs but for now I’ll start with this.
And, I asked Santa to bring me a Rotopax setup for the third year in a row, so here’s hoping this time’s the charm. I also put a Hi-Lift retainer donut on my list, as well as a velcro-based LED light for the rollbar.
Finally, I’ve got some time between Christmas and New Year’s to myself; I think I’m going to mosey down to Crazy Ray’s and see if I can find a decent pair of PT Cruiser seats.