I stopped in to the Harbor Freight and picked up the cheapest auto-darkening helmet they had along with some small welding magnets, but the guy at our local Home Depot rental counter looked confused when I told him they offered welders on the website, and assured me they didn’t have any. So I’ll have to take a day off, go to our rental outlet, which isn’t open on weekends, and get one there.
Sunday was supposed to be wet all day but shaped up to be sunny and warm, so I took advantage of it and pulled the roof off the truck. This year I’m modifying the setup in the garage a little to move the top backwards so that I can pull the truck in a little further, but I need another set of ratchet straps and a 2×3″ to finish it up. We then took a ride to the Home Depot with the top off and the entire family enjoyed the sunshine. I didn’t have time to pull out any of the soft top hardware and install it, so next weekend I have to decide which color I want this spring: black, nutmeg, or tan?
Otherwise, she’s running smoothly. There’s an intermittent squeal from the power steering belt that alarms me, so I’ll put some belt dressing on that to see if it helps at all. The manifold bolt I replaced makes a huge difference in the engine note; everything is much quieter now. She is being a little finicky on hot starts—it takes some cranking to get her to catch, which tells me there’s something in the carb that needs adjusting.
I saw this in the usual crop of sale listings and laughed my head off. This is like a time capsule of late ’80’s early ’90’s influences.
Jawbreaker was/is a seminal punk band from the Grunge days; Rock Shox made the first front suspension forks for mountain bikes in the early ’90’s (I have one on my 1994 Cannondale). Cycle News was a motorcycle magazine, back when they used to publish those. That Just Say No sticker is late 80’s. B&M, Wiseco, Bell, and Crane stickers are on every toolbox from here to Alaska.
A few weeks ago, during a weekly Craigslist/Marketplace survey, I spied a chewed up a dogdish International hubcap in the foreground of a photo. I reached out to the seller to see what the rest of them looked like. He sent me back some pictures, which revealed the condition I was expecting: well-used but still mostly intact.
This design normally comes in two pairs—two solid and two with a hole in the center, but someone widened the donut pair roughly to fit over locking hubs. Those are pretty much garbage. The solid ones are dented but might shine up nice, and for the price I offered they were a bargain; I paid more in shipping than I did for the whole set. I washed them in the work sink and used a rubber-covered wrench to pop most of the large dents out of the two solid ones. I bought them to display, but I can always pick up some inexpensive clock kits and make something useful out of them too.
I have a little notebook in the console of the Scout where I record the mileage every time I put gas in the tank. I started doing this back in 2014 when I wanted to figure out the MPG, and it’s been super valuable to sort out all kinds of other things beyond quantifying how thirsty Peer Pressure is. I took her out today for a quick run to the grocery store before the snow flies this coming week. When I came back inside I brought the book in and plugged the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. The graph it produced was a little surprising.
|Total Yearly Miles||Miles Minus Nats|
The dip during 2017 makes sense, as I was out of commission from September of that year until about March of 2018 with chemo, surgery, and recovery. I took her 275 miles to the Eastern Shore and back for a camping trip in 2018. Later that year we drove out to Nationals, which accounted for roughly 1,000 miles, and in 2019 we went back. In 2020 I was home every day and thus drove the Scout everywhere. I think I put about 20 miles on the Honda last year. I wonder why I only drove the truck 243 miles in 2016?
I also updated the spreadsheet where I capture costs—for everything like parts, repairs, and incidentals minus gas, and the average cost per year is at $436. I do actually capture gas costs in the mileage book, and maybe if I’m motivated this week I’ll go back out, get the book, and plug that into the spreadsheet.
Meanwhile, there’s a local guy with two trucks on Craigslist, one whole package and one for parts. I inquired about the fender flares on the parts truck but he said he was keeping those. I told him I’d be interested in coming out to see what’s left after the snow melts—I’m still interested in a spare set of locking hubs to put on the shelf, as well as a heater core I can refurbish on the workbench while the snow flies outside.
As mentioned elsewhere, Finn and I put about 70 miles on the Scout this weekend looking for a Christmas bike. Pulling in to the first bike store we were met by the saleslady who asked me if I’d like to trade the Scout for a bike before I could even say hello. Laughing, I told her I was going to have to turn her offer down. At the third bike store, the salesman told us he loved the way it looks and asked how well it ran.
I told him the truth; she’s running great and seems to bring good vibes wherever she goes.
I went to put the Scout back in the garage the other night after dark, and when I hit the running lights I was greeted with the lovely sight of all of the dash lights glowing brightly in front of me. There’s about a one in four chance of this happening at any given time, so this was a nice surprise.
Ford just announced their new Bronco this week, and I have to say I’m really admiring the look of it. As much as everyone claims they want a bare-bones model with no features at all, nobody would buy one, so the packages start at $28K and go top into the 60’s. I’d assume these will be $10K above list price for the first couple of years, as Ford pretty much knows they’ve got a winner on their hands. As long as they don’t fuck it up too badly, I see these selling like hotcakes.
My personal preference is for either the base-level model with 2.3 liter engine and 6-speed manual (the only way I’d buy one of these, frankly, is with a manual) or the next model up (the “Big Bend”). Optional packages would give us some features we’ve never had in a vehicle: two-door lock and unlock functionality, 110V/150W AC power outlet, ambient footwell lighting, dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, and heated front seats, among others.
In other Bronco-related news, Hemmings just ran an article about Ford’s attempt to redesign the Bronco in early 1971, and it’s fascinating to look at the pictures of what could have been and where they were looking for inspiration. They started with something that looked great to begin with and generated some of the ugliest redesigns I’ve ever seen. Nothing about the new concepts feels balanced, looks attractive, or works with any of their design cues from that era; the initial sketches have some of the DNA of the full-size trucks but as they looked at the competition (there’s a Scout poster in one of the photos, and later clay models are posed outside with a Range Rover and a Scout in the background) they smoothed the edges until it became a bland stick of butter. The grille treatments alone make me want to barf. They couldn’t figure out how to finish anything behind the A pillar—all of the tailgates look like dogshit—and the side profile looks smaller and more station-wagony as they go. I was always a fan of the 2nd gen Bronco (using the cab of the full-size pickups) so they eventually landed on their feet, but this is a horrifying could-have-been.
This old warhorse showed up on Craigslist this afternoon; $1500 for some rust held together with what looks like Glacier Blue paint. 4cyl/manual. It’s being sold by a dealer, so it’s more than likely they drug it out of a field somewhere and are advertising it to get some of those sweet sweet Icon dollars.
I would give them maybe $300 for this as it sits; I doubt anyone wants a blue interior, unless it’s got a tilt wheel. The engine is worthless but the transmission and running gear are valuable. And maybe the hubcaps.
I ran a bunch of errands in the Scout this weekend, taking advantage of the lovely 70˚ weather, and toward the end of Saturday I decided to pull the top off with Finn’s help. As with years past, it’s been getting easier and easier to pull off with practice, and we had the whole thing removed in a half an hour. The part that takes the most time is winching it up into the rafters, but even that went quicker than last year. The soft top is now in place, and Jen and I enjoyed a breezy drive out to the Home Depot on Sunday—life is good!
While at the HD I sourced a 8/32 hex head bolt and brought it home to fit into a spare rearview mirror. The one that Peer Pressure came with (bottom) is somewhat narrow and is beginning to delaminate at the top and the bottom, so I thought I’d replace it with a larger, cleaner one (top). The only drawback is that the replacement doesn’t have a daytime/nighttime refractor tab at the bottom—but I do about 2% of my Scout driving at night, so it really doesn’t matter much anyway.
We’ve made it through over a month of quarantine, and having been stuck in the house this long, I’m thinking more and more about driving and road trips and being outside in the sunshine behind the wheel of a wheezy rattling old truck. We originally had plans to drive out to the Harvester Homecoming this year, but given the current state of the virus, I wonder if that’s going to happen. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to the adventure.
With the eventual resumption of long road trips in mind, I’ve been thinking about locking security on the Scout. I’d like something larger and more spacious than the Tuffy, and something I could ideally put in and remove at will. Since the days when I was parking my Mazda pickup in Baltimore City, I’ve thought of a locking box of some kind with an open slot in the bottom that would accept a round loop welded to the bed of the truck. The loop would extend up into the box and lock in place with a padlock or some other device, and thus be attached to the truck from the inside. I’ve looked at mass-produced boxes for a while, but the majority of them are custom made for Jeeps and thus are engineered for specific uses and locations, like mounting under seats or across the back bed. Tuffy makes several standard boxes for basic applications, but they look either too small or too big for what I want to do.
The second problem is where to put it. There are specialty boxes made for Scouts that mount in the bed wall behind the rear wheel arch on the passenger side, but that’s where I’ve currently got my Rotopax, and until I get the fuel sender sorted out and the rear bumper rebuilt, my spare gas can isn’t going anywhere. The spare goes on the driver’s side most days, and especially on road trips. The next best logical solution would be directly behind the rear seat on the driver’s side, and it would ideally be large enough that I could stack something on top of it to use the space wisely. Something 12″H x 2″W x 2″D would be a good start: tall enough to hold a backpack, wide and deep enough to put other bins or boxes on top of. I normally keep basic stuff like engine oil, coolant, jumper cables and small parts in a milk crate in the back, but for longer trips with the top down I’d like to have someplace to secure a full toolset.
I’ve also been thinking about how to organize all of the tools, parts and recovery gear in some kind of bag or container so they’re easily carried and padded from vibration. The roll-up tool pouch I’ve got is great but there are a bunch of other things rattling around the bottom of the Tuffy, like a spare coil, distributor cap, ignition wires, plugs, and filters. I suppose the first order of business is to collect the recovery gear contents and then figure out how big a bag I need. Then I have to track down a locking box in the size and shape I want, and modify it to my needs.