Saturday morning I made a pile of hash browns for the family, cleaned up the kitchen, and ran a bunch of tools out to the garage to get a long-awaited project started: installing a new aluminum radiator.
I’m always conscious of starting projects that I might not be able to finish in a weekend, and this time I was under the added pressure to getting it done by the afternoon, because we had family plans for Sunday. Additionally, I’ve got an appointment next Saturday across town to have the caster correctors installed, so I wanted to have everything road tested and ready. I have anxiety about having a broken-down truck sitting in the driveway with an appointment on the horizon.
First, I drained the coolant. It came out relatively clean, a little milky from age but not black. I got about two and a half gallons out from the stopcock and the lower rad hose into an old cat litter pan. Then I pulled the lower hose and the upper hose, disconnected the shroud mount and pulled that apart into two sections, and loosened the body bolts. Everything came off smoothly; nothing needed PB Blaster (although I used it) to get started, which was a blessing.
Once that was done, the old radiator came out easily. The bottom was getting corroded but it wasn’t as bad as my spare, where the bottom rail is disconnected from the frame.
Then I pulled the new one out of the box and slid it right in place—this time I stood and straddled the fenders to drop it in from the top. Hand-tightening the body bolts, I put new hoses on above and below. The lower hose needed a 2″ trim to avoid a bad kink in the bendy section but other than that they both slid right on. Next I hooked up the overflow tank for the first time since I’ve owned it: the old radiator was missing the brazed nipple on the cap valve. Then I installed and adjusted the shroud mount and shroud itself, tightened the body bolts down, and checked all of the fittings.
The only thing I didn’t have were two blockoff bolts for the automatic transmission inlet/outlet, so I ran around town to find a set and found them at Advance. They’re brass but I wrapped them in Teflon tape and tightened them into place.
Finally, I put about 2 1/2 gallons of new 50/50 antifreeze in the system, topped off the overflow tank (I need a new one, because the plastic mounting brackets have both snapped off), said a prayer, and started her up. I idled in the driveway for 15 minutes, pausing only to cap off the radiator once the bubbles stopped, and let her get up to temperature.
I had to stop at that point for dinner and other family stuff, so Sunday morning I took a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood to shake the hoses around and see how things held up. I chose a route that featured lousy roads (there are no shortage of those) and lights to stop at and some long stretches and banged her around a bit, and I didn’t see any leaks or steam. The temp gauge stayed pegged to the left side of the horizontal bar. Success!
Should I have flushed the system while I had it open? probably. In the fall I’ll have Jiffy Lube do it for me when I get the oil changed. Could I have saved money mixing antifreeze myself? definitely. But I was in a hurry and I had nothing else to mix it in.
Special thanks go to my pop, whose tools I inherited, which made everything much, much easier. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
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.
I took some time to look over the Champion radiator that came in last week and compare it to the stock unit I’ve got out in the garage so that I know what I’m working with. I bought the 3-core deluxe version, figuring cooler is better with a 5.7 liter engine, and also got two new upper and lower radiator hoses to replace the ones that are there.
Overall, it’s a very sturdy radiator and feels solid in my hands, as well as 10 pounds lighter than the OEM version. I pulled my spare fan shroud from the parts bin and test fit it (use M6 x 1.00 x 16 metric bolts) to find that it doesn’t quite line up at the bottom when I started two bolts at the top. I’ve read in some places that it needs to be trimmed to clear the pulley and fan, but I won’t know that until we get into it.
When I line it up side by side with the OEM unit it sits a little shorter in comparison, but I’d need to take more time to measure and compare to see if it’s any deeper.
Look what showed up on my doorstep yesterday!
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.
I’ve been having problems with my seat belt for a couple of months now. It won’t release enough for me to get it around my waist. If I’m on a slight incline it won’t release at all. No amount of gentle tugging, violent pulling, or whispered pleading would help. I decided I’d take advantage of 50˚ weather today to pull the ratchet mechanism apart to see what was wrong.
My seatbelt is based around a simple mechanism involving a single ball bearing in a cup. When the ball is stationary in the cup, the seatbelt has give and will release properly. When the ball is moved out of the cup by a strong force–say, a collision–it contacts a pawl which closes a ratcheting mechanism and stops the belt from releasing. Most of the online sources I found said the mechanism was probably filled with dust and the ball was stuck. I pulled it apart and shook out about a pound of dirt, straw, leaves, and dust, but the mechanism was still jammed. After blowing dust out of the cup with a can of compressed air, the mechanism started working and all was well again.
I had an hour or two this weekend to fool with the Scout, and decided to pull the soft top off and drop the Traveltop on the rails. This is the first time it’s been on in two years, as I lost all of last fall to chemotherapy. As a result I was a little rusty with the process. I have it suspended from the ceiling with four ratchet straps, attached to two 2×3’s with eyehooks at each end. This inexpensive solution keeps the top mostly up and out of the way during the winter, but I’d certainly kill for a taller ceiling and a motorized hoist.
First the soft top gets unsnapped and disconnected from the body. Then it gets unsnapped from the rear hoop, folded in half, and lifted off. Then the hoops and bedrail caps get unscrewed and removed as one unit. The hoops separate in the center and I fold each side together, and zip-tie them in place so they store easier. Finally, the metal retaining strip across the top of the windshield frame gets unbolted.
Next, I pull out the rubber gaskets and lay them in place: on the top of the windshield and on either bedrail. From there I carefully lower the top down by releasing slack in each of the ratchet straps until the 2×3’s are sitting on the bedrail. By bending over and lifting the top on my back I walk it forward and into place, and then I have a helper (in this case Finn) pull the 2×3’s out from the side while I lift the top. I make a few adjustments to get it aligned and then finger-tighten 10 bolts along the bedrail and four bolts in the windshield. Then we tighten everything down.
Finally, I unscrew the passenger’s taillight and thread the cabin light lead down a hole in the rear corner of the tailcap where the pigtail lives, and connect it back up. There’s a switch wired to the plastic fascia above the liftgate that probably turns the light on from the back, but it’s broken. Alarmingly, I saw some kind of light or spark behind it when I tried it so I’ll have to pull that apart next weekend and either cap it off or fix it.
I had to take the spare out so that we could reach the bolts, and I was worried it wouldn’t fit with the top back on, but it does, just barely. We celebrated by taking a ride around the block.
Meanwhile, I’ve had two spare carbs sitting on the bench downstairs for, oh, two years now. It’s time to get the good one refurbed and boxed away for future use and off the bench for good. With a little liquid courage, I went downstairs last night and started putting things back together.
I opened the rebuild book and started working on the parts I knew about, following the instructions as best I could. Within about two hours I’d put in both floats and adjusted them, laid the new gasket in place (and taken it off, and replaced it, and…), unscrewed and cleaned both of the idle mixture screws, and pulled and replaced both of the main jet brass fittings.
Thankfully, I’ve got the spare TQ sitting next to it on the bench, so I can refer to it whenever I need to know which way a retaining pin goes, or how the linkages on each side are re-connected once I’ve got the whole thing together. There are a pile of smaller gaskets and pins and brass fittings that still have to go in (I’m only about 1/10 of the way in to this) but I’ve got some confidence now that I’ve started.
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.