My first go with the $70 Harbor Freight sandblaster went pretty well; I got a lot of paint off my two spare windshield frames but it didn’t do much to the heavier rust that was present. Doing some research on blasting media, I read that glass bead is much better at cleaning metal than soda, and that it’s also re-usable. So I went back to the Harbor Freight for a 35 lb. bag of 80 grit media and the Lowe’s for two cheap 33 gallon clear tubs, and fashioned an inexpensive blasting cabinet on my workbench in the garage. My test subjects were two spare valve covers I’ve had sitting in my stash, one with a desirable long fill neck: International used this cover in its large trucks but not in Scouts because the brake booster was directly in the way in the Scout engine bay. When I switched to Hydroboost I gained a bunch of space back in the engine bay, and should be able to swap this one out.
Once I had two holes cut in the sides of the top tub and found a spare plastic bucket to prop the covers on, I gave the glass a try. It was kind of scary how fast the paint came off. This media is much more aggressive than the soda. I had to add a hole in the top of the tub for the hose, and if I do this over again I’ll cut holes in the front of the bottom tub to make access easier. After dialing in the settings on the blaster, it cleaned both covers off quickly and cleanly. I cleaned a bunch of the grease from the inside of the fill cover and cleaned the mounting edge of each, and actually blasted the inside of the passenger cover. The driver’s cover needs to be washed out before I blast it properly.
Then I cleaned the spare dogleg I’ve been slowly working on, exposing all of the edges to get them ready for drilling out the spot welds. There’s a fair bit of seam sealer on there that I have to clean off, and then maybe I can pry the three sections apart to save the dogleg.
When that was all done, I had to spend a bunch of time cleaning up the mess. Two clear plastic tubs don’t mate up very cleanly, and opening and closing them tends to let a lot of the excess media blow around a bit. My workbench was heavily dusted in glass bead by the time I was done. I swept up the big piles into the collection at the bottom of the bin, and used some spare windowscreen to sieve out large pieces of debris from the used media. After two cycles, the media was clean, and reloaded it into the sprayer to go over the parts that still needed attention.
What I finished with looks better than I’d hoped it might: two valve covers that are ready for some finish sanding, an acetone bath, and then some International Red paint, courtesy of Ace Hardware. Then I’ll install them on the engine, where they’ll look like a painted French whore in a landfill.
Here’s a walkaround of the Scout, pointing out most of the visible scars, stains, scrapes and scratches.
One of the things mentioned in the video is purchasing a set of chrome trim pieces to install, instead of plug-welding and filling all 20 of the holes along the side of the body. Super Scout Specialists sells a set of trim that they claim is close to the original style, for $170. If I estimate the time I think it’ll take to plug and fill each of these holes (and there are several I wouldn’t be able to do unless I pulled the front fender off) that price looks more and more reasonable by the minute. Even if I spent $500 on a good set of used chrome, that math still holds up because it’s going to take a lot more than 10 hours per side to clean things up.
Brian stopped by last Sunday for a couple more hours of messing around with our ammo boxes, and while we didn’t finish them, we got a lot more done. The first thing we did was to slice four rubber stoppers in half, countersink the bottoms, and drill four holes in the base of the boxes to mount them as feet. When that was done we sorted out the rear mount situation to lock it into the base of the truck. What we’re doing is welding a C-channel to the back side of the box and another C-channel to a metal plate that mounts to the bed of the truck. The box side hooks in to the bed side, and when the front of the box is locked into place, that should keep the whole thing from being removed.
My neighbor’s dad is an old-school gearhead. When I met him for the first time he was behind the wheel of a maroon late-model Dodge Challenger. Soon he replaced that with a blue model. And a couple of years ago he showed up with a bright yellow ’68 Camaro with an angry, lumpy cam and racing slicks. I walked out and talked cars with him for a while, and we got on the subject of paint. He was looking to get rid of the yellow as soon as he could, and I mentioned I was looking to get rid of the purple on Peer Pressure just as quickly. We talked about leads and shared what we knew. Time passed, and I would hear the Camaro rumbling up the street now and again. This spring it showed up silver—I thought he’d stripped it down to bare metal—and then a pair of black stripes appeared up the hood. It looks a million times better; the silver accentuates the lines of the car and it looks much, much meaner.
A week and a half ago I was walking Hazel and we saw him at the 7-11 at the far end of our route. We got to talking and he asked if I was still interested in painting the truck; he’d retired a few months back and built himself a spray booth to reshoot the Camaro, and was now taking on painting jobs. I said HELL YES in no uncertain terms, and told him to slot me in for the spring—he’s got a car lined up to work on in the fall, and I don’t want the truck off the road for too long.
I’m not looking to spend months with a block sander and Bondo to get the metal on PP perfectly flat; I’d be happy with a decent 10-footer as long as the paint was all one color. I’ll have to hustle in the fall, though, because there are several things that would need to be addressed before it went in to the booth:
- One or more of the three windshield frames needs to be cleaned up, sanded, have new metal welded in to the windshield lip, get filled with chassis encapsulator, and made ready for paint.
- All of the random holes on PP’s body need to be sanded down and filled, preferably with welds, and then smoothed over for paint. This includes the old mirror mounts on each door, the trim mounts along the bottom of the body, and the snap holes along the back of the tailgate.
- The orange hood needs to be sanded down and cleaned up at the very least—it’s pitted along the front edge.
- The dent in the rear endcap from the swinging bumper needs to be knocked out and filled.
- Whatever I do, I want to paint the Traveltop white for a classic ’70’s look. It needs a whole lot of attention on its own: there are multiple places where the PO screwed into the metal and left them there, so all of those need to come out and be plug welded. The rack needs to come off, the windows need to come out, and the rain gutter needs to be sandblasted and re-sealed. I’d also like to add some sound deadener to the interior.
- Finally, any and all spare panels I’ve got should be cleaned up and shot with the same paint, if possible.
I have experience with sanding and Bondo, having done some extensive slap-hammer and sanding work on my old VW bus thirty years ago, and I’m sure a middle-aged Bill can do a much better job than a 17-year old Bill.
I bought some new tools last weekend, including a second angle grinder and a pneumatic DA sander, and I’ve got a bunch of consumables on order from Amazon including wet/dry sandpaper, etching primer, and a copper welding backer, as well as a can of chassis rust encapsulator.
So, in order of importance, I’ve got to:
- Do a walk-around and inventory all of the issues on the body
- Practice welding holes closed in washing machine steel
- Sand chips in paint around the tub and sheetmetal
- Knock down any drips in the purple paint
- Sand and weld the holes shut in the body
- Bondo and prep those areas for paint
- Remove all badging and chrome
- Pull glass from the second spare windshield
- Evaluate and choose the best candidate for repair
- Plug holes on the good spare
- Encapsulate rust inside the frame
- Weld in good metal around the inside lip
- Prep for paint
- Plug holes in white fender
- Use aircraft stripper on the blue fender, sand and repair
It’s going to be a busy fall, I think.
Brian left his welding rig in the garage last week, and it’s been out there calling to me since Sunday. It’s a beautiful new Hobart MIG setup with a gas hookup, built to switch between 230 and 115, so it can run off the wiring in my garage and still burn 3/16″ steel.
I had some box steel scrap laying around from my bumper project, so Wednesday night I covered myself in bug spray and busted out the angle grinder to clean surface rust off everything. Then I gloved up and started laying simple lines down. It took some time to get the rig dialed in, but once I’d sorted that out, I took some deep breaths and just focused on getting some good lines across the tube.
After I covered all four sides I cleaned of some smaller scrap and welded them to the side and the bottom of the tube, with the goal of not burning through everything.
I was able to get things dialed in well enough that I started thinking about a bottle jack mount and how easy it would be to put one together with some steel and the welder.
After working on Finn’s fort Saturday morning through to the afternoon, I stopped at 3:30 and turned my attention to the garage. I began forming elements with cardboard and then moved to cutting down some steel we’d picked up at Lowe’s. I started with a piece going down the front of the inner fender and attached an L-shaped section to that, curving back around to the side of the fender to keep the jack in place. After tacking it in to see if it worked right, I welded each side in and cleaned the section up.
Then after dinner I cut two sections of galvanized electrical conduit down and welded them to the tail of the L for both of the jack levers to sit in. This was tricky, as the steel bar was 1/8″ and the conduit was much thinner. I hit it with short burns to avoid blowing through the thinner steel, and after some practice with scrap steel I figured it out.
When that was done, I ground everything smooth, wiped it all with acetone, and shot it with some black paint. When I went to install it for the last time, the threads in the hole I’d been using gave out completely and the bolt spun freely. Disgusted, I moved it to a second hole about 1″ outboard and tightened everything down for the night.
Tomorrow I’ll see if my tap and die kit has a tap for the next bolt size up, and hopefully I can get the whole thing permanently installed. I’ve got some toolbox shelf padding in the basement that will go under the jack and keep everything from banging around.
Finn and I stood on line outside the MVA office for 45 minutes in the “appointment” line two Mondays ago. It’s been in the high 90’s here through July and with humidity, the temperatures are in the mid 100’s. There were actually two lines on the concrete sidewalk: “appointment” and “drop-off”. Because there is a limit to the number of people allowed in the building, we all had to wait outside in the heat until the people ahead of us came out. The MVA staff helpfully put up a square awning outside the front door over the “dropoff” line, which was moving much faster than our line, so the net result was that we in the “plan ahead” line stood around and baked in the sun until they could let us in.
My intention has been to swap out the modern Historic plates I’ve currently got on the Scout for a set of vintage plates from 1976, the year the truck was made. I’d found a set at the antique store down the street and got them cheap, and around the time I was ready to go in and do battle with the MVA, the pandemic hit. So I waited until the numbers went down and they opened up on the restricted schedule.
Once we were inside, we had to wait the normal amount of time for the glacial staff to sort out our issues, so even though we had an appointment nothing was different from a normal visit. Finn and I waited a full hour before we were called up to the counter, and when I explained what I was doing—and showed her the proper form, filled out months in advance—she had no idea how to accomplish this mysterious task and told us to sit back down while she asked someone. She called her manager, who called someone else, explained it to the woman I spoke to, and then disappeared for lunch. In the meantime the obnoxious dude who had been standing behind us outside was called up to the counter next, and his wife proceeded to leisurely fill out all her paperwork while standing at the window for the next 45 minutes.
When that was done, I was called back up a full 2 1/2 hours after my appointment time, and the woman put my old tags in the system and voided them, then entered the new (vintage) tags. The system didn’t spit out a sticker, however, so they had to cancel the void on the original tags and told me I would have to drive around with the original Historic plate in the glove box, as the truck is technically registered to those tags (but for some reason they charged me $70 for vanity plates)?
I have no fucking idea what they did or if it’s the right thing, but I went home and put the new (vintage) plates on the truck. Hopefully I don’t get pulled over and impounded for having the wrong plates on the right truck.
They sure do look pretty, though.
I got a big box delivered to the house on Saturday, and inside were two beautiful olive drab ammo cans ready for engineering into lockboxes: one is for Brian and one is for me. The 30mm can is big and roomy and built to be weather-sealed, so there’s a beefy rubber gasket around the top of the lid. One bummer is that they’re not built like the 5.56 can I have in the basement, so both sides are latched instead of being latch/hinged. So we’ll have to figure out how we’re going to hinge the top and make it easily accessible, or just put lock hasps on both sides.
My first thought is that we can get a couple of wire rope clips, cut the threads down, and weld the flat ends to the wall of the can so that the loop feeds through the hole, as above. That would be a nice fat bit of steel to cut through.
The next solution would be to simply buy a metal hasp kit and use the staple, as long as it stuck out far enough. They’re already drilled for screws so it would be pretty easy to use the holes for welding (or, alternatively, just drill holes and screw the staple in place). I’d like to avoid having screw heads inside the box if at all possible, so I think I’ll try welding first.
We still don’t know exactly how it’s going to secure to the bed yet. Another thing to add will be rubber feet of some kind to keep it from banging around back there. But I love the look of it, and it’s just the right size to fit a backpack or a big toolbag or a laptop.
I saw this picture in my Instagram feed and it got my brain thinking about a lockable security container again. See that green ammo can on the right side?
That’s a 30mm ammo can, which measures 9″ x 17.5″ x 14.5″, and weighs 21 lbs. For $~35, I could easily adapt this into a lockable container for the back of the Scout for more tool storage. I’d have to do a couple of things to it though. First, I’d weld a loop on the box and cut a hole on the handle for a padlock of some kind. Then I’d need to set up a fastening system on the bottom of the bed to secure it to the truck. I’m thinking I’d cut down a loop of metal and weld it to a square steel plate. That would be bolted to the floor of the truck, or better yet, weld a pair of captive nuts under the truck so that the only way to pull the loop off would be from under the can.
After cutting a slot in the bottom of the can to accept the loop, I’d use some kind of lock or steel bar through the loop, inside the box, to secure it in place. The point of all this is to be able to quickly pull the can out of the truck when it’s in the way and have only the loop in place (or also be easily removed).
I’d immediately discounted the idea of an ammo box a while back because I was only thinking of the 7.62 and .50 cal cans, which are smaller in dimension than the 30mm cans. I have a .50 cal can and it’s roughly half the size. This looks like it’s the perfect size and shape for my plans, and the only other things I’d need to make this happen would be a welder, gloves, and helmet– something I’ve been considering the purchase of for years. There’s nothing like a project to make things happen! And, after some practice, I could then start welding and repairing my spare windshields and other sheet metal to prep them for paint.
What you see there is an engine after being sprayed liberally with Simple Green and pressure-washed. It wasn’t as dramatic a result as I was hoping for, but then, I knew this engine wasn’t a beauty queen to begin with. I was able to get a fair amount of grease and dirt off of the engine, steering box, front pumpkin and steering gear. The valve covers cleaned up pretty well. The top of the transmission is visible for the first time since I’ve owned her. And the cowl is mostly the original Gold Poly International shipped the truck with back in 1975.
While I had the cowl exposed I pulled it off to see if I could get the wiper motor mounted correctly. Way back in 2012 I was troubleshooting two dead wipers and unbolted the motor without checking the linkage first; this was a stupid mistake. It turned out the linkage had come undone and the wiper motor was all but impossible to re-attach to the underside of the windshield frame without removing the entire frame. I figured I’d fuck with it some more today and even dragged one of my spares out of the garage to help understand the angles and positions of everything, but ultimately I was foiled—it’s just too difficult to align everything upside down and out of reach. So, I buttoned everything back up tight, fired up the engine (it caught right away and idled happily) and Finn and I took her for a spin around Catonsville to stretch her legs.
Before I put her back in the garage, I took a closer look at the lift gate and realized I’d never put any of my spare weatherstripping around the hatch, so I pulled some from my stash and fitted it around the opening, then put her away for the night.
I had an afternoon to myself yesterday with the dog, so I put her on the long lead in the backyard, set up a portable heater, and pulled the soft top off the Scout in the driveway. At this point it takes about 10 minutes to get that off and then about 30 minutes to lower the hardtop down onto the bedrails, adjust it to the bolt holes, and then another 30 minutes to get it secured in place. It’s not easy to do as one person, and as I get older I’m sure it’ll take longer, but I’ve got a system that seems to work well.
I took the time to put the fiberglas panels in on the sides, which I’d pressure-washed this summer, and I was pleased at how clean everything looks in there. I need to pick up another box of stainless machine-head screws for the interior bits.
The other thing that needed attention was the driver’s door window. It ceased to function last weekend when Finn and I made a breakfast run. More generally, it’s always been a pain in the ass to raise, requiring a forward-and-backward method of cranking the window up that was just irritating. I had my suspicions about the reasons for this.
I pulled the door apart to get to the bottom of things. As I suspected, the two round retaining clips at the bottom of the scissor mechanism had popped off, which was a pretty simple fix. While I was in there, I looked over mount for the crank, which has always been missing a bolt since the truck came to me. The metal around the hole has deteriorated for reasons I can’t figure out, and thus never had a working bolt. I rummaged through my bench stock and found a spare, put a thick washer on it, and tightened it down. Then I buttoned the door back up.
Now the driver’s window rises as it should; the missing bolt left enough play in the scissor mechanism to bind it up as it rose, which required the odd method of cranking the handle to both load and release tension. Why I didn’t add this bolt in the scores of times I’ve had that door apart still escapes me.
With that success, I took her out for a shakedown cruise into Ellicott City. I opened the heater valve from inside the engine bay and within minutes the cabin was toasty warm. She’s running smoothly with no stumbles, although it might be time for a new battery.
The bottom line is high-quality paint jobs and the supporting bodywork can be had for much less than the cost of a concours-level restoration, but time is the factor in all projects…
At a labor rate of, say, $90 an hour, that’s $36,000 before the first drop of paint is applied…Total labor hours in the 400- to 500-hours range is reasonable for a non-concours job, which puts our friend Jeff’s estimate for his Mach 1 right in the ballpark.
My paint isn’t flaking off and the metal underneath is still in good shape. I guess I’m sticking with purple for the time being…