I saw an ad on Craigslist (I know, I’m so old-school) for a set of Scout II fenders this week and followed up with the seller. The fenders looked OK from the front but the low price led me to believe they were in worse shape than they appeared. I’ve already got three spare fenders hanging in the garage, so my need is not immediate, but I figured I’d see what kind of shape they were in. I traded some texts and a phone call and set up a time on Sunday afternoon to look them over.
I knew I had the right house when I pulled up and saw a rusty Scout 80 parked in front of a faded Saab Sonnett; clearly this man had eclectic tastes in automobiles. I looked over the fenders in a light drizzle and the seller came out to talk with me; he’s a weird car nerd like me and we talked for about ten minutes before I thanked him for his time and hit the road. They were too far gone for me to want to deal with them; the areas behind the wheel well were all crispy and there was rot setting in at the top corner by the cowl notch.
Meanwhile, I’ve got an order in with Super Scout Specialists for a lineset ticket keyed to the VIN number I found on the frame back in 2009. I figured I’d at least try to learn where the frame (and possibly, the engine) came from, even if the body is a mystery.
Trigger: pulled. Here’s what Peer Pressure looks like with new tires.
Visually not much different from the old ones, but the ride is like living in a dream world of quiet. The Mud-Terrains made a constant droning whine as the lugs hit the pavement which contributed to fatigue inside the cabin (I think this is why Finn always falls asleep in the Scout) but the new Generals are quiet and well-mannered. I do notice there’s a bit more wander on the road, because these are 12.5″ wide instead of 11.5″ but overall I’m extremely happy with them so far.
I happened to glance at a post on Kinja Deals that said General Tire is running a $100 rebate this month on a set of 4 tires. Checking Tirerack.com for the ones I wanted, they said availability was limited, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger ahead of schedule to take advantage of the savings, which will offset the cost of installation. I’m having them shipped to an NTB out on Rt. 40 who can install them for me. I went ahead and bought five so that I can finally have a matched spare, and I’ll stick that on one of the steelie rims I’ve got under the porch.
When I get the Mud Terrains off the rims, I’ll sell those on Craigslist and see if I can get about half my money back. For their age (the DOT stamp on the side claims they’re circa 2000) they are in fantastic shape, with no dry rot or cracking anywhere. The fronts have a lot more wear than the rears (which still look brand new) so I can’t command top dollar for them, but I’m sure they’ll get bought.
These are the endcaps I’m buying from Bennett. Technically I don’t need two of them–my passenger endcap is dented from the swingarm, and the driver’s side is OK–but it’s always good to have spares.
Update: Here are the insides of the red tailcap, as per Neal’s request in the comments below. Looks like this one was torched out of a Scout with a little cancer above and below.
From left to right, you’re looking at the top to bottom. The hinge pin for the liftgate is in the top right area. The tailcap is actually a two-piece section that you can see here– a flat section of steel that is welded underneath the folded edge of the rounded piece. This forms the inner edge of the tailcap.
This is looking at the back side, where the edges of the inner and outer fenders are welded together and then join with the tailcap.
So Neal, you could probably buy four parts from Super Scout Specialists and weld your own, if you can’t find a donor scout–they’d be the corner post and the tailcap. And you’d need the hinge pins too.
A couple of months back, when I was laid up, I got word that Bennett’s mother had passed. I met her once during a workday, and she was a real nice lady–she was even kind enough to make us all lunch. Now that her estate is being settled, he’s got to clear out the stuff he’d stored at her place. So he’s divesting himself of all but the essentials: a ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk has been sold, a ’63 Valiant is still awaiting a buyer, and he’s sorting through the rest of his fleet. Most importantly, he wanted to move his ’53 IH R-110, named Phantom, out of the barn at the farm to his home garage. I’d offered to help months ago, and was looking forward to spending a day getting dirty moving trucks with friends.
First we had to make room, so I met he and Brian at his house to help move stuff from one bay of the garage to the other. I had to be careful not to pick up anything heavy so that I wouldn’t mess up my stomach, which is still healing, but tried to be as helpful as I could. When we had enough space cleared to fit a full-size pickup, we hopped in his brother’s Ford and headed up to the farm.
Upon arrival, we were faced with about 20 years worth of parts storage and cleanout. Actually, he’d already gone through a LOT of the stuff up there and moved, junked or sold it, but there’s still a bunch left. In front of the garage sat a spare R-series frame and bed loaded with parts he’s selling in bulk, so we continued piling stuff into that bed for disposal. Next, we reorganized a spare bed that was sitting on Phantom’s existing bed, spinning it 180 degrees so that it would fit neatly into the raised platform in his garage with the tailgate open.
We strapped that down to the bed and continued moving parts to the back of the Ford when we realized how many spare R-series parts he still had in the garage. I suggested we throw those in the back of Heavy D, which had been parked the farm, and I’d drive that home behind them. Quickly, we filled the beds of the Ford and the IH pickups with priceless 70-year-old sheet metal until there was no more room.
When we finished that, Bennett re-oriented the trailer and we started winching Phantom up onto the bed. This took some time and skill, but Bennett is a pro at this stuff and soon we had the whole thing strapped down and ready to go. Among the stuff he was getting rid of were two clean reclaimed Scout tailcaps and a full-size steel rim, which I grabbed, and he offered me a 25-gallon compressor and a heavy-duty toolchest, all for a price I couldn’t refuse.
When it was time to saddle up, I followed them down the hill and onto 40 in Heavy D, marveling at how different the driving experience in his truck feels. It’s got an identical engine/transmission combo as Peer Pressure, but the engine was built with a hotter cam so the idle is completely different and the transmission feels much smoother. It reminds me a lot of driving my Dad’s old Ford wrecker from our repossession days in terms of ride and steering: the suspension is softer than Peer Pressure (Conestoga wagons are softer than Peer Pressure, to be fair) and the oversized tires made steering something that had to be planned minutes in advance. Still, I loved it. I can’t remember the last time I drove a full-size pickup with butterfly windows, a bench seat, and a CB radio, but it’s been too long.
Returning to his house, we scratched our heads until we came up with a solution for how to get a heavily loaded trailer up the embankment of his driveway without cracking the concrete: we shoved some 2×4’s under the trailer tires to lessen the angle. Once we’d done that, and with a little scraping, Bennett was able to center a 22′ trailer with a longbed Ford in front of his narrow garage door with only two minor adjustments before shutting it down. For reference, this would be as easy as parking the Queen Mary in a phonebooth backwards with an outboard motor.
We used a snatch block around a concrete support pillar to winch the truck backwards off the trailer and got the second bed within inches of the raised platform it would be stored on; then it was a matter of backwoods engineering to jack it high enough to get the edge of the bed onto the lip of the platform. Once we had that done, it was a simple matter of using some 2×4’s to gain leverage and some pushing to get it in place. At this point I had to leave to meet the girls for an appointment up in Pikesville, so I said my goodbyes and cranked the Scout up to meet them there.
After the meeting, when I got in and turned the key to start it, I heard a POP from under the hood, and found that she wouldn’t catch. I added some gas to the carb, filled the tank with the remainder from my rotopax (remember, the gauge is still inoperable) and tried again: no luck. On further inspection, I realized the distributor cap was loose, and realized that the POP had been from gas vapor sneaking back into the distributor from a bad vacuum control diaphragm: when I turned it over, the vapor sparked and lit, popping the cap off and sending the rotor someplace I couldn’t find.
I fooled with it for a while, but was exhausted from the day, and the girls were waiting for me and for dinner. We returned home to eat, and did some investigation online before calling USAA to arrange for a tow back to our local garage. I’d added towing to our coverage a couple of years ago with this very thought in mind. Then I drove back up and waited for the truck to arrive. The guy driving the flatbed was a pro and we quickly got it loaded. I followed him to our neighborhood garage and we dropped it out front with an apologetic note to Jeff, the owner, describing the problem.
This afternoon I talked to Jeff and he’d already found the problem and ordered the part; hopefully it will be fixed sometime tomorrow and I can pick her up on Wednesday morning.
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]
I got the accelerator cable in on Friday, and after breakfast on Saturday morning I went outside to put it in. It’s fairly straightforward and went in without too much hassle, once I realized the loop molded into the cable wasn’t supposed to hook over the top of the bracket, but used to screw in (and provide room for adjustment) on the bracket itself. The cable hooked right up, and in about 10 minutes I was ready to fire it up and go for a test drive. But when I put the clutch in, the engine revved.
It turns out this isn’t an uncommon problem; what happens is that the cable is too tight on the carb, and the clutch linkage at the pedals travels up the firewall right next to the accelerator. When I push the clutch in, it forces the throttle linkage backwards, revving the engine. Problem is, I’ve got no play at all on the bracket. The cable is pushed as far forward (towards the carburetor) as possible; there’s nothing else. The arms on the carb aren’t adjustable, and there’s no other allowance for adjustment in the cable itself.
I looked in the fittings and bracketry that came with my second engine, but there’s no spare there. So I’m going to fabricate a U-shaped piece of metal with two holes. One side will go on the bracket and the other will hold the cable, and I’ll build in room for forward adjustment.
In other news, Finn and I drove to White Marsh to visit a guy who had an original IH Service Manual for sale on Craigslist. I have the new reprints from Super Scout Specialists, and they’re great, but I couldn’t pass this up. It’s softbound but 3-hole punched, so now I’ve got to keep my eye out for a 1 1/2″ red binder to put it in.
In doing the preliminary research on my carburetor, I stumbled upon a 16-part video series detailing the process of rebuilding a Thermoquad, which I downloaded for future reference.
Driving back from a yard sale on Saturday morning, the accelerator pedal dropped to the floor, again. Since I’ve owned Peer Pressure, I’ve had intermittent problems with the throttle cable, which was originally jury-rigged to the engine block with an automatic cable bracket. My friend Alan swapped me that for a manual bracket, but the cable itself was held to the bracket with a rubber-grommeted clip. When the engine heats up, the grommet gets slippery and the cable slips out of it. Usually this is a 5-minute fix, but on Saturday the grommet disintegrated in my hand as I was refastening it. With Finn waiting in the back seat, I jury-rigged the cable with some zip ties and we made it home under our own power.
On the phone with Super Scout Specialists, I learned that I have the wrong cable completely. The one I’m supposed to have is manufactured with a loop that goes around the bracket and held in place by the clip, so I ordered the correct part last night after investigating. I’ll have to carve out time to install it, based on when it gets here.
And I was thrilled last week when Bill Caswell started following me on Instagram!