Whenever I take the Scout out for a drive, I’m on the alert. I’m listening to the engine, feeling the brakes through the pedal, gauging the transmission through vibrations in the stick. Does that sound right? Are we pulling to the left? When did that start happening?
Now that the brakes are fixed and I had my misadventure with the distributor a few weeks ago, I’m doubly alert. As it happens, I’ve started hearing a clattering nose at idle that wasn’t present a few weeks ago. Today I had a little time and got under the truck to tighten up the emergency brake cabling, which means I can let it idle with the brake on and know that it’s not going to roll backwards into the garage. After I did that I put a flashlight into the wheel well and immediately found the source of the clattering: the exhaust manifold gasket on the driver’s side is bad, so I’ll have to order two new copper bolts for that and replace it. When the passenger’s side crapped out seven years ago I bought two just to be on the safe side, so there’s still one in my parts bin. Probably after the camping trip next week.
Oh, and I used a Permatex kit to re-glue the rear-view mirror back on to the windshield, which had fallen off about two weeks ago. I hope it works.
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.
I was anxious to get the Scout on the road after getting back from Colombia this weekend, but I knew there was an issue I needed to address first: the passenger door latch mechanism had spun forward so that it wasn’t engaging the door pin, so the door wouldn’t close. I’ve been through this before with the driver’s door, and eventually swapped out the mechanism for a spare I’d pulled from the Wheaton Scout. As I dug into this latch I realized I was going to have to do the same thing for the passenger door. The complicating factor is that the latch assembly is tucked tightly behind the rearward track for the door glass, and won’t come out without the track out of the way.
(Purple over gold poly. Gorgeous, I know. This is after the glass came out).
Looking at my own directions, I started pulling the butterfly window but soon remembered that was not necessary. I cranked the main window down, pulled the clips off the scissor assembly, unscrewed the tab atop the butterfly frame and pulled the window out of the way. The track came out easily but the rivets holding the screw plate to the track finally gave up and broke off after repeated abuse.
(Broken track on the bottom: note the mounting plate has come de-riveted. Two spares are at the top).
Luckily I had pulled two spares from the Wheaton Scout. There was a bolt stuck in one of the screw holes, so I hit it with PBlaster, then heated it up on the bench grinder, and with a set of channel locks it came right out. The latch assembly and track got hit with some white lithium grease before I bolted them in, and the whole door went back together quickly. Then I tore the driver’s door down and did the same with that assembly to get the window moving more smoothly on its tracks.
(Bad latch on the right. The cam was not under tension from the spring, so it barely worked).
Once everything was buttoned back up I took her out for a spin around the block and the first new gas she’s had since December of 2017. The brakes feel tight and even–the pedal is firm and catches much quicker than the old manual booster ever did, and the truck doesn’t pull to either side like it used to. I still have to adjust the drums by reversing and braking, but overall I’m thrilled with the upgrade.
As I drove down Frederick Road, I caught sight of the Diesel Traveler coming my way and waved to the owner, who passed me on the narrow street. I turned around and gave chase but lost him as he crossed Rt. 40. At some point, I’ll catch up to him.
Update: we saw him parked nearby this afternoon when we went out for lunch.
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.
This is about all I can do to the Scout right now, but it’s a welcome addition. I replaced the missing strap on the left corner of the soft top, sewing it into the seam where the top and rear panels meet. Hopefully it will last longer this time.
I don’t have much to write about. Peer Pressure is running really well. I had her out on errands last weekend in the sunshine and three different people stopped to talk to me about her. I had her out today at the Farmer’s Market and left the lights on by mistake; when I got back to start her up the battery was too low to crank. I got a jump from a friend who has a booth there and she fired right up. When I got back to the house I set up the trickle charger, which will run until next spring.
I did remake a new tiedown strap for the driver’s side corner of the soft top. It was missing when I bought her, so a few years ago I made one and sewed it on. Apparently I didn’t do it correctly, because it ripped off one day last spring and I haven’t seen it since. This time I bought stronger polyester UV-resistant canvas thread, so hopefully it’ll last longer when I get it sewed into place.
Santa (technically, my sister’s boyfriend) brought me a lovely gift this Christmas: a carb rebuild kit for my spare Thermoquad including all of the gasketry, springs, and other small parts needed to overhaul the mechanical bits. Introduced by Chrysler in 1969, the Thermoquad is a four-barrel carburetor designed with two small primary and two large secondary bores. At idle or cruise, the primary bores supply fuel to the engine in small amounts for efficiency, and under load or acceleration the secondary bores open up to dump fuel into the engine, adding power. It’s built around a phenolic resin chamber sandwiched with two aluminum plates, which was supposed to keep the temperature of the upper bowl 20˚ lower than standard metal carburetors of its day–because vapor lock was standard equipment on a 440 big block. So I’m going to have to study up on this Malaise-era marvel of engineering.
My engine, near as I can figure, is a 1979. As the 70’s wore on and emissions standards got stricter, engine displacement decreased and smog equipment strangled engines. IH trucks weren’t as strictly governed as passenger vehicles of the era (trucks over a certain weight and load limit were exempt from CAFE regulations, hence IHC advertising the Scout as the XLC in 1975 onwards) but smog equipment was still added to pass emissions tests, and the carbs got more complicated as the decade drew to a close. The Thermoquad sprouted all sorts of ports and valves and complicated linkages to govern choke, temperature, airflow and throttle, and the result is a lump of metal that looks like C-3PO screwed a pinball machine.
I’ve got three Thermoquads in my collection. The first is the one that came on Peer Pressure, which I had overhauled by my friend Rodney a few months after I got the truck. Tracing the serial number (9128S), it was originally made for a ’79 IHC 345ci engine with an automatic transmission. Rodney is a gearhead of the first order (he has a slingshot dragster parked in his driveway) and no stranger to carburetors. He made it sing, but that was eight years ago.
The second is a spare I picked up from a fellow north of Baltimore. This too is a 9128S. It’s the spitting image of the one on Peer Pressure, minus the funky extra linkage on the throttle arm to the left. It’s also the rebuild candidate and the one I’ll be working with here.
The third is a spare I picked up from my friend Jason, who converted his Traveler over to fuel injection two years ago. Tracing the serial number (9203S), it was originally made for a ’79-80 IHC 345ci California smogged engine with an automatic transmission. The top of the air horn at the fuel inlet is different, and there is one vent tube where my other carbs have two. It’s also super crispy and in need of a major wash. It will be my bench reference and possibly a source of spare parts.
The first order of business is to arm myself with knowledge. I downloaded a series of getting-to-know-you videos from YouTube where a gentleman steps through the features of the TQ, and another where he goes through the steps of rebuilding one. I’ve got the original ’72 Chrysler TQ service manual, an updated ’82 Federal Mogul manual, and the Dave Emanuel bible.
The first order of business is to clean them both, which will require a bucket of Simple Green and a couple cans of carb cleaner, which I’ll pick up this weekend. Then it’s on to the teardown.
I got impatient this afternoon. I had about 1/2 hour of free time, so I looked around the basement for some scrap metal I could use to build a temporary repair for the throttle bracket. Spying a used IKEA drawer rail from Finn’s dresser (a couple of years ago she leaned on the open drawer with enough force to bend the rollers off the rail, so I had to get replacements from the store and fix it), I measured it in place, then took a hacksaw and lopped off about 4″ at the end. After drilling a hole in the middle, I mounted it to the bracket and then mounted the cable bracket to the end–giving me another 2″ of slack in the throttle cable. I fired it up and the clutch acceleration problem is gone. To celebrate, Finn and I loaded it up and drove to the pool, where we swam until darkness, and then we drove home under a sky full of stars.
Later this summer, I’m going to fabricate a cleaner, more permanent solution. But we’re back on the road, and that’s all I care about.
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.