The Scout is finally home after two weeks in Essex having the rear driveline worked on. The issue, as mentioned before, was that the rear U-joint was beginning to disintegrate, taking the yoke and driveshaft along with it (and in the process one of the rear brake cylinders). The shop rebuilt the U-joint and yoke, had the driveshaft rebalanced, and repaired the rear brake line.
Jen drove me out to Essex this morning and we picked it up; the transmission shop (Jim Jennings, who I recommend highly) provided some pictures of the damaged parts before sending me on my way.
The work made a huge difference in how she drives. Shifting into and out of gear is smooth and crisp again, and the repair to the brakes also made a big change in how she stops at speed.
So, that’s good news. I’m going to clean her up and get things ready for the drive to Ohio, which means stocking up on oil, coolant, and ATF. I did smell coolant on my way home from Essex this morning, so I’ve got to look over the coolant system and see how full the radiator is (and if the overflow tank is pulling correctly).
I also called a company in Columbia to inquire into adding a kill switch sometime in the future; they figure it’ll take about an hour and be a pretty simple procedure. Scouts are getting more and more desirable, and I’m conscious that it’s a rare vehicle with a 1970’s-era ignition lock and no roof. And opening the hood to pull the coil wire all the time can be a drag.
The word from the transmission shop is that the problem is not actually the transmission: it’s the rear driveshaft/U joint. Apparently it was in such bad shape the U joint had almost disintegrated and the driveshaft is out of balance. So the shop is rebuilding the joint, sending the driveshaft out for service, and putting everything back together. It’s going to be expensive to fix, but when compared to the cost of rebuilding the transmission, it’s a fraction of the cost I was expecting I’d have to pay.
After some back and forth and miscommunication, I dropped the Scout off across town this morning for caster correction surgery. I was a little nervous after the initial efforts failed, but I trusted the online reviews and an hourlong conversation with the owner in April and handed them the keys. At about 10:30 they called and the mechanic had an honest conversation with me: He said he’d worked on many different lifted trucks and because the tires were the size they were, he couldn’t promise the correctors would do much, especially as he figured it would take two hours a side to get them in. I figured I was in for a penny, in for a pound, and told him to go ahead anyway.
They got back to me at about 2:30 and said it had taken a lot less time than they figured—only one hour per side. He took it out on the road for a test run and said the tracking was much better, and that he was surprised at what a difference it made.
On the ride home, I noticed a big difference in the way she handled at speed. Where before every bump sent the wheels in a different direction, and expansion joints unloaded the suspension and sent the whole truck sailing on a random course, the steering is staying straight and true. Before, I spent a lot of time anticipating what I thought the truck would do and adjusting for it, which made for some white-knuckle driving. Now the small stuff is negligible and the expansion joints are tolerable. Because I was on mostly elevated highway around Baltimore I didn’t have a lot of flat straight sections to test the hands-off results on, but what I did try was straight and true.
It’s not perfect; the only thing that’s going to fix everything is a taller wheel and a thinner tire. But that’s something I’m not going to spend money on this year.
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.
I pulled the Scout out of the garage the week of the Polar Vortex and ran it up in the driveway, and she gave me a scare. I started hearing a terrible whine coming from the power steering pump at idle. I shut her down, topped off the power steering fluid, and restarted the engine, but it came right back and frightened me to the point where I scuttled my plan to run down the street for coffee and backed her back into the garage; I didn’t want the pump exploding in the driveway the day before I had to drive back up to Syracuse.
I was in NY State for my father’s funeral for most of last week, but took advantage of 60˚ weather and a work-from-home day yesterday to run her up again, thinking maybe the temperature was to blame. I was right. She fired right up and idled smooth out of the garage, and there was no sound to be heard at all. Whew.
Buoyed by that success, I gave Mike Moore a call to see if he’d be able to help fix my caster issues. True to his character, he told me he could certainly do it but I should really try to find a good, reputable alignment shop around here and have them install them–and not a “$49 alignment special” type place. He also gave me the industry name for the parts I’ve got: Camber Caster Sleeves. I also asked him for a price on what it would take to rewire Peer Pressure, and we talked about that for a while. I don’t have the money right now but it’s good to know what to budget for. Mike is a great guy and I’m glad I called him. I found a place with decent reviews across town and called them for a price; I’ve yet to hear back but will call and follow up tomorrow.
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.
One thing that didn’t make it on the 2018 To-Do list was the creation and installation of a longer retaining rod to secure the new spare tire. Stock 1976 Scout wheels were 10.5″ wide and thus the rod mounted to the rear bed wall is a certain length. I’m now dealing with tires that are 12.5″ wide, and the rod is definitely 2″ too short. I bought a 12″ threaded rod and a 3/8″ coupling nut a while back, thinking I’d extend the length of the existing rod and cut off what I didn’t need, but after a test fitting I found that the coupling nut would most likely be right where I needed the wingnut to be, and if my license plate bolts are any indicator, the coupling nut would rattle itself loose after 100 miles. Then I thought I’d make my own rod, by heating the threaded rod and bending it in my vise. I used a propane pipe torch ad within about 10 minutes had the main bend complete but found the shorter bend a little harder to accomplish.
I tried mounting it tonight. Turns out it’s still about 2″ too short, which is a bummer. I’m going to order a 18″ threaded rod tomorrow and see if I can make that work.
Meanwhile, Brian noticed a Scout for sale online and sent the link to Bennett and I. In the huge cache of pictures linked to the ad I noticed how the seller is mounting his spare, and slapped my forehead. Why not get a flat piece of steel, cut it down, and use it for a mounting plate? Looks like I have a trip to the steelyard to make this weekend.
I’ve also set the wheels in motion for a Maryland IH meetup sometime in November with the usual crew of guys, plus a bunch of new faces we’ve met over the last couple of years. As of right now there’s no set destination and no firm date, but I put together a simple online poll and hopefully we’ll get our act together in a week or so.
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.
I took some time this afternoon to address something that’s bugged me for years: the droopy snap tiedowns on the soft top that keep the sides rolled up. This top is probably 20 years old at this point, and has had a hard life, so I’m not surprised the elastic nylon they used for the tiedowns is permanently expanded and loose. The result is that the side and back of the soft top, when rolled up, hung loosely on all three sides:
I busted out my West Marine snap repair kit and put a new snap in each of the tiedowns about 1/3 of the way up. This cut out all of the slack and holds the rolls closer to the edges of the top, giving it a crisper look (and making visibility from inside the cab much better.
While I had her out in the driveway I pulled the radio out of the dashboard and chased down the reason why it hasn’t worked since the first brake workday: Alan pulled it out to test the fuel sender but the plastic wire connector on the back worked its way loose from the radio. 5 minutes of disassembly and checking wires had the radio back up and running.