Wagonmaster Ass

Saturday I drove over to Brian’s house to join a bunch of guys helping him transplant a refreshed 345 into his Wagonmaster. The morning was gray, and I tried every rationalization I could to drive Peer Pressure over with my Hydroboost parts to see if I could have some of the experts help me install it. As I was loading up, rain started to fall and the radar showed a huge front moving in, so I switched to the Honda and begrudgingly drove over.

Transplanted V345

Almost everybody else had the same strategy I did, because there were only two other Internationals there out of twelve guys.

On the hoist

I stood around and soaked in as much of the knowledge as I could, offering help, a flashlight, or spare hand wherever I could. I’m not experienced enough by years to attempt a transplant myself, but seeing these guys do it so quickly is an inspiration.

Let's look it up in the shop manual

By noon the engine was mated to the transmission and in the truck, and as I left at 3:30 the carb, AC, distributor, starter, and alternator were all installed.

Dressing the engine

Via a Facebook post later in the day, they got it running at about 6:30 that evening. Not bad!

Date posted: September 14, 2015 | Filed under Friends, Trip Logs | 4 Comments »

This morning I met up with Brian H. and made a run down into Annapolis to pick up a Traveltop. I was a bit hung over, but Peer Pressure fired right up and made the trip easy. After meeting the seller at his house, we wound up talking to him for a good hour and a half before we started turning wrenches. It turns out he’s been buying and parting out trucks for the past couple of years, and he wants to thin his collection out a little.

New travel top

This top is in really good shape. It’s baby blue with a roof rack, and apart from some minor rust issues under the driver’s window and leaks where the chrome strips sit on the top, it’s clean. The liftgate is in fantastic shape, the handle works perfectly, and the glass is all good. I’m going to pull the sliders out of my spare top and replace these as well as the seals, and maybe weld up a lot of the holes before painting it white.

New travel top

He threw in a set of Kayline bows he had laying around, and I picked up a spare windshield with a tiny crack in the side as well. We made sure to invite him up to the next wrenching day in the springtime, and hopefully we can get a couple of other locals to meet up when the weather gets warmer.

New travel top

Date posted: February 24, 2013 | Filed under Friends, Progress, Purchasing, Trip Logs | 3 Comments »

It’s about time for an update! And yes, I’m starting this off with another bridge picture:

On the way over the bridge

When last we left off, the welder couldn’t meet up with us, so we got a bunch of welds cleaned up, drilled holes for seatbelt mounts, and other smaller tasks accomplished. This Sunday I made it over the river by 10:15 and we were backing up to his shop by 11.

The first task was to mount up the swingarm. We clamped some plate to the top of the bumper, moved things back and forth and up and down, and finally found the right spot. He fired up the welder and got to work.

Prelim welding

Once that was in place, we greased and assembled the swingarm cups and bearings, pressed them in with a socket, and set it onto the spindle. Not bad!

castle nut

There’s a droop of maybe 1/2″ on the far side of the hinge, and even after torquing the castle nut down just a hair of vertical play in the arm.

Moving the swingarm

I wasn’t concerned about the droop all that much, because the next part was welding a receiver to the other side. After lots of consultation, we decided to cut a flat plate and weld that to the face of the bumper, and then weld a section of angle iron to that to act as the shelf it sits on:

That's beefy

While that was cooling down, I had him weld my seatbelt bungs into the rollbar, the spare tire plate onto the standoff, the bolts for the Hi-Lift to the bumper, and the bolts for the spare.

Then, we pulled the whole bumper off to weld two plates of angle iron in behind the outer bumper mounting holes–one side to the frame and the other to the flat plate across the back of the frame. This should provide support for the weight of the tire and bumper.

Setting up to strengthen the frame

Frame supports

Once that was all done, we threw everything into the back of the truck, paid the man, and headed back to Brian’s place. There we drilled out the mounting holes for the bumper, put that back in, mounted the swingarm, and tested the height of the receiver on the tailgate: too high! We had to chop about 1″ off the top of the receiver to clear the tailgate as it came down all the way, but there’s still plenty of backstop left to keep the arm from hitting the back of the truck. The last thing we did was drill a hole for a receiver pin; by then it was 6PM and time for a swim in the river.

Bumper in place with jack mounted

When I get home this evening I’ll shoot some pictures of the swingarm open and add them here for reference.

So, next steps are:

  • Pull everything back apart and clean up all the welds.
  • Bondo up any holes and sand everything smooth.
  • Etching primer on everything (POR-15 on the frame welds)
  • Some kind of black high-impact paint to finish everything off
  • Find a lock solution for the jack
  • Pick up some lug nuts for the spare
  • Find some kind of mounting solution for the license plate
  • Run wiring to the license plate for lighting
  • Mount it all back up and go!
Date posted: June 25, 2012 | Filed under Bumper, Friends, Progress, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Today I headed back to Chestertown for more bumper work with Brian. One new wrinkle in the fuel system saga is that filling the tank with more than 8 gallons of gas produces a mystery leak somewhere from the top (!?!?) out of sight. So when the tank gets dropped, I’ll have to sort that out as well.

Back over the bridge

The assemblies are back from the welder, and they look great. Only a few minor spots of burn-through here and there, stuff that can be fixed with a small amount of bondo and some sandpaper.

bumper mounted

We pulled the stock bumper off, put the new one on, and did some test-fitting for the jack mounts. With some silicon padding down on the cradles, we marked off holes for mounting bolts and drilled them through. Then we revisited the spare tire mount, drilling holes for mounting bolts on the plate, then mocking up the arm and re-measuring vertical distance. Both sets of bolts I’d bought from Fastenal were too long, so we had to hit the local True Value to find stock in the proper length.

Jack test-fit

Once that was sorted out, we noticed the standoff was 2″ too long, so that got chopped down to size. Then the plate was marked and tacked onto the standoff, and we tacked mounting bolts in place on everything.

Mounted and ground down (partially)

After lunch, we were still waiting for the welder to get back to us, so we busted out the grinders and cleaned up the welds a bit. Once I smooth it out with a flap wheel it’ll be ready for bondo, and then some etching primer.

Ready for welding

The welder was AWOL until the late afternoon, which screwed up our timetable, so we dicked around with some other stuff before calling it a day. First up was drilling holes for seatbelt bungs, which look real pretty and will be even prettier when they’re welded and painted.

Then we thought about tracing the power lead from the fuel sender back to the dashboard, and got as far as pulling the dashboard valance panel off and mucking around with the gauge when I came to my senses and realized I needed to be on the road in an hour. This job can wait.

So, after a quick ride in Chewbacca, I packed up my gear and hit the road for home. As I was approaching the bridge, I hit the first in a series of rainshowers and found the wipers were dead, to my great dismay. They have been working reliably up until now, so maybe our wiggling the BHC made them angry or something. I stopped in to the local K-Mart and found some Rain-X, applied that liberally to the windshield, and continued home. That shit is awesome.

Date posted: April 1, 2012 | Filed under Bumper, Friends, Progress, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Wee bit of a fender bender on the way in to work this morning. Luckily, it wasn’t my fender.

Date posted: January 25, 2012 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Continuing from my first thread (gas tank replacement), Sunday morning Brian and I took Peer Pressure out for a test ride to get breakfast, and everything seemed to be working great. We had some food and then adjourned to the garage to begin our second project: cutting steel for new rear bumpers. We took our cues from a couple of different writeups here on the BP, especially this one this one and this one, and a number of different pictures and other references from around the web. What we originally imagined and what we wound up with are two different things, as you’ll see here.

The first thing Brian did, months ago, was find us the hinges. He got them here: Guardian Gate hinges He got the 2000 series unprimed model.

From there, we worked with the specifications some other folks had used, and bought a length of 6″ x 2″ 3/16″ box steel as well as two pieces of 2″ x 2″ in the same thickness. The first step was cutting the bumpers down. We used a very durable Porter & Cable circular saw with standard metal cutting blades. We decided to keep the width the same as the stock steel bumper, so they got cut to 64″ wide.

Next, we cut the swingarms 54″ long and mocked them up roughly on the bumpers. We originally debated mounting the swingarm on top of the bumper or on its face, and finally decided to mount on the face 3/4″ outside the edge of the endcap so that the tailgate can be lowered with the swingarm at a 90˚ angle.

Next was the cradle for the swingarm, which came from 2.5″ box steel. Brian notched out one side by hand and we sliced two of them off.

From there, we pulled out our spares and laid them down on some board to mock up the vertical tube. Originally we were going to mount Hi-Lift jacks on the two support bars below the tire, but as we looked at it in person, we thought it would raise the tire too high. (we’re both paranoid about the welds giving way and the whole thing falling off the back of the truck into oncoming traffic).

We both agreed that we’re not going to be running anything larger than a 32″ tire for the foreseeable future, so we settled on that as our baseline size. We decided to lower the spare to about 1.5″ above the swingarm–mine will be 1″ higher than his–and mount the jacks on the face of the swingarm. The vertical bar is 28.5″ high. We lengthened the support arms so that they make a triangle right where the standoff for the tire mounting plate will go.

With that figured out, we cut four support arms down and laid out the triangles on the floor. It was looking like we were going to finish it all up quickly, but then it slowly dawned on us that we had a ton of smaller cuts and pieces to make.

Luckily it was about this time we took a break for lunch, changed into clean clothes, and stopped over to a friend’s house to watch him brew a Belgian triple while being interviewed for the local paper (and sip on a Dogfish Head 90 Minute while doing so). Suitably refreshed, we returned to the garage.

I’ll probably remember this out of order because it was hotter than the hinges of Hell that afternoon, but next we cut two standoffs for the tire mounts and attempted to cut braces for them. Then we measured for standoffs on the frame and cut those from the 3″ box so that the new bumpers will sit roughly at the same height and depth as the stock steel bumpers do, providing enough clearance to lower the tailgate and access the hitch below.

Brian took on the four most difficult cuts himself, which were the shallow angles on either end of the bumpers. We sloped them 6″ from the ends and 2″ from the bottom.

Then, we used some cardboard to measure and mock up flat steel for the spare mounting plate; that piece is a 6″ x 9″ rectangle aligned vertically so that we can use three of the five bolt holes on the spare. Then we cut a bunch of small plates to seal up all of the open ends of tubing.

We made notches for jack mounting points on the bottom. We sliced our remaining 2.5″ box in half and then cut four notches out of the top. Then we measured 12″ from the ends of the bumpers, centered them on that mark, and notched the bottom out. This cut is the only one we couldn’t make with our limited tools; we’re going to hire a professional welder to connect everything and have him use a plasma cutter to chop those bits out before welding in the notches.

The last four cuts were angle iron for mounting the whole assembly to the frame; we’re going to weld the angle so that it’s on the outside edges of the frame rails and bolt the bumper plates to that, as well as the crossmember–we are taking everyone’s warnings into consideration.

By this point it was about 5:30 or so and we were whupped, so we called it a day and cleaned up the shop. I think we probably have a couple of small things left to do–cutting plates for the bumper standoffs comes to mind, as well as gussets or braces for the tire standoff–before we’re ready to call in a welder. We also need to run power out to the arm and come up with some kind of lighted license plate bracket that’ll mount inside the wheel. Brian’s goal is to get his bumper mounted and ready by September 1 for a vacation trip, and I’d love to have mine by then too, if possible.

This took two guys about six or so hours with minimal steelworking equipment: A circular saw, four metal blades, some clamps, angles, and a flat surface in the shade.

Date posted: August 1, 2011 | Filed under Bumper, Design, Friends, Progress, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

I did a 160-mile round trip out to West Virginia in the Scout this weekend, and Peer Pressure ran flawlessly. I’ve never been able to tell what my speed is (larger tires and a speedo with no provenance) but I’ve suspected that it’s indicating slower than actual. I passed several SHA radar signs—the ones that measure your speed and display it to you—and found that 50 mph indicated is somewhere around 60 mph actual. So, there’s that. I also found that I got her up to 60 indicated, which means she’ll do 70-75 mph with no worries. I will say that hitting expansion joints at that speed on Triangle springs is a dicey proposition. Apart from that, and my ladies being in a separate car (one with air conditioning and airbags), the ride was perfect. The outside temperature was warm but not sticky, the sun as at my back, and the roads were mostly clear.

I got one guy who pulled up next to me in an Acura SUV, honked his horn to get my attention, and gave me a huge thumbs-up and a smile. He stuck a camera out the window and shot a picture on the way past.

Date posted: July 11, 2011 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

I still feel a little queasy from the exhaust fumes, but it sure was nice to warm Peer Pressure up and drive her into work. I wonder if a hardtop would cut down on the smell.

I did represent the Scout on my Christmas list; at the top was a new gas tank sender and J-hooks, as well as some inexpensive speakers and a Service manual. Come on Santa!

Date posted: December 6, 2010 | Filed under Inspiration, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Spare Carb

I chose an absolutely glorious day to drive up into Monkton/White Hall to meet with a nice fellow and buy a spare Thermoquad for Peer Pressure today. Apart from one minor hiccup with lousy battery cabling, the old girl ran like a top, and we ventured out into farm country, blowing up clouds of leaves and passing by cows, horses, and IH farm equipment of all vintages. Erik is a real nice guy with a stable of drool-worthy trucks, and he gave me my pick of two Thermoquads. The one I chose looks like it was recently rebuilt itself, and comes with all the associated hardware I’ll need in case of replacement.

two scouts

Later in the afternoon, I got a call from Mr. Scout, who was in town and behind the wheel of Chewbacca on her maiden voyage across the Bay Bridge. He stopped in to say hi and we looked her over; the work he did is spotless and the truck is beautiful. We took a short spin up the block and he made me get behind the wheel for the return trip. She feels great; the engine is strong, the brakes are sharp, the wheel is straight, and the truck feels tight, like it just came off the showroom floor. Well done, sir. You’ve made me proud.

Chewbacca visits

Date posted: November 21, 2010 | Filed under Friends, Inspiration, Progress, Purchasing, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Meeting a fellow Scout

I was heading to Columbia yesterday on business and as I pulled Peer Pressure to the end of the driveway, a teal Scout happened to pass by slowly. I honked and they pulled over to chat. It turns out the owner lives in Bethesda but grew up in the ‘Ville, and his Dad lives right around the corner. He just bought his rig a few months ago from Pennsylvania and he’s looking at fixing it up. I would have taken them up on their offer of a beer in the shade but I was under a time crunch so I only chatted for about 10 minutes. I turned him on to the Binder Planet and the ODBA, as well as mentioned the local crew we’ve got in the area. His plan is to drive it up here to his Dad’s place and work on it there over the summer and through the winter. His truck is in really nice shape–little to no rust anywhere but the rear arches and in the rockers; his engine is so clean you could eat off the air filter cover. It’s a V-8 with a 2bbl but he doesn’t know which one yet, so we’ll have to do some sleuthing for him.

Date posted: August 1, 2010 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »