One of our local Scout friends sent out a call for help this week via text: he’d located an original International Harvester fridge and was asking if anyone could help him move it from a basement in Woodlawn up to his house in Timonium. Intrigued, Bennett and I answered the Bat-Signal and we made plans to meet up at the house on Sunday morning.
For those that might not know, IH produced refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners for a short period of time directly after World War II up until 1955, when they sold the division to Whirlpool. (The fridge on Friends was an IH model). The idea was that they would use their existing distribution channels to sell products to rural communities that had just been electrified, which is pretty clever, actually.
Bennett picked me up in Heavy D and we met Stephen in front of a 1950’s saltbox off Liberty Road. The house, and neighborhood, had clearly seen better days, but George, the owner, welcomed us inside his cramped, neat little house and led us down to the basement where we found our subject: a 1951 Model HA-84 refrigerator in very good condition, lined up against a wall. After measuring the doorways and the unit, I found a way to remove the door and we pulled all of the interior parts out—All either made of enamelware steel or glass, no shitty plastic here.
With George’s heavy-duty furniture dolly, we got it out the back door, pivoted in a tiny area, and then hauled it up the basement stairs to the backyard. From there it was pretty easy to move down the driveway, and the three of us deadlifted it up into the back of Heavy D’s bed.
At Stephen’s house, we brought it up the back stairs and into his dining room, where we stood it upright and put all the parts back on. It’s really in fantastic shape—all the internal parts are present and not broken, which is amazing. The steel on the outside is faded but will probably polish up well after a cleaning. The chrome is all in excellent shape. And from what we understand it runs perfectly.
We hung out and shot the shit for a while, including looking over Stephen’s IH Cub tractor and his new Scout 80 project, then grabbed some lunch before parting ways. All in all, a fun way to spend a gloomy Sunday, even if it wasn’t directly truck-related.
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.
So Tesla unveiled their Cybertruck last night, to the resounding shock of, well, pretty much everybody. While the specs sound fantastic (more towing capacity than a F150, better ground clearance, etc.) the whole thing is wrapped up in a body that looks like lousy origami or a first-year automotive design student’s initial study. When compared to the graceful curves of the Model S or 3, this looks unfinished. And there are practical considerations ignored that look like they never studied how real people use real trucks: that tailgate will be rendered useless after one trip to the Home Depot.
And what a terrible fucking name.
Finn and I got the Scout out on Saturday for the first time in two weeks to go get breakfast. She took a little time to get started but once she was running everything sounded good. It’s been averaging around freezing temperatures for the past two weeks, so my window to enjoy the soft top has slammed shut. To celebrate, the driver’s window on the Scout has stuck itself at the bottom of the well. No amount of coaxing would get it to come back up, so we enjoyed a blustery ride down to Ellicott City with the heat blasting on our feet.
That window has always been tricky. At some point the PO did some butchery to the doorframe and drilled out one of the mounting points, so there’s more give to the scissor mechanism than there should be when the crank is turned, which translates to resistance in the mechanism. The passenger’s side goes up and down like butter (I took them both apart and cleaned/lubed the channels a couple of years ago), but the driver’s side takes more work. I’m going to have to break the door down and see what’s going on in there when I get a reasonably warm day and an hour’s time.
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…
Amazing what a little pavement will do to clean things up. Now I gotta clean up those doors…
This thread on the Binder Planet is amazing: a guy in Pennsylvania bought a roached out Scout II and decided he was going to rebuild the tub one part at a time. He started in September of 2018 and he’s already got the tub bedlined and in the middle of sanding and blocking. His metalwork skills are superb. This makes me want a full shop and a couple of months of spare time SO BAD.
Bennett is now rocking fuel injection on Mr. Hanky, so he figured he’d ditch all the 40-year-old technology sitting in his garage. As we were beginning to wrap up with the project last week he walked out of the garage and handed me a spare Thermoquad he had sitting on a shelf somewhere. “I’m not going to need it,” he said confidently.
I put it on the bench this evening and looked it over in comparison to the known good International carb I’ve got already. The new one has a bunch of gewgaws and linkages and levers hanging off the body that I’m not familiar with; that’s because it was built for a 1979 California-market Chrysler 360 with an automatic transmission.
For comparison: the one on the right is a carb manufactured for International Harvester. The new one is in pretty good shape, so as a spare it’ll be good for spare parts. I realize at this point I just need to accept that I’m not going to finish the carb I’ve got and call the guy I met who rebuilds carbs for the International dealer up the street.
As shown in the time-lapse I posted earlier, we made some serious progress on Bennett’s injection project. Brian stopped by my place at a little after 8, chilled from a top-down ride over the bridge in the white Scout, so I made him a cup of coffee and we got him warmed up before humping a cabinet up into the new bathroom and then hitting the road.
Bennett had an array of tables set up in the driveway with Brian H, and they’d organized parts but waited for us to arrive before tearing anything down.
The Brians crawled under the truck to start dropping the tank while Bennett and I looked over the instructions for the carb and began yanking hoses and linkage off his mud-caked Thermoquad.
Soon we had the intake open and clean and started test-fitting the mounting plate, got the new throttle-body mounted, and started working out the wiring.
In back, Brian braved buckets of mud and rust falling into his eyes to get the tank dropped and mount new hoses, then installed the fuel pump under the driver’s door.
After a quick lunch, we got back at it and re-hung the fuel tank while Bennett drilled a hole in the firewall to pass the new wiring loom through to the glove box. At about 3 Brian and I had to head out so that we could make it to the junkyard before closing, but we left Bennett in good shape with most of the heavy two-person tasks complete (re-mounting the fuel tank is a pain in the ASS).
At the junkyard, we were looking for an electric steering motor from a Prius, a Versa, or a Kia Soul to modify the manual steering he’s got in the white Scout. Crazy Ray’s was bought by a national conglomerate a while back (it’s been a year or two since I’ve been) which means they now have an app that lists the inventory at all of their yards (!!!) and the stock is all lifted up on welded steel rim jack stands. They’ve cleaned up the operation a ton and it’s much easier to find things now—they even provide rolling engine lifts.
We found the one Prius in the yard but the motor was already gone, so we moved on to the Versa. After some digging under the hood (I figured it would be at the end of the steering shaft in the engine compartment) I was ready to give up but Brian looked under the dashboard and realized it was integral to the steering column. Once we figured that out it was an easy thing to tear down the dash and pull the unit out.
We made it out of the yard at closing time, said our farewells, and headed home. Turns out we left some of the required parts behind—we needed to grab the control module and something else, so he’ll have to go back and grab those things this weekend.