It Works

This is just a test of the system; I don’t have the dash officially installed (still waiting on rubber firewall grommets) but I got a package of replacement connectors for the last two firewall plugs and swapped out the old brittle ones. Because I couldn’t help myself, I hooked things up and tried it out. The turn signals trigger the dash lights, so there’s clearly something not connected correctly, but the truck starts off a new ignition barrel, and none of the fuses blew!

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Heater Box, Take 2

Here’s a progress report on the Travelall heater box. When I last left off, I had welded two patches into the bottom and the corner of the box and head ground down all the welds so that the metal looked pretty clean.

The next step was to put some filler on the metal and try to smooth things out. The first coat went on roughly and I sanded things down to figure out where the hotspots were. Using the hammer and dolly I knocked a couple of high points down and straightened a major valley in between the old metal and the new metal that had formed when everything got really hot during the welding. With that straightened out, it was easy to put a second coat of mud on things and get things smoothed out better. Over the course of Saturday afternoon I was able to get a final coat of mud on things and smooth it out to the point where hitting it with 1500 grit sandpaper has it looking really clean.

As you look at the photo above, you’re actually seeing the box upside-down; the welds on the side will be mostly hidden by the A-pillar wall and the curved section will be under the passenger’s feet. Barely any of this will be visible, but how it looks matters to me, so I’ll keep working on it.

The next order of business was to officially test the blower motor out. The wire leads are shielded so it’s hard to get test leads inside the plastic, so I found an orphan pigtail with an old Packard male lead at the end and used that to make a solid connection. When that was hooked up the blower motor came right to life, and each of the hot leads (one is for high-speed, the other for low) worked as advertised. So I cleaned up the blower cage, greased the spindle, and put that aside for re-assembly. Having already rebuilt a Scout II heater box, that experience has been super-useful with this one because I know exactly what I’m getting into and I have 9/10 of the parts needed to finish this one properly.

Looking ahead to August and Harvester Homecoming, I wanted to address something that’s been on my mind for a while: a proper cleanup of the cooling system on the Scout. I’d drained it when I put the radiator in but never actually flushed out the block, so I had the folks at Jiffy Lube down the street handle that for me—for the extra money I figured it would be a lot more environmentally friendly than just dumping it out in my driveway. From there I headed down to the Eastwood store in Pasadena to get a new bottle of Rust Converter and found they were having a car show out in the parking lot. There were a ton of immaculately restored Camaros and Corvettes and the odd bubble-top Chevrolet; a couple of beautiful lowered Beetles represented the import crowd. I heard several people call out the Scout as I pulled my junk up just outside the ribbon tape, and went in to get my supplies.

The truck ran super-cool the whole time I was on the road; the only time the temp gauge climbed was while I was waiting in some traffic on 695 and even then it wasn’t too bad. She definitely likes to keep moving to keep air flowing, which is no big surprise.

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July 15 Update

Here’s a compilation of work I’ve done on the trucks before and after our vacation, starting from the heater box, moving through electrical, and finishing with some welding on the heater box.

I’ve gotten the wiring to the point where the dashboard is in the truck but I can’t hook everything up permanently for want of two rubber grommets for the smaller bulkhead connectors and several Packard 56 connectors I don’t already have, so I ordered a handful more this afternoon in the hopes that they’ll be here by the weekend.

The heater box came out more easily than I thought it would, and is in better shape than I was expecting, but still required repair. I cut two sections of metal out and welded new metal in, and bathed the interior in Rust Converter until I ran out (I’ll be picking more of that up this weekend). Once that’s completely treated it needs a skim coat of mud to cover the divots and bumps, and then I’ll paint it up and get it ready to re-assemble. I think I’ve found a local paint shop who can scan my existing paint color and mix me a pint to match. I’ve also got to figure out why the blower motor won’t work when I test it on 12v bench power and source some more coolant hose.

The other thing I ordered were a set of floor mats for the Scout, knowing that we’ll be driving through the August heat to Indiana. I figure having something else between us and the engine heat will be well appreciated. And, having something to cover the heat matting will also be welcome. I’m hopeful they’ll be here in time, but they’re handmade and the maker estimates 3-4 weeks before they ship, so it may be a futile exercise. We’ll see.

Weekend Update, 7.15

Before I left on vacation, I took a little time to pull the heater box out of the Travelall to gauge its condition and access the firewall behind it. Overall it’s in good condition (much better than it deserved to be, given how bad the cowl rust was) but still needed some work. 

I’ve been installing heat matting on the vertical surfaces of the firewall, starting in the center, and worked my way to the outside edges after the heater box came off. I had to use a wire wheel to get the adhesive from the original insulation off, and then slathered everything with Encapsulator for good measure. 

We then went on vacation for two weeks. I took the family to Portugal, where we spent week driving to see some of the sights. The rental company gave me a shiny manual Peugeot for our travels. I got so used to the European shift pattern that I came back and immediately forgot where reverse was in the Honda and Scout. 

I also came back with COVID and missed out on working on the trucks while I was recovering, but got back to my projects the following weekend. The first order of business was to break into a big box from IHPA full of window rubber which had arrived while I was away. This contained the outer gasketry for each of the doors as well as rubber for the rear curved glass on the driver’s side which needs to be replaced. 

Both of the rear doors on the red truck have terrible aftermarket gaskets that have dried into brittle crust, so I focused on the driver’s side rear door to start. The old rubber came off with a plastic scraper and I used acetone to clean off the residue.

The recommended stuff is 3M 08008 Weatherstrip adhesive, which I applied around the top three surfaces, and then pressed the gasket in place with some clamps. I had to look under the driver’s door to see how the other gasket went in place, and when I figured that out I used encapsulator to clean up that section before installing the rubber.

At first I wasn’t planning on reinstalling the dashboard—I’m waiting on the two small rubber firewall grommets to come in before I can put it in permanently—so I used the original wiring harness to practice putting the large connector in place. This was not successful, so I need to reach out to some of the pros to ask how to do it correctly. (I did actually put the dash in place and start connecting some of the easy things because the heater box and plenum are out).

It’s very hot in Maryland right now and I didn’t want to spend a ton of time sweating in the truck, so I sweated in the garage working on the heater box. Rust had eaten away at one of the corners and bottom of the box, so I cut a section out from the bottom and another section from the side.

I used the edge of a large hinge to form the wider curves on a scrap section left over from the seat cabinet project, where I’d already formed a 90˚ lip on a metal brake. I cut the other section out of 18 gauge and used the hinge and my vise to form the bends and curves for the corner. 

I really need to either learn to slow down when I’m tacking together metal with the MIG or just break down and buy an inexpensive TIG for finish welding; I’m getting the metal too hot and not getting the best results possible. Plus, I really want to practice more TIG welding. That being said, it’s not too bad—nothing a light skim coat of mud won’t fix. 

The interior of the box needs to be bathed in Rust Converter and then sprayed out well, and I have to sort out why the blower motor isn’t working with 12V from my bench tester. The radiator unit itself is fine, apart from needing a new hose, and this can get put back in pretty easily. I’ve got plenty of foam tape left over from a Scout II heater box overhaul, actually, so that part is covered.  

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Back From Vacation

I’m back from a lovely 2-week trip to Portugal, but I came home with COVID so I’m quarantined in the spare bedroom until further notice. Waiting for me at home, however, was a big box from IHPA with all of the window rubber I’d ordered a few months ago. One piece was on backorder so they waited until they had everything before sending it along. I’ve also got a smaller package coming from a guy on Marketplace with a couple of things I need to put the dashboard back together, and they should be here tomorrow. But I won’t get to any of that until at least next weekend.

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Some Light Weekend Work

We spent most of the weekend cleaning the pantry and basement out to eradicate Plodia interpunctella, more commonly known as pantry moths, so I didn’t get a lot of driveway time, but what time I did have I used wisely. During breaks when the paint was drying I went out to the spares pile and pulled a connector off the original A/C compressor from the Travelall, which I then used to connect the inlet and outlet hose of the heater core together. With that off it was pretty simple to remove three bolts holding the heater box to the firewall and pull it out of the truck. It’s in very good shape, actually. Being bolted to the firewall against fiber insulation for sixty years definitely meant the back of the box was going to be rusted, but it’s in much better shape than I was hoping. There’s a hole at the bottom right side, directly under the cowl vent, where water was dripping down and through. But the heater core is solid, the motor, blower, and motor mount are solid, and the flapper still works as advertised. I put some penetrant on the screws holding the back panel on, and with a little help from some vice-grips was ale to get them out. I’ve got to blast the inside of the box, cut out some bad metal and weld some new sections in place. The motor needs to be tested, and I have to find a gasket to go around the top of the box that meets up with the cowl vent. But I can continue working on the truck while that’s sitting on the bench.

Then I wire- wheeled the rest of the insulation and glue off the passenger’s firewall and got it ready, first with some rust converter. When that was dry I slathered rust encapsulator over all the seams, joins, and rough spots I could see, including the inside of the cowl vent I wasn’t able to touch last summer. When that dried I covered the gaps with seam sealer. Then I got some more cardboard out and set up a template for each side of the firewall out to the A-pillar. Starting with the passenger side I cut out heat matting and set it aside. Then I flipped the template for the left side, cut it down to fit all of the controls under the dash, and cut out some matting for that side. Everything under the dash is going to cure overnight and if I can get away for a little time tomorrow evening I’ll fit the matting in.

In other news, I happened on a stash of C-series interior parts for sale on Marketplace and messaged the seller, who turned out to be Don, an old International guy in his 80’s. He’d sold his truck and was now selling off the remainder of his stuff. We talked on the phone for a bit, and he told me his last truck was a ’63, which is where most of the parts came from. We struck a very good deal on a set of exterior doorhandles, ’63 door strikers (different than later years, so that was a win), a dome light, interior door handles, two of the green lenses in the dash for turn signals (one of mine was bad) and a set of front turn signal lenses and frames. He told me he’s got more stuff stashed away, so I asked him to let me know when he digs it out.

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June Update

I put another 180 miles on the Scout yesterday going down to and coming back from my father-in-law’s house. The weather was perfect for an early summer drive: 80 degrees and sunny with a constant 5mph breeze. The truck ran flawlessly even when we were stuck in 45 minutes of stop-and-go traffic directly outside of Baltimore. The only thing I noticed was the temp gauge creeping up from its usual spot on the far left to sit under the left side of the indicator line. The only time I’ve seen it get any worse was in August traffic in Ohio on the way to Nats the year after I’d installed the aluminum radiator, and at that point it was in the center of the dial and slowly continuing to move right. I think a solid coolant flush is in order when I get back from our vacation; in fifteen years I’ve never flushed the block out.

The Travelall is coming along nicely. All of the original filament bulbs to light the dashboard have been replaced with LEDs, and I cleaned each of the sockets to ensure a solid connection. I ordered and received a package of Packard 56 connectors last week and swapped out the crumbling 6-way connector at the steering wheel for a new one. I’d already repaired a hack job splice directly above it but realized the connector was falling apart, so that had to go.

After I did that, I looked a little closer at the three sections of butyl tape on the passenger’s side of the transmission tunnel. After scraping it off, I found that they were covering three cuts in the metal made for reasons unknown. I scraped as much of the butyl off as I could and then removed the rest with brake cleaner. Because the answer to every problem is now welding, I pulled the Eastwood out and started tacking metal together. Working with the metal was pretty easy with the tools I’ve already got, and using my copper backer I was able to join sections that were wider than a standard butt-weld. I wound up setting some of the insulation on fire but the truck didn’t burn down, so that was good. After a series of welds and grinds, I got things closed up and covered it with some primer.

Then I wire-wheeled the remainder of the glue and insulation from the vertical sections of the firewall and hit them with rust converter for good measure. The duct for the defrost/heater in the center section was easy to remove, just two bolts, so I took that out and cleaned off the center section and prepped it. The goal here is to cover the entire vertical section of the firewall with heat/sound matting like I used in the Scout in place of the old fiberglas stuff. I used some thin cardboard to form templates, trimmed and edited them with painter’s tape, and cut out the patterns on the matting. With a little trimming and sectioning the first pattern went in smoothly, and I added two sections on either side. I’ve now got to take out the heater unit on the passenger side to access the firewall behind it, bench-test the blower, and make sure it’s not rusted to oblivion on the back side. Once I’ve got the firewall cleaned and covered I can put the unit back in and hook up the flapper to the cowl vent.

The driver’s side needs some sort of rubber gasket around the steering column; I have to ask the heads on the Binder Planet what went there back in 1963 and try to fab up something similar. I’m still waiting on The Scout Connection for firewall grommets, but I’m going to follow up with them on Monday.

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Please Release Me

Good news! The dashboard is officially out of the truck. I had to disconnect one final wiring harness at the steering column, push the bulkhead connectors through the firewall (not without ruining two of the small rubber grommets, which were hard as rock), chase down, label and disconnect several more random wires, including several going from the brake controller to the master cylinder. Once I had sorted those out, I clipped the two wires leading up to the nonexistent dome lights and pulled the cable going to the PTO through the firewall, and the whole thing came out.

Flush with success (and trying to plan for a rainy forecast on Monday) I hauled it and the dash from the green truck into the basement, set things up on the workbench, and started swapping the wires out. The fuse panel went in easily, and I pulled the main loom over to the gauge cluster to start moving wires over. Things got confusing very quickly until I worked out how the loom was oriented and began moving the gauge leads over; the spaghetti of lighting wires was difficult to sort out until suddenly it all became clear. The two main question marks left are the leads to the aftermarket oil gauge, which takes a smaller lightbulb, and a random gauge light clip hanging off the bottom of the loom that I can’t track down.

The headlight switch took the most time to deal with, because I was having a problem with the button latch on the bottom not releasing the knob. I monkeyed with it for a while, took a short break, and then unscrewed the bezel holding the whole unit to the dash. Pulling the knob all the way out at that point, I pushed the release button and the knob shaft popped out. I scrubbed the outside with electric cleaner and wire-brushed the contacts, then reinstalled the switch and hooked it back up. The ignition switch was a little more nervous-making, as I’d already swapped it out once very early after I’d gotten the truck and suddenly I couldn’t start it. I carefully followed the hookups on the back of the original ignition unit and screwed it back in place, but I have to verify I’ve got the wires in the right place.

The other thing I noticed was that the mechanical linkage from the heater control was slipping off the lever when it was open—it was actually disconnected when I got the truck. I pulled the wire off, bent it to add the right amount of torque to hold it down on the post, and reinstalled it.

With the old loom out, all of the scabbed-in wiring fell away and the whole unit looks a lot cleaner. The big question I’ve got now is how to add a radio in to the wiring; most likely it’ll be on its own fusible link but I have to figure out how it would be keyed to the ignition switch. I cleaned up the backside of the dashboard and got the whole thing ready to reinstall, but I’m waiting on a package of size 57 bayonet LEDs to replace all the filament bulbs before I put the thing back in the dash. Also in the cart is a new choke cable to replace the frozen one I pulled out.

So next up on the list is to clean up the firewall where I’d welded in new metal—wire wheel off the scabby seam sealer I used last year, treat it with rust encapsulator, put clean seam sealer over everything, and hit it with a coat of red paint. I’m waiting on the Scout Connection to see if they’ve got three new bulkhead grommets they can send me, and I have to find some plastic plugs for the holes left from the old A/C system. The last thing I’m going to do order and install some heat matting like I did in the Scout to cut down on temps coming in from the engine bay. When that’s all cleaned up, I can hang the dash back in place and hopefully never have to take it off again.

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