Here’s where the box stands as of last night. I put weight on the cage to set it in place, then tacked some scrap metal to the open end of each bottom bar. With both bars at the proper angle, I measured and cut two legs to meet up with the ends and tacked them to the top bar. After checking that fit, I brought the whole assembly inside and welded it all up, as well as added two sections along the bottom side of the short edge. I closed up the holes on the bottom ends and smoothed the welds out on all of the outer edges with a flap disc.
After Day 2 of Hurricane Ophelia or whatever they’re now calling this blustery rainstorm that was supposed to have leveled the East Coast, I have a report on the repairs to the Travelall. In short, everything I did to the cowl looks pretty good. I saw one drop of water from the driver’s side vent opening that I haven’t been able to figure out yet, but the rest of the seams all look like they held well. Both of the floors are damp but I suspect that’s due to leaky door seals more than water coming through the cowl. There’s water along the sills in back as well which bears this theory out a little more. Along with the weatherstripping, Today I ordered a car cover so she can overwinter without getting wet, as well as postpone a hasty respray of the roof until the weather warms up and allows paint to dry and cure properly.
Sunday afternoon it was too rainy to be working outside but too warm to not be working. So I jumped the gun on my seat locker project and got started. In the garage, I tuned the radio to the Ravens game, then cut metal down and assembled the top of the cage first, knowing that the curves on the bottom would be difficult to assemble without it.
The rectangle went together smoothly, and I used the tailgate of the Scout as a level worktable to get everything squared up. I measured the height of the step again, cut four legs and tacked them into place. I’m not getting fancy with 45˚ butt-joint welds here because everything will get covered in sheet metal when this is complete.
Then I put spacers under the legs and looked at how the bottom of the cage would come together. The floor slopes down gently from the center, and the transmission tunnel sits in the center of that area. It’s a lot shorter than I envisioned, so my original design is being modified as I go. I don’t actually have enough vertical height for a length of tube spanning the front floor, so I have to cut legs that will tie into the upper bar.
I cut two short lengths of tube for the front side of the cage and tacked them into place just short of where the tunnel starts. With those in place I can gauge the angles I’ll need to cut the legs up to the top tube. I’m going to leave the bottom of the cage off in back, and weld in some tabs that can mount directly to the step wall.
By 7PM I was losing light, and couldn’t work in the truck anymore, so I cut two short lengths and tacked them in across the top of the cage where they’ll be the supports for a set of piano hinges.
The next step will be dragging the welding gear out to the driveway, putting weight on the cage, and tacking scrap metal to the open end of each bottom bar. From there I can get a proper idea of the angle for the legs, cut them down, and weld them in. Then two tubes go at the bottom of the thin sides to complete the boxes. I’ll cap off the open ends of the tubes and grind everything down smooth, and then start bending sheet metal.
Currently, we have Tropical Storm Ophelia blowing through Maryland, bringing rain and high winds all the way up the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve been keenly aware of the weather ever since I took the canopy down over the truck, wondering how the cowl repairs will hold up in the rain. Before the surgery, an hour of rain would soak the floorboards, all the water dumping directly down through the rusty holes. From what I can tell now, after 12 straight hours the repairs have all held up really well. There’s no water penetration from above; all I can see are small rivulets forming from dried-out weatherstripping around the doors.
The question is, which door seals do I need? There are three offered by most Light Line dealers: an interior door edge seal, a door seal set, and a pillar door seal set. I have the pillar door seal set, which looks like it goes along the inside of the door and is glued in with sealant (which I don’t have). They’re getting familiar with me at IHPA, so I’ll have to call over there and get the details.
In back, the new window is sealed tight, but the rear window on the driver’s side is leaking from a 1″ split in the gasket up top. So I’ve added another rear window gasket to the purchase list. I think I’m going to have the installer from last week come back out and give our luck another shot replacing that side.
Someone on the Round-Body Travelalls FB group posted a very interesting picture of a Travelall with a brand-new bumper, and mentioned that the bumper for a 1957-60 Ford F-150 will fit a Travelall and look very similar to boot. My bumper looks like it was dragged behind the truck and then re-attached with bubble gum, so I think maybe this will be an option—I don’t foresee tripping over a C-series bumper in good shape anytime soon.
I called Super Scout Specialists to inquire about what a new dash wiring harness would cost, and the guy who assembles them is supposed to call me back. I’m going to ask him what it would cost to add circuits for A/C, power steering (I may go electric), trailer lights, charging ports, and a couple of spares, as well as swapping the fuse panel to spade fuses. That will be the next big project—pulling the dash apart and sorting out the electrical system (god help me).
On the Scout side, everything is running quietly as it should. I noticed that my temperature gauge is now dead, so I threw a temp sender in our biweekly Amazon cart for replacement. If that’s not the issue, I have something like six spare gauges in my parts stash that can easily be swapped in.
Tuesday I had an auto glass guy stop by the house to install my windshield and second-hand unobtanium rear quarter glass. When he got out of the truck and I saw his beard was as gray as mine, I began to worry a little less. He started with the windshield, for which I’d already stretched and mounted the gasket, and while I was inside on a call got it installed in about 20 minutes. Apparently it would have been faster but the outer edges of the curved sections looked wider than the frame, but after giving it a think, he figured it out and got it in place.
Then he turned to the rear glass. After cutting out the old gasket and removing the cracked piece, we surveyed the pinch welds and found them to be in very good shape, with just a little surface rust in the rear lower corner and along the middle of the bottom edge.
I sanded them and hit them with some rust stop while he started carefully stretching the gasket on to the old glass. I put hands on the edges and between the two of us we got it mounted without snapping the curved sections. After letting it sit for about ten minutes, we carried it over to the truck and set it in place. He was surprised that it had to be roped in from the outside, but once he got his head around that he had me sit inside and hold it in place while he worked his way around the perimeter. All in all, we got it in place in about twenty minutes, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
He was a really cool guy and I tipped him well for his skill; he thanked me for the most interesting install job he’s had in a long time. After he left, I took the canopy down and made the place look 34% less redneck. It’s great to have the glass out of the back of the truck and my storage crate for the side glass out of the way in the garage.
After calling around last week and leaving messages at several local glass installers, I finally got two on the phone. The first guy balked when I told him what year the truck was but said they’d be able to handle it if I drove it to their shop. He then quoted me a price of $500 to have someone come out and do it in the driveway. The second shop was much easier to work with, and after I sent a couple of pictures to the office manager, she got back to me and said they’d be able to do both the windshield and the rear quarter glass for less than the first quote. So I made an appointment and ordered some rubber from IHPA. I have a brand new gasket waiting, and I can’t wait for Tuesday.
I cleaned up the truck in preparation for having the glass put in, and looked over the front seat again. For some reason I’ve been thinking the bar frame mounts directly onto the seat bases, completely forgetting there are two track mounts that go between. After slapping myself in the forehead, I fished the set of tracks I bought from Ray out of my parts bin and looked them over, and everything became much clearer. I did some rust repair and cleanup on both, and ground off a bent and warped bolt on the driver’s side track. After sorting out the hardware issue, I welded a new bolt on to the track and cleaned it up. I taped off the tracks and hit them with etch primer before they got two coats of IH red. I’ll let them sit and cure for a couple of days, then install new hardware and a spring on each side. I sprayed the bar frame with semigloss black and let that sit to cure as well. When it’s all ready, I have new hardware and a spring on each side to mount it to the frame, and then I have to source a cable to reach across under the seat to release both of the slide catches.
And on the subject of seat bases, I got a bunch of metal delivered on Thursday for the rear seat locker. I can’t wait to dig into that project.
We went out over lunchtime on Friday to pick up the Scout, and I can’t believe how quiet she is again. The mechanic replaced the valve, manifold and gasket, and now she sounds like I remember. One other thing he fixed was the front wheel bearing. When he put it on the lift he watched the tire droop and investigated; apparently when he pulled it apart the inner bearing was just destroyed. So he replaced the parts and repacked everything and it should be good to go. This is disturbing, as I just had this fixed before I went to Nats two years ago, so clearly the work wasn’t done properly. Lesson learned. In either case, I drove home with a huge smile on my face.
While waiting for the mechanic to call, I scuffed, primed and painted the new battery tray and got it ready for installation. Saturday evening I pulled the remains of the old one off and cleaned up the inner fender as well as I could before brushing on Rust Converter, followed by a coat of black Rust Encapsulator. When that was dry I dropped the tray in place and bolted it down. Now I’ve got to find a 9.5″ threaded rod in the proper width to use for the inside hold down point, and I can cut out and fabricate my own hold down bar to cap it off.
The Scout is sitting inside a garage down outside of Annapolis as terrible thunderstorms rumble overhead, waiting on a used exhaust heat riser to ship from Ohio. An exhaust heat riser is a valve that stays closed on startup and heats the manifold quickly, which is supposed to lower emissions. My truck, being a 1979 model, came with all of the emissions garbage they could think of that year to try and appease the EPA for an engine designed in the late 1950’s; there are more hoses on that engine than a garden supply store. Anyway, over time, the valve seizes up and stays closed, which is what it sounds like mine has done. This part isn’t regularly made for Scouts anymore, so Super Scout Specialists is sending us a used unit and we’ll throw that in to see if the leak disappears. I’m going to have my mechanic save the old one so I can disassemble it and weld the holes for the shaft closed: I can then use it for a replacement when this valve dies.
Because I am a dipshit and I’ve had Travelall on the brain almost exclusively lately, I completely forgot about two other Scout projects that have been sitting quietly in a box in the basement since the end of winter. I’m in a bit of a holding pattern on the Travelall until I get some stuff organized, so I thought I’d look through the box and get things sorted out.
- I bought new wing window rubber for the Scout very soon after they started producing it. Both wing windows on Peer Pressure feature crumbling, UV-blasted rubber. Both of the mounts on each window are broken at the pivot spring underneath, which basically means the window opens and flops around in the slipstream. And the passenger wing latch fell off, so it doesn’t stay closed. In my parts stash I have a grand total of seven spare wing windows: three loose units I’ve collected from parts trucks, and four that were installed in the four spare doors I’ve got. Among all of these spares, I have a total of two that aren’t busted to shit. So I pulled a good left and right unit out of the parts doors and gave them a once-over. Both are OK except that the left unit doesn’t have a latch—but I’ve got spares of those.The lower left brace on the right unit was loose: the spot welds were giving way, so I busted out the MIG and tacked it back into place with little trouble. I brought them down to the basement workbench to be refurbished during rainy weekends in front of a football game.
- I’d completely forgotten that I also bought a new battery pan for the Scout to replace what’s left of the factory pan in there now. It’s a beefy chunk of bare metal and needs a scuff, a coat of etching primer, and several coats of strong black paint (and maybe a layer of undercoating) before I put in in the truck. It’s got three bolts welded underneath to mount to the inner fender—I’ll have to check my spare fender a little more closely to see if this will be just a simple task of cutting the old one out and bolting the new one in (the two holes on the right side of the shelf area below).But once the truck is back I can install that, and set up a proper battery hold down situation; the battery is currently held in place with a tired bungee cord. Because that’s how I roll.
I dropped the Scout off at a new mechanic this afternoon. This is a fellow down past Annapolis, who came recommended by a fellow Scout owner I’d met through the Binder Planet, who owns a rig that’s currently torn down into pieces after a botched restoration attempt by a local shop. He’d sent me to this new fellow with nothing but good words, so I decided to roll the dice, as I can’t find anyone local who I like or who knows older vehicles. We found his shop up at the end of a new access road, and I started feeling good; it’s a tidy new construction 3-bay behind his house. He stepped out of the garage and we shook hands. He asked me to start it up and give it some gas so he could listen, and immediately nodded his head and said, “yeah, that’s an exhaust leak.” The inside of his shop was just as clean as the outside, and I felt even better. It’s going to take some effort to get the manifold off without snapping bolts, but that’s why he’s the pro and I’m paying him.
September is here, and Finn is back in school, and the mornings aren’t quite as warm as they were a few weeks ago. I’m looking at the fall as a time to wrap up some of my current projects and the winter for tackling some new ones where I don’t need to be outside. To recap, here’s where we currently stand on the Travelall:
The cowl area is complete; now the windshield needs to go back in and I have to put the hood back on in order to close the truck up for the winter. I’d like to install new weatherstripping around the doors as well, but I’m going to work with what I’ve got.
I took some time to troubleshoot the starting issue—she was starting normally for a long while and decided to stop the week I worked on the cowl. On Sunday I ran through all of the basics—tested for spark, filled the carb bowl, and made sure the choke was working correctly—and finally got her to light off but not stay running. I knew the fuel lines were all clean; they’re brand new all the way back to the tank. So I replaced the fuel filter I’d placed between the pump and the carb, which was full of black sediment, and lit her off again. She caught and suddenly ran more smoothly; fuel was spurting happily into the filter where I hadn’t seen anything before. I’d hooked a couple of 4″ PVC pipes to the tailpipe pointed out behind the garage so I let her run for five or ten minutes to get warm and see how the engine responded. I topped off the radiator and waited until the top rad hose felt hot; I don’t have a working temp gauge in the truck so I don’t know if the thermostat opened. I’ll put a laser sensor on it next time I run it and see where the filler neck reads. I didn’t have time to test the clutch or brakes, though—and I already see one leak at the junction above the rear axle.
With winter approaching, I’ve got three projects in mind, two of which I should be able to tackle indoors and out of the elements:
- The top is still a patchwork of primed spots; I’d like to get one full coat of primer on the whole thing and, ideally, spray the whole top out with IH red. With the weather getting colder this may be tricky, but if I’ve still got the canopy over it I won’t have to worry about dew or leaves falling into new paint.
- I’ve got two full bench seats waiting for new material. This will start with burlap over the springs, several layers of strong foam, and new upholstery. I’ve got an IH friend who specializes in period-correct patterns and materials, and he’s teed up to produce some vinyl coverings for me. My brother-in-law has hog ring pliers and all the rings I need to complete this project, which is fantastic.
- Thinking ahead to lockable storage in the truck, I surveyed the rear bed to see if I could sink a steel lockbox into the floor in the center or on either side of the rear axle. Unfortunately, because the frame was an offshoot of a pickup truck design, it wasn’t engineered for space efficiency. The frame and axle take up a huge amount of space toward the front of the truck, and the beefy hitch mount running up the middle prevents me from dropping a deep well at the back. It’s not out of the question; there’s space above the hitch bar where I could drop a 30″w x 15″l x 5″d metal box in the middle of the floor, and I may well do this. It’s just not very deep—unless I build it with a hump in the middle. More planning will be required.There’s a guy on YouTube who has the same model Travelall who replaced the factory tube cage holding the rear bench with a lockbox, taking advantage of ~2376 cubic inches of space. I’ve already started sketching out some plans for a similar box made out of 1″ square tube and a bunch of the 16 gauge sheet I’ve got sitting in the garage. My plan is similar to his in that I’m planning on two top-mounted doors accessible from either side, using piano hinges and flush-mounted truckbox handles. The axle hump takes up a fair bit of the space inside, but having someplace to lock tools and parts is key. I’ll probably buy another 40MM ammo can and use that for additional storage in the rear section.
So I watched all the videos and I made the plans, and Saturday afternoon I asked Jen to help me set the windshield in place so that I could start installing it. What I found was that we couldn’t get it oriented on the bottom lip of the windshield frame correctly, nor could we get the top centered without the bottom sliding out of the lip and everything going to hell. I tried several times, even pulling the guide rope out of the channel (they tell you to stuff a 1/4″ rope in the main channel and use that to set the whole thing in place once it’s properly seated) but we couldn’t get it to work. So I requested quotes from about six different glass companies in the area to see if anyone has a specialist who can come out and put it in for me.
I did finish spraying out the cowl, for the most part, and took a wire wheel to the grate inset. When I had that down to bare metal I hit it with etch primer and then a coat of red. I’m going to buy some plastic screen and zip tie it to the underside like I did with the Scout grille to keep crud out of the cowl. Then I had Finn help me put the hood back in place and screwed that back down to make things look a little cleaner. It needs to come off again and get a thorough wash, sand, and rust treatment on the underside, but for now it makes the truck look a little more presentable.
Then I hooked two lengths of 4″ PVC pipe I had behind the garage up to the exhaust to send that out and away from the house, and tried to start the engine. No amount of cranking would do the trick—I put a bunch of gas in the carb and opened up the choke, but couldn’t get it to catch. I’ve got to do some serious troubleshooting tomorrow to see if I can figure out what the problem is.
After much stopping and starting, I’ve got six Quick ‘N Easy roof racks prepped and ready to install. To recap, three were in great shape, and three had various bolts frozen in place from long-term corrosion. I finally got the right size bolts for my tap and drill and finished setting those up this afternoon only to find out that aluminum and stainless steel don’t play well together. So I have to go back out and find steel bolts in the correct size and I can call this project done.
Having spent seven full days on a serious sheet metal project, here are my takeaways:
You can never have too many angle grinders. I’ve got three, and I ran a cutoff, grinding, and wire wheel primarily. If I had to do it over again, I’d have a fourth with a flap disc. The brand is unimportant; two of mine are the cheapest Harbor Freight models sold, and that’s what I’ll buy for the fourth. A splitter block for the extension cord is also key. Making sure the grinding wheel isn’t dull saves a ton of time.
Conversely, Harbor Freight sells a long pneumatic 3″ cutoff wheel which I found to be absolutely useless. It wasn’t strong enough to cut through anything and spent most of the time in the box. However their 2″ pneumatic orbital sander came in super-handy for tight areas.
My Eastwood 140 MIG was absolutely outstanding. It’s an inverter type so it’s easy to carry and move around, and the controls were dialed in perfectly. I’d bought an extra spool of wire but found I didn’t need it, which was a shock given how much wire I was using to fill things. I would recommend this welder to anyone.
My garage is small, uneven, and filled with stuff, so I worked out in the driveway for the majority of the project. I have a plastic folding table which became my workbench, and with an assortment of clamps and cardboard it worked out perfectly.
Having a fridge out in the garage was also key. Cold drinks throughout the day were essential for keeping cool and hydrated.
If I’d had more time, I would have taken the entire dashboard and heating unit out of the truck. I did try to remove the heater, but wound up spilling coolant all over the fucking place, and I still couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to come out, which put me behind schedule. So I re-connected it all and worked around it. It can be done, but I wish I could have done it better.
I don’t have a planishing hammer or beanbags (proper metal-beating tools) but I made do with an old Plomb hammer, a rubber mallet, a deadblow hammer, and Dad’s old green vise. I also screwed a Harbor Freight metal brake I got at a yard sale to the floor of the garage and used that for the larger bends, once I sourced a fat piece of aluminum bar for the backing plate. With those simple tools I was able to bend all of the metal exactly how I needed to. I’m going to have to figure something out for when I need to bend metal to replace the floorboards, as they’re wider than the 32″ brake, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Patience is key. I got carried away with my tack welds when I burned in the main vent sections, and they warped. I slowed down when I did the outer cowl repairs, and had better results. When I do repairs to the outer sheet metal I’m going to have to force myself to slow way down and take my time. This will be especially true when I put the cowl back on—I’m going to have to walk back and forth from one side to the other until it’s all done.
I’ve hung the front fenders on the truck with a single bolt for the last several months, and it makes things much, much easier to pull them off when I’ve got to get close to the engine. I have no idea when they’ll go back on semi-permanently (both of them will be replaced when I can source better ones) but for now they’ll remain temporarily tacked in place until I’m ready to button everything up for a while.
After all of this, I’m not afraid of sheet metal repairs at all—unless they involve compound curves I can’t replicate. There’s a section of rust behind the driver’s rear wheel that I can’t wait to dig into once the cowl is complete. But I would love to fool around with an english wheel and a bender…
I desperately want a larger garage, with a cement floor and a long, well lit workbench.
This project was exhausting. I was gifted with the most reasonable weather I could have hoped for—averaging 80˚ and sunny, with a constant breeze blowing through the yard. If this had been a normal August in Maryland, I’d only be halfway done and in the hospital with heat exhaustion. Even so, I came inside each evening and pretty much collapsed; my watch tells me I averaged about 4 miles of walking and ~8,000 steps a day. I would start immediately after walking Hazel and work until it got too dark to see. Big huge thanks to Jen and Finn for giving me the space to focus on this exclusively.
This was the most fun I’ve had on a project in a long, long time, and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.