I follow a bunch of Scout folks on Instagram, and some of them post really helpful tips from time to time. A week ago or so someone posted a picture of Kleen Strip concrete & metal prep, explaining that it’s basically the same thing as Evaporust, in a concentrated format—for a fraction of the price. I got a gallon of it at Lowe’s for $20 and thinned a small amount with three parts water. I was amazed at how fast and how strong it worked. Evaporust is good stuff but I found it dies out pretty quickly after the first batch of whatever I throw in it, so this is a welcome addition to the restoration toolbox.

Now that I’ve painted the transmission tunnel cover black, put in a black dash pad, sprayed the floors with black bedliner, and generally erased as much of the purple nonsense as possible, I’ve been looking at my khaki green glove box door with disapproval. I pulled it out of the truck, removed the lock barrel, and scuffed it with sandpaper before hitting it with three coats of black semigloss. Reinstalled it makes the whole thing look better—but now all I can see is that stupid purple dashboard. Maybe I need to just tape the whole thing off and spray it black…

My hunt for a set of black PT Cruiser seats continues. Our local junkyards have an app that sends alerts when particular cars hit the yards, and I check every time one comes in. It’s been a year and I’ve had zero luck. I think that option must have been in low demand in 2009. Meanwhile, Dan at the Binder Boneyard just announced a new product: a set of seat bases incorporating a locking access door. An added bonus is that they’re an inch shorter to accommodate aftermarket seats, something that would improve my seating position immensely.

The truck has been making a lot of noise on the passenger side for the past couple of months, something I’ve dealt with in the past on the driver’s side. The culprit then was the exhaust manifold gasket, which had disintegrated, so the effect was basically that of open headers—not the most neighborly situation when driving through town. I pulled the passenger wheel off the truck to better access the gasket and found myself cursing the engineers once again; instead of putting the bolts fore and aft of the pipe in easy to reach positions, they put them port and starboard, which makes one easy to reach and the other impossible.

And there isn’t enough room on the top bolt to get a box head wrench around it, so it’s all guesswork and busted knuckles. I couldn’t get the back bolt to budge, but found that the front bolt was still in good shape, as was the gasket. Turns out there’s another gasket above the pipe, two metal plates with something sandwiched in between, which has disintegrated, and that’s where the sound and fury is coming from. I’ve got to call Super Scouts and see if they have a replacement for that.

While I had the wheel off I measured the amount of backspacing on the rim so that I could compare it with the stock rim I have the spare mounted on; this will tell me how viable the spare is or if it won’t fit properly. Measuring the American Racing rims, there’s 4 1/8″ from the edge of the rim to the mounting surface, while on the stock rim there’s 3 7/8″. This means the inside edge of the wheel is closer to the frame on the stock wheel, making the turning radius wider—the wheel will hit the leaf springs sooner on the stock wheel because it’s closer to the truck.

I kind of dig the way steelies look on the truck, I have to admit…

Date posted: September 23, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

I took the day off from work to burn through vacation time before I lose it on October 1, and after my original plan for the day fell through I decided to tackle the windshield project. As it turned out, I’m glad I had the full 8 hours, because I wound up needing it.

To recap, I had a new windshield frame prepped and ready to go, because I had no idea what condition the frame on the truck was in. I might pull the gasket off and find the metal held together with Ritz crackers and wood glue. I had a new gasket ready and a clean, clear windshield from the Flintstone Scout waiting in the basement. Having pulled that glass from the truck only last year, I was familiar with the process, and all it really took was a utility knife. After cutting the lip off the gasket, I was able to push the glass outward just hard enough to get it free and put a crack right down the center. Oh well; I’m never using it again anyway. With a deep breath, I pulled the gasket off to find that the metal really wasn’t bad at all. In many respects this frame is the best of all three that I have—there were only two small holes on the driver’s side right below the channel, and the only crusty part of the lip was right above them. The rest was mainly just surface rust, and after masking things off I hit it all with the wire wheel and then some Rust Encapsulator.

Next up was mounting the gasket. This took some patience and a roll of painter’s tape, because once I’d gotten the bottom started the top didn’t want to set up correctly. I worked on it for a while and took a break with one area on the passenger’s side to go. After a snack and a pee break I came back out, looked at it a little differently, and got it in place in about five minutes. I’m glad I had the spare and took time back in May to practice on it, because it did take a while to understand exactly how it mounted to the frame.

Now to the hard part. I carefully laid the new glass in place along the bottom and eased it into the channel, then started working the edge into the gasket up the driver’s side. All of the videos and instructions say to use a special rope that has a certain amount of friction to sort of pull the gasket into place; I didn’t have that rope. I found that paracord did not work well—it was too slippery and the glass seemed to shave fiber from the edge of the cord. What I did have were a set of pallete knives I use for scraping, which have rounded edges: perfect for pushing on rubber without cutting it, and wide enough that they could handle a lot of material. With more patience and liberal application of soapy water, I got the driver’s side vertical started and up to the top horizontal section, where I stalled out again.

After some lunch I came back out and rethought the situation. Using the pallete knives I pushed on the rubber while adding careful pressure to the glass to get it to sink into the gasket as I moved to the left. It took some practice and there were some frightening moments where I was sure I was going to crack the glass, but I got the passenger’s side vertical into the gasket and then slowly pushed the glass into the top section until the gasket captured it all with a quiet “thup”.

This gasket has an integrated locking loop, which took more soapy water and the pallete knife to tackle, but that went relatively quickly compared to everything else. I ran out to the store for some rearview mirror glue, and popped the mounting puck off the old windshield with careful application of heat from a propane torch. When that cooled off I glued it in place and washed the windshield down with Windex.

I started at about 9AM and had the glass settled and sealed by 3:30; it took an hour to go get the mirror glue, prep it, and install everything (it needs time to cure on the glass). On the road, it’s a completely different story. The glass is clear and bright; the setting sun doesn’t turn everything opaque, and at night the lights from oncoming cars don’t become blinding. It’s like driving a new truck. After fourteen years of squinting through a vaseline-covered lens, it’s an incredible upgrade, something I should have tackled years ago. I’m glad I finally took the time to think it through and prepare for it properly.

Date posted: September 16, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | 1 Comment »

I had a bunch of time on Labor Day to fart around, and after a leisurely start in the morning, I got to work on the windshield project. The first part was sanding the chassis encapsulator drips off and prepping the surfaces for primer. I started with the back and worked my way over to the front, polishing everything with 1000 grit sanding blocks. After the majority was covered I used seam sealer on the top and sides, closing up the areas where pinch welds were all that IH used, and let that sit.

The next big question, based on the plan, was: how easy is it to swap out windshield frames? I’d pulled a whole frame off a truck back in 1999 or so, humorously enough right up the road at West End International, but I don’t remember how easy or hard that was twenty-plus years later.

The frames are built with two braces on each side. The braces mount to the top of the cowl with two bolts and a third on the passenger side to adjust up or down. The A-pillars are built with access panels to reach each of these bolts, but it’s a lot easier to see and adjust things when you can reach them, and for that I figured the fenders might have to come off. I’ve never had the fenders off this truck or Chewbacca—I’ve probably pulled ten different fenders off of other Scouts in the past, but not the two I actually own. I had no idea what to expect. There are somewhere between twenty to twenty five bolts that hold each fender in place, and all it takes is one frozen bolt to ruin an afternoon. Knowing that I was probably doomed at the beginning, I got the impact driver out and started working. And to my shock and surprise, all of them came out with little to no problem.

Actually getting the fender off took a little doing—the space between the door and fender is small—but when I figured that out I could see what I was dealing with. The well at the bottom below the kick vent was full of twigs and leaves; I’ll have to vacuum the other side later this fall. Somebody had gotten in here and hit everything with POR-15 or some other encapsulator, because it’s all in excellent shape. The inner fender is relatively solid except for some rusty spots in the front corner, so I’ll have to repeat this process and hit it with encapsulator.

What I found was that I can’t really see much of the bolts or their mounts from the front side, and there isn’t much gained by pulling the fender at all. The only advantage would be to hit the back sides of the bolts with PBBlaster, something I forgot to do before I rehung the fender.

I did, however, spend time doing something completely useless: I pulled two of the spares off the wall in the garage and hung them on the outside of the truck for shits and giggles.

Oddly, I’m not that upset with how the white fender looks! I don’t think I’d ever paint this truck white, but it’s got an interesting appeal. I wonder if my opinion would change if I hung one of the red doors on it instead of the purple.

It was due to rain in the afternoon, so I got things put back together quickly, finished sanding the windshield frame, and put everything back into the garage. I decided I’d stick with the current paint theme and keep the new frame red, so the color I chose is Chrysler Flame Red, which is close enough to what I’ve already got.

After Amazon dropped off the paint, I sanded the frame once more, wiped it with a tack cloth, and prepped it for paint. I was thinking Flame Red was going to be light and bright, like IH Red, but it appears to be a lot brighter than I was bargaining for. After one coat from the Duplicolor and some quick sanding, here’s how things stood:

I’m considering covering this with International Red, which has more blue and isn’t quite as bright. I’ve got a can of Ace implement paint, basically made for covering scars on farm equipment, and I’m thinking I’ll sand the Flame Red smooth and put a couple of coats of this on it, because I like the color much better.

Date posted: September 11, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

Owning an antique vehicle requires keeping a number of lists. There’s the standard to-do list; there might be a list of parts sources, a list of trusted mechanics, maybe a mileage or expenditures list, and several how-do-I-do-this-again lists. I’ve got all of these plus about twenty more, and one of them is the why-did-I-forget-about-that list. This list contains all of the dumb little things I should have handled ten years ago when I first got the truck, or stuff I realized was broken years ago and have never gotten around to working on.

One of these forgotten things popped up last night on my way home from Southern Maryland last night. I had the top down and was driving home at freeway speed around 9PM in shorts and a T-shirt. Now, I’m not the biggest of guys—through some freak of genetics my BMI is still exceptionally low at this age, so I don’t retain heat well. By 9:30 I was pretty chilly. I had the chance to put a long-sleeve shirt and a windbreaker on at a red light but my legs were cold. Ordinarily it would be a very easy thing to turn the heat on, right? Well, not in Peer Pressure.

See, the valve controlling the heater core has been almost frozen shut since I’ve had the truck. I could get into the engine compartment and open it with a pair of pliers—which is how it stayed through most winters—but it’s not optimal for September days when the daytime temps are in the 80’s and the nights go down to the 50’s. Having it finally be adjustable from the cabin would be great. I drove home with a blanket on my legs for part of the drive, swearing that I was finally going to handle the situation this weekend.

I’ve had a new valve handy since I refurbished the heater core, so today I took about fifteen minutes to pull the old valve off and replace it with the new one. The hardest part was loosening the hoses from the old metal parts, but with a pair of pliers and a nut driver it swapped in pretty easily. Now the lever on the dashboard opens and closes it with ease; I should be in much better shape this fall.

Meanwhile, the Duplicolor I ordered specifically this weekend suddenly got delayed, so I can’t paint the windshield frame over the long weekend like I was hoping. I’ve got primer and sanding pads here ready to go, so I can prep it ahead of time, but I would really like to get color on it before it starts getting colder, and work toward getting the new glass installed before October.

Date posted: September 4, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Peer Pressure has been running like a champ; I’ve taken her down and back to Southern Maryland twice in the last two weekends, riding with the top down under sunny skies, with the tunes on, and the dog dozing in the backseat.

I had a couple of hours to kill this weekend and used them to prepare the spare windshield for paint, based on my plan. I spent a couple of hours grinding as much of the remaining rust out of the visible sections as I could and then hit them with encapsulator. Then I used my can of Internal Frame Coating to cover as much of the interior as possible; I thought it might cut down on the rattling of rusty material inside the frame, but it did not. When I sat the frame on the ground to spray the second one, it dripped the material on parts I’d already sanded smooth, so I’ll have to do that again.

I’ve got to hit it with lighter primer anyway before it gets a color, so there’s more sanding in my future. I bought two cans of Duplicolor’s Chrysler Flash Red, which seems to be a lighter shade that will approximate the original IH shade of red on the current windshield.

A couple of weeks ago I sent off two packages in the mail—one to my internet friend Lydia in Austin, containing an Old Line State Binders T-shirt and a bunch of stickers in trade for the beautiful Austin Binders shirt she gave me. It wound its way through the post office and she finally got it yesterday (I was getting worried).

The second was a handful of stickers to Super Scout Specialists; they’d posted a call for stickers on Insta for the window on their front door, and in return they’d send a bunch of theirs back. I ran a new set of Peer Pressure stickers with my handle and hashtag more prominently visible and sent them off, and yesterday I got a bunch of cool stickers back from them—including a version of the famous Super Scout illustration from the 70’s. I gotta figure out where to put this one.

Date posted: September 1, 2022 | Filed under Progress | 3 Comments »

I’ve been scouring the classifieds for the last six months, looking for some kind of a project vehicle to work on. Peer Pressure has been running smoothly all summer, and I’ve been hesitant to mess with anything (the First Rule of driving an antique vehicle: if it’s running, don’t fiddle with it) but I’m looking for a project I can tackle on the side to scratch a couple of different itches. It’s gotten to the point where there are some nights that I wake up and spend an hour going over the details of a project I don’t even own.

The current market reflects a wide range of options and prices. There are factory-fresh trailer queens available for high five figures, as well as piles of rust for scrap value; and then there are people who think a clapped-out shitbox buried in a field is suddenly worth thousands.

I started obsessing about pickup trucks last year when I was working on the schoolbus, and that kicked back in when I was doing a lot of hauling at my FIL’s house. A pickup would solve a lot of problems: all of the debris and crap is contained outside the cab of the vehicle; the bed is larger and can hold more stuff than the Scout. Several pickups have come and gone, but the right truck within the right distance and right price range hasn’t appeared yet.

Ideally, I’m looking for something in the ~$2K range. I don’t need for it to run (I’d actually prefer it didn’t) and I don’t need for it to be complete. If it’s a pickup, I’d like for the body to be in decent shape, the glass to be present, and the hidden sections of the cab to be solid. If I’m looking at a Scout, I’d like to see the outer body in decent shape, but if the floors are crusty, I can deal with that—I’d actually like to practice welding using that as the project.

There’s a guy who listed a Scout 800 on Marketplace about three weeks ago. He posted pictures of a topless, doorless blue Scout sitting in a forest with plants growing in the rear bed. It looks mostly complete otherwise, and it would be the perfect project vehicle—at least through the photos presented—if only the seller would respond to me. I’ve messaged him about eight times since he posted it, but it’s not been taken down and I’ve heard nothing from him. It’s only miles from here and it’s something I could tow home with a dolly trailer; the price is perfect. It looks exactly the way I want it to; I’m not interested in perfect paint and laser-straight panels.

I guess what I’m looking for is something I can tear down (within reason) and not worry about having to get it back on the road by the end of the weekend; I’d love to practice welding skills on the floor of that ratty Scout and get it sturdy enough to drive, then take it over to Brian’s and use it as a testbed for an EV conversion. I really want to buy some metal and bend it and start shaping things with it.

Date posted: August 17, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration | Leave a Comment »

I drove back from the Eastern Shore last week, heading west into the sunset, and was reminded once again how beautiful that side of Maryland is, and at the same time exactly how shitty the glass in my current windshield is. It’s covered in small chips and nicks, so when the low sun hits it, I can’t see anything in front of me. I’ve literally driven with my head out the side of the truck in situations like this, which works fine for short trips to the store but gets very dangerous when merging onto a highway at 60mph.

I’m thus eyeballing one of the windshield frames in my garage and moving ever closer to swapping it out with the frame on the truck. At this point I’m trying to decide whether it’s a better idea to pull the glass out of the existing frame and replace it with the new gasket and spare glass, or just mount the whole thing in the spare frame and swap windshields. The former is filled with uncertainty; who knows what shape the metal is under the gasket on that unit? My guess is that it’s pretty crunchy under there, but I don’t know for sure. The latter solution is also problematic; mounting a whole windshield can be tricky with things like panel gaps and hidden bolts. But at least the engineers at IH made it removable in the first place; I’m lucky it’s even a possibility.

I’m leaning towards the second option, because I know what shape the inside of the spare frame is in, and I’d like to replace old parts with newer better ones as much as I can. I can also mount and prep the windshield wiper motor and linkage much easier on the spare frame than I can on the truck. With that in mind, here’s what has to happen, in order:

  1. Spray rust encapsulator inside the entirety of the frame
  2. Clean up the metal lip in a few places to make mounting the gasket easier
  3. Sand and paint the frame properly to cover the primer and encapsulator
  4. Hit the whole thing with clear coat to protect it
  5. Mount the metal lip and snaps for the soft top (this will be much easier on the bench than on the truck)
  6. Check, lubricate, and prep the wiper motor and linkage
  7. Install the gasket and glass in the finished frame
  8. Pull the old windshield off the truck
  9. Replace it with the new one
  10. Mount the rearview mirror much higher.

I’ve got the encapsulator. I think I’m just going to spray the outside with aerosol Duplicolor, as buying a $100 quart of paint to shoot out of a $100 gun I don’t even own seems a bit expensive. And the shape of the frame lends itself to aerosol as well; I don’t have to worry about smooth coverage on a wide flat area.

The big thing is pulling the old frame off and putting the new one on—I think I’ll probably pause at step 6 and cut the old glass out of the frame just to see how that one looks before trying to pull it off. If it’s relatively intact and just needs some light cleanup, I might just keep it on and pop the new glass in.

I’m still doing a lot of traveling on the weekends to my father-in-law’s house, but I think I can squeeze some time in during the next few weekends to knock out the first five items on that list. Now, the big question: which color do I use to paint the spare windshield? Should I stick with red, or go with something completely different?

Date posted: August 11, 2022 | Filed under Future Plans | 1 Comment »

I saw this lovely ’72 Scout on Marketplace yesterday and grabbed a couple of the pictures. This is a beautiful shade of green, and the grille/wheel combination works perfectly. I think the only way it could get better is if the top was white, leaning further into the ’70’s vibe.

BTW, The guy wants $42,000 for it.

Date posted: August 9, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration | Leave a Comment »

On our way down Congress Street in Austin last week, I was looking up at the beautiful neon signage when Finley said, “Look, there’s a Scout.” She was right: a red Scout II sat out on the street with the words Hotel San Jose on the side; apprently it’s pretty famous there but hasn’t moved much lately by the looks of the dried leaves on the front seats. I posted a picture on Instagram and one of the local Scout owners I follow liked it and asked if I was in town on Monday; she was going to be at a car meetup and would put the word out to the other Scout friends in town.

Sheepishly, I parked our rental Buick around back; lined up in front of the bar were a ’65 Chevy pickup, a ’70 Ford pickup, Lydia’s beautiful Scout II, an absolutely evil-looking early 70’s Nova, a ’56 or ’57 Belair sedan, and a mid 60’s Ranchero. After I grabbed a beer, I got to talking with Lydia and she told me about how she found her Scout; presently a couple of Scout 800’s rolled in, followed by a third she’d never seen before, and then a huge lifted Traveler. I met a bunch of new folks—atxscout800, seatruckn, and a couple of other folks not on the ‘Gram.

DSCF0045

We talked trucks and Austin and music and other stuff and generally had a great time. At one point I looked around and a blown El Camino had arrived, several customized vans, a first-gen Mustang, an absolutely spotless ’68 Pontiac Tempest, a beautiful ’60 Chevy Sport Coupe, and other beautiful cars. I hung around until about 10, when the crowd started thinning, and left with a sweet ATXScouts T-shirt, a couple of stickers, and a big wide grin on my face. Thanks, Austin!

Date posted: July 28, 2022 | Filed under Friends, Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been noticing the stitching on my $50 soft top coming apart above the rear flap for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been accelerating. Where it started out at an inch long, it’s now about  a foot and a half long and getting worse. Some of the threads have rotted and are giving way, but some of the canvas is ripping as well. I decided to pull the whole thing off and switch it out for the dark brown top from Chewbacca for the rest of the summer until I figure out a way to repair it.

This is the first time I’ve had this top on this truck. It’s a snap model like the tan top, so it’s a simple switch. But there are differences in the design—this one is clearly an early production version while the tan top is  newer. The main differences are around the front windows; on the tan model they sewed a set of padded baffles over the top of the windows so that rain wouldn’t drip inside the cab. The flaps that fold under the window frames are smaller and have less velcro surface area. And there aren’t any straps built into the back corners to hold the top down to the body.

It’s not very pretty. The color combination isn’t to my taste, but the top itself is in excellent condition. I’ve got some spare nylon strap and quick-release buckles left over from my last repair job, so I’m going to make another set of straps for this one. Finn and I took it for a test run this afternoon and the velcro held up fot ten minutes at 65mph, which is more than I can say for the other two tops. But if need be, I’ve got enough mil-spec snaps to modify the flaps like I did with the other two.

It’s hard to believe I’ve gotten this much use out of these tops—all three of them are over 20 years old and showing their age. But with some careful repairs I think I can get a couple more years out of them.

Date posted: July 8, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »