I had time to myself today, so I went out to try and solve the mystery of the dead lightbulb behind my heater controls. Now that I actually have heat it would be nice to see what the controls say; at one time I knew exactly how they worked by muscle memory, but that was in the days of Chewbacca and I got the heat in this Scout working only recently. To get to the one bulb on top of the control box I found it easiest to pull the fascia plate off the dashboard and with it the radio; this is the best way of getting back there without cutting a hole in the firewall and going in from the back. The bulb installed was weird, in that it has two wires going in and was zip-tied in place at some point. All three of the spare dashboards I own have one wire and no zip-tie. Additionally strange is that this bulb is different than all of the other bulbs in the dash: it’s a 5GE 57 bayonet (or some equivalent) so I have to source a new one from somewhere—all of the spares I own didn’t work.

On the subject of fascia plates, I’ve been thinking about dressing up the one I’ve got or replacing it, now that the rest of the cabin looks better. I own five in total, the one in the truck and these:

The chewed up green one is from the Flintstone Scout. I don’t remember where I got the woodgrain one from. The bottom two are from other rigs that I can’t remember (the good green one is left over from Chewbacca days). I’m hesitant to touch the two good ones so I’m going to see if I can use the better of the two bad ones and make a clean hole for a DIN9 receiver. That’ll be tomorrow’s project, along with sourcing the correct lightbulb.

Walking the dog through the ‘Ville today I noticed a familiar green Scout parked at my neighbor’s house. The house belongs to a nice man named Steve, who passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m still in touch with his son. I sent him an email this afternoon asking after him and to see if he needs help getting her roadworthy—the last time we traded messages he was having problems with the carb and I don’t know if he got them sorted out. I sent along info for the guy who did the brakes on PP last year, and hopefully I’ll hear back from him sometime soon.

Date posted: November 26, 2022 | Filed under Friends, Repairs, Sightings | Leave a Comment »

Spurred on by an Instagram post by another Scouter/designer, I got off my ass on Tuesday and finished building out a set of Scout II grille designs I started sometime last year. I put them up on Wednesday and got the highest number of likes on any post all year. It hasn’t translated to millions yet, but I’m hopeful that when I post the second set—Scout 80/800 grilles—I’ll get some more eyeballs, and maybe some more sales.

Date posted: November 24, 2022 | Filed under Design | 1 Comment »

I took the Scout out for a quick errand yesterday with Hazel to go pick up some dinner, and a small voice in the back of my head reminded me that I needed to get some gas. I’d already been to the other side of town to hit the dump earlier in the day, but our trip wasn’t that far and from what my mileage booklet said, I’d only gone thirty miles or so since my last visit to the pump.

I drove down the big hill from home into Ellicott City and just as I hit the bottom part of the road along the river, the truck died and I coasted to a stop on the shoulder. Hazel looked over at me from the passenger seat with reproach, then curled up on the seat and sighed. This is the second time this has happened at the foot of the hill—the first time it died pulling into the gas station a little further up the road—but it’s a warning I’m going to heed. I’m terrified of losing power going down that hill, and even though I know I could use the clutch to engine brake until a stop, when the steering goes out it’s like piloting an oil tanker. I’m terrified of digging in to the wiring behind the dashboard for fear the truck will never start again but the gauge situation and the wiper issue are now forcing my hand.

In the meantime I’m going to revise my mileage tracker to give me a better estimate of what my MPG actually is; my records show that I went down to empty in October of last year, which means I can use that and the records up until now to give me a better understanding of what my range is. Doing the math between now and then, I put 2887 miles on the truck, which converts to 3280 true miles (the ratio is 88 indicated to 100 true). I’ve put 296 gallons of gas into her between now and then, which works out to 11.08 miles per gallon. Not as good as Chewbacca did—Chewbacca was a 304 with a 2-barrel Holley 2100 carburetor and stock wheels, and she averaged anywhere from 12 to 14 depending on the type of driving and whether the top was down or not. Peer Pressure is a 345 with a 4-barrel Thermoquad on 32’s, and while I don’t spend my time racing from streetlight to streetlight, a 4-barrel is a lot thirstier. Also, all of the stupid emissions bullshit tacked on to my engine surely isn’t helping. To put things into perspective, my Jeep XJ with a 4-liter V6 got about 14mpg on average—keeping in mind the curb weight of the XJ was a full thousand pounds less than either Scout.

I’ve always figured no better than 10MPG as a rule of thumb, using my experience with Chewbacca’s low end and figuring 1-2MPG as a cushion was a good idea, but knowing exactly what my range is will help estimate even better. And there will be some digging around behind the dashboard come springtime: First, to hopefully diagnose and repair the gas gauge, and second to find the issue with the wipers and fix that.

Date posted: November 20, 2022 | Filed under To-Do List | Leave a Comment »

Brian, tired of me texting him various Marketplace links, suggested I make a vision board for what I’m looking for in a new project, which I thought was a pretty good idea. My search has centered on one of two types of truck; I’d like either a Scout 80/800 or a ‘61-‘68 C-series pickup.

I’ve always liked the look of the original Scout; it wasn’t until I’d done the research to buy Chewbacca in ’96  that I learned about the earlier model. It looks great with or without a top, and even better without doors; I like the utilitarian vibe and would actually prefer something as close to 60’s spec as possible—wheels, tires, suspension, etc. but with a rollbar, 3-point seatbelts and maybe an upgraded powerplant. As a platform designed in the late ’50’s, it’s even more utilitarian than the Scout II, little more than an engine, transmission, steering wheel and a seat. As they iterated on the design it got things like power steering and electric wipers and a choice of engines, but the majority of them were basic, no-nonsense trucks.

This is a nice 1966 2WD with a 3 on the tree.

With the pickup, my favorite are the final design iterations of the C-series trucks. They started out with a face only a mother could love but were restyled in ’61 to a much more pleasing design, and the improvements to the dashboard and interior made a huge difference. There’s something delightfully ’60’s about the styling, and the interior is also no-nonsense. There have been a few D-series trucks I’ve liked but they are usually not my cup of tea, and it’s hard to love the cab design.

For a Scout, I’d like to find a body that’s not Swiss cheese. If the floorpans or rear bed are holed, I can work with that. If the rockers are gone, or if the outside sheet metal is damaged, I’ll have to really think about it. Early scout sheet metal is rare, and if I can’t source replacements I’d be fabricating what I need. If it’s missing doors, that’s not ideal but it’s ok. I don’t care about seats. If it has a top, that’s great but it’s not a dealbreaker either—but havng a top usually means it hasn’t been completely exposed to the elements for twenty years.

This Scout is very local but I’ve never heard back from the seller, even though the ad is still up on Marketplace. It would be worth the short drive and small sum of money just to drag it home and see what’s savable on the chassis.

I’d like for it to have enough sheet metal that I can cut away the bad stuff and still weld good metal to; if the cancer is so bad there’s nothing to work with, that’s a hard pass.

This Scout is in Maine, which is too far to drive just to look over a worthless carcass.

In terms of running gear, the ideal would be a V8 installed, but I don’t care if it’s running. a 4-cylinder will take more modification to fit a larger engine, but isn’t a dealbreaker. It’ll have the weaker Dana axles as standard equipment but that’s not an issue either. And I don’t think many early Scouts came with an automatic, so a manual would be perfect, even though it’ll be a non-synchro first gear. I prefer a stick, and I like the added bonus of theft deterrence. I will avoid any cobbled together suspension mods; if someone has attempted a spring over or backwoods lift kit, I’ll walk away.

This one looked very good from the pictures but was shot through with rust almost everywhere.

In terms of looks I’d prefer if I didn’t have to deal with some asshole’s spray can camo job, or a full Rhinoliner treatment over the paint. The more patina the better. If the original paint is half worn away, that’s actually perfect. Anytime fresh paint has been applied the price goes up by the thousands, and I almost always don’t like the color they’ve chosen anyway.

Running or not, I’d like for it to be within a three hour drive from here, but I won’t mind if I have to go a little further for the right truck.

For a pickup, the ideal is a 2wd full-length with a V8. The key is the cab. I want something with clean cowl vents, as that’s the hardest area to fix. The second hardest place would be the cab corners which are all compound curves.

The glass isn’t impossible to find, but not cheap. If the floors are holed, that’s fine, I wouldn’t practice cutting and replacing them—within reason. I’d like for the fenders and hood to be in decent shape, as the sheet metal isn’t easy to find either.

This one looked very good from the pictures, but when he sent me detail shots it got very ugly very quickly.

For the bed, I’d like to find a full length example, either fleet or a stepside bed. If there’s some damage, that’s ok, I don’t mind cutting that out and repairing it, and ultimately I’d strip the whole thing and bedline the shit out of it anyway.

This truck was for sale last winter, and I should have jumped on it when I could. It’s pretty much perfect in my eyes.

For the running gear, there are a million different possibilities. I don’t really mind any engine variation, but if it’s an inline 6 that will make replacing it a little harder. I do want a manual, and in a perfect world it will be a floor shift, not on the column.

I’d love to find one with power steering. The trailer special I looked at in PA was the perfect drivetrain combo- a V8 floor shift manual with power steering, but the clutch was fucked and the engine was locked.

Here’s the Holy Grail: a crewcab C series in fantastic shape. If I had $16K of disposable income I’d already own it.

For the looks of the thing, my ideal is the same as the Scout—original paint in any condition is preferred, and actually the more faded the better. I don’t mind some dents but I don’t want a demo derby loser either.

This is a fancy model; look at all the chrome spears on each side. It’s a 2WD based on the hubcaps.

The goal is to own something I’m not afraid to drive; a 100-point paint job would ramp my anxiety up enough that I’d never take it out of the garage. Scrapes and dings and patches aren’t discouraged. I’d like something that looks well-loved but not like it’s held together with duct tape.

The best case would be a roller with minimal modifications from stock, where I can get in and fix rust and damage at my leisure while hopefully keeping it running. I’d like to get whatever I buy into resell shape, or something I can had off to Finn for her high school vehicle. Brian is still moving forward with his plan to electrify vehicles, and with either one I’d entertain either an EV or an LS swap happily.

Several possible trucks have come and gone; there have been a couple that are 75% of what I want but have some things I’m not interested in, or the rust is too much to deal with. I’m going to bide my time and be as patient as possible, and hopefully the right truck will come along.

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

I put PT Cruiser seats in Peer Pressure seven years ago and I’ve never regretted the upgrade. They are comfortable over long distances, provide ample lumbar support, and are easy to clean—all things I’ve tested extensively. They sit two inches too high off the floor, but that’s something I’ve learned to live with for the moment until I get a pair of Binder Boneyard’s upgraded seat bases. The one thing I don’t like about them, now that I’ve switched almost everything else in the cab over to black, is their color. Chrysler made a bazillion PT Cruisers, and the majority of of them had gray cloth seats like the ones I’ve got. I set up an alert on my pick-a-part app to let me know when new stock rolls in the yards, and a flurry of them came in last week. Lo and behold, a gold 2005 came in and the VIN check said it had the correct upholstery. I got some basic tools together, loaded Hazel up into the Scout, and set out for Mt. Airy on Saturday morning to check it out.

I set her up in the truck with food, water, and a comfy blanket and set out for the yard. As I would have expected, the Chrysler section was all the way at the back of the lot, at the top of a hill, so I knew I’d be humping seats a long way. The car itself was in decent shape, and the seats were dirty but showed no major signs of damage, so I unbolted them both and hauled them up to the front desk in a wheelbarrow. Hazel was curled up on the passenger seat dozing in the sun.

The weather was so beautiful, we took a leisurely drive home through the country, stopping here and there for some photos. Back at the house, it was a pretty easy process to pull the old seats out and swap the new ones in on the bases. There are just two holes to drill at the front and everything bolts up smoothly. I hit them both with upholstery cleaner and some 409 on the plastics, and in about two hours I had them both installed.

They’re not perfectly black, but they look a million times better with the rest of the interior, and they should last a good long time.

Date posted: November 6, 2022 | Filed under Junkyards, Seats | 1 Comment »

The exhaust leak on the passenger side manifold has been getting progressively worse, especially as I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the girl this summer. I’m not the kind of guy who needs a loud truck to announce who I am; I figure the unconventional look of the truck covers that pretty well, and I’d honestly prefer to have a quiet sleeper under my right foot than a Harley. So I ordered a couple of different gaskets from the interwebs and got to work this morning after breakfast.

My plan was to leave the back bolt in place, as I can’t really reach that without major effort and lots of cursing, and use leverage on the front bolt to snug the assembly together after the new gaskets were in place. I used a set of tin snips to cut a notch through to the bolt hole on one side, and worked it into position. When that was done I replaced the outside fine-thread copper bolt with a new coarse-thread Grade 8 bolt and snugged it tight. There’s just a hint of exhaust leaking from the front of the connection now but the BRAP-BRAP-BRAP from that side of the engine at throttle is gone. Hallelujah. 

While I had the wheel off and the starter exposed, I pulled it off and removed the shim that’s been on there since I got the truck (and through about six different starters). Due to differences in the manual bellhousing vs. the automatic, the shim isn’t required for manuals—something I wasn’t aware of until recently. So with that buttoned back up and the wheel back on, we did a spin around the block and I basked in the (relative) silence.

Now I’m looking at both a felt kit for the windows and some of those sexy new rubber gaskets for the butterfly windows; both sides rattle and leak and I’d love to get things buttoned up tighter with colder weather here. Among each of the four sets I have available, the only good pair is the one on the truck—so I’d have to pull things apart or weld a spare set back together before updating the rubber.

Date posted: October 30, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

I found a cheap 1968 C series pickup on Marketplace, so I took a chance and drove three hours in beautiful fall sunshine to look at it this morning. Having talked to the owner, he didn’t know much about it other than the pictures provided. They showed a 2WD in original Bahama blue, with a floor-shifted manual behind a V8 of some unspecified size. It had a full-length bed, something I like. There was visible rust on the cowl seam and along the side of the bed; this seems to be common with this model. The glass looked to be intact, and the interior of the cab was in decent shape from what I could tell. The camper shell on the back may or may not have saved it from pooling water and rust. The big questions I had were:

  • What engine is in it, and does it turn?
  • How are the cowl vent assemblies (the achilles heel of this series)?
  • Does it have power steering or power brakes?
  • What shape are the front brakes in? (are they the dreaded Lockheed brakes whose parts are impossible to find?)
  • Which carb does it have?

The drive up was uneventful, but got off to a bad start; I’d told Google to avoid tolls but it immediately pointed me at the Harbor Tunnel; I reconfigured and made it up there by 11AM.

In person, the truck was in worse shape than the photos (big surprise). The rust was worse than the pictures let on all the way around.

I figured what I’d do is check the cowl vents first and if they were toasty I’d write off the truck—in order to repair this, you have to pull the windshield, drill out the welds on the cowl, and then do a bunch of surgery to replace metal.

I put the borescope down the driver’s side and found the cavity full with a mouse nest; the passenger side was rusted through in several places. So that was bad. What was worse were all the places the PO had sprayed foam insulation, which is essentially a death sentence for metal. It was behind the front fender, inside the cowl seam, under the dashboard, inside the rear fenders, and a bunch of other places I couldn’t see.

The doors were almost perfect, and the bed floor was in excellent shape due to the cap, but someone had rear-ended the truck and damaged both rear endcaps.

The engine was probably a 304 or larger, due to this truck being spec’d as a Camper Special, but the fan didn’t turn—not a good sign after sitting for 25 years; the last inspection sticker read 1997. It also had factory power steering, which was somewhat rare for a pickup of this vintage.

With all of the faults, I decided to walk away. I’m itching to find a new project, but I really want to be smart about it and move on the right one. This was just too much to tackle too far away; if it was local I’d have offered $1K and brought it home to either tinker with or part out.

Looking at the map, I realized I was only about 20 minutes away from the town I went to elementary school in, so I drove over to look at the old homestead. And from there, I hit the road for home.
Date posted: October 16, 2022 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

I picked up a neat little toy through the Amazon Prime Day specials, something that will get some immediate use and hopefully pay for itself down the line: a lighted borescope, for looking deep down into dark places like cylinders and inside frame rails and down into AC ducts. It’s pretty slick; the control pad has a nice wide screen a little smaller than that of my iPhone SE and a keypad with a set of sturdy buttons. The wire is permanently connected to the unit and is a good bendable but stiff material that makes things easy to direct the way you want it to. It’s got a video and camera feature with a 32GB card that allows for all the photos and videos to fit and be offloaded to a computer. Here are some pictures from the spare SV 345 in my garage:


Cylinder 1


Cylinder 3

(Cylinder 5 and 7 are missing because the engine is sitting next to a shelf, making access to those two plugs impossible right now).


Cylinder 2


Cylinder 4


Cylinder 6


Cylinder 8

There are clearly some carbon deposits directly on top of the pistons; I know the moisture is Marvel Mystery Oil so I’m not too worried about that. The carb on this engine wasn’t burning the fuel completely so it was probably knocking; hopefully it wasn’t run to the point where it overheated. If I get this thing on a proper stand I’ll maybe pull the heads off to see if I can clean the pistons and cylinder walls—but that’s in the future.

This weekend I’m going to use it to peek into the cylinders in Bob’s Chrysler and see what’s going on with the 440.

Date posted: October 14, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »

It’s getting colder and I’m getting no younger. The cold is affecting me more than it ever has; I’ve taken to wearing fleece through most of the winter when I’m indoors. I’ve got some traveling coming up where I’m going to need the Scout, and I don’t relish the thought of a two-hour morning drive under the soft top at 45˚. Putting the hardtop back on is always bittersweet, because I live for driving the truck under a warm summer sun. After 25 years, I’ve got the method down to an art; it took me about two hours to get the soft top off and packed, and the hardtop lowered and bolted down. At some point I’d love to have one of those motorized hoists they sell for Jeeps but I think I need a garage upgrade before I do that.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on the second of two A/C boxes. When I took out the plastic vent housings, two of them broke at the pins that hold them into place, so I cleaned them up but can’t use them. The box is painted and just about ready for reassembly, and once that’s done I’ll have two clean boxes on the shelf.

Date posted: October 11, 2022 | Filed under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Hey! look at that. See it? Up there in the left corner of the right-side window?

I was worried that my sticker was gonna be the biggest one there, but I’m relieved to see it’s not.

Date posted: September 27, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration | 1 Comment »