Now that Brian has a new Scout, we were excited to bring both of them to Nationals for the 30th Anniversary show.
He stopped by the house at quitting time and we shot the breeze in the living room while waiting for Bennett, who was finishing up work, and Ray, who had driven down from Pennsylvania and was waiting for Bennett at his house. They got in at about 5 and we hit the road soon after. Bennett and I took Peer Pressure while Ray and Brian took his Scout (as yet unnamed). Both trucks ran great to Brian’s family’s house on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River, where we were staying the night. We got in at about 8:30 and had a beer or two from the keg on the porch, and then bedded down in a camper out behind the cabin.
The next morning Brian and I were up early and ran into town for bagels, coffee creamer, and Clif Bars for the road. We fueled up on coffee, said our good-byes and hit the road by about 9:30. I followed Brian’s truck for a good portion of the trip out and back, as he’s running a 4-cylinder and doesn’t quite have the same power to climb the hills in West Virginia as I do, but his truck ran great and stayed steady at about 65-70MPH the whole way.
Somewhere in West Virginia we stopped off for gas and followed our noses to a barbecue stand sitting out in a field. It was made up of a pavilion covering two giant smokers next to a rattletrap trailer, with a couple of picnic benches nearby. I selected the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and pickles. Holy SHIT that was a good barbecue sandwich. We all devoured our food, thanked the owners, and got back on the road. That location also got noted for future reference.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. Bennett and I switched off driving after he was somehow able to take two calls and get a bunch of work done on his laptopâ€”the second one during a downpour. We chased and outran several storm fronts but got caught in two showers, the second of which was enough to make me worried for a few minutes. Peer Pressure’s wipers aren’t exactly sprightly, so I’d doused both our windshields with Rain-X before we left, and that really helped my visibility. What didn’t help was the rearview mirror deciding it was going to fall off during Bennett’s leg; we threw it in the glove compartment and left it there for the rest of the trip.
This is the first time I’ve had her out in a rainstorm in years, and it was alarming how much water came through the bottom corners of the windshield. I’ve got to get working on one of the spares in the garage to get it cleaned up, weld some patch material inside, encapsulate the interior, and get it ready for new glass so that I can swap it out. Not that I plan on driving in the rain any more, but still.
Coming in to Troy we headed straight to the hotel and found some spots in the parking lot, which was already full of Internationals of all stripes. We knew a bunch of the people out there and immediately found ourselves split off into multiple conversations with old friends and new. At some point we checked into the hotel and moved our bags upstairs, and Brian and I took his Scout up the street to the drive-through liquor store for some beer. His Scout is beautiful but has manual steering, so I was completely unprepared for the effort it took to make course corrections at a standstill. On the road it was a dream to drive, and felt more like a roadster than a truck. I do like my synchronized first gear, though: I ground his gears more than once and winced every time I did it.
Back in the parking lot we met up with a great guy named Todd from Hill Country Binders down in Texas, and shot the breeze with him. He’s got a project Scout he’s disassembled in his garage which is suffering from some scope creep. Because we ate lunch late in the day our clocks were off by a few hours so we wandered over to a local restaurant and got a booth all to ourselves. Todd explained where his truck was at present and we all offered our own bits of advice. Toward the end of our meal a man stopped by the table and told us he’d noticed our IH T-shirts and said he’d spied an old broken-down International pickup about 10 miles north of town in a storage lot, and would we be interested in it? We got his information and thanked him for the tip.
Then we wandered back to the parking lot and stayed up talking with people until about 11:30, at which point Brian and I called it a night. Bennett, ever the social butterfly, came in at around 2AM.
Morning one of the show broke early. Mercifully I didn’t feel any of the beers I’d had the night before, and the coffee at the hotel was reasonably good. We got on the road early because we’d learned the year before that all of the good parts for sale went early on Friday morning. So we hustled to Tim Horton’s for some coffee and donuts and got to the fairgrounds by about 8:30.
Brian and I registered our trucks and parked them and we walked over to the parts selection to browse. It’s amazing what people can dig out of a shed or haul in on a flatbed: piles and piles of sheetmetal, boxes of parts, tires, wheels, hardtops, whole front clips, and a row of different trucks, some in excellent shape and some real beaters. Dan Hayes pulled a bunch of parts off his truck from Oregon and sold them as fast as he could put them down. Several trucks were pulled out on flatbeds that morning.
I saw two things I was interested in and paid nothing for one of them and probably too much for the other. The first was a kick panel vent for the passenger side, which my truck didn’t have because of the A/C setup. The giant condensing unit sat directly in front of it, so IH covered it with a blockoff plate at the factory. Now that the A/C unit is gone, Bennett’s feet were roasting on the trip so I found one and got it for $5. The other thing I needed was a passenger wing window: the spot weld on the upper hinge has come loose so the window flops around in the frame. I found a decent one inside a covered trailer packed with parts (chrome, like mine) and paid $50 for it before realizing the hinge on that one was fixed with a booger weld of its own. I can probably file it down and clean it up, but I was a little bummed at that. (I have several spares in the garage but I don’t know what quality they are, and I know for a fact that the bottom weld inside the door on one of them is split).
We then sat in on Mike Moore’s body panel seminar in the big hangar, which was good but a little hard to hear. He had some excellent advice for getting doors and panels to align correctly, and some sobering views on how IH engineered our trucks to rust from the factory.
We met up with Todd and hung out with him off and on for most of the day, each of us splitting off and meeting back up at various points as we met people we knew or made new friends. At one point we got to talking with a guy in a floppy hat who introduced himself as David from Ohio by way of Colorado, and he offered us a beer. Well, we don’t mind if we do, we replied.
Wandering the grounds with David for a couple more hours, we stopped to grab a bite to eat, and he told us about his truckâ€”which he drove in but had left in the parking lot with the hood up. We, of course, needed to see it in person, so we walked out there and looked it over. He comes from my school of thinking, in that he’d rather drive it than look at it in pieces, so there are sections of rust and multicolored panels and no driver’s seat and a big hole in the passenger’s B-pillar where he’s welded in new supports to make it driveable. As we looked over the engine Brian noticed that one of the plug wires wasn’t connected and David pulled it off to reveal a corroded tip.
After joking about how the parking lot at Nationals was the best place he could possibly have broken down, we wandered back in to the grounds to see if we could find a spare wire somewhere in a parts bin. We did in fact find a female plug wire for a Holley distributor but it turned out the insulator was too narrow. He wound up fabbing a wire and connector with some parts from another vendor and hooked things back up. (He made it home that evening). We bugged him to come back the following day and register his truck, and he said he’d think about it.
While farting around in the parking lot, I busted out my screwdriver and replaced the blockoff plate on the driver’s side with the new (old) knee vent, inhaling several pounds of dust from the insulation left on the firewall. A few tugs on the lever and fresh air was entering the cabin on the right side. Which is great, because the heater valve is stuck open.
We decided to head out at about 5PM to go get some burgers at K’s, a local diner in the middle of Troy that our friend Steven brought us to last year. We grabbed Jeff on our way out and the five of us found three parking spots on main street. K’s hasn’t changed a lick in a year, and we settled into a comfortable booth by the door where the air conditioning felt great.
Back at the hotel, we downed some water and then cracked into some local craft beers with friends, talking and telling stories and meeting new people until about midnight.
Saturday morning we were sure to get up early for breakfast so that we could stop out at the abandoned truck we’d been told about. What we found was about 10 years past its expiration date; an old 60’s model with a stepside bed, copious rust, and four tires sunken into the gravel. We walked around it and poked at the crusty bits and tried to get the doors closed after opening them (the passenger side was a bit reluctant) and said a little prayer for it. Then I handed Todd the keys and told him he was driving back to the hotel. He’d only driven one other Scout before, his friend’s, a fact I’d quietly noted the night before when he mentioned it, so I figured he needed some additional motivation to get his Scout put back together.
Once we got back to the hotel, Brian handed him the keys to the white Scout and he drove that to the fairgrounds. We all immediately went to the fuel injection seminar hosted by Bill Hamilton, who imparted 30 years of wisdom in an hour and a half. I left feeling exhausted by all that I’d forgotten to remember, but realized I wanted fuel injection a hell of a lot more now.
On my way out the door I stopped at the IH Parts America booth and picked up a gas-powered hood strut, something I’d been wanting for several years. I dropped it off in the truck and Brian and I began making our way down the first line of trucks. We kept getting sidetracked by conversations with people, remembering to look for something, needing food/water/bathroom, so I don’t know if we actually made it around to see all of the displays and vendors.
Somewhere along the way we ran into David, and he had in fact registered and parked his Scout in the grounds. We spent the rest of the day on line at the hot dog stand (actually, just 20 minutes, but it felt like the whole day) and then continued down the lines of trucks. There was a ton of stuff to see, and every truck had a different story.
At about 4 in the afternoon, we were pretty beat. We wandered back to Brian’s truck and set up our camp chairs under Ray’s awning and relaxed for about a half an hour. Then we decided we’d better mosey back over to the hotel to get a reasonable parking spot before the barbecue started. We said goodbye to David and got on the road. I peeled off to get more beer, and found a spot right next to Brian in the hotel parking lot.
The barbecue itself was something to behold: last year they didn’t do it for various reasons, but this year Mary and Carl fed something like 650 people in under 45 minutes. I dumped all of my available cash in the donation jar and loaded up a plate with food. meanwhile I struck up a conversation with Matt from California, who has several Scouts (surprise) and lots of good advice.
Then we all oriented our chairs toward the bed of a pickup where Ray was preparing to auction several tables worth of merchandise. This year, as with last year, I didn’t win anything, but the raffle and and auction were fun.
Sunday morning we woke as early as we could and fueled up in the lobby of the hotel. Other folks were gearing up to leave, and we said our goodbyes before loading the trucks. We decided to make a stop at Super Scout Specialists, which is now directly on our route home, as they were open for several hours that morning. The new shop is, I’m told, much larger than the old one, set in a smaller town outside of Springfield, with a huge showroom and warehouse on one side and a long machine shop on the other. The whole thing is impressive. I’ve wandered through Scout vendors before, and I’ve stumbled through parts barns before. This is a well-organized, spacious collection with tons of inventory.
We stopped for some photos in the parking lot and then got back on the road; we had a long day ahead of us. Bennett and I switched off driving again, which made the trip easier to manage, but the heat and humidity had come back in earnest, so we were much hotter than on Thursday. We straddled weather fronts through most of Pennsylvaniaâ€”tornadoes to our north and thunderstorms to our southâ€”and only hit one section of rain the whole way. Somewhere in West Virginia we hit traffic due to a lane merge, and I noticed the temp gauge creeping up past the edge of the white indicator line. It settled somewhere about 1/3 of the way along the line and stayed there even as we stopped and started and went no further. I think this is going to be my new normal in this truck, but I’ll have to try putting a real temperature sensor on it to see what the actual reading is.
We stopped off in West Virginia to transfer gear and pick up Ray, and said goodbye to Brian, who was going to stay over at the river. Then we headed back to Catonsville to drop off Ray, who still had a 2 hour drive to his house in Pennsylvania ahead. I drove Bennett back to his house and then came home, happy to shut the truck down at 8PM after a long day on the road.
By my recordkeeping, the gauge on the truck says we drove 955.6 miles, including back-and-forths to the event and hotel. Google says we drove 1051.2 miles, give or take a fewâ€”the discrepancy is due to the larger tire size vs. stock speedometer calibration. We put a total of 89 gallons of gas in the truck, which averages out to about 12MPG. Not great, but it could have been worseâ€”and, we did a lot of climbing through West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Some things I need to address:
- The fuel tank still leaks from the top when it’s filled, which isn’t the safest situation in the world. I guess I’ll have to drop it and reseal the sending unit. I should also rig up a pressure relief systemâ€”I wonder if I still have any of the evaporation gear in the driver’s quarter.
- I have to reinstall the rear-view mirror.
- I have to replace the passenger’s wing window. It sucked to have to keep that closed the whole way home.
- I need to readjust the wipers: the wiper arms are oriented too low to the windshield so the bottom of their arc is somewhere below the gasket. I have to open up the cowl and properly fasten the wiper motor anyway.
- I should have the coolant system properly flushed now that we’re home.
- I’d love to clean the underside of the transmission tunnel and cover it in Dynamat… but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that.