Pictures never tell the whole story, and what looks halfway decent via the Interwebs is always worse in person. There are no exceptions to this rule. When you get five shots of a decent-looking truck, you know there’s something lurking that might sour the deal: square feet of rust covered by carpet, an engine block with a big hole, a dead body in the trunk, live possums—but you’ve got to go look anyway.

Brian sent me a link on Sunday morning for a Scout that didn’t look half bad, was in my price range, was relatively close by, and had a clear title. The pictures showed a tired-looking ’61 Scout 80 in about four different colors, and from what I could see the rust wasn’t too bad. I messaged the seller, we talked on the phone, and I made plans to run up and see it. It was in southern PA about an hour and twenty minutes from my house, so I hit the road at four and made it up there, through traffic, by 6. The seller shook my hand, showed me the title, and we walked down past some horse barns to the back of his work shed where it sat.

Surrounded by piles of farm implements, tools, boxes, and other stored items, sat a rusty Scout. I started by looking at the outer skin, trying to figure out if the body was worth saving. The driver’s rocker was pretty crispy, and the lower edge was perforated in multiple places. Toward the back the rear rocker was bent upwards, but could probably be adjusted back downwards with a hammer or some careful pulling. The tailcap was a different story. Someone had backed into it and then used a slaphammer to try to pull the dents out—with no success. Tailcaps for this era Scout are as common as dinosaurs, so that’s a problem.

The tailgate was in good shape from the outside, and the other tailcap was OK. On the passenger’s side the rear quarter looked OK and the rocker under the door was in better shape, but everything was filled with mud. The front fender was in decent shape but none of the panels met up. Neither of the doors opened or closed correctly; this could have been because the latches were bad, or it could have been because the body was folding in on itself like a giant taco.

Inside, the cab was maybe a 4/10. The driver’s floor was rusty with some pinholes but the passenger’s side was perforated 2-3″ in places, and definitely a lot worse. A bench seat of indeterminate origin sat on the floor but was not attached to anything; under that the floors looked OK. The bulkhead and dash were in decent shape, and all the dials and indicators were present.

The rear bed was rusted through along the passenger and driver’s side seams at the wall and wavy at the back, but other than that not in bad shape.

The hardtop was intact, but there were several holes in the roof from a rack or some other installation, and the passenger window was missing. The inside roof was rusted pretty badly.

Under the hood there was a 4-cylinder engine with a one-pot carb which turned freely. The heating elements were present but the hoses were gone; this Scout was early enough that it had a box plenum up against the firewall vs. a heater box on the inner fender (I have one of these stored up in the rafters of my garage).

Down under the cowl there was a winch welded to the front of the frame; an inspection under the frame showed that it was a PTO driven unit connected to the front differential transfer case.

I talked with the owner a while and he warmed up as I looked things over; he wasn’t aware the winch was a PTO until I showed him the linkage. We talked Scouts for a while and I told him I’d have to think about it. It’s just on the edge of being a project I could handle but I think it’s still too much to take on; there’s more rust than I can manage right now and a lot of expensive sheet metal work to tackle. If I had a spare garage bay I’d feel much better about buying it and tucking it away while I got the parts together, but I don’t and I can’t at this point. And I think that there are better options for an extra $3-5K out there, stuff that’s much further along but still in need of help. So I’ll keep looking.

Date posted: November 30, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to Barn Finds

  1. Neal in Boston says:

    Cool stuff.
    I’ve wondered about riveted rust repairs as opposed to “proper” cut and weld rust repair to get an old (hypothetical) Scout going. Maybe that’s not ok for full structural strength, but neutralizing rusty areas and then covering with aluminum/ diamond plate/ steel sheeting/ etc and sealing with seam sealant before priming and painting might be an easier short-term alternative, right?

    I thought you wanted a 60’s pickup?
    I have seen several listings for those and thought of you but didn’t know how to send you the links.

    Good luck on your search.

    By the way I have finally decided to put the Scout sticker that you sent to me on my laptop I think. I’ve been holding onto it as something too “precious” to commit a space to for long term, but I’m going to just go for it. Maybe someday I’ll feel that way and just buy a Scout already!

    Oh, and the real reason I decided to write a comment: I am so curious how the PTO works being driven from the front differential! I always thought that drive lines for PTOs came from the transfer case. I’m so curious about that setup either way.

  2. bill says:

    Hey Neal—
    I’d be worried about riveted repairs in the long run, having seen the victims of “short-term” repairs after ten years in the rain. Lots of Scouts and Jeeps feel prey to this approach back in the day, and are already gone; I think we’re seeing those that remain still on the road or out in the field. Even though you’re using seam sealant (and some sort of encapsulator, I’d hope) you’re still trapping moisture between two sheets of metal, and the wicking action that happens is gonna suck water in no matter how hard you try to keep it out. If this Scout had been half the price, I’d have the title in hand and be making plans for short-term abatement until I could cut out the bad stuff. We’ll see if he has it for a while, and if so I’ll make him an offer in a couple of weeks.

    In terms of what I’m looking for, it’s a first-gen Scout or a C-series pickup. Either will do. If you see something drop me a line!

    If you’re worried about sticker commitment (I know and share this fear) remember, you know the guy who makes them, and he can send you more!

    RE the PTO case—you’re 100% correct, it does link with the transfer case. It was late and I was tired!

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