Saturday started out rainy so I was inside painting until after noon, and then the clouds parted and the sun came out. Jen had told me it was freakishly warm outside so I figured I would make the most of it and work on the truck.
A lot of what I did was exploratory. I’m still sorting out what’s what on this rig, so I’m spending a lot of time cleaning and disassembling. I did bolt something back up to start, though: both inner fender skirts have cured for two weeks and were ready to put back on the passenger side, so they went in with rust-free bolts shot with Rust Stop. I peeled the tarp back from the hood and got it ready for a bath: I had a can of Engine Brite ready to go and sprayed the whole block down to let it do its work, then dragged the pressure washer out for a rinse.
It’s a damn sight better than it was. The intake manifold cleaned up really well, the valve covers are now missing 80% of their paint, the hoses are all clean, and the rest of the bay is, at least, not covered in mud dauber nests and leaves.
While that was drying I started the long process of pulling the driver’s fender off, which took longer than it needed to but was still mercifully easy due to the bolts all being in good shape. The IH engineers over-fastened the area around the headlights: If I’m counting correctly, there are 20 bolts that hold the fender on, six of those are around the headlight area, two of which are in a place only midgets or Plastic Man can comfortably reach. I shudder to think how hard it would be to unfreeze (or attempt to cut) bolts in areas this small. As it was the top bolt holding the fender to the firewall was stuck, and I had to make a short breaker bar out of one half of my bottle jack handle to torque it off.
This fender is crispier than the passenger side and has taken several shots at the crease, which means it’ll be a challenge to straighten. I’m going to keep my eye out for clean fenders at Nats to save some time.
From there I moved to the front of the fascia and pulled both of the turn signal buckets out, which illuminated another weak spot in the C-series design: the buckets share a channel with the grille where leaves and dirt get kicked up into a valley between two sections of metal, and water and gravity wash it downwards behind the light buckets where it has nowhere else to go.
I scooped, vacuumed, and then powerwashed about a cup of solid dirt from behind each bucket. The left side is much worse than the right. I let them both dry and then hit everything with more Rust Stop to give myself some more time to source a new fascia section.
Digging through the garage I went to the Big Iron section and found something I only half-rememberd I had: a spare Saginaw steering box sitting next to a crate full of spare starters and a Dana 20 transfer case. Steering boxes are apparently getting harder and harder to find, according our friend Lee in Delaware; I got this from the Flintstone Scout two years ago. This is excellent news, as I can send this one out for a rebuild without taking the truck off the road for weeks or months while it’s gone.
By about 5:30 the rainclouds were rolling back in so I set the fender back on the truck and put a screw in to hold it in place, and re-fastened the tarp over the front cowl. The bolts from the fender are sitting in a phosphoric acid bath on the workbench, and the front section of the inner fender skirt is waiting for a date with the sandblaster.
I spent all day Sunday working on work stuff so I could swap for Monday to take advantage of 70˚ weather and attack the roof of the bus—with an eye toward grinding out the rust, feathering the edges with a light coat of Bondo, and sanding it down to a smooth finish.
Between house stuff, two work meetings, and getting things assembled I didn’t get outside until about 1PM, but from then until 6:30 I took a flap wheel to every crater on the roof of the truck as well as the entire length of the drip rail (and a good portion of the area directly underneath, hit it all with Rust Encapsulator, and began covering the pockmarked metal with a thin coat of Bondo. It took a lot longer to do the roof than I’d figured on—every time I thought I was done I saw another bad spot—but with the exception of two small areas everything is ground and prepped. I also ground rust out of the driver’s rear door and skimmed it for sanding.
Sunday broke sunny and warm, and after some quick work in the house and a walk with Jen and the dog, I hit the garage for a full day. The first thing I did was start sanding the edges of the drip rails down, and I found that no matter how careful I’d been with the bondo applicator there were a ton of high edges to deal with. I got the random orbital sander out and used that to knock the high points down, then went to a Harbor Freight sanding block with 220 grit paper to smooth things out. There are a bunch of areas inside the drip rail that need to be hit again, but between that and the sanding block I got the entire perimeter of the drip rail sanded and covered in high-build primer. It took a lot of work.
I’m trying to go as light as I can everywhere possible. I had to open the driver’s door to roll the windows up and the edge of the fender, which is only held in with two bolts, caught on the door. It wound up prying off this giant chunk of painted Bondo; this is Not How To Repair Bodywork.
My old friend Erick stopped by at 2:30 to look over the engine, and between the two of us we isolated the distributor as the likely culprit for a non-running truck; there was spark all the way up to those wires but nothing at the plugs. We hung out and shot the breeze for a while and he took off; he’ll be back later to help me install the new distributor when I get it in hand.
After he left I kept sanding and priming and then mixed a bunch more bondo to keep filling the divots in the roof. By 6:30 I was pretty beat and I had 3/4 of the roof skimmed, so I packed up the gear and called it a day. My back is sore, my legs are tired, and I feel exhausted but it was a great day of progress.
This article popped up in my feed and I thought it was very interesting: a laser-based fuel sender that does away with mechanical linkages and resistance-based wiring. It uses LIDAR to measure how much fuel is left in the tank and requires an electronic gauge on the dash to work properly. I don’t know how this might work in the Scout—the tank is angled on both sides, and the low point of the tank isn’t centered under the gauge—but it would definitely work on the Travelall, where the tank is flat. Interestingly, the gauge in the Travelall actually works, and currently reads half a tank.