So all three main sections of Good Carb are washed and drying on the bench. I dunked them each in Simple Green for a couple of days and then scrubbed them with a toothbrush, and 99% of the crud came right off. After a rinse with warm water, they look close to brand new. I’m going to let them dry completely and then start tearing down and replacing parts next week.
I reassembledÂ the stunt carburetor I’ve had sitting on the bench since the end of January and put it aside so that I could tear down the good one. Actually, Jen needed the box that the rebuild kit came in for something, so I figured I’d straighten up the bench while I was moving the parts around. Once I’d gotten that put back together, I looked over the good one and started pulling it apart. I was pleased to find it’s in really clean condition, with a little dust in the phenolic bowl, a tiny bit of corrosion around the air horns, and a lot of clean metal everywhere else. The floats are almost brand new (but will be replaced with brass) and the internals are all clean as a whistle. There was a little leftover gas trapped in the horn that made the basement smell, so I moved it out to the garage this morning, where it’ll get a good dunking in carb cleaner.
When I was a kid, I spent countless hours of my life building with LEGOs on the floor of the family room. I’d build something, take it halfway apart, put it back together again, and then repeat that cycle until I got it just the way I wanted it. All of this was unwitting practice for my adult life, where I’ve disassembled computers, electronics, power tools, engine parts, and other assorted machines without fear of being unable to re-assemble them.
So, working my way through the videos I’ve downloaded, I decided I’d start disassembling the dirty unit first to get my practice in.
Most of the linkage came off relatively easily, and when I understood the secret Thermoquad disassembly trick (two hidden screws under the primary butterfly) the whole thing came apart pretty easily. It was then when I understood why it was so filthy. At some point it had gotten a lungful of water or mud, because both chambers were full of brown crud. The underside of the resin bowl was filled with corrosion and blackened carbon. I began to get nervous, thinking I’d never get it cleaned up.
Into a bucket of concentrated Simple Green it went, and after about an hour’s soak the resin bowl came out looking brand new. I scrubbed it with a toothbrush and bottle cleaner to get the residue out, and let it dry on the bench.
Then I threw the top air horn in to let that soak. Corrosion had crusted over everything made of ferrous metal; the float arms were rusted solid. The whole thing looked charred and sooty. I figured I’d try the detergent to see how clean it would get first.
After about two hours I was shocked to find it had turned Simple Green to Simple Brown, and most of the soot had disappeared. The aluminum appeared much cleaner, and the metal parts were more visible.
It’s still pretty fucked up, though; Simple Brown can’t dissolve whatever that white crusty stuff is in the upper left, and the well under the float (that black square thing on the left) is filled with it. It’s going to soak overnight, and then if I can’t get the parts free I’ll put on some gloves, take it outside, and hit it with the carb cleaner.
Santa (technically, my sister’s boyfriend) brought me a lovely gift this Christmas: a carb rebuild kit for my spare Thermoquad including all of the gasketry, springs, and other small parts needed to overhaul the mechanical bits. Introduced by Chrysler in 1969, the Thermoquad is a four-barrel carburetor designed with two small primary and two large secondary bores. At idle or cruise, the primary bores supply fuel to the engine in small amounts for efficiency, and under load or acceleration the secondary bores open up to dump fuel into the engine, adding power. It’s built around a phenolic resin chamber sandwiched with two aluminum plates, which was supposed to keep the temperature of the upper bowl 20Ëš lower than standard metal carburetors of its dayâ€“because vapor lock was standard equipment on a 440 big block. So I’m going to have to study up on this Malaise-era marvel of engineering.
My engine, near as I can figure, is a 1979. As the 70’s wore on and emissions standards got stricter, engine displacement decreased and smog equipment strangled engines. IH trucks weren’t as strictly governed as passenger vehicles of the era (trucks over a certain weight and load limit were exempt from CAFE regulations, hence IHC advertising the Scout as the XLC in 1975 onwards) but smog equipment was still added to pass emissions tests, and the carbs got more complicated as the decade drew to a close. The Thermoquad sprouted all sorts of ports and valves and complicated linkages to govern choke, temperature, airflow and throttle, and the result is a lump of metal that looks like C-3PO screwed a pinball machine.
I’ve got three Thermoquads in my collection. The first is the one that came on Peer Pressure, which I had overhauled by my friend Rodney a few months after I got the truck. Tracing the serial number (9128S), it was originally made for a ’79 IHC 345ci engine with an automatic transmission. Rodney is a gearhead of the first order (he has a slingshot dragster parked in his driveway) and no stranger to carburetors. He made it sing, but that was eight years ago.
The second is a spare I picked up from a fellow north of Baltimore. This too is a 9128S. It’s the spitting image of the one on Peer Pressure, minus the funky extra linkage on the throttle arm to the left. It’s also the rebuild candidate and the one I’ll be working with here.
The third is a spare I picked up from my friend Jason, who converted his Traveler over to fuel injection two years ago.Â Tracing the serial number (9203S), it was originally made for a ’79-80 IHC 345ci California smogged engine with an automatic transmission. The top of the air horn at the fuel inlet is different, and there is one vent tube where my other carbs have two. It’s also super crispy and in need of a major wash. It will be my bench reference and possibly a source of spare parts.
The first order of business is to arm myself with knowledge. I downloaded a series of getting-to-know-you videos from YouTube where a gentleman steps through the features of the TQ, and another where he goes through the steps of rebuilding one. I’ve got the original ’72 Chrysler TQ service manual, an updated ’82 Federal Mogul manual, and the Dave Emanuel bible.
The first order of business is to clean them both, which will require a bucket of Simple Green and a couple cans of carb cleaner, which I’ll pick up this weekend. Then it’s on to the teardown.
In the quest to get the Travelall running, I started amassing a pile of new parts based on my attempts with friends smarter and more experienced than me. When Erick stopped over he shook his head sadly at my old distributor, so I ordered a brand new HEI unit and then had to wait while it was on backorder. During that time, I spent a total of about $8 on the correct points unit and five minutes installing it, and suddenly I had spark at the wires. So I pulled the carburetor off and soaked it in some cleaner Friday night, then followed a set of instructions online to rebuild it.
It was exceptionally clean inside, but the gaskets had all fused to the metal so I had to spend a good bit of time scraping and sanding the paper off all the surfaces. The accelerator pump diaphragm had solidified, so that got replaced. Once I’d cleaned everything reassembly was straightforward—the Holley 2300 is a very simple carburetor to work on compared to my Thermoquads.
Sunday afternoon, after chasing a generator all over town, I re-installed the carburetor and filled it up with fuel for giggles. This time I followed some of the advice I’d seen online and filled the bowl with fuel before turning the key over. After a couple of tries and the addition of even more fuel, I was happily stunned when she caught and turned over for a few brief seconds:
Flush with success, I started modifying fuel lines to simplify the delivery system and plumbed the boat tank/fuel pump combo to charge the carb. There were no leaks (huzzah!) so I primed the carb and turned her over: after thinking about it for a minute, she fired right up and idled immediately. I topped off the coolant and let her run for a few minutes, noting that the idle was fast—that’ll get adjusted this week—and that there’s a little clatter here and there. The tailpipe sounded good and only a little soot came out, which is a good sign there are no critter nests in the muffler.
So I’ve got a fancy HEI distributor that’s going right back to California this week for a refund. While I was idling the truck I started really looking under the hood and finally clocked that the clutch is a hydraulic system paired with the brake cylinder, which explains why both pedals have no life in them. I’ve got to source a dual cylinder and a shit-ton of soft brake lines as well as a flaring tool and start replacing those in order to get any kind of gear-changing going. Which is good, as the next project on the list is rebuilding the rear drums.
The truck is currently up on two jackstands with the rear wheels off, waiting for two new tires to arrive at my local NTB from TireRack. I pulled the drums off and I’ll have those resurfaced when I have the tire mounted, and I can spend evenings this week rebuilding each rear drum. I’m only mounting one tire because the fourth rim is 15″ and won’t accept the tire, so I have to source a 16″ rim with a 3″ backspacing and 4.5″ bolt pattern from somewhere (ideally, I’d find two).
On Monday I went out to continue sanding and skimming areas of the truck to get them ready for paint. The passenger side tailcap is coming along well, but will need a lot of attention to be clean enough to go to paint—but I’m enjoying the sculptural aspect of working with filler to get things smooth.
Recapping the starting issue, we’ve replaced almost everything in the ignition system besides the core distributor, but the points I originally bought didn’t have an integrated condenser so we tried to hotwire it on the workday. Testing for spark, we never got anything at the plugs. I replaced the points in the original distributor with a new set with an integrated condenser, and found an early picture I’d taken of the unit as it came to know how to wire things back up (see that black wire in the lower center of the picture above?). After I wired the second new set of points in as per the original and tested my testing light on the Scout, I hooked it up to the Travelall and then I had spark! Unfortunately I couldn’t get her to light off. So I pulled the carburetor off to tear it down and clean it out; I figured the accelerator pump seals were dry and the float was probably stuck.
I also started tracing wires under the dash and pulled the radio plate off to expose everything underneath; while I was there I pulled the old head unit and two dry-rotted speakers they’d bolted under the dash out and threw them in the trash to make more room. The way this dash is designed it could be much simpler to pull wires (or maybe even replace the loom ) than it is in the Scout, but I’m still trying to make a plan for how I’m going to get this thing wired up correctly.
Wednesday evening I was out sanding the truck and a guy on a big Harley parked at the end of the driveway; he’s a fellow car guy and stopped by to check out the truck. This marks the fourth person who has stopped in since I parked the truck in the driveway; clearly people have noticed.
As of Thursday morning the carb was partially disassembled and sort of half-soaking in carb cleaner, but I couldn’t get the float bowl or metering block off the side of the horn. I found a wider container to put the assembly in so that the affected sections were submerged, and was finally able to get all the sections apart on Friday morning. The paper gaskets had glued themselves to the metal so I had to carefully scrape everything apart to get it cleaned up—but the inside of the carb was very clean.
And on Friday I got two boxes of goodies: the new distributor showed up as well as some fuel hose, hose clamps, and a proper oil filter. So if we can’t make the old distributor work, the new one should be ready to pop in (minus a set of male-to-female plug wires).
Farting around with an old Scout II hubcap Friday night, I put it on the odd 15″ rim, where it fit well. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that a 16″ tire won’t fit on a 15″ rim (duh Bill) so I’d have to source a rim for the fourth tire I just bought. It so happens a guy near here is selling an entire front axle assembly with wheels included, so I messaged him to see if he’d be willing to sell me the wheels (providing they’re the correct size).
This picture showed up in a related search for weatherstripping parts; it’s exactly what I’d like to do with the Travelall. This is the same year, model, and paint scheme I have. Seeing this now, I like the look of red steelies with the 60’s style IH moon hubcaps (of which I now own 3). I’ll have to find two more in good shape, as one of mine has a huge dent in the center. I also want to find a set of Western mirrors like these instead of the triangle door mounts that I’ve got. I can’t tell exactly but it looks like this one has a set of hiback buckets in the front, which I may go with instead of a period-correct bench seat; that way I could install a Tuffy console in between for some extra security.
One step at a time…
In the meantime, here’s a list of stuff to be tackled on the Travelall, in rough order of importance:
Get a title
This starts with the Vermont Loophole and will provide plates and a registration, which I can then trade in at the Maryland DMV for a title. — Package mailed 2.25; Vermont plates in hand 3.13. Gut the interior Done
I did this on 2.25.23, and all of the old carpeting, upholstery, and headliner is gone.
Buy a battery Done—3.4.23
I talked to a guy on Marketplace who has a pretty NOS battery box that I’ll be installing; my guess is that I’ll have to replace the ground and other wires as we dig in.
Get the engine running off the boat tank Done 4.24.23
If we can get it running, then we’ll know the transmission situation and I can move it around the driveway.
Buy a service manual Done
Binder Books has reprints available for about $125. This will help with key systems like the electrics.
Drain the engine oil and replace Done 4.29.23
I’m definitely going to put Rotella diesel oil in when it comes time; it has lots of nutrients and minerals for flat-tappet cams. I’m also going to send a sample away to Blackstone for a readout on the engine’s health (after we get it running).
Replace the windshield Done 9.23
This is pretty important, as there are several places where the rubber gasket is leaking, which is the cause of the front floorpans being so rusty. There are new windows available for C-series trucks, so I think this will be the next big purchase. I put the windshield in the Scout, but I don’t yet know how difficult it is to do for this truck.
Sort out the brake situation Pretty sure I’ve got this complete, as of 8.11.23.
I need to order a rebuild kit and new brake shoes based on what I’ve got, so the first order of business is to identify the brake system. The front drums are Raybestos 2316R’s, which is a common size; I was fearing these would be the dreaded Lockheed brakes, which are impossible to get parts for.
There are brake lines in the back but I don’t know if they make it all the way up front. I haven’t looked at the master cylinder yet either.
Drain the radiator and flush it
I have no idea if it holds water, but it’s not currently leaking in the driveway. God only knows how long it’s been sitting, so it will definitely need a long flush to get the crud out. Makes me wonder how crusty the water pump is, too…
Get new tires Done as of 6.23. I’m pretty sure I have a viable 4th 16″ rim with a tire mounted.
There are two new tires mounted to the front axle, but I still need two rear tires on the rear. I also need to source a 6-lug rim for the spare.
Rebuild the carburetor Done 4.24.23
It’s a Holley 2300 with a manual choke; I’ll stick with what’s running now, but this is a prime candidate for an aftermarket fuel injection update sometime in the future. I have a rebuild kit in hand.
Identify the engine The lineset ticket says it’s a 304.
It’s definitely an International V8. There is no stamp on the engine boss, which dates the block back to the ’60’s. The Lineset Ticket says it’s a 304, but I have to measure the distance between the heads to know for sure.
Rebuild the distributor Done 4.24.23
It’s a Delco cast iron unit. Parts are available but I need to figure out exactly what to call it so I can make sure I’m getting the right thing. I’ve got a new set of points, a capacitor, new plugs and wires in hand.
Pull all of the A/C stuff off the engine
We did this on 3.6.23. The compressor, canister, hoses, and radiator are gone.
Find a used fuse block, add it, and rewire the truck
Apparently someone cut the whole fuse panel out, so none of the electrical system works except for the starter. There are two ways to go here:
- Rewire the whole truck with a Painless or Kwikwire kit. I’d go with the 14-circuit kit and have some spare circuits for extra accessories.
- Buy a premade wiring harness and just plug it in. Provided I can find a new fuse block.
Remove all of the extra added wiring
There’s a trailer brake and
aftermarket cruise control system to be removed, and a set of external lights that were hacked onto the rear of the roof. I’m sure there are other surprises under the dash. Wish me luck.
Get the rust and paint situation sorted out
Most immediately, I have to diagnose and abate the rust on the floorpans. I’ve got a jug of Eastwood Rust Converter for this very purpose; the idea is to stop it in its tracks and then hit it with Encapsulator until I can dig in to cutting it out and replacing everything. It’s wet because the seal around the windshield is leaking on that side; I can get new glass and rubber for it, so that will be first on the list. In the meantime I’ll plug the holes with caulk and call it good.
Grind the rust out of the rain gutter
This is a big one, and will span the entire roof. It’s rusty all the way around the perimeter and up on the roof by 2-3″, so it’s going to be a 2-3 day weekend project. There are large blooms of rust on the roof in random places as well, so I’m going to block out two days to cover the whole thing, prep it for paint, and hopefully shoot it in IH red.
Convert and encapsulate the rust in the rear wheel well
I’ll probably grind it out with a wire wheel first and then treat the whole thing. The underside needs to have the undercoating scraped off and new undercoating applied.
Clean up the rest of the exterior paint
There are a lot of areas to be addressed before I can do a $300 Maaco job. It’s going to take all summer, I’d figure.
Model-specific parts to be found:
Source a new passenger rear window—this will be one of the hardest and most expensive things to find. Source a fuse block. Source a new front bench seat (if I want to go authentic). Source a rear bench—I have a line on one of these, but it’s at the other end of Massachussetts.
- Find sun visors—I still need a passenger side visor.
Find a spare rim—it’s a wierd 16″ bolt pattern I haven’t dealt with before. Maybe someone at Nats will have one.
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.
Today I spent a little time looking over the doors I bought last weekend. I stuffed them right inside the front door of the garage when I got home last weekend, so they were in the way of a lot of things. We had to remove the passenger door without the hinges due to clearance issues when I was in Flintstone, which meant the whole door had to come apart before we got it off the truck, and I brought it home partially disassembled. Knowing how I am with parts, I figured I’d better put it back together before I forgot where everything went.
After I’d put the steel panel, window crank and door handle back on, I moved some parts out of the makeshift shelving unit I built (don’t judge, the whole garage is cockeyed) and reorganized the Scout section. There’s just enough space under the tall shelf to stand them up on end without hinges, so I pulled the driver’s door apart, removed those hinges, and buttoned everything back up again.
Both doors are rusty in their own way. The glass on the passenger door is in better shape than the other, especially the wing window, where the rubber is intact and the hinge and spring assemblies are still intact. The driver’s door is in worse shape overall, probably because it was parked upslope in Dave’s backyard and thus exposed to more of the elements.
I also started looking into the T-handle for the rear lift gate; it’s got a lock that’s pretty well calcified into the housing. I shot it full of PBBlaster and let it sit over the weekend. The lock barrel removal requires having the original key, which is still sitting in the ignition of the truck out in Flintstone. You have to unlock the latch while pushing on a small pin inside the handle housing, which releases the whole thing from the handle. I’ve got Dad’s set of lockpicks from the repo days, and picking a 4-tumbler GM lock from the 1970’s shouldn’t be too hard—but doing that while pushing the pin is going to require two more hands. We’ll see…
Looking through 10+ years of jumbled parts, I found that I’d acquired a 2-barrel Holley carburetor at some point which fits the spare air cleaner sitting on the shelf (the diameter of the opening is too small to fit a Thermoquad). This is in addition to the Holley 2100 I’ve already got—but I haven’t been able to ID this one yet. I think I’ll get the Simple Brown out and soak it for a week to clean things up, and then disassemble it to take a closer look.
One of the challenges and quirks of driving 50-year-old vehicle is that we are slaves to the fickle black magic of carburetion. Many carburetors before the 1970’s were simple devices with few moving parts, but as emissions and fuel economy standards were implemented by the government, engineers added all kinds of hoses and vacuum lines and secondary linkages on carburetors to eke every last molecule of economy out of them while they scrambled to update their ancient engine designs. My carburetor is one of the last evolutions of this need for economy and power: a Thermoquad, which looks like R2-D2 barfed up a mechanical hairball.
Electronic fuel injection finally came of age in the 1980s and made the mechanical complexities of carburetors obsolete.Â As carbureted engines are increasingly rare on the road, it’s getting harder to find mechanics who know how they work and what to do with them. It’s also a pain in the ass to get a carbureted engine started after a week of sitting.
So it’s with great interest that I’m headed to Bennett’s this weekend to help him install EFI on his Scout. He bought a premade kit from Hamilton Fuel Injection—the manufacturer whose tech seminar we attended at Nationals this year. It’s pricy to buy outright, but his reviews are impeccable and he tailors each kit to a specific IH engine, as well as helps tune the unit after it’s installed. I’m very curious to see how easy it goes in, and as I mentioned before, I’m seriously considering it as an upgrade to my engine.
Brian and I are also going to hit the junkyard to see if we can find an electric steering pump for his Scout, which came with manual steering from the factory. It’s been a long time since I’ve walked the rows at Crazy Ray’s so I’m looking forward to the day with anticipation.