I had to run out on errands Sunday morning, and the weather was in the upper 60’s, so I grabbed Finn and we rolled out in the Scout for a fall adventure. Our first stop was down in Pasadena at the Eastwood store, where I needed to pick up some chassis black and a tube of seam sealer. As we wandered the store, my old friend Steven G. walked in, as he was shopping for supplies for his Scout. We caught up for a bit, and talked about getting a fall meetup together, and then I exited the store in a hurry before I was tempted to buy anything else. We stopped at the Home Depot for some other supplies and a precut 2×4′ sheet of plywood and headed home.
In the driveway, I pulled the original bumper off the mounts and hung it in place to see exactly how well it’ll fit. I think it needs a little more standoff than the original had, but with another 2″ or so it will work perfectly. I think I can make the original mounts work for the short term, and when I can get my hands on some larger longer box steel I’ll fabricate a permanent mount.
I opened up the rear doors and started brushing on the chassis black over encapsulator, and got a good portion of it done before the sun went down. The chassis paint is a lot thinner than the encapsulator, and tends to make more of a mess. While I was out there, Brian T. stopped by on his way back over the bridge, and we caught up for the first time in a couple of months.
After closing up the truck and garage, I brought the sheet of plywood in to the basement, turned on the football game, and set it up as a mounting rack for my spare wiring loom. The goal here is to rebuild the wiring loom so that I can pull the old one out and replace it with this. I’d originally contacted Super Scouts to price out a brand new loom, but after several weeks of waiting I was told their wiring specialist is two months behind. So I’ll take advantage of the inside time and learn how to disassemble, test, and rebuild the one I’ve got. One thing I am going to reach out to them about are some replacements for the bulkhead connectors I’ve got, to see if I can get any with intact mounting tabs.
On Thursday afternoon I got a long narrow package delivered by UPS, which contained a set of headliner bows from my friend Ray up in Massachusetts. He sent a pair of square-end bows like the three I’ve already got in the truck, which were made to work with an aluminum channel around the perimeter of the roof that would hold a headliner in place. My truck didn’t come with a headliner or the channel, just three rusty bows (out of five) and the fiberglas insulation glued to the ceiling.
Below that are five point-end bows which went on earlier model Travelalls without the aluminum channel; from what Ray tells me the headliner tucked in under the sheet metal lip around the edge and these bows held it into place. Because these bows are in much better shape than the square-ends I’ve got, I’m going to clean them up and use them when I build and install a headliner.
Meanwhile, I got another big box in the mail via UPS, in which was packed a primer black ’57 Ford F-150 bumper. I brought it out to the truck and laid it on top of the C-series bumper, and apart from the fact that it’s a little narrower, I think this thing will work very well.
I’ve got to figure out how to build a set of sturdy standoffs from the frame horns on the front of the truck—the current standoffs are 4″ deep sections of box channel steel held in place with some long rusty bolts and a wheelbarrow full of washers. I’ll probably do something similar but gusset the boxes for strength.
Saturday morning I went to Bennett’s to help him swap out the rear brake line on his Speedster replica; he’d taken it to a car show earlier in the year and blown the line on the way home. It turns out the manufacturer ran the brake line inside the cabin along the transmission tunnel, ending in a fitting directly behind the driver’s seat. After some careful application of heat and penetrant we got the fitting off the distro block behind the front suspension and cut a new line with some extra length to spare. Bennett then showed me how to make a bubble flange on a brake line, which I’d never seen before, and we installed the new line and bled the brakes.
With that success, we took a test drive to Ellicott City for some barbecue and brought it home to eat in the warm sunshine.
A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad pop up on Marketplace where a guy had a storeroom full of old IHC R-series parts he was selling, and I alerted Bennett. He’d driven up there a couple of weeks ago and picked through the stuff, coming home with a box full of NOS parts for Phantom, his ’53 R-110 pickup. Before I left, we looked through the box of stuff he brought home, and he handed me an NOS doorhandle and window crank for a C-series pickup in perfect shape. I’ve got to figure out what they’re worth and give him some cash the next time I see him. He also had a trio of black NOS armrests in original IH packaging—the foam on the backside was bright yellow like the day they were made—and sent me home with one to see if it fit Peer Pressure. I already have a black set on the truck, but maybe I’ll buy two of these to put in the spares box along with the used ones that look like they were fished out of a river.
Addendum: I forgot to mention that I ran the engine up for about ten minutes on Saturday when the girls were out of the house (the exhaust is super rich and tends to flood the house, so I wait until they’re away) and got it up to temperature. It only took two pumps of the throttle to get her fired up, which was encouraging. Looking at various points of the engine with a laser thermometer, the manifold junction on the driver’s side got to about 450˚, while the passenger side got to 520˚. I then remembered that the coolant was low so I waited until the water neck hit about 160˚ and decided to shut it down, so I don’t know if the thermostat is working yet or not. I added about 3/4 of a gallon of coolant and let it cool down before putting the cover back on. It’s sounding a little clattery but the idle smoothed out after awhile; I think the rings need to come loose and seat properly after sitting for so long, and I need to have a professional tune the carb properly to get her running right.
The beginning of the week was quiet, but I put almost two full days in over the weekend.
With the glass and other stuff out of the back of the Travelall, it’s much easier to start some of the preventative maintenance I’ve wanted to do to the rear frame and crossmembers. Saturday afternoon I lifted the rear bench seat out and pulled up the plywood floor. Then I put on some ear protection, fired up the compressor and the needle scaler, and got to work. Starting from the back I took as much scale off the unpainted metal as I could find, making my way to an area over the rear axle. Then I brushed on Rust Converter to everything I’d cleared and let it sit. I started around 4 and finished when the sun was setting, so there’s still a lot more to do—and I haven’t even touched the underside yet—but it’s already looking much better under there.
Reorganizing the garage a bit, I stumbled across an extra box of weatherstripping and realized it was doing me no good here. So I put it up on Marketplace and got a pretty immediate response from a guy in Washington, who was also interested in my old brake booster until I did the research and learned it would be something like $80 to ship it out to him in Washington. So the windshield gasket is on its way to him, and the brake booster remains in the Heavy Metal corner of the garage next to the old starters, spare Dana 20, and other stuff.
A brake has been instrumental to the plans I drew up for the doors on the seat base, because I wanted to bend a quarter-inch of metal along the edges on the three sides to add structural stability and make it look better. My Harbor Freight brake is woefully unprepared to bend 18 ga. metal at the measurement I need. On Sunday I met up with Bennett over at our friend Brian’s shop to get a couple of projects done. Bennett was there to clean up the carburetor on his Hudson project as well as tinker with Heavy D, which has been sitting there for several months waiting for a windshield replacement. I was there to use the heavy-duty finger brake Brian inherited with the pole barn shop on his property.
I started messing with the brake and putting a couple of scrap pieces through it to learn how it worked and where the sweet spot was. There was only one finger clamp on it, so the first long section of metal I bent didn’t stay still and bent unevenly. I took a break, had a donut, and Bennett suggested looking around the shop for the other fingers. I found them along the back wall and installed three of the fattest I could find, then put another long test sheet through. When those results looked much better, I marked out some new metal and started bending. We had to do some creative adjustment to the brake, because the bending plate was so close to the lever plate it wouldn’t release the metal when I’d bent the second side. This involved unscrewing the plate from the bottom to release my metal, but it worked. After I got two doors bent and test-fitted, I helped Bennett mess around with Heavy D, got it started for the first time in forever, and installed a choke cable before we both headed for home.
Back at the house, I investigated how I could bend the short edge with the tools on hand. I’ve got a cheap wide vise I bought from Harbor Freight back in the day, and after some testing I realized I could bend the width I needed with that and a pair of vise-grips blocked into place, keeping the entire width of the metal on basically the same plane. After making the initial bend, I had to hammer the center sections flatter with a combination of deadblow hammer, wood blocks, and metal scraps. When I had it flat and straight, I welded the corners up, cleaned them up with the flap disc, and trimmed the length of each to allow for the width of the hinge knuckles.
When those were in place, I tacked the hinges in place and test fit the doors; all my cuts looked good. So I flipped the hinges, cut some tack holes in the doors, and welded those into place. If I had to do it over again, I’d have put the weld on the underside, but I think it looks pretty good either way.
So the doors are in place, and next I need to cut and install a pair of stops opposite the hinge side for the doors to sit on. I’m going to wait until the locks come in next week so that I can design around those. I was originally going to cap off that gap in the middle, but now I’m considering adding a plate underneath to make it a shallow tool well to utilize some dead space.
The other thing I spent a bunch of time looking for last week was a hinge of the proper size for mounting the seat to the box. The hinges on the seat base are beefy; the pin is 3/8″ in diameter and the knuckles are thick. I found a lot of hinges with the right pin size but nothing with a leaf the proper length—the interlocking sections of the hinge I’ve got are 1.5″ wide, and most industrial hinges I’ve found with that pin size are only 1″. While I was at Brian’s, I was looking at his scrap pile and found a beefy hinge with a 3/8″ pin and a 2″x2″ leaf—exactly what I had been looking for. I texted Brian about it and he told me to take it with me.
Monday I had off for Columbus Day, so I got back outside and kept rolling. First I cut two hinges down to the right size, trimmed the knuckle widths, and test fit them on the box. When I liked what I saw, I tacked them in and fit them to the seat. With that confirmation I burned them both into place and cleaned up the welds. The plates will get two bolts through the square tube for extra structural support, but I like where things are sitting (literally) now.
Then I got out the needle scaler and wire wheel and continued working on the chassis while I had the rear floor out. Before finishing up for the day, I brushed on some Rust Encapsulator. I’ll finish coat it with chassis black when it’s all ready, but there’s a lot more to go.
Meanwhile, I’ve tried removing old upholstery adhesive on the vertical surfaces with every chemical I can think of and a rubber eraser wheel with no success. Frustrated, I tried a small patch with the wire wheel and found that with a very light touch I could get most of the old crust off without going through the paint to metal—there are a few places where the paint is very light—but it mostly came off with little damage. I was always going to respray the inside anyway, so I’m not worried about patchy areas. It’s nice to have that stuff cleaned up, for sure. I’m going to see if Hobo Freight sells a plastic bristle wheel for an angle grinder and see if that’s more gentle on the paint.
When I first posted on the Binder Planet about the red bus, I got a lot of good feedback and an offer from a nice man up in Massachussetts to come get a Traveall rear bench seat that was taking up space in his barn. Filing that away in the back of my head, I kept an eye out for seating that was closer to home, but it’s rare on the ground pretty much anywhere east of the Mississippi and north of Georgia. When I got back from Nats I reached back out to him, and a plan was hatched. He followed up with more pictures of stuff he’d dug out of his barn, including a front bench and a bunch of smaller parts. We settled on a date and a price, and I made plans to swing up there for a pickup.
I rented a 7-passenger SUV figuring I wouldn’t know how big all this stuff was, and I’d never fit it in the CR-V—plus, I wanted modern amenities and CarPlay to get me through New York City. This was probably the best decision I made on the whole trip. Hertz gave me a shiny silver Ford Explorer with three rows of seats, and it took me a couple panicked minutes before I figured out how to fold everything flat. Once we got it back to the house, I threw some tools, tarps and bags in the back and Finn and I hit the road. We were smart enough to get up and past New York City by 1PM, which put us in a strange dead area of Conneticut north of Stamford trying to find something to eat. We found a Chipolte and powered up, then got back on the road eastward.
I-95 through Conneticut is a disaster. It’s two lanes with a very picturesque view of the Sound to the south, but everyone is driving at 15 miles an hour for no visible reason for pretty much the length of the state. Once we’d gotten past New Haven it opened up a bit, but that was pretty frustrating. I’d found a cheap-ass motel in Stonington, CT over the border from Rhode Island, but when I was looking I didn’t realize its proximity to Mystic, which we had to drive through to get to our destination. We checked in to the room to find it about one step above an hourly hot-sheet truck stop, grimly left our stuff on the desk inside the door, and went back into Mystic to walk around the town.
Mystic is beautiful and quaint and filled with touristy shops selling either expensive local jewelry, expensive preppy boating clothes, expensive beachwear, or expensive gift items. Peppering the storefronts there were very busy bars and restaurants, and the streets were filled with people. We parked a few blocks off main street and walked our way back in, looking through all the stores that caught Finn’s eye. On our way back outside we heard the bell for the drawbridge ring so we walked up and watched them raise it with huge concrete counterweights to let river traffic pass. It was a beautiful place to walk off some of the road. Finn was tired at that point so we jumped back in the car and headed back to the hotel room to hang out before going to sleep. You can tell you’re in a quality establishment when the A/C is running at 65˚ but the room is still damp and smells like mildew.
Saturday morning we drove back into Mystic to get a bite of breakfast and hit the road for Rhode Island. Ray, the seller, was meeting us at a shopping center and we pulled in right behind him. We shook hands hello and loaded up the Explorer with all of the parts (surprisingly, it all fit neatly inside) and then shot the breeze for about 45 minutes. Ray is super cool and we traded IH stories for a while, then said our goodbyes so I could hit the road.
Here’s the back of the Explorer stuffed with rusty parts.
On the way back West I swung up into Mahopac and we stopped to get some lunch with my High School friend Jeff at a cafe in town. It was great to see him and catch up; that alone would have made the trip worthwhile. By 3PM the cafe was closing and I knew we had to hit the road, so we said goodbye and pointed the Ford south. With one stop in Delaware and a half an hour of heavy rain in New Jersey we made it back to the house by 8PM with a little over 900 miles added to the odometer.
I stashed it all in the garage after we got home and vacuumed out the back of the Explorer to avoid any cleaning fees. Overall the Ford was a perfect road trip vehicle; we got 29.5 MPG the whole way, and I never once had a problem with the technology or the car itself. (Five stars! Would recommend).
This is the contents of a box of parts, spread out. From top left: Two panels for the doors that go behind the main door cards. The blue rails go on the seat bases—these are the seat tracks. The two rusty gear/spring assemblies are extra hood hinges. The black geared arm at the bottom is a window scissor mechanism.
From the other box of spares, starting in the upper left: a spare rearview mirror, two short and one long door mechanisms. In the center are the ashtray for the back of the bench seat, two door lock assemblies, and the smaller red piece is a door catch. The two red L-shaped pieces bottom left are lower hinges for the barn doors, and two door lock assemblies.
This is an extra set of door cards for front and rear Travelall doors. The fronts are drilled for a set of armrests, something my truck doesn’t have. At this point I’ve now got three fronts and two rears. One full set will get bead blasted and painted the correct IH interior color.
This odd item is the platform the rear seat sits on and hinges forward from. It’s in rough shape, so I may not be able to use it. You can see how the piping is bent on the ends—I may not be able to pull that back out. That black rubberized coating is giving me PTSD flashbacks.
This is the worst part. What I’ll probably do is take measurements from this and build a newer, stronger box from square tubing, then enclose that with a hinged lid for tool storage, using this video as my inspiration.
Ray zip-tied the two seat catches to the base here—these bolt on to the wheel wells and hold the rear setback in place. I don’t have these and my truck was never drilled for them.
These are two spare rear barn door windows with used gasketry. I’m sure I could have new ones cut, but it’s great to have originals on hand instead. (The line on the left side is a reflection of our telephone wire).
Here’s where it gets interesting. These are two front bench seatbacks. The top one is complete with vinyl upholstery, but it’s disintegrating. The bottom is just the frame and springs, all in one piece. The square in the center is the mount for an ashtray, accessible to the passengers in the back seat. They’re both rusty but complete, and all the hardware is present.
This is the front bench seat bottom. Clearly the driver’s side has seen some wear. It’s torn and the foam is both swollen and disintegrating. I’ll have to replace all of that, which isn’t a huge deal.
Here’s the front and the back seat bases. Both of them are bent (Ray was apologetic) but I can use the back one for a template and I think I can straighten out the front. Again, I don’t have any of this stuff, so I’m just happy for the spares.
Here’s the rear seat, with a closeup of the material color. When I talk with Jeff J. about replacement material, I’ll have to see if he can match this pattern, because I kind of dig it. This bench is all in one piece, although it’s pretty worn; once I understand how to rebuild the front seat I’ll move on to this one. For now, I could install this in the truck as-is and it would probably work fine. The hinges and pins are present and the scissor works just fine.
While I was in Mystic I got a call from Jim at Super Scouts, who told me a bench seat he’d heard of and gone to recover was actually that of a D series; I thanked him for the info and told him about the brake distribution block. I’m still searching for a replacement, and the guys at IHPA are supposed to get back to me sometime this week. With that, I’m stalled on the mechanical stuff, so I’ll probably reorganize the garage to fit these bench seats and start cleaning up the skeleton frame for paint.
Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to drive Peer Pressure to Ohio this year without diagnosing the engine noise, I got the oil and coolant changed in the CR-V, strapped the pod on the roof, and moved a bunch of my tools and kit from the Scout, along with a couple of parts to possibly trade or sell. I spent a lot of time leading up to our trip moping about not driving an IH to an IH event, but eventually I got past myself and remembered to be excited to get away and see friends. Thursday morning Bennett met me at 9AM, we loaded up our gear, and hit the road for Springfield. The show was in a new location this year: they moved it from the Waco airfield to the Navistar assembly plant, which was the facility where my Travelall was built in 1963. This meant our hotel was new and also a half an hour from the show. We made good time through the smoke from the Canadian forest fires and rolled in to the hotel by late afternoon, meeting a bunch of folks we knew out in the parking lot after checkin and dinner. It was a bit quiet, as a lot of people hadn’t shown up yet, but we enjoyed the cool night air and had some beers to relax.
In the morning we got breakfast and hit the road early to hit the parts stands. Stuff for C-Series trucks is a lot thinner on the ground than Scout parts, so I knew I had to be quick and smart about what I was looking for. I came prepared with a list and basic price ranges I’d gathered by averaging numbers from the Internet, so I knew what the high end would be on most things.
I immediately found a somewhat foggy C-series wing window and got that for $10, then moved to the stand next door and found a right and a left side with much better glass (and no rubber) for $10 apiece. Those went immediately into the car. At the same vendor we found a Scout II console lid in the same color as a console I’d brought, which was sitting in the car. I brought it back over and made a fair swap deal with the guy for a beautiful 14″ International emblem for the right side barn door in perfect shape.
On the far side there was a guy with three trailers full of parts; he had a C-series bench seat from a pickup that looked reasonably intact minus the pipe base it sat on. I made a mental note to go over and wheel a deal with him on Saturday afternoon. At another vendor I found a bin full of front marker buckets that were solid, had been blasted and painted, and had intact pigtails. Those were each $10, well worth the price. I found a set of NOS lenses on another table for $300; apparently those are a little more expensive. I put them back and kept walking.
When Dan Hayes pulled in we checked out his table, and I found a beautiful Travelall script badge mounted on foam and grabbed it. He also had two ’64-’65 grilles in much better shape than the one I’ve currently got, and the price was extremely reasonable. I filed that away for Saturday, trying to maximise the money I’d brought.
We met up with our friend Jeff on the grounds and walked over to his truck where he had two beautiful IH-branded west coast mirrors waiting for me; I gratefully gave him what he was asking for them. There were several other C-series trucks and a Travelall with the exact same mirrors mounted at the show, so I took multiple pictures of them for reference. They went directly into the car and got wrapped in a blanket.
I had to spend a bit of time inside at the tech talks to cool off—this show area was set up on pavement, not the forgiving grass of the airfield, so we were getting cooked even though it was relatively cool with a breeze. I was wearing Merrel hiking boots with a thick heel and I could still feel the heat on the soles of my feet. They’d scheduled some excellent speakers and I learned a lot while I relaxed in the shade.
Later in the day a few more sellers came in and set up shop, and I found a guy who had a bunch of C-series stuff on a desk for excellent prices. I got a set of beat-up C-series visors for $10, a spare rear taillight lens for $5, and a set of C1100 badges for $20. We got to talking and he walked out to show me an immaculate D-series pickup truck which he’d just finished restoring. I voted him for best pickup and best paint, which he should easily win.
Out in the field we ran into the Delaware-based guy who bought my windshield frame; he just opened up his shop two years ago and is working mostly in Scouts now. The show truck he brought was very pretty, and it was nice talking to him, but it’s clear I’m way out of his demographic: he built an LS swap with a lift and fancy tires. He’s going for the high-end restomod audience, which is where the big money is. We wished him luck and went on our way.
By about 4:30 we were pretty crispy so we packed up our stuff and grabbed Steven to go get some food at a brewpub near our hotel. After refueling and enjoying some cool air and a cold beer, we headed back to the hotel and met up with friends in the parking lot amongst the Scouts there. I struck up a conversation with Steve, the owner of the SSII registry, and learned some new things. I talked with guys from Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, and some old heads I recognized from the IHC Digest back in the day. By about 11PM we all were winding down, and we headed upstairs to cool off and get some sleep.
Saturday morning we got to the grounds by about 9:30 and headed back out into the parts field for some more picking. A few more vendors appeared but Howie never showed—he’s always got badges and small parts that are impossible to find, and I figured he would be my best bet for the Travelall-specific stuff I wanted. I was happy to have scored the stuff I did find on Friday in his absence.
Returning through the stands, I came upon a pair of taillight lenses for $10, two chrome washer surrounds for $20, and a single front turn lens for $1. We took in a couple of the tech talks in the early afternoon: there was a great talk on IH electronics and how to upgrade the systems wisely, what tools to buy/use, and how to diagnose some common problems. After that the guys from Anything Scout talked about their recent journey to Baja to race in the NORRA 1000 with a Scout they pulled from a storage yard 9 months ago, which was fascinating.
I stopped by the IHPA booth to see if they had my bench or the air cleaner they’d promised to bring for me, but they were very apologetic and told me the week had gotten past them, and promised to make it right the following week.
We did our judging (we were both registered participants without a truck) and caught up with friends and basically had a great time walking the grounds. There were a lot more fancy Scouts there this year—all the old guard see the change in the air—but there were still plenty of beaters to be found among the trailer queens. Much of the discussion each day centered around how rare trucks are getting, how expensive they are, and how many are being bought up by the restorers and flippers. I met a couple of attendees who were walking around asking if anyone knew of a truck for sale; two guys from Wisconsin told me they were willing to drive to Pennsylvania to get a truck. That certainly shocked me, as I figured there was more rolling stock where they were from than what’s left out here.
I was sad not to have Peer Pressure because there were two very purple Scouts there this year: an 800 in a bright shade that would stop a train and a Scout II that was hand-painted with a roller during a manic episode. That one spent a lot of time in the parking lot on Saturday night surrounded by people trying to get it to run right again; it made the drive from Pennsylvania somehow but crapped out between the hotel and the show.
In the afternoon I walked back over to Dan’s stand and put the money down for the grille, figuring I’d never see one that good again. Bennett made some more deals (He was a lot more restrained than I was) and I found a C-series headlight bucket for $5. We did another circuit of the grounds, dropped the last of our raffle tickets off, and headed out for some Mexican food near the hotel.
Back in the parking lot they were setting up for the raffle, so we found a great spot up by the front and pretended our Honda was a Scout. As usual, I didn’t win any of the raffle items (it’s the only way I’d own a Redcat RC Scout) and was quickly bid out of the other things I was interested in, but it was fun to watch the show. We helped clean things up and hung out for a few more hours talking with friends until everyone called it a night at about 11:30.
Sunday morning we grabbed some breakfast with Carl and Mary, said our goodbyes, and hit the road for Super Scout Specialists, which was on our way home. They opened the shop at 9, and we pulled in a little after 10. Walking around in there is always amazing; the front of the shop is a museum of IH trucks and the back is just stuffed with new and used parts. Bennett and I found ourselves in the back racks looking at used stuff and noticed the door to the parts yard was open. We walked outside in a light drizzle and surveyed the lot of carcasses; Bennett pointed out two Travelalls in back and I made a beeline for them.
They had both been picked over hard and showed signs of being out in the elements for years, but one of the two had, by some miracle, an intact sheet of rear passenger glass. I asked inside if they could give me a price, and they were surprised when we told them there was still glass in it. When he gave me a number my jaw about hit the floor and I told him I’d take it on the spot.
We grabbed a few utility knives and commenced to carefully cutting it out of the truck, covering our hands with some kind of black sealant, and in about ten minutes it fell backwards into Bennett’s waiting hands (he volunteered to climb into the filthy cab) and he handed it gently back out to us. I carried it carefully out to the CR-V, gave Rob the cash, and tried to contain my excitement. Finding exactly what I needed was always a longshot, but somehow I won the ticket.
At this point it was really raining and a lot of the people from the show were stopping in to browse. After talking with the guys for a while, we hit the road at about noon and hustled our way east in the middle of an advancing rainstorm. As the rain kicking up off the road reduced our visibility, I was super glad not to be in the Scout; the wipers wouldn’t have kept up with the water and we would have been soaking wet. And having a working defogger was key. By the time we got into Pennsylvania the water had tapered off and when we turned south for Maryland we headed out of its path completely.
Somewhere above Frederick, we spotted a flatbed with two Scouts pulled off to the side of the road and immediately pulled over to stop. The Scout hanging off the stinger had lost a wheel and was dragging the drum on the ground. I didn’t remember the trucks from the show, but figured maybe someone had made a deal somewhere. We talked to the driver, who was hauling them back from northern PA for a guy we know locally; it just happened that we passed him on the way home. Small world.
With stops, we made it back to my driveway by 7:30, swapped Bennett’s gear into his car, and shook hands on another great Nationals trip. Traveling with him is always fun, and he knows everyone, so it’s always great to be introduced to new people.
Again, in retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t bring the Scout this year, as both the weather and our cargo would have made the drive back a challenge. I would have had to fabricate a box or crate to store the glass in to protect it from the harsh ride the Scout provides, and we were already behind schedule as it was. We had a dry, comfortable cruiser with A/C and good mileage, and that made up for a lot. I like to think everything happens for a reason, and once again my IH friends and my luck came through.
Jen and I were out walking the dog on our morning coffee route and we saw a bunch of signs in the neighborhood for an etate sale. I’m a sucker for a good estate sale, especially when there are tools to look at, so I suggested we get our coffee and go check it out. As we got closer to the gaggle of cars parked on the road, I realized it was at the house of my Scout friend Steve, who had regrettably passed on a number of years ago. Worried, we walked up the driveway and started looking over the stuff. I found one of the women running the sale and asked if his widow was OK and was relieved to hear she was fine, just cleaning out a bunch of stuff from the house.
In back up by the carriage house, his son’s Scout sat under a tarp, surrounded by tools and yard equipment. I spied a set of Scout panels and a neat bundle of chrome trim, and made a deal on it. It was all too big to carry home so we walked back and I picked up the car to head back over. While I was there I grabbed a set of Bonney box-end wrenches and a creeper, and then I spied a Straight Steer bar sitting on the floor under some other stuff. Walking back outside, Steve’s widow came out to say hello and we caught up a little bit. She mentioned he’d boxed up some other parts and she wanted to make sure they went to someone who could use them, so we traded numbers and I thanked her for coming out to say hello. I’m going to check in with Steve’s son to see if he wants any of the stuff I bought for his truck (she mentioned he’s actually considering selling it) but if not, I can definitely find someone who can use it.
The chrome trim is the big find here. They’re all in super-clean condition with only a little pitting; a soak in some Evaporust will clean up the mounting hardware on the back, and a polish will bring the shine back in the aluminum. I’ve already got two sets of fiberglas panels (one is cut to get between the hardtop and the roll bar) but this set is in fantastic shape.
Meanwhile, Jen got a call from Finn’s karate instructor, whose sister owns a Scout sitting forgotten under a tarp and who needs help getting it started. He wanted to know if it was OK for them to give me a call. They are such nice people and did such great stuff for Finn, I’d dig the truck out of a hole if they asked me to. So hopefully they’ll give me a ring sometime soon and we can see what the situation is there. I’m feeling a lot better about my skills now that I’ve revived two cars in the space of one year.
Cleaning up on Saturday evening, I left the boat tank in the back of the Red Bus with the fuel pump hooked up and forgot about it. Yesterday I went out to check on some rust converter I’d sprayed on the passenger floor and was hit with a strong smell of gasoline inside the cabin; it turned out that the heat on Sunday had expanded the tank and it dribbled out of the hose onto the rear bed. So I have to air the truck out for the next couple of weeks until the fumes dissipate, which is super annoying; the problem is that it soaked into the wooden floor in the back.
I got a small, heavy box in the mail yesterday with a handwritten return address on the top: the battery box I’d bought off Marketplace arrived safe and sound. It’s in fantastic shape: It’s covered in red primer but there’s only a little rust or corrosion on the inner platform; the rest is smooth and solid. I couldn’t be happier, because the one in the Red Bus is almost gone.
There’s also a spray of corrosion on the inside of the hood from where the original unsealed battery leaked and sprayed upwards onto the metal. So I’ll hit the remains of the old platform with more PBblaster and let it soak; the new metal will get a quick cleaning in the sandblasting cabinet and some new paint, and then go into the truck.
Meanwhile, talking with friends on the weekend, we had an inspiration. I texted my old friend Erick and asked if he was interested in doing some housecall IH work. He got back to me and said he was; I explained what I had and what I wanted to do, and left the ball in his court. We’ll see when it gets a little warmer if he can come out and do some engine and brake work to get her mobile.
Here’s a shot Bennett took before we really started tearing into the red bus.
I got started early on Saturday to prepare. First I humped all my tools outside and got the garage and the truck opened up. Then I organized all of the parts and tools and pulled the battery off the trickle charger. Then I pulled Autolite 303 plugs out of the Travelall and replaced them with a used set of 10,000 mile Autolite 85’s from my Scout. 303’s are what all the parts catalogs recommend for SV engines, but my experience has been that they are garbage. Feeling optimistic, I then swapped out the old ignition barrel with a new one I’d bought from RockAuto.
Brian showed up around eight, and we ran out to get coffee and donuts. Stephen and Bennett showed up a little after that, and we tried starting the truck—but nothing happened. Bennett began diagnosing what I’d done to bodge up the ignition system while Brian, Stephen and I began tearing out some of the useless mechanicals on the engine: the A/C system came out completely, the aftermarket cruise control was removed, and part of the trailer brake system. By noon we had the ignition problems sorted out and paused for some pizza and beer. Then we began diagnosing the starting problems.
The starter worked fine. We actually removed the passenger wheel and a bunch of the metal shielding along the inner fender to expose the starter and the engine stamping boss, and jumped the starter several times to chase down the electrical gremlins. When Bennett had the key sorted out we worked our way through the system with a tester to find the coil was OK but we weren’t getting spark to the plugs. I went around and swapped all the plug wires out with no change.
After a lot of tinkering, cleaning, and testing with the distributor we finally broke down and ran to the store for a new cap and rotor. We got the engine to catch several times but it didn’t run—we were frustrated at this point because we’d come so close. But the sun had gone down behind the house, the wind was picking up, the battery was running down, and it was getting cold, so we called it at about 5:30 and packed things up. I left the trickle charger on the battery to recover and brought my tools inside.
We do have a few new discoveries: The engine is more than likely a 266, but we have no way of knowing for sure: there’s no stamping on the boss like there are in more modern SV engines. And having pulled the valve cover off on the driver’s side, I have to say I’ve never seen a cleaner, newer looking valvetrain in my life. That’s VERY encouraging. More and more I think this was a municipal vehicle of some kind that was driven very sparingly, and then someone came along and built it into a summer camping vehicle. So the 40K miles on the odometer may be true mileage.
Either way, it was great to hang out with friends, spin wrenches and drink beer, and spend the day outside messing with old iron.
I got a bunch of goodies delivered for the Saturday workday: I picked up a fresh battery at the auto parts store, and Rock Auto dropped off a set of spark plug wires and a new ignition lock last night. Amazon delivered points, a condenser, and a carb rebuild kit. The spark plugs should be here sometime next week, which is kind of a bummer.
I also grabbed a new tub for all of the stuff I’ll be collecting as I work on the truck, and a pair of small plastic plugs to hopefully close off the two holes in the roof. The first thing I’ll probably tackle Saturday morning is replacing the ignition lock—provided the one they sent is the right size—and then pre-oiling the cylinders. Hopefully with Bennett’s help we can diagnose and get the rig running; I’ve got pretty much everything we’ll need.
I also got a bunch of helpful advice on the forums about some questions I had. The first big news is that the doors actually do lock—the whole mechanism is cleverly built into the handles. What you do is: get in, close the door, and push the handle down. That locks the door. Then you pull it up to unlock and unlatch the door. It’s a little inconvenient to have to lean in and lock the back doors, but it’s also kind of cool to not have visible locks. I also found instructions to get the doorhandles off: you basically pull the escutcheon back and push a pin out of the post, freeing up the handle for removal. Now I can pull all four door cards off and see what the door interiors and glass scissors look like.
Somebody also mentioned that my rear door latch was probably flipped, which would be the reason why it won’t latch, so I pulled it out of the door and looked it over. It’s not engineered the same way the tailgate latch on the Scout is (which lends itself to being spun internally, like overwinding a watch); it looks pretty much impossible to spin further than it’s supposed to go. So I replaced it and moved the latching post on the door outward as much as I could—and that did the trick. So now the rear barn doors close properly. I’ve got to pull one of the door handles off and figure out what lock barrels I need to replace all three locks on the same key.
Meanwhile the IH fridge in the garage is stocked with beer; I’ve got the engine resurrection toolkit collected on the workbench downstairs, and I have to put the new battery on the conditioner overnight. The boys should be arriving sometime around 9AM tomorrow, for which I’ll have warm coffee and donuts. I can’t wait to play with trucks!