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!
I got a call out of the blue from the seller of Barn Find 2 on Wednesday night as I was about to walk in the door of my boss’ departure party; he said he’d found the VIN on the door of the truck and wanted to know if I was still interested. Given the fact that I’d looked at it quickly on a cloudy, cold day in December where I lost all sensation in my extremities five minutes after I got out of the car, I figured I’d take another look. Brian was available to join me so we set something up for this morning and drove out there in his shiny new hybrid F150 (the verdict: SWEET).
This time I had two sets of eyeballs on the truck, and what looked passable during the Big Chill looked worse the more we dug into it. The floorpans were welded in place on top, but underneath there was a gap of about 1/8″ between the bottom of the pans and the remainder of the floor. The body was not mounted to the frame; there were no pucks or bolts touching the tub. The welds themselves were garbage. There was more rust all over the body than I remember, and as I got underneath to really look at the frame and undercarriage I realized the rockers weren’t as solid as they’d first looked and that the rear fenders on both sides were worse than I recalled. Brian and I talked it over privately and I decided to walk away again. It’s a $2000 truck at best, and with the extra parts maybe $2500 but nowhere near what he’s asking—and a hell of a lot more work than I’m willing to take on.
So I took the four of us out for brunch, and we had a great time catching up.
I had time to myself today, so I went out to try and solve the mystery of the dead lightbulb behind my heater controls. Now that I actually have heat it would be nice to see what the controls say; at one time I knew exactly how they worked by muscle memory, but that was in the days of Chewbacca and I got the heat in this Scout working only recently. To get to the one bulb on top of the control box I found it easiest to pull the fascia plate off the dashboard and with it the radio; this is the best way of getting back there without cutting a hole in the firewall and going in from the back. The bulb installed was weird, in that it has two wires going in and was zip-tied in place at some point. All three of the spare dashboards I own have one wire and no zip-tie. Additionally strange is that this bulb is different than all of the other bulbs in the dash: it’s a 5GE 57 bayonet (or some equivalent) so I have to source a new one from somewhere—all of the spares I own didn’t work.
On the subject of fascia plates, I’ve been thinking about dressing up the one I’ve got or replacing it, now that the rest of the cabin looks better. I own five in total, the one in the truck and these:
The chewed up green one is from the Flintstone Scout. I don’t remember where I got the woodgrain one from. The bottom two are from other rigs that I can’t remember (the good green one is left over from Chewbacca days). I’m hesitant to touch the two good ones so I’m going to see if I can use the better of the two bad ones and make a clean hole for a DIN9 receiver. That’ll be tomorrow’s project, along with sourcing the correct lightbulb.
Walking the dog through the ‘Ville today I noticed a familiar green Scout parked at my neighbor’s house. The house belongs to a nice man named Steve, who passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m still in touch with his son. I sent him an email this afternoon asking after him and to see if he needs help getting her roadworthy—the last time we traded messages he was having problems with the carb and I don’t know if he got them sorted out. I sent along info for the guy who did the brakes on PP last year, and hopefully I’ll hear back from him sometime soon.
On our way down Congress Street in Austin last week, I was looking up at the beautiful neon signage when Finley said, “Look, there’s a Scout.” She was right: a red Scout II sat out on the street with the words Hotel San Jose on the side; apprently it’s pretty famous there but hasn’t moved much lately by the looks of the dried leaves on the front seats. I posted a picture on Instagram and one of the local Scout owners I follow liked it and asked if I was in town on Monday; she was going to be at a car meetup and would put the word out to the other Scout friends in town.
Sheepishly, I parked our rental Buick around back; lined up in front of the bar were a ’65 Chevy pickup, a ’70 Ford pickup, Lydia’s beautiful Scout II, an absolutely evil-looking early 70’s Nova, a ’56 or ’57 Belair sedan, and a mid 60’s Ranchero. After I grabbed a beer, I got to talking with Lydia and she told me about how she found her Scout; presently a couple of Scout 800’s rolled in, followed by a third she’d never seen before, and then a huge lifted Traveler. I met a bunch of new folks—atxscout800, seatruckn, and a couple of other folks not on the ‘Gram.
We talked trucks and Austin and music and other stuff and generally had a great time. At one point I looked around and a blown El Camino had arrived, several customized vans, a first-gen Mustang, an absolutely spotless ’68 Pontiac Tempest, a beautiful ’60 Chevy Sport Coupe, and other beautiful cars. I hung around until about 10, when the crowd started thinning, and left with a sweet ATXScouts T-shirt, a couple of stickers, and a big wide grin on my face. Thanks, Austin!
This week I built an auxilliary fuel delivery system out of a boat tank, a cheap fuel pump, some spare wire, and $25 of hose. The tank is a 3 gallon West Marine unit I got on sale, with a quick disconnect and a handy gauge built in. The pump I found on Amazon, which pushes at 2.5—4psi. Everything I’ve read about the Carter AFB says it likes up to about 6psi, so I figure we’re in good shape. I soldered clips to some extra wire I had on hand and lengthened the reach of the pump, so we can disconnect it quickly from the battery if need be. The big question now is what size the fuel inlets on the carb actually are; I’ve got three Thermoquads sitting in the basement, but none of them have a screw-in fitting so I’m taking a wild guess, and the information on AFB carbs is spotty at best.
I built this to get the Chrysler moving under her own power, but the universe seems to have further plans for us. In the last month I’ve been approached by two separate people with Scouts who need help getting them running again: I drove Finn to karate practice a couple of weeks ago and one of her instructors told me she’s got a Scout under a tarp in her backyard. Naturally I offered my help to get it running. And last week a neighbor walked up the driveway and asked me for some help: his friend has a Scout that’s been sitting in a garage for years and he wants to get it running again.
Clearly I have been noticed as the Scout Guy, and more confoundingly, the Get This Scout Running Again Guy; I’m pleasantly surprised and somewhat intimidated by this development. Hopefully I can live up to it.
As mentioned elsewhere, I inherited a beautiful new piece of IH gear: my friend Stephen passed his fridge on to me, the one I helped drag out of a basement and haul up to his house before the pandemic. He’s downsizing and his girlfriend doesn’t have a place to put it, so he gave Bennett and I first right of refusal. It’s a 1951 HA-84 model, and it’s complete with all racks, trays, and hardware.
Overall it was easy to move and get into the garage, and I spent a good bit of Memorial Day scrubbing the insides down with Simple Green and washing out the interior shelves and racks. After letting it sit upright for a couple of days to settle, I plugged it in last night for two hours (in 95˚ weather) and it chilled down to perfect beer-keeping temperature. So I’ll keep cleaning the outer shell and do some longer-term testing when I’m back from my New York trip to see how it does over a week. The plug may need to be replaced, and I’d like to look over the wiring inside.
Peer Pressure is running really well, and did great moving a boat and hauling the fridge from up in Towson. I’m taking it up to my mother’s to a family wedding this weekend, which will be the first time it’s been up to New York. The forecast is calling for cooler temperatures and a 30% chance of rain on Tuesday, the day I come back, so I’ve got the Rain-X handy for unscheduled showers.
One thing that’s been happening since I fixed the turn signal cam is that the horn has been going off randomly for no clear reason. We stayed in Solomons about two weeks ago and when I left the hotel to pack the car I heard the horn blaring from across the parking lot. A tap on the center of the wheel silenced it, but it happened several more times since then. I took the cover off and disconnected the horn lead for now, but at some point I’ll have to figure out what inside the plastic horn assembly is creating a contact (I can’t disassemble it without destroying it).
I’ve got the long-distance travel kit for the Scout assembled, and I have to throw my crusty old clubs in the back on the off chance we get 9 holes in at the College course. I haven’t played golf in 15 years but it would be fun to throw back some Bloodys and fuck around on the course.