I put PT Cruiser seats in Peer Pressure seven years ago and I’ve never regretted the upgrade. They are comfortable over long distances, provide ample lumbar support, and are easy to clean—all things I’ve tested extensively. They sit two inches too high off the floor, but that’s something I’ve learned to live with for the moment until I get a pair of Binder Boneyard’s upgraded seat bases. The one thing I don’t like about them, now that I’ve switched almost everything else in the cab over to black, is their color. Chrysler made a bazillion PT Cruisers, and the majority of of them had gray cloth seats like the ones I’ve got. I set up an alert on my pick-a-part app to let me know when new stock rolls in the yards, and a flurry of them came in last week. Lo and behold, a gold 2005 came in and the VIN check said it had the correct upholstery. I got some basic tools together, loaded Hazel up into the Scout, and set out for Mt. Airy on Saturday morning to check it out.
I set her up in the truck with food, water, and a comfy blanket and set out for the yard. As I would have expected, the Chrysler section was all the way at the back of the lot, at the top of a hill, so I knew I’d be humping seats a long way. The car itself was in decent shape, and the seats were dirty but showed no major signs of damage, so I unbolted them both and hauled them up to the front desk in a wheelbarrow. Hazel was curled up on the passenger seat dozing in the sun.
The weather was so beautiful, we took a leisurely drive home through the country, stopping here and there for some photos. Back at the house, it was a pretty easy process to pull the old seats out and swap the new ones in on the bases. There are just two holes to drill at the front and everything bolts up smoothly. I hit them both with upholstery cleaner and some 409 on the plastics, and in about two hours I had them both installed.
They’re not perfectly black, but they look a million times better with the rest of the interior, and they should last a good long time.
On FBM earlier this week an ad went up offering several International D-series trucks and one sad Scout, warning that they would only be there until the weekend and then they’d go to the crusher. I reached out to the guy asking for some details and better pics of the Scout, and he and Bennett and I traded some messages until Friday, when he told us he’d dropped them off at his local pick and pull lot because the County was after him. Bennett and I hatched a rescue mission after my original plans for the weekend fell through, and today we made the trip.
The northern part of Maryland is absolutely beautiful this weekend, and the ride was relatively short to boot. The weather forecast called for rain in the afternoon so I repacked my tools in the CR-V. We were on the road by 7:30 and made it to the field an hour later.
The rigs were all crowded around the bottom of the intake area next to the crusher. After talking with the yard folks we carried some tools inside, waited for them to move things with a huge forkloader, and started picking. There were 4 D series trucks for Bennett to choose from: a flatbed, a pickup, a cab with no bed, and a bed with no cab. The most desirable piece from any of the trucks, a D Series hood in immaculate shape, had been removed and lay under the chopped cab on the floor of the flatbed—ouch. Bennett set to work freeing the only good fender on any of the trucks while I set to work pulling the grille from the Scout.
The Scout looked better in the photos (they always do) but had been crunched in the tailgate, leaving little good sheetmetal to pick from. The doors were trashed, the fenders were shot, and the traveltop, which looked clean in the pics, was too crusty to save (I had been thinking about how I could get it off and get it home if it had been in good shape). Most of the interior bits I’ve already got, and these were all Bordello Red to boot. Maybe the original radio would have been smart to grab, or the dashpad. I’ve got two A/C units now so I don’t need another. And there wasn’t enough time to break the doors down, although the hinge on the driver’s side broke as I tried to open it.
At about 11AM rainclouds rolled in and we spent an hour in a miserable downpour, covering our tools with tarps and trying to stay out of the muddy water running down the hill in rivulets. All of the bolts on the grille came off with little effort save two that were too rusted to secure with a pair of vice-grips. I borrowed a sawzall from the yard guys and chopped at the bolts until I could pound a smaller socket on them to grab. With those off, the whole piece came off cleanly with two of the three chrome trim rings and both headlight surrounds.
I got a clean passenger’s side fiberglas top insert (both of mine have been split on the bottom to get around the rollbar), two tailgate latch assemblies, a pile of steel marker lights, one good rear taillight bucket, two horns, a pile of emblems, and other miscellania. I forgot to grab the traveltop bolts over the windshield. It would have taken another couple of hours to grab other good things—the fan shroud (the rest of the engine looked like it had been soaking in salt water for a decade), the seat bases, gauges, switchgear, and steering wheel.
Bennett made out with a good driver’s fender, a pile of hubcaps, trim rings, side trim and other emblems, two hubs, IH-branded cab lights and side mirrors, and a pile of other stuff. If we weren’t cold, wet and hungry we could have stuck it out for another couple of hours, but we were all of those things and we are old. Up in the lot he was able to get a replacement taillight for his CR-V, and in the same car we found a Honda-branded rubber mat for the back of mine.
All told, the trip was cheap and fun, and it was great to hang out with Bennett and get dirty and not draw any blood wrenching on old rusty trucks. He’s got a line on some more near here that he’s trying to pin down, and if he can, another trip will be in the works.
I drove out to my friend Dave’s house in Flintstone Sunday morning to see if there was anything else I could pick off the Scout II and Scout 80 he’s got beached up on the hill behind his house. Picking parts is fun but also like walking into a loop in the time-space continuum: after the first two hours, you think you’re ahead of the game. By 4 o’clock, you’re racing the setting sun and scrambling to do a cost-benefit analysis to gauge what’s worth pulling before you have to leave, and you still have to figure out how to stuff it all in the vehicle you brought.
Both times I’ve been there before I scrambled for the whole day to pull as much as I could in the time that I had, and I always left thinking, “dammit, I meant to grab ____ and ____ and ____.” Looking over the photos before I left, I knew there wasn’t a ton of stuff left, but there were some things worth going back for. Scouts on the East Coast are getting rarer and rarer on the ground, so I’m trying to get what I can while it’s still available. Dave is a nice guy and knows his stuff isn’t going to roll across the stage at Mecum, so he’s fair on price and happy to lend a hand or grab a tool.
Originally I was going to drive the Scout, so I put the traveltop back on Friday night and prepped a set of recovery tools. When that was done I installed the liftgate gas struts from IH Parts America and marveled at how much nicer they feel than the old mechanical lift. I also put the pod on the roof of the CR-V to hedge my bets. The forecast was wishy-washy about rain and I didn’t want to drive out in the Scout if I was going to get caught in a downpour.
The morning looked lousy so I loaded up the CR-V and hit the road a little after 8. Dave hasn’t sold anything since the last time I was up there, so I was able to pick up right where I’d left off. I walked around both trucks and hit all of the target areas with PB blaster before I busted out the impact driver and a new set of bits. Over the course of the day I was able to grab:
- The entire dash assembly with all wiring and mechanical switches
- The windshield glass (the frame is beyond toast)
- Both slider windows
- The rear liftgate with glass—it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the spare I have, and has hinges
- Both door strikers (I’d tried to get these last time, but the impact driver today was clutch)
- The A/C box
- The hood catch/release mechanism
- The passenger fender—it’s crispy in areas but might be worth repairing in the future. This took too much time to remove.
- An entire Scout 80 folding windshield with glass (score!)
- Other bits and bobs I can’t remember
I had the hood off the 80 and ready to load up, but Dave asked to keep it over the engine to keep the rain off. I also asked him about the 80 doors but he was keeping those for parts for his running truck.
On the dammit, I meant to list:
- I tried my best to pull the dashboard from the 80 but it’s fastened with some of the largest, stickiest Phillips-head screws I’ve ever dealt with. I want the IH speedometer BAD but couldn’t figure out how to get that without destroying it.
- I also tried to get the steering wheel assembly out but was stymied by several bolts down at the steering box and one up under the fender.
- The cowl was cut for a plow years ago, but I tried to get that too. There are several bolts inside the fenders that were rusted solid. If I ever go back I’ll ask Dave if I can Sawzall it off the front.
- On the Scout II I got stuck pulling the emergency brake assembly off—the brakes are likely frozen and I couldn’t get any slack to release the cable.
- The transmission tunnel cover—the automatic shift lever assembly gave me fits
- I meant to grab the power steering pump but ran out of time there as well.
I was pretty amazed that I was able to fit it all in the CR-V; if I’d taken that hood and door it would have been a very tight fit. As it was the pod came in super-handy: I put both the liftgate and the 80 windshield up there, freeing up space for the other bulky stuff in back. Driving home, covered in grease, PB blaster and dirt, I was happy to have gone back out and grabbed some of the last best junk before the snow started blowing and it all rusted away even further.
Like the rest of America, I’ve been chained to my desk indoors all winter, waiting for warmer weather and the chance to get outside and pursue my hobbies in some semblance of normalcy. Being chair-bound for weeks has been bad for my health, both mental and physical. Jen says I’ve been cranky for a while. It’s taking longer and longer to leave work behind, even though it’s only steps from the living room. My neck has been bothering me for months, and my right shoulder and arm are aching each night as I store up stress—further irritated by clacking a mouse around a desk during endless Zoom calls.
Knowing the weather was going to be sunny and warm this week, I took a mental health Wednesday, loaded up the CR-V with recovery tools, and hit the road for Western Maryland. The Scout I pulled the doors from was still sitting up in the woods, and Dave, the owner, had reached out to see if I wanted anything else before it got hauled off to the crusher. I’d looked it over when I was out there the first time but had run out of warm daylight to really focus on stripping it and I knew there were a bunch of other things I wanted to grab.
I got out to Flintstone at 11 AM and met Dave in his driveway. I’d intended on bringing him coffee for the morning but missed my chance to pull off into a town big enough to feature a coffee shop—Flintstone has one general store and no traffic lights—so I was empty handed when I masked up and walked out to greet him. He was busy getting his garage straightened up and told me I had free rein on the Scout and to holler if I needed anything.
I backed the CR-V up the hill and organized my tools for the jobs at hand. Then I busied myself with hosing all of the problematic parts with PBlaster and waiting for that to do its magic. While that was working I started with the low-hanging fruit: light buckets, emblems, any moulding I could get off (not much), simple dash parts, and other small items. The whole hood was already off the truck so that got set aside and I had full access to the engine bay, where two of my main targets lay: the steering column and the power steering box. This Scout was a 4-cylinder so there was plenty of room to work: it’s essentially a V-8 with the driver’s side cylinder bank chopped off, so there’s a huge empty space over the steering column. After some basic wrangling I got one of the two bolts on the rag joint off, but the other refused to budge; taking a break, I went inside the cab and disassembled the dash so I could get the plastic surround off the column and remove the mounting bolts underneath.
Waiting for more penetrant to work, I went to the tailgate and picked that clean: I got the entire latch mechanism, both latch arms, the button, and the license plate mount (a hinged model, something desirable).
Moving back to the engine bay, I put a pair of vice-grips on the stubborn rag joint bolt and was able to separate it from the PS box, and with that I got the entire steering column out. The PS box was next; after some work on the cotter pin and castle nut I was able to separate the drag link and then get the entire unit off the frame.
While I was working one of Dave’s friends wandered up the hill and struck up a conversation: a nice man named Paul told me through a thick accent that he was a farrier and had worked on horses from Syracuse down to Virginia and everywhere in between. Fascinated, I listened to him tell stories of helping fix horses as I pulled the dashboard apart.
By 4:30 I was winding down. The heater box was rusted through along the bottom and I had no way of getting the rest of it off without taking a sawzall to the outer fender (which I didn’t have) so I left that. Packing up my gear, I drove back down the hill and made a deal with Dave for the parts I’d gotten. Then I asked if he was scrapping the old Scout 80 carcass I’d parked next to up the hill, and if I could pull the E-brake assembly off for Brian, whose pretty Scout 800 did not come with one. Some short work with the impact driver and some wrenches and it was in my hands. Walking back down the hill I spied a beat-up early 80 tailgate—the one with the embossed IH logo, not the Scout script—and made a deal for that too.
With everything packed away in the CR-V, I hit the road and made it home at dusk for dinner with the girls. As I sped back down I-70, stinking of PBblaster, power steering fluid, and fresh dirt, I realized I had no pain in my shoulder, arm, or neck, and that I was recharged by being outside in the sunshine, working on my own time, doing something I love.So here’s a list of the haul from Flintstone, so that I’ve got a record of what I dragged home.
In no particular order:
- The steering wheel—I got the entire thing all the way to the steering box, and I even found the horn button on the floor
- The plastic steering wheel column cover, in black
- The steering box—Got it, along with one chewed up castle nut.
- The lower tailgate latch assembly—I took some time and got the latch, the button, both rods and latch arms
- One of the latch arms from the liftgate
- 4 bolts where the windshield connects to the roof
- The washer bottle—this came off cleanly, along with the little hoses to the squirters (Mine got squashed last summer)
- Hubcaps—I found one front and one rear.
- The coolant overflow tank—although all of the mounting tabs crumbled when I pulled it off
- Light buckets—I got three good side markers and one taillight lens, along with one front turn signal. The rest were trashed.
- Both of the 1978 headlight surrounds—the grille was in pieces on the ground underfoot
- The complete dome light assembly
- The automatic transmission shift cover
- Another glovebox door
- All of the dash gauges, and the dash surround (although that is chewed all to hell; I have three spares in the basement)
- The ashtray—apart from two stubbed-out butts, this is in perfect shape
- The license plate assembly—it’s a hinged model
- two sets of sun visors, both somewhat swollen, and all associated hardware
- A rusted but recognizable tailgate from a 1961 Scout 80, with the IH logo embossed. What I’ll do with this I don’t know, but I got it for nothing.
- An emergency brake setup from the same ’61, which Brian can use in his 800.
The stuff I wasn’t able to get, based on my original list:
- Both front hubs—Dave wanted to keep these with the axles, so I left them.
- The heater motor unit—this was trashed underneath and I didn’t have the time to dig deeper.
- Inner fenders—completely trashed.
- Door strikers from both sides—of four bolts I was only able to get one to budge, after repeated abuse with the impact driver.
- The transmission tunnel cover—this Scout came with factory air, which meant the A/C ducting prevented me from getting the top two bolts off the cover.
- Rear armrests—both of these were moldy black. No thanks!
- Side moulding—someone had come along and stuck a sheet metal screw in the middle of each of these, presumably to hold them on, which had then rusted to the body. I was able to get one off cleanly, but the rest are still on the truck.
- The interior fiberglas panels—both of these were drilled for janky-looking shoulder belts, and there was a wood block drilled into both of them in the back. I passed. I’ve got a spare set in the garage attic.
- The cowl cover—the bolts holding this on were rusted solid. I have a spare from the Wheaton scout.
- Â Evap gear from the rear access port—not enough time to get into this
- The slider windows—here I also ran out of time.
- The windshield—this was actually in decent shape, but there wasn’t enough time. I’d go back out there for the glass before he scraps it, if someone else wanted to join me.
As for me, my soft desk hands are covered in annoying little cuts. I’ve got two particularly annoying gashes right above the nail on my left middle finger and the top of my right thumb (the kind that catch on the pocket of your jeans or get wet and open back up doing the dishes). I have an abrasion along my right wrist up to my elbow. I’ve got a 2″ gash on the top of my left knee from the old Scout 80; if I get lockjaw in the next couple of days I’ll know where that came from.
So now I’ve got to dig out the bins and organize everything into their right place (there’s one bin for exterior parts, one for interior parts, one for electrics, etc.) The steering wheel will be disassembled so that I can see if the turn signal canceling cam is intact; if so that’ll go into Peer Pressure with a new lockset. Knowing how all of that comes apart on a spare will keep me from completely trashing my working setup.
The power steering pump will get hosed with Simple Green and then powerwashed to the bare metal; this will be set aside for a core trade-in when I order whatever new pump I buy. I’ve also got several starters and one brake booster that might fetch $20/each for a core charge.
The 1980 light surrounds, transmission cover, and hubcaps will probably go up for sale, along with the other shifter cover and OEM center console I’ve got sitting on the shelf.
It’s funny—for a while, I’ve looked back on parting out the Wheaton Scout and wondering why I didn’t pull more off that rig; having just spent the good part of a day wrestling with this truck (both of them equally rusty) I think I may have gotten less from this one than I did from that one. And I was better prepared this time. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time on the steering gear.
The guy out in Flintstone with the ex-dealership Scout I pulled parts from still has his truck. During my first visit I was being chased by snow, cold weather, and the sun setting, so I wasn’t able to stay as long as I wanted to pull parts, and I spent too much time heating bolts to pull a hub I didn’t directly need. I’m planning a trip back out there to grab more stuff, because I could be spending winter quarantine time refurbishing parts inside when I can’t be working outside.
I did a shitty job of remembering what to pull while I was there last time, so I’m making a list this time, in order of desirability:
- Both front hubs—I’d like to clean and refurb both of these
- The heater motor unit—we looked at pulling this in December, but there just wasn’t enough time to pull the fender off. It’s pretty rusty but maybe worth salvaging…
- Inner fenders, if they are clean (moon shot)
- The steering wheel—there’s a ton of good stuff in there, including the turn signal canceler, and I’d like to practice pulling the wheel off a spare
- The steering box—it would be good to have a core for rebuilding
- The lower tailgate lock assembly—the spring in my mechanism tends to jump off the cam, which means every three months or so I’ve got to break down the tailgate and reset it
- Door strikers from both sides
- Rear armrests—these are rare in good shape
- 4 bolts where the windshield connects to the roof (always good to have stock spares)
- Any side molding I can get off cleanly—I’ve now got 2 sets of door molding but I’d like to have the pieces that go in front of and behind the door. Peer Pressure is drilled for fancy exterior molding
- The washer bottle
- The fan shroud—I don’t remember seeing this, but they are rare on the ground
- The interior fiberglas panels—especially the middle section over the rear liftgate, if it has the switch
- The hubcaps, if I can find all four
- The cowl cover
- Any spare light buckets that are in good shape
- Both of the 1978 headlight surrounds
- Any good badging
- The dome light
- Transmission cover and plastic shift plate
- Any of the evap gear from the rear access port
- The ashtray—you laugh but I’ve only got one spare
- The slider windows, if they’re still there
- The license plate assembly—it’s a hinged model
So I’ll pack another rescue box, run out to Harbor Freight for an impact driver, buy another can of PBBlaster, and plan an early departure so that I can get as much sunlight as possible.
Parts are getting harder and harder to find on the ground these days. Where 10 years ago someone might post a grotty truck and some boxes of parts on Craigslist for $500, these days Facebook Marketplace is where the stuff is, and there are more ads on Craigslist for people wanting to buy parts than sell. And the online vendors are getting more and more money for used stuff: A set of used door hinges are $150, for example—something that might have been $10 apiece in the bottom of a cardboard box a decade ago.
I don’t post on FB but I’ve kept my zombie account there, and I check the listings weekly for anything nearby. This past Wednesday a very roached-out truck appeared in Flintstone MD, just beyond that narrow spot in western Maryland where the state is the width of a parking lot. I reached out to the seller to ask about the doors, each of which feature a decal advertising the local International dealer, and when he agreed to $30 for each of them, I started making plans to go get them. He couldn’t meet during the weekend so I took a day off from work to drive out there.
My recovery kit held all the normal stuff—sockets, wrenches, hammer, drill, etc., but I also threw in a propane torch for heating bolts, heating handwarmer packs, a mini camp stove and some tea in case I was really cold, some Clif bars, and several tarps. I wore two layers of pants and three layers up top, knowing Western Maryland is usually 10Ëš colder than here.
The drive out there was excellent; I was facing away from the sun, the sky was clear and blue, and the truck ran like a top. I made it to the house by 11 and pulled up behind the barn. The seller was actually listing everything for his (grandfather?) and actually left after he’d led me to the house, so I was there with Dave, the owner of the house and the Scout.
He was happy to hang out and help me pull parts, so I masked up, we put a breaker bar on the door bolts, and actually had them both off in about a half an hour. Looking over the rest of the rig, there wasn’t much to be harvested; the engine (a 196 4-cylinder) was covered in scaly rust, and my attempt to pull the heater box was unsuccessful. I had also wanted the front hubs, and bought good-quality snap ring pliers to remove them, but he wanted to keep them on the truck. I did wind up pulling a hub from a spare Dana 27 axle laying in the yard for Brian, whose Scout this will fit. It came off the axle easily except for one Allen bolt, which we had to heat and then cool to break free.
Dave was a super-nice fellow; we kept conversation mainly on trucks and our collective shock at how easily things were coming apart. In the land of pro-Trump yard signs there was mercifully no talk of politics. Dave has two other Scouts, a ’63 he uses for plowing, which looks well-loved, and a ’61 that he pulled apart to keep the ’63 going. They both have a lot of character to be sure. Our conversation drifted a little as we were wrapping up and he shared with me that his wife had passed several years ago and that he was working on cleaning the place up; it was obvious he was happy to have someone there to talk to, so we chatted for awhile about cancer and his motorcycles.
The only other thing I grabbed before leaving was the T-handle from the rear lift gate. We tried to get the mechanism out but it was rusted inside pretty well, so I gave up on that when I saw that it had begun snowing. After getting everything into the Scout I said my goodbyes and headed East. Traffic was light and I made it back home by 4:30 as the sun was just dipping behind the trees, which was fine by me.
So I’ve got two extra doors—this in addition to the two in the garage—but there are a wealth of good parts on each: the hinges are in excellent shape, the glass is good, the interior panels, armrests, handles and cranks are good, and the interior scissors both work. Plus, there’s an intact chrome strip on each one. I wasn’t able to budge the short chrome pieces on the front and rear fenders, but these pieces look real nice and should clean up well.
I’m kicking myself for not having pulled more while I was there (hindsight always being acute) but I enjoyed my day and I’m happy with what I was able to recover. If he’s still got it in the spring, I may head back out there for some smaller stuff—the tailgate latch assembly, the dome light, the hubs, maybe the steering wheel assembly, the gas evap elements, and some other hard-to-find parts.
To recap: In early January, I pulled two gray cloth seats from a junkyard 2004 PT Cruiser. All it took was a 13 and 11mm box wrench, and one disconnect for the seatbelt sensor. They aren’t light, but they’re lighter than seats from a 2001 model, which had integrated side airbags.
These have built-in side armrests that fold up out of the way. They interfere with the placement of my Tuffy console, so I’ll be removing them. The female side of the seatbelt is integrated into the side of the seat, so that will need to come off as well.
The slider rails are held together with a plate in the back. They are longer than stock Scout bases, but the width of the rails is perfect. Originally, I thought I was going to have to build extender plates for each of the bases to reach the front mount points because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get bolts to fit in between the slider rails. When I really looked it over, though, I realized I was going to have to drill a hole for a bolt between the rails anyway. I picked up some grade 8 stock and test fit everything to check the clearances, and it worked perfectly.
Here’s where the plastic comes off. a T50 Torx bit will remove the seatbelt anchor.
On the side, pry the cap off with a flathead screwdriver. A T45 bit will take off the armrest and a standoff that locks the arm into place. The driver’s side is backed with plastic, so the seat doesn’t look bad with the armrest gone. The passenger’s side doesn’t have it.
I’ve been using a spare set of bases to mock things up on, but they are both rusted at the bottoms enough that I wouldn’t put them back in service without welding in some serious support. I took a second look at the bases I had, with tracks welded to the top, and decided to try a little surgery with an angle grinder.
After some careful cutting I got the tracks off and ground the edges off to a smooth surface, then sanded all surface rust and scale off. Then I wiped everything down with acetone to clean off any oil or grease.
To attach the bases to the tracks, I used the stock bolts from the seat in the rear. There are two threaded bolt holes in the back. I used the one closest to the front, then marked the holes for the front bolts and drilled them. Then I used a set of 3/8″ x 1″ Grade 8 bolts threaded in from above to attach the front of the seats to the tracks. The seats slide cleanly.
The project got sidelined for a week while I waited for Eastwood to send me rust converter. I used a brush to put it on, but the next time I’m at Target I’m going to pick up a cheap spray bottle for applicationâ€“it’s much easier that way. I hit everything I could see and let it sit for 48 hours.
Then all the bare metal got a coat of etching primer and two coats of Rustoleum satin black.
Then I attached the seats back on the bases and put the bases back into my Scout. Compared to 30-year-old Chrysler seats, 10-year-old Chrysler seats feel like they just rolled off the factory floor, even if they don’t exactly match the rest of the truckâ€“but then, nothing matches on this truck.
Postscript: One other nice feature is the fact that the passenger seat folds completely forward. So transporting 10′ boards without resting them on the fabric cover of the console is easy.
Bennett and Brian were headed up to pick over a Traveler in a junkyard in Mt. Airy today, so I tagged along. It was already gone through pretty well, but after a few hours of effort, we got the right inner fender, driver’s door, power steering pump, and some other goodies off it. I grabbed the starter, a hub assembly, the oil pump, both valve covers, some decent door rubber, and a very clean headlight switch, among other things. Now we need to figure out how we’re getting the engine from Brian’s house to my garage.
Peer Pressure is squirrelly. Suspension mods installed by the previous owner make the ride stiff; at highway speeds expansion joints and large bumps render the steering vague as the body floats up over the springs and back downward. Braking has gotten dicier since I bought the truck. Moderate pedal pressure these days sends the front and rear in different directions as the pads and calipers grab at different points.
Among the many repairs and upgrades I’d like to do is one of the (I’m told) easiest and most inexpensive improvements to the braking system: the Hydro-Boost. A system originally installed in GM products the world over, it’s an improvement on the old big round booster design Scouts were installed with, because it does away with vacuum-powered braking in favor of fluid power supplied by the power steering pump. It seems to be a pretty popular mod for a lot of vintage cars. Following a thread on the Just Internationals forum, I ventured out to the junkyard with my brother-in-law in search of an Astro Van with ABS brakes. We found four with and two without—the difference being the ones without ABS have the big round brake booster we’re looking to discard. I found an ABS Pontiac Safari already propped up on tires waiting for me, so early this morning I got to work.
I disconnected the hose running across the top, then the right-side hose that ran to the power steering pump. Thankfully, someone had already pulled the radiator, so I had a ton of room to work with.
The left-side hose running down underneath was very difficult to get off (I didn’t have metric wrenches) so I punted and cut the hose as close to the top of the metal line as I could. I used a pair of channel locks to snip the coiled metal hose running to and from the ABS computer (the big box directly below the hydroboost assembly) below the proportioning valve because those bolts were not coming off for love or money.
Finally, I crawled inside and used a long 15mm metric socket to take off four mounting bolts on the bracket. Hopefully other used Astros will be cleaner under the dash than mine was.
Then, a bunch of wrestling, tugging, pulling, and twisting got the whole assembly free. GM didn’t leave a lot of room in the engine bay to work with, so I removed the top fitting to clear the cowl and put it back on when I was done.
Stay tuned. Next I’m going to assemble all the parts needed to retrofit the assembly.