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.

Date posted: November 6, 2022 | Filed under Junkyards, Seats | 1 Comment »

I follow a bunch of Scout folks on Instagram, and some of them post really helpful tips from time to time. A week ago or so someone posted a picture of Kleen Strip concrete & metal prep, explaining that it’s basically the same thing as Evaporust, in a concentrated format—for a fraction of the price. I got a gallon of it at Lowe’s for $20 and thinned a small amount with three parts water. I was amazed at how fast and how strong it worked. Evaporust is good stuff but I found it dies out pretty quickly after the first batch of whatever I throw in it, so this is a welcome addition to the restoration toolbox.

Now that I’ve painted the transmission tunnel cover black, put in a black dash pad, sprayed the floors with black bedliner, and generally erased as much of the purple nonsense as possible, I’ve been looking at my khaki green glove box door with disapproval. I pulled it out of the truck, removed the lock barrel, and scuffed it with sandpaper before hitting it with three coats of black semigloss. Reinstalled it makes the whole thing look better—but now all I can see is that stupid purple dashboard. Maybe I need to just tape the whole thing off and spray it black…

My hunt for a set of black PT Cruiser seats continues. Our local junkyards have an app that sends alerts when particular cars hit the yards, and I check every time one comes in. It’s been a year and I’ve had zero luck. I think that option must have been in low demand in 2009. Meanwhile, Dan at the Binder Boneyard just announced a new product: a set of seat bases incorporating a locking access door. An added bonus is that they’re an inch shorter to accommodate aftermarket seats, something that would improve my seating position immensely.

The truck has been making a lot of noise on the passenger side for the past couple of months, something I’ve dealt with in the past on the driver’s side. The culprit then was the exhaust manifold gasket, which had disintegrated, so the effect was basically that of open headers—not the most neighborly situation when driving through town. I pulled the passenger wheel off the truck to better access the gasket and found myself cursing the engineers once again; instead of putting the bolts fore and aft of the pipe in easy to reach positions, they put them port and starboard, which makes one easy to reach and the other impossible.

And there isn’t enough room on the top bolt to get a box head wrench around it, so it’s all guesswork and busted knuckles. I couldn’t get the back bolt to budge, but found that the front bolt was still in good shape, as was the gasket. Turns out there’s another gasket above the pipe, two metal plates with something sandwiched in between, which has disintegrated, and that’s where the sound and fury is coming from. I’ve got to call Super Scouts and see if they have a replacement for that.

While I had the wheel off I measured the amount of backspacing on the rim so that I could compare it with the stock rim I have the spare mounted on; this will tell me how viable the spare is or if it won’t fit properly. Measuring the American Racing rims, there’s 4 1/8″ from the edge of the rim to the mounting surface, while on the stock rim there’s 3 7/8″. This means the inside edge of the wheel is closer to the frame on the stock wheel, making the turning radius wider—the wheel will hit the leaf springs sooner on the stock wheel because it’s closer to the truck.

I kind of dig the way steelies look on the truck, I have to admit…

Date posted: September 23, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

I had a bunch of time on Labor Day to fart around, and after a leisurely start in the morning, I got to work on the windshield project. The first part was sanding the chassis encapsulator drips off and prepping the surfaces for primer. I started with the back and worked my way over to the front, polishing everything with 1000 grit sanding blocks. After the majority was covered I used seam sealer on the top and sides, closing up the areas where pinch welds were all that IH used, and let that sit.

The next big question, based on the plan, was: how easy is it to swap out windshield frames? I’d pulled a whole frame off a truck back in 1999 or so, humorously enough right up the road at West End International, but I don’t remember how easy or hard that was twenty-plus years later.

The frames are built with two braces on each side. The braces mount to the top of the cowl with two bolts and a third on the passenger side to adjust up or down. The A-pillars are built with access panels to reach each of these bolts, but it’s a lot easier to see and adjust things when you can reach them, and for that I figured the fenders might have to come off. I’ve never had the fenders off this truck or Chewbacca—I’ve probably pulled ten different fenders off of other Scouts in the past, but not the two I actually own. I had no idea what to expect. There are somewhere between twenty to twenty five bolts that hold each fender in place, and all it takes is one frozen bolt to ruin an afternoon. Knowing that I was probably doomed at the beginning, I got the impact driver out and started working. And to my shock and surprise, all of them came out with little to no problem.

Actually getting the fender off took a little doing—the space between the door and fender is small—but when I figured that out I could see what I was dealing with. The well at the bottom below the kick vent was full of twigs and leaves; I’ll have to vacuum the other side later this fall. Somebody had gotten in here and hit everything with POR-15 or some other encapsulator, because it’s all in excellent shape. The inner fender is relatively solid except for some rusty spots in the front corner, so I’ll have to repeat this process and hit it with encapsulator.

What I found was that I can’t really see much of the bolts or their mounts from the front side, and there isn’t much gained by pulling the fender at all. The only advantage would be to hit the back sides of the bolts with PBBlaster, something I forgot to do before I rehung the fender.

I did, however, spend time doing something completely useless: I pulled two of the spares off the wall in the garage and hung them on the outside of the truck for shits and giggles.

Oddly, I’m not that upset with how the white fender looks! I don’t think I’d ever paint this truck white, but it’s got an interesting appeal. I wonder if my opinion would change if I hung one of the red doors on it instead of the purple.

It was due to rain in the afternoon, so I got things put back together quickly, finished sanding the windshield frame, and put everything back into the garage. I decided I’d stick with the current paint theme and keep the new frame red, so the color I chose is Chrysler Flame Red, which is close enough to what I’ve already got.

After Amazon dropped off the paint, I sanded the frame once more, wiped it with a tack cloth, and prepped it for paint. I was thinking Flame Red was going to be light and bright, like IH Red, but it appears to be a lot brighter than I was bargaining for. After one coat from the Duplicolor and some quick sanding, here’s how things stood:

I’m considering covering this with International Red, which has more blue and isn’t quite as bright. I’ve got a can of Ace implement paint, basically made for covering scars on farm equipment, and I’m thinking I’ll sand the Flame Red smooth and put a couple of coats of this on it, because I like the color much better.

Date posted: September 11, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

Peer Pressure has been running like a champ; I’ve taken her down and back to Southern Maryland twice in the last two weekends, riding with the top down under sunny skies, with the tunes on, and the dog dozing in the backseat.

I had a couple of hours to kill this weekend and used them to prepare the spare windshield for paint, based on my plan. I spent a couple of hours grinding as much of the remaining rust out of the visible sections as I could and then hit them with encapsulator. Then I used my can of Internal Frame Coating to cover as much of the interior as possible; I thought it might cut down on the rattling of rusty material inside the frame, but it did not. When I sat the frame on the ground to spray the second one, it dripped the material on parts I’d already sanded smooth, so I’ll have to do that again.

I’ve got to hit it with lighter primer anyway before it gets a color, so there’s more sanding in my future. I bought two cans of Duplicolor’s Chrysler Flash Red, which seems to be a lighter shade that will approximate the original IH shade of red on the current windshield.

A couple of weeks ago I sent off two packages in the mail—one to my internet friend Lydia in Austin, containing an Old Line State Binders T-shirt and a bunch of stickers in trade for the beautiful Austin Binders shirt she gave me. It wound its way through the post office and she finally got it yesterday (I was getting worried).

The second was a handful of stickers to Super Scout Specialists; they’d posted a call for stickers on Insta for the window on their front door, and in return they’d send a bunch of theirs back. I ran a new set of Peer Pressure stickers with my handle and hashtag more prominently visible and sent them off, and yesterday I got a bunch of cool stickers back from them—including a version of the famous Super Scout illustration from the 70’s. I gotta figure out where to put this one.

Date posted: September 1, 2022 | Filed under Progress | 3 Comments »

Gas has hit an all-time high of $5 per gallon around here, so my trips in the Scout are generally limited to short errands around town. I wound up leaving it at home for my trip up to New York last weekend, partially because the forecast for both travel days called for rain, and partially because of gas prices. As it turned out, there was little rain both days, and the weather was cool and mostly sunny. But I got 33 MPG in my Honda, and I can’t beat that.

This weekend, I spent some quality time messing around in the garage, and some of that time was spent on Scout stuff.

The gas tank has been sitting for a month or so waiting for me to get around to putting the sending unit in place. I didn’t know how to get the unit screwed in place with the thick rubber washer they provided. There’s a locking ring that goes over the sender and under three flanges welded to the tank, and the washer is too thick to make it easy to install. What I finally did was get one of the wings on the washer under a flange, and then carefully get the other two started with a couple of screwdrivers and some luck. Then, with some gentle taps with a hammer to spin the washer, I got the whole thing mounted and working. I have to take it back off to test the whole unit (and troubleshoot the wiring issue) but at least now I know I can get it installed.

The next thing I fooled with was pulling the trim off of one of the Flintstone doors to see what it would look like on Peer Pressure. I’ve had the guts of the door open several times, so it took about five minutes to get into the door, and then it was a simple matter of pinching the clips to release the trim.

I have to say, it looks kind of cool but also like I’m dressing up a pig. I like how the trim breaks up the big slabby purple area, but if I was to put a full trim kit on, that would imply I like the purple color, which I really don’t, or that I intended it to be this color and have now given it my stamp of approval. In any case, I don’t have a full set of trim pieces for in front of the doors or around the rear wheels, so at this point it’s not even an issue. It’s interesting to think about, though.

Date posted: June 13, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

I saw this Scout for sale on Marketplace, and something about it caught my eye. Not only is it a good-looking rig—the tires and lift are just right—but I like the color and condition of the graphics on the side. I believe this is an IH color called Grenoble Green, and it’s a value that isn’t too light and isn’t too dark, with a bit of metalflake added. I’ve been all over the place with colors in years past, but I think this might be the new frontrunner. I’d even consider the striping on this, as well—I think it’s probably my favorite design IH offered.

Date posted: April 5, 2022 | Filed under Paint | 2 Comments »

It was too damn nice out today not to take a break and replace the bottom plate on the rear seat. Now that it’s in place, the seat folds out and latches against the two stops on the wheel wells, making the seat (and integrated seatbelts) safe again. Next up is to pull the Tuffy console out and scoot it forward 1″ to clear the seat when it folds forward.

Date posted: March 16, 2022 | Filed under Seats | Leave a Comment »

For the winter of 2022, I needed a project to keep me occupied while Peer Pressure is in the garage. I figured I’d find a used heater box and overhaul it, and maybe in the summertime swap it in with a new heater valve, which is old and bound up. After months of looking and three different parts Scouts, I found a very clean box for $50 and snapped it up.

Removing it is pretty simple: there are two screws to remove on the inner fender and two nuts on the firewall; cut or loosen the hoses and disconnect two linkages. Then it comes out with a little wiggling: this loosens some 3/8″ foam that seals up the air collection and distribution ports. The one I got was in fantastic shape, and the foam looked almost brand new on both sides.

I sprayed the whole thing with PB Blaster and used an impact gun to pull the screws out, which allowed access to the heater core and motor assembly. This heater core looks to be in excellent shape so I may just clean it and re-use it; new units are $100 and don’t have 90˚ elbows at the connections like the OEM units do. This means that the hoses go straight into the washer bottle and you have to either splice in an elbow or finagle the hoses in an arc without collapsing them.

This one only had a bit of flash rust on the inner and outer surfaces. Even so, my plan was to take it down to bare metal and refurbish the whole thing, so I started with some spray stripper and had terrible results. It was able to lift the top layers of paint off but sort of gave up after that, so I shelved it and went to the blast cabinet. Lesson learned: sandblasting > stripper. After dialing in my secondhand Eastwood cabinet with a new pane of glass and a new ceramic tip, I used gravity-fed sand to blast everything down to bare metal, including the fan element. So satisfying.

I ordered a can of Eastwood rust encapsulator with the new tips, and coated the inside and outside of the box with it, figuring some extra insurance is always a good thing.

I found a square of industrial rubber at the local ACE hardware, meant for plumbing and other repair jobs, and used that to replace the brittle black rubber stapled to the flap inside the blower housing. I just bent the staples open carefully with needle-nose pliers, punched new holes in the rubber, and bent it all back into place.

For reassembly, I used #10 1/2″ screws to hold all of the parts together. I shot them with black paint first and then assembled the bottom of the radiator well. I found a roll of sealing foam 1/8″ thick and 2″ wide, rated for 150˚ and heater applications. The width makes it perfect for fitting on either side of the core and cutting down for other areas. The trick is to pad each side of the core so it doesn’t vibrate around, on both sides and top and bottom.

I turned my focus to the electric fan motor. The motor itself is in good shape and tests fine on the bench, so I figured I’d just sand and paint it, clean up the wires, and replace the connector. Someone had cut and spliced the wires and wrapped them in miles of electrical tape years ago so I pulled that off, cleaned up the solder, and put heatshrink tubing over the joins. Then I replaced the connector with a new Delphi 56 Series 2 Pin connector and closed everything up. Using the original rubber gasket between the motor and the mount, I bolted it back up to the plate and re-installed the fan (The fan itself got a light media blasting and then a light coat of rust encapsulator). I soldered a new connector on the ground wire. New motors are available from the Light Line dealers, but there are also units available on Rock Auto for half that cost.

Next is the hose and valve unit. The inlets on my heater core are 5/8″, so I got a 5/8″ valve from RockAuto for $23 and a length of 5/8″ ID hose from my local NAPA to cut down. With all of that in place, the unit looks really good, and it’s ready to go into the truck when the weather warms up. I can’t wait to install it and enjoy a working heater control.

Date posted: March 14, 2022 | Filed under Progress | 2 Comments »

Now that I’ve (mostly) got a new black rear seat, I’m looking at the front seats, which are gray, and thinking that I’d like to try and find front seats that match a little better. Doing some research on the interwebs this morning I found original sales brochures for the full run of Chrysler PT Cruisers and looked at the stock fabric offered each year. For almost all of the run there were two main colors inside: gray and beige. Some years they spec’d leather seats (some were even heated) but my unscientific research has shown that was mainly in early years and those seats also had integral airbags. I did find one year with a darker upholstery: in the 2009 model year they offered what they called Dark Slate Gray, which is as close to black as I’m going to get:

I’ve got an alert set up on the LKQ app for PT Cruisers in general but I think I’ll winnow that down to the 2008-2010 model years to ensure I don’t miss an opportunity.

Date posted: March 12, 2022 | Filed under Seats | Leave a Comment »

We had a spell of warm weather this weekend that I decided to take full advantage of. I’ve been working on refurbing all of the hardware for the new bench seat for the past couple of weeks, and by Thursday I had the hinges all blasted, sanded, rust treated, and painted. Saturday afternoon I got out to the garage and bolted the seats back together.

Then I pulled the brown seat out, rustproofed the retaining plates, and put the black seat in place.

As I expected it went in fine but it does not latch to the posts on each side of the wheelwells. When the seat goes all the way back there are two latch arms that tuck under the posts, but with the height of this seat, they don’t line up—the latches bump the posts and refuse to engage.

This was the issue with the brown seat when I put that in, so I knocked the metal feet off the base of the seat with a hammer. With those gone, the seat was shorter in back and was low enough to engage the latches.

I puzzled over this for a little while and then came up with a plan that I thought was pretty smart: instead of knocking the feet off the perfectly good second base, I unscrewed the base from the brown seat and took the wire and flap sanding wheel to it. It got a coat of primer and then several coats of black enamel, and it’s now drying in the garage. When it’s ready I’ll pull the black seat back out and swap the bases. With a little luck it’ll go back in smoothly and latch as well as the brown seat did.

 

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Meanwhile, a guy I follow on Instagram posted pictures of his hinges, which he’d just worked on over the weekend with a product called Insta-Black from EPI. Apparently this isn’t a paint but a “blackening solution” for steel tools, guns, and materials. I don’t know if I’d spend $60 on the trial product just for some seat hinges, but it’s a very interesting solution.

I’ve also got to scoot the Tuffy box forward about an inch to clear the seat properly when it folds forward; the brown seat upholstery has taken a beating from rubbing against the box and I’d like to keep it as clean as possible.

Date posted: March 6, 2022 | Filed under Progress, Seats | Leave a Comment »