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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Scout came up for sale last week on Marketplace somewhere out west, and I thought it was interesting because it’s an example of IH’s Schoolbus Chrome Yellow, a color that was offered through the entire run of Scout II production but a color I’ve only ever seen in these pictures and on the donor hood and hinges of my Scout.
This one looks like it was a reasonably well-optioned 1978 model for some kind of local government or school system; it’s got hubcaps and chrome trim, and was spec’d as a V-8 manual with A/C and a split bench seat (it’s from Texas). There’s some kind of strange roof rack installed—maybe for a light bar?
That’s pretty bright. I guess there’s no missing that color!
I took Hazel for a ride back up to York this morning. The plan was to pick up an NOS fender and the black rear seat from the guy I’d visited last weekend; my friend Mike mentioned on Instagram that he was interested in the fender so I thought I’d head back up, grab that and the rear seat I spied last week. It was a balmy 50˚ so I was happy to only need a fleece for the whole day, and the sun peeked through clouds that began to darken the western sky as we got further north.
The guy who owns the lot wasn’t available so I had another guy take me where they had the fender stored. It looked OK under the lights—dirty on the inside, a few scratches on the outside—and all of the bolt holes were clean (except one which held a rusty nut/bolt combination; clearly he’d had it mounted on the truck at some point) so I threw it in the car.
We needed some PB Blaster to get the hinges on the seat to move—they were frozen, probably from sitting outside for weeks on end. But when I was able to get it to fold, I was sold. I headed back to the shop and paid the money, took some pictures of some old British cars he had on the lot, and hit the road.
On closer inspection when I got the fender home, I wish I’d been more careful. After really cleaning off the dirt on the inside, my heart sank. It’s NOS but at some point the owner had let it sit, probably inside-up, where water had pooled and started a layer of rust bubbling on the lower edges. It’s not all the way through, and could easily be cleaned up with a soda blast or some other abrasive, but it’s not a perfect fender. I’m going to send Mike a video I took with the detail and show him exactly what I’ve got here to see if he’s still interested. Mike specializes in show-winning restorations, and this might not be up to his standards.
The lesson here, which I’m still trying to learn at my age, is: slow down and be patient. Check over everything before you pay the money. If Mike doesn’t want it, I won’t be terribly upset; both of my other spare driver’s fenders are probably at best a 6 out of 10—the brown one I got last year might be a 5, and I paid next to nothing for it. I’ve also got to look at my parts scores on the whole: most of what I’ve gotten up until today has been very cheap. This is the most expensive part I’ve bought for the truck since I’ve had it, and it’s as closer to new than any other Scout parts I own besides the two lights from last week. So maybe it all evens out somehow…?
After I got home and got some lunch, I headed out to the garage to clean the heater box up. Now that I’ve got a proper sandblasting cabinet, I figured it wouldn’t be messy, but I had to do a bunch of prep work to get it ready.
First, I drained all of the sand out of the bottom of the cabinet and stored it in a bucket. The cabinet came with a gravity feed hose—basically as long as the bottom of the cabinet is full of sand, it sucks the sand in and mixes it in the gun at the tip, making it a closed system. But the tip it came with was broken and the Eastwood tips are larger than my Harbor Freight tips, so I figured I’d use what I already have. Propping the cabinet up on a box, I replaced both of the lights inside and filled my compressor. Then I loaded up my little HF canister with glass bead and got to work.
It did a really good job once I got the flow dialed in, and I a good bit of the box clean before I had to sieve the blasting media for big chunks that started clogging the tip. I also had to take frequent stops because the inside of the box isn’t properly vented yet—I need to get a hose with some kind of pusher motor to mount on the back to vent the dust out—but I got a lot done before the valve on the HF “gun” blew out on the side. It’s basically just a 3/8″ ball valve, not meant for abrasive use. After cleaning it up, I looked over the Eastwood gun and figured I’d give it a shot with the broken tip to see how the flow worked. I dumped the sand back in, hooked it up to the compressor, and was shocked at how well it threw sand even with a broken tip. Clearly the simpler system is the way to go, so I’m going to source some new tips from Eastwood and use that to finish off the parts.
When I was done with that I cut some lumber down to make a rolling cart for the cabinet with a shelf on the bottom, and with the addition of some HF casters I had it assembled and the cabinet on top in about 45 minutes. A panel on the back will keep it from being wobbly.
I was just watching a video by Anything Scout where they’re doing a Will It Run video on an old D-Series pickup. They drove in with their Scout and I noticed the spare tire carrier they’re running, which is a unit called an Ultraswing made by RIGd. It’s designed to slot into a heavy-duty trailer hitch (which I have) and carry a spare tire and up to 250 lbs. of weight—far below what my spare weighs. There’s an additional kit for a lighted license plate and a folding table, which would make camping a lot easier. At $1500 for the base swingaway tire carrier it’s not cheap, but the alternative is still having to either buy a bumper with an integrated tire carrier—for a comparable price—or buy something like this, which might work with what I’ve already got.
I like what I see because when it’s secured to the truck there’s absolutely no play in the tire at all—it’s rock solid based on how the bar goes into the receiver. This is definitely on my list of upgrades.
The weather was a weird unseasonable 65˚ today so this afternoon, after we did family Christmas stuff, I wandered out into the garage to fart around in the balmy heat. Now that the fridge is gone there’s a big empty spot on the back wall so I moved some stuff around and aired up the tires on the engine cart. I’ve been thinking I need to get back out there and put more Marvel Mystery Oil down the spark plug holes, so I did that first and then jockeyed it around so I could reach the crank pulley. I put a socket on the end and tried moving it; it turned about an inch either way and then stopped. Obviously it needs some constant attention to get things moving, so I’ll continue going back out and adding oil to the cylinders until I can get it unbound. In the meantime I have to buy a proper engine stand and get it up off that silly cart.
Then I dug around for the spare windshield I squirreled away, figuring I could use that for practice in the spring when I take the old one out. I was surprised to realize I actually have two out there—one from one of the spare windshield frames and the other from I think the frame pictured at the bottom of this post. The older glass has some fogging along the bottom but no pitting, and the edges all cleaned up nice and smooth. The newer glass is clear but there’s a horizontal crack halfway down on one side about 3″ long. I figure I could use that one as the sacrifice to practice putting in, and if it lasts a year before it splits I’ll still be ahead of the game.