Having tried to start the engine last weekend and met with failure, I paused to think the situation over. On Monday I came up with a plan. Because turning the key wasn’t working anymore, I wanted to know if the starter had gone bad, or if there was a break in the wiring between the dashboard and the starter. When I was sorting out the clutch and brake linkage, I was under the dash fighting all kinds of wires, so it was a strong possibility I’d disconnected or broken something.
Last night I checked over the connections in the engine bay (the battery is fully charged and healthy according to the multimeter) and bent a piece of 12ga wire in half. With the key in the ACC position and new gas in the carb bowl, I jumped the poles on the starter and she fired right up. The new fuel pump immediately began pulling from the tank, and she ran at a fast idle. I let it run for a little while, noting clouds of smoke from the exhaust—residue from preoiling the cylinder when I first got the truck. I shut it down after a few minutes, satisfied the fuel system is working correctly. The fact that it shut down from the key tells me there’s a bad ignition connection on the lock barrel, which should be a relatively easy fix.
Now I’m going to turn back to the brakes, which are the final piece of the puzzle. Once I’ve gotten the soft line replaced at the back axle—I’m considering replacing the hard line from there to the front fender—I can fill the main cylinder and bleed the system. When the brakes are ready and the fast idle is corrected, I can test the clutch and transmission, and hopefully move the truck under its own power.
After that was sorted, I used some fine grit sandpaper to polish the primer on both fenders and hit the passenger’s side with IH red from a rattle-can. It’s bright and shiny and doesn’t go with the rest of the truck at all—the older rattle-can I had went on somewhat flat, which actually worked with the rest of the paint. Neither of these fenders are perfect, but the passenger side looks worlds better than it did before, especially after I wire-wheeled the top and the filler hole before hitting them with rust stop.
Having solved the starting issue last weekend, I figured I’d better move on to the brake system and start sorting that out. I pulled the wheels off and put the truck on jackstands to get things ready for new tires as well as expose the drums for an overhaul. This truck runs 11″ drums with 1.75″ shoes, which appears to be a somewhat unorthodox combination. I tore the driver’s side wheel down on Tuesday night and cleaned up the backing plate, then attempted to disconnect the brake line with a cheap set of flare wrenches from Hobo Freight; this just stripped the extensively rusty brake line fitting so I cut it off with a hacksaw.
Everything inside this drum was rusty as hell; the self-adjuster was fused into one lump of metal, and the shoes were paper-thin. The new brake cylinder went in easily and the front shoe connected up with the parking brake lever, but I was stopped short at the hold down pins, which were 0.5″ too long. Looking around online it appears that 2.25″ shoes are much more common, so I had to order a new set for the ones I’ve got. And now that I’m looking at the photo, it’s clear to me I put the adjusting screw in backwards, so I’ll have to get in there one more time to fix that.
Another, more alarming discovery, is that 16″ diameter wheels 8″ wide with a 4.5 bolt pattern and 3″ backspacing are pretty rare on the ground; apparently I’ve got three of something that don’t come around often. I put the word about my wheel issue out on BinderPlanet and someone sent me a link to a listing in a Marketplace group I wasn’t already a member of with what look like the wheels I need in Idaho; I’m in contact with the seller and we’ll see how much it will cost to ship.
I had a spare fuel pump in the Scout emergency kit that I put on the Travelall Wednesday night. The old pump had an integrated fuel filter with fittings that hung off the side, while the new one has two long cylinders which hang down off the housing—and which bump directly up into one of the body mounts. After mounting it, I noticed the pump isn’t fit snugly to the engine block. It would be very easy to have SendCutSend make me a metal shim, so I’m not worried yet.
Thursday night I ran out and drained the oil from the engine to get it ready for some Rotella 10-W40 diesel oil (it’s formulated in a way that makes it better for old flat-tappet engines than modern oils) but quickly realized I’d bought the wrong oil filter: the one on the truck has a much thicker nut than the filter was willing to accept, so I had to order the correct one: a WIX 51261. Also interesting was the size of the drain plug: a fat 1 1/8″ nut instead of a 9/16″ like I’m used to. (I’ve begun a list of odd sizes and parts and tools that I’ll have to pack in the emergency kit for this rig.) Luckily I saw no metal shavings on the plug at all. While draining the pan, I collected a container of oil halfway through the pour for a trip to Blackstone Labs, where they do a full chemical analysis of the oil to see what shape the engine is in. With this I can get a sense of how much wear is actually on the rig and if they see any issues with bad bearings or other hints as to its health.
On Saturday I had some time before rainstorms to dig into a box of parts to continue on the brake job: A new set of holddown pins arrived, and while they were still a little too long they worked for what I needed. I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what Carlson meant for me to do with their version of an adjusting lever, said fuck it, and hooked it up the way it came to me. With the driver’s side done, I moved over to the passenger side and knocked that one out in a quarter of the time it took for the first one. Returning to the fuel pump, I took the unit I had off, shimmed it with three gaskets, scavenged an outgoing metal fuel line from a spare on the shelf, and put it back on. The fuel line now snakes up next to the dipstick tube (which is on the passenger front of this engine, not the driver’s middle) where I can attach a fuel line and run it up the passenger’s side to the carb and not over hill and dale the way it was. I put the new fuel filter on and filled the engine up with Rotella.
So next up is to get the fuel system plumbed and tested from the boat tank, and from there I’ve got to see what shape the actual gas tank is in. I have the new master and clutch slave cylinders in hand, and all the mounting bolts on the truck are soaking in PBblaster. They’ll get replaced next, and then I can push fluid through the lines to see if they’re worth saving or need to be completely replaced.
I’ve got to get Peer Pressure in to a mechanic to look over the power steering pump, but I don’t want to do that without having several of the specialty fittings I need for the Hydroboost setup in hand. I dug out the seller’s information from my archives and ordered a new set; their prices have gone up since 2010 when I got the last pair, but having them is cheap insurance if my mechanic needs to tear the whole unit apart. With those in hand, I’ll get her in for a checkup ASAP.
Saturday started out rainy so I was inside painting until after noon, and then the clouds parted and the sun came out. Jen had told me it was freakishly warm outside so I figured I would make the most of it and work on the truck.
A lot of what I did was exploratory. I’m still sorting out what’s what on this rig, so I’m spending a lot of time cleaning and disassembling. I did bolt something back up to start, though: both inner fender skirts have cured for two weeks and were ready to put back on the passenger side, so they went in with rust-free bolts shot with Rust Stop. I peeled the tarp back from the hood and got it ready for a bath: I had a can of Engine Brite ready to go and sprayed the whole block down to let it do its work, then dragged the pressure washer out for a rinse.
It’s a damn sight better than it was. The intake manifold cleaned up really well, the valve covers are now missing 80% of their paint, the hoses are all clean, and the rest of the bay is, at least, not covered in mud dauber nests and leaves.
While that was drying I started the long process of pulling the driver’s fender off, which took longer than it needed to but was still mercifully easy due to the bolts all being in good shape. The IH engineers over-fastened the area around the headlights: If I’m counting correctly, there are 20 bolts that hold the fender on, six of those are around the headlight area, two of which are in a place only midgets or Plastic Man can comfortably reach. I shudder to think how hard it would be to unfreeze (or attempt to cut) bolts in areas this small. As it was the top bolt holding the fender to the firewall was stuck, and I had to make a short breaker bar out of one half of my bottle jack handle to torque it off.
This fender is crispier than the passenger side and has taken several shots at the crease, which means it’ll be a challenge to straighten. I’m going to keep my eye out for clean fenders at Nats to save some time.
From there I moved to the front of the fascia and pulled both of the turn signal buckets out, which illuminated another weak spot in the C-series design: the buckets share a channel with the grille where leaves and dirt get kicked up into a valley between two sections of metal, and water and gravity wash it downwards behind the light buckets where it has nowhere else to go.
I scooped, vacuumed, and then powerwashed about a cup of solid dirt from behind each bucket. The left side is much worse than the right. I let them both dry and then hit everything with more Rust Stop to give myself some more time to source a new fascia section.
Digging through the garage I went to the Big Iron section and found something I only half-rememberd I had: a spare Saginaw steering box sitting next to a crate full of spare starters and a Dana 20 transfer case. Steering boxes are apparently getting harder and harder to find, according our friend Lee in Delaware; I got this from the Flintstone Scout two years ago. This is excellent news, as I can send this one out for a rebuild without taking the truck off the road for weeks or months while it’s gone.
By about 5:30 the rainclouds were rolling back in so I set the fender back on the truck and put a screw in to hold it in place, and re-fastened the tarp over the front cowl. The bolts from the fender are sitting in a phosphoric acid bath on the workbench, and the front section of the inner fender skirt is waiting for a date with the sandblaster.
I spent all day Sunday working on work stuff so I could swap for Monday to take advantage of 70˚ weather and attack the roof of the bus—with an eye toward grinding out the rust, feathering the edges with a light coat of Bondo, and sanding it down to a smooth finish.
Between house stuff, two work meetings, and getting things assembled I didn’t get outside until about 1PM, but from then until 6:30 I took a flap wheel to every crater on the roof of the truck as well as the entire length of the drip rail (and a good portion of the area directly underneath, hit it all with Rust Encapsulator, and began covering the pockmarked metal with a thin coat of Bondo. It took a lot longer to do the roof than I’d figured on—every time I thought I was done I saw another bad spot—but with the exception of two small areas everything is ground and prepped. I also ground rust out of the driver’s rear door and skimmed it for sanding.
Sunday broke sunny and warm, and after some quick work in the house and a walk with Jen and the dog, I hit the garage for a full day. The first thing I did was start sanding the edges of the drip rails down, and I found that no matter how careful I’d been with the bondo applicator there were a ton of high edges to deal with. I got the random orbital sander out and used that to knock the high points down, then went to a Harbor Freight sanding block with 220 grit paper to smooth things out. There are a bunch of areas inside the drip rail that need to be hit again, but between that and the sanding block I got the entire perimeter of the drip rail sanded and covered in high-build primer. It took a lot of work.
I’m trying to go as light as I can everywhere possible. I had to open the driver’s door to roll the windows up and the edge of the fender, which is only held in with two bolts, caught on the door. It wound up prying off this giant chunk of painted Bondo; this is Not How To Repair Bodywork.
My old friend Erick stopped by at 2:30 to look over the engine, and between the two of us we isolated the distributor as the likely culprit for a non-running truck; there was spark all the way up to those wires but nothing at the plugs. We hung out and shot the breeze for a while and he took off; he’ll be back later to help me install the new distributor when I get it in hand.
After he left I kept sanding and priming and then mixed a bunch more bondo to keep filling the divots in the roof. By 6:30 I was pretty beat and I had 3/4 of the roof skimmed, so I packed up the gear and called it a day. My back is sore, my legs are tired, and I feel exhausted but it was a great day of progress.
This article popped up in my feed and I thought it was very interesting: a laser-based fuel sender that does away with mechanical linkages and resistance-based wiring. It uses LIDAR to measure how much fuel is left in the tank and requires an electronic gauge on the dash to work properly. I don’t know how this might work in the Scout—the tank is angled on both sides, and the low point of the tank isn’t centered under the gauge—but it would definitely work on the Travelall, where the tank is flat. Interestingly, the gauge in the Travelall actually works, and currently reads half a tank.
I was considering taking the Scout on a jaunt down to my father-in-law’s house this past Sunday to continue working on his bathroom, but a nagging feeling stopped me. The steering pump started making some noise last weekend when I had her out on errands, and I kept an eye on things after I parked her. Looking over the pump it’s clear there’s a slow leak happening somewhere. The leaf spring and steering linkage below the pump are damp with fluid; there wasn’t much missing in the reservoir but I topped it off just in case. I’m going to do the 5/50 mile method around here for a little while and keep an eye on things, but I sense a replacement on the horizon. I contacted Redhead Steering Gears to get a quote on a new pump, and it came back at about $475. I don’t remember if I’ve got a spare in the garage, but that’s a job I’m going to consider before making the trip to Nats.
I got a large flat package in the mail Monday, which contained two new front door cards and a second fuse block, all in excellent condition. These cards are a different color and texture than the originals, but the original driver’s card was bent and cut for a speaker, so it was pretty much useless. These both look really good, even though the passenger side has one dent in it. I couldn’t help myself this afternoon so I went out and replaced it. SO MUCH BETTER.
The other thing I did was to order a new windshield from IHPA through their system. I talked with a super awesome rep on the phone who found me glass up in Pennsylvania and arranged to have it driven down to Elkridge free of charge for me to pick up. Figuring I’d give the Scout a trial 15-mile run, I folded the rear seat down and drive down to pick it up. There was no noise from the pump and she didn’t leak anything visible in the parking lot or on the driveway, so I’m cautiously optimistic. The glass warehouse was in a nondescript warehouse park, and when I walked into the loading bay I was greeted with an ENORMOUS internal space holding thousands of glass pieces of all sizes and shapes, on racks 5-6 levels high all the way up to the ceiling. All of them were modern and tinted, with that peculiar black dotted pattern around the edges, and I followed the foreman back through the racks until we happened upon the only clear, unlined, and dramatically curved piece of glass in the whole shop. He actually said, “Wow, I haven’t seen glass like this before.”
I backed the Scout up to the loading bay, next to white vans specially outfitted with racks to hold scores of glass, and McGuyvered a solution up with a large box, lots of soft tarps, and some bungee cords. We made it home slowly and safely, and I tucked it carefully into the back of the Travelall until the rubber gets here.
Having reviewed several videos and the Service Manual directions, I’m nervous about installing it myself but definitely looking forward to having some non-leaky glass on the truck.
Another quick thing I did was pull the spark plugs I’d hastily installed the morning of our workday and replace them with a shiny set of new Autolite 85’s. I still don’t know what the story is with our spark but I’m positive it won’t be with the cables or the plugs. I talked with my friend Erick and we’ve got a tentative plan to have him come up and look at the truck to help me get it running; he’s a bit hard to pin down but I’m hoping we can link up and make some progress.
On Marketplace this week a listing popped up for a complete set of glass for a round-body Travelall—doors, wing windows, windshield, rear corners, and tailgate—for the eye-watering price of $3000 up in New Jersey. I asked if he would be interested in just selling the rear corners but he declined; they’re more valuable as a complete set. So I’ll have to keep looking, and hope that I can find someone with a set for a reasonable price or someone starts producing them again.
Today was about 10˚ colder than yesterday so a lot of the stuff I did was in the garage, out of the wind. Mostly what I focused on was dialing in the sandblasting cabinet, after using it to clean off three sections of the passenger side wheel surround.
What I wound up doing was going to the hardware store and finding a thread-to-barb PVC junction with a big enough lip that I could drill a hole in the center of the cabinet, drop it down and through, and let gravity and the lip hold it in place. I cut the thread off so it’s as low to the bottom as possible and connected a hose to the bottom, then drilled another hole to the front of the cabinet to let the hose back in to connect with the gun. There’s a little hesitation as it flows but the effect is much better; I don’t have to continually stop to move the inlet hose around. I got a bunch of stuff cleaned off and ready for paint, but Eastwood is out of Rust Encapsulator until April. All of this stuff will get a coat of that, two coats of flat black, and one shot of undercoating before it goes back in place.
While I was working in the truck, I pulled the crumbling cardboard glovebox out and took a look behind it at the cowl. That side is much worse than I first thought it was. It’s going to need some serious love at some point—probably pulling the whole dash out and welding in some new metal. For now, I’ll try to patch the cowl from the inside until that day comes.
But in much better news, I realized the fuseblock I bought a week ago is actually correct for this truck—I didn’t understand how it mounted until I really looked at it. Which means I can bench test the whole assembly, clean the contacts up, and use it as a guide (and maybe a wholesale replacement). That’s excellent news; I was really thinking I’d wasted a bunch of money there.
My 9-5 job has ramped up in difficulty and responsibilty over the last couple of months. I’m holding down two jobs while we wait for a new director to be found, and it’s been messing with my sleep and my mental health. I spend most of my days on calls or writing emails to keep things moving from here to there, which is good for the organization but hard on my batteries. So the Travelall has been kind of a lifeline for me this year, even though it’s stranded in the driveway.
Saturday morning I got bundled up in cold-weather gear, gassed up the Scout and drove out to the Howard County Fairgrounds to check out a tool auction, which was both larger and colder than I thought it would be. There was a lot of amazing stuff there, from tables covered in tools to used farm equipment to saplings to lawnmowers. I met my friend Brian H. there and we walked the rows to see if anything caught our eye. This original KC Highliter light bar was tempting—it’s period correct for the Scout—but the rest of the lot didn’t interest me.
Auctions like this are tricky because you can’t just buy one thing—if you want a circular saw you have to also buy the rest of the stuff in the lot: five toolboxes, a space heater, three welding helmets, a gas stove, a box of Christmas decorations, and a bag of mismatched PVC pipe fittings. It’s not worth it unless you’ve got a place to store things or a lot of spare time. So we looked and left.
Back at home, I got to work on the Travelall, first pulling what was left of the old battery tray out and installing the refurbished one I bought from Marketplace. It went in with almost no problems—again, I can’t get over how easy some of these bolts have been to remove. When that was done I stripped the remainder of the window tinting off the windows and cleaned them up with Goof-Off. Vacuuming the inside of the rear doors I put the card back on the driver’s side and pulled the black window trim from each rear door out for an inside evening project.
Moving back to the engine I dumped some gas down the carb and fired it off again, messing with the plugs and the wires. Still no go. But I did notice the gas and amp gauges both working, which means not everything behind the dash is dead. Moving to the passenger fender, I chiseled the locking gas cap off and loosened the bottom of the inlet hose to disconnect it from the gas tank.
The worst bolt on the truck has been the hood support pin on that side, which didn’t want to budge. When I finally pried that off I was able to pull the whole fender off the truck and get a look underneath. Again, everything under there is so clean.
I test-fit the blue fender to see how it looked, knowing that using it as a replacement is pretty much off the table without the fuel inlet mount. If I get really clever I can have sendcutsend cut me two new pieces and weld them together with a rectangular strip to make my own flange, but that would come much later, when I’ve got some welding practice under my belt.
Once I’d test-fit the fender, I put the red one back on and fastened it with about half of the bolts. It’s going to come off a couple more times so that I can properly clean out the inner fenders, redo the shocks, scrape and paint the frame, and rebuild the lighting. On tomorrow’s to-do list is to wire wheel all of the inner fender skirts I removed to gain access to the engine, continue chasing the spark issue down, see if I can sort out more of the under-dash wiring, and maybe look into draining the fuel tank without spilling rancid gas all over the driveway. The gauge reads half-full, which means there would be 9+ gallons in there; I’ll have to see where I can dispose of it.
I got a nice little package in the mail this afternoon:
So part 1 of the title quest is complete; now I have to trade the Vermont registration for a Maryland title, and be issued new Maryland plates. But not just any Maryland plates. I’m going to do the same thing I did with the Scout: buy a set of 1964 plates on eBay and have the title point to those.
I got a call from a nice lady at the Vermont DMV this morning, who was processing my application for the Travelall registration and needed an extra $4.50 to complete the paperwork. I read my card over the phone and she told me plates would be in the mail today, followed by the registration a week later. HOLY CRAP
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.
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…