Bumper Progress, and a Tune-Up

Mama gave me a much-appreciated mental health day today, so I went out and got a bunch of stuff done on the Scout. My main goal was to get the bumper sanded and prepped for paint. It’s been a few months since I mounted it, and the bare metal has been indoors for all but two rainshowers. I took the swingarm off and attacked it with a wire wheel and flap sander:

Wire wheeled, flap sanded

Then, after I’d got into every crevice and crack I could reach with the angle grinder, I hit all the welds, oblique angles, and areas I couldn’t reach with POR-15.


While I had the brush in hand, I coated the frame reinforcements and a bunch of other small areas that needed attention, as well as the shoulder belt mounts that were welded in to the rollbar.

After that had set and tacked for a few hours, I hit the whole thing with etching primer:

Etching Primer

Then, because I had the time, I did a bunch of small projects that were on the list, including a set of new wires and plugs (something I’ve been meaning to do since I bought the truck). This is what I ended up with:


They’re Champions. I replaced them with Autolite 85s. I’ll be curious to pull a few next spring and see how they look compared to these. The wire set I used was Belden/Federal Mogul 700259, and it was perfect.

I drilled four holes for the front legs of the rollbar and put in new grade 8 bolts. Luckily, with all of the hardware I’ve been purchasing over the last year, I had exactly the bolts, washers, and nuts I needed without going out to the store.

Finally, I did some exploratory surgery on the driver’s door to see how/if I could mount the OEM mirror I have sitting on the shelf. The measurements I took for Mike don’t line up with what I’ve got at all; the plate welded to the inside of my doorskin is shorter than the one on my spare in the garage, and mounted rearward by about 4″. So I’ve got two options: a new set of Ranger mirrors like Mr. Scout has, or drilling and tapping a new hole in the plate and one in the door for the mirror I’ve got. Either way, I’m going to have to skim some Bondo over the holes from the old one.

Update: Peer Pressure was running choppily and the exhaust stank of oil after the tune-up, so i figured I hadn’t seated one of the plug wires properly. After work today (I drove her in three days this week) I popped the hood in the garage, grabbed my Leatherman, and reseated all eight wires. This time I pulled the rubber covers back, made sure I saw the connectors click onto the head of each plug, and pushed the cover back down. Voila. She started right up, idled smoothly, and runs better than she did before. Problem solved.


I picked up some basic lug nuts for the tire carrier this morning. Last weekend I got 10 minutes and cut one of the three bolts off the mounting plate (the one that was angled inwards) and test fit the spare; it’s tight but it will work.

Mr. Scout is going to bring my original bumper standoffs back from Chestertown this Friday, and I’m going to swap out the new bumper for the old so that I can put it on some stands and get it cleaned, encapsulated, primed, and painted. I have to pick up a little bondo and some JASCO Prep and Prime from the ACE this weekend. It’s supposed to etch the metal, encapsulate and convert surface rust into a zinc oxide finish. Then a little bondo work to fill in any holes, some basic sanding, and then etching primer.

Edit: Jasco Prep and Prime isn’t carried by ACE anymore, or Lowe’s, as far as I can tell. It shows up in searches on their website but it’s unavailable for web purchase. My local ACE tells me they can’t order it from their warehouse.

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On Saturday I got rained out of working with Brian H on his Wagonmaster and scheduled out of meeting up with a guy to sell some Terra windows. So, I went out into the garage and fooled around with my new license plate bracket. I bought one off Amazon for about $13 with LED lights, and picked up a tap and die set from Home Depot for $20 along with some stainless Allen-head bolts.

License Plate bracket

Tap & Die set

The first thing was to figure out where to put the mount. It has to be closer to the center to clear the depth of the jack below the crossbar, so I mounted the spare and figured out how much clearance I had to play with. Then, I marked off holes, pulled out the drill, and put in two holes.

Working with the tap was really easy; once I mounted it in the chuck properly, I put a little oil on the threads and we were in business.

Bracket mounted

Then, with the bracket in place, I had to run power out to the swingarm. I disassembled the tailgate and the license plate light. The wire leading out there was black with an industrial-coated disconnect, which meant it was aftermarket. The ground lead out of the light was just screwed in behind the mounting plate for the bracket itself. I took apart my spare tailgate to see what stock looked like, and as I suspected it was just a green power lead ending in a single black socket, which grounded itself to the metal of the mount. Knowing what I had wasn’t worth saving, I cut it, spliced the hot wire to the light and grounded the other to the frame, and tested it. Success!

Test wiring

All it was at that point was splicing in some 14gauge threaded wire, soldering it together, heatshrinking the connections, and adding a pigtail connector to the ground. This got screwed in behind the bracket and the wire was zip-tied around the swingarm until the whole thing gets painted. Then I’ll tap two or three 6-32″ holes on the back side and add some plastic cable clamps to keep everything neat.

Finished and wired

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Bumper Building, Day 4

It’s about time for an update! And yes, I’m starting this off with another bridge picture:

On the way over the bridge

When last we left off, the welder couldn’t meet up with us, so we got a bunch of welds cleaned up, drilled holes for seatbelt mounts, and other smaller tasks accomplished. This Sunday I made it over the river by 10:15 and we were backing up to his shop by 11.

The first task was to mount up the swingarm. We clamped some plate to the top of the bumper, moved things back and forth and up and down, and finally found the right spot. He fired up the welder and got to work.

Prelim welding

Once that was in place, we greased and assembled the swingarm cups and bearings, pressed them in with a socket, and set it onto the spindle. Not bad!

castle nut

There’s a droop of maybe 1/2″ on the far side of the hinge, and even after torquing the castle nut down just a hair of vertical play in the arm.

Moving the swingarm

I wasn’t concerned about the droop all that much, because the next part was welding a receiver to the other side. After lots of consultation, we decided to cut a flat plate and weld that to the face of the bumper, and then weld a section of angle iron to that to act as the shelf it sits on:

That's beefy

While that was cooling down, I had him weld my seatbelt bungs into the rollbar, the spare tire plate onto the standoff, the bolts for the Hi-Lift to the bumper, and the bolts for the spare.

Then, we pulled the whole bumper off to weld two plates of angle iron in behind the outer bumper mounting holes–one side to the frame and the other to the flat plate across the back of the frame. This should provide support for the weight of the tire and bumper.

Setting up to strengthen the frame

Frame supports

Once that was all done, we threw everything into the back of the truck, paid the man, and headed back to Brian’s place. There we drilled out the mounting holes for the bumper, put that back in, mounted the swingarm, and tested the height of the receiver on the tailgate: too high! We had to chop about 1″ off the top of the receiver to clear the tailgate as it came down all the way, but there’s still plenty of backstop left to keep the arm from hitting the back of the truck. The last thing we did was drill a hole for a receiver pin; by then it was 6PM and time for a swim in the river.

Bumper in place with jack mounted

When I get home this evening I’ll shoot some pictures of the swingarm open and add them here for reference.

So, next steps are:

  • Pull everything back apart and clean up all the welds.
  • Bondo up any holes and sand everything smooth.
  • Etching primer on everything (POR-15 on the frame welds)
  • Some kind of black high-impact paint to finish everything off
  • Find a lock solution for the jack
  • Pick up some lug nuts for the spare
  • Find some kind of mounting solution for the license plate
  • Run wiring to the license plate for lighting
  • Mount it all back up and go!

Jack Mount

Not much to write about around here, but I finally decided I’d mount up my jack to see how it fits. I added the missing four bolts to the frame mount and cut some pieces of silicone matting for the jack cradle. Then it was as simple as spinning wingnuts onto the post bolts. I need to strap the handle down with some velcro and find a way to lock the jack down, but it looks good!

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Welded and Waiting.

Today I headed back to Chestertown for more bumper work with Brian. One new wrinkle in the fuel system saga is that filling the tank with more than 8 gallons of gas produces a mystery leak somewhere from the top (!?!?) out of sight. So when the tank gets dropped, I’ll have to sort that out as well.

Back over the bridge

The assemblies are back from the welder, and they look great. Only a few minor spots of burn-through here and there, stuff that can be fixed with a small amount of bondo and some sandpaper.

bumper mounted

We pulled the stock bumper off, put the new one on, and did some test-fitting for the jack mounts. With some silicon padding down on the cradles, we marked off holes for mounting bolts and drilled them through. Then we revisited the spare tire mount, drilling holes for mounting bolts on the plate, then mocking up the arm and re-measuring vertical distance. Both sets of bolts I’d bought from Fastenal were too long, so we had to hit the local True Value to find stock in the proper length.

Jack test-fit

Once that was sorted out, we noticed the standoff was 2″ too long, so that got chopped down to size. Then the plate was marked and tacked onto the standoff, and we tacked mounting bolts in place on everything.

Mounted and ground down (partially)

After lunch, we were still waiting for the welder to get back to us, so we busted out the grinders and cleaned up the welds a bit. Once I smooth it out with a flap wheel it’ll be ready for bondo, and then some etching primer.

Ready for welding

The welder was AWOL until the late afternoon, which screwed up our timetable, so we dicked around with some other stuff before calling it a day. First up was drilling holes for seatbelt bungs, which look real pretty and will be even prettier when they’re welded and painted.

Then we thought about tracing the power lead from the fuel sender back to the dashboard, and got as far as pulling the dashboard valance panel off and mucking around with the gauge when I came to my senses and realized I needed to be on the road in an hour. This job can wait.

So, after a quick ride in Chewbacca, I packed up my gear and hit the road for home. As I was approaching the bridge, I hit the first in a series of rainshowers and found the wipers were dead, to my great dismay. They have been working reliably up until now, so maybe our wiggling the BHC made them angry or something. I stopped in to the local K-Mart and found some Rain-X, applied that liberally to the windshield, and continued home. That shit is awesome.

Welded bumper!

Next week, it’s back to Chestertown for a fabrication party.

Also, I think I solved the issue of the chattering transfer case: Some genius (not me) spun the front hubs to 4×4. On a hunch the other day, I hopped out, spun them back to 4×2, and did another lap around the block: the chattering was gone.

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Bumper Update

So, Mr. Scout tells me the individual bumper parts are welded and waiting for us. The next steps are to bring the Scout to the welder so he can add gussets to the outside ends of the frame and then we can mount the whole assembly to test-fit. While he’s doing that, we have to drill holes in the spare plate to accept three bolts to mount the spare tire and two holes through the bumper to mount the Hi-Lift jack. These bolts will then be welded in place and the assembly should be finished.

Then, I’ll take it home, buy a box of grinding discs, clean up the welds and edges, and prep it for some kind of paint. I called a local powder-coating company and got a ballpark figure of $300 for a basic color (black), which is a little too rich for my blood. I think I’ll stick with rattle-can black for now.

In the meantime, I bought the wrong bolts for mounting the bumper online from Fastenal, so I have to return the ones I have (they’re huge and I’ll never use them for anything else) and buy new ones.

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