Phase 1 Complete

Jeff posted these up on my Binder Planet thread yesterday and shot me a text: the covers are done, and he’s going to get them packed up to ship and send me the invoice for the balance. I think they turned out great, and I’m excited to get them in hand. I think this will be the next job I tackle after we get back from our vacation.

Now I’ve got to borrow a set of hog ring pliers from my brother-in-law and order some rings from Amazon.

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I heard from Jeff this weekend on the Travelall seats (actually, while I was trying to pull the dash off) when he texted me a picture of the top half of the rear seat in progress:

I’m doing mine in gray over black because my dash and door cards are gray, but I’m going for something that looks like this (in tan over gray):

I don’t think the vinyl Jeff got is as marbled as the stuff in the reference photo, but I’m excited about moving the seats forward.

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Advanced Surgery

As of Friday night, the passenger side quarter panel is off the truck. I’m still trying to sort out how I might get the axle out from under the truck and still have someone haul it away, but it’s not looking promising. In the worst case I’d either have to forego keeping the axle or pull it and beg Bennett to help me haul it back up on his trailer and off to a scrapyard.

In the meantime, I’m eyeing the inside wheel well covers, wondering if I could drill out the welds and pull those in one piece…

In other, better news, I shot Jeff an email on Friday after I realized I have a perfectly good front and rear 1967 bench seat just waiting for new upholstery, and asked him if that made any difference in fitment. He called me back on Friday night, somewhat relieved, because his patterns are for 1968 benches and he feels better about shipping the covers to me as is. So when he’s got time he’ll finish up the covers and send them down, and if UPS can avoid losing them, I can buy the foam and get started building the seats.

It doesn’t sound like Bennett is going to be able to make it to Nats with us this year, but I think Brian is on board for a ride-along with me. He’s not interested in taking Slowflake so I offered shotgun in the Scout. I’ve got to start organizing parts for sale to see if I can make some money bringing them to Ohio; I figure the tailgate might bring some money if priced properly, and I wonder if anyone would be interested in the heating unit in its current shape. There’s more in the pile but I’ve got to go through it all to see.

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Weekly Update, 2.26

From what little UPS has told me, my seat covers are gone. I had to go to the location I mailed them from and ask, and the guy went into the back of the office and looked and claimed they cut me a check at some point for $100 plus the amount I paid for shipping. Which also hasn’t arrived. So I have to organize a meetup with Jeff somewhere between here and Pittsburgh to hand over the seats.

My spare fuse block made it out to the Scout Connection on Wednesday, and Dave called me to let me know it’s actually not the right fuse block for my truck. I asked if we could swap it for a correct used spare and call it even, and he was happy to do that. So that process should be underway, and hopefully I’ll get a harness in the mail sometime soon. I can’t wait to open that Pandora’s box get that process started; having a working electrical system is one of the three biggest obstacles to getting this girl on the road.

I bought a basic hammer and dolly set from Harbor Freight on Saturday morning and got to work hammering out the dents in the driver’s fender. It took a bit of time to understand how the tools worked; there’s a hammer with a small contact area on either side and a flat spoon for wider areas, as well as two solid steel dollies for the backside. I started with the hammer and quickly realized it was too small a contact patch, and switched over to the spoon almost exclusively. In a couple of hours I had the edge shaped correctly and most of the valleys flattened out, as well as the overall curve of the fender re-formed. Hanging it on the truck I was pleased to see it matching up with the body line really closely, and the panel gap looked really close. After a few more adjustments I re-hung it to confirm everything aligned, and then got things ready to skim some filler over top.

Sunday morning I had a little free time so I used the orbital sander to knock off the high spots in the filler and then skimmed a second coat over the fist; the filler portion of things is going to take a lot of time (as the other fender did) to flatten the large areas and also match the curve over the fender.


Shiny Red

Jeff gave me a ring early in the week and asked me to send him the existing overs off the seats I have because he’s worried what he has might not fit correctly. So I went out at lunchtime on Tuesday and quickly pulled the covers off the rear bench and front vertical section, wrote where they came from, and boxed them up to be UPS’d up to him. I would like to have spent more time taking pictures of how they were assembled, but I was up against the clock and weather, and wanted to keep the process moving.

Jeff said I’m welcome to come up to his place and he’d show me how they go together when he’s got them completed, and it’s looking more and more like I might take him up on that offer. I’m sure I could figure out a lot of things on my own but I’d rather have an expert show me the right way first before I ruin anything.

The other thing I did on Saturday was to cut and fit two sections of steel to the corners before welding them into place. I have no idea why they would have kept these parts separate, and I figured sturdier is better in any case. A spray can of Rust-Stop helped me reach all the sections the brush missed, and with that the front bench is ready for upholstery. Next I’ve got to clean off the rear.

On the fender I got all of the low spots mudded out and sanded down, then used fill & sanding primer to identify any last trouble spots. When I was satisfied with the way things looked I used some 1000 grit to polish it up and then sprayed on two coats of rattle-can IH Implement Red to cover things. Overall it looks very good, and there’s only a drip around the fuel inlet port I have to smooth out. The next step will be to scrape all the old undercoating off the back, wire wheel any remaining rust, cover it with Encapsulator, and then spray on some undercoating.

I took the driver’s side off and started knocking off all the Bondo I’d applied in the summer as well as the stuff it came to me with; I’m going to take it back down to bare metal and start over again. This time I’m going to cut out the bad metal and riveted patch and try to get it as close to the original as I can while I keep looking for replacements. This one is going to take a lot more time to fix.

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Saturday morning broke with the first good sunshine we’ve had in a long time, so I decided that I would take advantage of as much of it as I could. After a mile-long walk with the dog and a cup of coffee with Jen, I put on my coveralls and headed out to the garage. The first thing I wanted to tackle was pulling and inspecting each spark plug I’d installed last year to ensure they were gapped correctly and to do a compression test. I pulled the coil wire, started with the #1 cylinder and worked my way backwards on the driver’s side, then finished on the passenger side.

All of the gaps looked right at spec, and the tips were all covered in gassy-smelling oil—which I expected, considering that I haven’t been able to get her running consistently for a long period of time. The most important information was good information: all of the cylinders had excellent compression, with the lowest of any of them at 125psi. This means the rings are in great shape and have hopefully reseated themselves after their long slumber.

When that was done I pulled the passenger fender out into the sun and hit it with sanding blocks for the second time, working the high spots down and smoothing out the second skim coat. It’s really shaping up on the outside, and I’m having great luck with the new filler.

One drawback was that the inner metal collar I’d welded on to the backside of the fuel port came off as I was sanding it down; when I welded the inside edges and then sanded off the excess metal apparently I was a little too zealous and weakened those welds. So this time I predrilled a bunch of pilot holes along the outer circumference and used those to tack the collar back in place from the back side—something I should have done in the first place. I’ll fill the inside edge with seam sealer to hide the welds, which are mostly hidden anyway. Then I skimmed filler on the low spots, which are (thankfully) decreasing in number.

Sunday morning I ran up the Scout for the first time in two weeks and let it warm up in the driveway. After attaching my ghetto exhaust extender (a 5′ length of HVAC pipe attached to the tailpipe, with 20′ of PVC reaching past the side of the garage) I turned both idle mixture screws all the way back into the carb and then backed them out 1/4 turn. Adding a little starting fluid to the carb, she fired right up and idled much smoother than she had two weeks ago, but then I saw the giant clouds of white smoke coming from the end of the exhaust and figured I’d better shut her down. So the rough idle issue is mostly sorted out, but I need a good windy day to run it up and clean the Berrymans out of the fuel system.

Next, I got to work tearing the front bench seat base down to the metal. I set up a GoPro and took a bunch of pictures, then started tearing the old vinyl off the frame. Removing the foam, burlap, and reed padding, I cut the old hog rings off and wire wheeled the outside elements, and then looked it over. There were three sections that needed to be welded back together, so I set up the MIG, dialed it in for thinner metal, and put them back together. Then I brushed encapsulator on the whole thing, which was a tedious job.

There are two sections on the back side that look like they could have been welded originally, but also maybe they weren’t. I texted Jeff to see what he thought and he told me his seat is from a ’68 and doesn’t look like mine. I’m mulling over whether I should weld in a set of supports there just to keep the whole thing sturdy.

While that was drying I pulled the fender out and continued sanding the high points down. It’s getting very close. There are only about five small areas that needed to be skimmed—hopefully for the last time—so I put some filler on to cure while the weather was still warm.

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Weekly Roundup, 1.28

Knowing it was going to be warm towards the end of the week, I made a beeline out to the local Eastwood store on Wednesday. They had the body filler I was looking for, a specialty brand that came highly recommended online, and  Amazon couldn’t promise to deliver it before then. I was able to throw in a new can of Encapsulator to meet the minimum for a coupon, so it worked out perfectly. This new filler is lighter and sands much easier, making bodywork much more pleasant. I was able to get the high spots knocked down quickly and then spent time finding the problem areas, marking them out with a Sharpie and readying them for the next skim. I actually covered more areas now that I know how easy it is to work with, and I’m looking forward to getting this piece cleaned up.

I got a call from my friend Jeff on Sunday morning, to ask me a question about my seats, which he’s starting today! He figures it should be a week or so to get them done, which means I need to get cracking on ordering foam and materials. That news made my day.

Meanwhile the Travelall/Travelette/C-series designs I’ve been working on have been getting some decent traction for the last two weeks; I’ve sold about 20 shirts and a bunch of mugs and other stuff. And I finished off the first custom design for a guy in Texas today, which has me thinking about how to take commissions when I get the Scout version working. I’m going to get a little merch produced to photograph and then I’ll use that for the next promotion cycle.

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Shades of Gray

I set up and sent off a care package to Jeff J. this morning, containing a couple of paint chips, two snips of vinyl from the original seat covers I bought from Ray this summer, and a down payment for two new seat covers. We talked a bit on the phone on Saturday and set up a plan; he’s got a bunch of other orders in line but he’s waiting on special-order vinyl so he thinks he can fit me in around those other jobs. The stuff I want is pretty basic and should be easy to lay hands on—it’s just lightly pebbled black and light gray. I went to Lowe’s and looked through their paint samples to find something close to the gray of the door panels and found a swatch one shade lighter and one three shades darker.

I’d like to go with the lighter to set off the black as much as possible, and for these I’m actually going to reverse the pattern so that the light color is on top and the seats are black.

The other thing that showed up was a set of new metal from SendCutSend, which will be used to add the filler hose opening on my spare passenger fender. In order to make the minimum order amount I doubled up on everything, so I have some pieces to practice on—especially the 1/2″ strip that needs to be bent into a perfect circle. I’m going to need to find a 4″ diameter pipe to use for forming somewhere. There’s actually a scrap metal dealer up in Pennsylvania who has box tube and other metals I need for the bumper mounts; I think I’ll add that to the list of purchases when I head up there.

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Weekly Roundup, 10.8

The beginning of the week was quiet, but I put almost two full days in over the weekend.

With the glass and other stuff out of the back of the Travelall, it’s much easier to start some of the preventative maintenance I’ve wanted to do to the rear frame and crossmembers. Saturday afternoon I lifted the rear bench seat out and pulled up the plywood floor. Then I put on some ear protection, fired up the compressor and the needle scaler, and got to work. Starting from the back I took as much scale off the unpainted metal as I could find, making my way to an area over the rear axle. Then I brushed on Rust Converter to everything I’d cleared and let it sit. I started around 4 and finished when the sun was setting, so there’s still a lot more to do—and I haven’t even touched the underside yet—but it’s already looking much better under there.

Reorganizing the garage a bit, I stumbled across an extra box of weatherstripping and realized it was doing me no good here. So I put it up on Marketplace and got a pretty immediate response from a guy in Washington, who was also interested in my old brake booster until I did the research and learned it would be something like $80 to ship it out to him in Washington. So the windshield gasket is on its way to him, and the brake booster remains in the Heavy Metal corner of the garage next to the old starters, spare Dana 20, and other stuff.

A brake has been instrumental to the plans I drew up for the doors on the seat base, because I wanted to bend a quarter-inch of metal along the edges on the three sides to add structural stability and make it look better. My Harbor Freight brake is woefully unprepared to bend 18 ga. metal at the measurement I need. On Sunday I met up with Bennett over at our friend Brian’s shop to get a couple of projects done. Bennett was there to clean up the carburetor on his Hudson project as well as tinker with Heavy D, which has been sitting there for several months waiting for a windshield replacement. I was there to use the heavy-duty finger brake Brian inherited with the pole barn shop on his property.

I started messing with the brake and putting a couple of scrap pieces through it to learn how it worked and where the sweet spot was. There was only one finger clamp on it, so the first long section of metal I bent didn’t stay still and bent unevenly. I took a break, had a donut, and Bennett suggested looking around the shop for the other fingers. I found them along the back wall and installed three of the fattest I could find, then put another long test sheet through. When those results looked much better, I marked out some new metal and started bending. We had to do some creative adjustment to the brake, because the bending plate was so close to the lever plate it wouldn’t release the metal when I’d bent the second side. This involved unscrewing the plate from the bottom to release my metal, but it worked. After I got two doors bent and test-fitted, I helped Bennett mess  around with Heavy D, got it started for the first time in forever, and installed a choke cable before we both headed for home.

Back at the house, I investigated how I could bend the short edge with the tools on hand. I’ve got a cheap wide vise I bought from Harbor Freight back in the day, and after some testing I realized I could bend the width I needed with that and a pair of vise-grips blocked into place, keeping the entire width of the metal on basically the same plane. After making the initial bend, I had to hammer the center sections flatter with a combination of deadblow hammer, wood blocks, and metal scraps. When I had it flat and straight, I welded the corners up, cleaned them up with the flap disc, and trimmed the length of each to allow for the width of the hinge knuckles.

When those were in place, I tacked the hinges in place and test fit the doors; all my cuts looked good. So I flipped the hinges, cut some tack holes in the doors, and welded those into place. If I had to do it over again, I’d have put the weld on the underside, but I think it looks pretty good either way.

So the doors are in place, and next I need to cut and install a pair of stops opposite the hinge side for the doors to sit on. I’m going to wait until the locks come in next week so that I can design around those. I was originally going to cap off that gap in the middle, but now I’m considering adding a plate underneath to make it a shallow tool well to utilize some dead space.

The other thing I spent a bunch of time looking for last week was a hinge of the proper size for mounting the seat to the box. The hinges on the seat base are beefy; the pin is 3/8″ in diameter and the knuckles are thick. I found a lot of hinges with the right pin size but nothing with a leaf the proper length—the interlocking sections of the hinge I’ve got are 1.5″ wide, and most industrial hinges I’ve found with that pin size are only 1″. While I was at Brian’s, I was looking at his scrap pile and found a beefy hinge with a 3/8″ pin and a 2″x2″ leaf—exactly what I had been looking for. I texted Brian about it and he told me to take it with me.

Monday I had off for Columbus Day, so I got back outside and kept rolling. First I cut two hinges down to the right size, trimmed the knuckle widths, and test fit them on the box. When I liked what I saw, I tacked them in and fit them to the seat. With that confirmation I burned them both into place and cleaned up the welds. The plates will get two bolts through the square tube for extra structural support, but I like where things are sitting (literally) now.

Then I got out the needle scaler and wire wheel and continued working on the chassis while I had the rear floor out. Before finishing up for the day, I brushed on some Rust Encapsulator. I’ll finish coat it with chassis black when it’s all ready, but there’s a lot more to go.

Meanwhile, I’ve tried removing old upholstery adhesive on the vertical surfaces with every chemical I can think of and a rubber eraser wheel with no success. Frustrated, I tried a small patch with the wire wheel and found that with a very light touch I could get most of the old crust off without going through the paint to metal—there are a few places where the paint is very light—but it mostly came off with little damage. I was always going to respray the inside anyway, so I’m not worried about patchy areas. It’s nice to have that stuff cleaned up, for sure. I’m going to see if Hobo Freight sells a plastic bristle wheel for an angle grinder and see if that’s more gentle on the paint.

Boxed, Part 3

This weekly update is regrettably several days past my usual Friday schedule, but given the amount of stuff I’ve been posting this year, I figure that’s OK.

With winter fast approaching and a week and a half worth of wet weather behind us, I knew I was going to have to do something about dry storage for the Travelall. Erecting a new garage is out of the question, and putting the awning up isn’t going to fly, so I went with the cheapest option: an inexpensive Suburban-sized car cover from Amazon. At first I was afraid it wasn’t going to be big enough to cover my truck’s ample backside, but once I adjusted the front, the rear fit snugly over the taillights with little to spare. It’s tight enough that I don’t even think I’d need to tie it down, although having two built-in straps is a nice feature.

On Sunday I had the afternoon to keep working on the seat cage, so I finished cleaning up the joins and smoothing everything out. Then I put it in the truck, taped a rectangle of cardboard to the top, and scribed out the trans tunnel. With some adjustments and a second template, I laid it on some 18 ga. steel and cut out the front section. After I trimmed it to where I liked things, I tacked it in place and did one last check before tacking the perimeter in place every inch.

When I’d ground down the welds, I cut out two rectangles for the ends and tacked those in. I did another test fit, ground some things down, and tacked each side into place.

Then I adjusted the welder settings, sealed up the top and sides, and ground everything down to smooth with the flap disc. At this point I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to arrange the two doors; currently I like the idea of countersinking them inside the cages that they’re flush with the top. I’ve got a hinge here from Grainger ready to go, but the locksets they sent me are way too small (curse you, Internet!). So I’ll spend some more time considering that solution.

The other thing that came in the mail were two 3D printed plastic visor clips, something the truck didn’t come with and that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I took a chance based on a comment from the Round-Body Travelalls group on Facebook, and I was not disappointed when they showed up. With two stainless screws from my bench stock, the clip went right into the existing holes on the driver’s side and the visor snapped into place. They need to be sanded and cleaned up, but I’m happy.

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