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.


February Update

I’ve had a bunch of shorter clips in the hopper for a while, and figured I’d collect them into something resembling an update.

On the project side of things, I used a heat gun to remove all of the old bondo on the driver’s side fender, then cut off the pop rivets used to hold a crappy patch in place installed Back in The Day.

When I had that out, I cut a larger square out to get things ready for a proper butt-welded patch. The other thing I had to do was to try and bend the rear edge of the fender outward and back into original position. At some point somebody really bashed it inwards so it never looked correct when it was hung on the truck. I was able to get it mostly back into place, and used my everyday hammer to do some dent removal. At this point I want to get an actual bodywork hammer and bag to pound out the larger dents instead of trying to hide sins with filler.

Once I had that cleaned up, I cut down a section of metal and tacked it into place. I’m going to have to finesse the bottom edge a little bit—or grind this off and re-orient it further down—but it looks like it’ll go in pretty easily.

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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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Welding and Sanding

Here’s a quick breakdown of the repairs to my spare fender. I started with an order to SendCutSend for a set of new laser-cut steel donuts for the outside and inside edges, as well as three 1/2″ strips to bend for a flange to connect both. I welded the outer flange in first because it had a slight curve, then built an inside section and tacked that in place. When I saw that it would collect rain the way I’d built it, I used a second donut and strip to mount flush to the outside edge and tacked it all in place. Next was welding a small patch in at the bottom, where water and mud pool and rust the metal out from the inside.

While that was cooling I sanded the top layer of blue paint off the fender to reveal some past damage and Bondo, which was not unexpected. I skimmed some Bondo over the two welds and sanded everything down, but the fuel mount area is going to need a lot more attention. I’m looking around for alternatives to off-the-shelf Bondo and have found that Evercoat products seem to get good reviews, so I think I’ll buy a gallon of that in the springtime to continue bodywork projects.

Weekly Roundup, 10.21

I had a chunk of time on Sunday to get outside in the blustery sunshine and keep working on things. The first project was to weld a set of plates to the back of the seat box to use for mount points on the vertical section of the step. I ran out to a local independent welding shop on Friday and got a tank exchanged for much less than Airgas charged me last time; I was happy enough with their service that I opened up an account to save the extra $15. And, they’re open on Saturdays.

Back in the garage, I had a bunch of 18 ga. scrap left over from bending the doors and I used a section of that to add some stiffness. I cut two rectangles out and welded them in place, then sanded the high points down and prepped the whole thing for etching primer. First I covered all of the welds that were impossible to reach with the wire wheel with rust encapsulator and then let it sit outside with primer to cure. The next step will be to prime it, put some guide coat on the flat surfaces sand it lightly to find the high and low spots, then fill those and get things cleaned up for paint.

In the truck, I decided to do a little archaeology and see what was under the weird rubberized coating on the driver’s floor. I used the wire wheel to grind out the edges and revealed a series of 1/2″ spot welds around the perimeter, which should be pretty easy to grind out and replace. The metal is, predictably, lousy the closer to the pedals it gets; moisture stuck under the rubber mat did a number on the “repair.

Elsewhere, I pulled the driver’s rear wheel off, got on the creeper and continued knocking rust off all of the rear frame elements I could see with the needle scaler, and then covering it all with encapsulator. I think I’ve got about 80% of the rear finished; I need to do the same with the passenger’s side and do all of the vertical surfaces over there. Finding true marine-grade plywood in stock locally has been a challenge, but Brian tells me there’s a brand at Home Depot that’s essentially the same thing: 7-ply Douglas fir made with waterproof glue. I’ve got to find it in stock locally and pick up a sheet this coming week.

A reader named Mike wrote me last week and offered a parts list he compiled while building a ’67 1100 with a 304; essentially the same truck I’ve got, but with an auto transmission, power steering and brakes. He was kind enough to share it with me this morning, and I’ll definitely put it to good use. Thanks Mike!

Locked Box

I spent most of Saturday sitting on the couch while my COVID vaccine made me feel sore and loopy, but it rained all day so I wasn’t that upset. Sunday was partly cloudy but not actively raining, so after getting the dog out for a walk and doing some small errands, I got back out to the garage to keep working. At this point the box project is just finishing up small details; I got a set of locks from Amazon and had plans for how the doors should close.

The plan was to weld in a set of doubler plates underneath to add support, then carefully cut holes in the doors and widen them on two sides to accept the lock barrels, which are notched on either side to prevent them from spinning when the key is inserted. After doing a test run on scrap metal, I got this done pretty easily and used one of Dad’s old files to widen the holes. After burning them in, and test-fitting everything, I carefully cut notches in each of the square tube to accept the latch arms. The passenger side was just short of the arm so I had to add a small plate on the face of the square tube to catch it.

I did some experimenting with thin strips of metal to see what I liked for doorstops, but everything I had seemed way too big or wide to work. Conscious of avoiding anything with sharp edges, I settled on a length of 1/4 rod from a different project. I cut 6″ sections and welded them at the lock ends, then ground down the high spots so that everything is smooth.

Next, I wanted to reinforce the hinges, so I drilled three holes through the plate inside the box and welded the resulting hole shut. This way each hinge is borrowing from the plate but I’m not adding ugly beginner welds to the outside edges.

Finally I put a plate in between the two hinge bars from the bottom to make a shallow tray for tools or other gear. I’ll cut a rectangle of floormat to go in there after things get painted.

I’m almost ready for paint. The last thing to be done is to weld in a set of gussets/mounting points on the backside that will go through the vertical wall on the rear step. Out of curiosity I called a powdercoating shop nearby and was quoted $100 from a disinterested shop foreman, so I think I’ll stick with my budget rattlecan approach. So now I’ll practice my sanding and filling skills to clean up the outside.

Outside in the truck, I pulled the wood floor back up and kept grinding at the rust. The needle scaler did all the work, and I made it all the way forward up the frame to the rear step. I was able to get encapsulator on everything before I had to close up for dinner, and I left the floor out of the truck to air it out. I have to pull each rear wheel in order to reach the outside of the frame rails completely, but I’ve gotten to most everything I can with the floor up.

After calling Super Scout Specialists twice in two weeks to inquire on having a new dash wiring harness built, they told me the guy who builds their harnesses is two months behind and hasn’t been in the shop in two weeks. I thought about it over the weekend and figured I’d better place an order now to get the thing sometime this year, as I haven’t found anyone else building them for a competitive price (scoutparts.com wants to charge an extra $3-400 over what SSS is asking; no thanks.) I’ve actually got a harness from a ’68 pickup on the bench downstairs, so I theoretically could swap it in for what I have; I don’t know whether or not they updated circuits between ’63 and ’68, though. Wiring this thing is going to take a lot of time and learning.

Meanwhile, my friend Ray from the BP has a set of five headliner bows up in Massachusetts he’s going to sell me, which should provide a solution to a future problem: what to do with the insulation glued to the ceiling, and how to cover that up. There’s an aluminum J-channel in later Travelalls that acted as a trim ring but from what he tells me it’s very hard to remove and would be impossible to ship. I think I might experiment with some thin Luan covered with fabric and use these bows to hold things up.

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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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