March has swept in over Maryland and put the deep freeze on everything. I’m still stuck with my ghetto garage, and there’s no room inside to work on the Travelall—nor is it running, meaning I couldn’t get it inside anyway. There is nothing colder than working on a car in a swirling, damp March wind when the sun hasn’t been out in two weeks.

So, looking around for something indoors to fool with, I picked up the mangled, rusty steel license plate/light mount I pried off the rear door. I was going to disassemble it and give it a bath in evaporust, but I realized I had to drill rivets out to get the cover off the light and the two brackets were so mangled and bent the whole thing wasn’t worth saving. I have an LED bracket from the Scout from when I’d wired it on to the swingarm sitting in my parts bin and thought I might see if I could re-use that. I wanted to use the original holes in the door to avoid drilling any more than I needed to, and I don’t have anyplace on the bumper to mount it.

I watched a video a month ago where an engineer built a rapid-fire Nerf gun and mentioned using an online laser-cutting service called SendCutSend, and thought that might come in handy someday. This was a perfect chance to give it a try. After dinner I traced sections on each bracket and started cutting out some cardboard. I eventually came up with a C-shaped bracket design, where the backside mounted to the door and the front to the license plate unit.

I pre-marked four mounting holes and a larger hole for the wiring to exit, and cut the whole thing out. Transferring it to a digital version was pretty quick in Illustrator, and after a few printouts I had the shape I wanted.

Uploading it to SendCutSend I was able to choose my metal type and thickness (galvanized .059″ for this part), specify the two bends I wanted, and specify black powder coating for a finish. All for about $22. The second part I measured and designed was a donut-shaped piece of 18ga. mild steel for the fender, measured 1/8″ smaller than the diameter of the hole, so that I can butt-weld it place.

I emailed to see if there was any way they could dimple the edge of the inside hole the same way the factory fender came, but they can’t. So I ordered a simple blank, and I’ll see if it fits (for $6.90, it’s worth ordering to try out).

Date posted: March 16, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing, Travelall | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been keeping my eye out for replacement sheet metal for the Red bus since the day I bought it, knowing C-series panels will be much, much rarer on the ground than Scout parts are.

I answered an ad in Marketplace from a guy who’s been selling parts from a C series truck for a while, based out of Ohio. He re-posted the ad and included some pictures of two fenders, one of which looked pretty good for what it was. I messaged him about more photos and he sent me a couple, along with a decent price. I asked him if he had the fuse block by any chance, and he said he did—and would try to give me as much of the wiring harness as he could with it. So we’re working on shipping, and hopefully I should have some spare passenger side sheet metal and a fuse block I can use to rebuild the wiring behind the dashboard.

Now that I’ve got a project to practice on, I’m looking ahead to all of the welding it’s going to require and thinking about how to set up the workshop. I’m going to buy an inexpensive 110V MIG setup with gas, as I can’t run 220 in my garage; this should be plenty for what I need—mostly thinner sheetmetal. There are more expensive units that will do MIG/TIG, but I don’t see the need for welding 1/4″ steel at this point, I don’t need to switch to TIG, and I know several people who I can hire out for that in any case.

I was leaning toward Hobart products because they’re designed and built in the USA and they make excellent gear, but there are a couple of drawbacks to the unit I had decided on: it uses a heavy transformer vs. an inverter, it’s not as extensible, it can’t do dual-voltage, and the duty cycle is short. There’s a comparable Eastwood unit that has all these features plus a tack-weld setting and a longer duty cycle for a little less money and a 3-year warranty, which I think is the way to go. And it’s 25 lbs. lighter.

There are a lot of good resources out on the web for basic welding and bodywork training; it’s been long enough since my welding course that I need a refresher, and I want to get some hours of practice in before I go anywhere near my trucks. Something I’ve got to find is a local supplier for sheet metal; the steel supply yard that used to be near here is long gone.

Date posted: March 10, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing, Travelall | Leave a Comment »

I think I understand why none of the lights or controls in the Travelall work.

That hole there? The one in front of all the cut green wires? That’s where the fuseblock is supposed to be. Some baboon decided to just cut the wires instead of disconnecting them—the back of the fuseblock is organized with brass male posts to clip the wires onto. So I’ve got to source a new fuseblock panel from somewhere.

Date posted: March 8, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing, Travelall | Leave a Comment »

Cleaning up on Saturday evening, I left the boat tank in the back of the Red Bus with the fuel pump hooked up and forgot about it. Yesterday I went out to check on some rust converter I’d sprayed on the passenger floor and was hit with a strong smell of gasoline inside the cabin; it turned out that the heat on Sunday had expanded the tank and it dribbled out of the hose onto the rear bed. So I have to air the truck out for the next couple of weeks until the fumes dissipate, which is super annoying; the problem is that it soaked into the wooden floor in the back.

I got a small, heavy box in the mail yesterday with a handwritten return address on the top: the battery box I’d bought off Marketplace arrived safe and sound. It’s in fantastic shape: It’s covered in red primer but there’s only a little rust or corrosion on the inner platform; the rest is smooth and solid. I couldn’t be happier, because the one in the Red Bus is almost gone.

There’s also a spray of corrosion on the inside of the hood from where the original unsealed battery leaked and sprayed upwards onto the metal. So I’ll hit the remains of the old platform with more PBblaster and let it soak; the new metal will get a quick cleaning in the sandblasting cabinet and some new paint, and then go into the truck.

Meanwhile, talking with friends on the weekend, we had an inspiration. I texted my old friend Erick and asked if he was interested in doing some housecall IH work. He got back to me and said he was; I explained what I had and what I wanted to do, and left the ball in his court. We’ll see when it gets a little warmer if he can come out and do some engine and brake work to get her mobile.

Date posted: March 7, 2023 | Filed under Friends, Purchasing, Travelall | Leave a Comment »

Yesterday afternoon, after spending much of the day working around the house, I sat on the couch and checked my email with the dog curled up next to me. I hit Marketplace and did my usual search, figuring I’d see the same ragged out Scouts and a couple of trucks before signing off. Cycling through my search terms, a new listing caught my eye, and the location made me sit up on the couch: Middle River, about 20 miles from here. The picture was of a red IH Travelall of unknown vintage sitting in the side yard of a house, listed for a tantalizingly low price. I immediately messaged the guy and about five minutes later added my phone number, then continued about my day.

A few hours later the seller called me and we set up a meet for first thing Monday morning. I got my usual kit together: a magnet, a flashlight, a strong screwdriver, a 15/16″ socket on a long bar (to put on the crank bolt to see if the engine is free), my $30 borescope, and some gloves. At 8:45 I was sitting outside his house with a cup of coffee, and he waved me into the yard to look it over.

What I found was, as always, worse than the pictures showed, but strangely better than all the other rigs I’ve seen around here. It was a mid-60’s C1100 with Custom badges on the doors. The seller told me his brother had bought it years ago and had it towed from Virginia to his house, where it sat outside for years before it was moved last week and put up for sale. The paint was rough all over the outside; there were blooms of open rust on the doors and fenders. The driver’s rear quarter was crispy around the wheel arch. There was obvious bondo in several spots. The passenger’s rear corner was crunched at some point. And the grille was completely missing. One thing that didn’t show in the photos online was that the passenger’s rear glass—the most unobtanium part of a Travelall—was cracked in several places. The windshield also was cracked in several spots. There were no brakes, but he transmission and clutch weren’t frozen.

Inside, someone had pulled all the seats out and replaced the rear bed with a custom carpeted platform, then bolted two seats of indeterminate origin in the cabin. There was custom upholstery bolted to every surface—walls, ceiling, over the rear doors, and over the windshield. But the dash was clean, the dashpad was in one solid piece (also a shock) and the switchgear all looked to be in decent shape. Under the floormats, the front floors were intact but very damp.

We talked for a good long time about cars and health and life as I looked it over, and he brought a battery out to see if it would catch. It had an International V8 of some size with an aftermarket AC unit plumbed in, and all the moving parts were present. It cranked right over, which was a good sign, but we couldn’t get it to fire with two different coils. The distributor was like no other I’ve seen on an IH motor; I was dumbfounded as to what make or model it was. As we talked, his phone beeped and beeped; he sheepishly showed me a list of 30+ inquiries beginning with mine from the previous evening. He said he’d been swamped with messages since he posted it, one guy even calling at 5AM.

I thought about it for a few minutes and asked him if he was flexible on the price; he thought for a minute and brought it down $250 less than the listed ask. I shook his hand and a deal was struck. This truck has no title, so I did a bill of sale purchase; I’m going to have to do the Vermont title thing to get it registered correctly here. But this came in at a fraction of my budget, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I’d done some research on towing companies the night before so I had a good one to call, and within 1/2 hour a rollback was beeping down the street to where we’d pulled it out of his yard. After heading back under the tunnel to the house, I moved cars out of the driveway and the tow operator dropped it to the side of the garage where it’s out of the way. The rear bumper on this thing is gigantic, and there’s a heavy duty hitch welded to the frame below.

After getting some lunch and work done in the house and giving the dog a well-needed bath, I figured I’d take advantage of the 60˚ weather while I had it and busted out the pressure washer to blast off several years of grime, moss, and flaking paint. This also removed one of the crumbling aftermarket trailer lights mounted above the barn doors. As I cleaned black gunk off the roof, I found a 1″ diameter hole in the center from some kind of radio aerial and figured I’d better cover that before tomorrow’s rain hit. I sanded the edges down with a wire wheel and used some basic painter’s caulk to seal it with a plastic lid. Temporary, but effective.

The passenger’s front tire is garbage—it would never hold air—so I jacked up the front of the truck, put it on a stand, and pulled the tire off. It’s a 16″ rim with a LT215/85 R16 mounted, so I threw it in the back of the Scout for a weekday dropoff. Tires this size are pretty plentiful, so I’ll see if I can find something inexpensive.

Because one of the barn doors wasn’t closing all the way, I got a screwgun out and popped the screwcaps off the upholstered panels and removed them. I was shocked to find both doors in almost perfect condition; the metal looks as good as new, even underneath. They don’t close perfectly, but they’re not held shut with a ziptie anymore either. Intrigued, I took off the rear driver’s door panel to find that door in similar shape. The passenger’s rear panel was hiding some serious dirt and debris, and was wet to the touch—so I was glad to have that one off and not collecting more moisture. Then I got caught up in pulling a bunch of the upholstery off the walls and made a pile of smelly dusty crap in the center of the truck. By 5PM I knew I had to stop, because I had more work to do inside the house, so I buttoned everything up and called it a night.

I’ve got a long list of things to tackle now, but the first one is going to be writing to the Wisconsin Historical Society for the Line Set Ticket on this rig to see where it’s from and what it came with. Then I’ve got to find a new tire and get it mounted so that it’s off the jackstand and on its feet. And I have to start the titling process to get it in my name, plated and legal.

Meanwhile, I messaged the guy up in New Jersey with the blue pickup to see if he would sell the NOS gas tank he had sitting in the bed of the truck; hopefully he hasn’t sold it, because the ad is now down.

Date posted: February 20, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing, Travelall | 1 Comment »

Having driven Peer Pressure over 180 miles last weekend, one of the things I’m noticing more and more are all of the squeaks and whistles and drafts in the cabin with the hardtop on. Figuring I needed something to work on over the winter, I ordered wing window rubber from Super Scout Specialists on Monday to replace the old cracked 1970’s vintage stuff on the truck. What this is going to mean is taking each door apart (again), pulling the wing window up and out, and figuring out how to pull the old rubber out. I think the driver’s side window spring is broken underneath, so I’ve got to figure out how to weld that back together or replace it with one of my spares. Then it’s a matter of figuring out how to install the new stuff without ripping it in half.

That gets a little complicated because I’ve got several spares with working spring but no latch, and several with a latch but a broken spring. So I have to see if I can Frankenstein something together from what I’ve got. I think I’ll probably use the worst of my spares to disassemble and figure out how the whole thing comes apart, and then use that to practice putting the new rubber in place.

The other thing I’m going to do while I’ve got the doors apart is re-felt the window tracks so that they slide easier. There’s a good video online about how to do the felts, so all I need are the materials. Luckily, I’ve got multiple spare tracks sitting on the shelf I can clean up and refurbish without having the doors torn apart for multiple weeks.

I also threw a new battery tray in the cart, because the one in the truck is in pieces and I’d really like to de-ghettofy the current setup—it’s currently held in with a clip and a bungee cord, and really needs a freshening. I’ll have to read up on how to clean up the inner fender, or even consider replacing it with my good inner fender spare. It will take some welding and fabrication to put something in place; this is more of a summertime when-I-get-a-welder project, but it’s good to have the parts handy.

Date posted: February 17, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing, Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Update: The seller couldn’t find the VIN plate that goes with the truck, and I was unwilling to buy it without a title that matched the chassis, so I passed on the sale.

I was fortunate enough to be the first person to respond to a Marketplace listing the Tuesday before Christmas for a ratty-looking 1969 Scout 800. What caught my eye was the fact that it was listed in Baltimore; turns out it’s right up the road in Owings Mills. The seller and I set up a time to look it over right before the holiday on the coldest fucking day of the year. I bundled up as warm as I could, figuring I’d be out in a field somewhere, but the cold got into my bones quickly the minute I was outside.

He’s got it in a shed behind his house with minimal clearance on either side to see the driver’s sheetmetal, but the pictures online tell most of the story. It’s an 800 with a 6-cylinder AMC 232 that’s been disassembled for structural body work. He cut and formed new floorpans on each side, claiming they’re 12 gauge, and had a guy weld them in place.

He claims the inner rockers were done, but I couldn’t get underneath to see how the stringers or rockers looked. The rear bed floor was replaced, and the side walls and tops were in good shape, but he welded angle steel on the tops of the corners. There’s also a low bulkhead welded in across the rear bed.

From what I could tell the work was done well; it all looks solid and the welds aren’t garbage. There’s no hard top for it, but that’s not a dealbreaker; I’d put a soft top on it and leave it alone anyway.

The only outward rust I see is on the driver’s side rocker behind the B pillar, and the thought of cutting that out and repairing it doesn’t frighten me. The tailcaps are both bent, so I’d need to pull those dents out.

As mentioned before, it’s an AMC 232, a mid-60’s to late ’70’s engine IH offered as an alternative to their homegrown 4- and 8-cylinder options. I didn’t test to see if it spun, but that would be one of the first things to look at on my next visit. For some people this might be a dealbreaker; I don’t mind as long as it’s not either missing or locked up.

He said he had a bunch of parts to go along with it—a hood, two cowls, two extra doors, maybe a front fender, and boxes of parts—but they were in two other locations. We talked it over a bit and he told me I was first in line; he had family obligations after Christmas break but would be available after that. I told him I was definitely interested but wanted to look over the other parts—that’s a big part of the sale—and that I’d want to see the truck out in the sunlight so I can crawl over it.

I drove up to Mt. Airy today to look over the parts he’s got; he’d returned from York with two spare doors and a grille on his flatbed.

On a trailer in a storage lot he’s got two hoods—one rough, with lights cut and mounted to the surface, and the other a patina’d blue in better shape. Under that was a step bumper in good shape.

Next to those was a tailgate which was pretty well rotted at the bottom—more art than functional at this point.

Inside an adjacent trailer was another tailgate in much better shape; apart from a section on the right side the metal looked to be in good shape.

Next to that was the original 1969 cowl, which was pretty much crap.

It’s definitely a project but a lot of the hard stuff has already been done. It looks like hot garbage but that’s never stopped me before; I’d look at buffing off the rattle-can black first to see what’s underneath, and painting it after pulling the dents later. For the price he’s asking it’s a good deal, especially after being cleaned up and made to run again. However, there’s a saying about buying someone else’s project; you never know what’s going to be there and what won’t. For this truck it’s not like there’s a ton of expensive chrome trim or unobtanium plastic that can’t be found; he might not have the original seats but I’m sure I could source some over the next couple of years.

The biggest question now is that of the VIN plate; it’s not present on the firewall of the truck. He has a title but if there’s no VIN plate, I really don’t want to mess with the DMV to sort that mess out. So he’s looking for that and hopefully he can lay hands on it. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Date posted: January 1, 2023 | Filed under Purchasing | 1 Comment »

Pictures never tell the whole story, and what looks halfway decent via the Interwebs is always worse in person. There are no exceptions to this rule. When you get five shots of a decent-looking truck, you know there’s something lurking that might sour the deal: square feet of rust covered by carpet, an engine block with a big hole, a dead body in the trunk, live possums—but you’ve got to go look anyway.

Brian sent me a link on Sunday morning for a Scout that didn’t look half bad, was in my price range, was relatively close by, and had a clear title. The pictures showed a tired-looking ’61 Scout 80 in about four different colors, and from what I could see the rust wasn’t too bad. I messaged the seller, we talked on the phone, and I made plans to run up and see it. It was in southern PA about an hour and twenty minutes from my house, so I hit the road at four and made it up there, through traffic, by 6. The seller shook my hand, showed me the title, and we walked down past some horse barns to the back of his work shed where it sat.

Surrounded by piles of farm implements, tools, boxes, and other stored items, sat a rusty Scout. I started by looking at the outer skin, trying to figure out if the body was worth saving. The driver’s rocker was pretty crispy, and the lower edge was perforated in multiple places. Toward the back the rear rocker was bent upwards, but could probably be adjusted back downwards with a hammer or some careful pulling. The tailcap was a different story. Someone had backed into it and then used a slaphammer to try to pull the dents out—with no success. Tailcaps for this era Scout are as common as dinosaurs, so that’s a problem.

The tailgate was in good shape from the outside, and the other tailcap was OK. On the passenger’s side the rear quarter looked OK and the rocker under the door was in better shape, but everything was filled with mud. The front fender was in decent shape but none of the panels met up. Neither of the doors opened or closed correctly; this could have been because the latches were bad, or it could have been because the body was folding in on itself like a giant taco.

Inside, the cab was maybe a 4/10. The driver’s floor was rusty with some pinholes but the passenger’s side was perforated 2-3″ in places, and definitely a lot worse. A bench seat of indeterminate origin sat on the floor but was not attached to anything; under that the floors looked OK. The bulkhead and dash were in decent shape, and all the dials and indicators were present.

The rear bed was rusted through along the passenger and driver’s side seams at the wall and wavy at the back, but other than that not in bad shape.

The hardtop was intact, but there were several holes in the roof from a rack or some other installation, and the passenger window was missing. The inside roof was rusted pretty badly.

Under the hood there was a 4-cylinder engine with a one-pot carb which turned freely. The heating elements were present but the hoses were gone; this Scout was early enough that it had a box plenum up against the firewall vs. a heater box on the inner fender (I have one of these stored up in the rafters of my garage).

Down under the cowl there was a winch welded to the front of the frame; an inspection under the frame showed that it was a PTO driven unit connected to the front differential transfer case.

I talked with the owner a while and he warmed up as I looked things over; he wasn’t aware the winch was a PTO until I showed him the linkage. We talked Scouts for a while and I told him I’d have to think about it. It’s just on the edge of being a project I could handle but I think it’s still too much to take on; there’s more rust than I can manage right now and a lot of expensive sheet metal work to tackle. If I had a spare garage bay I’d feel much better about buying it and tucking it away while I got the parts together, but I don’t and I can’t at this point. And I think that there are better options for an extra $3-5K out there, stuff that’s much further along but still in need of help. So I’ll keep looking.

Date posted: November 30, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | 2 Comments »

I picked up a neat little toy through the Amazon Prime Day specials, something that will get some immediate use and hopefully pay for itself down the line: a lighted borescope, for looking deep down into dark places like cylinders and inside frame rails and down into AC ducts. It’s pretty slick; the control pad has a nice wide screen a little smaller than that of my iPhone SE and a keypad with a set of sturdy buttons. The wire is permanently connected to the unit and is a good bendable but stiff material that makes things easy to direct the way you want it to. It’s got a video and camera feature with a 32GB card that allows for all the photos and videos to fit and be offloaded to a computer. Here are some pictures from the spare SV 345 in my garage:

Cylinder 1

Cylinder 3

(Cylinder 5 and 7 are missing because the engine is sitting next to a shelf, making access to those two plugs impossible right now).

Cylinder 2

Cylinder 4

Cylinder 6

Cylinder 8

There are clearly some carbon deposits directly on top of the pistons; I know the moisture is Marvel Mystery Oil so I’m not too worried about that. The carb on this engine wasn’t burning the fuel completely so it was probably knocking; hopefully it wasn’t run to the point where it overheated. If I get this thing on a proper stand I’ll maybe pull the heads off to see if I can clean the pistons and cylinder walls—but that’s in the future.

This weekend I’m going to use it to peek into the cylinders in Bob’s Chrysler and see what’s going on with the 440.

Date posted: October 14, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »

I drove the Scout across town to welding class last week and one of the questions I got in the parking lot was, “how many miles on that thing?” I had to answer honestly: “I have no idea.” The engine has always been a mystery. It’s original to the frame but not the body, so the odometer isn’t a reliable indication of age or wear. IH engines were overbuilt to run all day and night, so 300K on a properly maintained 40-year-old SV engine isn’t surprising at all—as long as it’s not treated like a top-fuel dragster. All that being said, it sure would be nice to know more about this engine, and the condition it’s in.

I read the Autopian every day, an auto-centric website founded by two Jalopnik alumni who I follow pretty closely. One of the writers has written several stories about testing the oil from several of his high-mileage project cars to diagnose engine issues, using a service from Blackstone Oil Analysis. Blackstone takes a sample of your oil and does a metallurgical breakdown of the elements found inside to give insight into the wear on different elements, and possibly offer an idea as to the age and condition from inside. I’ve now got an envelope from Blackstone sitting on my desk waiting for an oil change—hopefully in May before a drive north to my cousin’s wedding. An added bonus: Blackstone is based in Ft. Wayne, Indiana—home of the IH plant my Scout was born in.

Date posted: May 5, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »