Slow Weekend

I did a little work on the fender this weekend to get it shaped up for body filler. I had to stop welding midway through  the third patch last weekend, so I plugged everything back in and finished that off today. It’s going to take a fair bit of filler to smooth everything out because I can’t get to the backside to hammer out any of the waves, but I’m not too worried about that. The whole thing is going to take some time and attention to finish off right, but I’m happy with the way things are going so far.

Updating the Travelall to-do list last week I realized I don’t have some of the information I need on the health of the engine, so I spent $20 on a compression tester for when the weather warms up. The last time I started her, she ran very rough, so I think there’s more work to do tuning her up. I’m going to pull the plugs, see how they look, and properly gap them all. Then I’ll do a compression test and put them back in.

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Weekly Roundup, 11.6

I had to run out on errands Sunday morning, and the weather was in the upper 60’s, so I grabbed Finn and we rolled out in the Scout for a fall adventure. Our first stop was down in Pasadena at the Eastwood store, where I needed to pick up some chassis black and a tube of seam sealer. As we wandered the store, my old friend Steven G. walked in, as he was shopping for supplies for his Scout. We caught up for a bit, and talked about getting a fall meetup together, and then I exited the store in a hurry before I was tempted to buy anything else. We stopped at the Home Depot for some other supplies and a precut 2×4′ sheet of plywood and headed home.

In the driveway, I pulled the original bumper off the mounts and hung it in place to see exactly how well it’ll fit. I think it needs a little more standoff than the original had, but with another 2″ or so it will work perfectly. I think I can make the original mounts work for the short term, and when I can get my hands on some larger longer box steel I’ll fabricate a permanent mount.

I opened up the rear doors and started brushing on the chassis black over encapsulator, and got a good portion of it done before the sun went down. The chassis paint is a lot thinner than the encapsulator, and tends to make more of a mess. While I was out there, Brian T. stopped by on his way back over the bridge, and we caught up for the first time in a couple of months.

After closing up the truck and garage, I brought the sheet of plywood in to the basement, turned on the football game, and set it up as a mounting rack for my spare wiring loom. The goal here is to rebuild the wiring loom so that I can pull the old one out and replace it with this. I’d originally contacted Super Scouts to price out a brand new loom, but after several weeks of waiting I was told their wiring specialist is two months behind. So I’ll take advantage of the inside time and learn how to disassemble, test, and rebuild the one I’ve got. One thing I am going to reach out to them about are some replacements for the bulkhead connectors I’ve got, to see if I can get any with intact mounting tabs.

Weekly Roundup, 9.22

Currently, we have Tropical Storm Ophelia blowing through Maryland, bringing rain and high winds all the way up the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve been keenly aware of the weather ever since I took the canopy down over the truck, wondering how the cowl repairs will hold up in the rain. Before the surgery, an hour of rain would soak the floorboards, all the water dumping directly down through the rusty holes. From what I can tell now, after 12 straight hours the repairs have all held up really well. There’s no water penetration from above; all I can see are small rivulets forming from dried-out weatherstripping around the doors.

The question is, which door seals do I need? There are three offered by most Light Line dealers: an interior door edge seal, a door seal set, and a pillar door seal set. I have the pillar door seal set, which looks like it goes along the inside of the door and is glued in with sealant (which I don’t have). They’re getting familiar with me at IHPA, so I’ll have to call over there and get the details.

In back, the new window is sealed tight, but the rear window on the driver’s side is leaking from a 1″ split in the gasket up top. So I’ve added another rear window gasket to the purchase list. I think I’m going to have the installer from last week come back out and give our luck another shot replacing that side.

Someone on the Round-Body Travelalls FB group posted a very interesting picture of a Travelall with a brand-new bumper, and mentioned that the bumper for a 1957-60 Ford F-150 will fit a Travelall and look very similar to boot. My bumper looks like it was dragged behind the truck and then re-attached with bubble gum, so I think maybe this will be an option—I don’t foresee tripping over a C-series bumper in good shape anytime soon.

I called Super Scout Specialists to inquire about what a new dash wiring harness would cost, and the guy who assembles them is supposed to call me back. I’m going to ask him what it would cost to add circuits for A/C, power steering (I may go electric), trailer lights, charging ports, and a couple of spares, as well as swapping the fuse panel to spade fuses. That will be the next big project—pulling the dash apart and sorting out the electrical system (god help me).

On the Scout side, everything is running quietly as it should. I noticed that my temperature gauge is now dead, so I threw a temp sender in our biweekly Amazon cart for replacement. If that’s not the issue, I have something like six spare gauges in my parts stash that can easily be swapped in.

Quick ‘N Easy

I’ve been looking at roof racks for the truck for a long time, looking forward to putting a canoe or other gear up there. I need drip rail mounts for this, and wanted to get something period-correct. I found a brand called Quick ‘n Easy, which used to be inexpensive but are now so retro as to be high-dollar accessories. I set up a watch on eBay sales and while I was in Puerto Rico I got a note that there were six available for a buy-it-now price much lower than usual, with free shipping. So I jumped on that.

They showed up this afternoon, and they look pretty good. Three of them are in perfect working order and three need work—pulling out snapped retaining bolts and cutting through old bolts on the top mounts. But the stickers and plastic are intact which is great; these will make an excellent base for a period roof rack.

For a winter project I’m going to plan out and weld my own metal roof rack for the truck, unless I find a good used  aluminum rack somewhere that will fit.

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Weekly Roundup, 7.28.23

It’s been a quiet week on the project front; the heat outside has made things hard to accomplish after work.

That being said, I had a little free time last Friday and figured I’d try assembling the front bench to see if I could figure out how it worked. With a little trial and error, I was able to understand how the base and the rear go together, and measure for some hardware. The big question mark is how the seat attaches to the base itself. I remember Ray mentioning something about bolts coming up through the base into the seat but I can’t for the life of me understand how or what on the bottom of the seat they mate with. But knowing how the base is aligned makes a huge difference in the angle of the seatback.

The next step for this part will be grinding rust off the larger parts of the bare frame I’ve got and preparing it for foam, and then disassembling the seat. Having it in the truck, I realize the gray matches the steering wheel and dashboard, and I like how the black wraps around the top, down the sides, and scallops around the edges of the base. I’m leaning further towards having Jeff basically just match this pattern if possible. I did take a little time to wire-wheel the surface rust off the floors and shoot it with IH Red Rust-Stop, just to say I did something.

Last Monday I found a local metal supplier close to my town and attempted to navigate their website to figure out how much a sheet of plate steel would cost; eventually I gave up and called them. Surprised at how low the cost was for a 4×8’ sheet of steel, I ordered one and got off the phone. Later that day I realized I had no easy way of getting a 4×8’ sheet of steel home with the truck at the garage and no place big enough to easily store it, so I called back and canceled the order. Looking elsewhere, I found and used their site to order three smaller (and more storage-friendly) sheets of 18 and 20 gauge steel. The sheet of 20 showed up Wednesday and it’s as beefy as I figured it would be; the 18 is still somewhere in transit. I went back and ordered a sheet of 16 gauge just to be safe, which will hopefully be here next week.

I heard back from IHPA on Tuesday, who couldn’t find the Travelall brake part I needed, but they pointed me to the Scout Connection. I called over there and within two minutes Dave had the part in hand and was taking my credit card information. From what he described it sounds like the right element, and I’m hoping it’ll be correct when it gets here later this week—I’d LOVE to get the brakes finally sorted and working, and then move on to the clutch.

Thursday I went to get the Scout from the shop it was sitting at for two weeks; they dicked around and never looked at it until I called and bugged them. In the meantime I struck up a conversation with a fellow Scout owner from Annapolis who recommended his mechanic, and I’ve got an appointment with him in the middle of August to drive it down and have him take a look. For now, it’s good to have my girl sitting under cover in the garage again.

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Weekly Roundup, 7.21.23

I had to make some space in the garage on Sunday after we got back, and took the opportunity to break out the wire wheel and clean off both seat bases.

After a coat of Rust Encapsulator I brushed on some black chassis coating and let them cure.

Monday we dropped the Scout off at a mechanic for them to replace the manifold and gasket.

Out in the garage I looked over the two seat bases and test fit them in the truck. The rear base will need some bracing but it’s definitely usable. Then, looking for someplace to store parts, I hauled the rear bench out and put it in the truck. It’s really not in bad shape at all, and it looks right at home in there.

The new door cards, behind all of the grease and rust, were originally the same gray as the ones in the truck. I test fit the drivers side to test a hunch, and I was right: there are two holes present to mount an armrest behind the door handle which line up with the door cards. So I’ll have to keep an eye out for those in the future.

I started cataloging parts and identifying what they are. Two of the door assemblies are clearly from a later truck, and they’re both for the right side, so I’ll see if I can resell them at some point. The rear door hinges are in good shape, and I started soaking them in PBblaster to remove various bolts from the assemblies. The glass went up into the attic. I’ve got to pick up a third bin for spare parts and keep working on storage solutions. One thing for sure is that the two PT cruiser seats left over from the Scout are going to the dump instead of taking up space.

Thursday after work I went right outside and decided it was time to lose the platform and old seats. I don’t have a ton of free space in the garage, and what better location to put it all than in the truck. Plus, I wanted to see what the floor looked like underneath.

First the seats came out; they were held in by eight bolts each, and the four rear inboard bolts on both seats were inaccessible underneath, so I had to use the grinder to cut them off. With those gone it took a little while to free up the platform and pull that out; underneath I found decades of dirt, one mouse nest, and some garbage.

After donning a mask and cleaning all that out I disassembled the rear platform base and the extender on the back step.

The floors are all in fantastic shape. The worst part is on the driver’s rear step by the door: water was probably getting in through the door seal and pooling between the wood and the metal. I should be able to cut that part out and weld new metal in. Under the driver’s seat there’s mainly surface rust which can be ground out pretty easily, and a few other small areas that can be cleaned up.

And when those seats are gone, I’ve got to figure out how to get a 4×8′ sheet of 18 gauge steel home from the supplier in Elkridge next week. I purchased it over the phone Thursday afternoon for pickup, and hopefully I’ll have the Scout back by the end of the week. With that and a $30 pneumatic metal nibbler I should be able to start welding things back together on the truck.

Road Trip Parts Haul

When I first posted on the Binder Planet about the red bus, I got a lot of good feedback and an offer from a nice man up in Massachussetts to come get a Traveall rear bench seat that was taking up space in his barn. Filing that away in the back of my head, I kept an eye out for seating that was closer to home, but it’s rare on the ground pretty much anywhere east of the Mississippi and north of Georgia. When I got back from Nats I reached back out to him, and a plan was hatched. He followed up with more pictures of stuff he’d dug out of his barn, including a front bench and a bunch of smaller parts. We settled on a date and a price, and I made plans to swing up there for a pickup.

I rented a 7-passenger SUV figuring I wouldn’t know how big all this stuff was, and I’d never fit it in the CR-V—plus, I wanted modern amenities and CarPlay to get me through New York City. This was probably the best decision I made on the whole trip. Hertz gave me a shiny silver Ford Explorer with three rows of seats, and it took me a couple panicked minutes before I figured out how to fold everything flat. Once we got it back to the house, I threw some tools, tarps and bags in the back and Finn and I hit the road. We were smart enough to get up and past New York City by 1PM, which put us in a strange dead area of Conneticut north of Stamford trying to find something to eat. We found a Chipolte and powered up, then got back on the road eastward.

I-95 through Conneticut is a disaster. It’s two lanes with a very picturesque view of the Sound to the south, but everyone is driving at 15 miles an hour for no visible reason for pretty much the length of the state. Once we’d gotten past New Haven it opened up a bit, but that was pretty frustrating. I’d found a cheap-ass motel in Stonington, CT over the border from Rhode Island, but when I was looking I didn’t realize its proximity to Mystic, which we had to drive through to get to our destination. We checked in to the room to find it about one step above an hourly hot-sheet truck stop, grimly left our stuff on the desk inside the door, and went back into Mystic to walk around the town.

Mystic is beautiful and quaint and filled with touristy shops selling either expensive local jewelry, expensive preppy boating clothes, expensive beachwear, or expensive gift items. Peppering the storefronts there were very busy bars and restaurants, and the streets were filled with people. We parked a few blocks off main street and walked our way back in, looking through all the stores that caught Finn’s eye. On our way back outside we heard the bell for the drawbridge ring so we walked up and watched them raise it with huge concrete counterweights to let river traffic pass. It was a beautiful place to walk off some of the road. Finn was tired at that point so we jumped back in the car and headed back to the hotel room to hang out before going to sleep. You can tell you’re in a quality establishment when the A/C is running at 65˚ but the room is still damp and smells like mildew.

Saturday morning we drove back into Mystic to get a bite of breakfast and hit the road for Rhode Island. Ray, the seller, was meeting us at a shopping center and we pulled in right behind him. We shook hands hello and loaded up the Explorer with all of the parts (surprisingly, it all fit neatly inside) and then shot the breeze for about 45 minutes. Ray is super cool and we traded IH stories for a while, then said our goodbyes so I could hit the road.

Here’s the back of the Explorer stuffed with rusty parts.

On the way back West I swung up into Mahopac and we stopped to get some lunch with my High School friend Jeff at a cafe in town. It was great to see him and catch up; that alone would have made the trip worthwhile. By 3PM the cafe was closing and I knew we had to hit the road, so we said goodbye and pointed the Ford south. With one stop in Delaware and a half an hour of heavy rain in New Jersey we made it back to the house by 8PM with a little over 900 miles added to the odometer.

I stashed it all in the garage after we got home and vacuumed out the back of the Explorer to avoid any cleaning fees. Overall the Ford was a perfect road trip vehicle; we got 29.5 MPG the whole way, and I never once had a problem with the technology or the car itself. (Five stars! Would recommend).

This is the contents of a box of parts, spread out. From top left: Two panels for the doors that go behind the main door cards. The blue rails go on the seat bases—these are the seat tracks. The two rusty gear/spring assemblies are extra hood hinges. The black geared arm at the bottom is a window scissor mechanism.

From the other box of spares, starting in the upper left: a spare rearview mirror, two short and one long door mechanisms. In the center are the ashtray for the back of the bench seat, two door lock assemblies, and the smaller red piece is a door catch. The two red L-shaped pieces bottom left are lower hinges for the barn doors, and two door lock assemblies.

This is an extra set of door cards for front and rear Travelall doors. The fronts are drilled for a set of armrests, something my truck doesn’t have. At this point I’ve now got three fronts and two rears. One full set will get bead blasted and painted the correct IH interior color.

This odd item is the platform the rear seat sits on and hinges forward from. It’s in rough shape, so I may not be able to use it. You can see how the piping is bent on the ends—I may not be able to pull that back out. That black rubberized coating is giving me PTSD flashbacks.

This is the worst part. What I’ll probably do is take measurements from this and build a newer, stronger box from square tubing, then enclose that with a hinged lid for tool storage, using this video as my inspiration.

Ray zip-tied the two seat catches to the base here—these bolt on to the wheel wells and hold the rear setback in place. I don’t have these and my truck was never drilled for them.

These are two spare rear barn door windows with used gasketry. I’m sure I could have new ones cut, but it’s great to have originals on hand instead. (The line on the left side is a reflection of our telephone wire).

Here’s where it gets interesting. These are two front bench seatbacks. The top one is complete with vinyl upholstery, but it’s disintegrating. The bottom is just the frame and springs, all in one piece. The square in the center is the mount for an ashtray, accessible to the passengers in the back seat. They’re both rusty but complete, and all the hardware is present.

This is the front bench seat bottom. Clearly the driver’s side has seen some wear. It’s torn and the foam is both swollen and disintegrating. I’ll have to replace all of that, which isn’t a huge deal.

Here’s the front and the back seat bases. Both of them are bent (Ray was apologetic) but I can use the back one for a template and I think I can straighten out the front. Again, I don’t have any of this stuff, so I’m just happy for the spares.

Here’s the rear seat, with a closeup of the material color. When I talk with Jeff J. about replacement material, I’ll have to see if he can match this pattern, because I kind of dig it. This bench is all in one piece, although it’s pretty worn; once I understand how to rebuild the front seat I’ll move on to this one. For now, I could install this in the truck as-is and it would probably work fine. The hinges and pins are present and the scissor works just fine.

While I was in Mystic I got a call from Jim at Super Scouts, who told me a bench seat he’d heard of and gone to recover was actually that of a D series; I thanked him for the info and told him about the brake distribution block. I’m still searching for a replacement, and the guys at IHPA are supposed to get back to me sometime this week. With that, I’m stalled on the mechanical stuff, so I’ll probably reorganize the garage to fit these bench seats and start cleaning up the skeleton frame for paint.

Shiny and Chrome

Jen and I were out walking the dog on our morning coffee route and we saw a bunch of signs in the neighborhood for an etate sale. I’m a sucker for a good estate sale, especially when there are tools to look at, so I suggested we get our coffee and go check it out. As we got closer to the gaggle of cars parked on the road, I realized it was at the house of my Scout friend Steve, who had regrettably passed on a number of years ago. Worried, we walked up the driveway and started looking over the stuff. I found one of the women running the sale and asked if his widow was OK and was relieved to hear she was fine, just cleaning out a bunch of stuff from the house.

In back up by the carriage house, his son’s Scout sat under a tarp, surrounded by tools and yard equipment. I spied a set of Scout panels and a neat bundle of chrome trim, and made a deal on it. It was all too big to carry home so we walked back and I picked up the car to head back over. While I was there I grabbed a set of Bonney box-end wrenches and a creeper, and then I spied a Straight Steer bar sitting on the floor under some other stuff. Walking back outside, Steve’s widow came out to say hello and we caught up a little bit. She mentioned he’d boxed up some other parts and she wanted to make sure they went to someone who could use them, so we traded numbers and I thanked her for coming out to say hello. I’m going to check in with Steve’s son to see if he wants any of the stuff I bought for his truck (she mentioned he’s actually considering selling it) but if not, I can definitely find someone who can use it.

The chrome trim is the big find here. They’re all in super-clean condition with only a little pitting; a soak in some Evaporust will clean up the mounting hardware on the back, and a polish will bring the shine back in the aluminum. I’ve already got two sets of fiberglas panels (one is cut to get between the hardtop and the roll bar) but this set is in fantastic shape.

Meanwhile, Jen got a call from Finn’s karate instructor, whose sister owns a Scout sitting forgotten under a tarp and who needs help getting it started. He wanted to know if it was OK for them to give me a call. They are such nice people and did such great stuff for Finn, I’d dig the truck out of a hole if they asked me to. So hopefully they’ll give me a ring sometime soon and we can see what the situation is there. I’m feeling a lot better about my skills now that I’ve revived two cars in the space of one year.

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Fold, Assemble

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).

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Sheet Metal

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.

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