On Thursday afternoon I got a long narrow package delivered by UPS, which contained a set of headliner bows from my friend Ray up in Massachusetts. He sent a pair of square-end bows like the three I’ve already got in the truck, which were made to work with an aluminum channel around the perimeter of the roof that would hold a headliner in place. My truck didn’t come with a headliner or the channel, just three rusty bows (out of five) and the fiberglas insulation glued to the ceiling.
Below that are five point-end bows which went on earlier model Travelalls without the aluminum channel; from what Ray tells me the headliner tucked in under the sheet metal lip around the edge and these bows held it into place. Because these bows are in much better shape than the square-ends I’ve got, I’m going to clean them up and use them when I build and install a headliner.
Meanwhile, I got another big box in the mail via UPS, in which was packed a primer black ’57 Ford F-150 bumper. I brought it out to the truck and laid it on top of the C-series bumper, and apart from the fact that it’s a little narrower, I think this thing will work very well.
I’ve got to figure out how to build a set of sturdy standoffs from the frame horns on the front of the truck—the current standoffs are 4″ deep sections of box channel steel held in place with some long rusty bolts and a wheelbarrow full of washers. I’ll probably do something similar but gusset the boxes for strength.
Saturday morning I went to Bennett’s to help him swap out the rear brake line on his Speedster replica; he’d taken it to a car show earlier in the year and blown the line on the way home. It turns out the manufacturer ran the brake line inside the cabin along the transmission tunnel, ending in a fitting directly behind the driver’s seat. After some careful application of heat and penetrant we got the fitting off the distro block behind the front suspension and cut a new line with some extra length to spare. Bennett then showed me how to make a bubble flange on a brake line, which I’d never seen before, and we installed the new line and bled the brakes.
With that success, we took a test drive to Ellicott City for some barbecue and brought it home to eat in the warm sunshine.
A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad pop up on Marketplace where a guy had a storeroom full of old IHC R-series parts he was selling, and I alerted Bennett. He’d driven up there a couple of weeks ago and picked through the stuff, coming home with a box full of NOS parts for Phantom, his ’53 R-110 pickup. Before I left, we looked through the box of stuff he brought home, and he handed me an NOS doorhandle and window crank for a C-series pickup in perfect shape. I’ve got to figure out what they’re worth and give him some cash the next time I see him. He also had a trio of black NOS armrests in original IH packaging—the foam on the backside was bright yellow like the day they were made—and sent me home with one to see if it fit Peer Pressure. I already have a black set on the truck, but maybe I’ll buy two of these to put in the spares box along with the used ones that look like they were fished out of a river.
Addendum: I forgot to mention that I ran the engine up for about ten minutes on Saturday when the girls were out of the house (the exhaust is super rich and tends to flood the house, so I wait until they’re away) and got it up to temperature. It only took two pumps of the throttle to get her fired up, which was encouraging. Looking at various points of the engine with a laser thermometer, the manifold junction on the driver’s side got to about 450˚, while the passenger side got to 520˚. I then remembered that the coolant was low so I waited until the water neck hit about 160˚ and decided to shut it down, so I don’t know if the thermostat is working yet or not. I added about 3/4 of a gallon of coolant and let it cool down before putting the cover back on. It’s sounding a little clattery but the idle smoothed out after awhile; I think the rings need to come loose and seat properly after sitting for so long, and I need to have a professional tune the carb properly to get her running right.
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.
After calling around last week and leaving messages at several local glass installers, I finally got two on the phone. The first guy balked when I told him what year the truck was but said they’d be able to handle it if I drove it to their shop. He then quoted me a price of $500 to have someone come out and do it in the driveway. The second shop was much easier to work with, and after I sent a couple of pictures to the office manager, she got back to me and said they’d be able to do both the windshield and the rear quarter glass for less than the first quote. So I made an appointment and ordered some rubber from IHPA. I have a brand new gasket waiting, and I can’t wait for Tuesday.
I cleaned up the truck in preparation for having the glass put in, and looked over the front seat again. For some reason I’ve been thinking the bar frame mounts directly onto the seat bases, completely forgetting there are two track mounts that go between. After slapping myself in the forehead, I fished the set of tracks I bought from Ray out of my parts bin and looked them over, and everything became much clearer. I did some rust repair and cleanup on both, and ground off a bent and warped bolt on the driver’s side track. After sorting out the hardware issue, I welded a new bolt on to the track and cleaned it up. I taped off the tracks and hit them with etch primer before they got two coats of IH red. I’ll let them sit and cure for a couple of days, then install new hardware and a spring on each side. I sprayed the bar frame with semigloss black and let that sit to cure as well. When it’s all ready, I have new hardware and a spring on each side to mount it to the frame, and then I have to source a cable to reach across under the seat to release both of the slide catches.
And on the subject of seat bases, I got a bunch of metal delivered on Thursday for the rear seat locker. I can’t wait to dig into that project.
We went out over lunchtime on Friday to pick up the Scout, and I can’t believe how quiet she is again. The mechanic replaced the valve, manifold and gasket, and now she sounds like I remember. One other thing he fixed was the front wheel bearing. When he put it on the lift he watched the tire droop and investigated; apparently when he pulled it apart the inner bearing was just destroyed. So he replaced the parts and repacked everything and it should be good to go. This is disturbing, as I just had this fixed before I went to Nats two years ago, so clearly the work wasn’t done properly. Lesson learned. In either case, I drove home with a huge smile on my face.
While waiting for the mechanic to call, I scuffed, primed and painted the new battery tray and got it ready for installation. Saturday evening I pulled the remains of the old one off and cleaned up the inner fender as well as I could before brushing on Rust Converter, followed by a coat of black Rust Encapsulator. When that was dry I dropped the tray in place and bolted it down. Now I’ve got to find a 9.5″ threaded rod in the proper width to use for the inside hold down point, and I can cut out and fabricate my own hold down bar to cap it off.
I dropped the Scout off at a new mechanic this afternoon. This is a fellow down past Annapolis, who came recommended by a fellow Scout owner I’d met through the Binder Planet, who owns a rig that’s currently torn down into pieces after a botched restoration attempt by a local shop. He’d sent me to this new fellow with nothing but good words, so I decided to roll the dice, as I can’t find anyone local who I like or who knows older vehicles. We found his shop up at the end of a new access road, and I started feeling good; it’s a tidy new construction 3-bay behind his house. He stepped out of the garage and we shook hands. He asked me to start it up and give it some gas so he could listen, and immediately nodded his head and said, “yeah, that’s an exhaust leak.” The inside of his shop was just as clean as the outside, and I felt even better. It’s going to take some effort to get the manifold off without snapping bolts, but that’s why he’s the pro and I’m paying him.
In February, before I found the Travelall, I ordered a set of new wing window rubber to replace the old brittle stuff on Peer Pressure. It’s been sitting in the box downstairs since then. I pulled it out and looked it over several times but I knew I didn’t have all the information I needed to tackle the job, and nobody had written up any instructions (there were none with the kit—thanks. Anything Scout just published a detailed installation video with all the tips I need to do the job. Looks like I’ll have to buy or borrow a rivet gun to do it properly.
I was away for most of the last week and a half, but I did get some time before we left to rough in the new brake line I was sent by the Scout Connection a few weeks ago. Saturday afternoon after we returned, I got tired of laying around the house and decided to go out and finish welding up the patch I’d started two weeks ago. Overall it went pretty well; I think I would have done it completely differently in hindsight, and I bet I’ll have to go back and cut it out at some point, but for now it’ll hold.
On Sunday I wanted to tackle the biggest hurdle the project has thrown at me so far: bleeding the brakes. I bled the master cylinder and hooked it up to the main lines, then had Finley come out and pump the brakes for me while I opened the line on the rear wheel. When nothing happened where I was, I looked underneath and realized the system was leaking at the distribution block: I hadn’t gotten it connected correctly. So I jacked the whole front end up and got underneath to really diagnose the situation, and after staring at it for a while I sorted out what was going on: I hadn’t tightened the soft line down enough to the block. So I disconnected it at the master cylinder and spun the whole hose to really tighten it down. With that done I hooked everything back up and had Finn pump the brakes on all four corners while I bled dirty brake fluid out of the lines. When I’d gotten that done, I put the wheels back on and lowered it to the ground. Then we did the clutch system and got that bled out. With that, the brakes should be 90% done. I’ll have to re-bleed them at some point in the near future to get the last bubbles out, but it’s enough to stop the truck once I get the clutch issue sorted out. It’s been a long learning process, but I sure hope I don’t have to deal with brakes again for a while.
While I had two wheels off the ground, I took the opportunity to swap the fourth rim to the driver’s front and put one of the original three on the back rear. What I found kind of shocked me: the original rim sits the same distance away from the inner edge of the wheel tub as the new rim did. The only difference between the new rim and the others is that the holes for the wheel studs are thicker and the studs don’t extend through as far as the others, which means there isn’t as much of the lug nut on the stud. I think I’m going to invest in a set of ET (extra thread) lug nuts for the whole truck—I just need to find someone who has 5 left-turn nuts in the size I need.
I got the report on Peer Pressure’s oil back last week and haven’t had a whole lot of time to digest it, but here goes:
The reading for lead concerned the analyst, and me too. I called them to ask about the 2900 number, and when they explained that their average oil samples for an IH 345 have an average 2,900 mile interval between changes, it made more sense. Then I looked at the sample for the Travelall, compared the numbers, and realized that the figure for lead on that sample was more than twice as high:
Now, all I’m going on for the Travelall is the visual condition of the insides of the heads, which look brand-new. They could have been replaced; the bottom half of the engine could have 400,000 miles on it. We have no idea. And the notes about lead on that report calmed my nerves a bit. All of the other figures are slightly elevated based on averages, but nothing else is terrifyingly high.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the garage she’s currently parked at will pull and replace the exhaust manifold and gasket—when I dropped her off on Monday afternoon the counter guy told me they were going to look it over before agreeing to do the work, which kind of pissed me off. I’m going to keep looking for a mechanic I can trust. And when she gets back I’m going to install a mechanical oil gauge to get a proper pressure reading.
It’s been a slow week for the fleet because I was focused on preparing for the Fourth of July long weekend and I’m now in New York for a funeral, but I have made some progress here and there, mostly informational.
For the Scout, I posted a detailed thread on the Binder Planet with an accompanying video, and by all accounts the experts believe I’ve got a leak in the manifold gasket somewhere, which will require pulling the manifold off the block and replacing at least the gasket and at worst the manifold, if it’s cracked. So I’ve got that part on order and it should be at the house this weekend. This is a job for professionals, so I’ll make an appointment and have a mechanic tackle that one—getting bolts out of the engine block is something best left for people with experience and patience. If that is, indeed, the problem, I’ll be immensely relieved.
The Travelall is now sitting under a canopy I bought for my first Scout back in 2003, which means I can tackle pulling the windshield out without worrying about rain. I put the canopy up for the Fourth of July parade every year as it provides welcome shade for the family, and when the parade was done we all simply picked it up and moved it over the truck. Back in 2003 I picked the 20′ canopy knowing someday I’d own an 17′ long Travelall. It looks janky because the winter winds that whip up between the house and garage picked it up and blew it around, bending several of the poles. I’ve got to see if I can find a way to bend them back into shape.
Meanwhile I’m on the hunt for what has turned out to be a very specific and rare proportioning block for the brake system. I disassembled it last week when I had the truck up on blocks, and after getting frustrated, I cut the soft line going up to the master cylinder and spun off the fitting. The soft line was completely gummed up inside, as I’d suspected. Calling around to the IH experts what I learned is that nobody makes this part anymore; most guys will try to find a used unit in good shape. Super Scouts didn’t have one but IH Parts America might; they’re going to call me back with an update.
The plan to drive up to Rhode Island for parts is coming together, and the seller has unearthed a whole bunch of extra stuff he’s collected over the years, which include both a rear and a front Travelall bench seat. They’re both in well-used shape, but a winter reupholstering project sounds fine to me; Jeff from the Binder Planet (who sold me the mirrors) makes new upholstery covers that I can install myself. I’ll need to get a set of hog ring pliers to do the job properly, but the method is exactly the same as stretching a canvas, silkscreen, or window screen (funny how learning one of these jobs trains you for the others). Ray (the seller) has some extra door and hood hinges, two barn door windows, seat tracks, door hardware, and other spares it’ll be super handy to have, and it’s always easier to refurb spares and swap them out than it is to take them off for weeks at a time. I’ve got a full-size SUV reserved forthe trip (but now I’m considering switching that to a pickup) and a hotel room in Rhode Island for the overnight stay.
I’m anxious to diagnose the issue with the Scout, because I want to know what ‘s wrong but also because I want to drive her. I went out after dinner Monday night to check the timing to see if it was advanced or retarded, which could be the cause of my mystery sound. I had an old yard sale Sears timing gun that I hooked up to the battery and #8 wire (Scouts use the #8 wire instead of the more commonly used #1 wire on most GM/Ford products) but I got no light from the gun at all. On the bench I broke it down to reveal old capacitors and components that had probably fizzled out during the first Bush administration, so I hit the Harbor Freight for a new unit.
Back under the hood I cleaned off the timing marks and chalked the pulley. When I set the gun to 0˚ and ran it, the chalk hit at about the 15˚ mark—but I hadn’t run the engine or disconnected the vacuum advance yet, which meant the reading wasn’t entirely correct. It was getting dark by this point so I shut her down and put her back in the garage to avoid the rain forecast for the evening.
Thursday evening I went back outside to give it a second go; this time I was able to plug off the vacuum advance and get things ready for a proper diagnosis. While I was getting a wrench on the hold-down bolt, I was holding the distributor body and it spun under my hand with a little bit of pressure—which told me it wasn’t tight for a while. When I put the gun on it, the chalk showed up at about 15˚advanced, so I spun it back to 5˚ and listened to the idle settle down.
Tightening that off, I noticed some smoke coming off the manifold on the passenger side, which makes me wonder if there’s a leak between the manifold and the block. I’ve been smelling something from the engine for a while, and I wonder if that could be the culprit—it would certainly explain the additional noise.
Meanwhile, my oil sample is safely in the hands of Blackstone as per the USPS’s tracking service. Going on past experience, it’ll take 2 weeks or so to hear back from them on what the oil can tell us. I’ve got a new Fuel-Pro gasket sitting behind my desk for the next major step: dropping the pan to see if there are any chunky bits at the bottom.
While I had the timing gun out, I figured I’d throw it on the Travelall for giggles to see what the timing looked like there. I’d solved the high idle issue I had before by re-connecting the PCV valve on the back of the valley pan, but because I’d cranked all of the idle screws in all the way, I had to spin them back out. The engine is running sloppily now, loping around like it’s not firing correctly, and the exhaust is abhorrent—the girls flipped out because it quickly filled the house. I’ve got to get this thing mobile quickly so I can move it away from the windows to properly work on it. In any case I couldn’t get a good enough look at the chalk before I was forced to shut her down. New PCV valves from that era are hard to find, but I think a new one will help out immensely.
While I was digging around in my parts bins I pulled the two mirrors out and mocked them up on the side of the truck. They look great! I’ve got to go back through my reference photos from Nats and see how other owners mounted the top mounts to their doors; I’ve got a very small vertical area to work with and I’d prefer not to mess up the mounting surface for the weatherstripping, which may be my only option.
At the bottom the two holes pre-drilled for the old mount aren’t wide enough for this setup; I can easily drill a new hole and add a backing nut inside the door. I think what I might do is (with my new fancy welder) cut a small thin plate, weld two shallow bolts to that, drill holes through the door, and feed the bolts through the holes so it’s as flat as possible.
Another thing I noticed was that there are three dimples in the passenger side windshield frame for where a sun visor would have been mounted; I think this thing was as stripped-down as possible when it left the factory.
I’m talking to a guy from the Binder Planet who offered up a rear Travelall seat back in February, and who has some other assorted barn door parts left from a project. He’s able to meet in Rhode Island, so I think my plan is to rent a pickup and drive up there over a weekend, stay the night somewhere local, pick up the parts, and drive back the following day. If I time it right I might detour up to Mahopac to say hi to some high school friends on my way back home.
I made progress on the Travelall on Sunday afternoon after I’d knocked out a bunch of other tasks around the house. I’m still working on the inoperable brake and clutch system, so I started by disconnecting the hard lines to the master cylinder and rigging up a bench bleed system so that I could test it out. The system primed itself quickly, and after I knew it was working I had to fight the hard lines to get them reconnected to the cylinder. When that was done, I jumped back in the truck and tried both pedals. Amazingly, the brake pedal now had lots of resistance, but I still wasn’t getting anything out of the clutch pedal.
Leaving the brakes for the time being, I tried multiple methods for bleeding the clutch cylinder with no success. In the middle of all of this, I jumped in the Scout to move it up the driveway and mistakenly drove over the brake fluid bottle, sending brake fluid all over the driveway and on the back of the Accord. I had to spend the next hour and half hosing off the driveway and washing the car to make sure brake fluid didn’t eat away at the paint or asphalt. That sucked.
Monday afternoon I rallied after spending a nice aimless morning sitting on the couch and fighting off the urge to take a nap. I re-read the bleed directions for the slave cylinder, then went out and got it set up for a two-person operation. With Jen’s help on the clutch pedal I was able to bleed all of the air out of the line and the cylinder into a catch bottle, then buttoned everything up in the expectation that I’d be able to put it in gear.
Unfortunately, all I could do was grind gears. There’s a chance the clutch rod isn’t adjusted long enough to throw out the clutch all the way, but beyond that I’m pretty stumped. I’m going to run through some more diagnostics now that the pedal actually works, and see what I can find.
I also attempted to bring the idle mixture down on the carb, with no success. She really wants to idle high for some reason; both screws are pretty much all the way in the bore of the carb, and I brought the curb idle screw in a bunch as well. Spraying starting fluid around the base of the carb revealed no vacuum leaks, and every hose coming off the carb or manifold is either connected or plugged. So I’ve got to sort that out as well. The challenge moving forward is that the weather, which has been remarkably mild and friendly through the first half of June, is about to turn wet and rainy, and I might not be able to do much with this forecast.
Moving to the Scout, a lot of the advice I’m reading on the Binder Planet has me confused; there are some saying my symptoms point to actual rod knock and some that don’t. I only hear it when I get on the gas, so I’m unclear as to whether or not this is knock or could be something to do with the timing or possibly a water pump going bad. The other thought is that the heat riser valve itself is bad, or there’s another exhaust leak somewhere else. I’ve got a cheap Harbor Freight stethoscope so I’m going to pull a tire today and take a listen to see if I can hear anything with that at idle. Then I’ll dig my timing light out of the box and check the timing itself to see where that stands; if it’s retarded or advanced I’ll bring it back to zero and see if that helps. Then I’ll try the next non-invasive diagnosis—one of the accessories going bad, or a hidden exhaust leak.
The next step will be to take the Straight Steer bar off, drain the new oil and drop the oil pan itself to see if there’s any metal at the bottom—if there is indeed a bad bearing or worn cam lobe, something solid should show up at the bottom of the pan; if there is and it doesn’t stick to a magnet it’ll be bearings.