After waiting around for about two months, I got a UPS package on Friday with two new gas struts for my hood assembly from the manufacturer. When I first opened the box I was a bit bummed out because I thought I’d ordered the wrong parts. The connections on the ends were set up to accept ball joints instead of bolts, and I thought I might have to send them back and deal with another long wait. Then I looked a little closer and realized the connections unscrewed off the struts, so I pulled the good connectors off the bad strut and swapped them on to a new one. Problem solved.

Meanwhile, I went to visit Brian H. at his new house and caught up with he and Bennett on Saturday afternoon. He’s got an absolutely killer new space, the highlight of which is a pole barn wired for 220 and a bunch of toys left by the previous owner, including a digital welder, a metal brake, a tube bender, and a full-size blast cabinet. We spent most of the day catching up, talking cars and trucks, doing some re-arranging of his rolling stock—his Edsel is on roller carts and he needed a hand pulling the box off his Dad’s old Dodge pickup. On my way out he offered me a smaller Eastwood blasting cabinet he didn’t need, a piece of equipment I’ve been lusting after but unable to rationalize or find the space for. I offered him money but he didn’t want anything for its so I’ll have to figure out what I can bring him next time. It’s a great addition to the shop, so I spent Sunday afternoon moving stuff around the garage to find a temporary home for it. The glass is pretty frosty and the gloves are rotted through, so I’ll have to swap in some new parts in the spring.

Date posted: December 15, 2021 | Filed under Friends, Repairs | Leave a Comment »

How is it I’ve owned a Scout for 20+ years and never used Evaporust before? This is incredible. I’m going to buy a gallon of this shit.

This is the hood latch mechanism from the Flintstone Scout after just 24 hours of soaking. It looks almost brand new. The top photo shows the before and after—I only had a quart so the latch only went 1/2 of the way into the liquid. I soaked a bunch of bolts in with it, and while they didn’t clean up to new metal finish they look worlds better than they did.

Date posted: November 7, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

The other night I went through the pile of parts I picked from the Flintstone Scout to store them properly in the garage (and get them out of the way). I’d pulled both of the horns off, but one fell apart in my hands so I left it in the field. At home I hooked the “good” one up on my bench tester and got no response, even after cleaning the contacts. So that one goes in the trash; my search for a more American-sounding horn continues.

I soaked a container full of fender bolts in some industrial chemicals Brian H. gave me; it’s some stuff he used at his daytime job to clean rooftop AC condensers and it removes paint and neutralizes rust in just a week or so. I pulled them out and rinsed them off really well; over the weekend I’ll put them in a can with some pea gravel and shake it around for a while to knock the rest of the flakes off.

The dash I pulled is in great shape, although the metal around the speedo mount was bent (this is typical when someone is trying to replace a bulb and can’t get behind the speedo unit). All of the controls are still there, and both switches are in great shape. I’m still diagnosing my wiper issue, and if a used wiper switch is going for $130, then that part alone was worth the whole recovery trip. I’ll add this to the untouched dash I already have and the cleaned-up black dash I painted years ago. The dash pad is pretty much toast but cores are worth some money now that they’re being reproduced, so I’ll store that away for later.

The liftgate I pulled is in worse shape than I originally thought. There’s a ton of rust around the lower inside edge where water got in and sat year over year; I didn’t see that when I was taking it off. I think it could be saved if I get desperate but for now it’s tucked away in the back of the garage.

Next, I brought the windshield glass in, cleaned a decade’s worth of grime off the surfaces, and scraped all of the black silicone off the edges. It’s in really nice shape and doesn’t have any of the pitting or chipping Peer Pressure’s current glass has, so this will be the prime replacement candidate when I get enough stones to attempt installing it myself. I’ve got a second set of glass from one of the other windshield frames, but it’s fogging around the edges and likely wouldn’t be worth using.

Opening the hood to install pigtails on the battery terminals for the trickle charger, I found it much harder to lift than usual. the gas strut I’d installed a couple of years ago looks like it’s lost the will to live, so I tracked the part number backwards and found a replacement from the manufacturer online for about $30. I’m considering asking the vendor if they’ve had any other reports of strut failure—it’s been over two years, so any hope of a warranty is long gone—but it might be worth letting them know.

Date posted: November 2, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Wing windows on Scouts tend to break in three different places: the metal bar spanning the bottom of the mount (under the rubber) rusts and splits in half, usually around the spring. The inside latch breaks off at the base after years of opening and closing. Or, the hinge on the outside breaks off at one of the welds. The passenger side hinge broke on Peer Pressure’s window a few years ago. I’ve been meaning to replace it for a while now—I’d actually bought a replacement at Nationals in 2019. Saturday I figured I’d break the door down and get the new one in place.

I’ve actually got several spares. The one from Nats was crudely re-welded at some point, and the rubber is cracked in several places. I have a spare wing set from another parts haul but the metal bar is shot. The windows on the red doors look good, but the latch is busted on the passenger side. The wing unit on the Flintstone Scout doors look great: the rubber is in excellent shape, the chrome is perfect, and the latches work. Figuring this was the best option, I broke the passenger door down  and got inside, and it was at this point I found that the metal track was rusted and probably stuck to the bottom track.

Sidebar: in order to remove windows from a Scout, you first have to unbolt and pull the wing windows out. Their frames integrate the top section of track that the main window follows upward as it closes; this track slides into a lower half that’s bolted into the door. Then you roll the window down, detach it from the scissor mechanism, and pull it out. Be careful with the scissor mechanism.

Because I was in a bit of a rush, I figured I’d use the Nats window and get it installed, and let the Flintstone door soak in PB blaster until I can get to it.

Getting the broken unit out was the hardest part. On paper, it’s easy. There are three bolts: one behind the silver button on the inside of the door, and two on the front side of the door above the top hinge. Lay some painter’s tape over the paint and use a 5-in-1 tool and a hammer to pop the button off. Two of the bolts are easy to remove but the top bolt above the hinge is tricky because there isn’t much room to get a socket inside the door and keep it attached to a ratchet; you have to pray it loosens by hand or pull the whole door off. Usually the bolts fall inside the door. I have a $2 Harbor Freight magnet for this situation.

Then it took a lot of coaxing, some PB blaster, lithium grease, and a good suggestion from Finn to get the window frame broken free and moving upwards—rain collects in the space between the tracks and welds them together with rust; this is the issue with the Flintstone doors. With proper leverage and a wood block, we worked it all the way out. I put that aside, greased the tracks, and used a rubber mallet to tap the replacement into place. Then I finger-tightened the bolts and tightened them with sockets.

So now there’s a latching wing window on the truck, but it looks shitty from the outside. At some point I’m going to start replacing broken parts with clean new ones; I just don’t know when that’s going to happen.

Date posted: October 10, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

Dangerous driving selfie

I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the Scout this summer, and she’s been running exceptionally well for me. My records show that I’ve put 1133 miles on since I went to Nationals, but as I’ve mentioned before my speedo calibration is wrong. If I do the math for my latest trip back from Chestertown, Google tells me my route from my last fillup was 87.5 miles. My odometer reads 77 miles. If I redo the ratio I worked out a couple of years ago I now come up with 100 miles true to 88 miles indicated (vs. 100 true to 78 indicated). This also checks out to +/- 1 mile when I apply it to my Nationals trip. When I do the (correct) math with the mileage recorded in my notebook, that works out to 2528 miles since the beginning of the year.

Doing some sleuthing, it looks like there’s a fuse blown or some other electrical gremlin between the switch on the dash and the wiper motor; the motor itself works fine when I put 12 volts to the contacts. From what I’ve read, the wiper switch itself has a breaker, and the switch doesn’t go through the fuse panel. I’ve put in a replacement switch from a different Scout to see if that fixed anything but I’ve still had no luck, so I’ll have to keep looking.

Date posted: September 18, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

I got back from Nationals with shitty front brakes, a leaky gas tank, and a bunch of new parts to play with. First, I made a couple of calls and got brake work under control.

The gas vent line was probably the easiest win, so I sourced a brass barb fitting from Lowe’s and 4′ of 3/8″ gas line from NAPA with a new plastic filter. Swapping out the brass plug for the barb was easy, and the gas line went on quickly. I brought the line up into the driver’s rear fender, gaining access through the cover behind the spare tire, and lopped off about 1′ of the hose. Capping that with the filter, I zip-tied it to the other vent hose to keep it upright and buttoned everything up. Hopefully the tank will vent a bit smoother now, at least until I can sort out the larger issue with the sender.

At Nats, Brian and I brainstormed a way to add snap barrels to the back of the tailgate so that I can snap the back of the soft top closed, and after I sourced the small hardware (6/32″ stainless screws and nylock nuts) I drilled into the aftermarket aluminum diamond plate. There’s a divot in the top of the tailgate that the nuts tuck into neatly without touching the sheet metal; it wasn’t until Brian pointed that out that I realized the solution was that simple. D’oh! (Now I have to get the zippers fixed).

That left the windshield wiper issue as the next big problem, which I was not looking forward to diagnosing. I also needed to re-align the wiper arms on the windshield, and a little research revealed they are simple to remove and easy to reinstall. Taking the cowl cover off confirmed my suspicion that the linkage from the motor to the wiper arm had come loose—this has happened before.

A trip to the Ace Hardware provided a quintet of e-clips in the right size, and I pulled the motor out completely to reattach the arm. Years ago I’d pulled it out and was never able to get it back in completely, so this time I focused on figuring out the secret trick of tucking the end of the bracket around the mount under the cowl. It’s now snugged tight with two bolts in the correct position. Then I had to fight to re-attach the first arm to the second linkage, which is always a treat.

With that done, I started diagnosing the wipers themselves; there is no response in the motor when I turn the switch at all. I have a 12-volt bench tester, so while the motor was out I confirmed that it’s not smoked; it revolved freely. A voltage tester hooked to the ground wire shows there’s no power coming through from the switch on the dash, so now I’m trying to pull the switch out and source a replacement.

While I was out on errands I stopped at the Harbor Freight to pick up a cheap stepped drill bit that went wider than 1″ diameter. The new glove box lockset from Binder Boneyard is a plastic barrel that’s much wider than the stock metal unit, so I had to open up the factory hole and grind off the two threaded studs on the backside of the glove box door. (Fun fact: I realized I have four spare glovebox doors when I went looking for another part in my bins).

This took all of about 15 minutes. Then I had to adjust the crappy metal tab I’d made to replace the catch on the inside of the glove box; apparently my dash is from a particularly boozy Friday shift in Fort Wayne, and does not feature the same loop catch found in all of the other Scout II’s I’ve ever seen or parted out. Once that was done and I had it fastened in the right place, the door closes snug to the dashboard and now features a lock! I’d like it a little more if it was made out of metal but for the price it can’t be beat, and anything that’s truly valuable is going to get locked into the Tuffy console or the ammo box in back anyway.

The final thing I did was to drill a single hole in the grille for my new (used) INTERNATIONAL badge, add some good 3M double-sided auto tape, and mount it to the sheetmetal in the proper position. She looks like a whole new truck!

Date posted: August 23, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

My records say I put 925 miles on the Scout, which means it’s actually around 1187 if I do the math, but Google figures it’s about 1050. I used roughly 77.6 gallons of gas this time, which puts my mileage somewhere around 13.5 mpg—which seems a little odd. I got about 12 on the last trip, and our route was almost exactly the same.

Some various reflections:

  • My front brakes are scraping. I sourced a new local mechanic who can handle brake work quickly through another Scout guy in Ellicott City, and ordered rotors and pads today. I’m going to take the Scout camping in a week and a half, so I want them working right, and I don’t have time to futz with it myself.
  • This was the most rain I’ve ever driven my Scout in. We were wet for 3/4 of the trip home, but everything worked as it should have. My wipers crapped out on the second half of the way back, so I’ll have to pull the cowl and replace the motor with a known good unit. While I’m in there I have to adjust the linkage to align correctly on the window.
  • The gas tank is still a pain in my ass. I was dribbling gas after every fill up. This will require several fixes: I have to buy some gas-rated hose and rig up an overflow vent with a filter at the end to vent the extra air. Jim, one of the mechanics at Super Scouts, showed me how to do this on his pretty red Travelall. Then I’ll have to drop the tank and properly seal up the sender so that it doesn’t escape out the top. I said I was going to do this two years ago.
  • In the fall when the soft top comes off I need to find a sail repair service in Annapolis and see if they can sew my zippers back on. The right one gave way on Saturday night when I was closing up the truck, so now both of them are shot.
  • Brian helped me think of a way to install snap barrels on the aluminum sheet overlaying the tailgate so that I can snap down the soft top; this might actually work…
Date posted: August 17, 2021 | Filed under Repairs, Trip Logs | 2 Comments »

Today I got a bunch of maintenance done on the Scout in preparation for the trip to Ohio. The two big things I wanted to knock out were draining and replacing the oil in the transmission and the transfer case, which had last been changed about ten years ago. The Scout has been leaking more these days. I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, but I’ve been a little worried it’s from one of those two places, and the only way to find out was to see if they were empty or not.

I started with the transmission first, and when the drain plug came out it looked like it was pretty full and the oil was dark but not black. There were no shavings in the pan, and the end of the plug was clean—a great sign. I used a $10 pump to add 4 quarts of 50W racing oil back in. Unfortunately, the information I’d found last night was wrong: It only takes 3.5 quarts, so I spilled a pint of it on the driveway when it came back out. Great.

Next up was the transfer case, and this time I was ready for spillage. The oil in there looked about the same, and it wasn’t low. Pulling the transmission tunnel cover made it easier to pump oil back into the case from the top, even though the hose kept on wanting to pop off the pump spout after everything got slippery. I poured the old oil in a container to be recycled and stored the remainder.

When that was done I showed Finn how to loosen the bolts on top of each front shock and we added rubber bushings above the shock mount. Apparently mine had disintegrated, and Lee pointed that out last week, pulling two used bushings from his shelf and handing them to me. Then I pulled out the death wheel and chopped a length of the comically long U-bolts holding my front shocks on. Lee had recommended that simple fix—I was prepared to buy a new set of heavy-duty bolts to replace them, but had never considered just cutting them. My plan is to find some fine-thread nuts that will fit and use those to clean up the threads of the bolts in case I need to remove or adjust things.

I also got a mechanical fuel pump from Rock Auto to carry as a spare, so that got added to the expedition list and will go in the lockbox out back with the spare coil, rotor and distributor cap, wires, belts, and fluids.

I got on the phones this week and called around to find someone to help with the bearings; my search led to Erick, an old friend from my early Scout days who worked on Chewbacca. He’s in Annapolis and has the time to help get them installed next week. I’ve got a pair on order from IHPA due to arrive on Tuesday, so hopefully he can get them installed next week.

Date posted: August 1, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

I walked out to the garage on Saturday fully expecting to fire up the Scout and go for some supplies, and…the starter barely cranked over. All the air drained out of me like a leaky pool float. Annoyed, I put the trickle charger on the battery with the cables to the truck disconnected, and took care of some housework. An hour later, it still wouldn’t crank, so I put them back on and waited two hours—with the same result. I thought I’d try swapping the old starter out for the new one in the off chance that was the issue, so I put the tow strap on the CR-V and pulled the Scout out of the garage so that I could take the tire off and have level ground to work on. I’m getting pretty fast at swapping starters out, and I’ve now added a 9mm wrench for the ignition lead to my toolkit.

That, of course, did not change anything, so I put the smaller Honda battery in the Scout and found that it fired right up.

At this point, I’ve got two possible culprits:

  1. There’s a parasitic drain on the battery from something that has suddenly appeared; perhaps a critter got into the wiring in the last couple of weeks.
  2. I mistakenly reversed the polarity of the trickle charger and messed the battery up.

Because time was of the essence, I figured I’d solve for #2 and bought another new battery, which was not a cheap solution—but I didn’t have time to chase down wiring issues with other projects waiting. Once I put the new battery in, she fired right up. I let her sit overnight and she started easily on Sunday morning, so I put about 20 miles on her running errands.

On my way, I spied a new Scout sitting at the shop up the street, so I drove up to the back lot and peeked around. He’s moved the stuff that was there and pulled in some new trucks: the thing that caught my eye at once was a beautiful, beat up Metro that I think I’ve seen online in classifieds.

There was a red Scout that looked good from one side and kind of terrible from another—minus axles, engine, and front clip, and covered in interesting speed parts stickers. The inner fenders were in really nice shape but the more I looked the sketchier it got.

Near that was a 1980 in rust-colored primer, which looked like it was in very good shape from the outside. Peeking inside showed it was a manual with bucket seats, but I didn’t see any diesel badges.

Conscious that I was trespassing, I was careful to stay away from them as much as possible, shoot some quick pictures, and then leave quietly. I figure driving a Scout up to see other Scouts means I’m not just some rando, but I don’t want to piss anyone off, and it’s not hard to find the guy in the purple Scout around here. The rest of the trip went without a hitch, and I was able to slide 4 sheets of 4’x8′ beadboard in the back, using several bits of scrap wood to make sure nothing got scratched or dented.

The plan now is to let her sit in the garage until Thursday with the new battery connected, and if she starts without a problem I’ll call this fixed. If she doesn’t, then I’ve got to pull her back out and chase down a parasitic drain, the concept of which does not fill me with joy.

Date posted: May 3, 2021 | Filed under Inspiration, Repairs | Leave a Comment »

One of the first things I did when I was having starting problems was to clean the contacts on the battery and then work my way through each lead to its end. After cleaning the contacts on the starter and then replacing that, I pulled the negative lead off the engine and disassembled it as much as possible to clean the leads there. Because the bare wire at the connector was frayed and green I snipped about 2″ from the end, cleaned the parts, and reconnected the lead, but it was about 1″ too short to reach the battery.

I made it out to Advance for a new negative battery cable last night and put it in with little fuss, then left the battery to charge overnight. This morning it fired right up. I pulled it out and let it idle until it was warm, then shut it down—with the cables connected—and let it sit for a few hours. When I went back out and tried it, it fired right up. Another test a few hours later got the same result. So I guess the negative battery cable just decided to crap out? Strange, but I guess it was probably 40 years old at this point. The new one is a fat 12 gauge wire, so it should be plenty strong for the load. I put it back in the garage with everything connected, and if it starts tomorrow I’m calling it fixed.

With a little time to kill this evening I put some snaps on the new (to me) tan soft top over the window posts. This follows the snaps I put in on the black top to keep things snug on the frame, and should make summer driving with the tan top a little more manageable. That top was manufactured with snaps around the bottom perimeter, but I’ve never put the bars on that go with it. Maybe I’ll give that a try this year.

Date posted: April 28, 2021 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »