No Brakes

I got a bunch of stuff done on the Travelall but at the end of the weekend I didn’t reach the goal I was hoping for. Having the rear floor removable has been great; I pulled it out on Sunday and heated the balky rear brake line, then clamped it with a set of vice grips and separated it from the main line. Because I’d stripped the fitting on that line, I cut a quarter inch off and re-flared it, then connected it up with a new soft line to the splitter block. With that done, I figured it was time to fill the reservoir and bleed the brakes. I started on the passenger rear line and used a $25 Harbor Freight vacuum tool to try and draw fluid into the line, but had no luck. I tried the driver’s rear and was able to pull a bunch of old crud from that line, but still had no luck bringing new fluid in.

I then tried bleeding the clutch slave, but had no success there either. Pressing the pedal down results in bubbles from the bottom of the reservoir but I don’t get any pressure built at all.

On Monday I pulled the driver’s wheel off and tried bleeding that line, figuring I’d diagnose a blockage in the old hard line out back, but had no success. I didn’t bench bleed the reservoir before putting it on, which I only learned about after I’d installed it, so I’m going to pull the connections off and bleed it while it’s mounted to see if it’s working correctly, then diagnose from there. I’ve got enough hard line to replace the long run along the frame rail, and that’ll probably be the next step.

The other bit of progress on Sunday was the installation of four new shocks at each corner; the originals were rusted to oblivion. Once again, all the bolts came off with little to no effort and inexpensive new shocks went on easily.

Beyond all of that, I’ve got a list of parts to look for in Ohio this weekend. Most of the Light Line vendors bring trailers full of good stuff, and often there will be good sheet metal from out West to pick over. I thought I’d set up a deal for a Travelall front bench seat from California, but the vendor has ghosted me since last week so I have no idea if they’re bringing anything or what to expect. They’re also supposed to have a regular (non oil-bath) air cleaner housing for me. Among the other items I’m on the lookout for:

  • Rear passenger glass — this is pretty self explanatory. Unobtanium, but I am ever hopeful
  • A C-series driver’s front fender in better shape than what I’ve got. My fender is repairable but is quickly gaining weight from all the bondo, and the bottom section is much worse than the passenger side.
  • A C-series front cowl. I think these rusted quite commonly, so this might be a hard one to find.
  • Front turn signal buckets — Mine are both swiss cheese. I’d love to find them with the pigtails too.
  • A 14″ International badge for the back door.
  • A Travelall badge for the passenger rear quarter — these are expensive these days, but there are a few vendors who might be able to hook me up.
  • C-series sun visors — I haven’t been able to find these anywhere, although I know they exist.
  • A 16″ 4.5×5 lug steel wheel
  • A steering wheel with no cracks — not necessary but I’ll keep an eye open
  • Rear Taillights — These aren’t in bad shape, but if I could find new lenses that would be great.
  • 4th IH hubcap — I’ve got three, one is dented and the other is in decent shape. I’d like all four, preferably.

Finally, I’d driven down to my Father in Law’s house on Saturday to get some work done—mowing his lawn, edging the whole property, cutting the bushes back, and installing a new mailbox. On my way home, I decided to stop at a salvage yard I’ve been spying on for twenty years at the foot of the Solomons bridge. There’s been a unique antique British sedan there for months and I figured I’d peep it out. To my surprise, parked behind the sedan was a gray Scout of unknown origin that I’d never seen.

A closer inspection revealed it had been completely covered in gray bedliner and it was sitting on two flat tires. Covering anything other than the bed is a bad idea; I’d bet the inside sheet metal is crispier than fried chicken. I looked it over a little and presently the owner of the yard pulled up in his parts wagon; he was super nice when I mentioned I had a Scout and we got to talking. He’s putting it together for a customer but they’re waiting on parts. Then we talked about his sedan, which was a Triumph Mayflower that he’s had for decades. It was getting late, so I snapped a few pictures and headed on my way.

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Knock Knock

I’ve been battling an exhaust leak in the Scout for the last couple of years. There’s a gasket on the passenger side right below the heat riser that seems to come undone every twelve months or so, and I’ve tried to tighten it up on my own until now. While it’s been loose, the truck sounds like a chugging train from that side, which I don’t like at all; the truck is enough to take in visually without being the loudest thing in my zip code, so I try to dial it back as much as I can.

I finally got someone to look at it, and after supplying the right parts for it I took it in last Friday to be fixed. As I figured it wasn’t a big deal for them, and it was done in an afternoon. When I got it back I jumped in and listened closely to the sound of the exhaust—at idle it sounded nice and quiet but when I got out on the road and hit the gas pedal, there was a different noise sounded less exhausty and more engine-specific. This is the kind of noise I associate with old clapped-out Ford Explorers and crappy pickups, which made me very nervous. Doing a little digging I identified it as rod knock, which is caused by low oil. I immediately went out to check and found that the oil was below low, which made my heart sink. I don’t know how I let it get that low or how it emptied itself out so fast; I remember topping it off earlier this spring. Whatever the case, the sound had been masked by the exhaust noise, and I completely missed it until now.

From what I’ve learned, low oil pressure can easily be the cause of this problem; what I’ve got to do is find someone who can properly go over the bottom half of my engine and pull the rods and replace the bearings. So for now, Peer Pressure is off the road.

This means that I’m going to be taking the CR-V out to Nationals this year, which sucks for many reasons. But I’m more upset with myself for having fucked up my engine this badly. It messes up ongoing plans for the summer and it means I won’t have my truck for the forseeable future, which really makes me upset.

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Mileage Recap 2022

Looking through my fuel/mileage notebook and doing the math, I put a total of 2932 miles on the Scout this year.

Total Yearly Miles Miles Minus Nats
2015 580 580
2016 276 276
2017 315 315
2018 1768 631
2019 1972 836
2020 1195 1195
2021 3177 2041
2022 2932 2932

Most of 2022 was spent driving to and from my Father-in-Law’s house to help get him sorted out and haul stuff to and from his house. I went over the bridge to the Eastern Shore a bunch of times, and…I can’t really tell you where else I drove or what else I did. It was kind of a lost year, but at least I got a lot of seat time in the old girl.

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Barn Find 3

I drove to the outskirts of Lancaster, PA to look at another Scout on Sunday. The weather was perfect; dry and sunny, and by the time I got to the location the temperature was warm enough that I didn’t need a winter coat. Google Maps took me the scenic way, through forest and across farmland, and I spent much of the drive out there regretting that I hadn’t driven Peer Pressure. There were so many scenic spots I could have stopped for pictures, I had to remind myself to shut up and enjoy the drive and the day, and just live in the moment.

I had hoped Brian could come with me but our schedules didn’t align with the seller. The Scout had originally been part of a package deal of two, one runner and one parts rig, but he’d sold the parts truck before I got there. He’d then listed both trucks separately for more money than the package, so I was already on the fence before I got there. What I found was better than any of the other trucks I’ve seen recently but not enough for the price he was asking. It ran, and the body was in better shape than the last two, but there were crude metal pans sheet-riveted over the floors and two red bucket seats of unknown origin sitting unattached to the floor. The driver’s door took some coaxing to open and close. The rear bed was wavy in places and not attached to the walls on either side—I couldn’t figure that one out. There was a hardtop off to the side that went with the truck, and it looked relatively solid.

I may regret it later, but I passed on the deal; I feel like the price was a little too high for what was there. The seller was cool and had a barn full of other Internationals—two D series Travelettes, a pair of Terras, and a new Scout II on a trailer ready for rehab. Brian keeps telling me that the right one will come along; I’m going to remain patient and wait until it finds me.

Meanwhile, I had Peer Pressure out for errands yesterday and today, and she ran like a Swiss watch. I’m thankful for the things I have.

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Buttoned Up

It’s getting colder and I’m getting no younger. The cold is affecting me more than it ever has; I’ve taken to wearing fleece through most of the winter when I’m indoors. I’ve got some traveling coming up where I’m going to need the Scout, and I don’t relish the thought of a two-hour morning drive under the soft top at 45˚. Putting the hardtop back on is always bittersweet, because I live for driving the truck under a warm summer sun. After 25 years, I’ve got the method down to an art; it took me about two hours to get the soft top off and packed, and the hardtop lowered and bolted down. At some point I’d love to have one of those motorized hoists they sell for Jeeps but I think I need a garage upgrade before I do that.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on the second of two A/C boxes. When I took out the plastic vent housings, two of them broke at the pins that hold them into place, so I cleaned them up but can’t use them. The box is painted and just about ready for reassembly, and once that’s done I’ll have two clean boxes on the shelf.

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Electric Scout?

My (somewhat limited) social media feeds, email inboxes, and texts all blew up with people sending me the news that the Volkswagen group is thinking about making a new electric SUV called the Scout. It’s a long, convoluted story, but the Autopian breaks down how VW has come into possession of the Scout trademark through its purchase of Navistar after a colossal strategic mistake in building diesel engines.

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Soft Top Inventory

One of the primary reasons I wanted a Scout was because the truck was designed to be convertible by cigarette-smoking men in the 1960’s who barely considered passenger safety or crash protection. Having a soft top for the summer is a primary concern, and something I factored into the purchase of both my trucks. I was lucky—both came with soft tops. There was a decade or so where nobody was making new ones—Kayline went out of business in 2001 and Bestop decided there wasn’t enough money in it and focused solely on Jeeps. Softopper is now making new units which are by all accounts excellent, but are eye-wateringly expensive, so I feel better about hoarding them. At this point I’ve got three:

Out in front of my old house

1. The original Kayline top from Chewbacca, a snap-close model, in a color called Nutmeg, which is a medium brown color. I think this would look hideous matched with Peer Pressure’s blurple, so I’ve never installed it. It’s in very good shape—the canvas is clean, the zippers are all intact, the plastic windows are clear and mostly unblemished, and it has been sitting in cool storage for ten years. When I sold Chewbacca to Brian I was going to give it to him as a completion present but got a great deal on a used tan top and gave him the choice of the two; he liked the look of the tan top better (I agreed with his preference). I have the whole hardware kit for this: a set of padded bows, metal door frames, snap bed rails, and windshield rail.

2. The black Kayline top that came with Peer pressure, a Fastrac model, in black vinyl. This was used and in somewhat rough shape when it came to me on the truck. There are a couple of holes over the rear seat which thankfully haven’t gotten any larger. The zippers are plastic and work reasonably well but some of the tracks have come unstitched on each side. The windows are still mostly clear but need a good polishing, and the plastic tracks along the bottom edges are still in good shape. I have the entire hardware kit for this top. I’ve modified this one with snaps on the canvas door flaps and metal door frames to replace the useless velcro it came with, and it makes a huge difference.


3. The $50 tan top that’s currently on the truck, which is another snap model. The canvas on this one is in excellent shape, which is shocking. The driver’s side zipper has come almost completely off the canvas, and the rain flap over the passenger door is also coming unstitched. All of the windows are very clear, but there’s a vertical split on the driver’s side about four inches long. I have the entire hardware kit for this also. I modified this with snaps around the door canvas as well.

All of these need a good cleaning and the windows need polishing. Somewhere I’ve got some Meguiar’s plastic polish that can be applied with a soft buffing wheel that will help with visibility through the windows. At some point I need to wrestle the tan top inside and restitch the zipper, or find someone in Annapolis with a sail repair business who can fix it up for me.

In the meantime, because the tan top is a snap model, I drilled one of the two snap rail sets out to match the existing holes in the bed rails. The driver’s side went on with a little finagling. Once it was mounted I found that the front snaps went on easily but the back snaps were too high by about 2″ at the endcaps. The way the top fits, the edges will never reach the snap rails, even when it’s heated up by the sun. The passenger side went on easier, and I dug into my snap replacement kit and installed four new barrels on each side so that I can (mostly) close it up with the bows loose. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was.

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