Now that I’ve (mostly) got a new black rear seat, I’m looking at the front seats, which are gray, and thinking that I’d like to try and find front seats that match a little better. Doing some research on the interwebs this morning I found original sales brochures for the full run of Chrysler PT Cruisers and looked at the stock fabric offered each year. For almost all of the run there were two main colors inside: gray and beige. Some years they spec’d leather seats (some were even heated) but my unscientific research has shown that was mainly in early years and those seats also had integral airbags. I did find one year with a darker upholstery: in the 2009 model year they offered what they called Dark Slate Gray, which is as close to black as I’m going to get:
I’ve got an alert set up on the LKQ app for PT Cruisers in general but I think I’ll winnow that down to the 2008-2010 model years to ensure I don’t miss an opportunity.
We had a spell of warm weather this weekend that I decided to take full advantage of. I’ve been working on refurbing all of the hardware for the new bench seat for the past couple of weeks, and by Thursday I had the hinges all blasted, sanded, rust treated, and painted. Saturday afternoon I got out to the garage and bolted the seats back together.
Then I pulled the brown seat out, rustproofed the retaining plates, and put the black seat in place.
As I expected it went in fine but it does not latch to the posts on each side of the wheelwells. When the seat goes all the way back there are two latch arms that tuck under the posts, but with the height of this seat, they don’t line up—the latches bump the posts and refuse to engage.
This was the issue with the brown seat when I put that in, so I knocked the metal feet off the base of the seat with a hammer. With those gone, the seat was shorter in back and was low enough to engage the latches.
I puzzled over this for a little while and then came up with a plan that I thought was pretty smart: instead of knocking the feet off the perfectly good second base, I unscrewed the base from the brown seat and took the wire and flap sanding wheel to it. It got a coat of primer and then several coats of black enamel, and it’s now drying in the garage. When it’s ready I’ll pull the black seat back out and swap the bases. With a little luck it’ll go back in smoothly and latch as well as the brown seat did.
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Meanwhile, a guy I follow on Instagram posted pictures of his hinges, which he’d just worked on over the weekend with a product called Insta-Black from EPI. Apparently this isn’t a paint but a “blackening solution” for steel tools, guns, and materials. I don’t know if I’d spend $60 on the trial product just for some seat hinges, but it’s a very interesting solution.
I’ve also got to scoot the Tuffy box forward about an inch to clear the seat properly when it folds forward; the brown seat upholstery has taken a beating from rubbing against the box and I’d like to keep it as clean as possible.
While babysitting a brisket on the smoker Saturday morning, I took an impact gun out to the garage and separated the hardware from the cushions on the black bench seat I’d bought a couple of weeks ago. The hinges were all pretty beat up so I figured I’d put them in the blast cabinet and clean them off, then wire wheeled everything to get it ready for paint. It took a little doing but I was able to punt the pin out on the latching mechanism to add some tension back to the spring. With that done I hung the parts in the garage and hit them with etching primer. They’ll sit and cure for a couple of days before paint, and in a week or two I can reassemble the bench and get it ready for installation.
I also wire wheeled the locking ring on the old steel gas tank, then used a hammer and screwdriver to spin it free. Pulling the old fuel sender revealed a rusted, corroded mess that looked like it had been dropped and “repaired” with a homemade filter at some point. Both electrical contacts looked completely shot, and the wire wasn’t even attached. Inside the tank looks remarkably clean—there’s a remanufacture label on the outside, and the inside is coated with some kind of sealant. I think it should be pretty easy to drop the plastic tank and replace it with the original, and hopefully I’ve got a usable rubber seal left on the plastic tank—that sender is only six or seven years old and should be just fine. I cleaned up the metal ring on the tank and hit it with some rust encapsulator. And the outside of this tank has a date with the wire wheel and some spray-on undercoating before I worry about swapping it out.
This Scout came up for sale last week on Marketplace somewhere out west, and I thought it was interesting because it’s an example of IH’s Schoolbus Chrome Yellow, a color that was offered through the entire run of Scout II production but a color I’ve only ever seen in these pictures and on the donor hood and hinges of my Scout.
This one looks like it was a reasonably well-optioned 1978 model for some kind of local government or school system; it’s got hubcaps and chrome trim, and was spec’d as a V-8 manual with A/C and a split bench seat (it’s from Texas). There’s some kind of strange roof rack installed—maybe for a light bar?
That’s pretty bright. I guess there’s no missing that color!
I took Hazel for a ride back up to York this morning. The plan was to pick up an NOS fender and the black rear seat from the guy I’d visited last weekend; my friend Mike mentioned on Instagram that he was interested in the fender so I thought I’d head back up, grab that and the rear seat I spied last week. It was a balmy 50˚ so I was happy to only need a fleece for the whole day, and the sun peeked through clouds that began to darken the western sky as we got further north.
The guy who owns the lot wasn’t available so I had another guy take me where they had the fender stored. It looked OK under the lights—dirty on the inside, a few scratches on the outside—and all of the bolt holes were clean (except one which held a rusty nut/bolt combination; clearly he’d had it mounted on the truck at some point) so I threw it in the car.
We needed some PB Blaster to get the hinges on the seat to move—they were frozen, probably from sitting outside for weeks on end. But when I was able to get it to fold, I was sold. I headed back to the shop and paid the money, took some pictures of some old British cars he had on the lot, and hit the road.
On closer inspection when I got the fender home, I wish I’d been more careful. After really cleaning off the dirt on the inside, my heart sank. It’s NOS but at some point the owner had let it sit, probably inside-up, where water had pooled and started a layer of rust bubbling on the lower edges. It’s not all the way through, and could easily be cleaned up with a soda blast or some other abrasive, but it’s not a perfect fender. I’m going to send Mike a video I took with the detail and show him exactly what I’ve got here to see if he’s still interested. Mike specializes in show-winning restorations, and this might not be up to his standards.
The lesson here, which I’m still trying to learn at my age, is: slow down and be patient. Check over everything before you pay the money. If Mike doesn’t want it, I won’t be terribly upset; both of my other spare driver’s fenders are probably at best a 6 out of 10—the brown one I got last year might be a 5, and I paid next to nothing for it. I’ve also got to look at my parts scores on the whole: most of what I’ve gotten up until today has been very cheap. This is the most expensive part I’ve bought for the truck since I’ve had it, and it’s as closer to new than any other Scout parts I own besides the two lights from last week. So maybe it all evens out somehow…?
After I got home and got some lunch, I headed out to the garage to clean the heater box up. Now that I’ve got a proper sandblasting cabinet, I figured it wouldn’t be messy, but I had to do a bunch of prep work to get it ready.
First, I drained all of the sand out of the bottom of the cabinet and stored it in a bucket. The cabinet came with a gravity feed hose—basically as long as the bottom of the cabinet is full of sand, it sucks the sand in and mixes it in the gun at the tip, making it a closed system. But the tip it came with was broken and the Eastwood tips are larger than my Harbor Freight tips, so I figured I’d use what I already have. Propping the cabinet up on a box, I replaced both of the lights inside and filled my compressor. Then I loaded up my little HF canister with glass bead and got to work.
It did a really good job once I got the flow dialed in, and I a good bit of the box clean before I had to sieve the blasting media for big chunks that started clogging the tip. I also had to take frequent stops because the inside of the box isn’t properly vented yet—I need to get a hose with some kind of pusher motor to mount on the back to vent the dust out—but I got a lot done before the valve on the HF “gun” blew out on the side. It’s basically just a 3/8″ ball valve, not meant for abrasive use. After cleaning it up, I looked over the Eastwood gun and figured I’d give it a shot with the broken tip to see how the flow worked. I dumped the sand back in, hooked it up to the compressor, and was shocked at how well it threw sand even with a broken tip. Clearly the simpler system is the way to go, so I’m going to source some new tips from Eastwood and use that to finish off the parts.
When I was done with that I cut some lumber down to make a rolling cart for the cabinet with a shelf on the bottom, and with the addition of some HF casters I had it assembled and the cabinet on top in about 45 minutes. A panel on the back will keep it from being wobbly.
So after some long months of dead ends, I’ve finally got a good heater core sitting on the bench in the basement. After some judicious use of PBBlaster I pulled all of the screws out and disassembled the main elements. There isn’t much to it, honestly; two access covers hold the heater element in place, and the blower motor assembly is held in with four screws. I brought the box outside and sprayed some paint stripper on it, but I found that didn’t work very well. I switched over to an angle grinder with a stripping wheel and got as much of the paint off of the main sections as possible, but there are a lot of small crevices and angles I can’t reach, as well as the entire interior of the box. So I’m going to switch over to the sandblaster.
Which brings me to the blast cabinet. When I got it from Brian, I knew it would need help. The viewing glass was pitted and cloudy, the gloves were in tatters, and it had no stand. I measured the glass, had a new piece cut at the hardware store last weekend, and put it in on Sunday afternoon. Laying in bed last night I brainstormed a new wooden stand design with some storage below for all of the sandblasting gear—the tanks, media, and other stuff. It’ll be on wheels so that I can move it around the garage easily, and having all of that stuff within a smaller footprint will help with the storage crunch in the garage.
So I’ll get that built this weekend and maybe I can get some time before the Super Bowl to actually clean out the heater box and get it ready for paint.
But on Saturday I’m headed back up to York to pick up the NOS fender for my friend Mike, who saw my post on Instagram and mentioned he was interested in it. I’m going to use the opportunity to pick up the black bench seat I mentioned earlier and set that aside for installation in the spring.
I saw an ad pop up on Marketplace a month and a half ago for a Scout that looked like someone had stepped on it. The body had been removed behind the B pillars and they put the traveltop over what was left, giving it the appearance of having been flattened. The ad didn’t say much but mentioned that it was available for parts at a used car dealer, so I filed that away in the back of my head. This past week I figured I’d give the guy a call and see what was there. From what he said nothing had been pulled yet, and the rig was in reasonably good shape, having just come from inside someone’s garage as a stalled project. So I packed up the CR-V and took Finn up to York for an early morning parts run.
The main reason I was up there was to get a spare heater box so I can rehab it on the bench this winter; I gotta have something to do with my hands. The second thing I wanted were the hubs; I’ve got one spare hub that doesn’t match the one on my truck and this one did. We backed the CR-V up as close as we could get and unloaded my tools. After hitting the various bolts with PB Blaster, I handed Finn an allen wrench to pull the bolts from the passenger’s side hub while I got the bolts off the heater box. With those gone and the hoses cut, it came out pretty quickly and it looks really good—there’s little to no rust on the metal at all. I drained the coolant and threw it in the back of the CR-V.
Then I helped Finn with the hub. The outer shell came off easily, and after pulling the snap ring on the inside the second section popped right off. The driver’s side was a different story, though. The hex bolts didn’t want to budge, even after a bath of PB Blaster, and I didn’t want to strip them. It was colder in the shade, and there was only a tiny bit of room in between the Scout and the van next to it. If I’d had more time, 2 extra feet and zero wind chill I would have tried drilling the bolts out, but I was too cold to bother with it.
I did grab the dash pad, which is black and looks very nice save some delamination at the top; I figure even in this shape I’d make my money back. The traveltop is roached. Both sills under the windows were lousy with rust. The doors were tucked under that, and from the looks of things someone had done some quick rust abatement on the bottom edges that didn’t look too bad. Sitting on the driver’s side floor were two boxes of parts that had been pulled while it was being stripped. The majority of it was stuff I already had two or more of (I can control my hoarding, I swear) so I left it there.
But two soggy NOS International boxes caught my eye: One held a brand new metal taillight housing, gasket and lens and the other held a front turn signal with the same parts. These are rare as hen’s teeth and the new repro’s are expensive. So I grabbed those too.
On our way out I spied the cowl sitting in the bed of a pickup truck nearby, and in front of that, a beautiful black fold-and-tumble rear seat. I hemmed and hawed over this last piece—it would look great as a replacement for the brown seat in Peer Pressure. I’ve already got a spare seat in the garage, but I’d love to standardize on all black for the passenger section.
Ultimately I left it there, but I think I’ll call him back in a couple of weeks and see if he’s willing to deal. Overall I’m very happy with what I’ve got here, and I’m looking forward to cracking into this heater box as well as rehabbing the spare hub. And as cold as it was today (and it was colder in York), it was fun to get outside and spin a few wrenches.
I was just watching a video by Anything Scout where they’re doing a Will It Run video on an old D-Series pickup. They drove in with their Scout and I noticed the spare tire carrier they’re running, which is a unit called an Ultraswing made by RIGd. It’s designed to slot into a heavy-duty trailer hitch (which I have) and carry a spare tire and up to 250 lbs. of weight—far below what my spare weighs. There’s an additional kit for a lighted license plate and a folding table, which would make camping a lot easier. At $1500 for the base swingaway tire carrier it’s not cheap, but the alternative is still having to either buy a bumper with an integrated tire carrier—for a comparable price—or buy something like this, which might work with what I’ve already got.
I like what I see because when it’s secured to the truck there’s absolutely no play in the tire at all—it’s rock solid based on how the bar goes into the receiver. This is definitely on my list of upgrades.
I got a big box from IH Parts America this week with two key items: a new windshield gasket and a turn signal switch assembly. I’ll have to drag one of the spare windshield frames into the basement and practice putting it in with the lesser of the three spare windshields I’ve got. It’s definitely a warm weather project but I’m excited to finally upgrade from my rock-tumbled ghetto glass.
At first glance the turn signal part is exactly the same as the one in my spare steering column, so I got back to rebuilding the spare column.
When last we left my steering wheel teardown, I’d been able to get the steering wheel off, then pull the jam nut (M14/1.5) off the spindle and expose the plate that covers up the guts of the column.
In order to get this plate out, you have to use another tool to depress it and expose a lock ring around the column, which took me several minutes with a pair of screwdrivers to get off.
With that plate out of the way, the next step is to take the turn signal disc out (the blue cylinder at the top). Jimmy it out with a screwdriver (GENTLY) and it should pop out.
And this is what I was faced with (on the spare column). I was hoping this one would be intact because I would be able to swap it into the column on Peer Pressure, but sadly one of the horns on the bottom half of the assembly broke off along with a twisted metal contact that mounted to something somewhere. That muddy, rusty mess at the 5’oclock position is all that remains of the metal contacts that help the switching mechanism sit in place. The mechanism itself was twisted into pieces and had fallen down underneath the main assembly.
I had to order an entirely new assembly and drop it into place—I went with a Light Line vendor, but the part is available on RockAuto for less: GM 1997985, which is the turn signal cam assembly for Scouts from mid 1977 and above (This spare column came from the 1978 I parted out in Flintstone).
The new part popped right onto place; you feed the wires back down through the column the same way they came out. The only thing I had to do was use an X-Acto blade to trim some extra plastic away from the divot where the turn lever bolts into place.
Now, the tricky part. The blue ring goes back in place, and what I found was that I had to align the divot on the top half with the one unsplined section of the shaft. You’ll notice on the retaining ring that there’s one tooth missing, so it only goes on the shaft one way. When it’s lined up properly the spring cup on the blue ring goes on just as it came out in my picture.
Then I use my ghetto depressing tool to push the retaining ring down in order to put the snap ring in place. This is where I’m stopping right now, as I’d like to use the new part in Peer Pressure, which means I have to pull it back out of this spare column and button everything up. And I’m not going to tear the column in my working truck until the temperature gets back up over 60˚, so I’m stalled for the time being.
Meanwhile, Mike at ScoutCo posted a handy little video on Instagram about how to pull the old lock out of a traveltop latch:
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Which is great, because I didn’t know about the little retaining clip until I watched this. I’ve got my spare latch on the workbench soaking in PBblaster, and I’m waiting to go down and follow his directions. It would be cool to have a locking latch on my Scout for the first time ever…
Brian sent me this picture with the caption “13 years ago today”.