I took the Scout out for a quick errand yesterday with Hazel to go pick up some dinner, and a small voice in the back of my head reminded me that I needed to get some gas. I’d already been to the other side of town to hit the dump earlier in the day, but our trip wasn’t that far and from what my mileage booklet said, I’d only gone thirty miles or so since my last visit to the pump.

I drove down the big hill from home into Ellicott City and just as I hit the bottom part of the road along the river, the truck died and I coasted to a stop on the shoulder. Hazel looked over at me from the passenger seat with reproach, then curled up on the seat and sighed. This is the second time this has happened at the foot of the hill—the first time it died pulling into the gas station a little further up the road—but it’s a warning I’m going to heed. I’m terrified of losing power going down that hill, and even though I know I could use the clutch to engine brake until a stop, when the steering goes out it’s like piloting an oil tanker. I’m terrified of digging in to the wiring behind the dashboard for fear the truck will never start again but the gauge situation and the wiper issue are now forcing my hand.

In the meantime I’m going to revise my mileage tracker to give me a better estimate of what my MPG actually is; my records show that I went down to empty in October of last year, which means I can use that and the records up until now to give me a better understanding of what my range is. Doing the math between now and then, I put 2887 miles on the truck, which converts to 3280 true miles (the ratio is 88 indicated to 100 true). I’ve put 296 gallons of gas into her between now and then, which works out to 11.08 miles per gallon. Not as good as Chewbacca did—Chewbacca was a 304 with a 2-barrel Holley 2100 carburetor and stock wheels, and she averaged anywhere from 12 to 14 depending on the type of driving and whether the top was down or not. Peer Pressure is a 345 with a 4-barrel Thermoquad on 32’s, and while I don’t spend my time racing from streetlight to streetlight, a 4-barrel is a lot thirstier. Also, all of the stupid emissions bullshit tacked on to my engine surely isn’t helping. To put things into perspective, my Jeep XJ with a 4-liter V6 got about 14mpg on average—keeping in mind the curb weight of the XJ was a full thousand pounds less than either Scout.

I’ve always figured no better than 10MPG as a rule of thumb, using my experience with Chewbacca’s low end and figuring 1-2MPG as a cushion was a good idea, but knowing exactly what my range is will help estimate even better. And there will be some digging around behind the dashboard come springtime: First, to hopefully diagnose and repair the gas gauge, and second to find the issue with the wipers and fix that.

Date posted: November 20, 2022 | Filed under To-Do List | Leave a Comment »

Brian, tired of me texting him various Marketplace links, suggested I make a vision board for what I’m looking for in a new project, which I thought was a pretty good idea. My search has centered on one of two types of truck; I’d like either a Scout 80/800 or a ‘61-‘68 C-series pickup.

I’ve always liked the look of the original Scout; it wasn’t until I’d done the research to buy Chewbacca in ’96  that I learned about the earlier model. It looks great with or without a top, and even better without doors; I like the utilitarian vibe and would actually prefer something as close to 60’s spec as possible—wheels, tires, suspension, etc. but with a rollbar, 3-point seatbelts and maybe an upgraded powerplant. As a platform designed in the late ’50’s, it’s even more utilitarian than the Scout II, little more than an engine, transmission, steering wheel and a seat. As they iterated on the design it got things like power steering and electric wipers and a choice of engines, but the majority of them were basic, no-nonsense trucks.

This is a nice 1966 2WD with a 3 on the tree.

With the pickup, my favorite are the final design iterations of the C-series trucks. They started out with a face only a mother could love but were restyled in ’61 to a much more pleasing design, and the improvements to the dashboard and interior made a huge difference. There’s something delightfully ’60’s about the styling, and the interior is also no-nonsense. There have been a few D-series trucks I’ve liked but they are usually not my cup of tea, and it’s hard to love the cab design.

For a Scout, I’d like to find a body that’s not Swiss cheese. If the floorpans or rear bed are holed, I can work with that. If the rockers are gone, or if the outside sheet metal is damaged, I’ll have to really think about it. Early scout sheet metal is rare, and if I can’t source replacements I’d be fabricating what I need. If it’s missing doors, that’s not ideal but it’s ok. I don’t care about seats. If it has a top, that’s great but it’s not a dealbreaker either—but havng a top usually means it hasn’t been completely exposed to the elements for twenty years.

This Scout is very local but I’ve never heard back from the seller, even though the ad is still up on Marketplace. It would be worth the short drive and small sum of money just to drag it home and see what’s savable on the chassis.

I’d like for it to have enough sheet metal that I can cut away the bad stuff and still weld good metal to; if the cancer is so bad there’s nothing to work with, that’s a hard pass.

This Scout is in Maine, which is too far to drive just to look over a worthless carcass.

In terms of running gear, the ideal would be a V8 installed, but I don’t care if it’s running. a 4-cylinder will take more modification to fit a larger engine, but isn’t a dealbreaker. It’ll have the weaker Dana axles as standard equipment but that’s not an issue either. And I don’t think many early Scouts came with an automatic, so a manual would be perfect, even though it’ll be a non-synchro first gear. I prefer a stick, and I like the added bonus of theft deterrence. I will avoid any cobbled together suspension mods; if someone has attempted a spring over or backwoods lift kit, I’ll walk away.

This one looked very good from the pictures but was shot through with rust almost everywhere.

In terms of looks I’d prefer if I didn’t have to deal with some asshole’s spray can camo job, or a full Rhinoliner treatment over the paint. The more patina the better. If the original paint is half worn away, that’s actually perfect. Anytime fresh paint has been applied the price goes up by the thousands, and I almost always don’t like the color they’ve chosen anyway.

Running or not, I’d like for it to be within a three hour drive from here, but I won’t mind if I have to go a little further for the right truck.

For a pickup, the ideal is a 2wd full-length with a V8. The key is the cab. I want something with clean cowl vents, as that’s the hardest area to fix. The second hardest place would be the cab corners which are all compound curves.

The glass isn’t impossible to find, but not cheap. If the floors are holed, that’s fine, I wouldn’t practice cutting and replacing them—within reason. I’d like for the fenders and hood to be in decent shape, as the sheet metal isn’t easy to find either.

This one looked very good from the pictures, but when he sent me detail shots it got very ugly very quickly.

For the bed, I’d like to find a full length example, either fleet or a stepside bed. If there’s some damage, that’s ok, I don’t mind cutting that out and repairing it, and ultimately I’d strip the whole thing and bedline the shit out of it anyway.

This truck was for sale last winter, and I should have jumped on it when I could. It’s pretty much perfect in my eyes.

For the running gear, there are a million different possibilities. I don’t really mind any engine variation, but if it’s an inline 6 that will make replacing it a little harder. I do want a manual, and in a perfect world it will be a floor shift, not on the column.

I’d love to find one with power steering. The trailer special I looked at in PA was the perfect drivetrain combo- a V8 floor shift manual with power steering, but the clutch was fucked and the engine was locked.

Here’s the Holy Grail: a crewcab C series in fantastic shape. If I had $16K of disposable income I’d already own it.

For the looks of the thing, my ideal is the same as the Scout—original paint in any condition is preferred, and actually the more faded the better. I don’t mind some dents but I don’t want a demo derby loser either.

This is a fancy model; look at all the chrome spears on each side. It’s a 2WD based on the hubcaps.

The goal is to own something I’m not afraid to drive; a 100-point paint job would ramp my anxiety up enough that I’d never take it out of the garage. Scrapes and dings and patches aren’t discouraged. I’d like something that looks well-loved but not like it’s held together with duct tape.

The best case would be a roller with minimal modifications from stock, where I can get in and fix rust and damage at my leisure while hopefully keeping it running. I’d like to get whatever I buy into resell shape, or something I can had off to Finn for her high school vehicle. Brian is still moving forward with his plan to electrify vehicles, and with either one I’d entertain either an EV or an LS swap happily.

Several possible trucks have come and gone; there have been a couple that are 75% of what I want but have some things I’m not interested in, or the rust is too much to deal with. I’m going to bide my time and be as patient as possible, and hopefully the right truck will come along.

Date posted: November 9, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration | Leave a Comment »

I put PT Cruiser seats in Peer Pressure seven years ago and I’ve never regretted the upgrade. They are comfortable over long distances, provide ample lumbar support, and are easy to clean—all things I’ve tested extensively. They sit two inches too high off the floor, but that’s something I’ve learned to live with for the moment until I get a pair of Binder Boneyard’s upgraded seat bases. The one thing I don’t like about them, now that I’ve switched almost everything else in the cab over to black, is their color. Chrysler made a bazillion PT Cruisers, and the majority of of them had gray cloth seats like the ones I’ve got. I set up an alert on my pick-a-part app to let me know when new stock rolls in the yards, and a flurry of them came in last week. Lo and behold, a gold 2005 came in and the VIN check said it had the correct upholstery. I got some basic tools together, loaded Hazel up into the Scout, and set out for Mt. Airy on Saturday morning to check it out.

I set her up in the truck with food, water, and a comfy blanket and set out for the yard. As I would have expected, the Chrysler section was all the way at the back of the lot, at the top of a hill, so I knew I’d be humping seats a long way. The car itself was in decent shape, and the seats were dirty but showed no major signs of damage, so I unbolted them both and hauled them up to the front desk in a wheelbarrow. Hazel was curled up on the passenger seat dozing in the sun.

The weather was so beautiful, we took a leisurely drive home through the country, stopping here and there for some photos. Back at the house, it was a pretty easy process to pull the old seats out and swap the new ones in on the bases. There are just two holes to drill at the front and everything bolts up smoothly. I hit them both with upholstery cleaner and some 409 on the plastics, and in about two hours I had them both installed.

They’re not perfectly black, but they look a million times better with the rest of the interior, and they should last a good long time.

Date posted: November 6, 2022 | Filed under Junkyards, Seats | 1 Comment »

The exhaust leak on the passenger side manifold has been getting progressively worse, especially as I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the girl this summer. I’m not the kind of guy who needs a loud truck to announce who I am; I figure the unconventional look of the truck covers that pretty well, and I’d honestly prefer to have a quiet sleeper under my right foot than a Harley. So I ordered a couple of different gaskets from the interwebs and got to work this morning after breakfast.

My plan was to leave the back bolt in place, as I can’t really reach that without major effort and lots of cursing, and use leverage on the front bolt to snug the assembly together after the new gaskets were in place. I used a set of tin snips to cut a notch through to the bolt hole on one side, and worked it into position. When that was done I replaced the outside fine-thread copper bolt with a new coarse-thread Grade 8 bolt and snugged it tight. There’s just a hint of exhaust leaking from the front of the connection now but the BRAP-BRAP-BRAP from that side of the engine at throttle is gone. Hallelujah. 

While I had the wheel off and the starter exposed, I pulled it off and removed the shim that’s been on there since I got the truck (and through about six different starters). Due to differences in the manual bellhousing vs. the automatic, the shim isn’t required for manuals—something I wasn’t aware of until recently. So with that buttoned back up and the wheel back on, we did a spin around the block and I basked in the (relative) silence.

Now I’m looking at both a felt kit for the windows and some of those sexy new rubber gaskets for the butterfly windows; both sides rattle and leak and I’d love to get things buttoned up tighter with colder weather here. Among each of the four sets I have available, the only good pair is the one on the truck—so I’d have to pull things apart or weld a spare set back together before updating the rubber.

Date posted: October 30, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | Leave a Comment »

I found a cheap 1968 C series pickup on Marketplace, so I took a chance and drove three hours in beautiful fall sunshine to look at it this morning. Having talked to the owner, he didn’t know much about it other than the pictures provided. They showed a 2WD in original Bahama blue, with a floor-shifted manual behind a V8 of some unspecified size. It had a full-length bed, something I like. There was visible rust on the cowl seam and along the side of the bed; this seems to be common with this model. The glass looked to be intact, and the interior of the cab was in decent shape from what I could tell. The camper shell on the back may or may not have saved it from pooling water and rust. The big questions I had were:

  • What engine is in it, and does it turn?
  • How are the cowl vent assemblies (the achilles heel of this series)?
  • Does it have power steering or power brakes?
  • What shape are the front brakes in? (are they the dreaded Lockheed brakes whose parts are impossible to find?)
  • Which carb does it have?

The drive up was uneventful, but got off to a bad start; I’d told Google to avoid tolls but it immediately pointed me at the Harbor Tunnel; I reconfigured and made it up there by 11AM.

In person, the truck was in worse shape than the photos (big surprise). The rust was worse than the pictures let on all the way around.

I figured what I’d do is check the cowl vents first and if they were toasty I’d write off the truck—in order to repair this, you have to pull the windshield, drill out the welds on the cowl, and then do a bunch of surgery to replace metal.

I put the borescope down the driver’s side and found the cavity full with a mouse nest; the passenger side was rusted through in several places. So that was bad. What was worse were all the places the PO had sprayed foam insulation, which is essentially a death sentence for metal. It was behind the front fender, inside the cowl seam, under the dashboard, inside the rear fenders, and a bunch of other places I couldn’t see.

The doors were almost perfect, and the bed floor was in excellent shape due to the cap, but someone had rear-ended the truck and damaged both rear endcaps.

The engine was probably a 304 or larger, due to this truck being spec’d as a Camper Special, but the fan didn’t turn—not a good sign after sitting for 25 years; the last inspection sticker read 1997. It also had factory power steering, which was somewhat rare for a pickup of this vintage.

With all of the faults, I decided to walk away. I’m itching to find a new project, but I really want to be smart about it and move on the right one. This was just too much to tackle too far away; if it was local I’d have offered $1K and brought it home to either tinker with or part out.

Looking at the map, I realized I was only about 20 minutes away from the town I went to elementary school in, so I drove over to look at the old homestead. And from there, I hit the road for home.
Date posted: October 16, 2022 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

I picked up a neat little toy through the Amazon Prime Day specials, something that will get some immediate use and hopefully pay for itself down the line: a lighted borescope, for looking deep down into dark places like cylinders and inside frame rails and down into AC ducts. It’s pretty slick; the control pad has a nice wide screen a little smaller than that of my iPhone SE and a keypad with a set of sturdy buttons. The wire is permanently connected to the unit and is a good bendable but stiff material that makes things easy to direct the way you want it to. It’s got a video and camera feature with a 32GB card that allows for all the photos and videos to fit and be offloaded to a computer. Here are some pictures from the spare SV 345 in my garage:


Cylinder 1


Cylinder 3

(Cylinder 5 and 7 are missing because the engine is sitting next to a shelf, making access to those two plugs impossible right now).


Cylinder 2


Cylinder 4


Cylinder 6


Cylinder 8

There are clearly some carbon deposits directly on top of the pistons; I know the moisture is Marvel Mystery Oil so I’m not too worried about that. The carb on this engine wasn’t burning the fuel completely so it was probably knocking; hopefully it wasn’t run to the point where it overheated. If I get this thing on a proper stand I’ll maybe pull the heads off to see if I can clean the pistons and cylinder walls—but that’s in the future.

This weekend I’m going to use it to peek into the cylinders in Bob’s Chrysler and see what’s going on with the 440.

Date posted: October 14, 2022 | Filed under Purchasing | Leave a Comment »

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.

Date posted: October 11, 2022 | Filed under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Hey! look at that. See it? Up there in the left corner of the right-side window?

I was worried that my sticker was gonna be the biggest one there, but I’m relieved to see it’s not.

Date posted: September 27, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration | 1 Comment »

I follow a bunch of Scout folks on Instagram, and some of them post really helpful tips from time to time. A week ago or so someone posted a picture of Kleen Strip concrete & metal prep, explaining that it’s basically the same thing as Evaporust, in a concentrated format—for a fraction of the price. I got a gallon of it at Lowe’s for $20 and thinned a small amount with three parts water. I was amazed at how fast and how strong it worked. Evaporust is good stuff but I found it dies out pretty quickly after the first batch of whatever I throw in it, so this is a welcome addition to the restoration toolbox.

Now that I’ve painted the transmission tunnel cover black, put in a black dash pad, sprayed the floors with black bedliner, and generally erased as much of the purple nonsense as possible, I’ve been looking at my khaki green glove box door with disapproval. I pulled it out of the truck, removed the lock barrel, and scuffed it with sandpaper before hitting it with three coats of black semigloss. Reinstalled it makes the whole thing look better—but now all I can see is that stupid purple dashboard. Maybe I need to just tape the whole thing off and spray it black…

My hunt for a set of black PT Cruiser seats continues. Our local junkyards have an app that sends alerts when particular cars hit the yards, and I check every time one comes in. It’s been a year and I’ve had zero luck. I think that option must have been in low demand in 2009. Meanwhile, Dan at the Binder Boneyard just announced a new product: a set of seat bases incorporating a locking access door. An added bonus is that they’re an inch shorter to accommodate aftermarket seats, something that would improve my seating position immensely.

The truck has been making a lot of noise on the passenger side for the past couple of months, something I’ve dealt with in the past on the driver’s side. The culprit then was the exhaust manifold gasket, which had disintegrated, so the effect was basically that of open headers—not the most neighborly situation when driving through town. I pulled the passenger wheel off the truck to better access the gasket and found myself cursing the engineers once again; instead of putting the bolts fore and aft of the pipe in easy to reach positions, they put them port and starboard, which makes one easy to reach and the other impossible.

And there isn’t enough room on the top bolt to get a box head wrench around it, so it’s all guesswork and busted knuckles. I couldn’t get the back bolt to budge, but found that the front bolt was still in good shape, as was the gasket. Turns out there’s another gasket above the pipe, two metal plates with something sandwiched in between, which has disintegrated, and that’s where the sound and fury is coming from. I’ve got to call Super Scouts and see if they have a replacement for that.

While I had the wheel off I measured the amount of backspacing on the rim so that I could compare it with the stock rim I have the spare mounted on; this will tell me how viable the spare is or if it won’t fit properly. Measuring the American Racing rims, there’s 4 1/8″ from the edge of the rim to the mounting surface, while on the stock rim there’s 3 7/8″. This means the inside edge of the wheel is closer to the frame on the stock wheel, making the turning radius wider—the wheel will hit the leaf springs sooner on the stock wheel because it’s closer to the truck.

I kind of dig the way steelies look on the truck, I have to admit…

Date posted: September 23, 2022 | Filed under Progress | Leave a Comment »

I took the day off from work to burn through vacation time before I lose it on October 1, and after my original plan for the day fell through I decided to tackle the windshield project. As it turned out, I’m glad I had the full 8 hours, because I wound up needing it.

To recap, I had a new windshield frame prepped and ready to go, because I had no idea what condition the frame on the truck was in. I might pull the gasket off and find the metal held together with Ritz crackers and wood glue. I had a new gasket ready and a clean, clear windshield from the Flintstone Scout waiting in the basement. Having pulled that glass from the truck only last year, I was familiar with the process, and all it really took was a utility knife. After cutting the lip off the gasket, I was able to push the glass outward just hard enough to get it free and put a crack right down the center. Oh well; I’m never using it again anyway. With a deep breath, I pulled the gasket off to find that the metal really wasn’t bad at all. In many respects this frame is the best of all three that I have—there were only two small holes on the driver’s side right below the channel, and the only crusty part of the lip was right above them. The rest was mainly just surface rust, and after masking things off I hit it all with the wire wheel and then some Rust Encapsulator.

Next up was mounting the gasket. This took some patience and a roll of painter’s tape, because once I’d gotten the bottom started the top didn’t want to set up correctly. I worked on it for a while and took a break with one area on the passenger’s side to go. After a snack and a pee break I came back out, looked at it a little differently, and got it in place in about five minutes. I’m glad I had the spare and took time back in May to practice on it, because it did take a while to understand exactly how it mounted to the frame.

Now to the hard part. I carefully laid the new glass in place along the bottom and eased it into the channel, then started working the edge into the gasket up the driver’s side. All of the videos and instructions say to use a special rope that has a certain amount of friction to sort of pull the gasket into place; I didn’t have that rope. I found that paracord did not work well—it was too slippery and the glass seemed to shave fiber from the edge of the cord. What I did have were a set of pallete knives I use for scraping, which have rounded edges: perfect for pushing on rubber without cutting it, and wide enough that they could handle a lot of material. With more patience and liberal application of soapy water, I got the driver’s side vertical started and up to the top horizontal section, where I stalled out again.

After some lunch I came back out and rethought the situation. Using the pallete knives I pushed on the rubber while adding careful pressure to the glass to get it to sink into the gasket as I moved to the left. It took some practice and there were some frightening moments where I was sure I was going to crack the glass, but I got the passenger’s side vertical into the gasket and then slowly pushed the glass into the top section until the gasket captured it all with a quiet “thup”.

This gasket has an integrated locking loop, which took more soapy water and the pallete knife to tackle, but that went relatively quickly compared to everything else. I ran out to the store for some rearview mirror glue, and popped the mounting puck off the old windshield with careful application of heat from a propane torch. When that cooled off I glued it in place and washed the windshield down with Windex.

I started at about 9AM and had the glass settled and sealed by 3:30; it took an hour to go get the mirror glue, prep it, and install everything (it needs time to cure on the glass). On the road, it’s a completely different story. The glass is clear and bright; the setting sun doesn’t turn everything opaque, and at night the lights from oncoming cars don’t become blinding. It’s like driving a new truck. After fourteen years of squinting through a vaseline-covered lens, it’s an incredible upgrade, something I should have tackled years ago. I’m glad I finally took the time to think it through and prepare for it properly.

Date posted: September 16, 2022 | Filed under Repairs | 1 Comment »