My F1-all, seen here, had been gone for quite some time when a friend asked me if I wanted to buy a Scout. That got my attention, but when I asked him for details he said it was the pickup version, was powered by a six-cylinder engine and, worst of all, had 2WD. Even though I’d always thought Scouts were cool, a 2WD version didn’t really interest me. After he tried to sell it to me a couple more times, he finally said, “I just want it out of my garage, so how about I give it to you in exchange for doing a tune-up on my Celica?” Now that was a deal I couldn’t refuse despite the 2WD.
Once I’d finished up with the Celica, we went into his garage to check out the Scout. His story was that his grandfather had purchased it new, and then passed it down to him when he got his driver’s license. He drove it while he was in high school, then took it along to college, where the 258 finally let go. He simply had a rebuilt short-block installed at a local gas station and continued to drive it.
The problem was, it had to pass emissions testing after he moved back to Seattle. It failed, by a long shot, and none of the numerous shops he took it to knew why. He drove it to his parents’ house (which eventually became his) and stuck it in the garage, where it sat for seven years. After I popped the hood, the first order of business was checking the oil; the dipstick came up dry. He had a couple of quarts on hand and we poured them in, so at least some oil showed up on the stick. I dropped in the battery I’d brought along, splashed a little gas down the carb, and it fired right up. Still, it clearly was missing on more than one cylinder. Even so, I figured it was worth at least as much as I would have charged for parts and labor for the tune up.
I returned the following Saturday with a couple of quarts of oil, enough to bring it up to the full level. Then we splashed a little fuel in the tank and were ready to go. After pulling it out of the garage, we noticed a pretty large-diameter stain on the carpet over which it had sat. Anyway, I headed to the nearest gas station to top it off and add fresh fuel to the stale, seven-year-old gas. As I pulled into the station, a girl in a bikini-topped early-model Scout was pulling out. She waved, and I was now officially part of the IH owners club and not some half-breed! Once I got it home, the first order of business was to change the mix of various weights, brands and ages of the engine oil. When I rolled underneath to drain it, I found the plug finger tight. Whew–I’d not only dodged a bullet, but discovered why I had to put so much oil in it and what had caused the carpet stain.
Now to find out why it wouldn’t pass emissions. I started by reviewing the repair orders from the shops that had attempted to fix it so long ago. I saw that the various “emissions specialists” had replaced the cap, rotor, plug wires and more than one set of plugs; what’s more, the only place that actually did a compression test found that while all the cylinders had great compression and spark, a couple of them “weren’t carrying a load”. Thus it had to be a fuel problem, but given the one-barrel carb, there might also be a vacuum leak. Sure enough, I found several leaks between the intake manifold and the head that corresponded to the cylinders that “weren’t carrying a load”.
I bought a manifold gasket set and went to work. Once I had it apart, it was clear that the guys who’d installed the rebuild hadn’t ever worked with an engine whose intake and exhaust manifolds intertwined; they’d installed only the exhaust-manifold portion of the gasket, and hadn’t loosened the bolts holding the two manifolds together before torquing the manifold-to-head bolts. That meant the intake could not properly join up with the single layer of gasket. A short time later, I had it running on all six cylinders. I then replaced the points and condenser and dialed in the settings, after which it passed emissions with flying colors. However, it still didn’t run perfectly; occasionally, it felt as though it was running a little lean.
Next up was removing the top so I could enjoy driving a topless vehicle! The previous owner had mentioned that he’d thought about removing it back in high school, but decided not to when he found out he’d have to cut the door seals. However, I had no qualms about cutting them, as the call of open-top motoring was just too strong. I had been using the Scout for occasional light hauling and enjoying topless motoring, then one day my younger brother called. He had a knack for killing cars, and needed some wheels for a few days so he could drive to work. With his daily use the carb issues became worse. Not wanting to call me, he decided to try and fix them himself. He found the new boxes with the old points and condenser in the glove box and put them in. Lacking the proper tools, he used the old paper-matchstick trick to set the points, which only made things worse. The engine started dieseling badly, yet again he didn’t bother to call me.
One day he decided to use the truck to retrieve his motorcycle, which was being stored at Mom’s house. By the time he got there the dieseling had become worse than ever. To kill the engine, he dropped into gear and dumped the clutch, which produced a large bang. When he returned later to load the bike, he noticed a large puddle beneath the truck. He finally made the call and I went to check it out. Crawling under it I found the three-speed’s case split wide open from end to end. Being a 2wd meant that my searches for a replacement transmission didn’t turn up anything. Eventually I located a parts truck, which will be subject of my next COAL, but I deemed it in too good of shape to sacrifice. I’d officially started down that slippery slope into IH addiction like so many before and after me. Since I now had another, this one was left to sit.
One day, coincidentally about seven years later, one of my tenants who knew I had the Scout sitting around called me. Someone he had done some work for wondered if he would take a Scout in trade for his labor and my tenant wanted to know if I’d take it in trade for rent. I went to check it out, it had been rolled, the top was long gone and it had some pretty serious rust in the rockers and front body mounts. However it was 4×4, had a 345 and a 4sp so I deemed it a worthy parts rig. We came to an agreement on the value and I drove it the short distance home.
Now it seems as though the easy thing to do would be to swap the drivetrain parts over. One problem, that I had found out when I got my first “parts rig”, was that the engine mounts that are welded to the frame are entirely different for the AMC sourced 6cyl and the IH built V8. Add in the need to swap transmission, transfer case and both axles so they had matching ratios and it was apparent swapping bodies was the way to go. Now to figure out the best way to do without the use of a lift. It didn’t take long to strip off the front end sheet metal, doors, tailgate and a number of other parts off the donor to make the tub, as us binderphiles call it, as light as possible.
When doing so I noticed that in the wheel well area there was a pretty large gap between the frame and floor where the frame kicks up to go over the axle. Hmm, I grabbed a 4×4 post I had laying around and found that I could slide it right through. That gave me an idea. I jacked the whole thing up and put a stack of tires on each side of the body under that 4×4. I supported the front of the tub with my tallest pair of jack stands. With the body supported and unbolted I lowered the frame down. I placed some bare rims on the back axle and rolled it out from under the body.
With the frame out I decided it was a good time to clean and paint things while it was all accessible. Now to get the frame out from under the other truck. I employed the same basic method but I didn’t want to strip it down to the tub if I didn’t have too. Since the good truck didn’t have the structural rust problems I decided to leave it as intact as possible. Due to the extra weight I lifted the rear of the body off the frame enough to fit a 6×6 in there. I also decided to do it in the driveway, instead of the back yard, so that it would be a little more stable. I did need to remove the grille, valance and radiator so that the engine could fit through- I couldn’t get it high enough with the set up I had. The 6cyl rolled right through, no problem. On the wider V8 I definitely needed to remove the alternator and its bracket. I also removed the exhaust manifolds just in case and it cleared with an inch or two to spare. I really wish I had thought to take some pictures of it hovering in the driveway, but this was back before the days of common, cheap, consumer digital cameras let alone a camera on every phone.
I did have internet access though and I soon found out that there were these things called forums, there were a couple dedicated to IH’s and the people who love them. I also found several businesses that catered to IH addicts. I also found this new thing called E-bay where you could find all sorts of parts. It was official I was an full blown IH addict. The next thing I knew I had the parts to add power steering and scored a huge stash of parts (3 truckloads) that was actually local but listed on E-bay.
Since then it’s been a faithful truck. It’s hauled tons of things, including a true ton of gravel on a couple of occasions and all the blocks to build that wall above. Sure, I could have done it in less trips with my full size truck, but only my Scout could get to the base of that wall and back out, saving me a lot of time and stress on my back.