So yeah, it’s been quite a while since our last installment. As I’m sure many of you know, work, family and other aspects of life often take up the time we might otherwise dedicate to thinks like playing with our rusty toys. The latest completed projects are small, but make a significant difference to me as a driver, so while they were not expensive, they were worth it. The main thrust of this series is that I have no experience or money, so things aren’t always done the “right” way, or even the way I would do them if I had more disposable income, but they are done none the less, at least for the short term.

The first thing I wanted to take care of was the deplorable condition of the front seats. They’re dead simple things, and anyone with good sense and even even a few Benjamins in their pocket would certainly have taken them to the local upholsterer and been done with it. Not me though. I have no Benjamins to throw at seats currently, but one way or another they had to be addresses. While they’re still perfectly comfortable they are, to be kind, somewhat unsightly.

Yeah, that’s black duct tape.

With a propper reuphostery job out of the question, I turned to the place we all trun when we need some cheap stuff from China. On eBay, I found some super cheap seat covers advertised to fit a Chevy low back bucket seat. Hey, these are low back bucket seat! Not Chevy, but how different could they be? Well, not terribly different, it turns out. For $25 and free shipping, I got a pair of slip on faux leather seat covers. They are clearly covers, but they look pretty decent, and installation was a breeze. Now THAT’S the kind of project I can get behind. Cheap and easy.

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Since it’s summer, I’ve been driving the Scout a lot. One of the things that has irritated me since I got it was the gauge cluster. The primary frustration was that there were a couple of burned out bulbs. The light for the speedo was OK, so I lived with it, but sometimes it’s nice to have other information as well. Additionally, my gas gauge would never read more than half full, no matter how much gas was in the tank. It seemd to work fine once the gas got down below a half a tank, so I figured the sender was binding or broken. I had put fixing that on the “to-do” list, but it was down towards the bottom. You’ll see why this is relevan in a minute.

Gauge cluster is pretty easy. Remove 6 screws, reach up under the dash and disconnect the speedometer cable and you’re good to go. Upon removal, you’ll be greeted by a rats nest of wires, and they’re all green.

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I was actually prepared for this. It’s a long running joke in the IH community that someone at International harvester got a hell of a deal on bulk green wires. Curiously, once I had the dash out, all the bulbs seemed to be fine. Upon closer inspection, it turns out all the gauge illumination is handled by 2 bulbs, external to the gauges. You can see one of them in the above picture. The bulbs light up and shine in through these little semi-transparent windows on the sides of the gauges.

As you can see, they were filthy. So were the bulbs. I pulled all the gauges from the sheet metal dash plate and set about cleaning them up. I cleaned the little windows, and I cleaned all the contacts on the back. I hit the chrome rings with a wire wheel, and they cleaned up beautifully. I hit them with a little wax to keep the rust at bay for a little longer.

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Once everything was cleaned up and reinstalled, I could see all by instruments at night! What a novelty. Additionally, my gas gauge now works across it’s entire range, my temp gauge now goes to the middle of the range instead of only 1/4 of the way up (I had suspected my thermostat had failed open, and added that to the “to-do” list as well), and my amp gauge gives a steady reading now instead of jumping. I guess this was a result of cleaning the contacts, as I didn’t open up the gauges at all, just cleaned everything well.

Those last two projects directly related to my quality of life as the driver of the Scout, but the last one was just done on a whim. I had some leftover paint from my recent moped restoration, so I figured why not pull off the nasty, rusty rear bumper and have a go at it. This is the very first part of this project that wasn’t a mechanical fix or improvement, and wasnt, just cleaning something, and wasn’t a half-assed temporary improvement like the seat covers. This was actually done “right”, and I have no intentions of redoing it in the future.

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Here she is, fresh off the Scout

After a couple of hours with the sander and wire wheels, it was ready for priming and sanding.

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And here we are back at home on the rear.

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There is now precisely ONE part of my Scout that looks halfway decent.

Media blasting would have been a lot quicker and easier, and the hours working on the bumper in 90 degree heat were not a lot of fun, but it was EXTREMELY rewarding to watch the rust come off and see the fruits of my labor once it was reinstalled. More importantly, it gave me the confidence to move forward with some other pieces. For now, I’ll stick to things that will end up black or silver, so I can still avoid having to pick a color to paint this beast. Besides, I’d imagine painting all the body colored items should be done at roughly the same time.

So, this is where she stands now. More comfortible to drive, and looking slightly better. I have my eyes on a few more parts that should be relatively easy to strip clean and paint, including the front bumper, which isn’t nearly as bad as the rear was.