My Rusty Hell or: How I decided to restore an old, rusty, semi-obscure vehicle with no experience and even less money (Part 4)

In our last episode, I had managed to exorcise some engine demons, and the Scout had moved under its own power, only to reveal a decided lack of brakes. In retrospect, the tiny little "Brake Failure" warning light on the dash should have tipped me off I guess. Thankfully, our driveway is a gentle grade, and no harm was done, but this lack of brakes was something I should probably address.

Here again, I am forced to admit to having little to no experience with archaic technologies. The Scout sports drum brakes at all 4 corners. Conceptually, I understand how they work, but there is something intimidating about pulling off a drum to reveal a mess of springs, shoes and other odds and ends. It looks to me like the inside of some insane alarm clock. After consulting the handy service manual the previous owner was kind enough to include (the size of a phone book. Can you imagine if cars came with these today?), some inter tubes research, and some very helpful online videos, I was ready to take a shot at it. I tackled the rears first, pulling off the wheel and drum one one side, then the other. I was rather pleasantly surprised to find everything in pretty good shape. The shoes had plenty of material, the springs were intact and appeared to be installed correctly, and there was no visible fluid leaking from the wheel cylinder. I decided to try to bleed the rears, but I could get no fluid at all to come out of either side. That was odd... I checked the brake master cylinder, and noted that it was quite low on fluid. I topped it off, and tried to bleed them again. It was about this time when I noticed a large, and rapidly expanding pool of fresh new DOT3 pooling under the car. I was quickly able to locate the source, and I immediately cursed myself for not physically looking over the brake system before I turned the first wrench. For some reason, the previous owner had removed the pressure sensitive switch that turns on the "Brake Failure" light from the system. There it was, dangling by it's connector, right next to the uncapped brake lines. In a few minutes, I had it all reconnected, the reservoir filled, and was able to successfully bleed the front and rear brakes. Now she could drive AND stop. Imagine that! it was now an actual running, moving, stopping vehicle, and I was in love with it all over again. Rust, dents, paint clearly applied by a half drunken monkey with a paint roller and all. We were going to have some good times once the weather warmed up!

And, the weather did warm up eventually. I had taken a few tentative trips around the block, and everything seemed in order. No overheating, brakes and clutch working fine, most of the lights actually worked, as did the turn signals and horn. I drove it to 7-11 for coffee. I drove it to the grocery store. I encountered no problems, and received lots of thumbs up and head nods. Far more than I would have expected, driving around in what was clearly a rusted out beater. What I did NOT do however, was drive it in the rain. The top was rusted through in enough spots, and the weatherstripping so dry rotted, that it would have been akin to taking a shower. After satisfactory performance on some short trips around the neighborhood, I decided it was time for the top to come off, and enjoy some wind in my hair.

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With the help of a few friends (that full steel top is HEAVY!), we successfully removed the top in preparation for warm weather motoring. A few of my buddies suggested I drive the now topless Scout to the local Cars & Coffee some Saturday morning. Since our local Cars & Coffee spot is literally right down the road, I thought it was a great idea. In preparation, I cleaned all the glass, vacuumed up bits of rust that had fallen off on my jaunts around the neighborhood, and finally got around to cleaning out the trash and various spare parts and other goodies left in it by the previous owner(s). I also decided that since I had put probably 100 miles on it since I got it up and running again that I should probably change the oil again. If you'll remember, when I first started working on the Scout, I drained the old oil, and found that there was quite a bit more fluid in there than there should have been. Low and behold, when i drained the oil this time, there was quite a bit more in there than I had added, and it again reeked of raw gas. I immediately began fearing the worst, that there was one or more stuck or broken piston rings, and fuel was washing down the cylinder walls into the crank case. After a moment of panic, I recalled that I had already done a compression test that had shown god, consistent compression on all cylinders, that the ancient PCV system had shown no signs of significant blow by, and the engine didn't smoke at all. All signs that everything was right in the realm of the piston rings. Here s where I got to learn about another bit of arcane automotive technology. After some online research, the culprit was revealed not to be a Scout hating wife, but a ruptured diaphragm in the fuel pump. The Scouyt, like many older vehicles, has a mechanical fuel pump, mounted right there on the side of the block. There is a little arm on the side that is actuated by a lobe on the cam, and that's how the fuel is pumped, as you can see in the below diagram. I'm sure you can also see where the leaking gas goes when the diaphragm ruptures. I think everyone can see where this is going...

A quick jaunt around the net revealed no rebuild kits for this particular fuel pump, so it looked like replacement was my only option. While oil thinned with gas hadn't caused and serious damage yet, it was only a matter of time, really. Reduced lubrication wasn't the only issue either. The increased fluid volume helped explain how the previous owner had blown out the rear main seal on his one and only trip behind the wheel of the Scout. Looking around for replacements forced me to make a choice. The Scout comes equipped with quaint little vacuum operated windshield wipers. Those wipers will wipe just fine off the manifold vacuum at idle, but as the revs rise and the vacuum drops, they need some help. Enter the fuel pump. The stock unit had in and out ports for fuel on the bottom, but also had in and out ports for the vacuum source for the wipers on the top. The same pump that moved fuel on the bottom moved air on the top, allowing for reliable wiper operation at any RPM. How clever! As I already mentioned driving in the rain with the top on was a bad idea, and with the top off, it was definitely out of the question. This situation actually made my choice easier. I could fork over $150 bucks for a stock replacement, or I could fork over $30 for a fuel only pump. Guess which route I chose. To hell with those wipers anyway...

So, I ended up missing my first intended visit to Cars & Coffee, but ended up learning some important lessons, and avoiding some much bigger potential problems further on down the line.

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In the next episode, summer motoring and engine surgery!

Oh, and here's a quick picture of the now topless Scout. Please note that I have done a not insignificant amount of mechanical work, but still haven't bothered to wash it. Are my priorities straight or what?

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