The Rotopax is finally in! I realized I could access the inside of the rear fender through an opening between the inner and outer sheet metal aft of the wheel. I drilled four holes and had Jen push on the bolts while I aligned the backing plate and screwed the nuts on. It sits snug to the floor and up out of the way. No more 1 gallon can bumping around the bed of the truck. And it should be out of the way of the cinch straps for the soft top.
I would’ve put the hood on top but it was too heavy and kept falling inside. The white fender is actually in worse shape than I’d remembered.
To recap: In early January, I pulled two gray cloth seats from a junkyard 2004 PT Cruiser. All it took was a 13 and 11mm box wrench, and one disconnect for the seatbelt sensor. They aren’t light, but they’re lighter than seats from a 2001 model, which had integrated side airbags.
These have built-in side armrests that fold up out of the way. They interfere with the placement of my Tuffy console, so I’ll be removing them. The female side of the seatbelt is integrated into the side of the seat, so that will need to come off as well.
The slider rails are held together with a plate in the back. They are longer than stock Scout bases, but the width of the rails is perfect. Originally, I thought I was going to have to build extender plates for each of the bases to reach the front mount points because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get bolts to fit in between the slider rails. When I really looked it over, though, I realized I was going to have to drill a hole for a bolt between the rails anyway. I picked up some grade 8 stock and test fit everything to check the clearances, and it worked perfectly.
Here’s where the plastic comes off. a T50 Torx bit will remove the seatbelt anchor.
On the side, pry the cap off with a flathead screwdriver. A T45 bit will take off the armrest and a standoff that locks the arm into place. The driver’s side is backed with plastic, so the seat doesn’t look bad with the armrest gone. The passenger’s side doesn’t have it.
I’ve been using a spare set of bases to mock things up on, but they are both rusted at the bottoms enough that I wouldn’t put them back in service without welding in some serious support. I took a second look at the bases I had, with tracks welded to the top, and decided to try a little surgery with an angle grinder.
After some careful cutting I got the tracks off and ground the edges off to a smooth surface, then sanded all surface rust and scale off. Then I wiped everything down with acetone to clean off any oil or grease.
To attach the bases to the tracks, I used the stock bolts from the seat in the rear. There are two threaded bolt holes in the back. I used the one closest to the front, then marked the holes for the front bolts and drilled them. Then I used a set of 3/8″ x 1″ Grade 8 bolts threaded in from above to attach the front of the seats to the tracks. The seats slide cleanly.
The project got sidelined for a week while I waited for Eastwood to send me rust converter. I used a brush to put it on, but the next time I’m at Target I’m going to pick up a cheap spray bottle for application–it’s much easier that way. I hit everything I could see and let it sit for 48 hours.
Then all the bare metal got a coat of etching primer and two coats of Rustoleum satin black.
Then I attached the seats back on the bases and put the bases back into my Scout. Compared to 30-year-old Chrysler seats, 10-year-old Chrysler seats feel like they just rolled off the factory floor, even if they don’t exactly match the rest of the truck–but then, nothing matches on this truck.
A question for the ages. I’ve got an entire truck that needs rust prevention, so what best to use? I watched a friend use Eastwood products on his Sprite (English sportscars of the 60’s rival US vehicles of the 70’s for their ability to spontaneously dissolve), and thought they worked pretty well. After some basic research, my original thought was to use Encapsulator in an aerosol can, but as I dug into the online materials a little more, I came to understand that Converter was better suited to my needs. Converter is a two-part acidic paint that converts rust to an inert oxide, while Encapsulator seals rust off and keeps it from spreading. Yes, I need to seal it off, but Eastwood says Converter is better for heavy rust, which is what I’ve got. Then, as I hovered over the Add To Cart button, I saw that they offer a quart bottle for only $6 more than a 12oz. aerosol can. Such a bargain!
I pulled the Scout out of the garage this morning, intending to take her on some errands, and while I was jockeying the other cars around the driveway, she sputtered to a stop. Usually once I’ve got her running she stays running, so this was weird. Without thinking about it, I kept using starting fluid to get fuel running to the carb. After about five minutes of trying, I finally got a clue and put a gallon of gas in the tank from a jerry can. One squirt of fluid and she started right up. Which means I parked her on fumes last week. I keep thinking I’m not using as much gas as I actually am, but idling in the driveway to warm up seems to be using more than I think.
The seat project is moving along slowly. I pulled the passenger’s side seat and base out completely and mocked up one of the PT Cruiser seats on a base. They sit about 1″ higher than the GLHS seats but feel better. Lots more lumbar support. I have to pull the side molding and seatbelt stalks off, which will take a Torx 45 bit, which I don’t have.
The PT rails are longer than the Scout base, so the big question I’ve had has been: which side should have the overhang? I thumb-tightened two screws into the back of the base, putting the overhang up front, and tried the seat out. With the rails forward, the seat moves forward enough to leave a good bit of room for passengers entering the rear. If the driver’s side feels good, I’ll mount them both that way and call it done.
I took about 15 minutes to take care of some small things yesterday. The first was to measure for new rear seatbelts. The originals are old and worn and I’d like to have something I trust strapping my daughter into the truck. The female side of the buckle came off sometime in the middle of last summer as she was adjusting it, so I shifted her carseat to the other side. On Sunday I pulled a spare off the bench I have in the garage and bolted it in after taking measurements. Then I clamped and cleaned the burrs off the two metal plates I cut for the seat bases, making sure to round the edges. They fit well, so I covered them in etching primer and let them sit overnight. Next I’ll hump one of the seats into the basement and drill the plates, then go out and source some high-quality hardware to mount everything.
As it turns out, all the work I did on LED marker lights is pretty much for naught. The spares I have in my bin are all set up with 12″ disconnects, which would presumably be accessible right inside the fender well. Not so with Peer Pressure. The wires go directly into the inner fender and a wrapped loom which joins with the headlight harness, so I’ll be going with LED bulbs instead.
On other fronts, I found a sheet of 16 gauge steel at Lowe’s and took some time on Sunday to cut it down to 16″ x 4″ sections for seat mounts. It’s still rough and needs to be cleaned up, but once that’s done I’ll prime and paint it, and drill mounting holes. I have two sets of spare bases in the garage. One set is pretty well shot–the lip on the bottom is eaten away with rust around the mounting bolts, but it’s got all the ratcheting hardware intact. The second set is in better shape, but needs to be cleaned up, primed, and painted. So I’ll set that aside for when I get a day with decent temperatures.
I’ve always had a lot of projects planned for the Scout. I tend to research a particular improvement, gather the materials together to get the project started, and then wait patiently for the time to get it done. As a result I’ve got a ton of stuff laying around and no idea where to start (or what I’ve got, as some of the stuff has been laying around here for a while). So here’s an unordered, unfinished list to get everything out of my head and into one place: something else to consider is the money I’ve put into these projects without getting anything done. It’s time to make some progress before I buy anything else. So, without further preamble:
- Install new steering wheel. I’ve got the wheel and a puller. I’m stalled on this for time, and because the puller wasn’t working correctly; I need two longer grade 8 bolts to screw into the retainer plate to get the factory wheel off. I also want to replace the ignition lock barrel and the turn signal cam while I’m in there.
- New side indicator lights. I’ve got one completed. I need to pull the headlight bucket out to reach the disconnect behind the inner fender so that I can unplug the original and replace it with the new one.
- Mounting the Rotopax. I have to cut a metal plate for the backside of the fender, pull the rear taillight, and see if I can reach inside the fender to properly screw in the mount. Otherwise I’m a bit stumped as to how to get in there (maybe through the speaker hole?)
- Mounting new seats. I’ve got the seats. I need to repair or replace my bases, and drill into the seats to properly mount them to the bases. Then I can put them in. They need a good cleaning, too.
- Hydroboost. I have the reservoir, the standoff plate, and all the hoses and fittings. I need someone who’s done it before to help me put it in.
- Slider windows and weatherstripping. I have new seals and sliders sitting in the garage. I need some warm weather to loosen up the rubber and some Eastwood rust encapsulator to clean up the window openings.
- New side rail covers. I bought these last summer and haven’t had the balls to drill into them yet. They need to be primed and painted.
So unless some kind of miracle combination of time, money, or opportunity comes along and I inherit a car-sized paint booth, adopt an engine mechanic, or win the lottery, I’m going to try and get these jobs accomplished this year before I tackle anything else. That is, of course, if nothing breaks.
I bought a cheap Harbor Freight dremel last weekend and cut down the outside housing of the LED lights I got from Amazon; they are about 3/4″ deep shipped, and about 1/8″ too wide all the way around the outer perimeter. Once I’d cut and sanded down the edges, the light fit flush into the outer bezel. It’s not perfect, and not pretty, but it works. Pulling the originals out of the buckets, though, it appears the quick connect at the end of the wire is actually inside the inner fender, so in order to swap these out I’d need to (probably) pull the headlight out of its bucket to access the inner fender.
Given all the work this took, I may take Mike’s advice and just buy LED bulbs to replace the rest of the incandescents.