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July 31, 2008

Desert heat

Posted: 08:19 AM ET

Wednesday was quite the full day for us, as we blogged, broadcasted and outfitted our 1978 Scout while trekking through the desert heat of California and Nevada. (See our "vlog" video blog about it here.)

nevada.motel

Yes we're staying in a hotel. It's mercifully close to where our live shot is on Thursday.

In the morning, we drilled holes in the Scout to mount solar panels that will power our gadgets.

Then after lunch (see blog entry below), we picked up a spare tire (don't tell my mom we drove 500 miles without one!) and headed out toward Vegas.

We made it to Barstow, California, before the heat got to us, the Scout and our batteries. My ever-drained, precious iPhone just wouldn't charge.

We took the opportunity to cool the truck off by parking in a lonely spot of shade outside a True Value home center. Several friendly staffers informed us that it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit and that we should be driving at night, when tempuratures are cooler.

After getting the solar panels installed we headed out on the road again. The Scout's temperature gauge occasionally climbed to previously unseen heights. We muddled through and finally arrived at our motel - which is mercifully only minutes away from Hoover Dam.

See ya at the dam!

– Cody

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Filed under: environment • Road trip


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Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   July 31st, 2008 9:06 am ET

Hi Cody,
The Scout's temp gauge runs off of a resistance system. The lower the resistance, the high the gauge reads. The "C" and "H" (meaning cold and hot) are not representative of actual temperatures. Each Scout is a little different because of the different resistances in each system because of age, corrosion, dirt, etc.
So what you should be looking for are "trends". Since you haven't driven the Scout for too long you just have to start monitoring the trends. If I were you, I would check the coolant level every day and make sure that the radiator cap is in good condition and that you close it tightly after each fluid check. Your coolant should be a nice bright green or orange color. If its watery looking or brown, then you need to have it changed before headin' off into the desert. Make sure that the radiator and heater hoses aren't overly squishy and that they don't appear to bulge when the engine is up to operating temperature.
If the temp starts to worry you, you can buy a laser thermometer at most auto parts stores. Aim this at the engine side of the upper radiator hose and take a reading. It should read about 220 degrees F with the engine running and up to temp. 235 is about the max limit. After taking the reading, go look at the temp gauge (sit in the driver's seat to make sure that you're going to have the same perspective) and see where it's at when the enginge is at 220 degrees. If it starts to climb well above that point when you are driving then , I hate to tell you this, turn the heater on. That will give you one more "radiator" taking heat from the engine.
Good Luck,
Nic


leezechka   July 31st, 2008 6:32 pm ET

I would like to say that I told you over a week ago to do the desert driving at night! 😛


lunasea   July 31st, 2008 7:47 pm ET

If ya haven't been told already or found out on your own, when ya have to turn the heater on push it over to defrost w/ the fan on high. That'll shove most of the hot air up and out the windows. Hopefully. It does drop the engine temp dramatically. Goodluck.


Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   August 1st, 2008 10:12 am ET

Good addition Lunasea, the defrost option does help. If you do that Cody, try cracking open the wing windows about 2 inches on each side. That will help to suck out the hot air and will keep it out of your face.
Also, I noticed from some of the video that the Scout has and old AC plenum under the dash. If you stick your head down on the passenger side floor board and look at the right hand kick panel forward of the AC plenum, you'll see a vent there. Pull the tiny little handle (located in the center of the vent) toward the back of the truck and this will let fresh air into the cab.
There is a vent control knob on the driver's side to open a vent over there. It's a 3/4 inch knob just below the parking brake release. pull it back and it should open the vent. If it pulls too easy, then the cable probably came loose. You can still open the vent manually by crawling down on the floor baord and open it manually. You can use rubber bands to ensure that the vents stay open.
One more tip. You can leave the lift gate open on the back while driving. Scouts are made of some tough stuff and the struts will normally hold the lift gate open even if you drive over bumps. If the mechanisims are dirty or stuck, clean them with some WD-40. You can see how the little lock tabs work. Since you have to lift up again to get them to release, holding a little downward force on them will help to keep the lift gate in the open position. Use a bungee cord to supply that downward force.
Good Luck and Happy Scouting,
Nic


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