Walden Sand Dunes Countdown – 34 Days

Our annual Memorial day trip to the Walden Sand Hills is coming up quickly, and everyone still has some work to do. Between now and then watch for updates on how things are going, what we are getting done and what isn’t going to happen. Here’s a quick rundown of where we are at.

As usual he is better prepared than any of us. The Dana 60 swap on the Blazer is pretty much done, the LT250 doesn’t ever need anything and the new Brute Force is in great shape. Of course, he will probably be busy helping the rest of us.

Rob is wrapping up the 8.1 swap in his Silver Truck. Sounds like he is getting close. Lots of late nights for him.

Jeff bought him a new dirt bike, but it’s been sitting for a while. He’s working on getting it running and I’m sure there is plenty to do on the Cherokee.

Yeah, that’s me. We did the torque converter and tranny rebuild on the Scout last weekend (more about that later). I’ve also got a new steering stabilizer and new mirrors on order for it, plus I’m doing a few things to the Warrior, so I should be busy for the next month.

Friday Link – Strange Vehicles

Alaskan Land Train from Strange Vehicles
As a car guy I love strange vehicles. Anything that is a concept, has been custom built or is modified from what the manufacturer originally intended peaks my interest. That’s why I was excited when I saw this page of Strange and Unusual Vehicles.

This is a huge list of unusual cars, trucks, boats, airplanes and motorcycles from around the world. It ranges from the latest concept cars to the Alaskan Land Train custom built by LaTourneau in the 1950s.

A Scout II is not a Dodge

We were working on the Binder Monday night and a Redline customer stopped by to visit. He told me that he knows a guy that works on Scouts and this guy recommends taking the 345 out and replacing it with a 383 or 440 Chrysler engine since they already have a 727 Torqueflite transmission and IH engines are so expensive to rebuild.

I want to set a couple facts straight right here.

First off, the 727 in my Scout is not the same as a Dodge and will not bolt up to a 440 or 383. IH had their own distinctive bolt pattern for the bellhousing.

Second, the 345 is not more expensive to build than the 440. Currently on Northern Auto Parts’ website a 345 engine kit is $717 while a 440 kit is $843.

A 440 or 383 might be more powerful, but they are not cheaper and they won’t just drop in to a Scout II.

Best torque converter stall speed for offroad Scout II

727 torqueflight torque converter

When I first purchased Bob’s Bad Binder it was supposed to be a running Scout II that just had some problems passing emissions.  Once it was home we discovered there were more problems, there was one cylinder that had no compression and as we later learned, a hole in the piston.  The engine was rebuilt, and while we were at it we decided to rebuild the transmission (I can’t recall now if the tranny was actually broken, or if we just decided to do it at the same time).  I had rebuilt a few transmissions before, mostly TH350s and 400s, but figured we could build the 727 too.  Unfortunately, this was not the case, and I put that transmission in and about a half a dozen times before finally taking it to a shop and having it fixed.  Since then it has worked fine, but on the trail it’s always had a strange issue.  The truck has a very difficult time starting off from a dead stop.  If you stop right before an obstacle, it can be very difficult to get up and over it, the engine just won’t be able to get any rpm and it won’t move.

My theory about this problem has long been that it was a torque converter issue.  I have read comments that said the 727 transmissions typically used a very low stall converter (I have no idea if this is actually true).  The Binder’s 345 has the biggest cam Isky makes for an IHC engine (which isn’t really all that big), so the power curve has moved up some.  If the converter is set to stall extremely low it’s possible the engine can’t build any power before the stall, and won’t move the truck.

So the question is, what kind of converter is needed?  What is the best stall speed?  Fortunately, there is an article that answers that question over at Binder Planet

Damian from D and C Extreme writes:

But in my experience, 1800-2000 RPM stalls are a good middle-road stall that gives noticable benifets and few drawbacks. Which is why I use that speed almost exclusively.

He has good reasoning and I encourage you to read the whole article and leave a comment if you agree, disagree or have other ideas.

4L80E Gear Ratio

There was some discussion this weekend about 1st gear ratios in a 4L80E transmission. I just wanted to make sure everyone noticed the transmission gear ratio chart for offroad and performance vehicles available on Bob’s Bad Binder.com.

Also, if anyone sees any additions that should be made to the list, please feel free to post them in the comments.


Jason’s got him a new ride.
Kawasaki Brute Force 750
Kawasaki Brute Force 750
Kawasaki Brute Force 750

  • 90-degree V-twin engine displaces 749cc – the largest, most powerful engine in its class
  • Limited-slip front differential
  • Dual A-arm front suspension feature adjustable shocks and 6.7 inches of travel
  • Independent rear suspension provides the best balance of rider comfort and handling at low to medium speeds, and provides 7.9 inches of travel

For more specs visit the Kawasaki Brute Force article on ATV Source

New Axles for the Blazer

So Jason found a great deal on new axles. Tired of blowing up Dana 44s, he’s decided to make the conversion to a Dana 60. Fortunately there was a 1978 Chevy 1 Ton single wheel pickup for sale in town. Pretty decent truck, so for $1500 he picked up a Dana 60 for the front and a Corporate 14 bolt for the rear with the 4.56 gear ratio he wants. He also found a great deal on a set of 37×17 Good Year MTRs – his old 15″ wheels aren’t going to work on the Dana 60. All this, plus a set of new wheels. The Blazer should be a sweet ride at the Dunes this year!!

End of the line for my LeSabre??

1965 Buick LeSabre Center Link
We may be getting close to the end of the line for my 1965 Buick LeSabre 4 Door Hardtop. She’s been a little loose going down the road, so we put her on the rack today to look for problems. The Center Link is bad, really bad, maybe even dangerously so. We called the part store, and a new center link is $285. Fortunately, I do have access on a used one that will hopefully get me by for a while, but parts are getting expensive, rust is gaining ground and that car just isn’t something I want to put significant money into. Time to get serious about finding a Riviera.

Ring Gears and Drive Shafts

On Saturday we took another little snowbashing trip up to Seven Mile. There wasn’t much snow at the bottom, but as we climbed in elevation the amount of snow grew. When we reached the meadow there was a couple feet of wind blown crusty snow. Both Jason and I tried it in two wheel drive without any luck. Jeff’s KJ doesn’t have the best snow tires to start with, so he wasn’t doing much even in four wheel drive.

While we were at the meadow Jason noticed his front end making noise. It had been making a clicking sound on our last trip up Johnny Park road, which was only a prelude to it’s complete disintegration at Seven Mile. His front diff was shot, it sounded like the teeth on the ring gear were gone. Fortunately he had a set of chains, or so we thought.

Recently Jason had traded the 35″ Goodyear MTRs on his blazer for a set of 37″ Goodyear MTRs. It was a great deal, but now his chains were too small (actually they were 33″ chains, so may not have worked well on the 35s either). It took us a few minutes, but we with some straps and bungees we were finally able to get the Blazer all chained up. Amazingly enough the ELocker and the chains worked really well, and we were back to doing some wheeling.

We stopped for lunch, and decided that I should lead the pack since my tires were good in the snow, and I had four wheel drive. We set off up road 171 to go around the loop. Usually Jason and the Blazer leads, so breaking trail in the snow added some difficulty. The snow kept getting deeper, and the Scout being all locked up does not like to go straight down the trail. Several times I was steering completely into the skid and the truck kept moving sideways down the trail.

At one point I encountered a fairly large drift, the snow was well over my 35s. I had to make several attempts before I made it through, and during one of those attempts started noticing a pretty significant vibration in the drive train. Jason and Jeff were behind, and didn’t see my amazing blast through the drift, but I had them check on the noise. We figured it was probably a u-joint, and at that point had no choice but to press on. I didn’t have chains, so there were few other options.

We continued on, and at some point I missed the turn off for road 171 and the trail out (by this time we were all getting ready to take our broken rigs home). After another go round, which was easier since we had already made tracks, we got on the right road, but again this was new snow. The trail itself wasn’t bad, but the clearings where different trails met were really deep and hard to get through. Jason got off the trail and stuck at one point, and they had to winch him out. On top of it all, we had an all out blizzard going on.

I was starting to get nervous, both about the deep snow and about the unconventional noises coming from the front of the truck. We had a discussion, and decided to press on. I would lead, and hopefully Jason wouldn’t have too much trouble with just the chains. Fortunately that was at our last rough spot. The trail got a little better, I went a little faster and we started to make it out, until the Scout died.

Last year when we were on Moody Hill I had a wiring problem with the Scout. I was just going down the road and the wiring under the dash caught fire. The wire that burnt up supplied power to the coil, so I was able to just run a new wire from the battery to the coil and bypass the whole thing. I’m planning on rewiring the whole truck, but it hasn’t worked out yet. I had also added a toggle switch to this wire so I could conveniently start and stop the truck. The additional power wire bypassed the ignition switch.

As we were headed down the trail, my toggle switch decided to quit working and the truck quit. It took a few minutes, to determine the problem, but once we bypassed the switch we were up and going again. A few minutes later we were back to the main road, the sun was shining and everything was good in the world again.

After we stopped, we took a closer look at the Scout. It looks like my CV joint on the front driveshaft is shot. The angle on the front driveshaft is really bad, and we knew it was just a matter of time before either the CV or the u-joint blew up.

It was a good trip, but now both Jason and I have some work to do. Our annual Walden Sand Dunes trip is coming up in a couple months. I have to figure out a new plan for the driveshaft, while he has to figure out how to fix his front end so he stops having ring gear problems. Watch for more on both of these issues soon…