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Day Dream: Nathan Day’s Incredible Scout Traveler

Posted in Features on February 23, 2018
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As a teenager, Nathan Day really wanted a Scout to drive. However, his prudent parents overruled his choice of transportation and voted to have him drive a “reliable” car instead. However, the desire never left him; he was intrigued with the fun he could have owning one of these classic International Harvester SUVs.

Coincidentally, Nathan was in the right place at the right time about seven years ago when his neighbor rolled this ’77 Scout II Traveler out of his garage and placed a “For Sale” sign on it. Nathan was quick to fork over the $800 that would let him bring some old iron home. It was originally a banana yellow color and came from the factory as a two-wheel drive. The neighbor also supplied Nathan the original buildsheet for the vehicle and sales records documenting its original purchase by a woman in Tucson, Arizona.

With the old Scout running, Nathan spent a couple of years driving it around. He made some repairs here and there and did some minor upgrades. Some parts of the old SUV were in pretty good shape, but he recounted to us the time when his foot went straight through the rusty back floor. So, there were some problems to be addressed to make this aging IH shine again. It was about this time that Nathan began working with Rob Bonney Fabrication (RBF) to really start to transform the Scout. Over the next five or so years, with limitations of time, available parts, and dollars, it was turned into the impressive custom rig you see here.

The Scout got a nice dose of fuel-injected GM V-8 power, a modern four-speed automatic transmission, and a reliable Dana 300 transfer case. Dana 44 front and Ford 9-inch rear axles both hold disc brake components, 4.88 gears, and ARB Air Lockers to confidently turn 35-inch Falken mud tires on TrailReady beadlock wheels.

All the paint and bodywork was redone from bare metal. The front and rear fenders were enlarged and tubbed to accommodate the larger tires without resorting to a tall suspension lift. Once RBF completed all the frame modifications, the entire frame was hot-dip galvanized and powdercoated for corrosion protection. Most anything that was not painted was covered in Rhino Lining. Finish Line Racing expertly wired the Scout to provide a modern, reliable electrical system.

In the end, Day has ended up with a Scout that looks and performs far better than when new. It has a solid, modern powertrain, and RBF’s expert fingerprints of fabrication can be found all over this rectified rig.

RBF reinforced the frame where needed and built all the mounts to convert this Scout from 2WD to 4WD using Rancho Jeep Wagoneer–application leaf springs with Bilstein 5150 shocks. The front axle is a N.O.S. Jeep J10 Dana 44 front housing with IH outer components. The axle gear ratio is 4.88:1 and power is sent to both wheels at the push of a button thanks to an ARB Air Locker.
Benchworks of Phoenix rebuilt the power steering box and ported the pump for improved flow. Steering rods have been upgraded to 4130 chromoly tubing. RBF builds are strong and reliable, and often come with some stylish flare. Even a simple bumpstop mount looks pretty trick.
RBF built the front bumper for high clearance and to mount a Warn XD9000i winch. Truck-Lite LED headlights far outshine the forward lighting that came on this Scout from the factory, and a single-row Rigid LED lightbar provides additional front lighting when needed.
In the rear is a Currie Enterprises 35-spline, HD Ford 9-inch axle outfitted with disc brakes and internal parking drums. Here again you’ll find 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker inside. RBF fabricated mounts to use long-travel leaf packs from Valley Spring combined with Bilstein 5150 shocks. Between them, RBF mounted a custom 26-gallon fuel tank with a GM in-tank fuel pump.
Under the forward-opening hood you'll find an ’05 GM LQ9 6.0L V-8 neatly tucked between the framerails. Its power feeds a Hughes Performance 4L65E automatic transmission backed by a Dana 300 transfer case. A hefty Ron Davis aluminum radiator helps maintain reasonable powertrain temperatures combined with power steering, oil, and transmission coolers. Braking pressure to the four-wheel discs is provided by a Vanco Hydroboost System.
The engine is fed through an UMP intake with severe-conditions Donaldson air filter. It’s also set up with a snorkel, allowing for 4-foot water fording capability. On the exit end, hot gases leave through a Pro Dyno stainless exhaust that has been ceramic-coated.
RBF built a second unique bumper on the rear of the Scout. It supports a swing-away tire carrier and a rack designed to hold two gas cans.
The dash has been modified a bit and is now populated with an array of aftermarket analog gauges, Vintage Air air conditioning, a custom aluminum console, Hurst IH transmission shifter, and mil-spec rifle mounts. Color-matched Rhino Lining was used on many of the surfaces.
Nathan wanted to keep the interior somewhat classic, opting for bench seats covered in N.O.S IH fabric. The bright green paint is a ’74 Toyota Land Cruiser color.
The whole vibe of the Scout maintains retro touches combined with some modern flare. A six-point, 1 3/4-inch DOM tubing cage protects the occupants. Note how the cage has been tied into the body A-pillar and the custom mount RBF fabricated for the bench seat. High-clearance rocker protection was also added under the body and tied into the framerails.
Here you can see the tire carrier and rack that swing apart to allow the Scout liftgate to open. Each has a fold-down table for food prep or dining. Inside the rear cargo area is an ARB fridge/freezer and several power ports along the sidewalls.
RBF fabricated a custom roof rack for tools and an ARB awning to go on the rare factory Traveler hardtop that was coated in white Rhino Liner. An interesting feature of the rack is that RBF designed it to easily remount to the exposed rollcage should Nathan want to remove the hardtop when the weather is nice.
The final goal was to build a strong, reliable 4WD capable of taking Nathan and his family into the backcountry while still maintaining excellent road manners. The goal seems well fulfilled.

At a Glance

Vehicle: ’77 IH Scout II Traveler
Owner: Nathan Day
Stomping grounds: Arizona
Build time: Five leisurely years

Engine: ’05 GM LQ9 6.0L HO V-8
Transmission: Hughes Performance 4L65E automatic
Transfer case: Dana 300
Low range ratio: 2.62:1
Crawl ratio: 39.1:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 44, disc brakes, 4.88 gears/ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Currie 35-spline Ford 9-in, disc brakes, 4.88 gears/ARB Air Locker

Front: Rancho Wagoneer leaf springs, Bilstein 5150 11-in-travel shocks
Rear: Valley Spring leaf springs, Bilstein 5150 12-in-travel shocks
Steering: Stock steering box and pump ported by Benchworks

Tires: 35x12.50R17LT Falken WildPeak M/T
Wheels: 17x8 TrailReady beadlock

Custom front and rear bumpers, Warn XD9000i winch, custom 26-gal fuel tank, six-point rollcage, custom roof rack, ARB awning, custom dash and gauges, LED lighting, ARB fridge/freezer, fording snorkel, full-length skidplates and rocker protection

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