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BRAT!


l75eya
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Finally. Fine-all-LEE. I snagged one. 😁

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I mean, I'm in South Central Pennsylvania, and I've been looking for a brat within my budget for almost 10 years. Everything I'd come across was either too far gone;

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Or just way too expensive ( >10k!) 

Then it finally happened and, in my usual casual browsing of Face-space market world, I came across the BRAT in the lead picture. The price was good. I had a really nice 96 Brighton I built up over the last 3 or so years, and I listed it on marketplace to fund my pipe dream. It sold in 3 days. On day 4 I was out my door at 4:30 in the morning and on the road in my 1st gen legacy wagon with a dolly in tow, and beginning my 230 mile journey to my destination BRAT. 

Once there (about 10 after 8 in the morning) I got my first look at the truck in person and it was good. Not perfect, but good. It has a bull -bar on the front that looks pretty bad-rump roast and I'd love to know more about it (dealer option? Aftermarket?), and a rear bumper with a tow hitch and missing the end caps. 

Speaking of caps, all the center caps were present too, and as an added bonus at some point in the truck's life somebody added seats to the back (this being an 87 model, the only year they didn't come with the seats in the US as far as I know, also why it doesn't have the built in step in the rocker behind the door). 

The original seats (interior ones) were replaced with some newer model Subaru seats, but the guy still had them. 

I started it up, drove it up and down the driveway, checked the 4wd worked, made sure nothing was gonna fall off of it, threw the original seats in the back of the wagon, strapped the truck up and hit the road! 

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(Look what followed me home!)

Edited by l75eya
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Posted (edited)

After another 230 miles of mostly mountains (Leggo did great!), I got it home. When I finally got some time to give it a little attention I looked it over a bit and found the alternator belt was WAY too loose. The wrong belt was on the car, seemingly. This brat has no AC and no power steering and I think the belt was for a power steering equipped model so that was the first order of business. 

After getting the right belt on there, I felt confident in it enough to take it for a test drive. That was all going great until I had to cycled the brakes a few times and noticed the pedal ongetting progressively more stiff and the motor laboring more and more to keep moving the car. The brakes (at least one of em) were hanging up bad. 

Pulled over and it became very apparent the front left wheel was super warm and smelled like brake pad. 

I made it half a mile! Lol

Fortunately I happened to be looking through rock auto a couple days prior and noticed a front brake hose on wholesale closeout and decided to buy it completely unknowingly and just because it was super cheap ($3!) that worked out well because it came in the next day, I slapped that SOB in there, bled the line, and hit the road again! Checked the air in the tires, filled the tank, hit the car wash.

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In all it's glory. 

 

And here is the earliest service record I was able to find. This explains the relatively good condition it's in. She's a WEST SIDE unit. 

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Edited by l75eya
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Looks good l75eya! Bit of rust that us Aussies baulk at but seems to be no issue on your side of the world. 

I’ve not seen a rear bar like that before, looks tidy even without the bumperettes to finish off the sides. 

Good score on the targa top too - not really a targa as I found out last year but that’s what they’re know as over here. If you’ve still got the instruction sticker on the roof lining panel the roof glass is referred to as a “fun top”. 

And I have to say it - modifying a classic quote from a classic Aussie movie you guys would probably know… “That’s not a bullbar… 

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…THAT’S a bullbar.” 

I’m sure if you can weld in new panels to fix that rust you could weld up one of these five posters while you’re at it ;) 

I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this one! 

Cheers 

Bennie

Edited by el_freddo
Embedded image, hopefully it’s not huge!
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I forgot to add that the brake sponginess is most likely due to the rear brake shoes needing adjustment. They’re manually adjust via a small square headed boot on the diff side of the backing plate, under the bearing. 

If you’re really lucky you’ll have the factory rubber cover on them still. If not no stress. Spray them with some penetrative lube and let them sit, repeat several times of they’re stuck good. 

You can adjust the brakes with the wheels in the air, this will let you know if they’re too tight or not. The bolt will roll over with a lumpy feel to it. This ensures the bolt can’t back out and loosen off your brakes. 

That will make a huge difference to the feel of your brake pedal. It could be worth removing the drums to clean out the years of crap that will be in there. Also a good time to inspect for slave cylinder leaks and the general condition of the brake shoes. 

Cheers 

Bennie

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Thanks for the tips, mate! 

That 5 post is nuts, and what's that quote from? Canonball run? That bull bar like like what we call a cow catcher that would be on the front of a train 🤣

 

The brakes actually feel pretty good, but I look forward to looking over the rear brakes as well as the rest of the vehicle when I can, I wish I had the time. 

So far I've literally just replaced the battery, changed the belt, replaced the brake hose, filled the gas tank, checked the tire pressure, and drove it. 

60 miles about now. 

 

Those rear manual adjusters sound just like the ones they put on the 2wd Leone's/loyalest. I'm familiar with them. 

 

I love the adjustable suspension set up on these things. Super cool (along with the rest of the truck)

The one thing I look forward to getting sorted sooner rather than later will be the lack of emergency brake. 

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On 3/31/2024 at 10:53 AM, l75eya said:

That 5 post is nuts, and what's that quote from? Canonball run? That bull bar like like what we call a cow catcher that would be on the front of a train 🤣

 

And you’re about right with the cow catcher. I’m sure the five poster came from mustering cattle in old jeeps and land cruisers way back in the day - then they made their way to the front of road going vehicles. You can buy them for newer model vehicles too. I’d love a set of scrub bars for mine that then drop down below the door sill. 

And it looks heavy, but it’s not. I’d say several kg heavier than an alloy bullbar that’s commonly seen on Brumby’s over here. 

Cheers 

Bennie

Edited by el_freddo
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On 3/30/2024 at 7:59 PM, moosens said:

Busting balls here , that’s a parking brake. 
 

6-8 clicks I’m pretty sure is what they are looking for. Got a service manual yet? Plenty on eBay cheap enough. 

Listen, ya New Englander, I'm from Jersey, remember? The only state where anybody knows how to speak correct English. 

Parking brake? 🤷‍♂️Fuhgettaboutit.  🤣

On this truck currently all 6 to 8 clicks accomplishes is moving the metal cable freely within the sleeve all the way to the end of it that's currently not attached to the brake calipers in any fashion but instead are dangling from zip ties fastened to the front struts. 🤦

I do have some early 80s service manuals floating around somewhere. 

I'm pissed off right now because I went to fit a calmaster under the hood as a spare but it hits the air filter assembly on the weber so it won't fit. 

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56 minutes ago, el_freddo said:

 

And you’re about right with the cow catcher. I’m sure the five poster came from mustering cattle in old jeeps and land cruisers way back in the day - then they made their way to the front of road going vehicles. You can buy them for newer model vehicles too. I’d love a set of scrub bars for mine that then drop down below the door sill. 

And it looks heavy, but it’s not. I’d say several kg heavier than an alloy bullbar that’s commonly seen on Brumby’s over here. 

Cheers 

Bennie

Youse guys down under are absolutely nuts. That whole country/Continent (countrinent? Continry?) sounds insane and full of ways to be killed lol, cheers to you all. 

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If only we carried knives like that… once upon a time in remote areas maybe, hence why he took his stateside (doubt he’d actually get it in the country these days if ever), but creative licence with movies! 

And that’s a classic movie - I haven’t seen it in ages but I still love it! 

Cheers 

Bennie

 

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I know which one is pick out of that bunch! 

And your worst nightmare - filling that thing up with fuel must cost an absolute packet! Plus it’s not where near as cool as the BRAT! 

Cheers 

Bennie

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Posted (edited)

MJfz4JP.jpegA lot of these pictures are going to be just admiration shots. I'm sure everybody will understand. 

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Both '87s! Fun fact, that's not actually an El Camino, it's the lesser known GMC version, the Caballero. 

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So I finally got a little time to give the BRAT a quick look over. 

Well first and foremost, I need to get some tires on this thing. At first glance I saw the last two date code numbers on the tires (all four matching btw) was '18' so I knew they were old but not ancient and should be replaced in due time. 

WELL I didn't notice the date code was only three digits long....

That means the manufacture date is actually *1998* ....🤦

 

Oi vey. 

So tires are now a very high priority. 

The e-brake is not hooked up on either front caliper. I went to attach them because everything seems to be in order but it seems like the lever on each caliper is in the wrong position. 

Something is definitely not right, when I bolt the e-brake cable bracket to the caliper the cable is way too Forward and not lining up with the lever. In brief glancing it seems to me that if I could re-clock the position of the lever coming off each caliper about 20 degrees toward the rear of the vehicle, everything will line up. 

As it is right now the lever on the calipers will actually come into contact with the metal bracket the cable passes through. 

The front left strut is broken. It is detached from the top hat. The weight of the front end holds it all together, but this is a very not ideal situation. I will need to fix that. 

The rust is there but not terminal. That can be addressed later. 

The braking system and exhaust system need gone through. They both function but are not very well repaired; more hacked together. 

 

All things in time. 

It still looks great, eh? 210 miles on it so far. 22 mpg avg. 

Edited by l75eya
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Sounds right in line with any east coast find Subaru of the 70’s or 80’s. 
 

Pretty much the items that make it stand and stop. And maybe add in occasional fuel delivery if a true rust bucket or longtime sitter. Those black round things I think tofu won’t have as hard of a time if you go with the 165’s

 

Good luck, and enjoy! Similar situation here with my 79. 
 

So if the stars align, where do me meet up? Barrens? Carlisle? 

Most of the northeast vintage Subaru people keep real low profiles. There’s a good amount but getting folks gathered is like herding cats. So I’ve heard. 

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Good time to paint your rims if getting new tyres - do it with the old tyres fitted so you don’t need to stress about overspray on the tyre itself. 

You should know glamour shots are ALWAYS welcome/appreciated! 

Cheers 

Bennie

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On 4/7/2024 at 12:38 AM, moosens said:

Sounds right in line with any east coast find Subaru of the 70’s or 80’s. 
 

Pretty much the items that make it stand and stop. And maybe add in occasional fuel delivery if a true rust bucket or longtime sitter. Those black round things I think tofu won’t have as hard of a time if you go with the 165’s

 

Good luck, and enjoy! Similar situation here with my 79. 
 

So if the stars align, where do me meet up? Barrens? Carlisle? 
 

Carlisle is the most practical for me, it's difficult for me to travel and Carlisle isn't too far. 

Regarding the tires, I'm not making too hard of a time finding the right size tires but I've got my heart set on white letter tires, those are definitely way more limited availability wise unfortunately.

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Check that out! I was able to finally see how this thing does on the highway in a slightly less dangerous way. 

Not terrible. Not great 🤣 

Passable. 

Very susceptible to wind. 

Noisy. But it'll do it when need be and that's all I need. 

Great oil pressure though! 👍 So there's that. 

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I got half of the 26 year old tires off for now and put the better half of them on the back. I put some 10 year old tires from my GL-10 on the front. 

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I'm not completely sold on the calmasters for the brat though so I'll probably wind up painting the wagon wheels when I do get new tires and putting them back on. 

Balanced wheels definitely did bring down the violent shaking though above 55 though, and decade younger rubber definitely helped the road harshness coming through the truck. 

Little by little improvements as I can.

About 450 miles in so far, mpg increasing, 25 reported on this last fill. Think that has to do with cheap 87 octane being slowly replaced with ethanol free 93. I don't go much over 100 miles before I fill the tank again on account of the gauge not working, so it's taking awhile to get all that crappy gas burned up. 

Add fixing the gauge to the list of things to do though, next highest priority fix is going to be replacing the two front strut top hats.

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Edited by l75eya
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Man you guys got all the cool stuff over there! That instrument cluster was not an option in our Brumby’s over here - we got the little cluster with speedo, fuel, temp, indicator lights on the diagram of the vehicle and an analogue clock that usually doesn’t work these days. 

I had to swap that style of instrument cluster and matching dash board into my brumby once I sourced one from a coupe, GL sedan or an early touring wagon before they went digital (I think from memory). 

I also like your oil gauge in psi. My one is in kg/cm^3 - a unit of measurement while metric, is little used for applications such as this. I still use psi for tyre pressures and grew up looking at oil gauges in psi too. 

Also, I don’t have 4wd or Lo4wd indicator lights on my instrument cluster since mine came from a 2wd. 

Where did you source those Calmasters from? They’re an interesting looking rim! We don’t have anything like that here. 

Cheers 

Bennie

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