A Cult Car

This is a blog on refurbishing a Volvo 240 Wagon-- a cult car that is legendary for its durability. The 5 speeds manual transmission in particular gets great fuel economy, 32.5 mpg is attainable at speeds of 60 mph. Both the sedan and the wagon have plenty of rear leg and head room, even for tall people. Additionally, a tall person can sleep in the back--it is 77" long if the rear seat bottom is removed.

Thick sheet metal make it durable--so is the motor. Volvo took a V8 truck engine cut in half, to make this 4 cylinder engine. It has bearings and rods are designed for much heavy loads and this makes the engine nearly impossible to kill. People can get literally a million miles between rebuilds with regular oil changes and normal preventative maintenance.

The 5 speeds cars are fun to drive. Their durability means it is a smart economic choice to put money into them--they will last indefinitely if maintained. Parts are cheap. They are easy and simple to work on. Police just don't ever pull them over. It is because they like to stay at legal freeway speeds and purr along at 60 mph--so police expect them to be driven slowly. Finally, they are safe--built around a full roll cage. These are the reasons why there are so many are still on the road today.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Intermittent Starting Problem

My car has been making some funny noises.  It sounding like the front right tire, but pushing on the back bumper I heard some noise. 

I am hearing lots of noise on bumpy roads, none on smooth roads.  Something is loose somewhere.

Next I started having an intermittent starting problem.  I swapped in a spare fuel pump relay from a junk car--no change. 

My back up lights crapped out for the third time.  I took my car to three shops and each fixed it for only a short period.  The last place disabled all my trailer light wiring, and somehow disconnected my voltmeter light.

So being busy with another boat project, I parked the car for a while.  When I revisited it, I located a bunch of relays I ordered some time back, and swapped the fuel pump relay and one other, and the intermittent problem seems to have gone away, but it is too soon to tell.

I put the car up on ramps and crawling underneath, I found a plastic part making rubbing sounds.  I taped that up, and that did not fix the problem.  There may be another problem making noise.  I am debating cutting away some of this part, or finding a replacement. 

Which leads me to brakes.  My front rotors are scored, and had been making a bit of noise.  Not sure if something got in there or what.  I might be the dust shields which are no longer available.  Mine were getting pretty rusty with holes in places.  I wonder if the 1990 dust shields will work, as there is some sort of sensor for the anti-lock brakes in the 1992 version which are no longer available.  The anti-lock brakes are not working as far as I know.  The anti-lock brakes on these cars are dangerous and increase stopping distance, I'm told, so most people disable them.

So my plan is to install new front brake pads, cut the front rotors, install new wheel studs, and enclosed chrome lug nuts, while inspecting the dust shields on this car and my part's car, and debating the purchase of the 1990 dust shields right now.  It seems likely that either rusted dust shields, or else debris from those or the road, caused the early failure of my brakes and rotors.  I need a solution.

And it is time to put some effort into bring Sea Dog back into prime operating condition so I can use it and park my pickup truck for a while.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ham Radio Antenna

I pulled my headliner out and measured carefully to cut a 5/8" hole in the middle of the car on the roof.  While the sheet metal is thick, it was not thick enough.  I used an old saw blade to reinforce the roof. 

I tried a couple of dual band, 2m/70cm band antenna and finally decided to order a new black antenna to match the trim on the car.  It looks good. 

I have the Yeasu FT-8500 radio mounted to a spare ash tray.  I will be moving it somewhere out of the way, and using a remote separation kit to put the control head above the rear view mirror.  I want a stealthy appearance.

I also orders some RAM Mount hardware to attach my GPS to the mirror.  I've run the wires for this, along with my antenna wire down behind the trim.  I need to hard wire this in, along with my tire pressure sensors.  I also need a new stereo antenna.

Still to do, fix the power mirror wiring.  I have another set of mirrors and wiring, so I should be able to use the switches or something.  Someone broke the driver side mirror.  It is still there but shakes in it's mount.

Finally, the car has been giving me trouble starting.  It seems to be the fuel pump relay.  I need to pull one out of the parts car and install it, while keeping the original for a spare. I may try to open up the spare and check the solder joints.  Perhaps I'll buy a new relay, and use the junk car relay for a spare.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Leather Wheel Cover

A few interesting things have happened.  I discovered my trailer brake module was screwing up my backup lights.  It is removed and I have a new one to install.  I think it got shorted somehow.  In any event I hope the new module will work, as I want both trailer lights and back up lights.

I have a couple of little wiring issue yet to do.  I installed a tire pressure monitor system, and should have taken apart the cigarette plug adapter.  I wired the antenna into the ground.  It shorted and I have a replacement to wire in permanently.  I don't want to lose my cigarette lighter plug.  Also, I want to wire my GPS in permanently.

In the mean time, I am focusing some time on the interior.  This car is nearly done but I have been using it as a daily driver and do not want to put a lot of time into it right now as I have other project.  Still, I want to keep moving forward with improvements, so I chose an easy job next.  Installing a leather steering wheel cover.

I've install these in the past on my K5 Blazer.  I liked it so much, that when my ring wore a hole in it, I replaced it with a new one.  I no longer wear my college ring as it doesn't fit well.  So installing  leather cover was not a big deal.  It takes about an hour and goes on in a straight forward manner.  Aside from tedious stitching, the most difficult part was stretching it over the wheel.  In any case, I like it so far.  It is more slippery than I'd hoped or remembered on past steering wheel covers, but is does feel a bit nicer and the wheel is more comfortable to touch, grips a bit better, and I expect it will be both cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Here it is:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interior Planning

Seats, Carpet, Line-X (U-POL), Wiring,  Cleaning.

Seats:  The original seats are a bit tired.  The drivers seat foam is a bit compressed.  The white car's seats have perfect foam.  So now that these have been unbolted from the white car, all I need are heated seat elements $150, and new seat covers $?   I can't find any information on replacement OEM upholstery, so that means I'll have to have some made. 

I am debating the merits of:
  1. Cloth--comfortable, but perhaps not as durable as OEM cloth
  2. Leather--very nice, and I can get heavy cowhide for the seat surfaces, and perhaps vinyl for the elsewhere. Expensive and it means replacing the still good rear seat upholstery. 
  3. Ultra Leather--feel like leather, but easier to clean and more durable.
  4. Used power seats.  Adds the luxury of power seats, but at the hassle of making up new mounts for them.  A good set of leather power seats would cost about $700-$1000.
I estimate the cost to recover the seats in leather to be expensive if done locally.  I may have to shop around some, or possible do this while out of state.  I know that this will be cheaper in California, but I don't anticipate going out there any time soon, although that could change.

New heating elements are quite nice and provide heating at two levels for the seat back and seat bottom.  Luxury. 

Carpet:  New carpet is available un-cut pile or OEM loop.  I'm leaning towards the OEM loop, but so far, only finding the cut pile available.  Still looking for this.  Installing new carpet with the seats out, should not take all that long.

Line-X (U-POL): I thought I might as well spray in some Line-X type material to seal the inside of the car. This stuff is cheap and easy to use.  On top of that will go some Reflect-X for heat and sound insulation.  This idea being to insulate the inside on the floor.  At some point I'd like to add some Dynamat to the doors to make the car quieter, and Dynamat and Reflect-X above the head liner for additional sound proofing. 

Wiring:  I can run some wiring for the heating elements, and power mirors at the same time, as well as perhaps a ham radio mount.  I'd like to install a Yeasu FT-8500 dual band radio in the car or else one of my Icom 706 radios--a bit better for long trips.  Or both.  It would be nice to have an HF radio and either a whip antenna with a clip to secure it at the rain gutter above the drivers window, or else any of a series of Ham Stick antenna which I already have.  Putting the wiring under the carpet makes for a neater job.

Cleaning:  the last thing I'll need to do is clean the dashboard area and the inside off all the windows and rear carpeting.

Nothing on the above list is all that expensive except the seat covers.  I will not spend a lot of money recovering seats if I can buy nearly new used power seats for less money.  For now the direction I go will be based on the cost of the seats.  I may just install the carpet and other things and wait on the seats for a wrecked 240 with nicer seat covers.

The only other interior task is to build a support for the rear seatback, which when folded down doesn't lay flat.  I'd like to use the space under the rear seat for storage.  Some sort of support would be helpful.  Storage trays for this area would be nice also.  I may build something out of plywood and cover it with carpeting.  This would be a long term project as it is not that important.  However, I don't have much left to do, to make this car as perfect as I want it.

I'd also like to report that after an erratic start, the newly installed Cruise Control is working great. My only complaint is my knee rubs on the side of the console and gets painful on longer trips, so I should probably add some padding right there.

Finally, with the white car in the garage, I can pull it's fuel tank and use that car to take measurements for a fuel cell.  If I can carry 30 gallons, my range will double and along with the cruise control, longer trips will be more inviting. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Parts Car

My niece wrecked her 1992 Volvo 240 Sedan, so I now have a parts car.  The first thing I did was to take the spare tire.  Unfortunately the battery did not hold a charge--I could have used that.  I plan to remove the window exterior seals as these are much better than mine.  I pulled some of the trim off.

One thing I'd like to do is take the seats out and replace the covers with new covers.  Her seats were much more comfortable than mine. Also there are lots of nice parts I can sell.  It has the Tachometer conversion,  Voltmeter and small clock.  Plus the engine ran good.  I should either sell that or save it.  The clutch and transmission are good.  She wants the stereo in her new car.  Tires are old and not worth anything.  It has lots of nice interior trim, but not in my color.  I may try to salvage teh fuel tank for use on one of my trailers that I'm building into a service trailer for work in the woods.  I would supply gasoline to field equipment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spare Tire

I discovered that while a full sized spare fits in a 240 sedan trunk, it does not fit in my 240 wagon.  I talk to my body shop guy and he recommended trimming some sheet metal to see if it would drop it.  The issue is the tire is too wide.  Tire size is 205-75R15 a bit wider than stock.  I do have a spare from another car I can use, but it is the wrong diameter--slightly, and I don't trust it.  My original spare blew apart in the storage compartment.  I found that this is not uncommon.  The tires were made with sharp edges in the steel core and as the tire deflates, or possible is inflated again, the tire saws itself apart.  So you can see why I would prefer a full sized spare--or else I can ditch the spare, save the weight and get towing insurance.  I lean towards making it fit.  I'd rather try this out on a junker car first before I start cutting metal on my pristine car.  From what I can see it looks like the added space will let the tire drop farther into the storage compartment.  I can trim some metal off the other side up high near the side windows which might help also.  I suppose I could bang out the bottom sheet metal some if I need a bit more space.  This will have to wait a bit as I am busy with other projects.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Center Console Arm Rest

I installed a center console arm rest that I got for free.  It is black and matches my interior.  Installing was a bit of a PITA and needs a little tweaking as it prevents fully releasing the parking brake.  In any event, I love it.  I drove to Washington DC on Monday and back that evening.  I found the arm rest comfortable and it held my arm is just the right position for operating the manual transmission.  It also had four drink holders, two for the front and two for the back seat.  The drink holders lack the flip down parts that prevent a drink from falling through.  However, they are perfect for a tapered paper cup.   I highly recommend this part if you can find one.

New Tires

Here are my new tires.  I bought Michelin Harmony Tires. These are 195-65R15's mounted on my Virgo Rims.  I held off on buying these until I found an extra rim so I could buy a full sized rim.  One problem I have is these tires are a little short so I lost some of my top end speed and the speedometer reads high.  I am thinking about taking these back and putting on 205-65R15's. The ride is great.  They corner well, and have a high tread wear rating.  I should be able to get as much as 100,000 miles on these tires, if they don't wear out due to the rubber breaking down from UV light.  In any case, having a full size spare will allow me to have a five tire rotation (these are not directional tires), and give me a bit more confidence on long trips.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Purchased: A 5th Virgo wheel for a spare tire

Not long ago, I scored a set of perfect Virgo wheels for $150.  These came with four over sized tires, two of which are nearly worn out.  The other two are in decent shape but are two heavy for this car, and also too tall.  A 5th Virgo Wheel cost $75, but gives me the option of a five tire rotation.  I will be able to swap tires all around and my wagon will look complete in any configuration.

I want to buy a set of five Micheline Engergy Saver A/S tires.  These tires are not in production at the moment. I've been waiting and hoping Michelin will start producing these again for the last six months.  If not available, I will buy Michelin Harmony tires, mount them up, and use a five tire rotation.  The Harmony tires are bi-directional offering greater flexibility in tire rotation.

Looking forward, what is next after this?  I'd like a larger fuel tank--instead of 15 gallons, I want to carry 30 gallons.  With Energy Saver A/S tires I should be able to achieve a range of over 900 miles.  I was getting 32.5 mpg on my last set of tires which were 60% worn which reduces rolling resistance.  I might see a slight reduction in fuel economy at first, but I expect it to improve as the tires wear in some.  I'm hoping to at least maintain that 32.5 mpg and hopefully improve it.  I'm sure in the long run I could see as much as 34 mpg with these tires and keeping my speed under 60 mph on the highway.

Other goals are installing two Ham Radios and two antenna mounts. And finding two four way switches for my power mirrors.

Instrument Cluster and Wiring issues.

I have had a few wiring issues.  I'm pleased to report replacing my instrument cluster was causing some problems.  Replacing it fixed that.  Another problem was the front turn signal was damaged when I steam cleaned my new engine.  So I will fiddle with that some and if that doesn't work, I'll replace it. 

The next issue is to fix the turn signal stalk and cruise control.

I also discovered there is a problem with the mass flow sensor which explains my high fuel consumption.  I dropped it at the shop for that.  I may ask them to take a look at the cruise control--just to wrap all that up.

My next projects will be to install an arm rest, and repairing the drivers seat lumbar support.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blown Engine

I have not posted in a while because I blew the motor in my Volvo 240.  So I searched around and found a used motor in a wrecked 240 wagon, also a 1992 model, and bought it for $425 which included some trim, a drink holder, a spare headlight bulb, tail lamp, and a few other parts.

I have the motor in now and it is running great.  It has all new gaskets, a new clutch kit, and all new seals.  Unfortunately, I have some sort of bearing noise now.  It might be the rear end.  I will find out soon.  It is difficult to tell where the noise is coming from so I will need some help to figure that out.

Other problems to be resolved are some wiring issues.  My turn signals stopped working and when my lights are on, the dash instruments short out.  Hopefully, I'll have all these remaining issues cleared up in the next month.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Clutch Slipping or Engine Slipping?

I've been thinking about my clutch slipping and decided that since it is surging in jumps, it is most likely the engine loosing compression and jumping to the next cylinders compression, where it leaks down and the next one jumps.  That is a big relief as I don't want to replace my clutch yet.  So I plan to order new brake parts today.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Parking Brake and Clutch

I reported that my parking brake broke.  That is easy and cheap to fix.  However, with no parking brake I noticed my clutch was jumping.  It will not park on a hill.  It will jump forward 5-6", pause and then do it again.  So that is another set of parts I need to buy and I will probably hire out the work.  In a way I'm glad, because I would rather not worry about my clutch if I am towing.  I will probably wait on replacing it until I put on new tires.  I want a smaller diameter tire, that is lighter and peppier for driving around town and for towing.  So Sea Dog is parked at the moment and I'm driving Bruiser, my big Silverado.  I have been enjoying the new tires on Bruiser. I would like to take a longer trip to see how much my fuel economy has improved.  I'm sure I will gain at least 1 mpg on the highway and the same around town if I drive slow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Parking Brake

While picking up my new cargo box, I parked on a hill and used a bit too much effort to clamp on the parking brake. One of the springs broke and I was able to remove the parking brake on the passenger side so I could drive home. I'll need to order parts for it, and unfortunately, I am missing one pin, two circlips and I might need to replace a toggle also. The good thing is it will be an easy repair and should not take more than an hour once I have the parts.

Purchased--Thule Cargo Box--18 Cubic Feet