Monday, November 14, 2016

In Search of Gusto.

Hey, guess what's different this time?

Yep: it's not been a few months since last time. Don't get used to it.

It's been a busy time with the shop and my beloved three-and-a-half-plus year old tyrannical kiddo, so time spent on the ol' 444 hasn't been well documented, and it often seems that there's hardly any sensible documenting to be done. It's always an hour or so one week, then another hour or so a week (or two or three or six weeks) later, with the poor old car either: 1) sitting alone and neglected, or 2) getting robust exercise at every opportunity. We prefer the latter.

Back when the car was to remain a regular daily driver, we first wore out an old 2130cc B20 that had been used in not one but two prior Volvos - this was the very first Volvo engine I'd ever assembled, a job which was completed in my bedroom before being wheeled out the front door on a skateboard and carried down the front steps by hand with the help of my two stout roommates. That was 1993, and that engine served me well without any major failure for more than 300,000 miles before being traded for a rebuildable 1971 B20E that was destined for use in my fabulous wife's fabulous '57 445.

We got the 444 back on the road with a well built but unremarkable B18. It was a low compression version, .040" over, fitted with a D cam, neoprene seals, HD oil pump and reinforcing ring, and some of those Cloyes aluminum/steel timing gears. Nothing super exotic, but easily capable of a hundred thousand trouble free miles. It got DCOEs partly because they were on hand and partly because DCOEs. I love them.

Simple B18. Back to our roots and stuff.
Then that whole endurance racing notion started, and every single thing about the car was changed except the engine (well, that and the transmission, which you heard about last time). And we talked about and thought about and hemmed and hawed about what engine would eventually live in the car. Our needs are simple, really: must run on pump gas at all elevations while making tons of torque from idle to redline. The B18 became a functional placeholder while the thinking and talking went on, and then a few magical things happened kind of all at the same time.

First, a guy I don't know found my number and called to see if I wanted a factory rebuilt AQ130 that had only 4 or 5 hours of running time before being stored since the late 1970s. For you who might not know, an AQ130 is a marine spec B20, which means it has some weird stuff on it that doesn't work with a car, but the insides of the engine don't care what the outside world does or does not include. Initially, I planned on finding someone with a boat who'd want to buy this engine, and I sort of tried to find that person for about an hour a very long time. And didn't.

B18 getting undressed.
Then I offered this marine engine to the car people, and none of them wanted to buy it either, so I thought I'd go ahead and repurpose it myself for use in the 444. Maybe it'd be good enough for the long term, and maybe it'd only be good enough to last until the "real" engine manifested itself (whatever that means - we still don't really know). So I took it apart to see what a factory built engine looks like on the inside. And also to remove the not-car-compatible stuff.

B18 removed.
The minor bummer: It wasn't built by anyone who was trained by Volvo. All the gaskets were heavily slathered with orange RTV, and there were blobs of the stuff floating loose inside the crankcase. The major awesomeness: aside from sloppy gobs of cheap sealant, everything else inside the engine looked brand spanking new. Like really 4 or 5 hours' away from new. And the marine engines all came with steel timing gears, which is plenty cool enough.

Marine camshafts aren't the same as automotive cams, and rather than find out what shortcomings the former might have when applied to use in the latter, we removed the boat-spec bump stick from the thing and sent it to Schneider Racing Cams down in California and asked them to regrind it to their "274 degree" spec. They did that, and sent it back to us. It's a lot less money to have them regrind your cam (if yours is good enough to regrind) than it is to buy one outright.

Marine heads aren't the same either, but they can easily be modified for use in an automotive application. This is really cool, as they have the biggest factory valves, and lots of material to work with should [ahem] anyone want to go about porting one for high performance use. The marine head (plus an NOS head that was part of the deal) went onto the shelf, and for this engine, we sent an old and well used head out to the machinist for reworking. This is a head that we ran on the 2130cc B20 mentioned earlier. It got new seats, guides and valves, and new double valve springs.

Ready for its new home.

We also managed to score a new valve cover by bartering away a copy of Swedish Iron. Good deal. A few teething pains - like the fuel pump flange warping and leaking 2 quarts of oil all over the underside of the car in about 40 miles, and having to rejet the Webers, but other than that, it's been a very decent (and more oomphy than expected!) pushrod mill.

2 liters of fresh goodness.
This still isn't the long term permanent engine for the old 444, though. If we manage to take it to Mexico for racing, we might have to run a B18 to be class compliant (or run against much newer and more powerful machines). If we can run a B20, this one might do the trick except that despite being pretty fresh and assembled with some good stuff, it's probably not quite the caliber we'd need.

And about the time that this boat engine got functional, we came into possession of a very rare old performance engine that we're now in the process of slowly rebuilding. We'll get into the details later, but for those of you familiar with old hotrod B20 stuff, stay tuned as we bring a 2400cc B20 stroker back to life.

'til then -


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

More Is Better. 5 Is More Than 4.

Dear Reader. Very happy to be back in the blogosphere, and happier still that you're along for the ride.

We've got a lot of catching up to do, and there's a lot of work yet to be done on the car. Funny thing about these old cars - you never really run out of things to do just to keep the thing on the road even when you aren't trying to modify every last thing that makes the thing go and steer and stop. Add to this the not-so-smart notion of getting the thing on the road only to then take apart something that you haven't taken apart yet just because it's next on the list as part of your sensible approach to a rolling restoration kind of long term project. At the rate I'm going, I'll have to replace worn out modified stuff before I finish modifying the rest of the stuff.

Smart way: take it all apart, collect all the bits, assemble, enjoy.
Our way: not the smart way.

Since our last session, a whole bunch has happened with the car. And in keeping with our tradition, it's not all getting into pixels in exactly the order that it's all going down. Alas. We've replaced the rock solid B18 with a slightly modified AQ130-converted-to-B20 with a nicely ported head and Schneider 274 cam (more on this later!), and we ditched the cute single Cibie Tango fog lamp in favor of a pair of Cibie Iode 45 long range driving lights. Thank you, ebay France!

We are not afraid of the dark. There is no dark.
As you know, one of the very best upgrades you can make to an old Volvo is the addition of an overdrive transmission to replace the original 4 speed... actually, though, this car started life with a 3 speed, but that's not the point. Simply put, the result is that you have the same four forward gears that you had before, but you also get a 5th 'gear' (not really a gear, exactly) that drops your highway rpms by 20 or 25 percent (depending on which version of overdrive you end up with). This is a big deal and it's all kinds of awesome. Example: cruising at 3500rpms with a 4.10 rear and a 4 speed in the 444 we're dealing with results in a highway speed of 62. With an overdrive, that same rpm speeds us along at about 78 mph. At 4000, the difference is 71 versus 89 mph.
This won't necessarily increase your (my) top speed by 20%, because torque and horsepower and wind resistance and a bunch of physics related BS conspire against us in our quest for unadulterated velocity. With a relatively standard B18, the top speed would likely be higher in 4th than in overdrive. And much as it pains me to say it: top speed isn't the point here - engine rpms while cruising on the highway is what we're tweaking.

I'm leaving out a bunch of stuff related to changing the rear axle ratio when converting to overdrive so that you can tailor your effective final drive ratio such that your engine will reach redline in overdrive. We're not worried about that just now.

Anyway, let's jump in.

The organ: M41 taken from a 1975 240 series Volvo.

The recipient: our venerable 1957 PV444.
The reason a lot of PVs don't have overdrives is that their transmission tunnels are too small for the thing to fit. 122 and 140 series have big cavernous tunnels. PVs do not. Proof:

Originally, this car had an H6 (3 speed) transmission. The one in the pic is an M40. It barely fits.

4 speed as viewed from above.
To accommodate the larger M41, we collected a transmission tunnel from an 1800 (bottom of the next pic). Then we removed the 4 speed from the car and tossed everything on the floor to get a good look.
The M41 is about twice the size of the M40.
Next, we cut out most of the old tunnel and some of the floor. I was super happy to find that the floors were much thinner than when they were new - all that metal that's rusted away results in a lighter car overall. It also ensures that any welding you might do will either blow holes in the old metal; or the weld slag will plop itself about in messy blobs.

Mind The Gap.

Test fit with 240 shifter.
The initial plan was to use the 240 shifter and its dandy overdrive switch that's built into the shift knob, but the dry fit demonstrated that the tunnel would have to be 3 inches taller than if we stuck with the original shift lever. And the original, nearly a meter long, is cool.

Tunnel dry fit.

Rough fit.
We made another change along the way: the brakeline that feeds the rear wheels used to tuck nicely into the tunnel alongside the transmission. The new tunnel, though, is placed such that there's no room at all to spare under there and we want to be able to remove the transmission without worrying about bonking a brakeline. So the brakeline is now routed inside the cabin, connected to important looking things with knobs and stuff:
Bias valve on the left, line lock on the right.
Two coats of Gloss Smoke Grey Rustoleum, and the new tunnel looks like part of the old car. The next step will be to add a platform atop the existing floor that will bring the driver's feet up about an inch and will also ensure that nobody steps on the brakelines. Because that would suck.

And now we wait. The driveline is away being shortened and balanced, so we can't test the new setup until that comes back. And we don't know anything about this 'new' M41. Condition unknown, other than that it looks ok inside the gearbox, and the solenoid works. Unknown quantities keep us on our toes.

Here's hoping.

'til then -