Sunday, July 1, 2018

Proof That Saving Time Doesn't.

Thanks for tuning in again. I'd hate to be one of those Real Bloggers who post stuff so frequently that everyone just got bored and left. Much better to be the kind that's easily forgotten in the dark and dusty corners of the internet. That's what I deserve. snifl.

Last we talked about the old 444, I was resigned to using excited about installing the converted marine engine that had an alleged 5 hours of running time. I did, and it ran, and I drove it, and I did my level best to convince myself (and you) that it was something close to terrific. I was lying to you and fooling myself. Apologies all around.

I also mentioned that I'd be rebuilding a TRS-USA 2400cc stroker for the car, and I did rebuild that engine, but before I had the chance to install it someone bought it. This kind of thing happens sometimes.

From the moment the Penta (the boat engine that was converted for car use) first fired, it just never did seem to run quite right. But it sure did get the car down the road and would even maintain 80+mph in overdrive while climbing a 6% grade. How dare I not be delighted?

And after about 3000 miles and a couple years of use, that old thing was pretty well covered in oil and was leaving toxic unsightly drips everywhere I parked. Not oil drips that come only from a rear main seal or a weepy fuel pump gasket - we're talking about the oil leaks that see wet motor oil weeping out of pretty much everywhere and getting itself all over everything. Like the underside of the floor and the rear suspension, even.

At the shop, we have a leakdown tester and so I put that to use. This old boat engine had leakage ranging from 35% on the low side to 65% on the high side. This is well outside even the lowest standard. I'd always wondered why the engine was taken out of use after only 5 claimed hours of use. Now I think that's how long it took before the boat sank.

As luck would have it, a customer with a dud engine chose to not repair what he had, so I acquired one of the early ipd "6 Bolt Big Bore" engines. These were similar to the more common 2130 kits that work in the 1974 and 1975 blocks, but instead used custom pistons that would increase the bore and also fit the wrist pin size used by the 1973 and earlier B20 engines.

Oversized pistons - in a variety of sizes - with this wrist pin size are currently available via KG Trimning in Sweden, and they're forged, and they're lovely, so we got some of those. Because this engine had suffered broken ringlands with its earlier pistons, we went with a 92.5mm bore/92.43mm diameter slugs. I think these are the largest stocked such piston, so if this engine ever needs a rebuild, things will get creative.

The grey coating on the skirts is teflon. Slick stuff.


That's a 1mm top ring. Skinny little thing.
I'd fitted the (prior) boat anchor engine with a Schneider 274 camshaft. This is a more modern and more aggressive grind than the more commonly available Isky VV71. For this new engine, I wanted something one step more obnoxious and chose the 284. I'd learn later that they aren't kidding around and Big Scary Numbers actually equate to Thrilling Results. I will not be using anything more aggressive than this cam on any street engine in the future. Probably.

You read that right: valve lash is .015."
The machinist I use returns engine blocks wrapped well enough that they could sit outside in the rain for a year and not get wet. But I'm always in a big hurry to get them unwrapped.


Before paint, things that shouldn't get painted get covered. The head isn't bolted on - it's just sitting on the masked deck so that it can be painted at the same time. Volvo didn't paint engines after assembly, so we don't either. Tradition and stuff.

 Instead of the traditional red, this one is grey.

 … then assembly begins...

The head that came off the 'new broken' engine got a complete rebuild with new valves, guides, double springs and retainers, hardened seats. It's hard to see in the photo, but someone in the past did a fair amount of port work to this one. Their approach is pretty typical for what was happening in the late 1980s -- much has been learned since then, but this is very respectable for its day.

… to prevent reduce any loss of oil pressure, the pan got a baffle.

Normal and boring.

Test fit before grinding on the edges.

Tacked. Sorry - no pics of the finished product.

 Bottom end gets finished up...

… head gets bolted on...

… and finally, a fully purge welded stainless and properly tuned 4 into 2 into 1 header, custom made by Craig Coburn, finds its place in this world. This is a thing of beauty.

 Time was short. I wanted to take the car to the Davis Volvo Meet, and barely had time to get the new engine into the car. I did manage, though, and broke it in, then torqued the head and drove it home. The next time the engine started, we drove it 580 miles from Portland to Davis.

Looks the same as it did before. Runs a lot better now, though.

And that's where we are now. For kicks, we gave this engine a leakdown test after about 2000 miles and were happy to find a nice even 1% result across all four.

If you're interested in what we're up to at the shop, check out  or visit us on Facebook.

PS: now that the 444 is about as 'finished' as it's going to get, we'll likely move on to other projects (not that this one has been flying along or anything). If history serves as an example, you can look forward to our next installment in another several months.

'til then, then.

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