Shocks and Brakes.
It’s about time I update this blog, this time with a more interesting post! I purchased a ton of parts for the Volvo and upgraded both the suspension and the brakes all around. I decided to do them both in one shot, one of those “while I’m in there” situations.
First thing I did was put the car in the air.
You can see here a little teaser to my headlight and corner light repair project I have to cover in the future.
Wheel coming off. Here you can see my slightly sketchy spacer setup so the meaty Neogen’s would clear the strut cartridge.
As you can see the rotors are toast, but I’m going to cover that in a little more detail later in the post. First things first, gotta make it to the strut.
The hardest part about changing the struts in the old “Redblock" Volvo’s is actually removing the strut from the housing. Removing the assembly is pretty straight forward. First I had to loosen the two bolts holding the caliper to the hub, which on a Upstate NY car required some leverage.
Then since I was doing the brake pads while I was here, I loosened the caliper slide bolts as well.
The bolts that hold the strut assembly to the hub are actually located below the strut. I loosened them next.
The last things you have to loosen underneath the car are the tie-rod and the sway bar link. If you are doing this to your own crusty Volvo, I recommend replacing the sway bar end link bushings, as my were shot.
Next you have to remove the ABS Sensor (if your car has one) this was a common feature for 740’s this old. Unfortunately I ended up breaking both the sensors as they were essentially rusted into the hub. Removing the bolts was no problem as I had soaked all the suspension components in PB Blaster the week before I tackled this job, the sensor itself however was stuck.
Now it was time to remove the braking components. First the caliper, followed by the caliper bracket, and finally the rotor. All surprisingly removed with minimal fight.
Notice all the corrosion on the dust shield, this was the cleaner side. You can also see the tone ring that the abs sensor reads from, make sure you clean this off before you install a new sensor if you have one.
Now it’s time for all those bolts we loosened early to come off.
Since the spring is coming out with the assembly, that doesn’t leave much for you to hang your brake caliper from, so I gently placed it on this lower control arm(?) to keep from stressing the brake lines.
The only thing holding the entire strut/hub assembly to the car are two top hat bolts. Before going any farther I'd recommend marking the placement of the nut on the shock tower with a paint pen, this will help keep your alignment close until you can get it re aligned.
Get ready with your pry bar, because it’s going to require a little persuasion. I chose to disconnect the hub from the ball joint and leave it in the lower arm so I didn’t damage the boot.
The next step is removing the spring from the strut assembly. Please use a spring compressor for this. They are essentially free to rent from any of your local auto parts stores and prevent you from breaking ribs when you decide to gun-off the top nut and the top-hat shoots into your chest.
Here you an see the top hat removed, and all my ribs and appendages intact. Also notice the shredded boot and bump stop, one thing I wish I would have bought replacements for before I did this job.
Next comes the hardest part of the job, removing the retainer nut at the top of the strut housing. This is notoriously seized on cars that haven’t been as salt worn as this car. Yikes.
One thing I have learned is heat and penetrant are your friends. So I soaked the nut down in PB Blaster (zing) like the rest of the suspension and then hit the tube surrounding the nut with some heat from a torch. Now be careful when doing this, as you can see from the photo my struts are dead and have no compression left, but this is a gas filled tube, which you do not want to heat and explode.
I have read of other methods for doing this, but the only one that worked for me was an air hammer. Line the hammer up with one of the slots in the lock nut and slowly hammer it off.
If you damaged the lock nut, don’t worry as the new struts should come with replacements.
Now pull that sucker out and bask in the new and improved.
Assembly is reverse of removal.
A little bit of thread sealant goes a long way with this, in my opinion thread sealant is better than rust and corrosion.
Hopefully you left the spring compressed as it will now slide on easily. Install the top hat finger tight and release the compressor, slowly and evenly going between both sides. Also make sure the spring seats in the groove Volvo provides in the lower mount. Then install it back into the car.
Reinstalling the brakes is fairly simple. I was having braking issues with the car so I decided to revamp as much as I could in hopes of improving this situation. If you have the money to spend, don’t waste your time, replace the calipers and bleed the brakes. I didn’t have the funds to go this far so I decided to dress them up and hope for the best.
First grab a wire brush and clean up your crusty old Volvo parts.
Now take your new slide pins and lube them up real good and install them into your caliper bracket with new boots that will slip and slide all over your now lubed up fingers. This will assure your caliper does not seize up and prematurely or unevenly wear your new brake pads.
Here is an important tip if you are trying to save a buck or two. When getting your brake rotors resurfaced make sure they are within spec to be resurfaced, and here is why.
You can really see just how much meat from this rotor was gone, and while I’m sure some of it is from brake wear, most of it is from a shop resurfacing a rotor that needed to be replaced. Your brakes will not operate in their effective range and your rotors will be too thin to dissipate heat properly and will warp. These are not good things on an old heavy car like this.
Now wipe down your shiny new rotor and install it with the retaining screw that comes with the car.
Reattach your fancy shmancy revamped caliper brackets with some thread locked bolts.
Just like the rotors, it’s time for a little brake pad compare and contrast. Notice how the old pads had a ton of material left but both of them were unevenly worn and heavily glazed over. This could have been caused by a couple of things, and was definitely not helping with braking or brake noise.
Personally I add anti seize to the parts of the caliper bracket where the brake pad makes contact, and also add brake lubricant to the shims on the back of the pad to help prevent brake noise and add to smooth operation. DO NOT GET THIS ON THE ROTOR OR PAD SURFACE. If you do spray it with brake cleaner and start again.
At this point I was running out of time so I quickly compressed the caliper with an old brake pad and a c-clamp and reinstalled the caliper. That’s it, you’re done! New brakes and shocks added much more comfort to both the ride and my conscience on the cars driving ability. Replacing shocks is a lot of work but is very doable for the shade tree mechanic and can save you a lot of money in labor on repairs.
Make sure you tighten the nut that secures the strut to the top hat once the car is lowered and pump the brakes before you drive away.
Next up I’ll be doing a quick tutorial on head light restoration. It made a huge difference in the Volvo’s night driving ability and cost almost nothing.
Fueling Issues. Again.
So as I write this I have just submitted my last ever college “homework assignment” and man, is it ever a great feeling. I promised far more updates on this car than I have been able to follow through on, but I have been documenting and taking pictures of projects and progress on the Volvo and plan on updating more now. I have actually reached my goal of a reliable and drivable car by May. The car may not drive that great, but that is something I can work on moving forward.
So the first, and one of the biggest projects I have tacked with the Volvo recently are fueling issues. I mentioned in my last post about some “hack job” fuel line repairs near the fuel tank, and I recently discovered that there was more “hack jobbery” near the in-line fuel pump under the car as well.
Upon further inspection I found that a large portion of the high pressure line and all of the fuel return line were corroded and leaking. The previous owner’s mechanic probably was patching up portions of the line as they failed, thus the strange portions of line and different (mostly incorrect) types of line.
Essentially one day I walked up to the car, started it, it had an incredibly bad stumble, and then I smelled gas. A lot of gas. So I quickly shut the car off and looked underneath to find a puddle of gas forming. Again. This time I was going to fix it the right way, all the way through the car.
I know fuel lines aren’t the most exciting repair in the world, so I’ll try and keep this brief. The first thing I did was get under the car and inspect the leaking area to try and find out what was going on. To my surprise the high pressure fuel lines were not metal or rubber, but plastic. At first this confused me, I expected to see rusted through metal lines or dry-rotted rubber lines, but this was not the case. Volvo had installed these green nylon(?) fuel lines to both deliver and return fuel prior to the secondary fuel pump under the body.
I cannot say for certain, but I feel that this may have something to do with the ethanol fuel content in current gas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff, but I think that this is something Volvo had not intended to pump long term through these nylon lines. The lines were almost seeping gas and I could not find any cracks or breaks that I could pinpoint the leak to.
I quickly decided that I didn’t want to try and run nylon lines again or go through the struggle of bending and running new steel lines on a car of this “caliber”, so I hit up Jegs for some parts.
After some measuring I determined I would be able to get away with about 10 feet of 3/8” high pressure fuel line (R9 if anyone cares), 20 feet of 5/16” fuel line to act as the return line (R7), a difficult to find 5/16”-3/8" hose adapter, some fuel hose clamps, some cushion clams, and my personal favorite a fuel hose cutting tool.
I started by ripping out all of the old line, and unfortunately whatever old fuel line mounts were left came with it. Luckily I purchased the cushion clamps for just this situation.
I then started to run the feed line from the tank first. After removal of the old line I found this strange homemade adapter out of what looks to be two hose barbs soldered(?) together. Luckily the Jeg’s adapter replaced it with a much better looking unit.
I tried my best to locate both the line and the cushion clamps as close to the stock locations as possible. The diameter of the new rubber line was slightly larger than the stock nylon line, so it’s a little tight to the driveshaft in some spots, but I made sure it clearanced properly.
The return line was actually much easier as on both the fuel tank and engine side it already ended in 5/16” rubber fuel line so all I had to do was remove the clamps on either side, pull the nylon line and original mounts, and then replace it with new line. I also used cushion clamps for the return side to clean up the install.
After that I tightened the clamps on all the new lines, lowered the car down, and after a couple of cranks to get the fuel through the new lines, it started right up. Overall this was a fairly easy job, it just took a lot of preparation to make sure that everything was correct so the install would go smoothly. Stay tuned for another update soon on headlight restoration, a cheap project that made a drastic improvement on both the car's appearance and visibility.
Yes, it Drives. No, it Doesn't do Burnouts. (Very Well)
Well I guess I’m long overdue for a Volvo, or Vo’ as I’ve been calling it, update. Through the last two months I have been able to accomplish a lot on the car, and I have set a couple of deadlines for myself. I would like to have the car, we’ll say, “palatable” by the time graduation comes along in May. This is intentional as to keep my expectations low, that way I’m guaranteed to meet them. I’d like to have the car in drive-able enough condition for some summer Finger Lakes cruising.
Since we last left off I had just received the car and it had been parked in the garage for a couple of months. A handful of things had to be done before I would even consider registering it. One, I had to figure out where the hell the knocking sound was coming from and how-to or if I could stop it. Two, I had to figure out if the rest of the car was mechanically sound. Finally, I wanted to make sure it would pass inspection.
I am currently making a video of the “knock-fix” so lets just say, no it wasn’t a rod bearing, yes I fixed it, and boy did it suck to do. Video will be posted soon.
So lets start at the beginning. Enormous fuel leak!
Yes, after months of being on jack stands, the first start up of the car split a fuel hose near the in-tank fuel pump causing a massive fuel leak. But due to extraneous apartment circumstances the car ended up getting parked outside anyway. Which lead to no other than…
That’s right ladies and gents, this bad boy was impounded the from my apartment complex. Moral of the story, do not park unregistered car’s anywhere but your garage. No duh, huh?
Moving on. I was able to get the car back and towed to my job, where I was able to do some further inspections on the car. Turns out my gem was in better shape than I thought.
I was able to replace the leaking gas line with something a little more high pressure, but that did not fix the fact that the gas tank was filled with about 10 gallons of what I can only assume is 4-year-old gasoline. However after some octane booster and a couple controlled slides in the snow, the gas was mostly taken care of…
The brakes, albeit rusty, were in decent condition. PO must have recently slapped some pads as the rotors were toast but the pads were still in decent shape, so in true Turbobricks fashion I’m leavin' em.
Thus began Stage Zero, any Turbobrickers reading this will know exactly what I mean, but for everyone else it’s essentially the parts you to replace on a Redblock motor to guarantee it keeps ticking for years to come. FCP Euro to the rescue.
Cap and Rotor
Power Steering Belt
Oil Cap Gasket
About 100 bucks later and we have ourselves a half decent mode of transportation. Well, until the window fell down while I was driving, but that’s for another blog post…
So now without further ado, we have a registered, inspected, and half decent Volvo 740 Turbo.
Expect more updates to come, and hopefully more frequently, but for now I leave you with a couple of beauty shots after a quick detail.
Craigslist is a bored car-guy's best friend and his wallet's worst enemy.
It was the end of the summer and I had just finished up work and was laying on the couch. My birthday was quickly approaching and I was browsing the internet looking for more used car parts or wheels to purchase for my Subaru. Amongst the spam posts and small thumbnails is where I found it, my newest project, my turbobrick.
It was an ad for a 1990 Volvo 740 Turbo, and the pictures (one shown above) showed it looking less than perfect, but broke free my hobby mechanic gears of boredom. The intense internet research that ensued after this ad would throw me deep into a rabbit hole that I knew I was not going to be able to climb out of.
Rear-wheel drive? Check.
Even cheaper parts? Check
The immense amount of frustration that I would soon experience? Priceless.
The car was for sale locally and was less than a 20-minute drive from the apartment that I share with my girlfriend who luckily for me is very supportive of this hobby. This is lucky for me because this car was soon to absorb her garage space (the only garage space) for the next 3 months. We arrived at the sellers house, identifying it by the white Volvo-shaped lawn ornament that adorned the front of his home. After looking at the car for a couple minutes we quickly determined that if this car was a diamond in the rough, there was a lot of "rough" we needed to dredge through to reach the diamond. It smoked, a lot. It knocked, a lot. It smelled, real bad. But alas it was relatively clean and most importantly nobody had, how should I say it? Messed with it.
A couple hours and $500 later, with the birthday gift of negotiation and some financial contribution from my girlfriend, I owned myself a car. A car I knew absolutely nothing about, but damn was I excited. This is where I decided to start "BuyitBroken" a Youtube Vlog of sorts that will generally document my Volvo trials and tribulations or pretty much any automotive related work I may run into. This is the first video in a series that may be pushed to the back burner due to the final semester of my college schooling about to begin, but will hopefully not be forgotten.