Battery, exhaust, and radiator

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Two weeks ago, I took the car on a very short trip.  It was supposed to be a long trip, but the plastic end tank on the radiator fractured around the upper hose connection and dumped coolant all over the highway.  Luckily I was watching my gauges and noticed the temperature spiking up.   Yikes!

After having the car towed home, I spent many hours trying to find a Volvo 240 radiator that was made out of metal.  Nissens and Performance no longer make them.  The only options for a metal-end-tank radiator are a custom aluminum radiator ($500-600), finding a generic aluminum radiator that is roughly the right size and wedging it in somehow (good luck, $200-300 and you might still be stuck with a radiator you can’t use and can’t return), or finding an old-stock new all metal unit.  Why metal?  If metal starts to fail, it usually is a slow leak with obvious corrosion.  When plastic starts to fail, it is more likely to fail catastrophically, and it doesn’t give much warning.

Luckily, I found an old-stock “CSF” brand metal radiator on e-bay for about $175.  It is a well-made unit by all appearances, although only two rows of cooling fins.  It fit in very nicely, just like an OEM unit, and so far has held up.  We’ll see if it can provide enough cooling this summer.

In other news, I also had the guys at R-Sport weld up a custom stainless steel 2.5 inch exhaust to match up to my new exhaust header.  It sounds great with a single Magnaflow muffler, but it’s a bit too loud for my old ears, so they are going to weld in a second muffler about where the stock second muffler goes.  I will miss the noise, but then again I won’t heh.

Last, but not least, while my car was sitting awaiting the new radiator, I found out that the battery wasn’t holding a charge (went partially dead after sitting for 10 days).  Looking at my records, the battery is about 90 months old, and it is only rated for 75 months.  Since this Interstate Megatron (MT-47) did such a good job, I bought another Interstate, this time the “performance” model (MTP-47) which has slightly more cold-cranking amps, a more durable case, and a longer warranty, for about $20 more.

Back on the road

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Well, my car is back on the road after four months in the garage.

It all began with a broken-off bolt in the engine block – the alternator mounting bolt.  It took a full weekend of work to drill out the old bolt, create a clean hole, tap the hole in the block, and install a 1/2″ thread stainless steel bolt like so:

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With the bolt finally fixed, I replaced the rest of the accessory bushings with the blue polyurethane bushings from IPD.  I also installed new engine mounts, using the OEM Volvo diesel mounts that are spec’d for a diesel 240.  They are a bit firmer than stock motor mounts.  For more maintenance, I replaced the front engine seals, timing belt, tensioner, transmission mount, alternator (under warranty luckily), valve guide seals and hushers (see previous post) and the cam seals.  I also cleaned up everything as best I could.

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On top of all that, I put in an IPD VX camshaft and a RSI adjustable cam gear.  A new water pump and silicone cooling hoses from IPD finished up the cooling system, and fresh belts should keep the engine quiet.  The brake system was done in August with fresh fluid and IPD stainless steel brake lines, so it didn’t need much work.  As a special fun piece, I got ahold of a used, custom-made B230F exhaust manifold with equal length runners and a 4-to-1 collector.  New spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor, and IPD performance plug wires finished the job.  For a fun change, I also had my M47 shift lever modified by Jacob Homer to shorten the throw, which makes the shifts faster and more “race car like”.

Oh yeah, and I removed the factory rack and plugged the holes using the kit from IPD.  The car is rusting just a bit underneath the rack, and I didn’t want it to get worse by keeping that old clunky rack on there.  The top of the roof is really ugly right now – it needs a run over with the power buffer to clean up the marks in the paint from 20 years of the rack sitting there.  But really, the whole car needs a respray pretty bad too.

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You can read about my work on LED instrument cluster lighting in this article.

You can read about my work on trimming the rear fenders and fitting the wheels in this article.