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Slow build - 1973 145

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  • Slow build - 1973 145

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    The first burnout I ever saw in real life was my best friend's older brother in the family Volvo wagon. It was the early 80's and it was brown, that's all I remember, but it sure left an impression on me, After 30+ years and a lifetime of building V8 cars, I never stopped thinking about that first burnout. Last July we found this old 145 in Deland, FL. We originally passed on the $2300 price because it was so rough, but the seller called after a few days and said he'd take $1800. It still wasn't the best deal, but I went for it.

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    Here's a nice sideshot that shows the rust bubbles. Those came free with the car. The seller was nice enough to include some very bent frame rails and a couple of big holes in the floor! Like I said, this was not the deal of the century, but I knew what I was getting into.

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    Here's a look at the tired B20 with lots of hoses! We got PS and AC but neither one really works.

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    The interior is about as rough as the rest of it. The seats are really trashed. You probably noticed the shifter. I just couldn't live with this, so even before I cleaned out the interior, I pulled the automatic, a drastic move, but a great way to force myself to convert it.

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    You gotta start somewhere, so I snagged a beat up M40 on eBay for $73 + shipping. It came complete, but it was pretty much a black ball of grease, so here's a pic after an afternoon in the hot tub.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-16-2020, 05:23 PM.

  • #2
    Volvo M40 rebuild

    I'm not experienced enough to do any kind of write up on rebuilding an M40, but I'm happy to share a couple pics of my rebuild. Everything was in really nice shape, but the bottom of the case was full of hard little seeds.
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    I had to step away for a few days, so I drew up a cheat sheet in case someone disturbed my parts.

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    Mission accomplished! I prefer the red oxide as much as the next guy, but I had black on hand and I'm not a purist. I only ran into two problems. I'll list them here in case anyone else hits the same wall. First, I kept reading about a speedo spring, but mine did not have one, so I reassembled without the speedo drive. I figured I would just plug the hole and use my phone for a speedo. That left a HUGE gap between the output bearing and 1st gear. I had to take it all apart and put it back with the speedo drive in place. Second, I had a hard time getting the laygear back in. It just would not squeeze into the case, so I dropped it in the freezer for a night and slid the case into the oven at 150 for an hour - went together very smoothly!

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    • #3
      The M40 rebuild above is a dry-run. I've rebuilt a couple of manual transmissions over the years, but I'm no pro at it. Since I got it for such a great deal, it seemed like a worthwhile project. If the M40 holds together, I'll tear into this M41 I have stashed under my workbench next summer. I picked this one up at a local yard. I pulled the OD off because it was puking oil all over the place. I'm going to put a new gasket on and just store it until next year.
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      I scored a clutch pedal locally and ordered a new cable from Rockauto.
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      I've read several posts about bypassing the neutral safety switch on the Volvo 140 series, and they all kind of provide the same vague instructions. For anyone who stumbles across this post, I'll give you a pic and tell you that I'm going to throw the neutral safety switch in the trash and run the blue wire from the engine compartment harness straight down to the starter and see what happens. Before you go try it on your car, scroll down to see if I posted a follow up about my car catching on fire or frying my starter. BTW, that follow up won't be for a while, so if you do try it, let me know how it goes. If you have already done it, post a reply with some really clear instructions.
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      • #4
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        I had a couple hours to kill, so I pulled the engine.

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        I rubbed the pass side down with some WD40. I left the driver side filthy to compare.

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        If you've ever worked on older Fords, you'll get it when I say the B20 looks like 1/2 of a Windsor.

        Last edited by Jrv6a; 01-28-2021, 05:07 PM.


        • #5
          Suspension upgrades = While gathering parts for this build, I ordered a set of 60mm front & rear drop springs. It took me a little while to get them on the car. In hindsight, they were a bad choice. There's a lot of subjectivity in the following statements, so take this post with a grain of salt, but maybe something here will help someone else.

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          Above you can see the front 60mm drop spring next to the stock. You'll need limiting straps if you plan on getting airborne or when jacking the car up because they will fall out, which is par for the course with a 60mm drop spring.

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          Here's a shot of the stock next to the 60mm drop rears. The rears are stupid soft. "Stupid soft" is subjective, but I will say, unequivocally, that these rear springs are so soft they put the rear flat on the bumpstops. Again, this might be consistent with 60mm drop springs, but I'm calling this a stiffness issue because stiffer springs would at least support the car. These things just smash down until they rest on the stops. I trimmed the stops and the springs just kept giving. I cut more off the stop, and the springs gave more.

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          Here's a BEFORE and AFTER. The after shot shows a decent drop in the front, but it de-emphasizes the rear. More than anything, I'll argue that these 60mm drop springs don't complement each other front to rear. The fronts feel reasonably stiff on the car. The front ride height is fine on its own, but the rear springs are too soft, which makes the back of the car sag. Perhaps a stiffer rear spring would help. Maybe matching a 100mm drop front to these rears would help. Or you might use a 40mm drop out back and keep the 60mm in front. Another reminder = there's a lot of subjectivity here: I could live with the rear height if the front were lower to match, but it's sitting flat on the bumpstops, so it's not drive-able. After this pic, I cut the rear bumpstops and it dropped even more. At that point I had to call it a day. Honestly, I could go either way - lower the front to match the rear or raise the rear to match the front. I'm going to play around and see if I can balance things out with spacers, maybe new springs on the front or rear. I'll update my progress in the future.
          Last edited by Jrv6a; 01-17-2021, 09:51 AM.


          • #6
            The 240 series came with a conical rear spring seat, but the 140 had a flat spring seat in the rear. My car was missing the seats, so my first step in sorting out the ugly stance was cutting some new rear spring seats.
            volvo 140 rear spring seat
            I cut two 4-inch disks out of a chunk of T6061 aluminum. These are just over 1/2in thick.

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            Here's one side installed. You're looking at the aluminum disk sandwiched between the rear frame rail and the spring. I found some crappy rubber pads in a box and stuffed them in for good measure. The whole project was a good starting point, but overall it was a waste of time because the rear looks unchanged. I'll increase the spacer to 1in and update later. If that doesn't help, I'll consider stiffer rear springs or smaller fronts.
            Last edited by Jrv6a; 01-17-2021, 09:57 AM.


            • #7
              I'm pretty sure no one is following this, but just in case someone stumbles across it in a few years looking for something totally unrelated, here's a pic of the next step in fixing the goofy stance. Yup, those are 5 X 6 3/4 700lb springs. Everyone says go for 5 X 8. I tried it, and it looked stupid - see above.
              Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-10-2020, 05:29 PM.


              • #8
                JRV, you're transmission swap is something I'm contemplating for my '74 145 wagon. The BW automatic is functional, but sluggish in shifting and of tenuous connection from engine to rear wheels. I miss the functionality of the manual that I had with the '88 240 wagon of my past. What other difficulties have you had with the conversion? Thanks, Tim


                • Jrv6a
                  Jrv6a commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Hi Tim,

                  I'm happy to go on and on and on about this one. Here are some of the snags I ran into with the trans swap.

                  1) When I rebuilt the M40, the laygear would not drop in. No matter how straight, how slow, or how careful I was, it would not fit back into the case. I even let my wife try, thinking I was being too heavy-handed. I finally threw the laygear in the freezer and the case in the oven for an hour at 200 and they went together. It now spins and shifts into gear by hand, but it is TIGHT. I'm betting it's not going to last long.

                  2) I left the engine sitting in the car without the transmission for too long and it tore both motor mounts and dented the valve cover and firewall. If you leave yours sitting, throw something under there to hold up the back of the motor.

                  3) My BW had the thick 2in driveshaft with the large flange on the axle. The M40 I got had the small flange, so I had to hunt down the right drive shafts and flanges.

                  4) Wiring the neutral safety switch is WAY easier than everyone else makes it sound. I added a pic of what I did to eliminate it and get my reverse lights working. If you get stuck, hit me up.

                  5) That leaves us where we are now... the engine on an engine stand, the M40 on the floor, and me waiting for custom u-joints for the manual steering swap I'm working on.

              • #9
                Here's a pic of what I did to bypass the neutral safety switch when I converted to an M40. Obviously, you'll cut off the neutral safety switch part and just use the connector and wires.

                The blue wire on the body side of the harness gets extended down to the starter.
                The blue/yellow wire on the trans side gets lengthened and connects to the reverse switch on the M40.
                The red wire on the trans side gets lengthened and connects to the reverse switch on the M40.
                I popped the green/red wire out and tossed it because it's just for the buzzer.
                Last edited by Jrv6a; 11-28-2020, 01:57 PM.


                • #10
                  I have a few broken wires and connectors on my D-jet harness, so, while I have everything else apart, I decided to pull it out and go through the whole thing. If anyone out there knows where to find new or NOS ECU pins, I'd sure love to know your source because I hate splicing into original wiring, no matter how old, burned, and broken.
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                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-07-2020, 04:18 PM.


                  • #11
                    You'll get a lot of pushback if you pop into the Volvo forums and ask for help eliminating your power steering. There are lots of valid reasons for wanting to ditch your PS, so I'm happy to help. We always track our cars, even if it's just weekend cone dodging, and if you're going to beat the snot out of your car like we do with ours, the power steering has to go. Here's how you do it - no judgment. HEADS UP - they only let you attach a few pics per post, so I'll be breaking this up. Keep reading.

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                    The first thing you'll need to do is rip out all the power steering stuff. Tearing things down is a no brainer, so I won't get into the steps. You can go post all of this stuff on eBay EXCEPT the column and shaft. In fact, don't pull yours out! Just leave it in because you can use it.

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                    The only thing that will probably give you trouble are the anti-tamper screws. You don't have to drill or grind them like the book says. A small set of vicegrips will get them out no problem. I'll show you how to replace these the right way later.

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                    I made the mistake of buying all the manual steering parts from a donor. I paid way too much for everything. Then I spent even more money buying bushings and wasted a bunch of time cleaning - don't bother because it's expensive and the shaft/column might not fit. I'll show more on that later.

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                    Here's what I mean. Notice that the power steering shaft & column (top) is a lot shorter than manual (bottom). Yes, the PS box is a LOT bigger than the manual box, so the shafts will be different lengths, BUT the manual shaft and column I got was from a pre-73, so it's too long for the 73-74 140. The lower link (bottom left of pic) is the same from 68-74, but the long shaft and column from the older pre-73 is too long for the later 140 dash. You'll also have to deal with mis-matched turn signal mounts and the column lock being in the wrong place.

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                    The one thing you WILL need is the manual steering box. I scored this one locally and replaced the seals. KEEP READING for what you'll need for the swap - cheap and easy...
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Jrv6a; 02-03-2021, 08:22 AM.


                    • #12

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                      Now it's time to order some parts. I'm going to dork out a little here for anyone who finds this post while searching for random, obscure Volvo 145 steering info.
                      Manual gearbox shaft = .750 X 48 spline
                      Power steering shaft = .688 X 54 spline
                      Power steering shaft length = 28 1/8in
                      Power steering column = 24in

                      Here's what you'll need. You'll use your old power steering column and shaft. You'll need two Woodward Steering U-joints: the first one is UA115109 and it's for the steering box. On one side it fits a .750 X 48 spline shaft and on the other end it fits a double D steering shaft. The second joint is UA101109. That one fits the power steering shaft with a .688 X 54 spline and the double D steering shaft on the other end. You can also see I have a piece of double D shaft. Make sure to get the right double D. You'll want the 19mm Ford style (NOT the 17mm Chevy). You can get this from Speedway motors (cheaper on Amazon if you can get someone to tell you that it's definitely the 19mm). I went with 24in, so I would have enough in case I messed up on my measurements.

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                      Here's a close up of the U joints. I've always liked the Woodward stuff because it's tough and precise. Flaming River makes these joints too, but some people have complained that the plating makes them a little less precise. I've never had an issue with Woodward, so that's what I use in all my builds.

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                      While you're waiting for all your custom race parts to arrive, let's deal with these stupid things. Those anti-theft screws are M8 X 1.25 and they are a total of 1in long. Like I said above, don't be a hack and just stick some bolts in and call it a day. Those shoulders are important.

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                      On the left are the old anti-theft screws. On the right are two M8 X 1.25 X 1in, two spacers that measure .462 X 3/16, and two washers. You'll never find .462 spacers, so you can just order .500's and polish them down on a belt sander. You could even do it by hand with a sheet of sandpaper. I put them on a long bolt and ran them in a zigzag pattern on the belt sander with 150 grit and got them down to size in just a couple minutes.

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                      Here are the spacers pressed into the plastic clips. It probably seems like a waste to stick these spacers in, but these clips are impossible to find, and if you just crank some bolts into these brittle parts, they'll crumble and your column will flop around. That's all the pics I'm allowed - KEEP READING...
                      Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-10-2020, 06:11 PM.


                      • #13
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                        Here are the clips installed. Now you can bolt and unbolt your column easily. You'll need it for the next step because it involves some measuring and trial and error.

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                        You can see the U joints installed here. Notice that the joint on the box is pushed all the way down toward the box. This is to rough fit it, so you can push back against the bearing spring on the bottom of the steering column. Be patient here and measure a few times.

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                        I ended up cutting the double D shaft to 9 3/4in. I then mocked it all up on the bench and drilled dimples where all the set screws go. The double D doesn't need to be welded, but you should dimple your set screws because your column has a notch in it under the ignition lock, and it could move a little.

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                        Here's that notch I was talking about. Notice the locating lug in the ignition and how it's a little smaller than the slot. The bearing preload springs at the top and bottom of the column allow for a little movement along this slot.

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                        One more shot of everything in place. I've got some cleaning to do, and I'll hit the double D with some cast blast to keep it from rusting, but that's it - power steering converted to manual steering for about $200.
                        Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-11-2020, 10:50 AM.


                        • #14
                          Back to the wiring...

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                          A couple posts back I started cleaning up my D-Jet harness. All of the injector wires were burnt and broken, the connector on the MAP sensor was broken, the cold start valve wires were broken, and so-on. I wanted a stock appearance, so I used 16awg TXL and tried hand numbering, but I just couldn't live with it. The idea of sorting through all of those white wires on the side of the road after the handwritten numbers wear off was enough to inspire me to redo the whole thing.

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                          Here's version two. It doesn't look like much more than a couple coils of wire from this angle, and it's still pretty much just a bunch of 16 awg TXL wound up waiting to be trimmed to length, but I went with a different colored wire for each injector signal wire, the cold start signal, and #11 ECU ground - don't know why, but I felt like one colored ground would look cool. I then made a new ground bundle all in white for the other ground wires.

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                          Here it is from another angle. I'm way down by the ECU where I spliced in the new wires staggered at one-inch intervals. This is a nice straight run within the passenger compartment, so it's the most practical place to splice in new wires with no worries about forcing the splices through the firewall.
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-24-2020, 03:56 PM.


                          • #15

                            By this point, it's obvious that I'm not trying to maintain a stock appearance. The colored wire will be easy to ID if something goes wrong. After feeding all the wires through the firewall, I sorted everything out for trimming. The color was really helpful during this phase.

                            A little bit of trimming goes a long way in tidying things up. Those are the boots and plugs from a few posts back.

                            I'm not sure how I feel about this flexbraid. I ordered some 1/2in from Summit, and it seemed a little overpriced. I then ordered some from Amazon, and I couldn't tell the difference. Neither will stand up to open flame. We'll have to see how it does with a header close by.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by Jrv6a; 12-29-2020, 06:46 PM.