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Adam's Project car - '84 244 Turbo Intercooler

Lazercar

New member
Joined
Jan 18, 2023
Location
Raleigh, NC
Hello Everyone! My name is Adam. I just recently turned 18 years old and will be pursuing a degree in mech engineering at a local college this coming fall. I just wanted to introduce you guys to 1 of 3 in my fleet of current Volvo project cars. This will probably be a pretty long post as most of the restoration is complete.

Introduction ------------------------------

This is my 1984 Volvo 244 turbo intercooler (in its current condition as of 2024).

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I had for some reason fallen in love with Volvos. I liked the Swedish nature and design of the cars. I had been looking for a couple years on craigslist and marketplace for the perfect car. I wanted a Volvo that was cheap enough to fit in my budget and was equipped with a standard transmission. I was not intending to purchase a project car at all. I wanted a complete car with few issues; however, I ended up purchasing the polar opposite. I purchased this car back in October of 2022 (16 years old at the time) for the low price of $950. This was my first project car. I had no prior mechanical experience, so it was going to be a large task getting this car back on the road. The car had been sitting for I presume 15 years or so and the odometer read 280k miles. The car checked the two boxes I was looking for: cheap, and a standard transmission. As a bonus, it was also turbocharged which had me excited.

Some photos of the car when I first got it

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The Bosch Kjet system ------------------------

The car presented me with a couple challenges that needed to be faced to get it running and driving. The first and most obvious was the Bosch kjet system which had been sitting open to the environment for many years after someone stole the fuel lines off of it. I started by ordering a bunch of parts for the fuel system including new fuel pumps, fuel filter, eventually a new fuel tank, and was able to find a set of fuel lines from Voluparts down in Georgia for a reasonable price. While I was getting all those parts, I decided to rebuild the fuel distributor. I purchased a rebuild kit from salvox.com and got to work. The center pin that was tolerance fit in the distributor was glued shut. I eventually had to bust out the hammer to get it unstuck (not recommended by many). Fortunately, nothing bad came from it. Now it seems like a lot of people didn't recommend disassembling it because supposedly there are adjustable items inside the distributor that need to be calibrated. However, the 6 cylinder distributor found on turbo Volvos has no adjustments inside the distributor as it is all fixed, so it was very easy to rebuild. For reassembly I dabbed up the metal sheet with some fuel proof sealant that was blue, don't remember the stuff, worked well though. While the distributor was disassembled, I creatively put all the parts into a tub of mineral spirits and then attached a fan with a weight on one blade to vibrate the solution over a couple days in order to thoroughly clean all the gunk out of it.

The stuck center pin and the hammer in question
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Fuel sender and tank ---------------------

The sender and tank were very badly rusted, almost unusable. I didn't have a lot of money, so I did my best to salvage what I had on the cheap. I installed an MTC fuel lift pump which I regretted later as I was unaware of MTCs quality issues. For the sending unit itself, I wanted to test out a new process to cleaning up rust, so I attempted to try electrolysis to remove the rust, and to my suprise, it worked great. Unfortunately, I ended up breaking the pcb board used to read fuel levels. I made an attempt at soldering it, but after installing it into the car, I figured out it didn't work. Eventually I swapped in a sender I got from a junkyard car. For the fuel tank, I also used electrolysis to clean up the rust, and then filled it with small stone and just shook it up to clean out all the debris, it worked alright. I later had to get a new fuel tank after a small accident in which the tank was punctured by the tailpipe.

Fuel tank inside

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Electrolysis setup and result on sender

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Fuel injectors -----------------------

Now I could have easily bought new fuel injectors, and that probably would have been smarter, but I decided to go the hard route of testing the current injectors I had. So, I decided to build a fuel injector tester out of a bottle jack I had lying around and a pressure gauge. Surprisingly it worked pretty well and was relatively cheap to build. Not only did it tell me which injectors were cooked and which ones were decent, it helped clean out injectors if I wanted to put in a cleaner solution. I ended up installing my 4 best injectors. I later replaced them with new ones when attempting to diagnose a misfire.

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First start ----------------------

late January of 2023 I installed all the new fuel items into the car and ran some tests. Jumped the fuel pumps to run and lifted the air plate to ensure fuel would come out of the injectors and lines and also to ensure there was not any pressing fuel leaks (I had a fire extinguisher on hand just in case). I also tested to see how evenly the injectors would supply fuel by putting them into graduated cylinders and lifting the air meter plate while running the pumps. Results were optimal and within in spec, so that was a win. Decided to give it its first start, and it took a few tries, but started up. The main issue I was running into is that it would not idle. I don't quite remember what I played around with, it may have been the throttle plate screw or the co adjustment, but I eventually got it idling quite decent.
 
Body --------------------------

This 240 was very rusty, shocker, I know. The passenger side rocker panel was pretty much no more including a large portion of the passenger floor pans. Now, I don't know how to weld nor do I own a welder, so I did what I could on the cheap. I got a piece of galvanized steel from Home Depot, cut it to size, hammered it to fit the shape, cleaned up the rust areas, and glued and riveted on the piece of sheet metal over the floor pan. It honestly worked great. I know I probably made most body workers cringe, but it's just a basic patch job to keep the car solid while I own it. Rocker panels I didn't touch, this car does not need to pass safety or emissions inspections in NC. I also cleaned up the interior with a carpet cleaner and assembled it all back together. Maybe I will fix the rust properly in the future once I get some more skills under my belt.

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Heres the attempted repair.

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Engine Rebuild #1 (Failure) --------------------

I ran a compression test on the engine, and it showed that one of the cylinders was down to 90 psi. A Leak down test showed that it seemed to be going into the crankcase. So I decided to redo the piston rings. I did not own an engine hoist, nor did I believe I had the space to pull an engine in our garage. So I did the next thing, which was to remove the oil pan with the engine still in the car. What a poor choice this was. I had the engine lifted up with a beam on top, and the cross member pulled down, and it was still almost impossible. Once the oil pan was removed and the cylinder head was taken off, I removed the pistons and got to work. During this rebuild I replaced:

Conrod bearings
piston rings
oil feed seals
motor mounts
rebuilt cylinder head (I had one lying around)
timing belt
Turbo rebuild

The connecting rod bearings were what I was most scared of. I saw a lot of posting that it was hit or miss and installing new conrod bearings could destroy your engine if you did not know what you were doing. Turns out, that was not the reason this engine rebuild was a failure. I plastigauged and checked each bearing with a micrometer (not easily as I was under the car doing this). Finally I also honed the cylinder walls before installing the new piston rings. Put Everything back together. This time around, I did some beautification on the engine such as wire wheeling the metal parts and painting the valve cover. Started the engine up, and it started! though there was a horrible misfire. This horrible misfire took me close to 3 months to diagnose. I thought I tried everything, but eventually, the answer was much simpler than expected. When installing the timing belt, the crank wheel must have turned or was not lined up initially and ended up being 1 or 2 teeth off. I believe that put the crank pully 20 degrees advanced from the cam and intermediate pullies. Surprised it even ran.

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Eventually worked on redoing all the brakes, kinda boring, so wont talk about that. Took the car for its first drive. All seemed well. The car drove well and seemed to have decent power. The trouble started happening when it was warm and it was idling. Once the engine was fully heated up and you were sitting stationary, the oil dummy light would start flickering. The oil pressure gauge would also read about 0.5 bar when it was working. I assumed that it was the oil pressure sender failing as the oil pressure gauge seemed to be a little all over the place sometimes. I purchased a new 5 bar oil sender, and the light never flickered again. Though that was not where the story ended. Not even a week later, I was driving the car and all of a sudden, the oil pressure gauge read 0 bar and the oil dummy light when solid red. I pulled into the nearest gas station. I was close to home, so I figured the car could make it home on light driving. Drove it 2 miles home, and started to hear it ticking. Didn't sound like rod knock, but more valvetrain noise. This was probably my lowest point of owning this project.
 
Rebuild #2 --------------------------

This time around, I decided to go all in. I was going to clear out the garage and buy an engine hoist. Out came the engine and the 2nd rebuild began. What caused the oil pressure to fail? Well it turns out, my oil pump failed. The keyway on the shaft broke off and the oil pump was not turning. I have my guesses on why, but my most popular is that I did not seat the oil feed seals properly which pushed the oil pump slightly making it cockeyed to the driving gear. On this 2nd rebuild, I determined that you really need push in those seals with all your might.
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Oil pump keyway sheared off

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To my surprise, the bearings were not all completely cooked. The bearings that took most of the hit were the aluminum bearing caps in the cylinder head, though I just reused them anyways.

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The items that I replaced/rebuilt on this rebuild were:

All crank seals
oil cooler housing seal
oil pump
water pump
conrod bearings
Main bearings
oil feed seals
transmission bellhousing seals
throwout bearing
Clutch
bronze sts shifter bushings
transmission flushed with atf
PS pump rebuild (it was leaking badly)
Rewired engine harness plug in car
new engine harness

While I had the engine out, I couldn't resist making it look nice, so I decided to paint the block. Turned out really nice

Before:
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After:
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My workbench

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Engine all put back together ready for installation

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Got my friend for some free unpaid labor and got it all installed and put back together


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Engine started up, and ran great. No stalling, no misfiring. The engine still ticked, but nothing a valve lash adjustment couldn't fix. As of now, I have put about 5k miles on the car with no mechanical issues. I have also taken it on multiple longer road trips successfully. It has been my daily driver since December 2023.

Additional modifications ---------------

Installed a Denso 100a alternator to replace the bosch 55a alternator 1/3/2024. Planned to install a stereo system and Efan and wanted a little more headroom on the amperage. The Bosch 55a was also starting to fail. It would choke considerably when I had the headlights, blower motor, and windshield wipers on.
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Installed an aftermarket stereo system 1/17/2024. Finally got the luxury of listening to music in my shitbox. I was out about $600 for all the equipment. I used 5 1/4" focal speakers in the front and 6.5" focal speakers in the rear powered by a 4 channel focal amp. My head unit was a kenwood KDC-BT35. I rewired all the speaker wire with new wire and the results sounded very nice. The large rear deck speakers provide a decent amount of bass while the front speakers have nice clarity to them. In order to install both sets of speakers, It required some fabrication. The front speaker holes needed to be enlarged and I needed to install spacers in order for the speakers to clear the windows.
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Installed an electric cooling fan 5/16/2024. I was tired of the whooshing sound from the mech fan. Took the efan and relays out of an early gen volvo s70. Purchased a saab 900 T fitting off of ebay and used a dual temp thermoswitch from a late 90s VW. So far, it is working great. Temps stay steady and the whoosh is no more. I also get 20mpg on average instead of the 17mpg I got previously.
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Anyways, thats all I have for now. I know I did a lot of yapping, but I had a lot to cover. I didnt even cover everything I did, but I feel like I covered the majority. Some of you might know me from the discord server where you saw me asking a bunch of questions throughout my journey on this car. I still have plans for this car, so I will keep posting on little things I do. I really want to see how far I can push kjet. On a side note, I recently purchased a Volvo 242 turbo and I have large plans for that. I purchased an engine and transmission setup thanks to Kyle, so I may be making another forum post for that, or maybe posting about it in here, I do not know. Anyways, thanks for reading. This project has taught me a lot through the mistakes and successes which I am very grateful for.
 
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