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WestPundit
Thursday, January 11, 2007
 
OH, MY ACHING VOLVO

Seems as though things are breaking all around me. Mileage on the VEV is currently 227,125. And it seems that at least one of the intermittent problem(s) with the fuel injection or ignition have gone permanent.

The day I limped it home, from about three miles away, it just started running really weak. That, coupled with the occasional popping out the exhaust, led me to believe the camshaft had slipped time. The Gates catalog (pdf)shows the '86 B230FT to be an interference engine (in which case, it wouldn't be drivable, having slipped time), but my instincts told me otherwise - the compression is too low, and the cam grind too mild.

Well, that was about a week ago. Checking/replacing the cam belt is incredibly easy on these cars, particularly compared to the FWD jobs which dominate current-day streets. To inspect the belt, one only needs to remove one fan belt and three screws for the upper cover. Upon doing this, I found the timing belt hadn't jumped. What's more, it looked in very good condition - albeit a bit slack. But I continued on, as I have had a replacement belt and tensioner pulley for some time, and thought now was as good as any a time to replace them.

Well, this then became a big adventure - mostly because service information on Volvos is so hard to come by. Volvo's factory documentation is legendary. But it is spread out into so many different manuals, and other documents, that one would have to spend several hundred dollars to purchase the entire package for a particular vehicle. And mis-information abounds: I called two Volvo dealers, and an independent shop concerning the crankshaft center screw - they all got the thread correct (standard), but I got three different torque settings, all wrong.

Dean, over at eEuroparts.com, suggested I try Brickboard. They didn't have the information I sought, but Volvo Owners Club UK has this excellent write-up. After reading it all closely, and trying (unsuccessfully) a couple of alternate removal techniques for the harmonic dampener, I decided to just set the timing belt tension, order the special tool (about $40 from eEuroparts), and let it go. I confirmed from this chart that the engine is indeed non-interference, so no worries.

But this means the problem is with the fuel injection/engine management. And here the information is even more scarce. Modern-day "technicians" are really better described as parts changers. hey know how to hook-up the diagnostic equipment, and make the indicated adjustment or replace the indicated part. They are generally very poor on theory. This is why so many laymen get billed for several parts to repair some bug in their vehicle, when only one was really faulty.

So, last Sunday, I ordered Bosch Fuel Injection & Engine Management, and How To Tune And Modify Bosch Fuel Injection from Amazon. They shipped Monday afternoon, via "SuperSaver" (USPS), and arrived today. I think the Post Office generally gets a bum rap. They have improved greatly over the past couple of decades, and generally beat UPS and FedEx for routine "ground" shipping.

So, in a couple of days (in which it should be raining anyway) I should be ready to troubleshoot this thing. I'll post on it.
 
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A blog dedicated to the personal musings of Kevin L. Connors - a pragmatic libertarian, engineer, businessman, and journalist.

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