Thursday, May 29, 2008

The $500 Volvo Mule

1982 Volvo 245GLT, Turbo, Intercooler, 4spd+OD M46, Open Diff', 148K miles.

As explained in an earlier post, this car was purchased with this trip in mind. I may be tempting fate with it though. Just last week I had to park it because the alternator bit the big one; shorted diode(s). I spent the better part of the day on Friday trying to get another alternator. I ended up driving my 1966 Volvo to Houston for work. I wasn't able to source a replacement until Monday evening when I got home. That cost me $164+core. But I upgraded to the 80 amp version.

So far, Tyler helped me replace the engine and transmission mounts. Tony, my mechanic, removed the A/C hose that had blown apart and I took it to Tyler (the town, not the man) to have it repaired. Tony installed it, pulled a vacuum, and recharged the system. Total cost was $125.

I have purchased several bits, pieces, parts, and service items for the car from IPD and other sources. So far, with the A/C and alternator repairs my $500 car has cost me an additional $500. I am right at the dollar amount I set for myself when I started searching for a used Volvo wagon to make this trip. But, wait a minute. The expenditures may just be beginning...

As I was replacing the alternator this past Tuesday I gave the underside of the car a good look for the first time. All the bushings in the suspension are shot. I knew that. The inner ball joints on the steering arms are shot. I didn't know that, only that the steering had a "dead spot" on center and a mild vibration at speed. The oil cooler for the turbo has been contacting the left side tank of the radiator for some period of time unknown. The result has been a deep gouge in the tank. I don't know how much metal is left in the gouged out area. It is definitely something I must watch closely, like at every gas stop, for signs of leakage. I won't bother Tyler with that information; he tends to worry about little things like loosing all the coolant in the middle of nowhere. ;-)

The car is pushing a bit of oil from it's seams. I will clean the tube rising up from the side of the block for the PCV system but I think the problem may be the dreaded blow-by failure mode. Even if the engine is gasping it's last, it should last the summer.

The turbo is, I think, dying. It whines a bit more than it did when I picked up the car. I noticed a bit of oil seeping out of the housing at start up after I replaced the alternator. I have never owned a turbocharged car before so I am making an undereducated guess about the life left in the turbo; maybe 10,000 miles? I hope so. If it flings it's innards on the trip I will have to source another one on the road. That could get to be expensive and time consuming. Que serĂ¡.

The transmission constantly pisses fluid out of both ends. I made arrangements with a fellow in Calgary to supply me with another M46. I will bring it home to do the swap. In fact, I may have my mechanic do it for it me; that is just how lazy I am getting in my old age, I would rather pay someone else than do it myself 99% of the time. I could legitimately blame my aversion to lifting transmissions under cars on jack stands on my back problem. Truth told, I would probably pay Tony to do it regardless of this nagging backache.

There are several more little worn out items that won't stop the car but will present interesting problem solving exercises should they fail. Rest assured I will share all in this trip journal should the need arise. ;-)

The countdown continues: Five days to departure.

Stay tuned. More to come...


Blogger peters said...

I hope you checked your breather line to the mannifold. A small blockage in the plastic connector will cause positive pressure in the system and the oil blow by and leaking on the turbo you described.

If you go the route threw the Yellowhead stop at Hazelton and see the Indian museum. The hike into ring bolt island and the gorge is also worth at stop near the point were you head north off the Yellowstone.

May 31, 2008 9:21 PM  

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