Archive for April, 2008

A C306 made of rust

April 27th, 2008

Bajeezus. Everywhere I look I find more and more rust. Here’s the back of the bumper where 3-4mm of steel has rusted through — this is where the mudflap attaches.

The mudflap design is somewhat flawed — the mudflap extends up as well as down from the attachment point. This creates a shelf for dirt and water to collect and promote rust.

I have metalworking and welding equipment, so repairs are possible, but they are time consuming, especially if you want to do it right so rust doesn’t reappear down the road.

Here’s the footwells where I removed the rusty areas and welded in stainless panels. Water collects in this area and festers rust. The stainless will prevent that in the future.



Welding the stainless and chasing down all seams is a pretty time consuming task.

I don’t have to do the cleanest of jobs because all of this will be covered by sound dampening material. Here, I have it layed out but not glued down.

I’ll post about the sound dampening stuff soon.

For rusty areas where I’m not replacing the panels, Eastwood makes a really great rust converter product.    It converts red rust into a black iron oxide form.

This is then covered with Eastwood’s Rust Encapsulator which is similar to the popular POR15, but supposedly better.

If I were to do it again, I’d buy an aluminum-zinc military C304/6 and paint it red. That is if I could get a TGB13/20 with medium fast 7.05 axles like Trög has. All this time rectifying vehicular neglect could have been spent installing camper systems.


Trog Rolls!

April 24th, 2008

Marshall came down to the shop yesterday to help me bleed the brakes and put the wheels on. After sitting for about a month, Trog started right up. As we were backing out of the shop, we noticed some fluid leaking. At first i thought it was some brake fluid from a bleeder port i forgot to close up, but further investigation revealed it was gas. Eeeek! It turns out the previous mechanic who serviced the carburators hooked up new fuel lines, but he forgot to use hose clamps! Tsk tsk tsk. Scary. Do mechanics have liability insurance? Was it the same mechanic that creatively screwdrivered the thermostat? What other shortcuts will I find?

After bleeding the brakes 3-4x, they are still spongy. This is even with a powerbleeder. I think I’m going to take them to a brake shop to be bled properly.


Pretty Sneaky!

April 22nd, 2008

Check out the old thermostat:

The mechanic who last worked on Trog’s cooling took a screwdriver and tweaked the thermostat valve permanently open. Probably too lazy to order a new part and figured this would fix the problem. Tsk tsk tsk.

This explains the << 90C coolant temps on the way home.


Brakes redux

April 22nd, 2008

I swear, this is the last brake post.   Ok, maybe one more about my adventures in bleeding tomorrow.

I got the modified brake lines back from Doug at Brake and Clutch Supply.   Dear reader, as you remember, the feed lines to the lower wheel cylinders on the front wheels is all wrong.   The lines feed to the upper port, not the lower port.   This means any bubble caught in the wheel cylinder won’t burp out when the brake lines are bled.   I have no idea why Volvo did it this way.

Old (removed and held for photo)


In retrospect, I could have ran a longer flex-line from the axle directly to the wheel cylinder.   That would have saved a lot of hassle and the $40 for Brake and Clutch Supply to make each new hard line.

Repairs, Trog

Interior Upholstery Prototyping

April 22nd, 2008

I did a little prototyping of interior work a few days ago. I picked up some 2mm Sintra at Laird Plastics in Seattle. Laird is a great place with friendly helpful people. Sintra is cool stuff. It’s an expanded PVC board, often used in the sign industry. It’s also really good for the backing for automotive upholstery panels. It’s fairly rigid, super easy to cut with a boxcutter or bandsaw, or file with a file. And it thermoforms with a heat gun.

I first took some cardboard and made a template. Then cut out 2 copies of it in Sintra. I use two layers because the clips that hold the door to the frame will show thru otherwise. You know the clips, those annoying plastic ones that look like xmas trees that hold the panels and upholstery in your car. They are good for maybe two uses before being destroyed.

Luckily they are cheap and readily available.

The first layer of Sintra, closest to the door has a hole drilled a little larger than the head diameter, with a slot with width just bigger than the clip’s stem diameter cut off of it. On the second layer, I make sure that there’s no glue in the region so the clip can slide between the layers. I need to take a picture of this to make this more clear.

Some upholstery guys like to use old (60s era and before) metal clips. The Au Ve Co 10780 or 2385 clips are popular. These clips last a lot longer, but are a bit fiddlier. Then again, they are more tolerant of misaligned holes.

The first layer is placed on the door and holes are drilled for the clips.

The next layer is 1/4″ of some open cell headliner foam I got at Pacific Fabrics. I have some 1/4″ Volara closed cell foam on order, which I’ll use when I do this for real. Finally I used a layer of Passion Suede, also from Pacific Fabrics. I’m not 100% on using the fake suede…not sure what else I’d use though.

All layers were glued together using 3M Super 77. There’s better PVC cement available from Laird, but Super 77 seems to work good enough. The Sintra was scuffed with 120 grit sandpaper for better adhesion.

The embossed “feature” in the lower panel is me messing around with multiple layers of foam to break up the monotony of the surface. It’s still a bit awkward looking. I bet I could achieve similar effects by slumping the panel over a male mold with a heat gun. I didn’t glue down the grey fabric either — if i did the wrinkles wouldn’t be there.

I also messed up on the lower convex corner — should be rounded.

Looks like I’ll go with the grey and red color scheme in the font cabin. The rear cabin will probably be something more homey.


Tires and Wheels Done!

April 21st, 2008

Finally, after 3 weeks of effort, Costco removing the old tires, sand blasting, powder coating, the SprayKing debacle, painting them myself, having Costco install the tires, the tires and wheels are done. For comparison, check out Colby’s experience

I elected to put BFGoodrich All-Terrain 315/75/R16 tires on. I considered the Mud-Terrain tires but decided that I’d be on the road far more than mud-bogging and the sanity of less road noise was worth the lack of traction off road.

I temporarily installed a couple on the rear. (These things are HEAVY — the Costco guys pointed that out a number of times!)

I like the Pi/2 out of phase version. A poll of friends was also unanimous. I’m still waiting for the chrome lugnuts I bought via EBay.

A note on lug nuts. The wheel studs are 9/16 x 18 RH threads. This is a relatively rare thread, with not a lot of choices for lug nuts. There are a lot of 2″ long lug nuts available, but they may look a little too much like Messsala’s spiked chariot wheels in Ben-Hur with the extreme offset of the C30x’s. I ended up finding some 1.4″ long Tunerlugs.

Hopefully they won’t look silly. I had to buy 60 total – I *only* need 48. Turns out I’m going to use 4 to hold the rear bumper in place — if I want to flip it up, I can use the same lug wrench I’m already carrying for the wheels.

Now, I’m just waiting for the brake shop to finally make new front brake hard lines and Trog should be rolling again!


Cardboard Camper

April 20th, 2008

So the camper conversion went much smoother and quicker than I thought. Here’s a couple inside pix

Bench seating on both sides, the bed is two sections, the forward section sets over the folded down bench seat in the mid-cabin. The white box is a drawer style marine refrigerator

and check out the slide-out add-a-room, like on high end RVs!

The propane stove is attached to the door so you can cook outside, or in really bad conditions inside while squatting. If you look closely, you can see I’m cooking up some Indian fry bread and an acorn squash. Yum. To the right of the door is a detachable sink that uses the same faucet as the external shower.

The cool thing about this conversion is if anything gets trashed, it’s super easy to replace.

Camper, Trog

Rear Window and Weatherstripping part I

April 19th, 2008

The rear window is a a piece of metal right now. I’m going to replace it with glass.

I popped my rear window and took a photo of the cross-section of the weather stripping.


The best match at is E713. You’ll need 9′ of it.

I haven’t tried it, and it’s not an exact match, but i think it will work. The Soffseal stuff is maybe 1/16 to 1/8 thicker on the outside portion. There’s room on the outer window “shelf” for something like that.

The factory volvo seal is a single molded unit, (no seams at the corners).

I believe the side door fixed window weatherstripping best match is E750. I haven’t popped the windows to check for sure. 15′ will do both windows.


It’s Spray King, It’s Breaking

April 16th, 2008

Lately, I’ve spent way too much time getting the wheels finished. About a week ago, I picked up the rims, from American Powder Coating. They weren’t able to powder coat in a pattern, so I had them powdercoat with a white, and then paint on the two black quadrants. After being talked out of doing it myself at the auto paint supply store, I went to Spray King in Lynnwood, WA.   Spray King is also reported to be one of the cheaper shops in the Seattle area.

Eric, they guy I talked to was very personable, and friendly. He offers me a few tips on doing the masking myself so all he’d do is spray them for $25 a rim. He even offers to come down to my shop to inspect Trog to see about some future work. He said his father told him to help people out, even if it didn’t make a buck. Because of his attitude and friendliness, I was looking forward to working with him more.

So, I spend a sunny day masking the rims, scuffing the area to be black, and then bring them in. Eric’s brother is there and he checks out the rims and the masking. No problem he says, and he writes up a work order for $25 a rim.

About 2 hours later I get this aggressive call from Eric. He growls that I’m trying to work him over, to get him to lose money and that he’s going to have to redo everything I did. I tell him I want to work with him, not rip him off, if it takes more work, I’m willing to pay it, or rectify the masking job. He tells me he’s going to try scuffing one rim and call me back.

30 minutes later, he’s again angry and aggressive telling me he’d rather make money other ways. Finally, sick of his passive aggressive mood swings, I tell him he should make money other ways and that I will be by to pick up the rims the next day.

Maybe it’s the fumes? I did some Googling of inhalant abuse and found this:

  • long-term abuse of inhalants may result in cognitive impairment, difficulty in concentration, anxiety, apathy, mood swings, depression, hostility, and ultimately severe brain damage or death.

Sounds about right.

Anyway, I ended up picking up the supplies to do it myself. Now, I can have an excuse for teh mood swings!


Wheels and Tires

April 16th, 2008

I had my wheels sandblasted at Flamespray Northwest and powder coated 20% gloss white at American Powder Coating. Unfortunately, APC raised their prices significantly after they lost money on Colby’s wheels. Doh

I’m restoring the black and white quadrant styling on the wheels and hubs. I believe it’s there so you can tell if the vehicle is moving from far away. Here’s the hubs painted:

I used ceramic engine paint because this area can get hot when braking. That stuff is really nice to work with — it flows really well and creates a very hard surface. I’m not sure about how it holds up in UV light so I clear coated it with an U-Pol #1 UV protective clearcoat I got at a Wesco auto paint store. The U-Pol Clear #1 is really nice professional stuff — it has solvents I haven’t smelled in spray paints since I was a kid — so it must work well.

The wheels masked and scuffed before going to the paint shop:

And everything bolted back with BFG A/T tires on (note the bling chrome lug nuts)

I’ll talk about my rational for All Terrain vs Mud Terrain in a separate post.

Repairs, Trog

Shiny Happy Handles

April 13th, 2008

The plastic grab handles on the rear of Trog polish up quite well. Here’s a shot of one polished, the other not.

I used Dico blue compound 529-PBC-B with a buffing wheel.

Repairs, Trog


April 9th, 2008

I installed new shocks today. The old ones were rusted and not very absorbery. Not much interesting to say, just posting the info here for posterity.

The shocks are Bilstein 5150 BF5-A196-H1 shocks

Part Number Travel Description Valving Reservoir Ext Length Col Length Shaft Dia Mounting
BF5-A196-H1 10.02 5150 Crossflow 255/70 Attached 25.91 15.89 14mm eye/eye

Which match pretty close to the Bogen stock shocks (Volvo part # 637962-2). which are fully extended 26.25″ and compressed 16″.

On the rear bogie axles, the axle extension limit cables stop the axles at 9″ of shock extension.  Nice!

I also ordered 6 3/4″ bushings as the default bushings are too small.

I’m not so happy with the silver powder coating — it looks a bit funny next to the black/olive green.

I elected not to use shock boots because I think they just collect dirt and mud inside, plus they look funny to me .

Thanks to Colby for figuring out all the shock stuff…I just implemented what he spec’ed.


Yahoo Volvo303 message archive

April 8th, 2008

I used the script to download all ~6310 Yahoo Volvo303 user group messages into one archive. This allows me to import the messages into my mail client, where searching and reading by threads is infinitely easier than via the Yahoo web interface.

Instructions for a few mail clients follow.



To import into,

  • Unzip to a folder
  • From, File/Import Mailboxes…
  • Import Other
  • Select the folder where you unzipped the volvo303.mbox file

For Outlook Express:


To import into Outlook Express

  • Unzip to a directory
  • File/Import Messages
  • Microsoft Outlook Express 6
  • Import mail from an OE6 store directory
  • point to directory where you unzipped the files
  • select the volvo303 folder

For other mail clients (Outlook, in particular, which is truly a sorry program), the easiest (honest) way is to import into Outlook Express. Then use Outlook to import the Outlook Express mail store. Same for Thunderbird.

Set up your mail client to filter new messages to the mail folder where you stored the imported messages so it stays updated.

If you have problems importing into your mail client, let me know by commenting on the blog entry and I’ll see if I can help you.

Note that the perl script had problems with a few messages, maybe < 1%, so some may be missing.

I read over the Yahoo terms of service and I’m pretty sure this doesn’t violate it.


Brakes, Gentleman’s Work

April 8th, 2008


Brake work, ideally, should be gentleman’s work. Fussing and cussing shouldn’t be necessary. If you are doing things right, they sort of slip on with only a minimal bit of prying to fit the shoes. Not true for me, at least at first.

First problem is the copy of the service manual I have doesn’t have the best pictures of how to arrange the springs on the shoes. Do they go in front or back? I read wrong the first time. Here’s a color pic of how they should go (behind the shoes). Also included is a shot of my shop made version of tool 6118 which protects the boots on the wheel cylinders.


Once on, over the kingpin there are lots of configurations that are almost right, but aren’t. Lots of fussing and crying ensues.

Some needlenose vice grips are great for attaching the upper return spring:


Once you get the right position, the shoes slip right into the slots on the wheel cylinders prying with a screwdriver using the 6118 tool as a rest works well.

It’s a good thing Trog has four back wheels — I finally got good at it on the fourth wheel.

I didn’t install the front brake shoes, because I think I encountered a significant bug in the design of the Volvo brakes. The front lower wheel cylinders are fed wrong! Check out how the feed tube feeds to the upper port on the wheel cylinder. This should make bleeding air out of the system just about impossible. I am having new feed tubes fabricated to connect to the lower port.


Finally, I have installed Mintex brand brake shoes. Hopefully they are good — I have read good and bad things about them on the web.

The Volvo uses the same brakes as a Series 3 109″ LWB Land Rover. Here’s my order from

Item Description Weight ShippingQty Amount
STC2797G Brakes Rear 109 Mintex S/s of RTC3418 2 107.38
STC3944G Brakeshoe Set FRT 109 4 Cyl Plain Box S/s of RTC3417 8.19LB1 47.99   — These are the wrong part!!! I should have gotten STC3945 — update, 3945 might be wrong too.   Just get them re-shoed!
600200= W/CYL LH FRT 6 CYL DELPHI 2 107.90
600201= W/CYL RH FRT 6CYL DELPHI 2 107.90
243296D Wheel Cylinder – RH Lockheed 1.24lb2 40.22
243297D Wheel Cylinder – LH Lockheed 1.24lb2 40.22
548169D Return Spring Rear 109 0.1lb4 11.00
531893D Spring Shoe Return 109 Pattern 0.09lb4 7.00
234889 Spring Shoe Return 109 Frt 0.11lb4 9.00
RTC3386D Brake Hose Ser IIa Frt & ser III rear 0.22lb3 29.97
RTC5903D Brake Hose ser III Frt 0.224 39.96
RTC3353D Brake Hose 109Rear Patt 0.221 9.95
556508= Bleed/Screw W/CYL 0.02lb4 4.60
252621 Stud 6 2.16
252621 Stud 2 0.00
They seemed to have the best prices in the US.

I also ordered flex brake lines for the jumps from the frame to the axles as well as the front wheels. It turns out the RTC3386D and RTC3353D are too short. I ended up having a Brake and Clutch Supply, a very good local brake shop make longer ones for me. The RTC5903D hoses which go from the front axle to the front wheels are the right length. The studs were also unnecessary.

Finally, one other tidbit. The red return springs for the rear brakes need a little bit of the ends of the springs ground off for them to fit in the appropriate hole in the brake shoes.

Update: The front brake shoes aren’t exact matches. They are narrower by about 3/4″ and the tongue that slips into the wheel cylinder is about 1/2″ too long. I had to grind it down to size. We’ll see how stopping power is w/ less contact area. I’m getting the old shoes re-padded at a brake shop so I may need to swap them.   See above, these are the wrong shoes.

Update:  I got the old shoes repadded at Brake and Clutch Supply and they are now installed.


Possible Camper Designs

April 8th, 2008

This is an old post that I’ve been sitting on, waiting for a few more edits. Now I’m planning something somewhat different. My final design is hinted at at the end.

The Volvo, despite being rather tall has a relatively low roof inside the rear cabin. Floor to ceiling height is approx 4 ft. I played around with a couple possibilities for the camper roof. Here’s a couple fixed roof designs that would give me standing room (I’m6’5″)

With roof height extension of 30″ or so, that preserves the rotolights. Awkward…

(using an old pic of Trog, before the current paint job).


Full length, dressed up a bit by my designer friend Marshall.


I prefer this version, but I’m worried about the extra windage trogging Trog even more.

Another option is to use a Eurovan popup lid, with the hinge side reversed (Eurovans pop up with the high side forward)


Finally, not shown is to do something like Colby intends and pop up all four corners equally. This makes for a lot more usable space below, but greatly complicates the mechanism. Shear strength and coordinated extension of the four posts (or scissor lifts) can be tricky. If i go with a four post mechanism, I’m considering going with something scavanged from a popup trailer.



Colby got his new roof panel at (warning, site requires Internet Explorer)  The panels are slick aluminum honeycomb core units that are very strong and relatively lightweight. Even lighter are Nida-Core panels which are plastic.


Brake Drums

April 5th, 2008

Yesterday I got my rims and brake drums back from sandblasting at FlameSpray Northwest. I told them not to blast the inner races of the drums since I was going to have the drums turned. However, they blasted them anyway. I took them into a brake shop and they said I don’t need to turn them, that the new pads would just fill in the pocks left by the sandblaster.

The drums came from the sandblaster with rust in some of the pocks. I don’t know if that happened while they were sitting at the sandblast shop or if it’s an artifact of how cast iron rusts. The sandblast guy indicated it was normal.

So, I had to remove the rust before priming and painting them. Harbor Freight and Eastwood sell a rust remover that I’m pretty sure is the same stuff — I mixed them and nothing exploded. It works really well too.   I dropped a very rusty light reflector in it and the next day it was completely free of rust, with no damage to the chrome or brass parts. trog-brake-drums-312.jpg

Rusty, the guy I share the shop with took offense.

The Oly beer, being damn near water, seemed an appropriate displacer to raise the liquid line.

The drums, with the races masked, hung up and painted with a high temp engine paint



More Footroom!

April 3rd, 2008

While fixing the rust in the driver footwell, I realized that I could easily create a little more room for my foot there. I have size 13 feet and they are quite cramped when driving. By cutting out a portion of the footwell, I can create some heel-room.



So much better!


Only 2-3″ of the cutout is in the wheel well. This shouldn’t cause any interference with the tires.

And new stainless piece welded in. After cutting the stainless and bending it into shape, I TIG welded the seams together. Inside Trog TIG welding would be nearly impossible so I just MIG welded it in. I had to make a kajillion tiny welds because I couldn’t remove the undercoating behind. Every weld I’d have to take off my mask, dive to the ground, get on the creeper, grab a wet towel and weave my hand thru frame, steering and brake parts to make sure that Trog wasn’t burning on the other side. This made for some not so pretty welds and a rather sore Wes.


Modifications, Trog

Camper Design Final

April 1st, 2008

So I’ve been scratching my head a lot in the past few weeks. How can I best do the camper conversion on Trog? I’m really tall (6’5″) so even adding a popup gets difficult engineering wise. I really want standing room, even with the bed set up. Finally, I had an aha moment and figured it out. The answer was parked in my driveway! Trog was going to replace my Eurovan camper when I finished, but this way it can just subsume it!


So simple. I don’t need to worry about sealing seams, popup mechanisms or anything. All I have to do is cut the Eurovan in half and then cut the roof of Trog and then simply weld the two together!

Of course I’ll paint the Eurovan part to match Trog’s red.

You know the best part about all this. I’m going to the Euovan’s motor as the drive motor. It’s a sweet 3.0L V6 that puts out 200HP and loves to rev fast. I just need to couple the output via some shafting to the Volvo’s drive system. Maybe use a diff locked portal axle? It’s almost the right size.

Some may laugh at my idea, but I spy a droll oaf.