Archive for March, 2009

Pulling the Steering Wheel

March 29th, 2009

I spent the day rewiring the electrical system.   In the process, I have put an ignition switch on the instrument panel.     To keep things tidy, I decided to remove the old ignition switch and cowling.   This involved removing the steering wheel.   What I thought was a simple task ended up taking a few hours.    The service manual indicates to use a special Volvo tool.


This tool pulls the wheel without damaging the plastic.    Not having that tool, I tried making my own.    As you can imagine from the bodgy welds, this version took many iterations, all failing, from bending the clamp to cracked welds.


Ok, something simpler.

I made up an aluminum ring with a conical interior profile to match the steel turn signal cancel ring.


Using that and a gear puller and it came off, still with a fair amount of effort.


I’m thinking of installing the wheel in the foreground as the new wheel:


It’s 20″ in diam, vs 17″ for the stock wheel.   So I’ll have to make it mount a little higher for leg clearance.

I’d love to tilt the steering column forward a little bit as well, but doing so would require fabbing a new bracket down near the steering box.

Camper, Trog

Cabinet Frames

March 23rd, 2009

Miguel has been helping me with welding up the stainless steel cabinet frames.     Here’s the left and right frames in place in Trog:

Looking aft:


and from the rear:


On the right is the kitchen, at 35″ from the floor.   The kitchen has a refrigerator aft, and a stove/sink above.    The 9″x10″x65″ area between the cabinet front and the right wheel well will be a 27 gallon freshwater tank made of 316 stainless.    On the left, the cabinets are 43″ high.   They feature a  hanging closet and an exterior accessible storage area via the old roll-top doors which I will convert into flip-out hatches.

The cabinets will be “skinned” by some 1/4″ to 3/8″ bamboo plywood inset a bit from the frame.    The ply is fastened to the frames by button head screws so any panel can be removed for access to wiring or plumbing behind.    The cabinets themselves are also bolted to the floor/sides so they could potentially be removed and modified  for reconfiguration.

I still haven’t figured out what the cabinet top material will be.    I’d love to get my hands on a granite on honeycomb composite, but I’ve only found them available in the theoretical from China (There’s many many hits to the search “granite laminate honeycomb”, but all of them are from Chinese firms.   I suspect that none of these firms actually make the product but will if there is a customer).

Working in the shop with Miguel has been fun.   He taught me a bunch of metal working many years ago.    With his help, we’ve been able to make the frames square to 1/32″ of an inch — something that isn’t too easy with stainless which loves to heat-warp.


Next up is the seats forward of the cabinets.


CNS ripped out

March 23rd, 2009

On Saturday, Marshall helped me rip out the old Trog wiring.


The old wiring mess.    Most of the ugliness is due to Tollarp, the company who half-hazardly installed the firetruck system wiring.   Lots of thirty year old electrical tape at every junction.


The bounty.



Nice clean dash.   The remaining wires are from the new electic fan and headlight circuits.


I should have done this earlier.    Now I have great access to hoses and other mechanical parts such as the brakes, clutch, heater and stearing.


Brakes again…Picture explains some things

March 19th, 2009

One of the brake fluid reservoirs keeps emptying, and I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out where the brake fluid goes.   It does soak into the concrete and evaporate, so a slow leak could go unnoticed.

However….this pic shows where the mystery fluid went.


That’s the upper brake servo.    Upon opening it 1 liter of brake fluid came gushing out!    Ooops.

Alternating brake fluid colors between blue and yellow lets you know when you have completely bled the system when replacing all the brake fluid.


I suspect moisture in the brake fluid caused the slave cylinder walls to corrode, allowing brake fluid to sneak past the cup seal and into the vacuum chamber on the right.   Fluid could have also slipped by the reaction piston as well.  Surprisingly the rubber bellows and seals seemed to be in great condition.

Here’s a pic of a more modern slave and reaction piston.


Slave piston on top, reaction on bottom.    The reaction piston in Trog only had 1 O ring seal – a failure point addressed with the double seal in later revisiion….so that could be the culprit.   (Pic stolen from the website linked below)

Here’s a page on a rebuild of the servos

I could have possibly had the cylinder sleaved with chromed inserts, but given that the whole unit is 30 years old and it is an essential safety feature, I think replacement is prudent.

The new replacements from SNG Barrat USA have a higher boost ratio as well at 4.25:1 vs 3:1 of the old servos (I’m not 100% sure the old ones are 3:1).  This means the braking power will be increased.

Will the brake saga end here?    There is a 30 year old master cylinder that I haven’t dug into yet….

UPDATE (3/11/2010):   The old boost ratio is “approx 4x” according to the service manual. A reader pointed out that the vacuum shell, slave and reaction cylinder diameters are the same on the LR18230 as on the stock servo (8″, 5/8″ and 3/8″ respectively).   So it makes sense the boost ratio would be the same.


Speaker Pods

March 12th, 2009

A while back I picked up some Alpine SPR-13S speakers, intending to make some mounting pods above the front window.    In the end, I decided to mount them in the door.    The doors are only about 1.5″ thick — not enough for the woofers.     So I had to make extension pods.    I found some 6″ round tube at a local industrial supply place.   The front of the pods was cut on the lathe using a faceplate, a live center to keep the plate on the faceplate and a set screw thru the steel into the faceplate to act as a lathe dog.


The just painted doors had to be ground down so the pods could be welded in place.    Note the sound dampening Damplifier and Spectrum Sludge in the cavity.   This helps dampen any resonance and or rattles of the metal door.


There are a couple “ports” in the door — hopefully they won’t create weird sound artifacts. Trog is so loud that I’m not really shooting for audiophile sound anyway.

Finished and painted with the (plastic…) grills set in place.


Look for a post sometime soon where I break the plastic grills and have to fab up something out of stainless steel.


Guillotining your family is bad, mkay.

March 12th, 2009

So the Thern 472 winch that I was  using to lift the camper top has an unfortunate bug.    The winch is a worm drive winch.    Typically worm drives don’t (or are very difficult) to drive from the output shaft.    This acts as a natural brake.    When lowering the roof,  if the drill slips off the drive nut, the roof can continue to fall at an alarming rate.    If someone happened to be inside standing up, they would certainly suffer spinal injuries.   And if they had a head one of the windows in the canvas it would sever said head.    Not good.

Thern makes winches that are good for lifting that have a brake to prevent run-away drops.    The 4622-PB winch:


This is a smaller winch and the winch drum is a too small for the ropes to fit in one wrap.     So I disassembled it and extended the drum with some pipe turned on the lathe and welded in a new section to the frame.



I could have removed the brake and mounted that on the old winch, but it was secured to the input shaft with a set-pin that I could not for the life of me punch out.    Also there are a few clearance issues with the lift poles that I would have had to figure out as well.

Once the roof is raised, I will have some Kwik-Lok pins which will pin thru holes in the lift poles and guide tubes to secure the roof and prevent it from falling in the unlikely event of a rope or pulley breaking.



New Wiring Harness

March 11th, 2009

Longingly gazing at the dash area, trying to find a place for the stereo, my attention went to the “glove compartment” area in front of the passenger.   If I move the fuse panel and relays out of there, it could go there. Not ideal for the driver to manage the stereo, but still possible, i think. The tangle of wire in Trog has always bugged me, and I’ve spent some time cleaning it up. However, Tollarp, the folks who did the firetruck conversion did a really bodgy job. Plus the 30 year old connectors are starting to fail. Finally, I’ll never have Trog so opened up to make wiring easy, so I might as well do it.

Good place to get info, and to buy some of these harnesses

They have a pretty comprehensive FAQ about wiring harnesses.

Most all feature wire that is unique in color for every circuit, and labeled every few inches. That alone is worth getting the kits vs doing it myself with just a few colors of wire that I would purchase.

Most manufacturers make harnesses with 15 or 22 circuits. Though the 15 would be enough for Trog I wanted the extra expandability, say if I add power door locks.

KwikWire KW22

Good quality, made in USA, back of panel is soldered, not crimped. Not a lot of extras, decent price.

Engine ignition disconnect switch at panel (for theft security)

No online manual available.

$90: extender kit to mount the harness behind the passenger seat.
$35: Instrument panel disconnect
$229: KW22 22 ckt harness
Total: $334


KeepItKlean EZ22
Cheapest, all crimped, made in China.   Publishes it’s install manual online.
$90: trunk kit (have to use Kwikwires, so wire colors and numbers won’t match…)
$35: instrument disconnect
$159: EZ22 22 ckt harness
Total: $284


American Autowire HiWay22
Highest quality. Lots of extra wire. Great instructions (I found some scans on the web), though they should publish their manual online.
Lots of extras, some that I don’t need, like a dimmer switch and headlight knob and ignition switch
Lots of useful extras, like grommets, alternator diode, big master maxi fuse,
Can run wire from center of their run, with connectors at the fuse box.   (using proprietary Hooke’s law technology.   Heh.   Hilarious.   — Hooke was a 17th century scientist who described the properties of springs.  It’s marketing-sprechen for it uses sprung metal to hold the wires in place.
All power wires are 12ga..
Wires are extra length so no need for trunk kit.
Instrument disconnect included.
$384 (ebay): HiWay22 harness
Total: $384


Ron Francis: Express

Looks like a good kit. I just refuse to buy anything that uses Hot-Dog font (Comic Sans Serif is another one that kills sales for me)

No specs on wire sizes (just proper size)

No online manual.

$429: XP-66
Total: $429


CentecWire: K20-B
Didn’t look too closely at this one. Their website doesn’t give much info.
$349: K20
Total $349+?


Painless: 10220 18 ckt trunk harness

Crap install manual, no circuit diagram, TXL wires, will need to buy grommets, has maxi fuse.  Overpriced, overhyped.

$88 : 30301 Instrument Panel disconnect
$444 (ebay): 10220 harness
Total $532

TXL vs GXL vs SXL vs SGX wiring

There are a few others as well, but I ruled them out for various reasons.

I ended up going with the American Autowire Hiway 22. It’s a bit more spendy, but in the end it’ll save me at least 2 trips to the store for grommets or whatnot. If I were to keep the right front dash compartment placement, I’d probably go with the Kwikwire kit — it is compact and looks well built.

Finally, a note to wiring manufacturers if they happen to stumble upon this blog.   Please please please publish more information about your harnesses!   Post your online manual.  Post the type, guages and lengths of each wire.   Post a wiring diagram.   All of these would have made evaluating their kits way easier.    I’m not sure why the manufacturers are so obtuse?   It’s not like a competitor will steal your info — they could buy a harness and clone it if they wanted to.   All harnesses are somewhat similiar, so a customer could use your clearer instructions when installing a competitors wire.    But does that really hurt you?   Because of your superior manual, that person will likely become a customer of yours when he rewires his next car.    Who knows, maybe I could have gotten over the Ron Francis Hot Dog font and bought yours, Mr Francis if you had provided more info.

Kudos to the EZ2Wire folks for publishing their install manual and ckt diagram and good info on various brands kits.


Propane Installed

March 6th, 2009

The hot-dog propane tank finally mounted:


Feeds go to the heater, stove and a rear bumper mounted quick release fitting for an external BBQ that’ll mount on the rear bumper.   The tank is 10″ in diameter — it ends up reducing ground clearance a bit…not much more than the existing drivetrain.

The Precision Temp Junior heater installed.   I still have to plumb and hook up the electrical.


It sure would have been good to use that volume for a tank or something.


Brake Bleeding with the Motive Power Bleeder

March 1st, 2009

A friend recently asked me about the brake bleeder that I use and what I thought of it.    This is an edited version of the email I sent.

It’s the Motive Products Power Bleeder with 45mm threaded hydraulic fluid reservoir cap.


It’s basically a bug sprayer with a pressure gauge and adapters for the brake fluid reservoirs.
It’s the only brake bleeder I’ve used, so I can’t compare.

It seems to work fairly well, despite having annoyances.

I added a tee to the hose and installed a second cap so I can bleed both sides at the same time (the reality is i keep forgetting which reservoir corresponds to which wheel cylinder!).

Installing the caps on the reservoir is a pain  — you have to pre-twist the hoses just right.

I keep losing the gaskets in the caps, and have to remake them out of old innertubes.

I wish there was a pressure release valve — when you are done, losing the extra pressure before removing the reservoir caps is somewhat difficult.

Also, it leaves the reservoirs over-full — you have to drain the extra by inverting the Power Bleeder and cracking a bleed valve.    Some sort of suck-back or way of displacing the fluid with air would be cool.

The catch bottle kit is useful too.    It helps prevent air being sucked in from the nipple if you lose pressure.    Unfortunately the hose that comes with it is just a tad too small for the nipples on the volvo bleed valves.    I have yet to fix this (I always remember to do this while cursing the brake fluid all over me, upside down under Trog.).     I’m going to add a high strength magnet to the catch bottle tether — finding a random protrusion/nut to hook them over is sometimes difficult.

I bet using a bleeder kit that uses vacuum to draw fluid from the bleeder valves  would be good in conjunction with the Motive — to get those bubbles you know are hiding out in the high points above and in the servos.

I also bleed from the top of the servos (just crack the 17 (or 18)mm nut at the top and bleed til bubbles go away.   It create a royal mess, dripping brake fluid over various stuff below.

Access to the bleed valves on the wheel cylinders is tough for some of them.    I’ve spent a fair amount of oxy-acetylene time bending a wrench contorted to reach.    What would be awesome would be a ratchet socket on a universal wobble joint, with an internal hose — not sure how that’d all work out though.


TrogBlog moved here!

March 1st, 2009

Welcome to   I have moved the old TrogBlog which was on over here.  Hopefully all posts, comments, media and whatnot transferred without a hitch.