Show me your Vul...Volvo!
August 17, 2009 6:43 AM   Subscribe

This is a question about a 30 year old Volvo and making it awesome. HHO generators, paint, and maintenance included.

So the other day I was innocuously sitting at work, and I decided to pop onto craigslist. Lo and behold but do I see before me a posting entitled:

"1979 Volvo $200", so I click it.

Inside, it says "Runs great, 190,000 miles, just don't need it any more."

So of course I go look at it, and it's awesome. Truly amazing. I say "$200? You're sure?" And he says "Yea, I figured anyone who would buy this thing would have to be looking for this exact car." So I hand him $200 and I drive it home.

It's great. Shifts perfectly (manual, cable clutch), overdrive works great, interior is in good shape, all lights work, dry...everything. I also have the service records for the entire life of the car but the last 20k miles.

It's a 1979 Volvo 245 DL, it's got the 2.1 engine and the Lambda Sond package.

I have ordered the Haynes manual from abebooks, ($8 shipped!) and it's on its way, in the mean time I'm just looking for ideas.

I'm going to build an HHO generator for it, and even if I don't get anything out of it (mileage wise), I think it'll be a fun learning experiment to create flammable gas. If anyone has experience, plans, warnings, whatever, I'd love to hear from you.

All the car needs, I think, are paint (they sprayed it silver) and to have the mixture adjusted, it's running a little rich.

What awesome things should I do to this car? The chrome is all intact and perfect, the stainless and aluminum are all there too and there's no rust or pitting. I'm thinking flat-black paint to make the chrome pop. What color do YOU think would make it awesome? I also considered grinding it down to shiny metal and clearcoating it.

I'm also considering putting the back window on a hinge so that I can open and close it independently of the hatch.

So, summary:
-Ever build an HHO booster? Tell me about it
-What color should I paint it?
-Openable window in the back?
-What else should I do?

Picture 1, Picture 2, Picture 3
posted by TomMelee to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: WRT maintenance:
"Oil gets changed every 3500 miles and the rest of the service is done according to the owners manual."
posted by vapidave at 7:10 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: Interestingly the service manual says to change the trans fluid at 3,000, 12,000, and then never again.
posted by TomMelee at 7:51 AM on August 17, 2009

Best answer: Please don't grind it down to bare metal and clearcoat it. That would just reflect (more) bright sunlight into your fellow commuters' eyes. Flat black sounds wonderful.
posted by bricoleur at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2009

For the record, the HHO generator thing is complete hogwash. Yes you CAN make hydrogen with an electrical current and water, but not REMOTELY enough to improve your fuel efficiency by any reasonable metric.

Can't be done.
posted by asavage at 8:10 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

By the way, that's the EXACT make, model and year of my first car. I love that thing and you got a screaming deal.
posted by asavage at 8:12 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: asavage,
I watched that episode and I wasn't especially satisfied with the construction of the booster but I can't say I didn't expect the result.
That said, it's a $200 car and I can make a flame that will burn underwater and glaze glass and pebbles with it. Why WOULDN'T I want that? As for the car, it's a perfect experimentation platform---low fuel economy/burn efficiency, no computer, no injectors, and about 10 cubic feet of unused space under the hood. Woo woo! For the record, I will stencil "Asavage drove this car", even though you didn't. But I can lie. Actually, it came from California. Maybe it IS your car?

The sanding to metal and clearcoating thing wasn't really on the table anyway. I'm finding out now that the trim aluminum, chrome, and SS are worth...well, a lot more than $200.
posted by TomMelee at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2009

SwedeSpeed is what you need. Post in the appropriate forum (make/model/year) and the community will partake.

BTW, You are not alone.
posted by webhund at 8:27 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, you got a great deal, congratulations. One note, though: if it's a Lambda Sond Volvo then it -does- have injectors, oxygen sensors, and an engine control computer. That's what Lambda Sond means, it's not a "package". If you haven't yet noticed all those components sitting there, then you might not want to start messing around under the hood of a perfectly good running car.
posted by dacoit at 8:43 AM on August 17, 2009

I am extremely jealous. Only 190,000 miles? Sheesh. My '91 (and most other later model Volvos I know) has over 300,000.

I can't speak to your other questions, but flat black sounds like an excellent idea.
posted by HopperFan at 9:21 AM on August 17, 2009

You should be able to find the original paint color code stamped on a little badge in the engine compartment on one of the strut towers. (My '71 1800 is the rare color 109 "Ocean Green".) These guys will show you where to find the code and then sell you the paint.
posted by nicwolff at 9:59 AM on August 17, 2009

Best answer: For the record, the HHO generator thing is complete hogwash.

Absolutely. For the record, the only other guy I ever heard about doing that was also really into UFOs.

I painted my old Saab 900 flat black, it looked pretty sharp. Do be aware that your car will get really hot in the sun, though.

Also (As someone whose Volvo 240 is languishing in the field right now) be very careful that leaves, etc. don't get washed down through the drain in front of the windshield. It drains out through the body (why?!?!?!) down through the rocker panels and then through a little drain hole. If these holes get plugged up, water builds up in the rocker panels and rusts them out from the inside.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:19 AM on August 17, 2009

Best answer: This is a great primer (ha!) on how to give you new baby a cheap and decent paint job. I used the technique on an old Land Rover and it was great, really great. You just have to do it slowly and be really patient!
posted by lazywhinerkid at 10:38 AM on August 17, 2009

Flat black... The best flat black is truck bedliner.
posted by malp at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Depending on your state's emissions testing, you may have problems getting this thing to pass. In my home state vehicles are exempt pre-1974 or so, making a '79 automobile a bit of a gamble on whether obscure, expensive, no longer available emissions equipment will hold together to pass testing.

But hopefully this won't be a problem for you.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:52 AM on August 17, 2009

Interestingly the service manual says to change the trans fluid at 3,000, 12,000, and then never again.

My Kubota tractor required a hydraulic fluid change at 100 hr, and the book never says another thing about it except for keeping it topped up and changing filters only at 1000 hr intervals. The dealer offered a 10 hr change free and a guy came out to my house to do it. When asked the service manager said "when we do this we don't see warranty claims on the hydraulics. All the chips created during the initial few hours come out then and we're done".
posted by jet_silver at 12:50 PM on August 17, 2009

Interestingly the service manual says to change the trans fluid at 3,000, 12,000, and then never again.

Also: If it's a stickshift, your Volvo doesn't have any transmission fluid.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:19 PM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: In order...ish

Thanks for the forums! Awesomeness.

dacoit-Yes, it has injectors that are not variable nor particularly complicated. I appreciate the concern, but I guess I should have said "a modern, self adjusting fuel/air system." What this thing has are more like rails. Point taken---I'm not planning on undertaking anything significant under the hood until I have a reason to.

Lazerwhiner---thanks for the read. We're currently debating which route we want to go, and that's a damn good write up.

Malp-funny, I had thought of the exact same thing. However, that's a LOT more expensive than what I was planning...of course...the body would outlast anything, forever. Food for thought.

RikiTikiTavi- good thought, BUT this is WV, no emissions testing here.

Jet_silver-- yea, I planned to flush-and-fill again, just for fun. I don't think the manual really expected the car to last 30 years, lol.

Youu'd think that, wouldn't youdunkadunc? Except that it does. The 4 speed has .8 quarts and mine, the 4 speed with overdrive, has 2.8 quarts. Thanks for the heads up on the drainage though.
posted by TomMelee at 1:50 PM on August 17, 2009

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