January - December 2015
The original Blue Bess 360 has been used as reliable transport
throughout the early months of 2015 - so much so that she was
photographed and fined for disobeying a no-right-turn sign -
nothing to do with me, never.
Being slowly fired and retired this year takes my mind off keeping
this site up to date, but since Blue Bess developed a radiator
leak last year, the amount of radweld-type fluid that had to be
put into the coolant and the general inefficiency of the radiator
means that she needs a new one (radiator, that is). Hence she is
returned to the garage and the deep blue 1.7 is used in her place
- in fact, now that the drier, warmer weather is with us, its a
perfect time to be driving the newer 1.7. Spring it up, man.
Meanwhile, the new radiator for the 360 just about fits into its
slightly rusty place and on running the engine, it seems to work
fine, with a bit of new antifreeze for good measure.
In late May 2015, being evacuated from my office means that tons
of work-related junk has to be stored in the garage that was
formerly housing the 360 and therefore the car is returned to
almost daily use with its brand-new radiator which seems to work
fine. Something like 6 weeks are then spent sorting out the all
the paraphernalia that has been collected over the last 30 years
and cutting it down to a reasonable amount that can be stored
discretely at the back somewhere.
Now that I am supposed to have a lot more time on my side, all of
it is spent trying to tidy-up the house and thus very little is
spent looking after the Volvos but for some reason I took this
photo of the 1.7 engine and another of a tow-bar which was
acquired from the internet (thanks derksine).
However, arrival of the Autumn also brings an ever-louder exhaust
noise from the 360 which needs attention. The problem was due to a
broken centre-section which was eventually replaced with some
creative fixing due to an oddity in the separation of the
bolt-holes in the silencer which did not match the mounting plate.
Nedless to say, it seems to be coming back together again and not
leaking too much. Some effort was put into making sure that the
new pipe was fitted well into the rear heat-shield and the
hanging-down bit of the Heath-Robinson fixing-plate has been
cropped to keep it safe.
A few more checks on the mounts and the routing of the pipe were
undertaken as well as leaks being fixed, etc.
October 2015 and one more servicing job is done by bleeding the
brakes and the car is given a clean and a polish as well as new
front nearside mudflap.
Early Nov 2015 and we are almost ready to go again. Or at least
that was what I thought until I remembered that I had spotted a
large part of the front cross-member was missing, as the pictures
below should show.
Hence a new 340 cross-member was procured from the internet and
the old one, which was fairly knackered, was removed in
preparation for a trial fit of the 340 one which will probably
need to have the engine mounts removed from it.
The new old 340 cross-member is offered-up against the underside
of the car and it is clear that the 340 engine mounting brackets
on the cross-member will need to be cut-off for clearance with 360
engine mountings. Hence the Dremel is called into action, as is a
bit of smooth black Hammerite.
The newly-painted cross-member is then fitted to the car and the
bolts tightened to what feels like the right torque. The anti-roll
bar mounts also seem to just-about fit, too, which is very good
A day or so later, the bolts are torqued-up to the correct setting
(22 Nm) and the under-engine shield re-fitted. While attempting to
cure the intense smell of petrol which emanates from the boot area
of the car, the inner wheel arch trim panels were removed and this
revealed a major amount of corrosion around the rear
shock-absorber tops. All of this is proof that there is nothing
like having all of your problems coming home thick and fast at the
Thus, the car is booked-in at the welders to have this little
issue resolved. In the meantime, the front cross-member is
blanked-off at both ends with some rubber caps and a generous dose
of waxoyl underseal and, of course, the leaky little fuel hose in
the boot is replaced anew.
A bit of clearing out the the boot area by removing trim panels
and the rear seat back-rest should free-up enough space for the
welder to repair the dodgy old bits of rust which are perilously
close to some fuel pipes, so these are freed-up, too. In addition,
the alternator tensioning device is re-fitted in place of the
temporary jubilee-clip arrangement which has been in use for about
a year, with some noticeable belt-slippage in recent months. Its
the end of Nov 2015 and the car is safely delivered to the welder.
Meanwhile attention is directed at the dark blue 1.7 which seems
to be having some difficulty opening its electric windows. Hence a
bit of chalk-dust is brushed into the window runners which helps a
bit and, a day later, some silicone grease is squirted in, too.
The results seem pretty good, so while everything is being
awesomely welded up on the 360, its time to generate a few
wish-lists so that I can focus my future efforts on what really
- Fix speedometer which jitters at low speed.
- Get the seat-belts re-sprung.
- Change the rear springs.
- Touch-up door bottoms.
- Align the steering wheel.
- Tighten the gear lever - i.e. sort the spring on gear box
- Touch-up door bottoms.
The blue 360 stays at the welder for about 2 weeks - he keeps
finding more and more wrong with it but he stays loyal to the
cause and repairs the panels inside the boot by seemingly cutting
away most of the rear wheel-arches, fabricating many bits and
pieces and generally by sheer, undeterred doggedness. I asked him
to get an MOT done but this resulted in the car failing on the
near-side sill which also needed majorly, massive repairs, as can
be seen below. A sill for a 3-door had to be found in the roof and
this was delivered and called into action.
It slowly comes back together and some pictures of it with the
floor repairs in place are below.
Meanwhile, a new ball-joint is fitted and the final price is about
half what I expected it would be (!) so I am pretty happy that, as
of mid-Dec 2015, the work is all done and the car is looking like
Still not had time to put the boot trim and rear seat back into
the 360 and get it running again, due to many annoying problems
with another of my wrecks, but on the brighter side, an
opportunity to visit Manchester allows me to collect my next
little project from the border with Wales on the return journey.
It is a great little red 3-door one that has been very
meticulously cared for by her previous owners, so I hope that I
can live up to the very high standards which have been set by
them. Some photos from the journey back, on which she proved to be
very capable of overtaking tractors on the narrow roads and a bit
of a mile-eater on the wide ones, are below. A new home has been
secured for her and it seems to be safe and dry.
A few new bits and pieces are being procured from the internet to
replace the odd missing button, etc, here and there, or the odd
wheel trim that fell off once, but my overall impression is that
this car is just too complete, perfect and reliable to be true - I
must be hallucinating.
In the general chaos, a logistical bloomer means that I end-up
making efforts towards getting the blue 360 going again and this
provides an opportunity to photograph the welder's epic work on
the rear wheel arches. Currently, I am trying to find all the bits
to allow the rear seats and boot trim to be refitted properly and,
as can be seen, there are a few holes, here and there, that will
A couple of days close to the end of Dec 2015 have seen the boot
trim refitted to the blue 360 and its all clearly starting to look
like a properly fitted-out hatchback. I am optimistic that the
never-ending, hot-starting problems with my other
skeleton-in-the-closet have at last been solved by replacing one
of the dodgy rubber-tipped needle valves with a new one. Needless
to say, the offending, dodgy old rubber tip was sticking firmly in
its receptacle when hot and refusing to come out and allow more
petrol into the carburettor, but when cold it was working
perfectly. Its great the Volvos don't have these cursed things -
whoever invented them and why? There are even patents for them -
imagine trying to patent a rubber-tipped needle or methods for
manufacturing them!! Give me the Ark.
A bit of time was spent re-aligning the steering wheel on the blue
360 and upon starting the car, to return it to its place in the
garage, a persistent clicking sound from under the bonnet gave
away the fact that the leads were shorting just across the top of
the distributor cap. Hence, a new set will have to be fitted and a
bit of time was spent tidying-up the lettering on a second-hand
wheel trim for Red Ness with a fine paint brush, prior to fitting.
It isn't immaculate, but it has just about the right patina of
Work on the red 340 continues up to the end of 2015 with some
interior dusting done and vinyl care applied. The rubber cushions
for the rear parcel shelf are replaced and efforts are underway to
replace the heater blower motor speed-controller, which doubles as
a thermal cutout device. This has been bypassed, as the photo
shows, such that it only runs at top speed. The surrounding heater
box has been dismantled and it is clear that the person who
bypassed the resistor box did a careful job since everything
including the wiring loom is undamaged. A new air filter will be
needed for the heater but a fix for that is available, too, thanks
to having several spare pieces of filter material left over from
doing the same job on the Blues. A look at the volvo300mania web
site provides some photos which will allow me to reconnect the
OK, so the following day a bit of a repair to the air-filter
eventually seems to almost give a satisfactory result and the
repaired heater resistor box is re-connected, as per the
A quick test shows that the blower motor works fine at all three
speeds, just as it should, so it all has to go back together again
and be clipped into place on the bulk head.
However, on putting it back together, I remembered that I had
forgotten to replace the screws holding the resistor cage in
place, so it all had to come apart and go back together again.
Anyhow, second time lucky, but the rain and the clock put a bit of
a damper on further work for the moment. Still, I am pretty happy
with the car and with progress!
But then I wake-up in a cold-sweat in the middle of the wee-small
hours, realising that I have stupidly put the resistor box back in
upside-down. Hence the following day, the heater assembly is
dismantled once again and everything is put back together the
right way round this time (as shown) and it all makes sense, I
hope. I can now attach it with two screws rather than one, its
less likely to burn the plastic surround and mounting, it should
be more effectively cooled by the passing air, it agrees with
pictures on the volvo300mania site and it still works.
Yet more of what's next.