January - December 2017
I have been ducking-out of every self-imposed responsibility to my old
place of work and beavering away at installing an electronic power
steering (EPS) Easysteer column and tested it today (19th Mar 2017).
Indeed, when Rick at Easysteer asked me to speck-out the feasibility of
fitting a drinks can in the place where the EPS motor would have to
go.... it was indeed found that there might be enough space available.
Oh, '....shining and free.... the cold graveness of iron.... the keen,
unpassioned beauty of a great machine....' (Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915, in
The Great Lover).... but t'was non-alcoholic.
Interesting times because the Dr advised not to drive at the moment (as
of late Feb 2017) for mental health reasons, so getting petrol means
using a jerry can and going to the garage by train or taxi (the latter
would seem best if carrying petrol, officer) - even more interesting
because the people I talk to think I am mad to be taking Dr's advice,
but then the Dr thinks I am mad, too, so its a vicious circle. Still,
the bulk of the worst stuff, namely losing consciousness at 'work' and
then being engaged in various aggressive conversations with a distinct
visionary element, seems to be subsiding and perhaps some automotive /
electromechanical progress has been made... mind you, 'working', or
rather volunteering, in a pharmaco-chemistry type of environment where
drinks, etc, of possibly dubious nature sometimes appear, does not
inspire much confidence in humankind (well, I guess someone's got to
test 'em ;-). Finding a representative of your employer miraculously
present at your first local psychiatric appointment does not help to
inspire much confidence either - the truth is indeed stranger than
fiction and comits me to following a path of no-return, well, at least
not right away, anyway. NHS donor card filled in, anyway, to appease the
great health service of our nation.
Here are some views of the underside of the newly fitted motor with the
lower-power connections in place.
Closer to the end of Mar 2017 and its looking promising now. I filed one
side of the hole in the plastic mounting bracket for the switches and it
is now held on to the column by the screw and some Sugru, for luck. I will
try to complete re-assembly in the next day or so with the (in)expertly
heatgun-treated ducting now in place. It all looks pretty promising and
makes a huge difference to the feel of the car in a few trials, strictly
around the garage yard, officer.
I now just need to re-mould the fibre cover that goes under the dash-board
so that it fits reasonably well around the base of the electric motor. I
still need to refit the steering wheel properly and must check if the horn
still works because the Easysteer man said that I might need a wireless
One final technical trick that I forgot to mention is attaching the ECU
box to the wiring loom with a couple of Wilko's best self-releasing cable
ties ( ;-0 ) and note also the intervening bicycle handle-bar grip as a
bit of padding to protect the wires which is held on with some tape for
good measure. It seems to be working well, or at least when the rheostat
knob is turned towards maximum, the steering is very, very light, even at
standstill. Other quick checks in the yard showed that it all works well
and the Sugru seems to be holding fast.
Dosing the fibre-panel that goes above the driver's footwell with hot
water and re-shaping it over a pudding bowl followed by weighing-it down
with a couple of bricks has allowed it to be re-fitted reasonably well.
The steering wheel has been aligned and torqued-up and I forgot to mention
its all running from a nice little 40 Amp fuse. Still in late March 2017
and all seems to be awesome - even the horn works!
Ok, so we need to drum-up a welder to sort out the rust, and the front
wings and bumper are therefore removed to facilitate the welding process,
which is put on a backburner for a while anyway since it will require a
welder with a trailor.
Mid-April 2017 and now I am converting the other 1.7, namely Deep Blue. A
not so elegant removal of the ignition switch backplate (destructively,
with a hacksaw) is in progress, or lack thereof, but I have a slightly
battered spare left over from Red Bess, which will do with a couple of new
bolts. Its all a bit more apart now with the ignition switch and column
A bit of a wiring diagram to show the positioning of the relays for when
they are put back into place, but please note, dear reader, that one of
them will never be fitted back in its rightful place due to physical
constraints imposed by the bulk of the electric motor on the steering
A long gap in comms from April through till mid-June 2017, but here is the
latest set of photos showing the new EPS being fitted to the beautiful
deep blue 1.7....
A bit of an issue with the low-power wiring arose due to my ineptitude but
all was correctified in the end.
I had the black and white wires in the above right-hand photo the wrong
way round at this point which caused the power steering not to work.
However, swapping them easily rectified the situaish. I also remember that
one of those wires had to be connected elsewhere in the end to make sure
that the PS only came on when the ignition was switched on, otherwise it
stays on all the time and presumably drains the battery or knackers itself
in no time at all. So whilst the black and white wires look wonderful
slotting into that connection block (above right), it is actually
incorrect to wire it this way, sorry!! Just follow the instructions and
find a suitable free connector to connect the wires to - there are enough
if you do not have too many auxillary instruments, I guess.
Now at the end of June 2017 and a bit more progress has been made with
cable ties and foam rubber padding, etc, to hold the ECU in place and to
keep Honey smiling. Actually, I had a bit more work than expected whilst
fitting the column switch mounting back correctly. I had to use a plastic
spacer (chopped-off bit of cable-tie) of the right width to get the
spacings right for the horn switch mechanism (brushes and slip rings) to
fit together correctly without excessive friction and the end result was
found to work fine. I am holding these bits together with black silicone
sealant rather than Sugru in case disassembly should be required.
A bit of bathwater being used to re-shape the underdash trim panel and it
is subsequently found to fit just about alright.
This time I have used the fuse supplied with the EPS kit and its wired-in
as below. The setup still seems to work fine, so attention will now turn
towards the rear, nearside spring which seems a bit saggy, as well as the
front seat belts which don't retract very well. The latter have been sent
away for refurbishing (early July 2017). I must call them to see what
options are available for the belts and I must also check the air vents
are working fine with all the remoulding done to the ducting by use of a
borrowed heat gun. The steering wheel may also need a check on the
alignment - cursing myself for forgetting to do this.
So, now heading towards mid-July 2017 and the rear spring on Deep Blue has
been removed and replaced with one from the Volvo300mania website. Some
issues with removal of one of the bolts which will necessiate its
replacement with a new item, to be procured.
Tales of all of this progress are being pondered intensively by Henry the
Deep Blue then receives some fairly consolidated attention to its seat
belts, which were removed successfully while a spare 2 or 3 belts were
refurbished commercially, around mid-July 2017. Fitting the re-webbed
belts to the car has made a fabulous difference to their ability to
retract and, as Henry, with a slightly matted coat, will confirm, this has
made a big impression of progress in my pea-sized brain. Note that when
one's social life consists of imagining what a kind-hearted cat would say
to you in a particular set of circumstances, you are probably in the realm
of needing further help and indeed the dawn lights will herald a new day
in which I will, alarm-clock permitting, make a trip for another
appointment with our glorious health service. It must be that 2am
confidence, following a sip or two of Green Mark vodka, which is buoying
up my spirits. Mind you, this weather, one only has time for a couple of
sips before it (like hope) evaporates.
At the end of Jul 2017, Red Ness has been taken by lorry to the welder who
has moved to some distance of about 20 miles from where he was based
before, all of which adds to the general complexities. I forgot to take
any photos of the lorry but had to walk about 4 miles to the nearest
village to get the bus and train home. Anyhow, I did a painting on the way
back which is reproduced here - its more scrambled egg than Michelotti,
but doesn't look too bad given that I haven't put hand to brush for about
30 years ;-0
Now in mid-Aug 2017 and steering too close to the malt whiskey for the
benefit of my sanity, although I begin to wonder if it is for the benefit
of my insanity. Heaven help anyone who crashes in to me in future and
traces my web-presence to this site - the relaxation induced on finding
I'm a complete nutter will surely give them a cardiac arrest. Between
making efforts to restore my sanity to as hip-a-state as the cat below, I
am reduced to feeling as daft as a brush whilst trying to replace the
carpets on a Rover P5B.
Anyhow, back to the 340's and, on remembering to actually breath, I can
comment on progress being made in that department. The rules of the game
were set a couple of years ago when I made a wish-list of things to be
done and indeed the last few weeks of not being able to drive (still on
Dr's orders) have allowed me to complete a bit of touching-up to the
door-bottoms and checking of the cleanliness of the speedo innards.
Deep Blue is now in as completely restored a state as she can surely be. A
lift from a former colleague of mine to inspect the works of the welder
commissioned to restore Red Ness does allow a visit to the ecstatically
A bit of work on the 360 allows me to tackle some of the items on the
wishlist for that one, as of late Aug 2017. The main issue, indeed not one
on the wishlist, is that it will not start unless petrol is poured into
the carburettor and then it only keeps running for a split second or so.
So with much despair in my soul, I replaced the fuel filter and pump, to
no avail. Another change of the pump proved again to be of no avail, too.
Thus a leccy fuel pump which I had bought for another car a year or two
ago was resurrected from storage and pressed into action.
A bit of temporary wiring proved that the new pump ticks over rather
quickly, but it certainly is effective at circulating the fuel and
allowing the car to start. Hence efforts are made to make this a more
permanent fixture, including the finding of a suitable free connector next
to the fuse box to attach it to (think its to do with optional foglights
or sumthin). Here's how we are looking after a day or so with improved
connectivity for the earth wire by application of some conducting paint,
some plumbers PTFE tape to stop leaks and the construction of a blanking
plate to cover the hole for the old mechanical fuel pump. Mounting the
pump to the power steering pipes, cushioned by old rubber piping, seems to
allow it to jiggle about not too noisily. Whilst coming to terms with the
loss of the mechanical fuel pump and conversion of the system to
electronic gadgetry, I get a chance to repair the wire to the rear
Now in early Sept 2017 and things are progressing with Red Ness at the
welders, as the following should demonstrate.
All looks pretty good with the front wheel arch work but there's a bit of
a stalemate with the rear valance until a phone call from the welder
prompts me to dig around in the roof and exactly the right panel is found
and delivered by hand the very next day. There might be an issue with the
rear wheel arch too, as shown below, and the welder, rather
optimistically, wants to replace the front wings due to rust around the
wheel arches, but I am not sure that those available will be any better,
but who knows.
I also have a note that there's rust in the doors which the welder should
look at, so a reminder to him is sent. We bumble on.
Now in mid-Sept 2017 and I am semi-sort-of given the all clear to start
driving again, so manage to get to see the welder again and he confirms
that panels and parts are turning-up at a steady rate, so he is about to
make further progress. Here are some views of the rust found around the
Now into mid-Oct 2017 and a trip or two over the last couple of weeks to
the welder has yielded some interesting pictures of progress which are
It turns out that he has had to do a lot more than I expected including
replacing the fuel tank due to rust on the top of the old one and big
chunks of the wheel arches, cross-member, boot floor, etc, but the march
of progress must be un-erring.
The gearbox mounting bushes that I bought a decade ago or so are going to
come into their element since at least one of them on the car has been
damaged by past welding efforts. As for the under-floor welding, that was
then, but this is now....
Now in late Oct 2017 and another trip to the welder to try to sort out an
issue with the new petrol tank (which is for the old model 340) reveals
that he has been beavering away at fitting it all back together and
waxoyling where its needed. The front is still to be tackled. He is going
to try to modify the tank opening so the original sender unit will fit.
Now in early-Nov 2017 and have been fiddling about with the 360, mainly to
improve the feel of the brake pedal. A fairly quick bleed-through of the
system showed that there was some air in the pipes to the rear brakes. Job
See it, say it, sorted. Well, that isn't true for my efforts to wire-in a
bleeper for the indicator light flasher unit so that I can be reminded
that the indicator or hazard lights are left on. I wired it in and it
works semi-OK when the engine is off, but as soon as its running, the
bleeper makes odd noises all the time. So, I will try one more bleeper and
see if it is less prone to interference or poor earthing, etc, and if not
then the idea will have to be confined to a back-burner for a bit while I
work out what to do, but its not terribly important anyway.
Late Nov 2017 and more issues arise whilst trying to get the 360 back into
use as daily transport - the ignition starts cutting-out again. This
immediately brings back memories of struggling with the connections on the
back of the fuse box and so a few days are spent removing it, cleaning it
and the connection blocks, testing a 'new' fuse box in my collection
(which still doesn't seem to work) and generally slowly getting it all
back together again with the original fuse box. I don't like this job,
mainly because its high stress to be lying on your back in the driver's
footwell, cursing and trying to get the fuse box screws back into place.
Anyhow, the end product seems to be a working car!
Early Dec 2017 sees the Red Ness monster finally returned from the welder
with much undercoat visible (and some invisible) in various places. The
plan is to start rubbing this down for a respray with aerosols (hopefully
it will work) in the second half of December and onwards into the new
year, weather-permitting somewhat!
Coming to the close of 2017 Blue Bess narrowly misses rear-ending someone
- my fault - it was close. I will keep trying to do better. However, the
next day she developed power problems and had to be low-loaded back home
from the A3.
Here's hoping that we get some good luck soon.
So, what's to come in 2018?