July - December 2005

The weekend of 9/7/05 saw the rear shock absorbers replaced along with the lower bushes and the removal of the rear exhaust silencer, to be replaced with new item asap. Removal of the shock absorber bushes and fitting the new ones was made easier by temporarily removing the inner metal sleeve.

The weekends for the rest of July 05 saw the rear silencer replaced (see below) and the leaking differential backplate removed and re-fitted along with a new home-made gasket. The unit was re-filled with fresh EP90 oil but it still leaks. The rear nearside brake drum and pads were all fine but checking the offside ones required some force to remove the drum which broke one the brake show retaining clips and bend the self-adjuster. The clip was replaced quickly but I am still waiting for a new self-adjuster (£40). The drum was skimmed on a lathe to remove the offending ridge that caused all these problems. The rear flexible brake hose had some surface cracking and so had to be replaced but one of the connections would not come undone so a new length of copper brake pipe (from the front to the back of the car) had to be comissioned from the local spares shop (£6.50, guv). This was re-fitted along with the new brake hose.

The weeks into August probably have seen Bess's darkest hours yet. The rear brake still not repaired and on trying to drain the gearbox oil, the filler plug rounds off. Various tools were purchased to remove the same said item and all fail (good job I'm not doing this for a living). On moving to the front brakes, one of the bleed nipples breaks leaving one end stuck in the calliper. On trying to remove this, the 'drill out' bit also snaps and is stuck in the remains of the nipple. This also defied various efforts to remove it. Hence as a last resort, I get a little generator to provide power for an electric drill to drill out the nipple and possibly drill the gearbox plug sideways so as to insert a rod to try to turn it with. However, on arrival with all the new kit, the brakes on my everyday car fail so efforts on Blue Bess are slightly lower priority. 
The weeks into September have seen some slow progress to the underside with the gearbox filler plug finally breaking during my efforts to undo it. The broken nipple stuck in the calliper refused to be drilled out and so the whole calliper had to be removed. To remove the broken gearbox filler plug, the whole gearbox had to be lowered by removing the heat shield under the petrol tank, the exhaust-to-torque tube clamp and the gearbox side mountings. On lowering the gearbox, the plastic pipe linking the two petrol tanks was pulled off its connection and started to leak the contents of the petrol tank onto the garage floor. In great haste the petrol was collected in plastic bottles and pooled in a jerry can. This allowed the gearbox cover plate (below) to be removed and drilled out by a friendly workshop man. Still waiting for a replacement filler plug. What's worse is that on removing the gearbox cover plate, the selector plate came loose and has defied all efforts to refit it. Anyhow the petrol tank strap (that had to be removed with the heat shield) has been painted up (as has the heat shield itself) and refitted to the car.

Some progress on the brakes with the refurbished calliper (see below) being refitted to the front nearside wheel. I will never forget collecting the reconditioned calliper. The shop assistant said 'How much did I quote you?'', to which I replied 'You said about fifty quid'. His colleague immediately burst out laughing and yelled 'Bargain! You could've had two for that mate'. A second had backplate for the differential was painted up and fitted but this still leaks and so it was refitted with Oyltite smeared over the flanges but... it still leaks.

The weeks into October have seen much progress with the differential backplate finally cured of its leak by use of a card gasket and thick-setting gasket compound which was left to cure for 2 weeks before adding back the oil. The gearbox selector plate was refitted and the cover plate was replaced with its new gasket covered in the same gasket compound. The gearbox was raised and re-fitted to its supports and the exhaust likewise. The plastic pipe connecting the two fuel tanks needed replacing and the second effort at this task was a success (yes, more lying below the car with petrol pouring down from above). The painted-up heat-shield for same said plastic pipe was also replaced and the drive shaft re-connected. The reversing light switch was cured of it tendency to not work by bulking up the plastic-lever with araldite.

The bent rear offside self-adjuster was straightened and refitted (Volvo can't supply this part any more) and the brakes re-assembled and bled. The clutch was found to have plenty of life left in it. Perhaps there's hope at last and below shows Blue Bess rising from the rubbish.

The second half of october has seen much of interest with Blue Bess being taken for a short run (off the public road) to test gearbox, brakes, etc which all worked flawlessly. However, during same said run, one of the front suspension struts collapsed. This has necessitated the removal of both front struts which have been sent off to have new cups welded on. Much hassle with removing a couple of the bolts and the strut inserts which required professional help. The plan is to replace as many rubber bushes as possible with polyurethane ones. Big problem is that the brake back plates have rusted badly and will need replacements (probably unobtainable new) and the point where the front off-side tie bar connects with the subframe has rusted badly so this will need welding. Below shows the strut before and after its demise.

The weeks through November and into December 05 have seen some work on the front suspension components e.g. purchase of second hand back plates that have been painted up. Still waiting for the struts to be repaired but new strut inserts have been obtained. A mobile welder (or two) was called in to repair the front box section which had rusted through next to the tie-bar mounting and the work looks fine. The tie bar mounting itself had previously been welded up and was refitted with threadlock on the bolts. The bearings for the front wheels have been replaced but I am sure I have knackered the seals so these will have to be replaced (amateurs, eh).

Christmas 2005 has seen some work on Blue Bess including the replacement of the missing exhaust bolt near the manifold. The timing has been checked and found to be 10 degrees - confusing since a Renix 360 should be 15 degrees +/- 2 degrees, according to the Haynes manual. Advice from the volvo300mania folk suggests that the timing may have been reset for unleaded petrol. The holes in the headlining have been patched up with white flexible bathroom sealant - this has made a real difference, in my unbiased opinion. The tightness of the sump bolts has been checked and the power steering fluid has been changed.

Most importantly of all, Blue Bess has been given a full complement of new Michelin tyres (made in Poland), not bad for a car with no front suspension. Remember she ain't a cheap'un. The engine runs well, but something's making an odd squeal soon after start-up. Its either the alternator or the water pump, not sure which but a stethoscope was called into action and I'm still not sure (seems to come from the cam cover!!). Anyhow, won't risk it with the alternator since its likely that the car has done 150 k and will need a new one very soon. Don't want to repeat the alternator failure on the 340 just
before Christmas, 60 miles from home at 10pm and having to spend a day in a place where I didn't want to be, waiting for it to be fixed. Hence Bess's old alternator has been removed for a refurb unit.

Below shows Bess's shattered visage (or broken bumper) and sneer of cold command proudly displaying her new complement of tyres. As Bysshe-Shelley said in Ozymandias 'Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!' Quite.

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