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Discussion Starter #1
I hadn't changed the oil in about 40 years, but about 10 years ago I bought a Honda S2000.

A sporty little car that, after a bit, I decided I should take on track. But what with the slight issue of it being a convertible and my misunderstanding of the roll bar requirements, that was problematic. So I start scouting for a car that I can take on track and end up with a '59 MGA. Parts readily available, huge internet support, technical videos and an enthusiast's website where everything technical that you ever wanted to know about the MGA is posted.

All well and good, the vintage racing is a hoot, but that MGA is not exactly street-able.

A long winter and I have two nickels burning a hole in my pocket. A momentary delusion on Bring-a-Trailer.com, and next thing I know is that I have to pick up a just-plain-tired '57 PV444 outside of Detroit. My wife did not file for divorce, but has confirmed the answer to some serious questions concerning my intelligence!

The car has sat in my garage since April. The horn wasn't working, so I puzzled that out and after much ado getting the horn ring off of the steering wheel, I fixed that. Then I puzzled over the non-working headlights and eventually cobbled together repairs to both the cable and to the switch itself. The dome light isn't working and the switch unit looks like a cheap aftermarket replacement, but I may have that fixed - it depends on how a steel ball bearing carries juice. The clutch or the pool of oil that has dripped out of the engine are probably my next endeavors.

So, I'm posting today (my first post) to determine the answer to this burning question: "Is there is a pulse here?"

I need help and advice. I need a plan of action. I need to know where to find parts without worrying about bankruptcy. If parts are few and far between and primarily available only on ebay, then I need help deciding if I should make this car into a race car or maybe - even worse - a resto mod. I need to learn how to paint this beauty. I need to learn how to weld.

Is this the best forum for my problems? If I start a thread outlining my misadventures, will I just be talking to myself? Should I be somewhere else?

Pending answers, I'll probably get the car registered within the next week or so. Wish me luck. ;)
 

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There are a number of vendors that offer parts for your 444 - many of whom source their wares at VP Autoparts. Their website doesn't make it easy to find everything they have - if you don't find what you want, call them and ask. They're not the only source, but they're a really really good one. Ebay sometimes has some stuff, and also check out tradera.se [Swedish auction site].

I'm always in favor of more of these cars getting back into use. If originality isn't a priority, there's a lot you can do that will help the car hold its own in modern traffic - later engines and transmissions can be made to fit fairly easily, front disk conversions are relatively simple, etc.

Another forum, though it's also pretty quiet there, is www.brickboard.com/RWD . Also check out the Volvo Club UK forum. Not a lot of activity online, I don't think, but certainly a lot of enthusiasts around. Generally a friendly bunch.

There's some stuff written about a modified rolling project 444, if you're interested. It's not been updated for a very long time, but for what it's worth: http://swedishrelics.blogspot.com/

Welcome aboard.

Good luck.

Cameron
Portland
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, Cameron.

Well, I did, in fact, get the car registered yesterday. :)

Forgot to mention - the tricky ignition switch. Got that stuck in the far right "on" position. Pulled ignition switch out of the dash, and figured out how it works - well, er, doesn't work. No easy fix what with the cabled + wire running from the coil. It has an under dash push button starter and I need a super light hand not to turn the key too far to the right.

Based on my experiences so far, I'll have to think about adding a switch plate under the dash and converting everything to toggle switches.
 

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There is a 544 yahoo group too but it seems to be moribund. Cameron covered parts sources pretty well..I used VP a lot. There are also swedish treasures, mike dudek (iroll motors), vintageimportparts, cvi, nordicar, and skandix. I have ordered from all of them at one time or another. the parts available for these cars is nothing short of outstanding and actually seems to be growing. IPD used to sell some stuff but they seem to be moving away from the vintage models. I think they still sell the sway bar kits though, which is a very nice setup.

You may want to get a parts catalog. The ebay seller ysmalkie sells a cd with tons of information including parts catalogs. well worth the price.

These cars are so simple.....they are a blast to work on and drive. I actually prefer the PV to the 1800 that I have....just seems to be lighter, better handling, and more fun to drive.

They are prone to body cancer though. I had to essentially replace all the metal from the bottom up 4 inches....floor pans, rockers all around, spare tire well, rear wheel wells, etc. So a decent mig welder is necessary unless yours lived in the nevada desert or something. Fortunately all those body panels are available. If yours lived in Detroit, I am guessing you will need them. ...and the few that aren't available, are not difficult to fabricate.

Dean
'61 544 & '69 1800
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I put the plates on the car yesterday, thinking I would drive it to work.

Got it started, but with little confidence in the battery, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and left the car at home. While at work, I Googled "how to start a 6 volt car with a 12 volt battery", then with added confidence, I returned home at lunch and picked up the car. Drove the long way to work (about 3 miles) to charge up the battery a bit, but as I sat at the light just before getting to work, the car started to lose idle, and I had to rev it to keep it running. That was unexpected.

I took a nice picture of the car on leaving work, and I had no problems getting the car started to go home. But I did notice that the engine seems to go flat on power pretty early in the rpm range. I hadn't noticed that on the flat (I wasn't going fast), but only when going up the steep hill just before home.

Thought about what might cause the flat power and landed on the idea that the distributor might need to be rebuilt - on the theory that there was maybe inadequate advance as the rpms increased under power.

Looked under the hood this morning. Found the starter and the distributor. Got the car running and revved it to I'm guessing 2,500 or 3,000 rpm. The engine definitely has a miss and I sense a muffled backfire into the carburetors.

Although I suspect that the distributor is suspect, my immediate plan of action is to check the points, the valve lash and to try to synchronize the carburetors. It's also about time that I buy a dial back timing light. Maybe I can figure out the timing curve on this car.


Thanks for the info MrV. In terms of body cancer, the car is not all that bad. The bottom looks like a sea of surface rust that I have to check out more thoroughly when I get the car up on jack stands. But I don't see any rust through. As near as I can tell, the car was in California between 1963 and 2015. In Michigan only for a couple years and a couple thousand miles. Probably not run in the winter.

I'd post a picture, but can't figure out how. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Partial tune. I got the car warmed up with the idea of checking valve lash. I hoped that I could bump the engine with a remote start button, but was unable to make the Necessary connections. So to turn the engine, I had to heave the car forward and back while in 4th gear.

Valves don’t move all that much. All of the exhaust valves were too tight and I adjusted to 0.18”. The intake valves were a bit loose, but I mostly left them alone. The intake valve lash spec is 0.16”.

Plugs looked very sooty, with possible exception of #4 - at least I think that’s #4, far left, closest to the radiator. (I guess I should figure that out!) Cleaned those up.

I took the dashpots off the carbs and measured the distance between the jet and the top of the bridge. The rear carburetor was set at .135”, the front one at about .13”. I reset the jets on both carburetors to .10”. One flat seemed good for about .01”. I may lean them out further by one flat to bring them to .09”. We’ll see how it runs for now.

The pistons had carbon soot on the engine side, evidencing that there had been backfires into the carbs as I had suspected.

I tried to balance the carbs. At idle, it seemed as if the engine was running on just the front carb. Because I didn’t want to take off the air filters, I balanced using those “divining wires“ that go into the top on the piston when you take out the damper caps. The engine really wanted to run on the front carb, but eventually I think I got them balanced.

I don’t think the choke mechanism is working properly. It may just need to be cleaned to free up some of the connections. Car started up, but battery seems very week. Seemed to run better, smoother. Unless it rains, I’ll try to take it to work tomorrow. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"Seemed to run better, smoother."

Famous last words. I managed to move misfire (backfire) from intake to exhaust. Engine still going flat on power early. A more complete tune is in order.

Where the wire from the ignition switch comes in to the starter, I rigged up a second wire and ran it up the firewall. I'll probably attach it to a permanent wiring block for future use. With this wire, I can easily connect the bump start switch and turn over the engine with the button.

Found the timing marks on the flywheel, but so dirty and very hard to see. I will shoot some carb cleaner in there to try to clean up.

Pulled the plugs. On my leaner mixture from the previous evening, Nos. 1 and 2 look much better, No. 3 is maybe OK, but No 4 has debris on the electrode. This may be residual from old carbon in the combustion chamber, as I ran the car for only about 3 miles, but it is certainly not a good clean plug. This is probably where I have the misfire. Keeping my fingers crossed that compression is OK.

Even with my adjustments fro the other night, the engine is hard to crank, and just barely starts. Could it be a bad ground? I found the ground wire, but have no desire to get under the car to clean up all the grime. The alternative is that the timing is too far advanced. Will try to check static timing and if I can do that successfully, it may rule out the "too far advanced" theory.

It looks like I need to purchase myself some metric wrenches and sockets. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Timing FAIL! Crack mechanic NOT!

Supposedly the car has a B16B engine. Static timing spec for this engine appears to be 6-8 degrees before tdc. Really hard to see the numbers on the flywheel. Need to get a box wrench for the crank bolt! While pushing car forward in 4th gear, very hard to get the engine to the 6-8 degree point without going past.


There seems to be a purposeful scratch on the flywheel at what appears to be 1 or 2 degrees past tdc. The original timing seemed to be set at this mark with the rotor pointing toward 2:00. I think it should be pointing toward 8:00. The spark plug wires also seem to be in the wrong locations on the distributor cap compared to photo in the shop manual. Wire running to #1 plug seemed to originate from the location for the #4 plug wire, or at about 2:00 on the distributor cap rather than 8:00. Required huge force to pull the wires out of the cap and to relocate as per the photo in the shop manual. I didn't set them in very firmly, as I feared I was making far too many changes to the set-up. Attempted to start - cranked by not fire! Midnight - will return to task next week.

Certainly seems that I might have the timing off by 180 degrees given the original set-up. Plan of action is to confirm spark at the plugs, then rotate the distributor to a point where it will fire the car. Reminder to myself: rotate clockwise is advance direction. Most likely the direction I want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I tried to order tune up parts for the Volvo today - from 4 different places. One in Sweeden, one in the Netherlands and one in Pennsylvania. Unsuccessful on all counts. Everyone on vacation. The fourth place didn't have the parts. Having tampered with the timing, the car is - at least for the moment - kaput!

A set of points and a condenser would seem to be essential spares. Alas, none to be found with the spare parts that came with the car. :facepalm:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
UREKA!

Started over. New spark plugs and with a timing light, verified that I was getting spark. Pulled the distributor and did a proper job on the points. Filed down both faces until smooth and reset gap. I think the flywheel is off by 180 degrees (can it be a flywheel from an engine where timing is set from the passenger side? ). With that assumption, I set the static timing at 6 degrees before TDC with rotor pointing to 2:00 rather than 8:00. A shot of starting fluid into the carbs, and it fired right up. :p

I let it warm up and reset the valve lash to 0.020" for both intake and exhaust. Car seems to idle on the fast side, but I think it is the accelerator linkage rather than the carb linkage. Using a dial back timing light, the advance at idle was about 28 degrees. I don't think that's right, but it was quite late so I wrapped up my work for the evening.

I went out this morning on my way to work to see how easy it would be to start the car. It fired up on the second rotation of the engine. Much, much better than before. Maybe that 6 volt system is actually sufficient.

I'll be back at it sometime next week. I've got a paddock pass for the car for the Lime Rock Historic Festival, and maybe I can even run it in the vintage car parade on Thursday evening. But logistics will be tricky, as my primary duty will be final prep on my MGA vintage racer.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I removed the air filters from the carburetors. Engine seemed to be running off of the front carburetor only. Attempted to synchronize the carbs using a Uni-Syn device. Very difficult to get them balanced, but eventually I got close. Leaned out the carbs one flat, so jet should now be below the bridge .009” rather than .010”.

Set the timing at 20° before TDC using a dial back timing light at “fast idle” I’d guess I was at least at 1,500 to 2,000 rpm. And at idle, it read 5° before TDC which I thought was a bit low.

AARGH! I need a better system! Checking the manual after the fact, I see that I should have set the advance at 23° to 25° before TDC. So I have to revisit. But first, I may take it out for a spin tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I revisited the timing and reset to 24° before TDC by timing light. Then, since I was going to race the MGA at the Lime Rock Historic Festival, I loaded the car on the trailer and hauled it up - not so much as I was afraid to drive it, but because of the logistics of having three cars up there.

Once I got set up, I took my wife for a test drive of about 15 miles, and just as we arrive back at Lime Rock, I have no throttle. Suspecting the linkage (since I had tampered with it when working on the carbs), I limped back into my paddock space. Sure enough the nut holding the linkage together at the carbs had fallen off. Turns out the threaded part was mostly stripped with just two good threads. I put on a nylock nut and may safety wire it until I can determine if I can repair the piece.

Next day, I needed to move the car. Apparently the dampers on the tops of the carb dashpots were loose, and I dropped one as I started the car. I only moved the car out about 30 feet, so I fortunately found the damper on the ground. But when it came time to start the car, I couldn't get the engine to turn over. I assumed a broken wiring connection, and pushed the car back into the space.

Later, I was able to start the car with a remote start connected to the starter. After that, I was able to start the car with the button under the dash. But then I wasn't - so apparently that button under the dash needs fixing.

The hood doesn't swing up and down properly and the attachment to the "body" on the drivers side needs to be repaired of tightened. I did notice that the hood support on that side has a welded in repair - poorly done.

In the evening on Friday, I took the car up the hill to go to dinner. It was dark when I came out. I wasn't expecting much, but the lights were absolutely less than useless. I only had to travel about 500 feet down the hill, so mostly close to idle. I couldn't see a thing unless I revved the engine. The brightness of the lights seemed to be working solely off of the generator.

All of this points to the reasons behind shake down cruises.

In any event, the car seemed to generate a lot of interest at the Festival.

 

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Discussion Starter #15
Have had some short shakedown rides in the 444 and finding much to occupy my winter. Car still not reliable, but running much stronger and starting fairly easily. I need to trace down some bottom end oil leaks.

Was thinking I would POR-15 the floorboards, but have found 10 pinholes from rust in the driver's aide floor. Although the floor feels solid, I suspect they will be bigger once I do some prep work. Hoping that I don't have to cut out the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've got 10 gallons of 110 Octane unleaded sitting in my garage.

I was planning to use it in the race car this weekend, but maybe I should run it in the Volvo instead.


I couldn't believe :eek: the amount of sludge and carbon that I could see on the Volvo's pistons and lower valve chamber when I removed the plugs.

I leaned out the carburetors hoping to burn some of that away. But the shop manual says I'm supposed to remove the head and decarbonize the pistons and valves every 20,000 miles. I don't know how many times the odometer has turned over in 60 years, but it's for sure that the car is well beyond its 20,000 mile service interval.

But running a tad lean on 110 unleaded seems a lot easier and certainly more enjoyable. May give it a try. :screwy:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I broke the crankshaft on my MGA and have been breaking down that motor. As such the Volvo has languished in the garage since October 1.

But the sun is out, it's 28 degrees Farenheit and I need an excuse to avoid productive activity.

Cranked it up and the motor started. I didn't really expect that so off I went for perhaps the last ride of the season. :partywave:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Feeling depressed, so I drove the Volvo to work today. Only about 30 degrees, but no salt on the road yet and sunny.

Despite temps, it started and bucked all the way down the hill to work. The ride is quite "unusual", but I'm old enough to remember the po'boy standard from '57.

The car looked pretty cool when I scanned it at lunchtime.

But then, forgot all about the car sitting in the lot, and it was dark when I went back out to head home. Headlights dim, and aimed too high to see much, but after a substantial warm up period, got up the hill in one piece.

Still depressed. But I readily understand why resale value is less than an MGA rusted out, non-running restoration project.

Alas, this may be the fall back race car for next season - Sedan Class or more likely Preservation Class.
 
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