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Discussion Starter #1
Although this project is virtually complete (let’s face it, project cars are never done), I wanted to go back and document it’s build. The car belongs to my son Jake. The build is his vision (and $). I’m just the wrench.
I’m doing this to help and inspire others with similar builds. It’s not perfect and we made mistakes along the way. I’m sure there are different/better ways to get the job done but this is what we did.
The car is a ‘96 850 Platinum. This was a limited edition (1000 sedans, 500 wagons) US only model. It came stock with the 222 hp 2.3L 15g turbo engine.
We purchased the car in the spring of 2015 for Jake who was a college freshman at the time. It needed some routine maintenance/repair and TLC but was a solid, good performing car. Early mods included a OBX cat back exhaust, ARD green tune and a set of 17 inch Tethys wheels.

Picture of the car from July 2015 (with our ‘99 S70GLT in the background)


Picture from Car show August 2016


Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Fast forward to June 2018. The engine starts to make make a ticking noise at times. A few days later the tick becomes the dreaded knock. I removed the oil pan expecting to find a bent rod (because of the ARD tune right?). What I actually found was a spun rod bearing for the #3 cylinder. The play in the bearing was enough to cause the piston skirt to hit the crankshaft counterweight. The big end of the rod was contacting the cylinder wall as well. In addition, the top of the piston was hitting cylinder head.

Witness marks on the crankshaft and cylinder wall.



Spun rod bearing.


Witness marks on the piston.


Witness marks on the cylinder head.



A bent rod would cause the piston skirt to hit the crankshaft counterweight but would not allow the piston to hit the head. The connecting rod would be shorter and allow for more clearance between the top of the piston and the head.
 

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Looking forward to reading up on this as it progresses, even though it's technically in the past :)

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Discussion Starter #4
Our initial thoughts were to rebuild the engine with new bearings, H-beam connecting rods and a bigger turbo. The cylinders looked good. You could still see the cross-hatching on the walls but they did have some taper at the top. You could feel the ridge at the top. Probably should replace the pistons as well. The crankshaft would need to have the #3 rod journal welded and turned due to the damage from the spun bearing per the machine shop. The machine shop also suspected the spun bearing was due to lack of maintenance/oil changes. Although the oil pan was not full of sludge, it was very dark and stained.

*** The engine damage was not due to the ARD tune ***

We started pricing the parts that would be needed and quickly realized it wasn’t going to be cheap.





 

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Discussion Starter #5
The one thing Jake had always wanted to do to the car was a manual swap. The best time to do it would be now while we had the engine out. We couldn’t find any manual 850 donor cars at the time but did find a ‘07 S40 at the local LKQ that had a 5 speed. Thought all C30/S40/V50 cars were 6 speeds? Nope, the n/a P1 cars used a M56 where as the T5 used the M66. This was our first (of many) trips to a self serve salvage yard. It might seem a little sketchy the way the cars are propped up but if you’re careful it can be a safe and inexpensive way to get parts for your project. I think we paid $150 for the transmission, shifter, shift cables, clutch line, and starter. That also included the flywheel and clutch although we wound up using new parts instead.

Jake and the S40 we pulled the transmission from.




Speaking of manual P1 cars, we had just bought a ‘05 S40 T5 M66. At 220,000 miles and $1500 I thought it would be a great first car for one of Jakes younger siblings.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
I was also searching for a turbo and contacted Dan, a Volvo enthusiast I had met at one of the car shows. He had built several very nice P80s and is always a good source for used parts...as well as good advice. We discussed the advantages of building your own engine but also the cost savings of swapping in a good used engine. He recommended swapping in a RN engine. A B5254T4 from a S/V70R would already have strengthened internals, a better flowing head, and a K24 turbo. He knew of someone who was trying to sell a ‘06 S60R a few months earlier. I contacted them and found that the car was still available. Thank you Dan! The car had about 98,000 miles, had been sitting for over 6 months and was in pretty rough shape. It had been in a couple accidents. It went off the road into some trees and had also hit a deer. It was made drivable by fixing the mechanical parts but the body was left as is. I understand that P2R headlights are crazy expensive so the owner replaced the damaged units with lights for a snow plow. They worked fine and even included the turn signals. He said he drove it like that for close to a year until he hit another deer. By then the front suspension was making bad noises and the brakes were worn out so he parked it. It was the perfect donor for the heart transplant our 850 needed. We paid $1500 for the car which might have seemed high but it did have the desirable M66/space ball transmission. I figured we could sell the trans and recoup some money from the purchase. Even though we were planning on doing a manual swap in the 850, it would have been too much work to try and install the M66 as it was from a awd car.
I didn’t register or plate the car as it was going to be parted out, but I did put over 200 miles on it over the course of a couple weeks. I drove it to make sure it didn’t have any running/overheating problems and also because it was an absolute blast to drive! And just in case the exterior wasn’t obnoxious enough, it was straight piped too. There is something liberating about driving a car that doesn’t give a F. You never have problems merging onto the highway. People will give you all sorts of space. My wife was not impressed. I remember her saying “you mean to tell me that you paid the same amount of money for that pile of junk as we did for the S40?” Yes...yes we did.

We called it the Ghettolvo.


July 9, 2018






 

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The lights on that s60r lolll!

I'm looking forward to reading about the swap of the motor into the 850. For some reason, I foreshadow I might do the same down the line if I ever get bored with my car once the new parts are on.

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Discussion Starter #8
A few more pictures...a little less talking.









 

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Discussion Starter #9
There were several pvc hoses that were rotten/cracked causing multiple oil leaks. After the engine was degreased I removed the oil pan to look for sludge. The inside of the pan looked good with no stains or sludge. I replaced the sump o-rings, oil cooler seals and made sure the pcv passage was clear. I reinstalled the pan and replaced the oil filter with a new housing. I replaced the oil pump gaskets and front crankshaft seal, the timing belt, belt tensioner, water pump, and camshaft seals. In addition, I replaced the oil and coolant seals and gaskets for the turbo. The one thing I didn’t do but probably should have is to pull the head and shim the block. I didn’t know about the cylinder weakness at the time of this build. I guess I should have researched it a little more. We have relatively modest goals (300 whp) and I feel that proper tuning should lessen the risk of cylinder wall cracking. Nevertheless, I wish I would have pulled the head. All of the work done above was a crap ton easier with the engine on the stand.



 

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Discussion Starter #10
I removed the pedals, clutch master cylinder and hydraulic line, clutch disc/pressure plate, flywheel, shifter, shift cables, center console, and engine compartment harness to go with the M66 transmission that was pulled with the engine. I thought it would be easier to sell as a package to someone who wanted to manual swap their P2. I found a guy on a local Volvo Facebook group who was looking to replace the bad transmission in his V70R. Although he was looking for another automatic, I suggested converting it to a manual. He wound up purchasing the M66 with all of the additional parts as well as the angle gear, axles, driveshafts, and rear differential. He also needed the instrument cluster to get the conversion to work. He was incredibly stoked to now have a manual V70R. His buddy wanted the interior and strut towers for his S60R so I sold him what was left of the whole car. I kept the brakes, wheels, and steering wheel to install on the 850. I also removed the one good mirror and some other miscellaneous parts to sell. We put some spare wheels/tires on it, pushed it onto a trailer dolly, and the Ghettolvo was gone. My wife was happy.
I think we made about $2200 in the sale of the parts. There was a lot of labor in removing all the parts but I work cheap (free). The end result was we got a B5254t4 engine with turbo, brake calipers, and wheels for free...plus an additional $700!

 

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That's some solid work right there. And great you got to recoup that money!

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Manual swap part 1:
Before the trans is bolted to the engine you need to install the flywheel and the clutch. I spent way too much time looking for a flywheel before finally ordering a new Spec lightweight unit from ViVA Performance. I also ordered the 850R clutch disc and pressure plate. When it came time to install the parts I realized that they would not fit. The flywheel wouldn’t bolt to the crankshaft and the clutch disc wouldn’t fit on the transmission input shaft. It makes sense now. Neither the engine or transmission were from an 850. Luckily ViVA took back the incorrect parts (that I had ordered) and exchanged them for a correct single mass flywheel and clutch for a S/V70R. A new OEM rear main seal was installed before bolting on the flywheel.
I installed a new OEM slave cylinder/throw out bearing in the S40 M56 before bolting the transmission to the engine. I was careful to make sure the mating surfaces of the engine and transmission were clean and free from corrosion as this can cause problems with the crankshaft position sensor signal. The crank sensor was swapped from the original engine as the RN engine’s sensor is different and wont plug into the harness. I also had to reverse the polarity of the wiring for the sensor to match with the new flywheel.







Reverse the polarity at the harness

 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Manual swap part 2:
This part of the project would have been a lot easier if I had a 850 manual to swap parts from rather than the S40. For starters, the shifter assembly from the S40 is taller than the 850’s and will not fit under the center console without modification. I had to cut the bottom out of the center console bracket and bolt the shifter directly to the floor of the car. In addition, the bolt holes in the shifter did not line up with the holes in the floor. I screwed studs into the threaded holes in the floor and then filed the holes in the shifter to get it to fit. I bolted the assembly to the floor using washers and nuts. I had to cut the excess off a couple studs to get the shifter cables to fit. Luckily the shifter cable grommet/bracket bolted to the existing holes in the firewall. The clutch master cylinder from the S40 is different than the 850 unit (although I probably wouldn’t have installed a used part anyway). I removed the brake pedal assembly and knocked out the hole in the firewall for the clutch master cylinder. It’s easier installing the new clutch master cylinder and shifter cables while the engine/transmission are out.
The clutch/brake pedal assembly was the one part of the whole project that I could not find used locally or new anywhere. The pedal assembly is different on the ‘98 and newer P80 cars and will not bolt up. I’ve since heard that you can use the clutch and brake pedals from the newer cars by sliding them onto the 850 bracket although the clutch return spring is different (actually a non issue as I wound up not using one). I was able to finally get a used 850 pedal assembly thanks to Robert DIY.
You have will have to modify the wiring to the brake light switch as the plug will not connect to the switch. The brake switch for the automatic transmission includes connection for the shift interlock which is no longer needed.
I mentioned earlier about not using the clutch return spring. The 850 clutch pedal spring is an over-center spring. It pushes the pedal back up against your foot until you push it over half way. After half way it pushes towards the firewall to make it easier to hold the pedal down. For some reason when it’s cold out (below freezing) the pedal will stick to the floor when the car is first started. It will come back after several seconds. If you let the car idle for 30+ seconds it will be normal. It rarely happens with the over-center spring disconnected. The internal slave cylinder has a spring on it that pushes the clutch pedal back hydraulically. I’m not sure what is causing the pedal to stick. I suspect it might be the slave cylinder/throw out bearing. I installed a new OEM part but it was for a S40 (because that’s what the transmission was for) but the clutch is for a S/V70R. It also might have to do with the clutch hydraulic line. More about that later.

The S40 shifter




Pictures from regional Volvo car show July, 2018.








***One of the best parts of owning a Volvo is the Volvo community***

 

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I’ve since heard that you can use the clutch and brake pedals from the newer cars by sliding them onto the 850 bracket
If you do this you won't be able to have cruise control as the mounting points for the clutch pedal sensor won't be present.

Agree about the community. I've seen it all with the cars at this point so I go to the events to see the people.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That's good info about the cruise switch. I was not aware of that.
Volvo for life

Awesome collection of Volvos you have btw!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
RN swap.
There is a lot of information online and a good video from Lucky at ARD that explain what is needed to complete a RN swap. Some of the key pieces that need to be swapped from the N engine to the RN are: the thermostat, intake manifold, camshaft and crankshaft position sensors, pcv system, distributor assembly and wires (maybe). It’s also recommended to swap over the accessory bracket with the power steering pump, alternator, and a/c compressor from the N engine.

I’ve been know to make things more complicated than they need to be.

My decision to use the RN accessory bracket was for a few silly reasons. I like how compact it is and the updated way it looks but the main reason was that the old a/c compressor was seized and the Ghettolvo’s a/c worked fine. This turned out to be a dumb reason as the 850 a/c lines would not bolt up to the S60R’s compressor. I had to pull a compressor from a ‘00 V70 I found at a nearby self-serve salvage yard.
I then found that the 850 power steering lines would not fit on the new style pump and the P2 lines that fit the pump would not fit on the 850 steering rack. Back to the salvage yard and back to the donor V70. Turns out the ‘99-‘00 P80 cars are a good combination of old and new parts as they already have the RN.
At least the P2 alternator would work right? I doesn’t. Oh, it charges the battery fine and I didn’t notice anything wrong right away. What I finally noticed was that several the warning lights on the cluster would not light up when the key was in position 2 with the engine off. One of them being the coolant level light. I had already replaced one head gasket due to a malfunctioning coolant light and I didn’t want to do that again. It turns out the S60R alternator does not speak the same language as the 850. I had to swap out the “alternator control unit” with the voltage regulator from the original 850 alternator. It wasn’t a huge job but it would have been easier before I had the car put together.
Which reminds me of a job that was a wasn’t exactly small. Shimming the stupid a/c compressor. I should have checked the a/c clutch before I installed it. I didn’t know it didn’t engage until spring. This job took several hours and multiple cuss words.

It’s easier to install the power steering lines before installing the engine. Same for the new heater hose firewall junction and engine mount bracket.

 

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The cam and crank position sensors are the only things you really need to swap over. Everything else can be made to work. I specifically wanted to upgrade to RN PCV which precludes almost all the N parts from swapping over
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I wanted to use the RN intake manifold and heated PCV but could not find a way to adapt a manual throttle body to it without custom making my own (I swear I googled the crap about this). I see you found someone who makes one. I must have not looked hard enough. It was about a year ago also. Are you going to use the RN accessory bracket?
 

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I wanted to use the RN intake manifold and heated PCV but could not find a way to adapt a manual throttle body to it without custom making my own (I swear I googled the crap about this). I see you found someone who makes one. I must have not looked hard enough. It was about a year ago also. Are you going to use the RN accessory bracket?
Yes, RN everything except throttle body and sensors
 

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Really cool post build, in the middle of thread. Inspiring to see.
Robert made the drive to Carlisle two years ago. I can kick myself for not getting a selfie with him.
 
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