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 Post subject: Volvo OHC (B21/B23/B230) Engine Building.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:20 am 
Haha, I just built a W24 Octo-Turbo, now what?!
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:19 pm
Posts: 3126
Location: Lethbridge, AB
Let's face it, the venerable Redblock engine configuration is about as durable as an engine of that vintage can be. They have proven to be durable and reliable and respond reasonably well to performance modification. They are, however, not made from wear-proof materials or pixie dust and when tired, need rebuilding. The purpose of this thread is to cover the basic principles behind refurbishing a Redblock to "as new" condition. No corners will be cut, this is a proper rebuild.

I have noticed a few common things when working on these engines over the years: 1. Volvo makes some very nice parts and has a good reputation for reliability as a result. 2. Owners often think that because they own a Volvo and they "last forever" they can neglect basic engine maintenance and up-keep. Let's be realistic - whatever engine you pulled from whatever car in the junk yard probably suffered in it's last days, I don't advocate power washer and rattle can rebuilding of anything. Ask yourself when you'd like to do this all again if you won't do it right the first time.

OK, let's get started.

First find a donor car or start with what you've got. If you're rebuilding your own engine, be advised that this will take it off the road for a good long time. This is not a weekend project. In this case, we're starting with a 90's 940 B230FT engine. Rode hard and put away wet (see point #2) added to this injustice was evidence of a manual boost controller and the Junk Yard telling me that it was at the yard due to a "no start" issue. This isn't a great starting point, but it's typical.

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Carefully remove the engine from the car, make sure you take a lot of pictures of where things go as you remove them. Use care when removing the wiring harness as these things either need to be reused in your current installation or they need to be used by the next person. I hate hacked harnesses.

A little help from a big friend.

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Normally, you now take the engine to a car wash with many cans of engine cleaner and a few brushes and some clothes you don't mind getting dirty...in this case, I was imposing on a friend to help, so didn't want to wear out my welcome and just took the dirty lump home.

Here's the start. Clean this mess. Carefully. Take pictures.

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Strip the engine down and see what you've got. It isn't exactly Christmas, but it is fun. I found a popped head gasket and a ruined head. Volvoshredder (Greg) came to the rescue with a head from his parts stash - not worth welding it up - see other threads concerning the head. When you take things apart, get some SNACK SIZED ZIP LOCK BAGS - BAG AND LABEL EVERYTHING. Medium and larger sizes of bags are used only occasionally. TAKE PICTURES :lol: .

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At this point you either measure the block or take it to the machine shop and have them do it for you and advise you on what parts you need to order. Please see my push rod build thread for how to do this. This engine only needed first oversize pistons - all else was to spec, so standard size main and rod bearings will fit the crank perfectly. At this point, I'd like to say that I've rarely had to go undersized on the main bearings. If the engine oil has been changed at least once in the life of the engine, they will be fine and they are always straight - so check the main line, but I've never line bored a Volvo block.

Please don't take dirty parts to the machine shop...they don't like working with crap anymore than you do. It's a matter of respect. I usually clean pre and post delivery as well as pre-assembly.

Fast-forward - you've bought a thousand dollars of new parts and probably dropped about that much at the machine shop to get the block and head refurbished. Now, what I'm going to show you next involves a performance build, which is relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

So you're home from the machine shop, while I've covered what comes next in the push rod thread, it bears repeating here. You need to clean everything. I've found a desert worth of sand in the bolt holes of my cylinder heads, gunk in all my threaded holes, and oil galleries (despite a promise that they were scrubbed) that were disgusting. The key to longevity for an engine is keeping it clean from the start.

I polish the surface of blocks as a "signature" or sign of insanity. It's fine to simply remove all the old paint using a wire brush. Be very careful of all MACHINED SURFACES - mask them with duct tape during this process. Once done you're here.

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Note that the masking at this point is to stop me from hitting the machined surfaces and will be changed for painting. This engine has received new core plugs and they have been JB Welded in place (as covered in the other thread) - as this is a turbo engine, I've installed fancy caps to help keep them in place under pressure.

Paint the block. Do whatever you like. I use the following process for excellent results. Two full wet coats of epoxy primer and two coats of single stage urethane automotive paint. It holds out great and looks fantastic. Rattle cans work as well. This engine isn't going to be red, but imagine that it could be.

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Note the differences in masked areas.

The next step is where the fun begins. Putting it all together.

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Coburn Performance - OCD comes naturally.


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 Post subject: Re: Volvo OHC (B21/B23/B230) Engine Building.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:55 am 
Haha, I just built a W24 Octo-Turbo, now what?!
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:19 pm
Posts: 3126
Location: Lethbridge, AB
Welcome back - we start the build process by cleaning the work space. Parts will be dropped on the floor, so it needs to be very clean (I use my shop vac) and all benches and work spaces need to be cleaned. I use varsol AND windex on my bench top and don't stop until a white rag can be swiped across the surface and come up without a trace of dirt.

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Next, I organize all my parts - I've previously cleaned and reassembled all sub-assembly parts. I use large storage boxes to organize all the various parts and nothing goes into a box until it's clean, painted, powder coated and ready to install. It's a bit over-the-top, but there are a lot of parts in an engine and assembly is the wrong time to realize that you still have a lot of cleaning to do (there are days of cleaning).

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I leave a space on the side of my bench for manuals, measuring tools, taps (I keep an M6,M8,M10 out at all times when building to chase threads), oil can (cleaned of course), assembly lube etc. Please note the crank - this is the condition it was in when returned from the balancer.

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We're ready to bolt parts together (they have all previously been checked (i.e. the crank has had the oil clearance checked, the rings are fitted to the bores).

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Starting with the bottom end, chase all the holes that you're going to be assembling. You'll find lots of crud still inside, I guarantee it.

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Remove the main bearing caps and bolts. I was assured that they were clean by the machine shop.

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Don't trust anyone. This was a fresh pour of varsol. No agitation. Disgusting.

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Yup, these look ready to install...not. To be fair, this is probably the junk I washed out of the oil galleries when I was cleaning them.

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A fine bristle stainless brush is your new best friend. Available at welding supply stores.

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All clean.

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Whenever you leave the work area or are not working on the engine - BAG IT UP. Stuff falls into it and it's just been cleaned.

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I bag cranks too.

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This block has been equipped with piston oil squirters, test fit them to make sure things are OK.

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Next, you're going to install the crankshaft. This assembly has been completely balanced and polished. Let's see if they cleaned it...doesn't look like it.

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Remember my clean bench...2 hours of scrubbing counter weights to remove ALL of the gunk. Do it.

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That's a CLEAN crank.

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Next, we'll install the bearings in the engine, but first, I give them a little polish with some newspaper (only use newspaper), it just shines them up a little.

Before

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After

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These ones were pretty good...for a change.

Snap them into the block - tang in first,then roll the shell into place. Be sure to use the correct side of the bearing - note oil holes. Goop it up with assembly lube.

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I had just run out of my Permetex Red and switched to this Royal Purple stuff, works the same.

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Place the crank in the engine and roll it over once. It should move smoothly. You'll be rolling it over periodically as you install parts.

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Install and torque the main as per the manual's instruction. I mark (with yellow paint marker) all my torqued bolts. I make a single / on the first torque, then complete the X with a double check. I do one at a time...no short cuts or I think I have works here.

Pull out the piston squirters if you're using them...It makes installing the rods easier.

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Coburn Performance - OCD comes naturally.


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 Post subject: Re: Volvo OHC (B21/B23/B230) Engine Building.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:46 pm 
Haha, I just built a W24 Octo-Turbo, now what?!
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:19 pm
Posts: 3126
Location: Lethbridge, AB
Time to prepare the engine for rods and pistons. Lets start with the prep work. Now, I'm using H-Beam rods, but the installation is precisely the same. The first step is to ensure that the machine shop sized the bores properly for your pistons. This is simple to check and outlined in the manual. Use a feeler gauge between the piston and the bore and check for the correct clearance. Next, fit the rings into the bore and ensure that their end gap is within spec (turbo engines and max effort NA engines are fitted to the loose side of that spec). I'm using replacement Mahle pistons and have found that I don't generally need to fit the rings. I just check them in the bore and have found them to be accurately made. When I have sized rings, it's actually very easy to do and doesn't require some special fancy tool, just a regular file (one made in any country known for crafting tools, not copying tools is fine - I like Nicholson files).

Next, prepare the rod bearings. Out of the box, they look like they are frosted.

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With a little newspaper, you need to gently polish them to look like this.

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I also check the edges for a reasonable chamfer, if none is present, I cut one with a utility knife (they are babbitt and quite soft - be careful. The package warns of not touching them with your bare hands...it doesn't say anything about newspaper (I also wear gloves during building).

Assembling the rod/piston sets can be challenging. Here's my process. First line up the rods so they all face the same way (I've numbered the rods caps with a sharpie so I know what rod goes with what cap and in which orientation - stock rods are stamped). Then note that the piston has an arrow; it points to the front of the engine.

Clean the parts with brake clean...even though they've come out of waxed paper packages. Just do it.

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Then flip the piston without rotating it and insert the wrist pin end of the rod, insert the wrist pin - it should slide freely, but have a slight drag (it's a really close fit - which should always be checked at the machine shop).

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The picture shows the work of the engine balancer - he's carved away some of the weight pad (that's what it's there for). I also ensure that the lightest rod is pared with the heaviest piston etc. So that the weights are even. My balancer shop got these in under a gram of difference.

Next insert the spring clips. I had to ditch a perfectly good B20 one time as the builder forgot to put the clips in the engine...it happens. Start the clip a head of the notch and work it around. Then with a flat blade screwdriver, snap the spring in place. Ensure that it is seated and don't go digging around in there with the screwdriver. If it didn't seat, pull it back into place with your fingers. The notch is there to ease removal, don't align the gap with the notch.

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Note, this is the incorrect orientation of the gap in the ring relative to the notch in the piston. Hey, I was taking the picture with the other hand and fixed it before it was installed.

Like so - also note the "old skool" nature of the ring pack...they're not made like this any more.

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All of them done. Note chemicals and the big bowl of oil...mmmm oil.

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Get your assembly tools out (ring compressor and dead blow mallet). Pre-lube each piston by dunking it into the bowl of oil. Rotate the rod back and forth so that it gets saturated and ensure that oil is flooding into the piston area through the holes in the ring lands. Work it around until it's full. Then strap down the rings with your compressor (I prefer the band-type to the ones used for lawn mowers). I didn't take any shots of doing this as I only have the two arms.

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Ensure that the cylinder you're loading has the crank positioned at the bottom of the stroke. This is critical. Gently tap the piston into the hole, taking care as each ring set passes into the bore. If for any reason it stops - quit hitting it and find out why (usually you're not compressing the ring pack sufficiently).

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Lubricated and hand tighten each rod - note the "X's" on the main bolts - rods are similarly marked once torqued.

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I'm using ARP 2000 rod bolts that have a stretch specification not a torque. They require 5 thou of stretch. I tried my best to do this with a wrench and found that I just couldn't generate that much torque and I don't have 12 point crows foot sockets. So I torqued them to 55 ft lbs as advised by ARP. These are double checked as well.

Now that these parts are installed, turn the engine over by inserting the Franken bolt into the snout of the crank and turning. It should rotate nicely. Install the oil pump. Rear and front seals and you're ready for the oil pan.

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Coburn Performance - OCD comes naturally.


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 Post subject: Re: Volvo OHC (B21/B23/B230) Engine Building.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:47 pm 
Haha, I just built a W24 Octo-Turbo, now what?!
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:19 pm
Posts: 3126
Location: Lethbridge, AB
Rotate the engine so that number one piston is TDC - it's time for the head. Then check the head timing by installing the cam gear (assembling the head is beyond the scope of this article) and ensure that the dot is facing up. Like this.

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This puts the valves out of the way on cylinder 1 and 4. Always check this before you install. It's OK to peak at the bottom of the head.

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The B230's are interference engines and torquing these down in random cam orientations is pretty silly as you'll be bending your new valves with your new pistons. Let's not do this. Clean both the top of the engine and the bottom of the head with brake clean and place the head gasket on the bottom end. I'm using a Cometic MLS gasket to get a precise 30 thou of clearance between the head and the pistons.

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At this point, you can see that I've also timed the auxiliary shaft to the engine. Do this using the timing cover marks and install distributor so that it points to position 1 firing. I've also added the water pump and transfer tube. You want either the Volvo or the Hepu water pump - they have the cast impeller and are much better than the other brands. Hepu makes the pump for Volvo and is not quite as expensive. Change all the studs including the fan/pulley mount studs. It's cheap insurance. Things are starting to look like an engine.

Next, install the head bolts. Use new ones....they're under $40 and come in a nice box. They are torque to yield bolts and are meant to stretch. Volvo says you can re-use them 5 times. Why bother for $40? Anyway, they're dirty and need to be cleaned. Once clean they are lubed and installed. Don't install them dry, you'll never get the torque sequence correct. I torque heads over a few days to let things settle. I generally have time as I'm putting together the rest of the engine.

So here's the package all done.
Timing belt and other bits to come.

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Coburn Performance - OCD comes naturally.


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