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    940 turbo build thread

    Having owned my brick for a good couple years now, I've learned a lot and fixed a fair few of its issues (on a shoestring budget and it's my daily, so often had to learn and do quickly as well). Nowhere near an expert, and plenty of others in the UK have done more than me. But for the sake of providing a resource for someone and getting it all written down rather than bouncing round my head, I figured I'd post it here. Pic uploader doesn't seem to be working properly, so will hopefully update once it's working nicely.

    Quick history / spec list:
    Bought at 143k miles ish in May 2017, having spent all its life in a field in Devon. Pretty scabby underneath. 1997 Volvo 940 LPT, completely stock. Interior was pretty good, wrinkly door cards and a few missing clips but mostly present and tidy.


    First job was to replace the clutch and general service, this was one I had to get someone else to do as I had no time or experience working on anything mechanical. Turns out I should have put an uprated clutch in, and made sure the mechanic was reputable...
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    Prior to its first MOT with me, it then killed its fuel pup as I filled up right before taking it to its test. Had it towed home, left it there for a month or so while I went down to uni. Fast forward and in November I had it as my daily at uni (trading my alcohol, partying, and food budget for fuel money), and trying to keep it alive. Replaced a few things for maintenance, the cambelt and front oil seals being done in February (lovely job in minus temps). Replaced the distributor in April 2018. Finished out my third year in great fashion with zero fatal issues, and performed exceedingly well taking me and my mates on beach trips, pub jaunts, and the like.

    Got it home, and set about putting an MBC and boost gauge in. Turned up to 0.85 bar and ran it for about 4 months like that. Clutch slipped a bit, thought to be due to the dual mass flywheel.
    More oil leaks caused by using aftermarket seals on the front (definitely worth using OE Volvo seals). Rebuilt my brakes all round that summer prior to its MOT and went with EBC Ultimax (OE+ specs) on the front and stock pads on the back. New caliper on the front and reconditioned the others as best I could, eventually they all started working. New discs, new handbrake shoes. Now it stops brilliantly, and while they don't deal with fade amazingly, they're a great budget upgrade which doesn't count as an upgrade on the insurance. Noisy and dusty, but I don't care about that kind of thing.

    Had a gaping rust hole in my passenger side sill welded as well,in the hope of getting it through its MOT first time.
    It subsequently failed, but only on a handbrake imbalance and missing daytime running lights. Advisories on a windscreen crack, cracked number plate, and a few minor issues. But I got it through just about.

    Back to uni for my fourth year, and had even less money this time around.
    In November I realised upping the boost, while fun, also killed my 13c. Great opportunity to replace with a bigger spooly boi, so I got a used 15G from an 850. Had a bit of trouble getting the wastegate actuator we fabbed up to fit around the oil lines, so decided to run with an open wastegate until I could get a flexible braided line fitted. We also realised while we were replacing the oil and coolant that it hadn't been done when it was 'serviced' beforehand. Pretty frustrating, especially when it got to 1am and we still hadn't finished fitting the turbo. Few notes about this:

    * The compressor housing and core both have to be rotated to fit a RWD engine. There is a snap ring on the compressor side which is a pain to get off, and the best pliers we could get for it were from a independent supplier in Bristol I found. The two sets I ordered off Amazon were both more expensive, e quality, and the wrong size. Lesson somewhat learned...
    * There are four studs in the exhaust manifold on a 90+ turbo manifold. There were two Inconel studs in the cast iron turbo exhaust housing. They wouldn't come out without excessive heat application with heavy hitting with a mallet, and eventually we decided to cut the corners off the flange with a grinder.
    * Given the hassle we had getting the 15G with a conical flanged exhaust housing to fit, it would be worth going straight for a 16T with a straight or angled flange. Minimal extra hassle to get the downpipe to fit, and much better flow. Plus 16Ts are more readily available, and marginally bigger than the 15G.
    * I reused the wastegate actuator from the 13c because it has a stiffer spring than the later turbos, which are designed to work with a solenoid rather than due to the gauge air pressure.

    A slow few months ahead. I realised the core of the 15G was knackered, so ordered a brand new one from turborebuild.co.uk. Arrived quickly and the staff were great for helping me work out which one I needed, as the website listing wasn't the clearest. Meanwhile, I fitted the braided oil line. This was horrendous without taking off the oil filter relocation arm / oil cooler thing, but eventually I managed it. Had to grind, heat and bend a 19mm spanner to get it past the chassis rails and in to the banjo bolt on the block. Stubbornness as I refused to take the filter arm off, given that (I believed) the exhaust manifold would have had to come out to do that, and knowing my luck, I'd have sheared a stud or something. Another job completed in minus temps
    Also put in some new front indicator lenses, replaced with clears. Looks much better!


    Eventually got round to fitting the new core in January 2019, following university exams. Once again, I did this in cold conditions; there was a decent depth of snow on the ground around me, but this wasn't as bad as the other jobs. Reach in, pull the old one out, stick the compressor housing on in the right orientation, replace it. Done. Turned it up to half a bar and enjoyed turbo noises again. Also put some Toyo T1Rs on the rear, as the old tyres were a bit perished.
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    Due to requiring ankle surgery in February and therefore not being able to drive for a few months, progress stalled. Realised my heater core and heater control valve were leaking in March, so these got bypassed with a copper pipe, sealing tape and hose clamps in the engine bay so it could be driven without losing all my coolant. I also designed and 3D printed a boost gauge holder, and moved my boost gauge back to within my eyeline. It had previously been in the radio slot, having replaced the radio with more suitable in car entertainment.
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    Once back on my feet, got back on with things. Took the back box with its daft S bend tailpipe off and left it that way for a bit, while I made up a 304 stainless 3" straight pipe for the rear end. Used a 'reducer' to adapt from the diameter of the over axle bend and took it out to just inside the rear bumper. Sounds great and although it's a bit rice, I like it. Also sorted out a minor advisory from the previous MOT by doing that, which was obviously my reasoning for doing so.
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    Then I put in a V cam, as I'd noticed another oil leak from the camshaft seal. Turns out the original T cam had a slight groove on it and was weeping past the (admittedly crap) aftermarket seal. Now revs up nicely, fuel consumption is even worse, and I love it. Whacked the boost up again to 0.7 bar, will go higher sooner or later. Also plumbed in an eBay catch can inline with the original PCV separator box, and using the original vacuum source from the pre turbo intake pipe.
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    That's pretty much it on the performance side, as it's just failed its MOT again. This time, on one thing only! And only three advisories, a new record!
    - Rust hole in the passenger side rear by the jacking point, courtesy of not cutting out all the rust when the sill was previously welded. Thanks to the welding guy for that one...
    - Windscreen crack, from last year. Not a failure as it's right on the other side of the screen and doesn't obscure anything.
    - Oil leak, coming from somewhere strange. Looks like it's dripping off the aforementioned coolant hoses bypassing the heater core. Definitely a weird one, but I'll accept it as it's a 22 year old car now.
    - Front exhaust mount broken. This was a recent breakage, I'd noticed it was bodged together when I replaced the turbo. Started rattling only a week ago. I'll sort it when I sort out a new exhaust.


    Tl ; Dr:

    + 15G at 0.7 bar
    + V cam
    + Upgraded front brakes, reconditioned rears and handbrake.
    + Everything works in the interior, including sunroof. Only things that don't are the rear washer and headlight wipers, which have been removed.
    +I estimate I get about 25mpg on average, not bad considering my driving style and I drive through town a lot too. I think I only got 28mpg when I first got it at 135* bhp, it's now running just shy of 200* bhp I'd say.
    * compared to factory figures.
    + minor visual upgrades - it's decent paint underneath but has scratches all over, so touched up a few bits where it's flaked off. A few stickers, and prancing moose badges. Painted my front grille black, and replaced the headlights and front indicators for a pretty clean look if I do say so myself.
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    Upcoming plans:
    + Lowering springs and GAZ adjustable dampers
    + possibly an adjustable panhard rod from Viking Fabrications
    + KL Racing intercooler
    + 3" 304 stainless exhaust from turbo back, going to switch to a straight or angled flange housing for this.
    + Replace my heater core and control valve (Now rocking horse fecal matter as it's a non AC model) with an electric setup
    + e-fan and the bigger stock radiator to go with this
    + Wasted spark conversion
    + Hoping to do some LH2.4 tuning too, once I pull my finger out and get a wideband, Ostrich, and some blank chips. Way too many ideas for my own good to be honest

    And down the track I potentially have a B5234 T5 engine to go in. It needs a rebuild though, and instead of making it work with the M90 I'll probably go with a BMW 330d gearbox or something. Need to research this all more, but my perfect car is a RWD brick with a turbo 5 pot, so it's a pipeline idea.
    Last edited by Jfxv; Sunday 22nd September 2019 at 21:20.

  2. #2
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    Starting a new job tomorrow so progress will slow down, but finances and skills will improve.
    Next up on the list is welding on Tuesday to get it through the MOT, then going to fit lowering springs and hope the original dampers don't blow out immediately. Will replace them with -40mm GAZ adjustable dampers, but finances are tight right now.
    In the meantime, working on getting a 12V electric fan heater to work without setting fire to anything.

  3. #3
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    Dangerous Dave's Avatar
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    Great story so far!

    Looking forward to future updates, have fun learning more about your pride and joy
    1996 Olive Green 850 AWD - Follow the Project - Forged rods, 19T, big blue injectors, 960 TB, 3.25" MAF, Ostrich, 608 binary, arduino data display, active exhaust control with Focus RS tips, 320mm front brake conversion.
    1996 Nautic Blue 850 AWD - Failed its MOT, now it's a donor for the green thing.

  4. #4
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    15g....13.4@104.3mph
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    As above, great thread and interesting read, don't know how i missed this before, keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing future updates.

    Current Volvo's 1995 854 Gul T-5R 1996 855 Olive T-5R 1997 855 Olive AWD 1999 V70R AWD and 2005 XC90 D5 AWD
    Previous Volvo's 1987 745 gle 1989 745 GL 1995 855 Olive GLE 2001 V70 p2
    My Ebay Items http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/quik.connection

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    Nice work to save the car, enjoy the tinkering and keep us updated!

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    Thanks for the kind replies all!

    It's been a while since I did anything performance wise, other than turning up the boost a bit further. Now running 1 bar on the 15G with a V cam, pulls hard but the clutch slips in 3rd at around 3k. I've been told this is due to the dual mass flywheel rather than it being a cheap clutch, so a TTV flywheel with 850R clutch is on the list.
    As it's my daily/only car, can't get too silly with it. A few jobs to do now that temperatures are falling, despite my hatred of working on cars in the cold.
    These are:
    * front oil seals - I'd replaced the camshaft (easy access) one with a genuine Volvo one recently. The aux and crankshaft seals are now leaking, so they need doing.
    * distributor seals - not too bad but it's been dripping oil onto my downpipe for months, so probably should get around to sorting those.
    * need to get one of my wheels repaired as it's got a slow (actually quite fast) leak
    * heater core - I started this today as it's cold but at least not raining. And driving in winter with no heater is absolutely miserable, so this is the most immediate concern, and I wish I'd finished the job when I last tried to do it in August.

    These cars have issues with failing heater cores, understandable as they're all at least 21 years old now. Mine gave up a while ago, but as it was summertime it didn't matter so much; I just bypassed it and planned the job for when I was less busy. I gave it a go in late August and got stumped at the point where I had to remove the air distribution box. Everywhere online says it's held together by 10 7mm screws which are painful but fairly accessible. Mine, being a late model car, is different, and of course there's no mention of it anywhere on the internet. Joy.

    I've just spent this morning pulling the interior and I'm at the same stage I last reached - a lot quicker this time as I didn't have to pull any of the ducting out, having not put it back in the first place. Bit more research and it appears that mine, because it's a 'Classic', has a different way of doing things (for no discernible reason) and therefore is even more of a pain in the ***. At least it doesn't have AC, which simplifies it a bit, but it's still a of a job. As a result this is going to be the first (to my knowledge) documented heater core removal on a 1997 RHD 940. Everything I can find is about LHD, or older cars with a different system to mine.

    Key things to look out for: most distribution sections seem to be black plastic, from what I've seen on the internet, and screwed together. The one I'm dealing with is white plastic, and held together using (17, I think) clips which are mostly accessible, apart from one directly in the centre of the car above the trans tunnel, and this was the major cause of fury last time I tried this. Couldn't get at it at all with my hands, and I'm basically a human version of a noodle. Therefore (purists look away now) I'm mostly likely just going to hack it off with tin snips, a die grinder, or whatever I can get at it with, and when it all goes back together, there'll just be one missing clip. Bigger issues to deal with tbh, I just want a working heater. In any case, it's better than doing this:
    The whole bottom section looks to me to be riveted to the rail attached to the firewall, and these will most likely get the same treatment if it doesn't come off with the clips. Can you tell how little patience I have for this thing now?


    Pics to follow, I've just come in to charge my phone, so when I go back out I'll take some pics for the education value.

    In more positive news, I decided to remove my centre face vents and put some 52mm gauges and a cupholder there instead. I've been prototyping the panel and the required mounts this week. Hopefully will get it finished and modelled in CAD soon for 3D printing; once that's done, I'll be able to supply them to anyone who might want some. It's designed to retrofit with minimal modification (at the moment, two holes drilled in the steel brace panel on top of the glovebox) and works pretty well, just needs a few refinements, so if anyone wants, shoot me a PM. I'll be designing some for an 850 too in the future.

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    Apologies for the awful formatting... I'm not too savvy with forum posts.

    Got some pics of how the heater core and distribution box looks in these later models. It's held together with a load of clips rather than inaccessible screws, like most 940s.
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    Slightly less of a pain to get apart. After taking off all the air ducts from the white distribution box, I ended up getting the bottom half off and wrestling the old matrix out, through cutting one of the old rubber hoses (going to replace with silicone ones), and this a) takes time and effort and b) damages the old core. The bottom half can be removed from the car once the matrix is out but...

    A much easier way of doing it appears to be through removing the scuttle panel (two nuts on the wipers, then three M6 (10mm) screws and nuts within the engine bay). Removing the panel above the ventilation duct allows access to two bolts.
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    Undo these and a single bolt in a bent steel bracket behind where the glovebox would be, and then the whole upper half of the air duct drops down.
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    The mounting rail can be detached through undoing two nuts on studs on the driver side in the engine bay. Make sure the two heater hoses are removed from the valve and core return pipe in the bulkhead - I'd already joined these to bypass the core ages ago. The whole assembly then should detach with ease, and can be removed from the car after disconnecting a few cables from the control valve and wires and things. This makes the job of removing the matrix from the distribution box much easier once it's on the bench.

    After I got the new matrix into the distrib. box, I got sidetracked trying to sort out a leak I've had for a while, and I found a load more rust which needed sorting.As it stands, I'm going to go out tomorrow and try to get the box and matrix assembly into the car as a complete thing, and sort out the cables and things. I'm amazed that I've not seen any posts anywhere about removing the scuttle panel to speed the job up; I'm assuming this is because there's no info /anywhere/ about doing this on the RHD 1997/8 cars, but it must be worth a look for anyone trying to do the job on the older cars, and definitely helps the job on this model.

    I also need to get some silicone hoses into place between the matrix and a new control valve I've ordered, as the old one was leaking. Those were ordered yesterday, so should have the job finished by the end of the week. Also going to be ordering some GAZ adjustable dampers for the fronts soon; I've got a set of Kilen lowering springs to go on. I'd done the rears already as one of my old ones had collapsed, so it looks silly with a rear rake at the moment. Once I have the GAZ shocks for the front, the new springs and topmounts (with camber mod) can go in. I also have a set of new Bilstein B4s for the rear, these can go on fairly easily as they're separate from the springs, but I've got my hands full with the heater stuff at the moment. Once the springs are fitted all around, I'll update with some pics.

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  10. #8
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    Good info, thanks.

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    Finally finished the heater core on Wednesday. It's nice having heat again! I also replaced my distributor seals in an effort to stop that leaking and dripping onto my downpipe.
    Took way longer than it had to, but that's the result of having to wait for parts to be delivered etc.

    As cable operated heater control valves are no longer available, I decided to grab a generic one from carbuilder solutions. 22 delivered, and the actuator travel is reasonably close to the original, but it works in 'reverse' compared to the original configuration. To make it work, it needs to be rotated 180 degrees and sealed in place in the bracket - I used some polyurethane adhesive/sealant called Nemesis, but it didn't work too well the first time, so had to reapply it more liberally and leave it for longer to set. I've yet to see how it holds up, but 'next time' I'd go for something stronger like sikaflex 291i, the marine adhesive I was recommended to use the first time. 4 a tube versus 12 though, so for the saving I was happy to put up with a bit of inconvenience.

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    To get the cable to work properly, it has to act downwards to push open the valve, and pull it closed, so it needs to be re-routed slightly. I had to cut it down in length slightly, to make it fit more easily. At this point I'd given up on doing it neatly and cabletied it in two places to the clutch pedal bracket. It works, so I don't mind it looking a bit trashy. There is also a cable that travels across underneath the dash, and operates a flap that diverts the air away from the matrix when the valve is closed; good idea for when you want actual cold air, in addition to shutting off the coolant supply to the core. I didn't bother making it work with the new valve, so the job isn't really finished, but it's 90% functional. I don't mind this personally, as I never use the cold air setting anyway. Sorry to any future owners!

    The original hoses were unusable, so I replaced with silicone hoses. Simplest way to do it is just use 2x 90 degree elbows (ID is 16mm) and cut them to fit. This works absolutely fine, and was necessary as the core is a different design, with one hose coming off at an angle.

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    Hopefully going to keep it going well for the winter, and in spring will probably get on with more performance stuff. As it is, I'm quite happy with it; everything that makes it pleasant to own works now. Heater, heated seats, electric windows, sunroof not leaking, nothing's broken on it really. Winter plans are to sort out the front oil seals, front suspension, and rear dampers. Then in the spring, sorting out a 3" exhaust, wideband, adjustable camgear, and tuning it properly. Next goal/milestone is 250bhp / 210-220 wheel hp.
    Last edited by Jfxv; Saturday 23rd November 2019 at 17:47. Reason: One day I will figure out how to keep image sizes manageable. today is not that day

  12. #10
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    Nice workarounds!

    Unfortunately it's gonna get worse trying to find obscure parts like that.
    1996 Olive Green 850 AWD - Follow the Project - Forged rods, 19T, big blue injectors, 960 TB, 3.25" MAF, Ostrich, 608 binary, arduino data display, active exhaust control with Focus RS tips, 320mm front brake conversion.
    1996 Nautic Blue 850 AWD - Failed its MOT, now it's a donor for the green thing.

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