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DEK2688?s ?93 945T revivification


Sep 28, 2010

I?m DEK2688 by username, but my actual real name is Rich. I?ve been in and around rwd Volvos for 30 years; my first being a ?67 142 in creampuff white when I was 15, much to my parents chagrin. Since then, I?ve owned 14 running/driving Volvos that I can recollect, and many others that did not run or drive - or both.

I cut my teeth as an AME in the aviation industry for over a dozen years on reciprocating wing aircraft before going all white-collar and getting an office job due to progressive chemical allergies.

Volvos sort of fill in the remaining rift, and satisfy the need to feel tools, smell oil and get dirty - but will never be as cool as something that flies.

The object of focus for this thread will be a black-on-black-on-black ?93 945T wagon that I was gifted. Please join me along the myriad journey of bringing it back to life in this ever-expanding thread.

However appreciate that I?m far from a great photographer and don?t think of taking pictures while I?m working.

I have a nasty tendency to detail things in painful lengthy diatribes, so those with cat-like attention spans will want to find another thread with plenty of pretty colourful pictures and sparkly bright flashing twinkles to be amused by.

OK, I?ll answer that first burning question that you undoubtedly have;

?How do you get a free wagon??
One part fortune, one part hard work, and one part TurboBricks.


The start of it all

Thru selling a few selected hoarded Volvo goodies off on T?Bricks, I had the fortunate occasion to meet Craig and Brent; local-to-me brothers that are Volvo-lifers, and the kind donors of the 945.

Craig purchased a set of Gen-1 Grandpa E-Codes in late 2014 from me for his ?89 745. When we met to exchange cash for goods and peek at each others? Grandpas, we struck up a conversation about his planned L-block engine swap.

I offered to help with the engine swap if he needed it. I?ve played redblock tango a few times in Grandpas, and am painfully familiar with the process. He took me up on the offer without hesitation. I honestly didn?t expect any return for the offer of help.

Spirit and support should be prevalent in our local car community regardless of return.

Craig then kindly offered me the opportunity to see the car and pick through anything that was left over to see if there were any viable parts that I could use - or hoard.

I gladly accepted his offer and we agreed to meet again to see the 945 in the Bat Cave.


The first meeting

I saw the car in the Bat Cave a few months after our initial discussion, and in the process had the pleasure of meeting Craig?s older brother Brent; an equally Volvo-motivated soul and a guy you want to talk with for hours - and can.

We met and talked - and talked - and did the customary peeking and hmm-ing at the various Swedish meatballs that we owned.

I was pleasantly shocked and extremely pleased to see that indeed, the 945 was mostly intact and didn?t seem to be a basket-case.


The excitement went up a few pegs.

I foggily recollect that Craig offered the 945 at that time to me to recompense me for my time - admittedly I sort of blanked out. It took a few differently-worded statements to the same effect from him to register in my rodent-sized brain that he was indeed offering to give me the car in exchange for the work.

The excitement immediately shot up to a few of the higher pegs.

Craig offered up the dog gate, a tailgate load of removed parts, the original 16? meat-slicer wheels with essentially new rubber - gratis - and anything else he had for the car lurking about.

Excitement was up to the top pegs on the board. And on it went. I was trying to not get all verklempt.

By the end of seeing it for the first time I was pretty stoked to get my grubby little mitts on the thing. But it was early February and damn dark, damp and cold in this part of the world. Craig suggested that it would be best to start the swap when it wasn?t so spark and dooky in the Bat Cave. My aging body was grateful for his foresight.

As I was driving home, I had to admit that I had been bitten by the vaa-goon bug again. This wasn?t my first wagon rodeo, nor would it be my first ?93 945T in black-on-black-on-black. My original ?93 945T is the car I still think about as being quite possibly the perfect car nearly 15 years after I sold it.

Was this providence? Perhaps, but it would take a bit of effort to make it happen.

Idle thinking

The 945 did have its minor little issues - like a missing engine, transmission, sunroof and other various bits and pieces. However it was a runner and driver before being a donor, and was mostly mechanically intact and functional, save for the aforementioned big bits that it was missing.

The exterior was wearing a proprietary layer of protective Bat Cave dust and appeared somewhat rough, but workable and with no obvious signs of exterior cancer or serious cave-ins.

The interior was reasonable; the carpeting was obviously toast, but what trim didn?t need replacing would probably clean up. The leather was filthy and needed significant attention to bring it back to life, but was mostly salvageble except for the drivers? seat which possessed a suitable frame and motors, but otherwise was a good candidate for re-skinning and new foam.

However, this was what I surmised after looking at the car in the dark - or at least using my iPhone flashlight to be able to see it. The Bat Cave was every bit as dark, dank and depressing as a real bat cave. Without a lighting source, I would have resorted to examining the car by feel.

So, it initially appeared to be a feasible project to rebuild when applying a strong level of optimism and thinking bright & sunny thoughts.


The longer look

We met to set the plan in motion and get a date nailed down for the swap. In and amongst the varied discusssions between bicycles, movies, political beliefs and Volvos, we actually made a plan.

I managed to squeak in a really good scan of the interior and underhood during which I was furiously writing mental list, which resulted in 3 pages of notes when I got back home. I went to the PnP?s that weekend with my list of needed things and obtained the trim that the 945 needed, which was all of this for about $50:


Ruminating in a yard full of wrecked cars

While I was toddling about in the PnP, I had a good think as to what my objective is for the wagon.

Some perspective first; a wagon makes far more sense for my world as it has pretty sizable and very usable space, where my 780 has lots of pretty space that you don?t want to fill with sizable things and de-pretty.

A wagon can carry my dogs, bike, camping gear, projectile-vomiting-drunken-girlfriend, drywall, and rolls of sod without beads of sweat appearing on my forehead.

To maintain a realistic initial objective for rebuilding the 945, I?ll stage the approach in versions:
  • v.1: Fully-functional vehicle with no mechanical or electrical issues, interior~80%, near to stock.
  • v.2: Enhanced output and suspension, interior ~95%; etc.

The finished wagon has to be reliable, functional, and practical and have some obvious financial constraints applied - to curtail any perversions for performance mods.

It must:

  • ultimately serve as a stalwart ?daily? driver to replace my 780 which serves in that capacity,
  • be a non-basket case project to limit the potential for gremlins,
  • be viable to use for five years reliably following reassembly,
  • have availability of consumable parts through Volvo, OEM aftermarket, or wrecked cars, and,
  • parts costs should be average.

The 945 is an ideal platform in those cases. The 940 series is a very basic vehicle without the burden of modern OBD-II stop-you-dead electronics or complex modular wiring, has very simple fuel/ignition systems, sold well on the market, and is well engineered. I?ve had a fair amount of experience with the P70 platform, honestly appreciate the simplicity of the design, and am very familiar with the vehicle systems.

Inside trading and minor thieving

Years ago I had pulled a complete thick pile carpet set from a pristine ?86 765T in dark blue; cleaned it, and stashed it in my hoard for later use or my then 745T - which I ended up selling. This would therefore become the replacement carpeting for the 945. I just needed a few additional blue carpet-ety things to make it entirely complete - like the tailgate trim and wheel arches, and account for any nuances in production or design.

I prefer blue as it hides stains and dirt well, but it may seem Teutonic with the black for certain pundits. Tough tuna. My second choice is grey, but it is nearly impossible to find a wagon with grey carpeting that isn?t absolutely wasted. Wagons are used as wagons after all.

I also ?borrowed? the grille to experiment with cleaning it up as a litmus test for the rest of the trim, and to install 7/9 Lambda Sond grille badge that has been lurking in my hoard with nothing to do for far too long.

The shape of things to come - or at least the state of the trim. Lambda Sond with no Cat? Pfaf!​

One of the primary priorities is to install a sunroof asap, so I can wash the car, blast out the gutters and drains, and to ensure that the wildlife doesn?t set-up shop inside while the 945 resides in my garage.

I?ll be looking for a donor 960/90 glass roof (or entire V90 with blown engine and nice interior) as the project rolls along. I?ll install a headliner in the car when I?ve got one, which means it?ll be a v.2 thing.

The headliner is one of the few exceptions to using repurposed parts; I?ll break the bank and buy a new one from the stealership in 960 blue-grey which should complete the interior.


The longer look, part deux

I was able to set my hands on the 945 for the first time to see if it was open to me touching it. It didn?t object or file charges after the fact, so we got off to a good start.

First, I pulled the instrument cluster to clean it, deoxidize the terminal lands, install an outside temperature gauge, and to swap out the tachometer with one from a N-A car. I refuse to have the worlds-most-useless boost gauge staring at me and doing nothing when I install a calibrated and useful gauge in place of the massive analogue clock.

Second, with the intent of starting the leather rehabilitation process, I removed the rear seat squabs, then promptly forgot how to remove the seat-backs as the 900 wagon inner seat mounts are different to 700?s, and that was all I could recollect.

As usual regarding forgotten things, I remembered the 900?s removal sequence by the time I had made it home.

I did take a few pictures of what I was faced with for the interior work, just to ground any pie-in-the-sky thinking...



Lastly, I had to get the 945 back onto its feet. The overload coils that were on it had been sold, and the 945 was shabbily perched on blocks/stands with special-space-saver-spares installed to fill the wheel voids. A $20 set of ?91 turbo wagon springs from the PnP sorted that right out, got it back on its feet again and ready to roll with the original meat-slicers lashed in place.

Well, perhaps not roll under its own steam quite yet.



Rust: The unwanted frontier

Unfortunately, despite having a body of a goddess she has a face like a bag of smashed?

No?the 945 has a decent body, but sadly has cancer in the battery tray and lower wheel arch/inner fender.

At some point in its past life, the battery boiled over and released its frothy goodness all over the interior of the battery tray and wheel arch/inner fender. It appears that the residue was never neutralized as the tray is paper thin, the battery hold down clamp no longer exists, and the wheel arch/inner fender has Flintstone-esque viewing ports to the ground.

While not something that will make me fold my tent and scrap this thing, it is certainly not something that I had wanted to assume as part of the initial efforts to get it rolling.

It actually sucks.

The only way of repairing the area is to cut it out and weld in a new section. I need to buy a donor car.



Hack Mechanic need not apply within

I disassembled the cluster, and noted that the cluster had previously been apart and damaged during reassembly.

I?m not entirely sure why it was taken apart, but I am reasonably certain based on the date/mileage on the few service records I could find that the speedo is the original. The cluster terminals don?t appear oxidized or burnt, and the fuel and temp gauges appear undisturbed.

Perhaps the P.O. was the curious and ignorant-to-repair-manuals type.

Given that the damage to the bezel was caused by incorrectly re-installing the 4 speedo mount screws, which are 2mm longer than the bezel screws, the speedo was likely disturbed, and may be somewhat likely that it was replaced with a similarly-used one.

Who the hell knows for certain.

The damage to the bezel was the first time I noticed Repair Related Collateral Damage by a Hack Mechanic - and there were MANY other examples of this shining superstars work through the vehicle.

I?ll affectionately name them HM, and refer to all of the humpty work as RRCD henceforth.

See the 4 white dots on the face of the bezel? Those are holes that go right thru! What kind of hack would do this and not feel utter shame?

Plastic scratch remover, Windex, Q-tips, Kimwipes, Deox-it, new bulbs and compressed air were the ingredients used to restore and clean the cluster. I will replace the bezel when I can find a good one.


Other useful bits

The 945?s original AW-71L with 360K KM was being used by Craig for his 745, so I needed to find one along with a later-style intercooler as the original had grown legs, wandered off, rented itself an apartment, and gotten a VW intercooler pregnant at some point.

A local T?Bricker was selling off most of his 8V project parts collection, including a good used turbo-spec AW-71L and decent later-gen I/C from an apparent ?95 280K KM donor, so I jumped at the opportunity.

What? A Slushbox?

I wanted to stay with the automagic for a few reasons; first, AW?s were installed in 98% of the North American redblock-powered 7/9 series vehicles, (save for the tragic ZF?s which are all dead now anyway), so they are plentiful, can handle some abuse, are relatively simple to work on, and inherently very reliable.

Second, sourcing a decent M46, another 7/9 pedal box, and slave and master cylinders would be like finding hens teeth; then add on new hard/flex lines, new clutch, and a 60-2 LH-spec flywheel from TTV (or JohnV) for a healthy total.

The AW is a good solution - boring and mundane perhaps, but simple, cheap and readily available.

I solvent washed the AW?s exterior a few times to remove the thick gooey crust. It was some of the worst goo that I?d seen in a while, being nearly ? thick and set hard on the bellhousing.

Once the exterior was de-gooed, I drained the fluid, removed the dipstick tube, torque converter, pan, pickup screen, bypass tubes, and tailshaft housing and cleaned them in fresh solvent.

I?ll install a new pickup screen, tailshaft housing gasket, seal & locknut, front main seal, selector shaft seals, and pan gasket. I will replace the corroded dipstick tube as the locknut galled when I removed it.

I?ll save the accumulator valve mod and a finding a decent higher stall converter for later on when I have an AW rebuild kit in hand and feel the need and motivation to do so.

Keeping Cool

The I/C wasn?t full of the typical old blow-by oil and crap but I did flush it out with dilute Simple Green and hot water. The rubber hoses were their usual black messy badness, but cleaned up easily in varsol without becoming too gooey. I?ll replace the more suspect hoses eventually as swollen and soft hoses will fail in time at the most inopportune moment, and I?ve had it happen.

I reverse-hosed out the I/C fins and got about 2lbs of sand out of it, then washed up the outside with Simple Green and soft bristle brush - hey presto! It almost looks new. The stock I/C will be sufficient enough for my purposes at the present moment.

Cocked tails

The original taillights had seen much better days. So much so, that they weren?t even on the car anymore. No matter, I never really liked the orange turn-signal elements in the wagons or early sedan 6-panel tails, but there were not really any viable options until the ?95 960?s came out.

T?Bricks delivers where there is need, but Caveat Emptor applies in this case.

Not to mention that sellers should well know that errant or missing truth is worth nothing more than a fetid pile of donkey doo.

I bought a set of tails that were apparently both from a ?98 - which they weren?t; one was from a ?98, and the other was from a ?95. No biggie, but the date stamps don?t lie. And people will look.

One tail was apparently ?sun faded? - which it wasn?t; it was three years older than its mate and was a darker shade of red, and at some point the fog light lens had been washed off with Acetone, MEK or Lacquer Thinner, clouding the plastic. A few rounds with plastic polish/scratch remover and an orbital buffer made short work of that.

We won?t mention the 2 stripped mounting studs on one of the tails to save the pain of doing so.

Regardless, the tails are now installed and functional - but will be replaced. Again.



More idle thinkin? and parts cherry pickin?

The 945?s 22-year-old a/c system was discharged, non-functional and likely just NFG, and I didn?t wanna fuddle around too much with corroded-together fittings to make it work. Off to the PnP with me, where I was able to pull a compressor, condenser and a/c lines from a ?94 944 with 163K km. This is so that I have about 75% of the system in hand when I go about discovering what original bits are or aren?t working.

Being that the 945 is black outside and inside there is no rest bit in the sun, and she?ll get Africa hot. I am old and becoming increasingly intolerant of things, and in that spirit I must have functional a/c for the 5 days a year that it gets hot here to keep myself road-rage-free.

Its also invaluable in defrosting/demisting the windows the other 10 months of the year we get rain.

I also pulled the struts, hubs, power steering rack, tailshaft housing, O/D solenoid, latch assemblies, striker latches, lock actuators, shifter, heater controls, door soundproofing, door seals and a few other bits from the same car as it was fairly pristine. Three local-to-me PnP?s were sadly in the death-throws of closing, and I capitalized heavily on the 50%-off clearance.


The errant engine and tranny did leave me with a pretty important question;

?What to repower the wagon with??

I had built a nice tight-squish ?95 L-block for my ?90 780 when the original K-block nearly grenaded from a nasty event involving a flaky actuator, a 21-psi boost spike and not enough fuel.


Yikes! It still ran, albeit like a Stalin-era Soviet farm tractor.


The L-block that supplanted the mortally-wounded K-block, at home in the 780's bay

So, why not pull the rebuilt L-block from the 780 and drop it in the wagon? It only has 16,000km on it - and has basically new internals except for the crank, and has some v.2 go-fast parts already, saving on duplicity.

Besides, I?m half way through building a 16VT for the 780. What would I do with 2 engines for the same car that I barely drive?


I further ruminated over and devised the repower plan from that point - but in setting the plan forth, I had to remind myself of the reasonable initial objectives; reliability, functionality, practicality, and obvious financial constraints. Then performance mods.

Totally reverse to typical T?Bricks logic.

No boiling my oil

For engine oil cooling, I?ve chosen to stay with the air to oil cooler set-up rather than the later H20 to oil cooler style for a few reasons; first was reliability. Second is the ability to increase the size of the cooler to match any power enhancements later on in v.2.

I was told by a master Volvo tech that 95% of the L-block failures that he had seen were from glycol contamination/blockages of the oil system. Apparently the matrix in the cooler erodes over time/neglect and pinhole/fail, causing coolant/oil to migrate or intermingle between the two systems depending on the oil or coolant system pressure.

While I?m certain that there are plenty of high-mileage examples of the H20-oil coolers still out there in the world that function as intended, the master-tech?s statement above by itself validates (in my head at least) another reason to stick with the tried and true air-to-oil system; elimination of a potential weak point.

Initially, I?ll be utilising a stock oil cooler that was installed on ?92-?93ish 960?s here, but also on D24T/D24TIC?s elsewhere and likely others. I?ll have oil cooler lines fabricated in braided stainless at a local hydraulic shop to fit the installation from the stock sandwich plate location to the oil cooler. The installation should look stock, save for the lines.

For v.2 considerations, I found that a 6- or 10-row Setrab SLM oil cooler can fit in relatively the same location with a bit of tilt and wiggle to tend to future power enhancements that may over challenge the stock cooler. I?ll remote-mount the oil filter and sandwich plate to the passenger frame rail and remove the stock block adapter set-up at the same time.

Lookin' ugly before going for ultrasonic cleaning and a touch of paint​


Jerkin on someone else?s? redblocks

As part of the wagon deal of the century, I made certain promises to Craig about providing work and assistance where needed for the engine swap into his 745.

This was the week for the brothers to cash that cheque that I had written.

Fortunately a lot of the initial work had been done by Brent - removing peripherals, lines and wiring harness for engine removal, so my tasks were easily focused on the bigger-scope stuff on the first day, such as getting both engines removed.

I had set some reasonable goals in my head for the swap and had taken the week off work to facilitate spending two or three full days in the Bat Cave.

I targeted the reinstallation and peripheral reassembly for the 745 for the second day and beyond as needed things that weren?t thought of initially became needed and weren?t on hand. Like mounts. And studs, gaskets, o-rings, seals and nuts, and?.

2:26PM, just pulled the ?89​

2:52PM, pulling the ?93​

Don?t get me wrong, it wasn?t easy work in the least. Next to a bilge, it was perhaps the dirtiest, darkest, and dankest environment that I?ve spent two full days on my back, front, sides and feet in.

See them coveralls? They were clean when I started - I?d hedge a big bet that the asphalt underground parking lot had never been swept, pressure-washed or cleaned in its 40-year history, save for what I cleaned using my coveralls with the help of spilled ATF and coolant.

Without the trouble lights on, it was impossible to see anything in the engine compartment other than meaningless shapes. I was happy to be back out in the sun when we had stopped for the day.

But despite all that, it was a pleasure to work with a couple of brothers that had plenty to discuss, laugh about and who were truly good company.

Craig insisted on feeding me lunch rather than let me do my typical ?work until I?m ready to pass out and/or pee my pants?; to which I was immensely grateful.

There will be no admission of how much potato salad I proved that I can eat in one sitting or how slowly I was moving afterwards.

The swap was a complete success - and my last hoarded set of 7/9 solid mounts that I?ll admit to owning in a public forum ended up on Craig?s 745. 


The pickup artists

Finally, the day of getting the wagon out into the outside world and sun was here - the planets had aligned; the colour blue was red, and red was blue; dogs and cats lived together in harmony; the sun rose in the west and set in the east - whatever. I was actually a bit excited.


I drafted in my bro-in-law because he has a 20-odd foot enclosed car trailer and a Banks-tuned Duramax Silverado work truck that has 25-odd-pounds of furious boost, 473RWHP, and enough torque to tow the entire state of Idaho along with all of its potatoes.

It didn?t even flinch with the wagon safely tucked in the trailer, and only made marginally deeper hippo-farts from its 4? exhaust - which deafens unassuming pedestrians as you rumble by, enshrouding them in thick, black carcinogenic diesel fumes. Awesome.

Don?t get me wrong; I don?t like GM products even while in a life-threatening drunken stupor, but the sheer low-end torque and towing ability of the truck garnered my total respect. The video-game sound turn signals, 3rd-grader cabin design, PlaySkool plastic playpen dash, lawn-furniture seating and thumb-sized panel gaps garnered absolutely no respect.

We simply rolled the car onto a slight downgrade at the Bat Cave parking lot exit, gave 'er a bit of welly, and Brent drove/rolled the wagon into the trailer. Lashed down and locked up, the wagon was on its way.

Craig bidding a tearful farewell as I intently strap the wagon down​

A messy inside job

I?ve never had that pit-of-the-stomach feeling of being near to a point of defeat over a dirty car.

Until I met this wagon.

At some point in its shady past there was a nasty incident that involved this wagon, its drivers side rear seat and carpeting, and some gawd-awful and aggressive thing - like used wok oil.


Literally as the 945 had stopped rolling out of the trailer, I was busy ripping out the carpeting and rest of the interior, not taking pictures.

I knew from prior looks that the carpeting was toast - but had no idea of the depths of the damage. While it looked like molasses or coke, it clearly was anything but when I dug in beyond the first layer.

The carpeting didn?t come out intact, but rather came out of the car in soft chunks that tore off like pulled pork. I just wheeled my 80-litre garbage can beside the wagon and started having at it with a thick pair of nitrile gloves on.

I grabbed an N95 dust mask when I saw the black mold that encapsulated the rear soundproofing - and felt a tad green when the aroma of ancient, used, and rancid oil wafted into my face when I pulled the moldy soundproofing out.

I then donned my OV-AG N95 half-mask cartridge-equipped respirator to eliminate the potential for spontaneous Technicolor yawning from inhaling the heady and insipid aroma.

The baked-on asphalt-based acoustic dampening patches on the drivers? front and rear floor pans had adsorbed the oil, had become viscous like roofing tar and smelled absolutely rancid.

I removed as much of the asphalt as I could with a plastic scraper, and then proceeded to use D-Limonene and a stiff scrub brush to loosen the tougher Klingons. I popped out a rear floor pan plug and hosed out the floor to rinse out the oily brown sludgy residue, which permanently stained my garages? concrete floor.

Needless to say I wasn?t in the mood to take any pictures until the job was done.


Almost residue-free. Notice the chunks missing out of the asphalt pad on the floor pan?​

After doffing my gear, de-greasing my arms and changing into new clothes, I was ready to take pictures of the results.

I finished by washing the floor a few times with Dawn dish-soap and boiling hot water, which worked well to remove the residual permeated-in smell and trapped residue, making it ready for a quick spray of primer, a new floor plug, a few squares of dampening material and some repurposed OE soundproofing.

All totaled, it took me more than 8 hours to remove all of the gawd-awful thing on the floor and recount all the damage that it had done. Shockingly, the floor is entirely rust-free despite being exposed to the gawd-awful thing for gawd-only-knows-for-how-long.

The inside of the car doesn?t smell like a grease trap behind a Chinese fast-food joint now, and I did find $2.38 in loose change - and 17 ancient cigarette butts. Total score.

The remaining good elements of the interior were removed and brought into my house to be further evaluated, thrown out or kept, washed or replaced up to and including the dash and HVAC system.



Verging on the trim

All of the remaining and intact hard plastic trim, the one remaining good door-panel and anything removed and that could be was washed in Simple Green and warm water to remove any residue from previous ownership and abuse.

The centre console looked like it had been frosted with white-death donut dust with numerous creamy caffeinated elixirs poured on top for good measure. The console storage bin was an archaeological treasure-trove of lip gloss, degrading pennies, sparkles, hair clips, stickers, mystery residue and assorted hair - and suitable for throwing away. Needless to say, it will be worth the $10 spent at Volvo for a new one.

I removed the floor and vent ducting to the HVAC airbox and then undid the trim clips for the dash wiring loom. Five small bolts later and the dirty dash was out and being taken in the house. A little diluted Simple Green, warm water, microfiber towel and 303 made it look pretty spiffy.


I?ll tend to the damage around the instrument cluster opening that the HM caused by prying the instrument bezel with a screwdriver in an attempt to get it out. We?ll also delve into the damage that the HM did trying to get the radio out - with an even bigger screwdriver?later.

To the firewall!

The HVAC airbox was next candidate for removal, requiring a bit of wiggling and some minor use of profanity after removing all of the retaining hardware. The original heater core had failed at some point in the past and the HM had made his attempt at replacing it in situ. While not an impossible task on 7/9?s, I prefer to take the few extra steps and remove the dash to make life that much easier.

The HM had obviously struggled with the heater core replacement; the aftermarket Spectra heater core was ill-fitting and only three of the four retaining clamp screws were in place. In fact, all of the screws the HM couldn?t put back in the housing were simply left on the soundproofing to rust, only because he couldn?t have been bothered to clean up the coolant residue. The HM also monkeyed around with the HVAC wiring harness, but fortunately thought better of it and stopped before doing anything more than unwrapping electrical tape on the harness and getting bitumen caulking all over the vacuum lines.

I completely disassembled the HVAC airbox, cleaned the blown-in road residue and old coolant from the interior, and inspected its elements. There was a fair amount of loose dirt and pine needles in the fan housing, and the foam filter on the evaporator was packed full of dry clay/dust.

While testing the vacuum motors, the vacuum motor for the vent shutter stuck open and refused to move back to its closed position. While it would move back with some light hand force, there was something amiss.

When I looked at the pivot shaft for the floor/vent shutters, I noticed that it was rusty. I removed the tooth washer from the pivot shaft, pulled out the shaft, removed the rust with ScotchBrite, lubed it with Tri-Flow drylube, reinstalled it and tested the shutters? function.

I?m certain that I will appreciate functional vacuum motors and the ability to direct airflow.

The heater core was not entirely garbage, but the super thin-wall copper and Mexican solder-job wasn?t gonna cut muster with this guy. I?ve opted for a Nissens replacement; while not as Hades-hot as the original Volvo units, its price certainly doesn?t induce shock, fainting or gasping for breath like the OEM heater core price does. I see a new heater core as a confidence and reliability inspiring thing regardless of cost and time investiture.

The evaporator was likely still good, but in removing the corroded lines (covalent bonding anyone?), the line from the receiver/dryer collapsed despite counter-holding the nut, buggering any chances of reusing it. Volvos price for a new evaporator is unearthly, so I?m opting for an aftermarket version.

The original blower fan had been replaced at some point with a I?m-Gonna-Catch-Your-Car-On-Fire-Cause-I?m-a-No-Name-Brand-Made-In-China blower fan. I found it difficult to rotate by hand, so I can imagine that the electrical system, wiring, and fan resistor pack seriously hated it not to mention the sheer amperage that it probably required just to function. I?ll use a Siemens-VDO replacement - or something that at least can be identified -and made in a country by people who make more than 14 cents an hour.

After thoroughly washing the interior of the airbox sections and allowing them to dry, I reassembled them with some new bitumen goop to ensure the sections seal together. I then performed electrical and vacuum function checks using the dash controls to ensure that I wasn?t reinstalling something that was going to sh*t the bed.

Next I washed out the floor/vent/defroster plastic tubes to ensure that the entire system is residue and as odor free as possible.

The wiring harness was the easy part - clean, inspect, circuit test where possible, re-tape and reinstall.

I?ll be revising the HVAC controls location as part of the audio system work that I?ll detail later on. I?m definitely looking forward to that project as it will be clean.


The roof is on?

The 945 still had a giant gaping hole in its roof from where the sunroof had been unceremoniously removed; not necessarily ideal in terms of protection from the elements or for being able to securely park the car.

Fortunately, there was a local member that was parting a black ?90 744. I managed to arrange an evening sunroof extraction and pick-over of the car in trade for some superfluous parts from my hoard.

Ideally I would have liked to chop out the donor car?s battery tray and frame section as well so that I can tend to that repair soon on the 945, but my chop saw battery wouldn?t hold a charge, and I am not spending three hours with a hacksaw trying to do what a chop saw would do in a matter of minutes.

I got the sunroof home, washed off the debris and brought it in the house. I disassembled it for some Sunday morning fun, cleaned the pan tracks and cable houses, re-lubed the control cables, tracks and pivot points, resealed the frame to the pan with Marine silicone, and finished reassembly. The felt seal will be replaced with a new one if I can find one.

I tested the sunroof with a manual crank handle after reassembly for function and travel stops out of the car, then removed the sunroof lid before installing the pan into the car. I blew out the drain channels, installed the pan, then the lid. I tested the installed sunroofs? function and did some minor adjustments.


I performed a water-test of the roof to make certain that there were no leaks. I opened the roof and poured about a litre of water into the sunroof pan side panels and looked for any signs of intrusion or leaks past the track, or out of the drain channels. I then closed the roof and sprayed water onto the sunroof lid and felt seal to see if it could be overwhelmed. I was happy with the no-leak results.

It is nice to have a complete-looking roof again, despite the fact that there are bigger bits still missing and a ton of associated work to get those big bits in.


E to the Code, but not quite yet

Life will be good for you if you understand this one basic thing; Headlights designed for the North American market suck.

The silly AmArEeKhaaaan! DOT headlight standard blended with the abhorrent Fjord-designed 9004 bulb emits such an atrocious pillow-shaped orb of light 10 feet away from the front bumper that I swear that you?ll overdrive the lights at anything above 60km/h. Even when new, properly adjusted and aimed with brand-new sh*tty 9004 bulbs, DOT headlights can be easily overdriven at highway speeds.

The 740/940/960 DOT lights are certainly no exception. They really suck. Even the fog lights suck badly.

The headlights and fogs that the 945 has on it reeeaaallly suck now because they are 22 years old, pitted like Edward James Olmos?s face, as hazy as a bong lounge and well, they have a DOT approval stamp, indicating that they aren?t worth one pinch of coon sh*t in a bucket when brand new.

I?ve typically put E-Codes on all my Volvos because they are vastly superior to the DOT crap that we are burdened with, and E-Codes were secretly available from Canadian Volvo dealers until Fjord took over.

Enter T?Bricks yet again for some quality non-NA-market parts selection. I purchased a nice set of previously-enjoyed 940 E-Codes from a member. The thread depicted they were in great shape - no serious lens pitting or milky/rusty reflectors, intact mounting tabs and otherwise functional as headlights, so they had to be the lights for the 945.

Inadvertently, the headlights were mixed up in shipment. I ended up with a marginal set that while functional, just weren?t what the 945 deserved. Perhaps they?d work on something a bit more road weary and for an owner who hasn?t got aviation eyes that see every minor defect and flaw.

Regardless, I polished the glass lenses, which turned out nicely, lightly cleaned the reflectors with KimTech delicate task wipers and water, and made the non-functional beam height/length adjusters functional again. They will be a nice set of lights for someone else.

Other pressing things should prevail over headlights anyway. Or so Karma has dictated.


Put the lime in the coconut

After swallowing the no ecodes for you pill, I needed some positive vibrations.

What could be better than working on cleaning the wiring harnesses and starting the interior reassembly process?

Indeed, there was much to-doing over removing gawd-awful things coupled with seemingly endless amounts of cleaning, but regardless, the interior is finally ready to start being reinstalled.

To start off the day, I did a final clean at the floor wiring runs. I tidied up the stock dash harness and made it secure to the column support where it was partially loosely zip-tied from the factory. I removed the stock amplifier and secured the DIN plugs so they wouldn?t rattle around against other stuff.

I pulled the airbag wiring harness from the car, working up from the connector at the crash sensor. I grouped and taped the wiring bundles for the steering wheel and dash/HVAC/radio/glovebox connectors to tidy them up and make reconnection relatively brainless.

I primed the driver front & rear floors to ensure that rust doesn?t start - or is at least mitigated for the time being, popped in a new body plug on the rear floor and heat sealed it in place


To replace the no-longer-there asphalt acoustical patches on the floor, I used a few pieces of BrownBread that I had sitting around for the last decade. It works very well as an acoustic dampener, and is ? the price of heavily branded and overpriced Dynamat. It sticks like sh*t to a baby blanket too.

Next, I installed the centre tunnel soundproof, the front driver and passenger soundproof and then the rear floor ducts on top. I routed the seat power & heater harnesses along the ducts with the SRS harnesses for the seatbelt pre-tensioners, making this the first use of zip-ties in this car.

Then the first stereo component in the wagon; a set of 5M RCA cables to the rear cargo area were routed and draped in place. I have to run power and speaker cables as well, but I need to toddle off and get me some before I can put it in.

Before I called it a day and went inside to cry and drink myself into a blind stupor over a silly set of headlights, I applied 12V to the Power Window circuit and dropped the windows down so I could remove the retaining clips and then the windows.

I washed out the door inners using car wash soap, lubed the window slider felt with Jig-A-Loo, then the regulators tracks and gear-winder-thingy with Redline CV-2.

I polished the windows with glass polish and an orbital buffer, then tightened all the hardware on the doors as well, reinstalled the polished windows, and tested their function.

The windows ?leaped up like frogs in a dynamite pond?, to borrow a touch of Dr. Thompson?s genius.

Pick your seat

I had done a preliminary test with my favorite leather treatment, Leatherique Rejuvenator, on the small rear seat squab that I had pulled out a month prior.

Below is what the first application caused the leather to expel after a 12-hour dwell - and this is after a vacuum and damp wipe pre-clean with a microfiber towel:

Apparently, there is some work to be done on the leather to bring it back to a clean and healthy state.​

Steam-cleaning the underside upholstery of the small quab resulted in the brownish-coloured sauce in the reservoir of the steam cleaner. The upholstery was five shades lighter afterwards.

I pulled the seat-backs and the front seats out knowing very well that they had been sitting in a dirty and damp underground unprotected (as the sunroof was missing) for almost a full year, and were going to be pretty filthy if the tester on the small seat squab was going to be the gauge to judge the leather by.

The drivers? side rear seat-back was of prime interest as I did notice some odd hardening of the leather on the seat squab while pre-cleaning it. Sure enough, the seat-back had the same hardened pattern and exhibited obvious signs of being splashed with a hot, oily and/or aggressive liquid.

The leather had shrunk and gone cardboard hard where it had been splashed. The offending liquid then ran onto the seat squab, through the seat-pan foam soundproof and finally onto the floor - and likely was never cleaned up as my previous dealings with the carpet, soundproof and floor pan clearly demonstrated.

I brought the salvageable seats into one of the spare rooms in my house, popped out the headrests, edge trim, armrest/kid booster seat and anything else that freely came off to treat them. I started by vacuuming the seats, using a stiff bristle brush on the stitching, and doing a wipe of the surfaces with a damp microfiber towel to remove as much of the loose grit and debris from the leather as possible.

Then I laid down a thick blankie on the floor, put the seats down on it, and fired up the oil heater to keep the room at about 25-30C. Next, I applied the first of many coats of Rejuvenator to the passenger seat, rear seat squabs and rear seat-backs by spraying about ? oz. of Rejuvenator onto the seat, and vigorously massaging it into the grain using my hands. Then I shut the door to the room.

The first coat applied and being sucked in...many moar to go.

I can hear the obvious question now?

?Why the hell do you want to heat up your leather??

Leather is the treated dermis from a real animal, be it a cow, pig, ostrich, alligator or other species. Thus it is just like your skin, porous.

Heat makes the pores of the leather relax, open up and absorb the collagen and proteins from the Rejuvenator more readily. It is recommended to ?park the car in the sun? after applying Rejuvenator for that very reason. I?m simply attempting to mimic spring in Florida in a spare room of my house that is above the 49th parallel in April.

I left the first application to dwell for 24 hours, did a quick clean with Pristine Clean, then massaged in the second application of Rejuvenator, let that be sucked in, then a third application, then let it dwell for another week.

The hardened areas and stitching received numerous additional applications, massaged in while heating the leather with a hairdryer during the week and a half that the seats dwelled.

I?ve never seen leather take in so much Rejuvenator - nearly 16 oz. for three seats over the course of 9 days or so - or spit out so much dirt, gook, and fine grit when I did the detailed cleaning with Pristine Clean.


Look Ma! This is what was in the front passenger seat?s leather - and what happens when you smoke in your car?.

After the third treatment, results were noticeable; the cardboard hard areas were softened, the undamaged leather once again felt healthy, plump, soft and had a subtle hue.

It will take another few years(!) of treatments, some patience and time for the deeper leather fibres to absorb collagen/proteins, expel the deep dirt and contaminants, relax and regain what has taken 22 years to remove.

I?ll apply a fourth and final full treatment before putting the seats back into the car to ensure that they are well ?fed? before being put back into service. To maintain the seats, I?ll apply a maintenance treatment of Leatherique every six months or so as I do for the 780.

Now, I just gotta find a drivers? seat skin and foam to make the seating arrangements complete.

My 10 cents of rambling on about leather

Remember Otzi the ice-man who emerged from a glacier in the Austro-Italian border? He was wearing hides that were 5000-odd years old that were still flexible. Think about that when you look at your cracked, dry and split seats that are less than 15 years old.

There are numerous examples of leathers? durability such as some of very first bound books in museums that are 1000?s of years old. Leather isn?t indestructible, but can be made to last for generations with a bit of care.

If you don?t have time or patience to care for and treat leather right, buy a cloth interior.

Leatherique will soften cardboard-hard leather over time with patience. One can get dramatically faster results in softening leather with Leatherique if you can de-skin the seat and apply the Rejuvenator to the fibrous side (unfinished side) of the hide. I did this on my 780?s rear seat where the headrests and top/back had gone cardboard hard from sun damage - with amazing results.

The Smithsonian museum has used Leatherique since the 70?s, and the RR owners club swears by the stuff - that?s who recommended it to me. I?ve used it on my 780 for 16-odd years with excellent and consistent results. Takes a bit of time to use it initially, but maintenance following is routine and easy.


Drivers SE(at)

I stumbled across a ?91 940SE that was suffering from having an early-production 960 electrical system, a flaky double-sided ignition key/switch, and failed nivos - but had a nice black interior and was being parted out by a local Volvo repair shop.

I was able to score a beautiful front passenger seat, 4 nice door panels, A/B pillar & overhead blue-black soft trims, reading light wiring harness, rear armrest, windshield trim, sunroof motor cover, visors, mudflaps and rear soundproofing for $150.


The SE seats are 960 seats - ?premium? full-grain grade leather, have a long leather panel running from the mid-back over the seat top to the backrest, and are stitched with French seams on the outer edges of the seat. They do look nicer than the 940?s flat seams and top-grain leather, but you have to look closely and care about that kind of stuff.


Even though it lived its life under a seat cover and is cosmetically perfect, the passenger seat skin will be going thru the same regiment of leather conditioning as the other seats.

To transform this passenger to a driver seat, I?ll be swapping over the ?91 cushion to the ?93 subframe, and re-skinning/re-foaming the ?93 backrest frame with the ?91 backrest skin and foam.

Yes, it does seem to be a little bit James May, but this way I retain the slightly different motors and potentiometers for the memory function of the ?93 seat and I can use the later-style power seat controls and seat pockets that I've been hoarding for too long.


I?ll have the hole from the lumbar adjustment patched at a local upholstery shop after I?ve finished conditioning it, and cut a new one on the other side of the backrest side panel while I?m re-skinning it.

The bonus is that the SE?s battery tray and wheel arch/ fender area is perfect, and I have a new battery for my chop saw?


Sh*tawful luck

After spending the last two weekends pretending that yard work (yaah?d werk if you?re an Easterner) is something that I prefer doing over working on Volvos, I had to knuckle in and get things going.

Unfortunately, an F250 decided that it wanted to be close and very personal friends with the drivers door of the work-owned Yaris I was piloting. I don?t remember the accident, the ambulance trip, or first day in hospital. All I can remember is a gigantic gawdy chrome grille and enormous Fjord badge bearing down on my drivers door. Then black.

Fortunately, all I was left with was a nasty concussion, a broken left thumb and the usual post-accident soreness. I escaped the sinister clutches of the hospital personnel three days later still feeling slightly confused but under my own steam, dammit.


The fog in my head was starting to lift, and I was bored with sitting around feeling sorry for myself and falling asleep at 2pm on the couch. Besides, I had to see if I could remember where I had left off.

Matching collars and cuffs

I love the smell of an interior in the morning - it smells like?plastic and formaldehyde.

The tailgate trim panel that I scored was perfect save for the grey carpet element. It would not blend well in all-navy cargo area - or at least that?s what I figured, but I'm no fashionista.

To start off I removed the 3rd brake light assembly, washed off the trim panel with Simple Green, cleaned the 3rd brake light reflector and polished the red lens with plastic polish. I put the trim panel outside on a blankie in the sun to heat it up and soften the carpet adhesive for 10 minutes or so. Starting at one edge and pulling on a 45-degree angle, I removed the original grey carpet from the tailgate as one piece.

I didn?t attempt to remove any of the residual adhesive from the tailgate as it was steadfast and still really tacky. I taped off the trim panels? outer edge to prevent any overspray from the trim adhesive when I sprayed it on.

Digging deeply into the pile o? carpeting for the 945, I unearthed the navy tailgate carpet that I had pulled years ago for my former 745, laid it onto the tailgate panel and witness marked both pieces with tailors chalk when I was happy with its centred position.

I sprayed 3M Super Trim adhesive onto the carpet backing and trim panel, let it flash off for 10 minutes, then rolled the carpeting onto the trim panel from the centre outwards using the witness marks to reference centre. I pushed out the entrapped air and made the lumpy sections flat using a 5-lb leather roller.


I?m rather glad to have scored the SE?s door panels and trim. The soft surfaced-A/B/overhead trims along with the carpeted door panel elements should offer a nicer appearance over the basic-black-hard-plastic look that the 945?s interior unfortunately has, without being too garish or dainty-looking. Plus, it affords a nice blue-black, blue-black pattern in the trim rather than being all death-kitten black.

I steam-cleaned all of the carpeted elements and the soft trim, albeit rather carefully to avoid damage. I?m always amazed at comes out of carpeting - but what came out of the trim was a revelation. I thought that the trims were more black than blue, and the blue was due to minor sun-fade. Nope. It?s a royal blue when clean.


The SE?s front door panels did not have the thru-the-door-panel-window-vent, so I removed the carpeted pockets and installed them in-place of the plastic pockets on the front door panels I had previously obtained (along with a set of rears), and hot-glued the hardware to the door panel to prevent it creeping out. I had a set of felt door panel soundproofing elements removed from a ?94 940, so I hot-glued them to the front panels for additional noise, vibration & hippo fart abatement.

The SE?s rear panels had some wear, and were good as spares. I removed the carpeted sections and glued them to the good rear door panels with trim adhesive. I just eyeballed them in place.

I reinforced all the door panels at the speaker locations. Using an old template, I cut out ?? Baltic birch ply reinforcements to fit the speaker opening/back of the door panel and screwed them in place. Baltic birch is made from clear birch, has twice the ply layers compared to regular ply and is exceptionally rigid.

I'll revisit the driver openings and screw & glue the reinforcements into place when I get some incorrectly-named speaker baffles - which they really aren't. They are foam 'enclosures'. A baffle is the front of the enclosure that the speaker is mounted to.


I reinforced the panels so that the speaker can be more rigidly mounted (to a baffle), and to reduce the trim-clip/speaker grille attrition rate resulting from the speaker acting like a wobbly-weight when closing the doors with ?authority?. As a final touch to waterproof and increase the door panels? rigidity, I may spray them with bed-liner.

The SE A-pillar trim needed a rectangular hole cut that corresponded to the rubber vent going to the door panel. I used the original A-pillar trim to mark the holes, and cut them out with my Dremel and cut-off wheel, being careful not to break completely through the trim plastic and melt the SE?s padded trim.

I laid down the front seat carpets, then the rear wheel arch insulation and carpets, then the rear seat carpet. I had to slightly modify the rear carpet to fit as it was from a sedan - and do a bit of nip and tuck to make the foam underpad fit like Mr. Wilsgaard in the Home Office had intended it to.

The tailgate panel, cargo area side trims, cargo area cover and front cargo cover panel were mock-installed next to ensure no fit issues. I?ll do a final tighten and fit when the interior is mostly there and I have all the trim clips that I need.

Holy Cro-Moly, its actually starting to look moar and moar like a whole car.

Door splash guards and door panels were next to be installed; though not complete with the pull trims, carpet-bits, speakers or switches. I will function-test the windows again after the door panels are final installed with speakers, etc. to ensure there is no binding or interference.

Hopefully the central locking system isn?t a daffy bastard. Learning is fun though.


Moar proof on the gate - NVHFAP

The perfect tailgate panel could still be more good-er if I could get my grubby mitts on the 96- tailgate soundproofing from a V90 to assist in the NVHFAP - Noise, Vibration & Hippo Fart Abatement Program.

Well, the sun does shine on every dogs a** at least once in its life.

A few days prior, I was rummaging through a vast-expanse of hoarded Volvo parts that I gained access to through much pleading, placating and scheming. Low and behold, I found a few 7/9 tailgate panels in a couple of colours - all in relatively nice shape with intact 3rd brake lights. One stood out to me as it was oak in colour - a sort of offish-tan-beige; a V90-specific colour.

Sure enough, I flipped the thing over and stuck to the back of the panel is?.a pile of unicorn feathers.

I grabbed both sections of the insulation from the tailgate panel along with a few other selected goodies from the hoard including a beautiful set of burl elm switch panels for the 780.


I hot glued the soundproofing onto the tailgate, and considered coating the inside of the panel with truck bed-liner, providing that it wasn?t incompatible or reactive with whatever plastic the tailgate is made from. That?ll be a backburner idea for a rainy day when I?m bored.

Nope, not for the 945. For the other steed in my stable.​

Door panels redeux

Despite being tarted-up with a bit of fur like a 70?s porn-queen, the 24-year old j/y door panels did look a bit stolid being either gray hues or black or an approximation thereabouts or blending thereof.

I?ve always liked the ?walnut? armrest strip moulding that certain 9-series had on the door panel just above the armrest carpeted area. Not something that is often seen here, and not quite as obvious, clunky-looking or spendy as the full wood armrest panels - and the part numbers came up as still being valid.

Off to mother Volvo again I go to spend my hard-earned cash on frivolity and waste?

I ordered and at some point will receive the front door panel mouldings, but the rears were backordered to deepest, darkest Sweden where the special walnut-coloured plastic is refined from moose antlers by blonde Norse-Goddess alchemists. I only care about where I?m sitting anyway, so the rear mouldings can indeed wait.

I?m also going to install a set of pull handles seen on the pre-88 760?s that had been sneakily hiding in my hoard for the last 15 years or so. Yep, they do block easy access to the power window switches, but please recall that I only care about where I?m sitting and the pull handles are installed on all the passengers? doors, not mine.

Volvo made it easy to install these things like a lot of the add-on 'upscale market' stuff that gen-1 760?s has tacked on; the door panels have formed-in cut-outs for the holes. Just gotta drill a few holes and install one clip per door to make it happen. The side benefit is that the pull handles help hold the door panel on with serious conviction - and with actual, real screws; not just plastic clips.

While the door panels were in-hand again, I had an unruly argument with myself over the undercoating or bed-liner notion. I eventually won the argument with myself and procured 4 spray cans of Rust-O-Leum truck bed coating from Home (De)Pot. I chose bed-liner as it sets to more of a rigid surface as compared to a slight viscous/mobile cure like undercoating has, should be less likely to wet and lift the pressboard due to its higher evaporation/flate rate, and has no stink after the cure.

I did a test on a spare/scrap panel to make certain that the pressboard wouldn?t expand like wet MDF and it did not, so I knew that I could proceed. When it was cured, knocking on the uncoated test panel sounded hollow and thin; where after the panel was coated it had a more of a muffled thunk.

I taped off the areas on the front & rear door panels that I didn?t want to get overspray on and sprayed a thin coating of bed liner on the panels. After a quick flash time and dry in the sun, I recoated them a second and third time, paying particular attention to the lower regions of the panels that are subject to moisture and armrest to make it solid.


After the third coat had dried overnight, the panels had a solid heft to them, were substantially more rigid, and produced a dense thunk when rapped on. The soundproofing, made from Hydrolytic felt, has a feel like a 1/4" thick slab of bitumen and will never absorb water again.



I"m going to soundproof the rear door panels in the same manner as the fronts when I can find that roll of soundproof that I know I've got hidden on myself.

As an additional effort at breaking up to an otherwise all-black dash and mostly-black door panel arrangement, I removed and refinished the door and dash speaker mesh grille elements in a soft iron metallic - a shade darker but in the same grey hue as the grey exterior trim. To replace the degraded and crumbly obscurity foam, I hot glued black acoustic fabric to the plastic base, then reinstalled the mesh grille to the plastic base.




The dash was proving to be a rather difficult thing to repair due to the depth of the damage.

The HM had taken a rather large screwdriver to the outer rim of the instrument bezel in a failed attempt at getting the instrument cluster out. HM didn?t just try one time and realize that prying the cluster out was perhaps not such a cranially-included decision; they tried prying several times on both lower edges, on top of the bezel, and on the ridge over the lighting and other switch gear.

Jebus. Obviously, HM wasn?t not so quick on the uptake.

The lower edges of the instrument cluster opening had taken the brunt of HM?s ?I?m gonna get this f*ckin? thing out? RRCD in-process, and the foam pad had been crushed to the metal backing. All I could do was carefully inject a small daub of epoxy into the backside of the foam on each side with a syringe, and mold the damaged edges as the epoxy was setting to resemble what was once originally there with a leather shaping tool.

Thus, I find myself out on the prowl for a nice black dash - for v.2.

Additionally HM made their unique yet benighted attempts at removing the defroster vents by prying up on their edges. Why anyone would want to even try to take out the defroster vents simply eludes me. Regardless, all I would see if I reinstalled them would be HM?s RRCD.


It is impossible to remove or install the defroster vents with the dash in the car unless you enjoy the sound of loose trim clips rolling around the inside of the vents, or can contort yourself into the teeny confines of the upper dash like a circus freak to extract the aforementioned loose clips with an extendo-magnet.

Having procured new defroster vents from mother Volvo for an unreasonable sum, I installed the overpriced pieces of plastic along with the main defroster tube with new retaining clips onto the dash. I also replaced the foam seal between the defroster tube inlet and airbox outlet to prevent leaks.

Next, I placed the dash panel in place, positioned the defroster inlet to the airbox outlet and wiggled it home, then installed the outer panel vent tubes that run behind the instrument cluster and glovebox, clipped in the under-dash wiring harness, and routed the dash electrical connections to their respective homes. I installed the fuse/relay panel into its tray, then installed the dash side panels and radio bridge.

I?m not installing the kick-panels, glove-box and knee bolster trims as I?ll be back in both footwells for the fuel and ignition computah chip molestation and re-installation.

I tightened the dash fasteners hand-tight once everything was happy and in its respective place, but left the final tightening and detail for when all the ventilation ducting, trim elements, dash speakers, centre console and instrument cluster are installed.


After a few chaotic weeks of work, and an unplanned road trip to seemingly-all of the small towns in BC that are as fetching, but also the remotest locations from known civilization or sources of light, I needed to hit the big red Volvo button to reset the priorities of life and clear out the dregs of a protracted work-sponsored road sojourn which featured a totally teeny and tinny Fiat, plenty of bottom-feeder convenience-food stops, top-drawer luxury 1-and- 2-star accommodations, a corporate gas card that was expired, and a few special individuals that made my life more ?interesting? along the way.

Seating arrangements with potential difference

Recall that perfect front passenger seat that I pulled out of a ?91 SE? I also noodled off and grabbed its drivers-side mate from the SE, as it had given me and the passenger seat a call a few days later to tell us that it was feeling lonely.

While the drivers? seat had obviously been sat in a whole bunch more than the passenger seat, it had been covered with a wool seat cover for its entire existence up to when it came into my possession as the passenger seat was. The leather wasn?t as perfect as on the previously procured peerless passenger pew, but was in superior condition to that of the 945?s passenger seats? leather. Most importantly, the drivers? seat skin was free of cracks, cuts, splits, holes and thin spots; and all of its stitching was intact.

The SE driver seat had a few dry cross-checked spots and long vertical creases on the upper edges/sides of the seat after 24-years of use, being entombed in a snugly-fitting seat cover and sun exposure, but nothing too far gone to be able to rehab it back to being ?almost? perfect and very usable. The polymer colour surface coating had chipped off from a few pinky fingernail-sized areas on the drivers? cushion at the entry/exit abrasion points, but can be easily filled and blended in with dyed-to-match leather filler.

From a cosmetic perspective both front seats will now match, but again, you?d have to care about that kind of stuff for it to matter. From a functional perspective, both seats will now be powah operated, easing the potential for passengers? incurring musculoskeletal strain and tension headaches associated to having to adjust the seat manually.

The wool seat covers? backing had left a black rubberized/latex/whatever residue that was laminated onto the surface of the leather of both seats. I didn?t notice at first, but I became increasingly concerned with the sheer amount of black sauce that the seats exuded after the initial dwell/cleaning session - and feared that I was removing a ton of the dye or colour surface coating from the leather. Alas, my trepidation was unfounded and the seats persisted to be black, so I carried on vigorously wiping them.

It took a few additional rounds of ?vigorous cleansing? to liberate all of the residue from the surface of the leather, however once the leather was freed from its rubbery embalming, both seats literally sucked in the numerous coats of Rejuvenator as fast as I could apply it.

I left the seats to dwell for nearly two weeks as I really wasn't home in that time, but I did I massage in numerous coats of Rejuvenator, focusing on the hardened creases when I was. The leather responded incredibly well to the treatment.

Musical chairs

Remember that I said that I?d be swapping seat skins from driver-to-passenger? Whelp, that indeed still happened, but with a minor amendment. I made the executive decision to not patch and cut another hole into the otherwise-perfect seat skin for the lumbar dial; I?m simply going to use the seats reversed - driver skins to passenger frame and vice-versa - and have the lumbar dial in an even-more difficult-if-not-impossible to reach position on the insides of the seats.

Huh? Why the hell are you doing that you utter pillock?​
First, I think I?ve maybe adjusted the lumbar on my 780?s driver seat twice in the 17-years that I?ve owned it. As such, I figure that I?ll adjust the lumbar setting to my preference on the 945 a sum total of perhaps twice, so I don?t mind the adjustment not being exactly accessible or doable while driving. One should concentrate on driving and not adjusting ones? seating position while driving anyway.

Second, despite looking like a miniature grey lamb had gone kablooey under each front seat and rend asunder about three pounds of wool fibres everywhere, the SE drivers? seat frame and drive gear were in vastly superior condition to that of the 945?s. Think almost-to-never-used condition with perfect seat tracks, pristine drive gear and no evidence of being adjusted more than a handful of times - and certainly not in the previous five years given the sheer volume of undisturbed wool fibres that mummified the tracks. The SE was a little ol? lady driven/one-owner/driver car after-all.

Third, I?m being?. ahem, frugal. There really is no need for the $100-odd expenditure and the wait time for the repair to be done for something that may be used a sum total of twice. I need to move on.

The seat heaters? functionality is the only variable in the mix, but given that the seats had wool covers on them it is highly likely that they were hardly ever used or never switched on. We?ll just see.

Drivers digs

The SE passenger seat was morphed into a 945 driver seat by unbolting the seatback from the SE?s passenger seat frame, cutting the hog-clips and rolling up the seatback skin to access the seatback motor and drive cables, swapping in the potentiometer-equipped motor & drive cable assembly from the 945, and re-securing the seatback skin.

Next, I removed the 945 drivers? seat frame motors, drive cables & wiring harness, cleaned the assembly and lubricated the drive cables, then installed the assembly onto the SE drivers? seat frame - after thoroughly cleaning the SE seat frame, lubricating the pivot and contact points, cleaning the electrical connections, and repacking all the drive gear with Phil?s grease.

I then installed the seatbelt latch, seat heater relay, seat control unit, zip-tied the related wiring harnesses onto the seats? wire frame, and bolted the SE?s passenger seatback to the SE?s driver-side seat frame. The rear obscurity trim carpet was clipped in place, then the SE?s passenger seat cushion was attached to the SE?s driver seat frame. The seat back trims, later-gen seat controls, and tunnel-side cover trim and finished the assembly. I?ll install the headrests after the seats are installed in the car.


Driver seat, nee Passenger seat.

I cycled the seat through its range of adjustments manually with a hand crank to ensure no binding, wiring strain or occurrence of other horrid things, then connected 12V to the control unit and cycled the motors to ensure their function. I will calibrate the limit-stops of the seat a la GreenBook TP8501201 once it is installed.

Passenger pew

The SE drivers? seat was a bit easier to reassign to being a 945 passenger seat; I removed the SE passenger seat cushion and seatback from the seat frame, thoroughly cleaned the frame, lubricated the pivot and contact points, cleaned the electrical connections, and repacked drive gear with Phil?s grease.

The lumbar adjustment had been over tensioned on the drivers' seatback and had broken at some point in its past life, so I cut the hog-clips, rolled up the backrest skin to access the lumbar adjuster assembly, and replaced the broken one with an unbroken one from my hoard.


After hog-clipping the skin back on, I bolted the drivers? seatback to the SE passenger seat frame, then attached the seat back motor trim, later-gen seat controls, seat belt latch, seat heater relay, zip-tied the associated wiring harnesses, installed the tunnel-side inner trim, and finished assembly with the SE drivers? seat cushion.


Passenger seat, nee Drivers seat.

I cycled the seat through its range of adjustments manually with a hand crank to ensure no binding, then performed a function test of the motors after applying 12V. There is no requirement for calibration of a non-memory seat, so this thing is good to go in - save for a powah & gnd source from the centre tunnel wiring harness to make it electrified and functional.

Minor oversight - I don?t sit there anyway.



E to the Code - attempt #2

Being that the first attempt at relighting the 945 wasn?t such a resounding success, I needed to find a replacement set from somewhere in the world that would serve as a suitable pair for the 945.

I had to locate a 940-specific ECC control panel for my 780 to be able to use the 940 elm veneer switch panels that I scored from the hoard, as the 780 has a 780-specific ECC control panel and 780-specific ECC trim which doesn?t jive with anything else no matter how hard you try and make it. Such is the burden of 780 ownership.

Anyway, I managed to find the right one on eBay Germany, and in the process struck up a conversation with the ?store? owner, and as it turns out the guy is a 7/9 freak and has a house full of 7/9 parts. He may prove to be a good source for EU-only stuff - his prices are certainly reasonable.

Long story short, I did buy a set of E-Codes with fog for the 940 from him which appeared and were described as being in excellent condition for very reasonable money. But the proof is always in the puddin?.

Unless your name is puddin? pants, which is a rather disgustingly funny and humiliating story involving a buddy, a road trip to parts unknown, a handful of ex-lax and a whole bunch of schnitzel and dark beer.​
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The dreaded curse of an English degree...the ability and desire to pontificate...

Thanks Jesse! Lots moar to come.
This thread is incredible. Actually, the first-post diatribe is on a level that I've never seen before. :lol: Man, I've got lots to learn on how to automobile and stuff. Fantastic work so far, Rich.

Also, hood coming your way soon!
This car is lovely and so is your writing! Also, i used your tip with the hair dryer and leather conditioner to finally make my old momo wheel feel soft again!
Don't really care for the 7/9 series, but the writting won't let me stop reading. Great work!, and attention to detail.

+1 for letherique, I've got a set of e34 M5 seats that I'm in the process of restoring. I tried a few different over the counter leather treatments and they basically did nothing.
Rich - I thought you might want to have a few images of the 945 when Craig and I first checked it out in early 2012. It was being used as a convenient storage facility by the then owner. I have no doubt it would have been further abused if left in his hands but fortunately he needed a van. Wish I had taken some shots of the child infested interior, though the adults obviously were not very tidy either, believe me, we retrieved a lot of garbage that the owner should have cleaned out before attempting to sell the 940, but I guess he was a bit too laid back in his thinking to consider the idea.And the left rear wheel arch damage was caused by his wife sharing the car with a concrete post in the underground parking area. I believe the owner had load bars on the roof and was quite clumsy while loading, hence the creases up there. Let's just say that when he first bought the car it looked pretty decent, he should have found a van instead.

And sharing a nearby stall was what is surely one of the all time classics, a Checker cab. Seriously, one of these 4,000 pound cars would be perfect for driving around the city - wish I had one when that East Indian taxi driver pulled out right in front of Craig near the Lougheed Skytrain station, it would have smartened him up somewhat after slightly modifying the Toyota he was driving. Of course, one would have to put some nice push bars on there. By the way, do you still want to take that '89 engine?

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Moar! Pics later...



The E-Codes arrived under the fastidious and dutiful care of my rather cheerful and suntanned postal worker, whose ample proportions subject his wardrobe to a tensile-strength test on a daily basis. Regardless of the postal rotundness, the scheinwerfers were as described; perfectly usable, less the headlight adjuster motors that the store owner had pilfered, making the perfectly usable headlights perfectly useless.


Fortunately, after exchanging a few messages back and forth using Google Translate as my German serves best to utterly confuse and be completely nonsensical, the missing bibs and bobs were identified, put into an envelope and should arrive within a few weeks or so. I will likely keep my eyes peeled for another set of E-codes though, just to have a few spare bits and pieces sittin’ about, and one set of fully functional and nice-enough headlights.

I disassembled the lights as I did the first set to carefully clean the reflectors, housings, polish the glass and lube the adjusters. I’ll reassemble them with new bulbs and lens gaskets/clips. Now all I need is a set of turns to complete the lighting arrangements.


S to the power of tereo.

No, there is no ‘great mother-of-all-stereos’ going into this crate. Sorry kids.

I’m long-since grown past wanting to install another competition-level stereo system in any of my vehicles as it is a daft undertaking, a tremendous waste of money, effort and time, and negatively impacts cargo space, handling and fuel economy.

Worse, and most certainly permanently so, I can’t regain the hearing that I’ve lost as a result of that daft audiofoolishness.

But I’m not going the route of an AM-only radio with one 4” full-range dash speaker made by Crackly-McNasal like my 142 had. Though somehow back then, even that was enough to be amused by.

No, it does have to offer some degree of ‘Inner-Tainment’ - as Tortelvis so wittily coins it.

I subscribe heartily to that notion - and the notion that a rather corpulent Elvis impersonator resplendent in a silk bejeweled lavender & teal one-piece jumpsuit belting out Zeppelin-Music-Ina-Reggae-Style can only convey the absolute gospel truth.

Wouldn’t you?

Cable guy

I started the install earlier with the wiring side of things; a 4-channel 5-ish metre Stinger 4000-series RCA interconnect and a remote turn-on power lead were run to the cargo area from the headunit location, an Stinger 8-GA power cable was run from thru a fuse terminal at the battery location to the cargo area, and 80-ish feet of Monster XP 16-GA speaker cable was run from the cargo area to the crossover locations, and from the crossover locations to the various speaker locations.

Don’t go off and have a wobbler. I know all about Monster cable products and their immediate and direct correlation with a fly-ridden festering heap of fetid dingo kidneys, but I scored the 100ft roll for $16 shipped on eBay - and it is speaker cable for a car installation...which really isn’t anywhere remotely close to being an acoustically ideal or free-of-background-noise type of environment.

Believing that an uber-spendy speaker cable is going to make any significant audible difference when driving at highway speeds whist plumb awash in road and wind noise is utterly laudable; but if you really wanna; fill your boots. Then go tell everyone how much better your cables sound. They’ll listen for sure.

The XP cable at the very least has a Polyethylene insulation so the multi-stranded ‘OFC’ copper won’t degrade/oxidize/corrode inside the insulation, causing signal and resistance issues. It is a 16-GA cable - not a 24-or22-GA factory speaker wire, and has a nylon-tube centre core called a “magnetic flux tube’ or some other crap, so it should stand up to the abuse of a several thousand door open/close cycles before starting to break down.

And it was $16.

Jerkin’ on my wire

I pulled the cables through the door wiring seals to the front doors using my tried and tested method of cable pulls in 7/9’s - a used headless 16” zip tie, a roll of 3M electrical tape, and a tube of Volvo PTFE grease.

I pulled the drivers’ door-side seal clear of its seat, then removed the a-pillar seal, cut the zip-tie that retains the cable to the a-pillar seal, slid a length of speaker cable thru the a-pillar opening, taped a headless zip tie to the speaker cable, greased the zip tie, slid the zip-tie through the a-pillar seal, then the door seal, and pulled the speaker cable through. I re-zip tied the a-pillar seal snugly and finished the cable install by securing the speaker cable to the factory cable run inside the door, and securing the a-pillar to door seal speaker cable run with zip-ties. I simply repeated the process for the passengers’ door.

The rear doors were a tad bit easier as they use a slightly different door wiring seal design, but I used the exact same methodology to install the speaker cables. Using this method, it took less than 15 minutes per door and produced absolutely no profanity.

Transducers to resonate with

I’ll be using JBL GTO-509C component speakers - I auditioned them at a local car audio stealership along with a number of other brands and was pleased enough with the cost to performance of them even when using relatively cheap amplification to power them with. They’ll definitely outdo the stock crap by a warp factor of ten, but are not nearly as crystalline, punchy - or even ? as spendy - as the CDT’s that I have in the 780 according to my ear-o-meter.

Installation of the transducers was in mostly-near-to-stock locations; the front tweeters were installed in the stock dash speaker plates, the rear tweeters were ‘creatively’ installed in the D-pillars, and surprisingly the door speakers were installed in the doors of all places.

For the dash speakers, I cut a small round baffle from ⅛” Baltic ply that fit inside the dash plate speaker opening to have a surface for the tweeters to mount flush to and radiate against. While I could have just dropped the tweeters in and mounted them somewhat roughly in the centre of the dash speaker plate and have a ?” air gap around the tweeter, I postulate that the small investment of time may aid to reduce localization of what are essentially ear-level dash speakers comparative to the shin-level door speakers.

The baffle will act as a flat reflective surface for the tweeter to radiate against, and assist in widening the reverberant sound field/dispersion from the tweeter, theoretically reducing the ability to localize it.

Boringly and easily, I connected and screwed the door drivers in place after I installed some gasket tape around the speakers’ mounting interface to ensure a vibration-free interface to the baffle, and then slid the repainted mesh grilles over top. The crossovers for the front speakers were tucked up behind the dash in the upper left/right quadrants. I simply used stick-on Velcro to keep ‘em put. The real Velcro stuff, mind you, that sticks and holds.

I flush installed the rear tweeters on the D-pillars in roughly the same locale as what Gothenburg did for the V90’s, then popped the tweeter-ed D-pillars in place, and ran the wiring over to the rear crossovers which were also rigidly affixed with Velcro and hidden coyly under the seatbelt trim/wheel arch trim.

Fluffing the head-unit

The head-unit I’m installing is one that I’ve got a few of - in 2006 my local Nakamichi dealer went t*ts up in a cornfield, so I bought some of his remaining stock - including a now-defunct but still amazing CD-700 reference grade head-unit that was in my 780 until the magic blue smoke emigrated out of it recently.

Way back in the heady days of my audiofoolish pursuits, Nakamichi was still a Japanese-owned-and-directed company whose focus was on reference-grade audio; sadly now it has fallen into the vile clutches of Chinese ownership, and the legacy of product design and focus on reference-grade audio quality has been utterly and irreparably destroyed.

But I digress.

As a result of my scheming, I ended up with two factory-fresh CD-400 head-units which were mis-remembered in in my hoard until recently; so one will be for the 945, and the other is currently in the 780 until I get all Lectic-Shave hobo drunk one night and decide to put something ‘else’ in its place.

Anyway, the CD-400 is a basic looking head-unit with only a teeny display (which you can turn off), which shows a ?” dot-matrix LCD display in a variation/combination of two whole colours. It has an AUX input so I can connect my iPod, affords the ability to turn off the internal amp and use the deck as F/R/SUB pre-out signal only (which reduces the operating temp of the head unit); it’ll play CD’s one at a time, and offers nothing that anyone doesn’t really need other than that.

Instead of having to face the reality of driving a 945 with the gawd-awful 7/9 radio/cubby-box centre console that I’ve loathed since seeing it for the first time in 1982, I’ll be using one of the 780 radio boxes that I’m guarding with strong intent. Last year in a brief moment of indecision while exhibiting poor financial restraint, I purchased four 780 radio boxes (yes, 4) from mother Volvo, so I could have one or two for myself and a few ‘spares’ for future T'Bricks taunting with hoarded Volvo parts.

I mounted the head-unit directly to a 780 radio-box; specifically I didn’t use the head units’ insert sleeve and/or trim bezel, meaning that the head units’ faceplate will be the only visible part. This will make the install look even cleaner, and actually makes it simpler to do -with 4 - M5x12 flathead bolts, 4 -M5 x 5mm spacers, and one rear nut/support to the HVAC unit holding the head unit in place. Mounting the head unit in this manner will also allow me to get the head units’ faceplate to be flush or near to flush with the consoles’ faceplate that I’ll detail - next.

Facing Templation

Years ago when I worked on complex stuff that could fly I found myself all bored and left alone in a sheet metal shop, so I made a titanium template to serve as a 780 centre console faceplate for when I had the desire to install 3- 52mm gauges in the 780’s centre console like I had done in my 740 a few years prior.

I knew better - titanium isn’t really a good material to make a flat faceplate out of as it is difficult to cut, form and work without needing to shrink the material due to heat elongation & warping. I nearly tossed it after it did just that while cutting out the DIN slot for the radio- but the template outline was perfect, and as such, I kept it.

Armed with the titanium template of yore, I outlined and cut out a couple of basic faceplates out of ⅛” Baltic ply with my scroll saw. This is so I could start the layout, cutting, shaping, veneering and lacquering process for both the 945 and the 780's consoles.

My spidey-sense is tingling with the notion of burning and obvious questions…

”Veneer? Lacquer? Whudephuck?”

Gettin’ my wood on

I’ve always had an affinity for wood in cars, but it has to be done correctly. My dad owned many a Mercedes in his time, and all of the three-pointed star cars he owned were ordered with assuaged bovine seating and wanton walnut wood embellishments. Thus, that was patterned as being my version of ‘normal’ for a car interior and perhaps one of the myriad reasons why I lusted after a 780 for many years before becoming one of the lucky few to own one.

I guess that the apple doesn’t fall that far - and we tend to repeat the same mistakes as our parents.

I’d rather have black hard plastic trim rather than badly-done fake wood as at the very least it isn’t trying to be something that it obviously isn’t. In my dusty brain, beautifully-turned out wood in an interior adds something to a car that I can’t relate using words - not hauteur, nor the ubiquitous and overused term ‘luxury’; more on the lines of inner mirth and visual desert.

The obviously fake and hideously plastic immersion-dipped ‘mystery species’ in most modern vehicles - typically from Korea and the US - make me want to go all Linda Blair/Exorcist. Seriously.

The last public meltdown I had was when a buddy briefly owned a Kia Sportage - with genuinely fake and really piss-poor Korean plastic-burled-whatever absolutely everywhere.

I flatly refused to travel in or be seen near that thing; and after being pummelled on numerous occasions after school on the playing field from our collective of friends, he relinquished and bought a vehicle that doesn’t have a wind-up key slot hidden under the rear badgework - or any sign of plastic wood anywhere.

So, the 945 will get real wood, and also get real fake wood like a gender reassigned individual with a trouser-equipped hand pump. However your pubescent mind wants to twist it.


Lacking latches and locks

You know those days - yeah, those days.

Those damn ‘funstrating’ days that start with dropping that first cup of coffee on the tile kitchen floor before even taking the first sip?

Despite taking the day off of work, this was obviously going to be one of them days.

With the best of all intentions, I casually went about adjusting the drivers’ door latch so that the door would seat better, and to align the body lines with the rear door. Not really a big deal by any scope of the imagination, but it can be a bit fiddly if you are the type that finds fine adjustment tedious.

HM did have their hand in attempting to adjust both front doors, so my suspicions were immediately raised. Initially, the rationale behind HM’s wacky door adjustments eluded me, as most of their ‘repair’ work does in an ongoing sort of way.

It was obvious that HM and/or their spouse parked using braille, given the existing damage to the bumpers. There was evidence of a few unplanned vehicle breadth explorations using the bumper corners and wheel arches, and one vehicle length test using the drivers’ fender thru to the rear quarter with an unceremonious removal of the drivers’ exterior handle as the bonus prize.

So perhaps the drivers’ door was slightly less than true resulting from the slow impact/push, hence the rationale for misadjusting it.

I perhaps, am being slightly grandiose. The body damage is fairly minimal - more like light creasing - and will be a thing to solve as part of v.2. The 945 does need a bit o’ body and repaint as every panel does have some sort of defect or damage, but not in an obvious and glaring “Look everyone, I seriously can’t drive, but sure can drive into things, so stay the hell away” kinda way.

Regardless of paint and body, we’re talking about doors and locks here.

I first cleaned out the gook from the original drivers’ latch, lubed it up and gave it an eye for position in relation to the striker. The door was sitting out by ?” and slightly down using the rear door line as the gauge. So, I adjusted to a level and flush fit, closed the door to test and in my first attempt to open the door, the door handle promptly proceeded to break.

No biggie - right? I’ll just pull the old one off and change it out with one from my hoard…

Off with the door panel, followed by the 10mm bolt and Phillips #2 on the door outer, and the 10mm bolt on the door inner which only spun madly about and wanted no part of that undoing stuff….no, wait. WTF?

My initial suspicions were indeed founded, dammit.

HM had replaced the exterior drivers’ handle, but had done so with a seriously used one that looked like it was from a car from the rust belt - complete with a date stamp of ‘87. Uggg. The front 10mm bolt on the handle had fused with its nut and refused to budge despite the prolific use of patience, escalating profanity, PB blaster and Vice Grips.

So, onto the Dremel, cut-off wheel and some careful excising of the exterior handle. I cut the leading part of the handle into an opening large enough so that I could fit the cut-off wheel/chuck in vertically to start slicing the nut. I then did three vertical slices of the bolt/nut, stuck a small cold chisel into the slices and gave it a light whack or two - and was utterly shocked when I actually was able to unscrew the remaining chunk of bolt. ‘All too easy’, as Vader once said.

I extracted the handle, and saw that the link rod lifting hook on the handle had failed. But it had failed over time and with use as the entire break wasn’t clean or at all new. It also seemed like the lever had an extreme amount of lateral play now that it was disconnected from the latch assembly.

I sure found out why. The door handle link rod has been adjusted to its fully-tightened position by HM to account for the excessively playful used door handle they had installed, putting the handle, latch and striker under tension load ALL of the time and making the door nearly impossible to close or open with the latch in its correct position to the striker - hence why the door was so piss-poorly aligned.

To which, all of the strained components and the potential for strained component failure manifested in my own mind. I couldn’t just replace the exterior handle and sleep well without knowing that the strained latch assembly and latch weren’t also pooched or on their way to being so.

I pulled off the inner rear window track, unclipped the lock knob and lock link rods, removed the latch, then the latch assembly, looked at the both of them and tossed them over my left shoulder whilst simultaneously uttering hushed undertones of extreme discourse.

I proceeded into my hoard and extracted a nice latch, latch assembly, central locking motor/switch and exterior handle from a '95 940, and promptly replaced everything that HM and their predilection for causing RRCD created.

With a new latch assembly, latch, central locking motor and exterior handle lubricated, installed and correctly adjusted, I was able to bring the drivers’ door back to flush and level easily; and most importantly the drivers’ door now CLOSES like a 7/9 door should - needing that bit of Nordic beefcake to make ‘em fully shut. But it does shut nice.

I performed a function test of the central locking system after energizing the central lock circuit. I was pleased that it did function as intended, so I re-installed the drivers’ door panel and imagined quaffing a few long and cold IPA’s to cleanse myself of all this lengthy lacking latch and lock tomfoolery.

But, there is another door or two on the car.

All the other portholes

The passenger door was also exhibiting signs of HM fooling around with its latch/striker relation, and the lock knob strangely sat prouder - by about 3mm - than all of the other lock knobs.

Time to take the passenger door panel off then, but with no intent on adjustments and fooling about with HM’s RRCD - I simply removed and replaced everything as I did on the drivers’ door; handle, central lock motor, latch, latch assembly and striker. After a lube and quick adjustment, the passenger door now closes with the same requirement of Nordic beefcake as the drivers’ door does.

The rear passenger side door was a tad bit flaky - ie showing signs of one day being a door that flatly refuses to open or unlock. Fortunately, HM had reached their saturation point with locks and latches and only tried to lubricate the latch with an entire can of white lithium spray grease in an attempt to make the link rod for the lock work better. Which it didn’t, it just frosted the entire latch assembly and made it a dirt trap.

Experience has shown me that all 7/9 rear doors (‘cept the 95- 960’s) have two plastic guides for the lock link rod that wear out gradually as the link rod slides thru it as a function of unlocking and locking the doors. After a few zillion lock/unlock cycles, the guide becomes worn enough that it will not retain the link rod, which proceeds to pop out and function like a piece of spaghetti rather than a rigid rod - causing the door lock to not function or become erratic and flaky.

The guide lugs are .50-odd cents each at Volvo and take 10 minutes to replace, with door panel removal included. I replaced both driver and passengers’ guide lugs at the same time - because it is likely that the drivers’ door would be similarly worn as the passenger; specifically worn to the point of requiring replacement as they both would have been cycled the same number of times.

After all the door panels were back on, I commissioned one last test of the central locking system and was utterly over the moon that the doors and locks function as Gothenburg designed them.

I’ll be looking intently at the hinges after I consume a few IPA’s, but no more than two.

If I imbibe in too many IPA’s, I’ll defer the hinges and hold a chair down for the rest of the afternoon and be satisfied that I won't be locked out of my own car.



Life has a funny way of working in a cyclical manner. Like a boomerang, stuff seems to come back.

Craig & Brent, the brothers and kind donors of the 945 had made the painful decision to sell the 745 that the 945’s drivetrain had been supplanted into. Not being attached to the car in any way, I was completely neutral about the brothers’ need to move onto greener pastures despite the previously applied effort and significant investiture in the vehicle.

I did warn Craig that he had gotten the car to a level where a teeny bit of work and some dollars would make it quite a nice, reliable and enjoyable car - and that he would likely miss it, but not regret it, as a result. Regret is something I tend to not invest any energy in as it is utterly counterproductive.

As I had a hand in the 745’s re&re, the brothers asked me to join them for a viewing by a gentleman whom sounded serious about wanting the car - offering it a good home, Volvo Club member, etc. I was only happy to oblige as I had an alternate agenda item of my own - specifically a red 4-wheeled item that come next March will be the next project in line to irritate and harangue the minivan-driving neighbors with.

Regardless, fast-forward thru three hours’ worth of looking, discussing, talking and hmmmm-ing, and the 745 had found itself a new owner, and I found myself committing the next two to three weeks finalizing the car, reverting stuff back to stock, replacing this and that, and generally going stem to stern.

I didn’t hesitate to commit to the tasks-at-hand as I knew the 745 fairly well, and know that the work involved will be satisfying for me to complete and get correct. Most of the items are niggles and only add to the old car feel, save for the larger swap-outs like the springs.

So, the 945 and 745 are back together again, but this time in a bright, open non-Bat Cave setting where I can simply roll the tool cabinet outside, see everything underhood without turning a single trouble light on, and roll around on the ground without looking like a dumpster-diving rubby afterwards.

Its odd to think that all this started with a selling a set of headlights on T’Bricks, but confirms that spirit and support within our small car community affords amazing returns if one does not have expectations of such.

Its even odder to think that ? of the Volvos that the brothers once owned are currently now residing in my garage.

Soon to be ?…