Some Volvo Work and a Killer Jackstand

Yesterday Ewan and I took the Volvo over to Tedds for a few tasks, but we left my toolbox behind, so we were a bit limited. We did figure out the clunk in the rear suspension. One of the sway bar nuts was loose. We fixed that. We wanted to try to replace the transmission mount, and to look into what we’d need to do to replace the motor mounts. But I decided we’d go back home.

We’d made some progress. While we were there we picked up a pair of jackstands that we’ve been using for a few years that had been recalled by Harbor Freight. They can collapse! We stopped by HF on the way home and basically traded them in on a set of 1/2″ drive metric sockets. I’ll be getting my life safety equipment elsewhere from now on. If you have these jackstands, stop using them. HF is buying them back for $20 for a pair.

Back Together

Ewan and I went over again and re-installed the exhaust and buttoned it all up. The studs and gaskets had arrived from rockauto. Naturally when we got there the gaskets were the wrong size by just a bit. So we made a trip to the Autozone on 29th but that was a bust, they had the same, sligtly too large gaskets. So it was up to the O’Reillys in El Cerrito. I like that place much more. They found us what we needed.

We got it all back together and hung in place. We turn the power on and off a few time to try to pump fuel back through the lines. Then it started right up.

Back to work

Two weeks ago I decided that I needed to get out and do something. I’ve been super fortunate that my job can be done from home and that my job has been secure, so far. But that means that I rarely leave our apartment anymore. Over time it wears on you. Well Ewan and I decided to work on the racecar. At the last race we had problems with fuel starvation and we decided that it was probably a failing fuel pump, and we chose to to try to replace it at the track. I’ve been feeling guilty about that.

Well some time ago I ordered an entirely new pump assembly. It’s been sitting here waiting for a long while. Ewan and I decided last weekend that enough was enough and that we could do this safely. We almost never see anyone at Tedd’s other than Tedd and sometimes Tedd’s crazy tenant turned squatter who lives in the garage unit. But she does not talk to us, which is fine, and we can keep Tedd at “arm’s length.”

To replace the pump assembly you have to drop the tank. Thankfully Tedd had emptied the tank already. So we started by removing the exhaust. We have a bit of a custom exhaust so it is basically all one piece. We discovered one stud missing and the gaskets needed replacing. So that wasn’t the worst thing, since we’ll fix those. The tank is held up by two straps but it is connected to the car by about 4 hoses and one pipe, and about 3 wiring connectors. 4 of the hoses are fairly easy to access with the wheel off from the driver rear side. but the wires and the pipe are a pain to reach and can really only be accessed when the tank is partially dropped. So it was a bunch of trial and error until we got in there. Tedd did show up for a bit and help us get going when we were stalled.

We got the tank out and replaced the pump assembly and then started on getting it all back together. Turns out the left and right tank support straps are different and naturally I put them on backwards at first which didn’t work. We got the tank back in and the fuel system reconnected before calling it a day. As always we had to scramble to cleanup and get home in time for dinner.

Muffler for the Volvo

While I was working on the front suspension. Tedd and Ewan were replacing exhaust hangars in the rear.  All I know was that I hear a lot of swearing, and that they discovered that the exhuast pipe leading into the main muffler was broken.  So this morning I took it to the muffler shop.  Turns out Mitch retired last year and sold the shop to Pele.  I left it with him.  Pele did not give us the race team discount that Mitch used to.


It’s always fun to see the underside of your car when it is up on a lift.


So this afternoon the Slow Swede will have a classy new muffler and a more refined exhaust note.  Please pass the Grey Poupon.


Back to the Volvo

Last weekend Ewan and I dived back into working on his Volvo.  The goal was to replace all the bushing and the strut insert on the front right corner.  After hours of trying I realized those old bushings weren’t coming out without resorting to extreme measures.  The ball joint press kit was not going to do it.  And I guess those bushings didn’t look that bad after all…


So we changed plans.  We decided to replace the strut inserts on both front corners.  Even this wasn’t too easy.  Turns out there is a special volvo tool for removing the top strut nut.  It is basically a 24mm socket with a hole on top through which out put another tool to hold the shaft from turning.  There was no way to get this tool over the weekend.  So we disassembled both sides and called Saturday a day.  On the way home we bought a 24mm deep socket to use with an impact gun.  I figured short bursts would work that nut off.  Lara took us home and we left the slow swede at Tedd’s.

Sunday morning  Lara dropped us off on her way to church.  Ewan and I spent our day at the Church of Grease Stains and Bloody Knuckles.  The impact gun worked!  Yay.  Then getting the strut gland nut off was tough.


This gland nut is at the top of the strut tube, it is as big around as the strut tube and it has about an inch of fine threads.  After trying a variety of things and wishing I had a huge pipe wrench, I applied some heat to it until the penetrating oil (applied earlier) was bubbling back out of the threads.  Then a chisel and hammer did the trick.  After that it was just a matter of putting it all back together, getting the alignment very roughly correct, and bleeding the brakes.  That last step took a long time, there was a lot of air in the system and it took a quart of brake fluid to finish.  After it sits a few days we’ll see if it worked or needs to be bled again.



Sunday morning we put Jason in the car for the first stint.  He started having fuel issues from the start.  About 10 laps in I saw him coming through turn 11, he lost power, and a bunch of faster cars came around and barely missed him.  Two went into the dirt to avoid him.  It was clear it was dangerous so I called it, and we brought him in.

With hindsight I wish I had cut a hole in the floor to access the fuel pump.  We might have had a good day of racing.  What a waste.  Sorry team.


So we loaded it all up.  Lara insisted on taking Ewan and I to lunch, so we did that.  It was expensive and was pretty good.  Then we went back to the track and started towing the car back.  I wish we had skipped the lunch too.  We probably would have made it back in time to drop off the uhaul stuff. Instead after unloading we parked it at work. I was afraid someone might steal the trailer if we left it on the street at Tedd’s.  At work I was able to back it into a tight spot so the trailer could not be stolen without stealing the truck too.

My biggest driving challenges of the weekend all involved backing up the trailer.  I even parallel parked it. ( I easily could have gotten it into a smaller space, but we never would have gotten the car off then)20200105_171402

Friday and Saturday

Friday morning Ewan and I loaded up his Volvo with race stuff and drove to Tedd’s.   Lara picked us up and shuttled us to the Uhaul office.  There we picked up the truck, a new F150, and trailer.  Can you believe that when you rent a tow vehicle and a trailer, the hitch is not included?  The truck came with only 1/4 tank and the usual warning that if I returned it with less they would charge me $10/gallon.  I wasn’t too happy about that.

At Tedd’s I had to figure out how to back the trailer into his driveway, so we could get off the road while loading up.  On my first try I decided that there was just not enough room.  But then I decided that by using a bit of lawn I might squeeze it in.  It worked!  We filled the bed with all our race stuff, and got the car on the trailer.  The car rides way too low to drive on, so we had to jack up the tongue so the car wouldn’t bottom out at the top of the ramps.


Then we pulled it out, parked Ewan’s Volvo in the race car spot, and headed for a gas station to fill up.  Though we were at Uhaul as soon as they opened, with the loading and the drive, we got to our motel in Monterey at 3pm.  After checking in we ate at the Denny’s down the road and then arrived at Laguna Seca at 5pm just as they opened the gates.

It was dark by the time we unloaded the car and the trailer.  I took the car to tech and passed inspection with no difficulty.  That was the last pass I made that weekend.  They gave us about 20 stickers from “sponsors” that we were required to put on our car.  We must be real racers now, because we have sponsors.  I thought that sponsors were supposed to give us money or parts or at least moral support. These just gave us stickers.

Since Tedd had to stay home and take care of his Mom, Jason recruited a friend of his, Danny to drive with us and pay a share of the entry fees.

We arrived early on race morning to check the alignment and tire pressures.  We had to adjust the toe before heading to the driver’s meeting.  The owner of Lucky Dog, Kathy, is long winded.  It went on and on. At 9am we lined up the car for practice/qualifying.  We each got three laps by 9:40 and at 9:50 Dennis was in the car for the rolling start.  He did pretty well posting a 1:58.  At some point he came in complaining of power loss under throttle.  I went next and had several laps in which I had bad power loss heading up the hill to the corkscrew.  I kept deciding to stay out one more lap because I knew there was little we could do about it.  Eventually it cleared up and I got about 2 laps before the car started shaking badly under acceleration.  I limped back in and they tightened some things in the front left suspension and told me to go out again.  It was immediately obvious that it was worse, so I limped around the track and came in.  This time I got out and put on some gloves and grabbed the axle and it was loose on the inside cv joint, it was also hot as hell.  So we rolled it back into the paddock and replaced the axle.  Unfortunately the spare axle we had was for the right side so we had to send Danny to get a new one.  We got that replaced and by then it was Danny’s turn.  He said he had fuel starvation nearly the whole stint but he did get a 1:55.  I was concerned that he would push the car too hard, but he didn’t really get the chance to.  Then Jason was up and he had a perfectly clean drive and set a 1:53!  With all the lost time we finished in the bottom 10.


Our Race is Over

Fuel pump keeps cutting out. It was only a matter of time before we lost power in a bad spot and caused and accident. Replacong the pump requires dropping the tank out. Major surgery. So I called it after I saw Jason have a close call. I’m sad.

First Day Done

We got down Friday afternoon and at 5 got to the track. The car passed tech, they gave us lost of sponsor stickers we had to put our on our car.

Today we raced but we had some troubles, including pissinle fuel starvation and a blown axle. We finished 34th of only 45 and Jason had a 1:53.6.

Most Done, But…

  • Buy and install a window net
  • Drill 3/16″ inspection hole in the cage
  • Install 2.5″ washers on all seat and belt mount bolts (our current ones are only 2″)
  • 4″ numbers on the front and rear bumpers
  • buy a better fueling drip pan
  • buy kitty litter
  • Better Tow markers
  • oil the cone filter
  • buy a 10lb fire extinguisher
  • pickup the tow vehicle
  • pickup the tow dolly
  • descuzzify and load up

Ewan was at his Mom’s last week and I took a few days off.  I got a few more things done, and this weekend with Ewan’s great help we got almost all the rest done.

The only 2.5″ washers I could find had 1″ holes, so I bought those and smaller washers to double them up, but those smaller washers were not impressively thick, and I doubt they would have passed inspection.  So I bought some flat stock.  2″ wide x 3/8″ high, by probably 1/8″ or 3/16″ thick C channel.  I cut it into 4″ long pieces and drilled the right size holes in it.  Those are my washers.  They have the same area and should be far stiffer than a washer.  Hope that does the trick.

I broke my 3/16″ drill bit, and still need to drill the inspection hole.  Friday I suppose.

Got kitty litter and a plastic storage bin from Target for our drip pan.  I made a stencil and we spray painted our Tow markings and our bumper numbers.  On sunday, in the rain we sorted through all our crap, organized things into various bins and bags. vacuumed the car out, and generally prepped for transport.

Friday at 9am I will pick up the truck and the trailer and bring them to Tedd’s.  There we will load the car and all our gear before heading to Monterey.  Motel check in is at 3pm and we are not allowed to arrive at the track until 5pm.  Tech from 5 to 8.  Newbie class at 7.  Fueling will be in the hot pit.  All our previous races did not allow access to the pits, all fueling, driver changes, and repairs were in the paddock.  So this will be really different.

Tedd told us Sunday afternoon that he might not be able to make the race.  He has to take care of his elderly Mom, and his brother is not stepping up.