FAQs about B21 Engines.

  • I want to boost the hp on my B21/23.
  • Hesitation, poor mileage, vacuum not coming down, etc., what's up?.
  • Do B230F require frequent valve adjustments?
  • Frozen cam shaft.
  • Suggestions on replacing your timing belt.
  • I need suggestions on these problems.
  • Is it difficult to replace my starter motor?

  • I want to boost the hp on my B21/23.

    Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1992 06:58:47 PST
    From: John_E_Werner.Wbst311@xerox.com
    Subject: B21/23 hp
    To: D.Watson@loughborough.ac.uk
    Cc: John_E_Werner.Wbst311@xerox.com, volvo-net@me.rochester.edu

    >I would like to give it a bit more ooomph! i.e. bump up the
    >acceleration a bit and leave the top speed where it is (cruises at 95mph
    >for as long as you want it to). The main criterion (?!) is CHEAP!

    Cheap is relative. "How fast can you afford?"

    The cheapest thing to increase performance is to play with the ignition timing. I know the US delivery cars are typically set relatively conservatively in terms of timing because of emissions issues. If you run higher octane fuel, you can advance the ignition more before it starts to pink (pink is English for ping - been reading those British repair manuals too much.) The cost of this is mostly in terms of fuel.

    Another relatively cheap idea would be to change the cam shaft. Not knowing the specs on the European delivery cams, I am not sure what to advise changing it to. I know many US people want the European cams because they are hotter. IPD, (of Portland, Oregon, USA) may have some cam solutions.

    IPD does sell an adjustable cam gear. Adjusting the cam timing will not give you more power, but it will allow you to place it better in the torque band. (You may percieve more power from the change.)

    Moving up scale a bit, the back pressure of the exhaust is a drain on power. Consider getting some sort of free-flow exhaust system. Most of the in car exhaust noise can be gotten rid of by making sure the exhaust exists past the rear bumper. Otherwise the noise tends to get "trapped" under the car.

    Another relatively cheap option is to rebuild the head. Mild porting and polishing can add a lot of high end power because of the decreased air flow resistance. While the head is off, you could also plain it at increase the compression ratio (once again, you may have to up your fuel grade).

    Another alternative may be to find a B23, B230, or B234 in a wrecked car and put it in. The mounting points should be the same. (I have never checked, so I could be wrong.)

    I hope this helps,

    -- John

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    Hesitation, poor mileage, vacuum not coming down, etc., what's up?

    From: nick@meaddata.com (Nick Gough)
    To: volvo-net@me.rochester.edu
    Subject: engine hesitation/Vacuum leak


    Thought you might want to know...

    I finally found out the source to this problem (hesitation, poor mileage, vacumn not coming down, etc.), and it wasn't the O2 sensor, either, as the sensor is hooked up & can be found on the exhaust pipe, just down from the exhaust manifold. It took some doing to find that one, as it was really difficult to get underneath the car & get in enough of a position to see it. I still dunno was the heck that little 1.5" long, 1/4" wide, tapered fitting on the block is, with ribs on it for a hose to locate. It is open, & also has a copper/brass finish/color to it as well. Any ideas????

    [ the coolant vent, tFD]

    Anyway, I found a slightly torn vacumn hose right at the intake manifold, that goes to the boost gauge! It was torn just as it makes the bend from the manifold, about a 1/4" from the end. Fortunately, there was enough extra length to just cut it off & reconnect it. The problems went away immediately! No more idle "hunt", I can actually adjust it now, plenty of power, better mileage, everythings' cool.

    BTW... since I had the remote oil filter from IPD put on, I have noticed that the engine seems to run a tad cooler. I don't have a oil temp gauge, so this observation is simply a SWAG!

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I think that I now know a lot more 'bout the LH-Jetronic than I thought I would want to know.


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    Suggestions on replacing the timing belt.

    Date: Wed, 16 Sep 92 10:27:55 EDT
    From: alfred@nyquist.bellcore.com (Alfred Kwan 21342)
    To: mm@workgroup.com, swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu
    Subject: Timing belt changes B21/23/230

    I have replaced 4 timing belts in the last 2 weeks: a 240DL, a 740GLE, a 240Turbo and my 745Turbo. Just want to share a few things on the net. I agree with Mike M., 45K for a new belt. I remembered that I decided to wait another week on a nice Sunday and the timing belt went on Monday in HEAVY rain on my way to work. I change them now at <40K when the weather is nice.

    A few suggestions:

    First set the cam gear at the top alignment location. Mark the three alignment marks on the old belt with stationary white-out. Set the tensioner back and remove the belt. Just line up the markings on the new belt to the old belt (the double yellow line goes with the crank gear); you don't have to spend a lot of time to figure out which yellow mark goes where.

    The tensioner lock nut should be reset (I forgot how often) to compensate for belt stretching. There is a rubber plug on the the plastic belt cover for that. Just remove the plug, loosen the nut and re-torque to ~40ft-lbs. Don't forget to put the plug back.

    On my 745T, I found that the distributor gear was way off the timing mark with the original old belt. Well, on the 740s, the distributor is driven off the cam. So, don't be alarm if the distributor gear is not line up correctly on your 740. I think it just works as an idler gear.

    For those B230 engines that the crank pulleys don't split; someone on the net suggested that the starter can loosen the crank pulley bolt. Well, it works. I used a breaker bar with a 24mm socket, anchor the breaker bar to the water pump, disable the ignition circuit, flick the key and the bolt came lose just like that. Don't forget to cover the radiator with a board or something. I used a big plastic wire tie to anchor the breaker bar but the starting action tore it right off. Luckily, it didn't hit the radiator!!. To put it back, I tighten the alternator belt like crazy, use the alternator pulley to counter act the crank pulley.

    The two 740s that I have worked on in the last 2 weeks both suffer from a broken distributor sensor connector. There is a black cover that goes on before the rotor and the cap. If the notch on the black cover is not positioned over the distributor sensor connector, it will break the connector. Once the connector is broken, it will drop down and hang with three thin wires. You can buy just the plastic connector from Volvo(around $1.00), no need to by the sensor/connector. The distributor needs to come out for this one. (There is 2 O-rings on the distributor, you might want to replace them too.) Mark it's position before taking it out and remember the rotor's relative position also(the rotor can be 180 degrees out). I had to break the old plastic connector to get the 3 pins ONE-WAY out. I also had to re-solder all three wires because they were hanging lose for a long time. If you have a 740, reach under the distributor and check to see if that connector is hanging lose.

    Good Luck

    PS-Mike M.: Thanks for the good tips, I'll try them.

    Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1993 13:42:48 -0500
    From: memsthd@prism.gatech.edu (MIKE WILEMAN)
    To: swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu
    Subject: Timing belt replacement report

    Thanks to all of the netters who responded with advice about replacement of the timing belt in my '84 245. Despite dire warnings from a mechanic at a local Volvo repair shop whom I met in a parts place, the job was really cake compared to what I was expecting.

    Following is my report of how the job went. If you have done this ten times yourself, you may want to skip it.

    First, it was good advice to remove the fan and shroud, even though the Volvo manual seems to show the job being done with the fan in place. To pull out the shroud without removing the radiator, I also had to remove the thermal clutch on the fan, but this was not a big problem although it was tedious to remove the bolts which I couldn't see.

    It took me a few minutes to realize that the tensioning on the Ac compressor belt was performed by the two part crankshaft pulley even though (dense me) I had been warned about this two part pulley by several netters. A few people told me that I did not have to remove the main crankshaft bolt in order to replace the belt. This may be true, but the clearance was very tight and it would have been difficult to slip the belt over the bracket held by this bolt without damaging the belt, at least for my not so nimble fingers. So, after removing the two-piece pulley and the two belts driving the alternator and water pump (these are loosened by pivoting the alternator about one of it's support bolts) I crawled under the car to see how I could block the engine. Lo and behold, one of the grills in the bottom of the bell housing was already removed, and by turning the engine a little (this was done with help from an audience volunteer on top of the car with a giant breaker bar fitted with the handle of my hydraulic jack as a cheater) I noticed a very sturdy-looking machined plate with very nice castellations. By placing a prybar into one of these and bracing it against the bell housing, removal of the crank bolt was a piece of a cake. Look, Mom, no air wrench.

    Removing the old belt is done by loosening the bolt holding the spring-loaded idler then yanking on the long span of the belt to compress the spring. Then retighten the bolt to hold the spring in the compressed position, and the belt should have enough slack to remove it.

    This done, we spent a few minutes wondering about the meaning of all the lines on the belt. The net advice to line up the pulleys before removing the belt was dead on. Lining up the cam pulley mark with the notch in the valve cover makes it very easy to check that the job is correct when finished. There are two single lines on the belt, and one double line. Where these lines are when the old belt is removed is irrelevant, although it seems to me that if the previous mechanic followed the procedure in the Volvo manuals, they should be in the same place as the lines on the new belt should go. Apparently, the previous mechanic in my case felt confident enough to blow off this part of the procedure and just stuck the belt on.

    Anyway, put the belt on the crank gear so that if you wrapped it all the way around the pulley the double line would line up with the locating mark on the gear. Note that when the belt is in operating position, the mark on the gear is not near the belt, so you either have to wrap the belt around the gear when you put it on or count teeth (the easier way) on the gear and the belt. This may seem cryptic, but it will be more obvious if you have the timing gear in front of you. One of the single lines on the belt should then be in line with the locating mark on the large idler pulley, and the other should be in line with the locating mark on the cam gear. The idler pulley doesn't really matter, but the lining up of the belt with the cam and crank gears assures that you haven't skipped a tooth because of too much slack in the belt. If you're confident, here, however, you can just slap the belt on without worrying about the line. Of course, since I am the original anal retentive auto mechanic, the lines were reassuring.

    Assembly, as the manual says, is the opposite of disassembly, meaning we put back all of the belts et cetera. We decided to give it a test run before replacing the fan and shroud, however, and when we started it the engine sounded like a Mack diesel, filling us with horror. But closer inspection revealed that we had merely forgotten to tighten the bolt that had been holding the fan clutch, and the pulley was sliding around on the shaft. Fortunately, no damage was done, and replacement of the fan clutch left us with an engine which purred like the proverbial (loud-voiced) kitten.

    One final note about reassembly. Tighten the two piece crankshaft pulley all the way. The belt will still be loose until you turn the engine over, but after the pulley has turned a few times the AC belt should be tight.

    Finally, please note that I make no warranties implied or otherwise about this procedure, and your mileage may vary.

    Thanks again for all the help. As usual, the Volvo-net saves the day.


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    Do B230F require frequent valve adjustments?

    Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1992 09:42:31 PST
    From: John_E_Werner.Wbst311@xerox.com
    Subject: Re: Tapping B230F
    To: juns_ltd@uhura.cc.rochester.edu
    Cc: swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu

    Do B230F require frequent valve adjustments?

    It was never done on this motor.

    I am not burning any oil at all.

    No, frequent adjustments are not needed, but since you have not adjusted it in 103K miles, it is well overdue. (B18 and B20s need frequent valve adjustments-- approx every 10k is about right.)

    It may also be fuel injector noise. Those little babies are not all that quiet.

    In general, little noises are not what you worry about. When you hear something knocking really loud like it is trying to get out of the motor, then you have problems.

    -- John

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    Frozen cam shaft.

    Date: 18 Nov 92 23:21:07 EST
    From: Shel Hall <76701.103@compuserve.com>
    Subject: Song's broken timing belt


    Song W. Koh (swk@mlb.semi.harris.com) has a song of woe, to wit:

    >>> I replaced the timing belt on my 245 and discovered that my cam shaft was frozen. I let my oil get too low a couple of weeks ago and it must have damaged the cam bearings then....So, I took an emory cloth to the cam shaft and polished the rough spots and ground the running surface of the head so that it is pretty smooth....<<<

    Gag! Sorry to hear about the seized camshaft; it's one of the bad side effects of Volvo's decision to run the cam right in the aluminium head, rather than with real bearing shells. Aluminium makes OK bearing material as long as it's got lots of oil, but it will gall like crazy if it runs dry. Lots of manufacturers run the cams right in the head material, though; it ain't just Volvo.

    Frankly, I think you've done just fine, using emery cloth to get the aluminium bits off the cam journals, and smoothing out the "bearings" in the head. I don't think I'd use any sort of grinding compound or rouge unless I was going to take the head off for a full cleaning. You really don't want any abrasives to get into the oil; although the oil filter will eventually get them, and will keep them out of the bearings, some of the abrasive material might find its way onto the cylinder walls

    I've never had to do that to a camshaft, but I have done it to other things when the bearing journals galled, and in every case it's worked out OK.

    As for checking the oil flow, well, it's a free-revving engine, right, (else the broken cam belt results in bent valves) so you can turn it over with the starter for about 10 seconds and see if oil comes out of the cam journal lubing holes. You'll have to time the cam anyway, since the belt broke.

    Since you'll be running a little more clearance on the cam journals than you used to, you'll probably need to adjust the valves.

    Also, when you get through, change the oil and filter; there are little bits of aluminium in the oil, so you want to get those out. I dunno what the oil spec is for your engine at this time of year where you live, but I'd err to the heavy side if the manual gives you two choices, i.e., if the manual says both 15-40 and 20-50 are the right weights for your weather, I'd pick the 20-50. The heavier oil "fills up" the bigger clearances, though it is harder to pump when cold. I don't suppose it gets very cold in Melbourne, though!

    And check that dam' oil more often! Every time you gas up the car, at the very least.


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    I need suggestions on these problems.

    Subject: Re: Time for TLC
    Date: Sat, 23 Dec 1995 13:20:31 -0800
    From: ad366@lafn.org (Dana Adams)
    Reply-To: ad366@lafn.org
    To: dlespera@vir.com
    CC: swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu

    >My faithful 244 GL (B21F) is a bit tired at 254,000 km. I need suggestions on
    >these problems:

    >1-When I start the car in sub-zero weather, I turn the key and the starter
    >engages and starts the engine but does NOT disengage. In fact, I can release
    >the key, move it to ignition off and remove it: the engine still runs!!!
    >What,s wrong?

    Sounds like the starter solenoid is sticking. Remove and replace the solenoid.

    >2-The upper seal on my water pump leaks. This is the circular seal at
    >between the water pump and cylinder head. I got a new neoprene gasket but
    >it seems too big for the hole in the pump. Does this seal go into the
    >cylinder head and then the pump is bolted against it? How is it fitted?Sorry,
    >I just dont have the Volvo manuals and the Haynes is useless...

    The seal fits into the water pump, then the water pump is installed onto the front of the block. Before tightening the pump, it must be "pressed" upward, so that this seal is held tight against the lower surface of the head, where it mates. THEN, you can tighten the pump. If you don't do this, it will leak. You will notice that a few of the mounting holes in the pump casing are oval in shape, to allow for this movement.

    >3- How difficult/expensive ist it to fix a leaking real wheel bearing seal? Is
    >it a matter of pulling the assembly and taking it to the dealer? Did anybody
    >in this list even perform this job in their driveway? Experience sought...

    This is not too difficult. The offending axle must be removed, then the bearing/seal is replaced. These are pressed on, so must be installed by a shop with a press. The job can be done in your driveway, except for the press.

    Jack car, use jackstand. jack only the side you need to work on, so the diff fluid will run to the opposite side and won't leak when you pull the bad side out. Obviously, on level surface, blocks, etc.etc.

    You will see four bolts that hold the bearing/axle retaining plate in place. these are loosened through a hole in the wheel mounting flange. Loosen and remove the four bolts, then try to pull the axle out. If it won't move, you need to rent an axle puller tool. It bolts onto two or three of the wheel studs, and is essentially a slide-hammer. This will break loose the whole axle, which then pops out of the rear end housing. Take the assembly to your machine shop, have them replace the bearing/seal, and reinstall.

    On some cars, you can do all of this without removal of the brakes. I don't recall if that's the case with your car.



    Subject: Re: Time for TLC
    Date: Sun, 24 Dec 1995 15:54:32 -0500 (EST)
    From: Super Stud
    To: dlespera@vir.com
    CC: swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu

    On Fri, 22 Dec 1995 dlespera@vir.com wrote:

    > My faithful 244 GL (B21F) is a bit tired at 254,000 km. I need suggestions on
    > these problems:

    > 1-When I start the car in sub-zero weather, I turn the key and the starter
    > engages and starts the engine but does NOT disengage. In fact, I can release
    > the key, move it to ignition off and remove it: the engine still runs!!!
    > What,s wrong?

    > 2-The upper seal on my water pump leaks. This is the circular seal at
    > between the water pump and cylinder head. I got a new neoprene gasket but
    > it seems too big for the hole in the pump. Does this seal go into the
    > cylinder head and then the pump is bolted against it? How is it fitted?Sorry,
    > I just dont have the Volvo manuals and the Haynes is useless...

    The seal is more or less flat on one side (the top) and the other side projects slightly down into the pump. Make sure all surfaces are smooth and clean, and when installing the pump, use something to pry upwards on the pump when tightene1ing the nuts

    > 3- How difficult/expensive ist it to fix a leaking real wheel bearing seal? Is
    > it a matter of pulling the assembly and taking it to the dealer? Did anybody
    > in this list even perform this job in their driveway? Experience sought...

    Remove the rear wheel, caliper, disk, and parking brake shoes. Remove the 4 bolts holding the retaining flange to the axle housing and pull out the half shaft. The bearing must be removed (drill a hole in the bearing retaining ring which is pressed on in order to break it free with a chisel) and then the seal can be replaced. Install a new bearing (not worth reusing an old one once you are this far into it).

    A press is required to install the new bearing retainer ring. The re-re of the bearing, seal etc could be easily done at a garage - not much labour involved. Replace the outer seal in the axle housing. Be careful not to damage the lip of this seal installing the half shaft.

    No big deal to this in the driveway.

    > That,s all folks!!! >
    > Answers and wisdom appreciated.

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    Is it difficult to replace my starter motor?

    Subject: Pessimism...and my starter
    Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 16:53:19 UNDEFINED
    From: dlespera@vir.com (Denis L'Esp\irance)
    To: swedishbricks@me.rochester.edu

    Sorry friends..

    It is blowing snow out there and I have a stupid meeting tomorrow. When I get out from work in the parking lot, the sun will be going down and the mercury will have tapered to near zero fahrenheit. I will sit in my cart and my starter solenoid will probably stick for a while...I must get this fixed before the weekend.

    I looked under there and despite an elegant 2 bolt latching of the starter, the upper one looks unreachable. This is a B21F (1979) in a 244GL. There looks like there is a nut facing forward (near the solenoid). Is it possible that removing this nut will allow me to slide the bolt back or is that #!*!!# threaded into the starter housing? The bolt end (facing towards the rear of the car) holds the AT dispstick bracket and there is almost no room to turn that bolt end. This is a very precise problem and I guess I need some optimistic coaching to get under there and take that starter out. Once out, it comes from my unheated garage (20F) to my nice warm workbench and I am very familiar with Bosch starters (VW/BMW/Mercedes experience). It,s just a matter of not spending too much time at 20F....

    Hints from experience invited in exchange for my smile :-) and appreciation. BTW cheers for the new year!

    Subject: Re: Pessimism...and my starter
    Date: Wed, 03 Jan 1996 12:54:19 -0500 (EST)
    From: V093P9MD@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu
    To: Mailing list Volvo

    The starter motors are always a real pain to remove, just use a liberal amount of liquid wrench on the bolts and let is sit for a wile. Access to the bolts is general poor, and you are going to need every bit of help you can get. Don't forget to remove the positive lead on the battery. Otherwise you will make a nice arc between the wrench and the engine when you remove the power cable (I know from experience... now the wrench has a fifty little burn mark on the side).

    Just one more thought, consider replacing the whole starter. When my diesel starter motor became erratic (i.e. sticking solenoid with lower temperatures), a solenoid would have cost me about $160. For $240 I purchased a factory remanufactured starter (the dealer wanted $280 for a remanufactured unit, so I bought it at the import parts place. They also gave me a 3 year warrantee vs 1 year from Volvo). With the whole starter replaced you won't have to get under the car in a year when some other part of it fails.

    Happy Swedish Motoring,

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