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Irv Gordon's Classic Volvo



  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    In the US, yes. The first B18 here was a pretty lame (relatively speaking) engine. It had the same "A" cam, low compresion, and didn't perform much better than the B18A sold in EU.
  • Never meant to imply the B16 was the first engine, just that it was predecessor to the B18 in the 544 model, which was the model he asked about.

    I've seen a single carb engine, but I can't recall if it was a B16 or B18. The carb was not an SU, but some obscure Zenith or Solex. One time for that very car I put on a carb from a Rambler 6 cylinder, re-jetted it, and the old Volvo ran better than ever.

    The B18s in the 122 model were pretty lively engines for their size, and with a B20E head, good ignition, rebuilt SUs and a decent camshaft (Volvo camshafts of that era were very soft and degraded the performance of the engine over time) they ran out very smartly indeed.

    You could hardly ask for a simpler, sturdier 4 cylinder engine.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Oh, yeah, I've also found out that later 1800Es could be had with Borg-Warner 3-speed automatics. Wasn't B-W known at one time for making some of the least durable transmissions in the world?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    It's interesting that Borg Warner made both automatics and manuals. I had their two-speed automatic in a '56 Stude and later had their T-10 four speed (also available in later Stude Hawks) in a '61 Chevy.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Now, as for the B20, I have seen one of those engines in real life. The only B18 I've ever seen was Irv's, but that was on TV during the Tonight Show. The B20, while still OHV, was just an enlarged B18 with better internal parts, right?
  • don't know about the internals, maybe amazon would know. I always thought it just had bigger displacement and larger valves. Same crummy camshaft.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    THe main difference is in the bore. The engine was also improved throughout the years with different crankshaft seals, pistons, connecting rods, etc. Just about all parts are interchangable.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Is the crankshaft made of some soft material that I should know something about? Maybe that's the reason they all broke early.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    The crankshafts in the later B20s were stronger than in the early B18s. That's really all I know.
  • I never heard of crankshaft problems with the B18. I have ever seen or even heard second hand of a blown up B18 engine. I've seen bad camshafts and stripped timing gears, but never saw a rod out of a B18 engine in a wrecking yard. The lower end of a B18 is about the last thing I'd worry about.

    The B16 crank could snap, however. Sometimes you wouldn't even know except for the bad noise you heard at the crack as the crank spun around. But the engine would still run okay until the break was so big the two halves of the crank would spin apart.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    What I would focus my attention on, for durability, are the following items:

    1) Install Steel timing Gear
    2) Replace the old filt type with the later type of crankshaft seals.
    3) Upgrade to a newer and bigger camshaft.
  • Great ideas. You meant "felt" crankshaft seal, right?

    Also I'd machine an improved bracket system for the generators. They wobble. And throw away the P1800 engine oil cooler. All it does is leak and it couldn't cool a mouse's toes.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    I meant "felt", yes.

    I havesn't heard of or experienced any problems with the generator brackets. Did those vehicles you've seen this phenomenon on have AC?

    I really don't have any experiene with the oil cooler. I do know that in Sweden, those are sought after, collectible options. Don't throw them away, in other words.
  • Yes, I can see keeping the oil cooler, but putting it back on the car is pretty ridiculous. It is so tiny in surface area and so remote from any air flow that it is obviously of no use except to get in the way, or drain all your oil out on the highway. I can't imagine what the engineers were thinking on that one. I can only assume that anyone wanting one of these didn't know it doesn't cool the engine oil. The oil cooler on an MGB is about 4 times the size and sits right out in front of the radiator, just behind the grillwork.

    The lower generator bracket holes on the B18 elongate and the securing bolt can't tighten the generator down. So people try to tighten the generator with the top bolt that holds the swivel, and invariably end up either snapping the bolt off in the head, or creating so much tension on the belt as to ruin the water pump bearing.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    All I can say is that I've never seen or heard of those problems. I just tightened both bolts. No problem. Never had any problems with the water pump either.
  • I've replaced barrels-full of both of them in the past. Chronic problems. The water pump issues were either related to the generator issue (belt too tight); also the remanufactured water pumps for the B18 are often cheaply done, with inferior bearing material. It's good to check where the reman pump comes from -- that's most of the problem, not the design itself.

    The generator hold-down is just a clunky design that is susceptible to damage if the bolts get loose or rusty. The holes the bolts slip through elongate due to vibration.

    If you are really on top of the B18 engine in your car you won't see these things. By now, these old Volvos are owned by enthusiasts, not the spaced-out Volvo owners of the 1960s. So many the issues aren't issues anymore.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Just read that the first Volvos imported to the U.S. back in '56 (the 444s) used the B14 engine for one year only. That's just like the B16, right, where the crankshaft will whip around and break?
  • I don't know a thing about the B14, so can't help you there. I sure like the looks of the 444, though, with that split windshield. A 444 wagon with B20E engine, IPD cam, big SUs and overdrive would be a great surfing car.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    As I like to say; the 444 would sure be a very inviting and fun car to have.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Also, it's been mentioned many times that the steering on old Volvos was very heavy; it's also obvious there was no power assist in those days. But, I'm assuming their steering was much quicker and more precise than, say, an old Buick or Mercury?
This discussion has been closed.