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The LOLvo ...... aka The little red wagon that could

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A few weeks ago I bolted the crusty old TH400 from the Statesman up to the LS1 for a trial fit. Unfortunately they wont go in together as the crossmember just wont allow it, so I split them and dropped the engine in and trans from underneath which is a bit if a drag. As expected the tunnel needed a bit of massaging to fit the TH400. The sump I was using was a Holley 302-1 which my nephew had bought but not used in his project but the front of the sump was too deep meaning the front of the engine was too high and was going to cause driveline alignment issues.


A bit of research said that the Holley 302-2 which has a very shallow front section should fit but they are over $800 so crossed fingers and ordered one of these from VPW for $299 https://www.rts.com.au/oil-pan-ls-en...tural-6-lt~126 which is just a China knock off of the 302-2. Sump arrived promtly, looks good and with pick up, gasket and bolts etc its bloody good value.

Swung the engine in again and it fits exactly where I wanted it to go after I had to notch the crossmember, the front section sits nice and low over the rack and the rear bowl is level with the bottom of the crossmember. Got the engine and trans aligned and sitting at 2.5 degrees nose up which is way better than with the 302-1.



Made a temporary rear crossmember


With the engine sitting safely on a piece of timber on the crossmember and with the rear of trans secured I could start making engine mounts. Got the top and bottom plates roughed out and called it quits for today.



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For all of those people wanting to make their own cotton reel/shackle bush engine mounts.........I looked everywhere on the interwebs for deatails on steel tube and appropriate bushes to fit but couldnt find anything and the generic "Tuff Mounts" werent of much use. So here's some info to help make youre own.

Steel tube is easy: I used 25NB Med Blk (33.7 OD x 3.2) Pipe othersizes are readily available from steel merchants.

Bushes: Best source is https://superpro.com.au/ and they have a great resource for finding the bushes you need https://superpro.com.au/bush-sizing. I ended up with these:


I plunged in and made brackets for the shackle monuts and tacked them up and tried them to only realise that they wouldnt work as they put the mounts too far outboard. Had to bin them and start again ):


V2.0 moved them down and further inboard so they would have the correct geometry to work with the original mount bolt holes on the Volvo crossmember. All good this time. Just need to make the stands connecting the mounts to the crossmember.





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A bit sweaty in the shed today but the block of wood on the crossmember is now redundant and the engine is now suppported by finished mounts.


Had to remove the rack to do the drivers side as I just couldnt get the Mig gun in to tack.


Passenger side was easy


Sump sits perfectly level with the crossmember


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Nice work, head of your cap screws might be in the way but I’d suggest welding right to the end on both sides and very end of your t plates, area of high stress concentration at the ends where you’ve left un-welded. 

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Trans mount completed.
The Volvo crossmember is a nice piece with dual exhaust provision (I think they came out with a V6 of some kind).


By pure coincidence the mount just needed a plate added to the original crossmember at exactly the same height so no cutting of the crossmember, just added a support off the back.


Used an Energy Suspension captive mount 3.1108G



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  • 1 month later...

Haven't been able to work on this since before Christmas so time to get stuck back in.

Priority was to make as few compromises as possible with engine placement so its as low and as far back as possible but this meant it was jammed up hard against the firewall and I had to beat the fuck out of the tunnel to get it there, this was only temporary and some more serious realestate management was going to be required to allow for ease of trans removal.




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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

It's not a show car and once the engine is in you wont be able to see the rattle can colour difference




Logic would say to full back half this car but its going to be a drag and drive car with the odd cruise thrown in so close to stock/sleeper look is important. Biggest tyre that can be fitted is 235/60/15 which is 26 inches tall and it only just fits in the standard guards, a taller tyre would need the guards lengthened and a mini tub isnt worth it as there isnt much to gain without doing a full rail reaplacement.
The lips on the guards are really susbstantial and just couldnt be rolled so resorted to slicing and hammering, came up really well with no external marks and with a clean up and seam seal and rattle can paint will be good.
Position of the rear axle will be critical as there is only 10-15mm clearance at front and rear of guard opening and likewise the same for inner and outer guard.









We are going to use the standard 4 link/panhard suspension but all of this is now junk.


9 inch has been sourced and will use cromo rod ended bars on the standard pickup points but will build some adjustatbility into it them and also the diff brackets to hopefully get sufficient separation so it 60's reasonably.


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  • 2 weeks later...

We want to run same PCD wheels front and rear so had the front hubs (Volvo are 5 on 108mm) redrilled for Ford 5 on 4.5 inch (114.3mm). The Volvo wheel studs are someting like 14m diameter at the shoulder and narrow down to normal size for the threaded section so going to smaller shoulder ARP studs bought enough room to redrill and the disc goes over the top of the hub for added security.



Picked up the 9 inch during the week. New housing with billet bearing housings, Strange axles and ARP studs. Will need to shorten about an inch each side but plenty of spline lenght to accomodate this.




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One of the reasons for choosing this 9 inch is that it is set up for EF/EL Falcon rear discs which have a reasonably light weight and compact PBR alloy caliper on a good sized but unvented rotor.
Went to Pick a Part this morning and found a recently arrived EF that had unmolested rear brakes (most have been removed and thrown everywhere to get to the axles and ring and pinion) and got everything required. The Drum in Hat parking brake wont be used so the backing plate/caliper mount will be trimmed. The wheel bearing housings have been clocked for this application so the caliper is in the ideal position.
Fits nicely inside the 15 inch wheel, just need a concentric ring machined up to locate the disc.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Front stoppers are completed.
Bit of a mish mash to get decent brakes that will fit under 15 inch wheels:
Stock 240 hubs redrilled to Ford pattern
740 Turbo rotors
FC RX7 calipers
Dog bones from www.dvs.net.au
EBC Reds






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  • 2 weeks later...

Dropped off the 9 inch to Petersen Engineering for shortening and picked up 4 Link and ARB stuff from John Lang. Looking forward to this part!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Diff is ready to pick up so I wanted to finish the pick up points for the front of the 4 link bars on the body. We are utilising the standard Volvo body trailing arm mounts but with some adjustability built in. The lowers are alreday tacked in but the upper mounts with a captive nut in the rail and bracing from a 2.5mm pressing which looks like it would rip out on the first transbrake release! I reproduced these out of 5mm plate with some variations on where they tie in with the lower mounts.



Still need to make some spacers to locate the rod ends but otherwise they are done, next will be brackets on the diff and actually making the bars.




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Diff mocked up with black pipe for the bars for now rather than cromolly until I'm 100% happy with lengths. 2 degrees pinion nose up at ride height, it doesn't change much on bump but does on droop but not enough to be an isssue....I hope.


Ride height I'm aiming for but think I will be forced to compromise due to shock length/stroke.


Edited by KatoKid
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  • 2 weeks later...

The rear floor of the LOLvo is pretty low and doesn't leave much room for suspension so shock length/stroke is an issue and there isnt much room for the ARB. The ARB can only sit behind the top of the diff housing at the highest point of the chassis so I made brackets to be welded in on each side to fix the ARB to. These are currently bolted in using the origonal shock mount bolt and will be welded later. I included some adjustment where the ARB spherical bearing bolts to the bracket to allow for providing more range of movement of the ARB arm in compression so the arm is horizontal at ride height. Also made the top shock mount and tacked them in place.




With the existing diff and shock brackets we could only use a shock that would give 4" of travel which is just not enough for a drag and drive car that will tow a trailer so I made new lower shock brackets to lower the shock mount so we could use a longer shock that would give us 5" of travel.


Threw everything under the car for a trial fit and very happy with set up. Enough room to clear the diff housing for the ARB in either mount position and cycles through full travel with no issues but will need to fine tune the bar lengths. Shocks are Strange double adjustable and will start with 160lb springs.




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Mocked up the ARB to see how it looked throughout travel.

Full compression, arm clears floor with 10mm clearance:


Ride height, arm is at desireable horizontal position:


Full droop, arm isn't at full extension or holding up the axle:


Edited by KatoKid
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34 minutes ago, C.A.R. said:

That's a stout looking ARB, Dave...

Yep its 4130 cromo with stupid wall thickness, by design they aren't supposed to have much give. it's all about launching the car straight and level.

Edited by KatoKid
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's nearly weldin time but before that we need to adress the issue of axle location. This one hurts but there is no other way, ideally we would go with a diagonal locator or wishbone but because it will be street driven we need to run a full exhaust and want to retain the original fuel tank meaning that the only alternative left is the panhard rod. The rod uses the original chassis mount on the passenger side and a fabricated double shear mount on the diff housing. The rod has a bend to clear the back of the 9" housing meaning it needs to have a bush at the diff end and rod end on the chassis end so that it doesn't flop around depending on extension or compression. Its just tacked for now with the back and bottom brace in place and the top side brace will be completed once the diff is pulled for final welding.




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