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Old 01-22-2022, 07:09 AM   #1
dmg4
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Default S-L-O-W 1993 240 Classic wagon

Tis the winter season and my 1993 240 Classic wagon is off the road until Spring and road salt is gone, and so this is a good time to work on various issues.

Chief among these is that the car runs beautifully, but 0-60 times might be better measured with a calendar than a stop watch. It is a normally-aspirated engine, automatic transmission, with 145,000 miles. I have performed all of the customary stage 0 maintenance: plugs, wires, distributor cap, timing belt, coolant flush and change, oil and filter change, transmission flush and fluid change, new air filter, cleaned MAF filament, new O2 sensor, new injectors, new flame trap and breather box and all associated vacuum hoses, all with quality parts from IPD. Tires are 205/70/14. Speedometer is dead-nuts on. One passenger: me (155 lbs). Gas tank was full (87 octane). Timing was with a digital stopwatch.

Average of ten 0-60 times was 15.4 seconds after the above.

I installed the IPD VX cam (by the book), checking and confirming all valve clearances on a cold motor.

Average of ten 0-60 times was 15.3 seconds after the VX cam. Not what I was hoping for. Aside from the idle being ever-so-slightly lumpy on a cold start, and then smooth, all is as before. Gas mileage is average: 22 mpg highway at 70 mph on cruise control. I’m not sensing any ignition breakdown at high RPM. There are no drivability issues. It’s just a slug after leaving 1st gear. Second climbs smoothly but slowly, and it shifts into 3rd just shy of 60 mph and............................................... ...........finally we reach 60 mph.

I have read the TB post on performance upgrades to NA 240s. I will reroute the preheat tube to cold air as suggested, give Seafoam a try, and report later. Might restriction in exhaust be an issue?

Other than that, do you have any suggestions as to what I should try next? I had expected more from the VX camshaft. I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable, but what can one expect from this car with the above. The VX cam is advertised as generating ca 10% more HP. I just don’t feel it.
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:57 AM   #2
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Hello, this is from a review of the VX cam: "Also, take note that the advertised power figures in IPD's listing are made with the combination of the higher flowing, large intake port 531 cylinder head AND the VX camshaft. This means that just installing the camshaft will most likely not give you 20 more horsepower alone."

I don't know about the 531 vs 530, I believe the 530 performs better for NA? Anyway, the point of what is said is still correct. Supporting mods like exhaust and intake are usually a good way to get everything out of a camshaft.
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:03 AM   #3
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Yes open the airbox and confirm it draws cold air. The bi-metal thermostat is very often broken so it draws hot air.

Also, can you confirm TDC via checking with a pin in a sparkplug hole to see when piston really is at TDC? Sometimes the crankshaft damper with the markings can get misaligned.
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:08 AM   #4
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Whrn you say new injectors and new lambdasensor, is that genuine Bosch parts?
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:42 AM   #5
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A 10% bump to a car that from the factory made 114 crank hp - like 90 wheel hp - isn’t really going to be noticeable. Slow car is still slow.

Your 0-60 seems slow at first glance but it looks like others have seen similar numbers.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:23 AM   #6
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When running properly, my stock 240s were about 14 seconds to 60, so you're not that far off. I don't think you should be seeing third gear until well after 60 though. Can you feel the kickdown thing engage when you mat the pedal?
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:40 AM   #7
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Disconnect the cat from the exhaust and try again. The last few cats I've taken off my 240s have been melted and the car was dog slow
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:42 AM   #8
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OK, it is 0 degrees here this morning, so a good day for a test. First: yes to the question of genuine Bosch parts for the injectors and O2 sensor.

I disconnected the duct running to the airbox at the exhaust manifold and rerouted the end of the duct to the side of the radiator to avoid any heated air, and then returned to my favorite flat straight stretch of road to rerun a few 0-60 times.

WOW! What a difference: three runs 13.4, 13.4 and 13.6 sec. Something in that airbox is amiss.

Moreover, the transmission now stays in 2nd gear past 60 and the engine is still pulling at 5500 rpm.

Looks like I have some work to do in the airbox. I need to wait for a warmer day. Will report on what I find.

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Old 01-22-2022, 12:40 PM   #9
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Those 205-70-14 tires are not helping anything except carrying large loads. They are much taller than the stock tires. My 93 wagon used 185-70-14 stock and a good upgrade to help handling and performance is a 195-65-14.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:45 PM   #10
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I feel your pain. I started to semi daily drive my 92 N/A Regina equipped 745 and it’s challenging
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Old 01-22-2022, 06:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dl242gt View Post
Those 205-70-14 tires are not helping anything except carrying large loads. They are much taller than the stock tires. My 93 wagon used 185-70-14 stock and a good upgrade to help handling and performance is a 195-65-14.
They're not significantly taller. The owners manual and door sticker for the 1993 wagon specify 185/R14, but that's not the same as a 185/70/14. I wanted a modern tire size yielding the same circumference and hence equivalent revolutions per mile as a 185/R14, so I could choose between a 195/75R14 or a 205/70R14. I chose the latter. There's no real difference in revolutions per mile for any of the forgoing tire sizes, so I doubt that would affect acceleration. Handling, perhaps. The car has IPD swaybars front and rear, new shocks all around, and the tires are new General Altimax, so it actually handles quite well. Also, speedometer is dead on with this tire size.
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Old 01-22-2022, 07:04 PM   #12
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Automatic? That slush box probably ate whatever horsepower increase you got
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Old 01-22-2022, 07:07 PM   #13
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Wagons and sedans have different tyre sizes.

Also the gearing inside the cluster is different for this reason. The standard wagon tyre size is 185R14. Which in modern equivalent size translates to 195-75-14. Very similar in dimension to 205-70-14

Agreed this does not help with acceleration, but you should accept the car and engine for what they are, I believe you are at the level which the car was when it was new, it's a cruiser, enjoy it for what it is

Any modifications aimed at increasing horsepower will cost you in other areas (driveability) unless you are building a race car
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:04 PM   #14
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you should accept the car and engine for what they are, I believe you are at the level which the car was when it was new, it's a cruiser, enjoy it for what it is
Agreed. I'm happy with 0-60 in 13 seconds in this car. I did not get this 240 to go fast. But, it was a bit of a slug, even for a NA 240 with an automatic (0-60 in 15.5). I do most my own work, and enjoy it. So in the course of doing the timing belt, water pump, valve clearance checks, that seemed like an opportune time to spend $185 and drop in the VX cam. What started this thread was that the VX cam produced zilch, which did not fit at all with experiences of others. I just wanted to know why. This seemed like the best place to go for ideas. It was a good choice.

I'm kicking myself for not checking the heated-air intake in the first place, but happy to arrive at what is a likely cause for the poor acceleration. With it completely disconnected, the car starts and runs fine on a 0F morning, and the engine temp comes up fast (within 1.5 miles, the temp gauge is dead center, and the heat is blasting). The transmission staying with 2nd gear all the way to 5500 rpm rather than kicking into 3rd when the engine hung up around 4000 rpm (50-ish mph) was a nice surprise! So, whatever would have happened to emission on cold start with a working intake of warm air from the exhaust manifold tube seems trivial. Greta might scold me for a larger carbon footprint, but I should get some credit for not causing a new car to be built since 1993.
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:22 PM   #15
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Take the head off and get it surfaced 0.030-0.040” for higher compression. This is the easiest hp on a redblock.
With lh2.4/3.1 you can still run on regular fuel with the higher CR, or spring for premium and get better mileage and power.

The VX cam isn’t anything great, a B cam probably works better… but those are getting close to a VX in price.
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Take the head off and get it surfaced 0.030-0.040” for higher compression. This is the easiest hp on a redblock.
With lh2.4/3.1 you can still run on regular fuel with the higher CR, or spring for premium and get better mileage and power.

The VX cam isn’t anything great, a B cam probably works better… but those are getting close to a VX in price.
What comp ratio does the .030-.040" achieve?
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:05 PM   #17
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What comp ratio does the .030-.040" achieve?
On a stock b230f, it will be ~10-10.2:1. Assuming the pistons are flush with the deck of the block.

Stock is ~9.5:1 when calculated out.
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:08 PM   #18
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On a stock b230f, it will be ~10-10.2:1. Assuming the pistons are flush with the deck of the block.

Stock is ~9.5:1 when calculated out.
Okay, I see. So it actually takes it to a similar comp ratio as the B23F with flat top pistons, then.
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:13 PM   #19
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I read this quickly and saw 15 seconds and assumed it was in the 1/4 mile… and said “not bad for NA”… then I reread it. What do you want to do with the car? Is this a toy or do you need it to be reliable? If it’s the latter, stop what you’re doing and live with the fact that you have a slow car. If you have a bit of money to spend, the quickest way to acceleration is nitrous, a second could be the 16v head, the third, a 16 v head with a stick to increase the fun factor. You can go down the rabbit hole quickly with these cars as basically everything will need upgrading once you start down the road of power adders.

Don’t forget, with the stock stall speed in the converter, it’s not going anywhere fast. If you want to keep the slush box, consider a higher stall converter as well as the accumulator mod.

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Old 01-22-2022, 11:09 PM   #20
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They're not significantly taller. The owners manual and door sticker for the 1993 wagon specify 185/R14, but that's not the same as a 185/70/14. I wanted a modern tire size yielding the same circumference and hence equivalent revolutions per mile as a 185/R14, so I could choose between a 195/75R14 or a 205/70R14. I chose the latter. There's no real difference in revolutions per mile for any of the forgoing tire sizes, so I doubt that would affect acceleration. Handling, perhaps. The car has IPD swaybars front and rear, new shocks all around, and the tires are new General Altimax, so it actually handles quite well. Also, speedometer is dead on with this tire size.
Yes, I know all about that. Except the door sticker on my 93 which uses 185-70-14 tires stock on a wagon. I've used the stock 78 series type tires and find them too tall. As are the 205-70-14 tires which will slow down the car a good amount. All of the tires you mention as good are all too tall for any decent performance from these cars. A 195-70-14 is another good alternative size for a wagon.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:28 PM   #21
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What do you want to do with the car? Is this a toy or do you need it to be reliable? If itÂ’s the latter, stop what youÂ’re doing and live with the fact that you have a slow car.
Ah, but who's to say I can't have a toy that is reliable?

This is a 1993 Volvo 240 Classic wagon, last year of production, and a special model: one of only 800 wagons made. I won't be doing any high performance engine modifications, and for the most part it is bone stock. It is not a daily driver. I take it on long trips (1500 miles at a pop). I require reliability. I have other cars that are fast. And so, one more time for the record: I am at peace with the fact that a stock normally aspirated Volvo 240 wagon with an automatic transmission is a bit pokey compared to a 1996 Caprice or a 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood V4P, which I also drive.

What do I want? Well, having said everything above, all I really wanted were ideas to chase down as to why installing a VX cam gave me absolutely zero performance gains. I was aware of the internet rumor that the 531 head was used by IPD in their advertised gain of 19 HP, but even with a 530 head many other purchasers of the VX cam have reported modest gains in speed and higher rpm ceilings with the VX cam as a replacement for the M cam in normally aspirated 240 sedans and wagons. I got bupkis from my installation of the VX cam. Based on initial suggestions to the post here (Thank you!!!), I disconnected the heated air duct to the airbox, and.... poof.... the 0-60 time dropped from 15.4 to 13.4: a 15% improvement. I am now very happy. I got a good bump in speed from installing a VX cam while I was mucking around on the top end of the engine doing other maintenance, and for $185 bucks. That was a good deal in my estimation.

What else might I want? The idea of shaving the head ever-so-slightly is something I might do if I ever need to replace the head gasket. From what I read, it's pretty a modest gain in performance... maybe 10 HP at most. But why not do it if the head has to come off? Come to think of it, maybe if the head has to come off, I'll buy a completely rebuilt 531 head from Clearwater FL, shave it as suggested above, swap the VX cam into it, and see what happens. If it generates enough umph to get me to a 12 second 0-60 time, I'd consider it $450 well spent, even if I have to spend a tad more for premium fuel. I could do that job in about 5 hrs. Yes, my 240 will still be a relatively slow car, but for me it will be more fun than waiting 15.4 seconds to get to 60 mph, and the car still would look and sound stock, and still be reliable.

I think this is reasonable. I am pretty much in line with recommendations made in the sticky post on that topic leading this forum section (see: https://forums.turbobricks.com/showthread.php?t=354499), a great read, BTW. It will still be very reliable. It is also, for me, more fun. At the very worst, I'll keep you all posted and you can learn from me as a negative example.

Last edited by dmg4; 01-27-2022 at 06:30 AM..
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:53 PM   #22
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Awesome! I'm glad you got what you were looking for out of the camshaft install.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:59 PM   #23
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I mostly noticed performance gains beyond 60mph with the VX cam. My 0-60 felt the same, but 60-90mph felt like a different car.
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Old 01-23-2022, 12:45 AM   #24
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Quote:
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Yes, I know all about that. Except the door sticker on my 93 which uses 185-70-14 tires stock on a wagon. I've used the stock 78 series type tires and find them too tall. As are the 205-70-14 tires which will slow down the car a good amount. All of the tires you mention as good are all too tall for any decent performance from these cars. A 195-70-14 is another good alternative size for a wagon.
I'm missing something here. How can a tire be "taller" and yet have the same revolutions per mile? How can they similarly slow down the car? We might quibble regarding cornering based on tire profiles, although even with the exact same tire size, there are substantial differences in handling characteristics among specific tire brands and models. Not all 205/70/14s are the same. Otherwise, no one would buy a Michelin tire in any size.

But really, among all of these tire sizes we are talking about revolutions per mile differences of 5% or less (often MUCH less). Height differences would be less than that by a factor of 2pi(radius). We can differ on what we consider "decent" performance (on a highway, not a racetrack), but the math is what it is. The driver and their familiarity with the handing of the specific car is, in my mind, probably the most important factor in staying on the road when pushing the limits. I'm familiar with what this car can do, and I'm familiar with the loose nut behind the wheel.

None of this has anything to do with my original question about before/after a VX camshaft installation, but it's fun.

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Old 01-23-2022, 02:20 AM   #25
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How about getting the cooling system overhauled, if you're worried about reliability

While you're there, change all of the belts, seals and gaskets
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