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Six-cylinder Volvo Amazon

Volvo Amazon drifting on dirt


Note: This project may not be happening for a bit... I've just got a 164, and it's a good one which is now back on the road, it's not a wreck only good for spares. To have three cars around, two of them not moveable - the good 164 being restored, a knackered 164 being dismantled and an Amazon with extensive bodyshell mods in progress - would strain my facilities somewhat. No doubt a dead 164 will fall into my lap some day but for now sorting out the good one will have to take priority.

Greetings to everyone from amazon.forum.bilia.se and thanks for your interest! I hope you like this page. I wish I knew Swedish because some of the projects on your forum look most interesting!


Yes, this page is about Volvos - about my thoughts on fitting a Volvo Amazon with the six-cylinder B30 engine. But first, some background as to the origin of the idea, in the form of a lot of stuff about CDs.

Elsewhere on this site I discuss the quantum phenomena exhibited by macroscopic-sized objects, an area which I feel has not received the attention it deserves. (On the other hand, this includes the CIA not knowing about it. Which is probably a bloody good thing. If they do begin researching it, readers of this site will be the first to know.)

A particular case mentioned is the fact that CDs can exhibit tunnelling behaviour. The wave function which defines the position of the CD in space can have anomalous maxima at some considerable distance from the point conventionally thought of as being the location of the CD. The result is that the CD can effectively disappear from one place and reappear at another - the location of an anomalous maximum - because in some sense it might be there already. It is for this reason that CDs should always be kept in their cases, because the interaction of the wave function of the CD with that of the case provides some stabilising effect (admittedly not very great) which inhibits tunnelling, so you are less likely to lose your CDs.

It doesn't prevent it completely, though. It is still possible for the CD to tunnel out of its case, or alternatively for the whole kit and caboodle – CD plus case plus booklet etc. – to tunnel as a complete entity. This is what happened to my CD of The Final Cut, by Pink Floyd. This CD was rather badly scratched and wouldn't play reliably any more, so I took advantage of the ability of a computer CD drive to retry reading bad sectors to recover the data and burn it to a CD-R. This CD-R, labelled "The Final Cut" in black marker, was stowed in the regular CD stowage area of the case, while the original scratched CD was tucked inside the lyrics booklet. The outside of the case had something of the appearance of having been at the bottom of a river, though this was not the actual cause of its manky condition.

I was inspired to write my Joey Deacon page by something that had taken place when playing this CD, and so I decided to play it again, loudly, while writing the page. I had played it only a few days before so it had not had time to work its way very far down in the pile of CDs... or so I thought. But it didn't grace the pile, in fact it wasn't there at all. I traced all the classical paths by which it could have left the pile and attained a position of lower gravitational potential energy, but found the floor to be devoid of CDs. The bloody thing was simply no longer anywhere in the room.

Tracing the quantum paths by which it could have left the pile is a task of considerably greater magnitude, but I am not without means of detecting and analysing anomalous quantum events. Integrating the data from the appropriate streams at around the possible time of the event (a reasonably large window, given that it was a few days since the CD was last observed to be in the pile) and passing it into a Bayesian classifier gave a probability distribution for the shape of the wave function involved in the tunnelling event which showed a certain increased probability approximately along the line of the M3 or the LSWR (Waterloo-Bournemouth) main line, so my sodding CD might be a hundred miles away now.

So it seemed I had some interesting new results for the Pigeon quantum research programme, but on the other hand the loss of the CD had fucked up the proposed music to accompany my web page authoring activities. Nothing daunted, I fired up the P2P client and soon a replacement copy, compressed using a lossless method (none of this fucking MP3 shit), was buzzing down the wires. I then selected some alternative music – I can't remember what, but I'd think it would be something which could with advantage be used to give the speakers an Italian tuneup, like Jethro Tull's The Broadsword and the Beast or Camel's Stationary Traveller – and got on with my HTML-encoded Deaconic reminiscenses.

That was sufficiently long ago now that people are beginning to find the Joey Deacon page with Google. This evening I decided that the theme of the next few hours should be late Pink Floyd. I would start with Animals, then The Wall, then The Final Cut (the replacement copy), then since the subsequent Floyd albums following Roger Waters's departure are essentially David Gilmour solo albums it would be logical to play About Face before moving on to A Momentary Lapse of Reason if the urge to play Barclay James Harvest hadn't grown too strong by then. However, the process hit a snag. Animals, a cheap CD-R in a plastic envelope-type sleeve with the title and track list written on it in black marker, was nowhere to be found. Like the original The Final Cut, it had been near the top of the pile of CDs having been played only a few days before, and like The Final Cut the bloody thing had tunnelled out of my room altogether.

Now it has to be said that the quantum-processing system load occasioned in connection with the reception of quantum steganographic data on the 31st of July 2006, and the extensive and distributed processing thereafter required by said data, had been showing some noteworthy peaks, with extremely high CPU loads being recorded on the night of Thursday 5th - Friday 6th October 2006, the night preceding the discovery of the tunnelling event undergone by the Animals CD. Rather as the stray radiation from the operation of an electronic processor can cause anomalous effects in other nearby electronic devices (like not being able to watch Channel 5 with the PC on), the operation of quantum processing devices at high load can give rise to anomalous fluctuations in the wave functions of nearby objects. The anomalous macroscopic wave functions are affected much more strongly than the conventional atomic-scale ones, so I don't have to deal with my room getting radioactive, but I do have to deal with my fucking CDs going missing.

Even with high levels of quantum activity data to operate on, Bayesian reconstruction of the wave function is not generally very precise. Current techniques have not yet attained the point of being able to reconstruct the precise form of the wave function; the best currently possible is only a probability distribution of all the forms the wave function might have taken. However, as with the case of The Final Cut, the distribution does have a statistically significant region of higher probability, again inconveniently far to the South of me but differently aligned to the previous one, in such a way as to move the peak of the probability distribution towards the Southern end of the previous track. This doesn't narrow it down as much as it sounds like it does, as the tracks are so wide that it doesn't really pinpoint a particular location, more "it's down South somewhere between London and the Needles". The second track is particularly fuzzy and broad. And it's not definite even that it went there, just more likely than Scotland, or going out along the reciprocal trajectory and landing in the North Sea.

As I type this part of the page I am playing Pyramid by the Alan Parsons Project, and the lyrics "What's been lost must be found" have just been sung. How appropriate, came the thought, for writing about lost CDs which I would like to recover. It is true that, as related above, The Final Cut has been replaced, and in the case of Animals I already had a backup; but the manner of the CDs' disappearance means that the data associated with their recovery would be of considerably more interest than the musical data which was lost (and has already been recovered). Not only would it be possible to make the Bayesian classification of wave functions a lot more accurate, the general impact on macroscopic quantum mechanical research would be of great moment. So if you occasionally discover random Pink Floyd CDs turning up in your house, please get in touch. In order that subsequent CD tunnelling events do not bring such associated communications problems connected with their recovery, I have now taken to writing my email address and website URL on all my CDs as they go through the player. I have also created backups, both on-site and distributed off-site, of my Barclay James Harvest CDs. Lossless copies of BJH albums on P2P networks are rare, and I would be devastated to lose any CDs of my favourite band. Indeed, given that my attachment to the music of Barclay James Harvest causes these CDs to undergo a playing regime that exposes them to high levels of environmental quantum fluctuations, I'm rather surprised that it's the Pink Floyd CDs that have been going missing. Update: Full list of missing CDs here.

Research into anomalous quantum phenomena necessarily involves much work with probabilities that cannot always be calculated with any accuracy, and the habit tends to spread into other walks of life. Hence I am not ruling out the possibility of the requirement arising to physically go and collect the CDs. One could imagine that Osama Bin Laden or some other looney might make the realisation that CD cases make ideal housings for letter bombs. Triggered by opening the lid of the CD case, a CD-sized disc of plastic explosive could cause considerable damage; the void down the hinge side of the case makes an ideal place to fit a battery and a detonation control circuit to defeat attempts to defuse the bomb. The practical application of this discovery might result in all postal packages which look like they might have CDs in them being subjected to controlled detonation. I'd have no option then as it would be impossible for the CDs to be posted to me.

"Kind of down South somewhere" is not an area I've had much to do with. Anywhere in the area South of the M4 / East of the A338 is more or less a closed book to me; for some reason it's just turned out that I could count the trips I have made to that area on the primaries of one wing. I have an auntie who lives in the "zone of mystery" but though I have seen her relatively recently I haven't been to visit her at home since I was about 5, maybe less; I remember my cousin, a few years older than me, had a really cool chemistry set. I have been to a place near Brighton to buy a lathe. I have been to Kent on business, discussing LED lighting controllers. I have been to Winchester once, many years ago, to visit a mate who lived there. He went off to be a Buddhist monk and I haven't seen him since. And that's about it.

Now while it is true that I have my MZ, and a bloody good motorcycle it is, or I could even go by train (as when visiting my mate, when I had the pleasure of a pair of EDs double-heading), I feel that a different mode of transport would be appropriate for such a momentous task. One with four wheels and an appropriate degree of quality and comfort. While it is tempting to consider such machines as the XJ-S V12, their alarming tendency to dissolve in the damp and their complex construction which impedes the repair of the damage is somewhat offputting, and really there can be only one serious contender - the Volvo Amazon, two-door saloon version. These are supremely high quality cars with a refreshingly complete lack of bullshit. Although they are solid as a rock they only weigh a few stone over the ton because they are intelligently designed with all the weight being put to good structural use. The mechanical components are of sufficiently high quality to hold the world record for mileage for a car (the record holder is the mechanically identical P1800). And there is no better vehicle for a long journey on a wintry night than a Volvo, with its nuclear heater and its anatomically-optimised seats - pioneered by Volvo, who got it bloody well right first time.

The Amazon has only one failing: not enough cylinders. Though the B18/B20 units are powerful by the standards of the time (and still not too bad these days), torquey, tunable and incredibly robust, they are still only inline fours, with the inline four's inherent lack of balance. The requirement in this instance is for the cylinders to be arranged in one or more banks of six, hence the consideration of the XJ-S. Such an engine has inherent balance and is smooth and powerful with a fine torque curve. But although a straight six was one of the power unit options considered for the original design, the Amazon was only ever manufactured with a four-pot. For the return of an inline six to the Volvo range we had to wait for the Volvo 164, which began production in 1968, two years before the Amazon stopped.

And herein lies the solution. The straight six in the 164, designated B30, is nothing more than the Amazon's B20 unit multiplied by 1.5. In terms of their mechanical interconnection, all the drivetrain components of the 164 and the Amazon are compatible and interchageable. With only two years of production left to go, Volvo never thought it was worthwhile putting the B30 in the Amazon, but I think it is. The Pigeon viewpoint is not the same as the Volvo one.

No doubt some will think that this is somewhat in the nature of overkill for a trip to retrieve CDs. This is not the case. It is the kind of journey more suited to a six-cylinder Amazon than to an MZ, and given the kind of thrashing the MZ would receive on continuous fast roads the Volvo wouldn't end up using all that much more fuel. Furthermore, since I have no intention of ceasing to operate quantum processing systems it is likely that I shall have to deal with the loss of further CDs, their recovery being eased both by the Volvo and by the presence of my email address written on them. Given a sufficiently prolonged period of extreme CPU load it is not inconceivable that I might receive an email along the lines of Hello Pigeon, there was one of your fucking CDs in the kettle this morning, another one in the cat's litter tray and one in between every slice of the loaf of bread. And there's a pigeon in the bathroom with a thing with wires on its back and the police are calling the army to blow it up. I'd have to beat the bomb squad to the scene in order to save the life of the pigeon, and that would need a six-cylinder Volvo, not an MZ.

Another possible objection to my plan would be "why not just get a Volvo 164"? Well, that possibility has been under consideration for some time... and now, as mentioned above, I've done it. It's a lovely car, sublimely relaxing to drive, with a steering feel strongly reminiscent of caressing the bare shoulders of a beautiful woman. Moreover, the disappearance through tunnelling of the circuit diagram for the electric fan thermostat has provided more data for the quantum research project, and another unlabelled vanished item now needs to be retrieved. As a CD-recovery vehicle it is eminently suitable - perhaps more suitable than an Amazon, with its considerably greater interior comfort and fully-reclining front seats. However, if I'm going to be both pedantic and petrolheaded about it, there are quite a few reasons to prefer the Amazon conversion:

The only part of the idea that gives rise to any significant difficulty is that the B30 engine is too long to fit in the unmodified Amazon engine bay. The design of the car is such that there's a fair bit of space in the nose of the Amazon ahead of the radiator, and the nasty bodge solution would be to move the radiator forward into this space and thereby free up enough length to squeeze the B30 in. This would be pretty horrible. All the extra weight of the larger engine would be added ahead of the front wheels. The car would be as nose-heavy as Pinocchio and the handling would be completely shit, with an uncontrollable tendency to go straight on at corners.

Fortunately a better solution is possible. The firewall between the passenger compartment of the Amazon and the engine bay is highly convex; there is a great cavern underneath the Amazon dashboard sticking a long way forward into the underbonnet space behind the bulge of the firewall. The centre console bit universal in modern cars, the bit with the radio in it which forms a partition dividing the driver's and passenger's footwells, is entirely absent. The radio is mounted in the dash in front of the passenger, and the footwells are divided by nothing more than the transmission tunnel reaching forward into the void, with the long "magic wand" gearlever protruding from the top of it just before it reaches the firewall and reaching backwards seemingly almost horizontally to reach the driver's hand. If one wished to refreak the Amazon interior in the style of a modern car, it would be entirely possible to fit a centre console reaching from dash to transmission tunnel and with a width equal to the maximum width of the transmission tunnel, without intruding into the commodious space available for the driver's and passenger's legs any more unacceptably than the centre console in a modern car does.

As Jesus is the saviour of us all, this property of the Amazon bodyshell design is the saviour of the plan. We install a box in the manner of the centre console, but it is not made of plastic. It is made of sheet steel and welded to the bodyshell. The firewall is then cut away so as to open the front of the box and make its interior part of the engine compartment. (The heater has to be moved, but that's just a matter of pipes and ducting, so there are plenty of ways to find another home for it.) We don't, in fact, need to make use of all the longitudinal space available - the box need not extend as far back into the body of the car as the centre console on a modern car does, the front of it could still be set quite a way in from the edge of the dash. Thus we manage to retain much of the advantage of the lack of partitioning between footwells of the original design. The transmission tunnel is cut out of the floor and moved backwards such that it is positioned longitudinally relative to the rear of the box in the same way as it was positioned relative to the original firewall, in order to preserve the flare that provides space for the gearbox and overdrive.

This then provides space for the B30 straight six to be mounted with the front of the engine in the same plane as the front of the original engine, and the back of the engine closer to the centre of the car. This is the proper way to do it. While the weight on the front end has still increased, it has not increased as much, because the centre of gravity is further back than the original car, and the weight ahead of the front wheels has not increased at all. While the front suspension will still need to be uprated, the car will not be transformed into a nose-heavy understeering monster.

The only fly in the ointment concerns the intake tract of the fuel-injected B30 engine (it uses Bosch D-Jetronic, a beautiful system to anyone with an appreciation of analogue electronic signal processing and computation). In the standard system the intake runners stick straight out from the head more or less horizontally, and terminate in a plenum chamber which is nearly in contact with the inner wing. It's a bloody huge thing, and if we were to box off enough space for it under the dash it would then seriously encroach upon the driver's legroom. It'd still be possible to work the pedals, but I suspect not very well.

Fortunately, another feature of the Amazon is the tremendous vertical clearance between the engine and the centre of the bonnet. This available clearance extends back under the dash and makes a solution possible due to the height available for the box. Six U-shaped tubes, of the same diameter as the original runners and the same centreline length, lead from the intake ports on the head to a plenum of the same volume as the original mounted in line above the rocker box, with sufficient clearance that you can still get the rocker box off to check the tappets. Problem solved. It also provides more space under the bonnet to fit a decent set of exhaust headers.

The final touch would be to fit a twin-screw supercharger providing around 7psi of boost, which should provide a power output of around 240bhp without too much difficulty apart from refreaking the D-Jet to overcome the inability of the MAP sensor to deal with pressures above atmospheric. But twin-screw superchargers are sodding expensive and it would take me quite a while to accumulate sufficient dosh (as in several times the cost of the entire project without the supercharger), and really I want my CDs back before then.

I think a couple of diagrams are in order, to show the relative positions of the engines in the original and the six-cylinder configurations. The engine and transmission combinations shown are automatic transmissons rather than manual with overdrive, but that's all I could easily find in the way of suitable diagrams. The astute will notice that the diagrams were originally of a four-door car but have been edited to make it represent the two-door version required by the project spec. Having pissed around doing that I couldn't be arsed to draw manual/overdrive gearboxes on them as well :-) I don't trust their dimensional accuracy either, but they'll do for giving the general ides. It can be seen that the only dodgy-looking bit is the angle of the propshaft, and this can be easily mitigated by dropping the rear of the engine a bit and raising the nose of the diff to suit.

Original four-cylinder configuration
X-ray view of Volvo Amazon with standard 
B18/20 four-cylinder engine

With B30 inline six installed by Pigeon method
X-ray view of Volvo Amazon with Pigeon fitment
of B30 straight six engine



Open door, into tomorrow
You have to take it and break away



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