John Z. DeLorean had it Right, not the PRV V6 or cocaine thing, but the Stainless thing. 11/2000 R. Kwas rev. 12/00
This article is: In progress and not yet complete.
Here in the New England salt-belt, our cars can get pretty well saturated in winter with a salty solution not unlike that used in industry for checking how rapidly metal parts corrode. In the industrial test, a saline solution is sprayed for a given time onto a part under test (sounds kind of like December in New England), after which the amount of rust-attack is evaluated. When this solution is applied to the undersides of our trusty Swedish Road Tanks, inevitably, even Sweden steel will develop cancer all the way to the roof...but it seems to me still noticeably slower than most Japanese vehicles I've seen! State aided planned obsolescence perhaps - sorry, I don't subscribe...I intend to keep restoring my car until it must give up it's life in order to save mine! That's what I call resource preservation.
In an effort to prevent this slow but relentless march of chemical reduction, and in order to replace repair panels of junk (maybe prerusted Toyota or maybe MG)-steel with which Royal Welding of Hartford had repaired the Snow Weasel, at no small cost, a mere 8 years prior - very disappointing - I decided to commission the next series of underbelly repairs taking a page from the DeLorean playbook...recall the interesting, gull-winged doored, Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 powered (yeah, the one that would eat camshafts), Stainless-Steel bodied (no touch-up paint required - just a bit of 200 grit sandpaper), time traveling (when under lightning or "Flux Capacitor" power courtesy of Hollywood), attempt at automotive groovyness of the early '80s, aborted by feds who baited a weakened, money-needing DeLorean (trying to start a car company does that to you) and entrapped him with a suitcase full coke - and not the drinking kind - remember the roaring '80s? I wonder if the feds had gotten an anonymous phone call from perhaps someone at General-Motors?
Stainless-Steel..."You're just going to weld it to metal which will rust", a valid point, but I figured if the rust was cut away and the repairs were welded to metal which hadn't yet begun to rust (after 30 years) - we'd be OK...and I didn't bother going into why I keep a less-than-perfect ancient Volvo running, instead of buying a new car and letting the Volvo join its contemporaries at the junkyard...they drive cars with cupholders but no soul...they'd never understand. So with 304 SS, the repairs proceeded, and I'm happy to report, that the panels which Pierre Z. welded in (an absolute artist working in metal...he can weld anything, except maybe the crack of dawn), have the same gleaming restaurant-counter look in 2000 as they did the day they were installed some four years ago! So do I like the stuff, I couldn't resist leaving a repaired area by the handbrake unpainted (see Picture 1), such that I can just look down and see that brushed gleam every time I get in...this is often accompanied by an "I know something you don't know" grin and occasionally a series of Tim Allenesque grunts.
Picture 1. View when I get in my Amazon. The Snow Weasel...I love it!
Coworkers asked: "What about dissimilar metals in contact?" another valid point, but the fears of potential galvanic corrosion caused by dissimilar metals in contact have yet to realize any discernable symptoms! Checking the chart of metals nobility below, shows mild steel and SS not far removed from one another. This is encouraging and probably explains why no symptoms have developed, as the closer the two metals are on the chart, the less the galvanic voltage to power the reaction process is generated.
Metals Nobility Chart.
|Less Noble (anodic +)||Magnesium / Magnesium alloys|
|Sweden steel||Steel or Iron / Cast Iron|
|Chromium Iron (active)|
|Repair material||Type 304 SS (active) / Type 316 SS (active)|
Lead -Tin Solders / Lead / Tin
|(Electric current flows from + to --, coupling metals widely separated on the chart is most likely to result in corrosion, no serious galvanic reaction occurs when coupling metals of same group.)||
Nickel (active) / Inconel
|Brasses / Copper / Bronzes / Copper-Nickel alloy / Monel|
|Nickel (passive) / Inconel (passive)|
|Type 304 SS (passive) / Type 316 SS (passive)|
|Graphite / Gold / Platinum|
|More Noble (cathodic --)|
Source: Assembly Technology Buyers Guide, 1986 Hitchcock Publishing Co.
Looking back, this whole adventure gives me a weird satisfaction, kind of like the time I rescued from the garbage, a high-end solid state Sansui stereo amp from the '70s, perfectly good...all it needed was a new On-Off switch! The unit is now doing service in the garage - possibly the last bastion of really loud music in the house (i.e. Going mobile - The Who, Drive - Cars, etc.) - maybe I'm not so old, and maybe that's why things keep falling off the shelves on their own! I have to admit being in (possibly one of the original founders of) a group of individuals who derive this warped sense of pleasure and gratification out of using our abilities and just a bit of effort to make functional again, originally expensive (and quality) high-tech things (Volvo Amazons notwithstanding) which someone has declared worthless and seen fit to discard or as in the case of the car, send to the crusher *. It's not that we're cheap or can't afford to buy new stuff you understand - I do believe I bought something new recently, so one can see that I also support the economy...but just the act of spending money doesn't give us long-term satisfaction and gratification...now there's another intrinsic difference between men and women...besides, you can buy spray-cans of New-Car-Smell if that's what spins your buttons!
*...think you're a member of this club too?...then you should watch Junkyard Wars, a hilarious British television show currently airing on Learning Channel, set in a well stocked junk yard, in which four person teams of closet McGyvers try to out-create each other, within a 10 hour time limit, in various slightly (OK, very) odd and highly challenging technological competitions. Talk about rejuvenating discarded items...how about turning a hydraulic pipe into a canon, or making a Land Rover amphibious and able to extinguish a fire, or making an air vehicle to more accurately drop a "bomb" on a target than the opponent's. With teams constructing high tech machines from, as Mr. Spock once said: "stones, knives, and bearskins", its really practical science class cleverly disguised as entertainment at its finest, with just the right mix of chaos, fire, comedy and technology...and nobody gets thrown from the island! If you think you're up to the task, they are currently recruiting teams from the "colonies" for new shows (SAE hammers instead of Metric I guess)...wanna join my team?...we'll show those British Bodgers some Yankee ingenuity!
Placeholder for Snow Weasel pictures stainless panels.
Picture 2. Double Transverse Box Frame Members!
Note the additional transverse box section frame member. Pierre, in addition to being a master race car fabricator/builder, is also a longtime personal friend who insisted on further protecting me by making the passenger compartment even stronger than originally, in addition to the second transverse box member under the car, this also included an additional box member invisibly located inside the drivers rocker panel. Perhaps what we have built here is a kind of stealth SUV (Swedish Utility Volvo).
As usual, I am passing along the benefits of this experience...but not just in the form of an amusing (I hope), wise-ass story, but in this case in making available repair pieces made of that wonderful 304 Stainless Steel (grunt here!), so you too can repair your Swedish tank once, and be done with it, and move on to something else!...John Z, would be proud! Link to SwEm kits (SS Repair Panels), to see if they're available yet...paint not required!
Recommended Installation Notes: MIG welding (we successfully employed a 115VAC powered (Lincoln) unit with the optional gas-kit, using StargonŽ trigas cocktail (containing a small percentage of oxygen, necessary when welding SS, and available at welding materials suppliers) and feeding SS wire in .025" diameter. Yes, SS is more difficult to work with, and grinding and painting of the weld is required (I had very satisfactory results with brush applied Rustoleum 7769 rusty metal primer followed by a 7777 Satin black final coat), but think of all the acids and salty solutions which have hit your kitchen sink, and the way it STILL looks! Now that's longevity...the way I like to do things.
For Kits Section:
(This project is in progress, if you have immediate interest in these items, please e-maiI, and I'll advise you of the current status!)
304 Stainless Steel Repair Components Available:
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Transverse frame repair section, the frame piece located under the vehicle at driver and passengers' feet, which is subject to slush splashing up from the front tires, and typically rusts away first, specially if your mud-flaps are no longer in place. Soon thereafter, the floor rusts away, allowing an unobscured view of the road surface and (optional) manual augmentation of your hydraulic brakes. Similar to Volvo PNXXXXXX, suitable for 122s and 1800s I haven't had the opportunity to check fit on 544s...someone can let me know, manufactured in (thicker than o.e.) .062" thickness and without 1800 style jack-receiving-dimple. $TBD, (I expect around $45 each)
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General frame repair stock, 2X2" or 2X3" hat section in 48" lengths (.062" thickness), - to be cut to length as required (cut-off disk is highly recommend for this...tin snips have a real tough time with the higher density SS...but that's the price to pay). FYI, the 2X2 stock fits beautifully into replacement Amazon rocker panels, and the 2X3 stock can be used to repair much of the unibody frame structure of our trusty Swedes. $TBD, (I expect around $60/70 respectively each)
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