Bringing Home Our Volvo C303: Part 2

Bringing Home Our Volvo C303: Part 2

Brandon Johnson  |  2017 Dec 21st

We all breathed a sigh of relief as Shawn took the wheel to Wawa. With the roar of the fan muffled, and our dash heater suddenly able to heat the cab, frostbite seemed much less likely to claim limbs.

On the way to Wawa the c303 developed a new and exciting feature. Suddenly the window squirter adjusted itself to blast the driver in the face through a gap in the window molding. Unable to solve this on the fly, we opted for ignorance and another meal at Subway. (They should have been sponsors).

During lunch two gentlemen from #wawatourism popped in and asked us to take a picture with Canada’s Largest Goose (A town landmark). Completely misinterpreting their instructions, I managed to end up parked on the lawn in-front of the goose. Definitely not where we were supposed to be, but I’ll be pickled if it didn’t make for a great picture.

I should mention that leaving Subway we discovered that the grease in our door latches had turned to peanut-butter in the cold. Our solution was for 3 grown men to repeatedly slam the hell out of the doors until the locks rattled back into the latched position. …to the great amusement of our sandwich artists. …it probably looked like we were trying to take flight.

The following hours were uneventful; though, there were plenty of questions at every stop and probably a spike in neck strain injuries that followed us down the highway. We finally ran out of steam in Thunder Bay. A shower and a proper bed was in order. Our budget landed us squarely in a knock-off Holiday Inn. A palace as far as any of us were concerned; although, I’m still not sure how the shower actually worked.

The dawn brought new depths to the temperature; -13 feels like -23C. The Volvo fired right up but we decided to add a cardboard shroud to help dampen the draw from our fixed radiator fan. On my wife’s recommendation we made our way to Kakabeka Falls. The falls were gorgeous cascades of ice but the cold nearly claimed Ryan’s fingers as he attempted to capture the majesty by drone.

A few km after the falls the C303 sputtered and died. We coasted to the roadside, empty, having miscalculated a gas stop. The tank was certainly not 120 Litres as claimed in the manual. (Actual size: 80ish Litres)

Back in the truck and it wasn’t long before we realized something was seriously wrong. Top speed would surge, then drop to 70kph. Phones were deployed, data plans were taxed, and we began to guess and check. Too little Octane? Another bottle in the tank. Nope. Icing in the carburetors. Add some Methyl Hydrate and modify the intake to draw hot air from the engine compartment. Nope. Next, we discovered a massive vacuum leak but luckily had some spare hose. Still Nope, but now the four-wheel drive shifts much more positively.

At this point we limped into yet another Canadian Tire. Ryan is now convinced the fuel filter is totally plugged, and he is totally right. However, as you might imagine Canadian Tire does not stock filters for the Swedish Military. A filter washing plan is devised with some terrifying solvent that repeatedly states there will be some sort of instant death if it touches skin. But wait, as we wash the old packing, the fuel pressure regulator drops out of the housing.

No diagrams are found in the C303 repair manual, so we attempt reassembly by committee. None of us can figure out how the valve is retained so a few solid whacks with a hammer are deployed to deform the casing which seems to hold things in place… for now.

We also found that the inline filter for a lawnmower will fit into our hacked system. It gets added as a secondary filter ensure that no sneaky chunks, or pressure regulator bits, make it to our dual Stromberg carburetors.

As you might imagine spending 4 hours in a Canadian Tire parking lot has set us back. Another marathon drive is in order.

Part 3: The Final Stretch