2018 Retrospect

A new year

So, as I’ve covered in the past I rank a “new year” rolling in on my birthday and not on the calendar year and this post will be about my thoughts on previous years and the years ahead.

A couple things have changed over previous recent years. Most importantly, it’s the the calmest and quietest year to date in probably a decade.

It has been 8 years since I met my wife
6 years since I married her

4 years of recovery

2 years of peace since being discharged from Dr’s care

This year the PTSD over the previous years has calmed to the point of not being noticeable and we both have enjoyed life more together than we have any time previously. We’ve spent more time together, had better conversations, and over everything we’ve done has been more memorable on a deeper level than years before.

We’re both very quiet people, and when we talk, we talk quietly and like to communicate more than triviality. We do talk quietly about everything and this is something that to me marks my wife’s full recovery from breakdown. Before, when in a fog, it was hard for her to have an opinion on anything. She certainly had them, but she was robbed of the ability to really express them. Whether the medication side effects or the illness, it’s hard to say, but now we can have nuanced conversations about whatever may come up, rather than traveling in silence.

We do more things together too, not just to pass the time, but to see and experience something new. Traveling, reading together, hiking, watching movies, cooking, and even working together.

It’s been a tremendously freeing experience to have her back again, both to enjoy life more, and even more so to be able to enjoy life together. There is life after mental illness, or perhaps during?


This blog I’ve also mentioned a big goal has been to finish paying for all the debts the Hospital Years have accrued. This is also going very well, and part of the reason I have so little to write over the past two years. With less to worry about on the home front, I’ve been free to pursue paying off all debts and future planing. It’s not completely payed off, but over the last year or so we’ve been able to put about $15,000 towards it. We’ve now expanded the goal to paying off the debts and paying off the house so we can move to a house that will suite us better – most specifically a house with a large workshop that will allow me to tinker at home.


Usually I post a year end memorable movie list, but this year I’ve actually had less time to watch movies, so the list will be shorter.

Widows (2018), The Monk (2011), Christine (2016), La Haine (1995), Andrei Rublev (1966), Annihilation (2018), Vazante (2018), Sharp Objects (2018), and it will qualify as last year and this year, Game Of Thrones. My internet in rural VA is not good enough to watch in a acceptable video quality, so I waited until the entire show was released on DVD before watching it. It’s a daunting time commitment but very memorable and will undoubtedly be a high mark of fantasy for years to come.

I’ve watched a lot of older classics, many not especially memorable to me, but ones that should be watched for the sake of history and appreciation. I try and make sure I watch a bit of old and new.

I’ve tried to take more time to read this year as that’s a calming activity. I have finished quite a number of books and try and make a point to read 10-20 minutes a day at minimum.


On the automotive front, the custom black station wagon has had more staying power than any car I’ve owned previously. I’ve put 20k miles on it and have had it over 2 years now. Every car we’ve looked at replacing it with was eventually rejected as just not special enough to justify replacing the one of a kind creation. I’ve spent more time with it than all cars previously in my life. I won’t say we will never replace it, but it is proving difficult.

I did get Viva to build me a customer steering wheel to commemorate how rare this car is

Goals for 2019

At the end of 2018 by coincidence my wife decided to take a load of things to good will to create space in her closet.

The euphoria of not having to deal with the lack of space was infectious and we started taking more things in. Before the end of the year we had donated about 3 station wagon loads of stuff and we looking for the next challenge. For 2019 we started January with a “The Minimalism Game” where each day of the month you purge a number of items equal to the day’s number, aka, 1st is one item, 2nd is 2, etc.

To “feel the burn” we started at 31 and are working backwards. Only 2 days in we were down 122 things and it’s a liberating experience.

On a more personal level, this idea of minimalism and prioritizing what is important and what isn’t was really the reason I started this blog. I had actually attempted 4 blogs before this one in attempts to give myself focus when living with Schizophrenia was really difficult and there was no hope on the horizon. I tried one talking to myself in future tense, I tried an attempt at an unemotionally absent documentary style, I tried denial, and I tried primal scream, all of which left me feeling drained about the amount of work that would be required to craft something I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about.

When I got to attempt 5, I decided instead of focusing on the over all problem in trying to grasp it, explain it, and come to terms with having lost my dreams of what I expected this stage in life to be. Instead, I decided to focus on building a bridge to getting to where I wanted to be again instead of focusing on how the bridge was destroyed.

Jumping back in time to my wife and my’s first date we talked of a deep subject of how we saw our role’s in life in terms of our person and spirituality. She identified with a tree, giving shade, providing nourishment, and rest to travelers. I saw myself as a bridge offering an ideas of how people could achieve what they dream of obtaining.

In those dark days, I felt like I lost the idea of building bridges and instead focused on the chasm between where I was then – overwhelmed with medical expenses and stressed out of my mind and what might happen next – and where I wanted to be in a calm stable environment that would give space for creative activities.

Somewhat consciously and somewhat subconsciously, this blog was embracing the idea of building a bridge to a fulfilled life and not one letting myself be consumed by bitterness of what had been lost.

Fast forward 2+ years later to today, both of us are embracing the idea of building a bridge, in small steps, towards a goal. To all those struggling with large problems seemingly impossible to conquer, finding a path towards a goal seems like half of the battle.

For us, our house has been a physical example of our mental state. It was in a location we didn’t love that was chosen by circumstances, it wasn’t tended or cleaned as it was low priority after each day’s other stresses, and in the end it was a cluttered mess of half finished projects, left over building supplies, and daily irritations of tripping over things we didn’t know what to do with and didn’t feel like investing the time to properly take care of.

So, rolling into 2019, we’re embracing the conflict of facing things we don’t like, quite literally, one piece at a time on a small scale, every day. Finding homes for our clutter and de-stressing our lives so we can focus on what gives joy and deeper appreciation of the world around us.




2011 S40 T5

Hit in the front, and needs as little as a radiator, condenser, bumper bar, bumper, and grill. I’ve already began assembling parts.

2007 S60 2.5T
This one was just a clear tittle car that looked dirty and forgotten but it didn’t take much effort at all to shine it up and take care of it’s issues to make it a great car again.
2002 Dodge Grand Caravan

This troubled beast was traded in on one of my c30’s last year. It’s flaws were primarily cosmetic and general service. I ordered radiator hoses, thermostat, tune up kit, and valve cover gaskets and started on this one first as I took it on trade probably 4 months back and it just sat. I figured I would clean it up to market for tax season and it being an above average <$2k car. But… two spark plugs broke off inside the head on the hardest to reach place. I regret touching it now!


2005 CL600

This is a left over from actually 2 years ago. Fun car with few miles, but not really something I maintained much interest in so it just saw not getting said issues addressed. Then when the cold weather hit the car lost it’s key programming and will need to be hauled off to the dealer for a new key. Expensive miserable Mercedes problems!


Other than that, I don’t have much planned. I purchased a 2004 XJR for parts to see if the larger brakes could be retrofit to a Volvo, but everything else in the Swede-coin department is pretty mundane.

All in all, it’s a very positive start for 2019 and I’m excited for this year ahead.


PTSD following a traumatic experience is always a difficult thing to express and get past. My own experiences both surviving some terrible car wrecks and living with schizophrenia have left different but lasting effects. The effects from the car wrecks are more easily observed with a paranoia of watching traffic, subconsciously traveling under the posted speed limit, and feelings of great unease whenever a car’s suspension feels “odd.”

Watching someone you love wrestle with schizophrenia and go to very very dark places and then watch them slowly recover leaves much harder to quantify effects. This is a conversation for a much longer post that is deeper than I have time to go into. Instead, I would like to talk about what I am thankful for and what has helped me get through some of the most difficult times.

The #1 biggest help making it through difficult times has been through community. Family and close friends in my zip codes played a huge part, but the online community of strangers also was a great help. I started posting regularly in Swedespeed when things were bad as a form of escape as I am a person who often thinks best out loud. Through the forum I’ve developed some amazing friendships with people that I would have never encountered before. Friendships with people who were by intention or by accident, also using cars as an avenue of recreation as a coping mechanism.

Obviously there are some very unhealthy kinds of coping mechanisms to be found on car forums driving extravagant purchases and polishing egos to their max, but I found my honesty about what I was going through also encouraged honesty in others, making for a accidental support group. I looked for people who were driven to not just survive but to come through and succeed in the face of difficulty.

Now being 3+ years in recovery without a hospital visit I think it’s safe to say we are out of the woods and that has me very thankful.

A warm word of thanks goes out to all those that I have interacted with over the past 5 years post-diagnosis. Anyone who is rolling into a situation like mine, I strongly encourage to develop healthy relationships of encouraging and driven people who have long term goals in mind and to avoid those with only short term survival mechanisms. Be open and honest and you will find support.


Projects I have been working on since my last update:

It’s been an extremely stressful and busy time at work for me with hiring of new staff, working on construction projects, and the constant evolution towards giving a better customer experience. These complications seemed like they took up the majority of my creative energy, but I have taken on a couple other projects too.

The XC to V project is complete. The car is rolling on 20” Cratus wheels and rides on the Heico suspension. The car really is exactly what I wanted it to be and I’m very pleased with it.


I’ve also sourced a set of late R-Design seats and retrofit them in to further the Faux R theme


My other projects, the two C30s, 2 v50s, and s40 are all complete and sold, with the exception of the s40. It still has not found a home yet but a sale is pending.

I’ve added a 2015 xc70 and a 2006 s60 to the mix of projects and have picked up more than a few parts cars, perhaps most notable with the first Brit-coin to add to the mix in my hopes of exploring what parts can be retrofit from the Jaguar variation of an R to the Volvo R, then both being owned by the same company at the time, I have hope for larger brakes! Also Jaguar wheels… 🙂



The cryptocurrency exchanges have fairly recently come into my radar and while I didn’t have a lot of interest getting into it for reasons I won’t get into I still did find the idea intriguing as my selling of parts draws some comparisons. When trading car parts there are a couple variables:

1. The item always have a base value of scrap metal. Aluminum wheels for instance have a base value of about $12-13 for their weight in aluminum.
2. Values are fluid entirely dependent on a unpredictable market. A rare and valuable set of wheels for instance are only valuable if someone wants or can afford them. In comparison a generic set of wheels that while significantly less valuable, under the right circumstances is actually quite profitable if someone needs them.
3. Luck and location play a big part. Large items are the hardest things to get rid of as they are very hard to ship. There is no easy or inexpensive way to ship a bulky but fragile item like a fender across the country. If someone is local and able to pick it up it has value, otherwise, you are stuck with it.

So, taking those learned factors, I trade Swede-coin, which has been a catch all term for any Volvo part I can purchase and find a home for a profit. I’ve started keeping track of my profits to compare notes with friends who are trading actual cryptocurrencies and we will see who’s 2018 is more profitable in the end. It’s definitely not an apples to apples comparison for many reasons, especially considering that Swede-coin requires significantly more work to trade than cryptocurrencies, but the market is much more stable and far less likely drop out the bottom and lose money.

So, in preparation for my 2018 calendar year I’ve expanded my list of cars and also let some go.


I sold my XK as running numbers I realized there was no way to make a profit on it. I paid to much for it and probably the best I could do is probably break even. I took my losses on the front end and marketed it for about a 15-30% loss and quickly found a home for it in it’s unfinished state. Better to take my losses on the front end was my theory rather than grind my teeth as I try and finish knowing I could be doing something else more profitable. It bothers me though as I really wanted this car a lot and have wanted it for years…. I do hope to get it’s twin within a year or two to replace it.

I purchased a few parts cars:


A manual 1998 S70 T5 which I sold some parts off of and sold the rest of the car


A manual 2008 C30 with a blown engine that I sold a bunch of parts off.

2011 C70 for an engine and whatever else I can scavenge off it.


To the list of cars to fix I added a 2010 S40 R-Design AWD

The year has started out with a pretty strong opening quarter so far. I have shifted away from marketing on the forum groups and moved off to Ebay. I’ll lose about 8-16% of each sale due to fees, but it’s a far simpler transaction on the whole and worth it. The market place is also significantly larger and I’ve even shipped a few things internationally. I’m in the early stages, but I’ll probably start a full ebay store for my ProlixParts brand of Swede-coin. The increased exposure has allowed me to sell some items that I’ve had for literally years and so I’m very happy to have money for the items now not sitting in my way.


In other news, my car projects are progressing nicely. The white 2007 V70 has found a home and the 2012 XC70 turned V70 approaches much much closer to completion. My wife is driving the XC now, and likes it a lot. We should be registering it to us personally in a week or two.


Haha, she was not a fan of the black wheels and requested I replace them. I purchased a brand new take off set from a 2018 XC60 and liked them a lot,


but within two weeks of installing them on the car an even nicer set showed up to purchase. I’m not revealing the set yet, but they are pretty special in the eyes of a Volvo nerd.

My swede-coin exchanges for the wheels/tires on this Xc has not fared so well and I am thus far recording a net loss of over 30%. Probably even more irritating to me is having to mount, dismount, and balance tires so many times. I think doing tires is one of my least favorite car repair activity and the car is now on it’s 5th set of wheels. The tally is 28 tires dismounted and 12 tires mounted and balanced.

I guess this is what I get for having a personal car that I really care about? It’s quite close to approaching it’s finished product level though and that’s pretty exciting.

Mercedes V6 Balance Shaft Repair

I am going to branch out on this blog to include things I encounter running the service desk. Hopefully you will find the information interesting.

From 2005 up through around 2007 all the Mercedes V6 engines could be effected by the teeth on the balance shaft wearing out. Symptoms can be as mild as a check engine light or as severe as the one here that is very very lucky it did not need an engine.

Here is a video of the car running when it came in.
So, first you evacuate the a/c and remove the engine and transmission.


Once removed, dismount the transmission, strip accessories, and remove the timing cover.

Here is a video I took of another MB balance shaft to demonstrate the failure (I forgot to take a video of this one while we had it apart).

Once that’s done, you put it all back together, and run through two oil changes, and in theory that’s the end of it.


Here is a video of the car running once the repair was done 

Some will cry foul for Mercedes, and maybe that’s warranted, but this is just another example of long term faults showing up as a vehicle ages. Mercedes did originally have a fairly generous extended warranty on this, but at this point probably all effected are outside of warranty. It’s a big job that takes close to 30 hours to perform, but Prolix Auto, aka L&B Auto, has done this repair many times, bring the car to me and my highly skilled staff can save you over 50% over dealer prices!

Why does the C30 not start? and other fun Saturday activities



I started very early the this wet and chilly Saturday with great hope. I personally love days like this. As long as they aren’t stressful, they feel cozy and warm because you are reacting against the “bad” weather. The above photo is outside and the photo below is me feeling cozy and in my quiet work space.


The car was sold to me as a non-running car, so I was prepared for an engine. This generation Volvo usually looses their engines because they are run low in coolant and over heat, the timing belt brakes or the engine jumps times for a variety of reasons, or there is a hole punched in the oil pan and they run out of oil

When this one arrived I discovered there was plenty of coolant in the reservoir, the timing belt was replaced 50 miles before the miles on the odometer, and there were no holes in the oil pan. More over, the engine would turn over by hand.

The first guess was that the starter was locked up because it was not functioning correctly at all. It would stay engaged and we would have to work it loose to get it to function. My optimism ran very high for a while as a locked up starter would be a fantastic reason for the car to not start.

As the first step of diagnosis I pulled things apart and removed the starter. The first time I pulled one of these starters it took me a long time. Now? My time has been cut in half having done it 4 times in the past 2 months.


The starter was scorched and looked like an obvious failure that would fit the symptoms.


I excitedly installed another starter. Before we installed the intake we bumper the starter relay and the engine turned over OK. Excitement continues to build! Put the intake back on and hook everything up only to hear this…

Here’s a video of the first attempt to start the car

Checking the engine now, we find the engine has locked up again. I pull the starter back out and inspect for fault in that area, but with it out there is no change and putting a scope to check the flywheel reveals nothing.

Next I remove the spark plugs and check the pistons. No signs of a fault on the top end.

I then drain the oil. There is no obvious faults here either. No shinnies in the oil and the level was OK. Putting a scope in through the oil drain plug didn’t reveal anything.

After working with it a bit, the engine starts turning over OK again though it’s harder to turn than it should especially with the spark plugs removed. We decide it’s time to remove the oil pan.

With the oil pan off we discover the fault: the bearing for cylinder #2 has badly spun. The upper and lower portions of the bearing and fallen down together and were causing the engine to bind up at certain points of the revolution.

I removed all the bearings and inspected them. Only #2 was very bad, and only mild scoring was present on #5, and just barely a fault on #1.


Inspecting the crank I decided to try and remove the bearing material and try to save the engine. The bearing material is much softer than the crank and can be removed safely by sand paper.

How I was removing the bearing material from the crankshaft

And here are photos I took as I progressed.

After I cleaned it up and started at this for a couple hours we took measurements and found the crank was unusable by being 13 thousandths out of round… I should have checked this first! That would have saved me a significant amount of work and I could have done something else more useful! I could have not started at this for a couple less hours….


:sigh: A lesson learned. I was so hopeful since it was only that one bearing that was spun badly. Oh well, the search for an engine now commences.

In an effort to stop thinking of the C30 for a while I stopped by the paint shop and looked at the XC/V and was very happy with their work. I stressed the necessity of having good masking work to not have paint “edges” in the jams when I got the work quoted and I was told my requirement would not be an issue. Paint masking edges drives me crazy and I am planning to keep this car a while and I don’t ever want to be reminded that there were corners cut in regards to paint. I was very happy to report that the paint and masking was great and I was very happy with the work. The price was right, the work was good, and when it comes time to do the next car I will probably have the same person do the next conversion.


Two weeks

So, in the roughly two weeks since my last post, the s60 AWD arrives, was serviced, and was promised/sold in 24 hours, and the next project arrived today.
2011 C30 with 120k on the clock. Purchased at auction with a clean tittle but some kind of starting problem. It arrived today and the timing belt is ok, there is no hole in the oil pan, and the coolant level is fine. A mysterious ailment! 

Super loaded up C30 though. Keyless start, navigation, premium sound, and so on. 

In other news, the XC/V is painted and I’m told ready to be picked up! 

Sell one car and on to the next

The final day with the v50 seen here  hidden and over shadowed by the replacement. 

I had the v50 about 6 months and my eye was roving. I had been looking for a p2 or p3 non-xc wagon for some time, but hadn’t found anything particularly interesting. 
This car rolled in out of the blue from someone wanting to short sale a car and not have to deal with the potential headaches of a private sale. Whenever I get a call like this I assume that the car is a ratty old thing that wouldn’t sell on CL because it looked that bad even in a low resolution flip phone photo.
When this one arrived I realized this was shinning exception to the rule. A price was agreed on and the next day the car was mine.

The interior arrived to me nearly immaculate. 

And I’m now back in the wagon with wings club! 

There is almost zero damage to any of the wheels

The previous owner left the following goodies: owner manual and all accompanied materials, two master keys and a valet, the original window sticker, a factory touch up paint kit, and a Gideon Bible. 

And of course the part that we actually care about. 

At this point I’m a bit at a loss of what to do with the car. Nothing is broken and nothing needs attention. For someone who thrives on fixing things this is a little surreal.

I suppose I will be adding sound deadener and other subtle tweaks that I always do to my cars.
In other news, the 242 wheels were a bit and fees for using ebay were not excessive, so I’m trying my hand at it again. 


Small upgrades 

I finished swapping out the interior trim on the blue v50. I think it’s a subtle but very nice update.  

I also test fit the 19″ rover wheel and I’m quite certain this is a no go if but for no other reason that the wheel offset is wrong. 

I mean, maybe I just can’t visually get past seeing that massive XC tire already mounted and can’t bring myself to mount a 255/35-19 tire only for the sake of curiosity. Or maybe I’m still kicking myself for buying a black wheel in the first place. 

V50 upgrades and new cars

Upgrades and repairs as well as a couple new cars

So, I realized that I haven’t posted an entry in nearly a month, but have written quite a few things worthy of posting on my swedespeed account. I think I need to stop waiting to write blog entries on something major and continue with the same twitch response postings as I do on there.


So, copying over I’ll start with the blue V50:

A steering wheel upgrade



VS Sport


It also got full end of production R-Design grill and brushed aluminum wing mirror caps.



I also experimented with the idea of 19” wheels. Not because I specifically want them, but because I’ve got a great set of Continental tires in that size that I need to do something with.


First test says they are fine and don’t rub under full lock any more than the 18’s.

I also replaced the coolant reservoir as a preventative maintenance item as the old one was original to the car, yellowing, and showing the tell tale stress cracks. I didn’t want to leave this one to chance since there is no coolant level sensor on the P1s….



I changed out the annoying original style hose clamps for the far more reasonable alligator design.


Yesterday I also tore the center console apart to try and find out why the auto stick doesn’t change gears. I haven’t found the answer yet, but I decided to swap the cabin brushed aluminum accents with something else that was a bit less beat up. New trim is on the left vs the original on the right


You can read the write up of how to swap things out here on Swedespeed


About the middle of the month this little beauty showed up:


180k miles, one owner, and immaculate inside and out. Unfortunately it also has a very badly blown head gasket. Oh well, it won’t be hard to find a replacement engine since miles aren’t very low. You can watch a video of what a engine with next to no compression look/sounds like without spark plugs installed. The paper towels covering the ports barely flutter. :sad face:

I initially purchased it as a parts car, but it is to nice to leave it’s fate to destruction. The tentative plan is to replace the blue V50 with the red one. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about loosing roughly 50 hp moving from 217 to 168, but I’m not feeling especially concerned as there is money to be made. 🙂

I’m tentatively thinking about putting the black 19” wheel I purchased for the Xc70 on it as red on black will make for a very sharp contrast.



Now, I don’t think I’ve haven’t mentioned it but I’m working an exchange with a friend of mine. I am fixing his 05 V50 and he in turn is fixing a few things around my house. I will probably be posting a bit about it as I will be doing a reasonable bit of work on it over the next while.

The first order of the day was to remove the headliner with all the glue failing and everything hanging down oozing that terrible crumbly headliner glue everywhere. I did not think to take pictures of this process, but it’s a bit of a chore. Not so bad for the wagon variation, except for unplugging the wiring harness as it connects to the back of the CEM, accessible by removing the glove box and well secured behind the dash. It was a bit of a chore figuring it out for the first time.

While things were apart I repaired the front sunroof drains (a very common issue for all P1 cars). The drains are rubber and shrink with age. They pull out of the drain port from the body at the base of the windshield behind the A pillar and dump water into the cabin. I took a set of rear drains from an XC90 that are much much longer, cut them to length, and glued in place to prevent it from happening again.


Note: this photo was taken before they were full trimmed to the correct length.

The other big project undertaken was replacing the alternator. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s work. Take the serpentine belt off, take the air filter/computer box assembly loose, and work it out from there. I also took of the throttle body and cleaned it up while there as it was quite filthy.



On the parts front, I have a rough but rare set of vintage 242 5.5 x 14″ wheels up on Ebay as an experiment with a new avenue for finding vintage parts new homes.


It’s far less personal and some fees apply, but it might be a solid choice, especially for more niche items. This set has certainly been a surprising hit.


I have one more purchase I’m very excited about. I got a 2004 S60 2.5T AWD on order with only 66k original miles. The exterior is the standard boring pre-face-lift, but the condition is fantastic.


The interior is super clean too. If I was a betting man, I would say the car will be sold in three weeks or less.