This winter I had a business trip to Vancouver Island and Rose and I decided to extend the trip into a weekend vacation. My work was primarily in the Qualicum Beach area and on Friday we travelled down Island to Victoria. South of Duncan, near Cobble Hill, we were tearing along the Island Highway and off to the left was a large auto wrecking lot on a hillside and the lot was filled with nothing but Volvos. Of course this is Chapman Motors, the largest Volvo-Only wrecker in BC, as far as I know. The company is also a long standing supporter of our club and I decided to stop and say hello and see if anything was new.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chapman Motors they have three locations on Vancouver Island. The Nanaimo and Victoria locations provide Volvo Service to those communities and sales of new and used parts and reconditioned Volvos. The original location in Cobble Hill is where they have their giant wrecking yard, as well as sales and service. If you are interested in the history of the company refer to the article on Chapmans in the May 2001 VCBC newsletter and see their website

It had been at least a couple of years since I had stopped to talk to the owner Terry Little and Happy Garrison on front desk. There is always something of interest to see there. I was lucky to catch both of them there, as Terry does a lot of travelling up and down Island to visit his other two Chapman locations. When asked about the business Terry said that sales of used parts is BC is still their biggest income but that they also do a substantial amount of exporting of used parts, particularly to the USA. What I found amusing is that their best US customer is California and he attributes this to the Californians thinking that the “.ca” at the end of their website address means California. Terry is in no rush to correct this misconception.

The huge wrecking yard is always of interest. Terry says that it is getting quite rare to get new wrecks of the pre-240 models such as 544, 1800, 122, 140 or 160 series, although a fresh 67-122 2dr parts car had arrived the day before. They no longer crush any old models and a scan of the yard shows there are still lots of them there. Actually the yard looked full but not as stacked as I had remembered it. Terry explained that they had just crushed 250 cars, mostly 200 and 700 series.

The Island has lots of Volvos, but not enough to provide the quantities of cars in Chapman’s possession. Some of the cars are sourced locally but many come from the mainland either from public and private auto insurance companies or from private vendors. Terry brings these to the Island by the barge load.

While we were talking, a mechanic came into the office from the service shop shaking his head and holding 2 parts of a steering rod ball joint from a 240 series. When he removed the steering rod from a customers car, the ball joint fell in half and was bone dry inside. This is scary and hugely dangerous. If one of these comes apart while you are driving you have no steering. The ever-frugal owner of this 240 had been reluctant to let them make the repair to the loose steering arm. How’s that for false economy.

The suspension ball joints and steering rod ball joints deserve inspection regularly. I check them at least annually and I lubricate them as best I can using a needle fitting on my grease gun, poking a little hole in the rubber boot that “self-heals”. Even with this regular inspection and attention I had to replace 3 of them this year in different cars and one in my daughters car was really loose and scared me. I plan to start inspecting and servicing them at every oil change rather than annually.

Now back to Chapmans, there were some particularly interesting cars at the site. Outside the office were a couple of 1800s, one a rusty 71 1800E and another a reasonable looking 1800S. In the wrecking lot they obviously have scads of the 200 series and newer, including a good selection of the rarer models like 262 Bertones and 780 Bertones. But it was indoors that the really interesting cars lurked. In the “showroom” is Terry’s nice dark green 1800S but what caught my eye is an olive green 1961 B16 engined 544. It looked very straight and appeared to be rust-free. I took a look at the body and the interior and the engine bay. It was not perfect, but had that unique look of an original and unmolested car. I asked Terry and Happy for the story and it turns out the old car had been owned by a lady in Victoria and had spent its entire life putting around the Island, infrequently visiting Parksville and one trip to California. In its 43 years of existence it has only traveled 47,000 miles. Amazing.

Terry ended up with it when the grandchildren of the owner inherited the car and really did not have any interest in it. They had called Terry a few times to come and look at it, but he was used to getting these calls and pictured the usual rusty hulk. Something in one of the conversations finally twigged his interest and he took the time to inspect it and found the car in the basement garage of an old Victoria residence. It was covered dust and surrounded with junk that had to be cleared away before the 544 could be seen, let alone inspected. Its condition was just as it sits in Chapman’s showroom today. He was able to start it and drive it home and according to Happy, it ran so smoothly you could set your coffee cup on the valve cover of the running engine.

Terry showed me another recent interesting acquisition in the yard. It is a new looking, probably late ‘80s Volvo 360GLT, with a 2 litre overhead cam engine. i.e. the same as the 2.1 litre engines in our 200 series cars but smaller displacement. The car has a weird looking automatic transmission that probably is the variomatic transmission unique to those Dutch “Daf” originated cars. The 360 is in excellent condition although it is a rather non-descript looking car; sort of a cross between a Chevette from the front and a Jetta from the side. It made its way to Canada as the personal property of a returning Canadian Military serviceman.

nfortunately for him, the 360 was never imported to Canada, and it is not readily licensable, so he gave up and sold it to Chapman Motors. I know of two other local 360 series cars. One owned by Erik Sandlund in Bellingham and another by Nigel Smith in Qualicum Beach (Nigel’s is for sale). Terry thinks he will have a go at getting this car registered as it certainly is in nice condition. If any one is interested in this unique car I am sure it is for sale.

After leaving Cobble Hill we made our way south on Highway 1, over the Malahat summit to Victoria. Just at the south end of the Malahat there is a neat side road into Victoria through Goldstream Park on the west side of the highway. Turn into the park and cross the little bridge and it puts you on Finlayson Arm Road (no signs) which is a quaint, narrow, crooked paved road up and over Mount Finlayson and deposits you in Saanich. From there you can get right into the center of Victoria without travelling a main highway. The route is Finalyson Arm Road, left briefly on Milstream Road, right on Munns Road which wiggles it way to a right turn on Prospect Lake Road and a quick left on Burnside. Once on Burnside stay on it and it will eventually put you onto Douglas Road near downtown Victoria.
Rose and I spent the afternoon shopping in Victoria and at the end of the day we visited our friends at Landsman Motors in the center of Victoria, just across from Capital Iron. Landman’s is a Volvo repair shop and the unofficial meeting place of the Volvo Club in town. Peter Landsman and his son Rob Landsman always make us feel welcome. ( See the September 2004 newsletter for a story on Peter Landsman). I visited late in the afternoon on Friday so as not to disrupt the work day and expected to see Bob Cuthill and Jim Monnastes. Bob was back east, but Jim was already there.

Jim has an interesting collection of old Volvos including 544, 445, P1800 (Jensen) and 122S. When I arrived he had set about installing an alternator on the B20 engine in his 122. The alternator was one from a 264 with the built-in regulator and lots of output. It was to be a simple job, as it had just been removed from the B20 engine in his 544. All that was needed was to remove the generator and bolt in the alternator with one big bolt on the bottom into the engine block and the little bolt on the tensioning arm. The wiring was already completed.

In the other bay of the shop, Rob Landsman was working on a 760 turbo wagon he had just acquired. This was good. Instead of being covered in grease myself for a change I could stand around and watch progress. I was not disappointed.
While Jim removed the generator, Rob disconnected the whole right Mcpherson Strut assembly in the 760, used a pneumatic spring compressor to remove the spring in preparation for replacing the shock absorber. The shock was well rusted in place and the securing collar had to be cooked for a while with an oxy-acetylene torch referred to as a heat wrench. Finally all the heat and a giant channel lock pliers freed the shock and he inserted a new one, replaced the spring and reconnected the strut assembly into its tower.

In the meantime, Jim had the generator off and had secured the alternator, but there was a problem. Even with the lower big bolt tight the alternator was still loose against the block, so Jim removed it to inspect the problem.
Rob carried on with the passenger front suspension rebuild of the 760. He removed and replaced the swaybar vertical link and disconnected the steering rod. The rod was removed and the bushings pried out and a cup brush used to clean up the bushing retainer prior to installing new bushings. With the new bushings installed he moved on to the passenger side bushings.

Back to the 122 Jim discovered that the alternator securing bolt seemed to bottom out too soon. Maybe the hole in block was not threaded all the way. He tried using a spacer washer to make up for the space. On went the alternator again. Still loose and off it came again. Maybe more spacer washers, on it went but this screwed up the pulley alignment and off it came. Jim was getting really good at the re and re but it wasn’t doing much for his sense of humour. Rob’s humour seemed fine as he periodically teased Jim and continued with the front end rebuild.

While all this is going on, Peter is dealing with the customers coming to pick up their serviced cars, and once in a while he would come into the service bay to see how work was progressing. Watching the alternator job in progress, he would smile and leave.

Rob had removed the bushings from the drivers side of the 760 and Jim had the alternator on and off again a couple of times without much success when Peter came by and asked Jim if this might be late B20 engine block with a metric threaded alternator bolt unlike the SAE threads on an earlier block. Hmmm, could be. Peter smiled and headed for the spare bolts bin. The correct bolt was not to be found, but an alternative through-bolt did the trick and the alternator was in and ready for a test.

Rob had finished the drivers side suspension, swept the floor, cleaned and put away his tools and cleaned off the work bench and was just in time to hook up the ammeter to see if the alternator was in fact alternating. Luckily it was.
So it appears you can re-bush the whole front end of a 7 series in the same time as it takes to install a 2 bolt alternator in a 122S. We will have to get Volvo to adjust their “flat rate” book to suit.

All in all an entertaining day. 