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I began tinkering with electric primary fan conversions in Volvo 240s back around 1997 after having some poor success keeping my '84 245 Turbo from running too hot during warm 100+ degree Southern California months using the stock pulley fan. I then developed this page in 1999 to share the info I found and I have been updating it on occasion. Basically, this page will outline some pretty simple and inexpensive primary electric fan conversion ideas for the Volvo 240 and 240 Turbo. Some ideas worked, some not so well. Some of these ideas also work for the 740, however it should be noted the 740 Turbo has less room between the radiator and water pump pulley, so some fans shown in this page may not fit in the space.
With these conversions, the belt driven mechanical fan and fan clutch is eliminated, and an electric "puller" fan is mounted in it's place.
While there are many options for your Volvo when it comes to keeping cool, these are just a few. This information is presented at face value with no specific claims of magical performance, other than my own experiences.
|The following information was
borrowed from Brickboard posts by Fitz Fitzpatrick
I would recomend reading the following posts before starting an electric fan conversion.
The first is a transcript of a discussion with a Volvo Technician at a local Volvo dealership
and it covers some material on an electric fan conversion (and reasons not to do it).
http://www.brickboard.com/RWD/index.htm?id=639874 Shop talk with a Volvo Mechanic.
Should you still decide to go ahead with the conversion, this second link covers a lot of relevant
information and some material on how to perform an electric fan conversion using a GM
puller fan (behind the radiator, towards the engine), but much of the information is relevant to a pusher fan as well.
http://www.brickboard.com/RWD/index.htm?id=692614 Electric Fan info for GM 4-cylinder engines.
|For any electric fan
installation, make sure that
fan is capable of turning itself on reliably if your engine starts to
Since the red block engines found in our 240 Volvos use an iron block and an aluminum head, the expansion rates of the metals are different. At overheating temperatures, the expanding head will literally push against the end head bolts (at cylinders 1 and 4) and warp itself, bowing upwards. This warping will cause a loss of compression, head gasket failure, and an expensive repair bill to have the head machined (assuming it is still within correctable tollerances). Before you chastise Volvo for using an aluminum head, they chose it with a reason. Valve temperatures are greatly reduced by the thermal conduction properties of the aluminum head, and given proper cooling system maintance, the head should last as long as the block.
With that said, there are two primary reasons for performing an Electric Fan Conversion. The FIRST is to reduce the engine drag at highway speeds. In theory you should gain horespower at highway speeds. (Remember, the fan does not match engine RPMs unless your radiator is overheated. The viscus clutch keeps it at lower speeds when additional cooling is unnecessary.)
The SECOND reason would be to reduce the amount of stress on the waterpump. 240s can go through water pumps faster than a typical car and it's a good idea to change them as preventative maintenance. The loads placed on the water pump bearings by the alternator and a huge fan can shorten its potential service life.
Here's a YouTube video with dyno testing for different types of mechanical fans. Different mechanical fan react quite differently, however this will offer you some perspective.
|You will need to decide for yourself if
your fan clutch is best or if an electric fan is best. If the electric
fan is big enough and really powerful, it can equal the cooling
performance of a heavy duty fan clutch. Most will not come close.
Also an electric fan may not be as reliable as the mechanical
fan. Electrical stuff fails. If
you decide it's best for your Volvo to keep the belt-driven fan,
you may want to consider the option of a heavy duty fan
An interesting bit of information I discovered while trying out the below electric fan conversions over the years.
All were inferior in cooling compared to a heavy duty tropical fan clutch, except for the huge Ford fan at the bottom of the list, which so far is only equal to it.
More info on the Heavy Duty Tropical Fan Clutch can be found in this page:
VOLVO 2-Speed FAN RELAY Basics.
I get a fail number of emails about this relay. Lots of people use it to control 2-speed fans because it's cheap (if you buy it used or get it from a salvage yard).
<<< If you need a source for the original connector plugs for this relay, I am now offering them here: http://www.240turbo.com/blackvinyl.html#relaycoolingfan
For suggested wiring info: http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/volvo_electric_fan.shtml
Excuse the photo
quality. This is a very old pic. This is the first electric fan
conversion I did back in 1997
for my 245 Turbo. I also used this same fan for several conversions of
friend's 240s. One in a 240 non-turbo was still going strong and
well more than 15 years later.
<<< The fan depicted at left is from an early to mid-eighties Buick Century, Pontiac Grand Am, Olds Cutlass, or other General Motors mid-sized car with FWD and 4 or 6 cylinder. It is made by AC Delco and is designed to be the primary fan for the car it originated in. This fan should be plentiful in self-service auto salvage yards and should cost between $20 and $30.
Dimensions for this fan are as follows:
Height and Width: 17 inches at shroud edges
Depth at shroud housing next to motor: 3 1/8 inches
Depth at rear of fan motor: approx. 4 1/4 inches
Fan blade diameter: 14 inches.
<<< A 16 inch diameter fan in the same version can also be found in some of the GM 6 cylinder cars. The outer dimensions will be the same. This is important because this shroud is a pefect size to fit directly onto the typical Volvo 240/740 radiator.
<<< All four of the original plastic mounting ears on the shroud need to be removed for fitment to a Volvo radiator.
A hacksaw or sawzall does just fine here. In this photo the ears have already been cut off, but I left them next to the fan so you could see where they came from.
Since this fan will be mounted to the
radiator, you'll need some mounting hardware. The simplest method
I found is with some 2 inch sheet metal screws, washers and these funny
little sheet metal nuts. The screws I used were the counter-sunk
type with some counter-sunk finishing washers. Most any will work
photo shows an existing hole in the top flange of the radiator.
All Volvo radiators will have these holes for mounting of the original
fan shroud. The sheet metal nut can be used here. You will
then need to drill a small hole in the GM fan shroud directly over the
original hole in the radiator.
make this fan work in your car, you have several options. You can
purchase an all-in-one fan controller with a temperature probe that
goes into the radiator fins. You can use a coolant sensor mounted in
radiator if it has one.
For my 8 page assortment of relay wiring diagram options, including two-speed circuits, click here (pdf file).
Volvo 940/850 15 inch Fan
(NOT RECOMMENDED FOR HOTTER CLIMATES)
For my 8 page assortment of relay wiring diagram options, including two-speed circuits, click here (pdf file).
|<<< This fan is about 4 inches deep from the end of the motor to the furthest point on the front of the fan. The fan shown in the far left photo has been removed from the original fan shroud. One cool thing about this fan is it simply unbolts from the original shroud. No cutting or chopping needed. After it is removed, you'll find that it is about 17.5 inches across at the outer ring, which is why is fits so well into the Volvo RWD mechanical fan shrouds, which have 18 inch openings . The actual fan blade portion on this fan is only 15 inches.|
940 shroud is too wide for a
normal 240 or 740 radiator, so I did not use it for this conversion.
people have cut them down to fit.
<<< The shroud used in the photos here is a 240 Turbo (Intercooled) shroud. The inside diameter of this shroud is 18 inches. This particular shroud will only correctly fit the 240 Turbo. It will NOT CLEAR the auto transmission cooling lines in a 240 non-turbo or a 740. Since a shroud normally sits further back in a Turbo Intercooled car (because of the intercooler), some extra work was required to get the fan to sit deep enough into this shroud to clear the water pump. It was a tight fit when done.
Better to use a 740 Turbo Fan Shroud:
I found that a shroud from a 740 Turbo (which can be seen in the Ford fan conversion below) is a much better choice to mount one of these fans inside of. The 740 Turbo shroud, also with an 18 inch opening, may be used in pretty much any 740 or 240 model without any fitment issues. And this shroud places the fan closer to the radiator, offering at least 1 inch more clearance from the water pump than a 240 Turbo shroud does. Plus it's a lot less work making it fit in a 240.
OVERALL REVIEW:I used this fan for about a year. I was disappointed. It did not cool as quickly or as efficiently as I liked. I believe this disapointment was because the 15 inch fan is a bottleneck and the volume of flow through the radiator and out the 15 inch fan opening was reduced (even at highway speeds) compared to a stock fan shroud with a heavy duty mechanical clutch fan. It was easy to see a difference on uphill grades, especially with the A/C on.
>>> For real cooling needs with AC, a mechanical CLUTCH FAN is a better choice by far than this one. <<<
| The above fan
lot of amps upon start up when using the high speed circuit only.
Because I wanted to avoid sudden, hard
current draws to my charging system when this fan came on, I sought out
a high-tech fan controller that offered a "soft-start" feature. I
chose the Delta
Current Control FK-55. This
is an all-in-one controller and it works smoothly, so no relays or
other sensors are needed. When it's time for
the fan to come on, it comes on
slowly and smoothly, beginning with about 20% speed until more speed is
needed. It regulates your radiator temperature by
smoothly increasing or reducing fan speed, instead of on, off, on, off,
like the old school method. Definitely not cheap.
PROBLEMS WITH DELTA CURRENT CONTROL (DCC) CONTROLLERSUPDATE Summer 2012: I'm sorry to report that I can no longer recommend the controllers from Delta Current Control. I had two of them fail after less than 2 years of use each. This makes a $180 controller way too expensive if it can't be reliable. And to make matters worse, the owner of DCC, Brian Baskin, has found it impossible to respond to emails, even if you place an order. When I placed an order for a third controller in 2012 my order went unanswered for 6 weeks. No order status info, no communication, period. Nothing. I had to dispute the purchase with Paypal to get my money back after my order and emails went unanswered for 6 weeks (and yes, my car was down the whole 6 weeks).
Ford Thunderbird SC 17.5 inch Fan (YES!)
WORKS WELL IN HOTTER CLIMATES!
2010 I did this
for my 242 Turbo:
This exact fan is only found in the T-Bird SC (with supercharged
6 cylinder) made in the late 1980's to mid-1990's. The
depth of this unit from the fan motor to the front of the fan is only
inches (a little bit
shallower than the 940 fan). It is
the more common V8 Ford T-Bird fan or
Lincoln Mark VIII fan,
except this version is a little less deep
(from motor to fan) and seem to fit with less room. It is
suggested that these fans will pull an estimated 4000 cfm on high.
<<< The circular portion on the Ford shroud is 17.5 inches across, so after some chopping, as seen in these photos, it fits very well into the 18 inch opening of the Volvo 740 Turbo fan shroud. I sought out this fan because after using a belt-driven heavy duty tropical fan clutch for years in my 242 Turbo, I was spoiled by how great it cooled. I tried the smaller 940 fan above for a while. I was disappointed. It did not cool as quickly or as efficiently as I liked. I believe this disapointment was because the 15 inch fan was a bottleneck and the volume of flow through the radiator was reduced (even at highway speeds) compared to the stock shroud with a heavy duty mechanical clutch fan. It was easy to see a difference on uphill grades, especially with the A/C on.
Here's the Ford fan next to the 740 Turbo shroud that I
to mount it in.
The Ford shroud needed to be cut down,
separating the fan and circular ring that was then mounted into the
shroud. I used a friction cutting wheel to trim the Ford shroud,
which worked ok... not
the best job. A sawzall with a fine blade would work much
better on this plastic.
<<< Here's the in-progress assembly and completed fan. The last pic shows it mounted in my 242 Turbo. This is a two-speed fan, like the 940 fan, except this one is much, much more powerful. The low speed on this fan probably pulls at least as much air as the high speed on a 940 fan. I have read that the high speed on this fan pulls between 35 and 40 amps when running continuously. So I suspect this is NOT a fan for a light-weight charging system. A large capacity alternator (100 amp), heavy cables to the fan motor and a high capacity relay (50 to 70 amp) would be a good recommendation. For my 8 page assortment of relay wiring diagram options, including two-speed fan circuits, click here (pdf file).
|PROBLEMS WITH DELTA CURRENT CONTROL (DCC) CONTROLLERS: I can no longer recommend the fan controllers from Delta Current Control. I have had two of them fail after 2 years of use each. This makes a $180 controller way too expensive if it can't be reliable. And to make matters worse, the owner of DCC, Brian Baskin, has great difficulty responding to emails if he ever responds. And if that's not reason enough, another order I placed in 2012 to replace a bad one went unanswered for 6 weeks. No order status info, no communication, period. I had to dispute the purchase with Paypal to get my money back.|
|There are a few decent options for controlling a primary electric fan like this. The old school method is using a relay (or multiple relays). Relays are pretty reliable, but temperature switches are not always as good in the long term. I installed one of these 2-speed T-Bird fans in a friend's 240 many years ago and used I used a Hayden 3654 adjustable fan switch (shown at left. It was about $40 at Summit Racing) to turn on the fan low speed circuit for normal cooling needs. Typically I would set a controller at 180 to 190 degrees F (depending on the coolant thermostat being used. Then I used a separate heavy duty 70 amp relay to trigger the high speed circuit, which was then wired to a standard Volvo on/off temp sender in the radiator (outlet side). This temp sender would trigger the high speed if the outlet temp exceeded approximately 210 degrees F. I also put an override switch on the dash to turn on the high speed circuit manually if needed. This type of installation functioned well in hot SoCal summers using the A/C for many years, but of course the Hayden controller evenually failed after several years.|
The photo at left
is the Flex-A-Lite 33054 "Variable"
Speed Controller. At time of writing this, Flex-A-Lite made
these in 35 and 45 amp
versions. The 33054 is the heavy duty 45 amp
version, designed to run multiple fans if needed. The important part about using a controller
like this is that it supposedly uses soft
start technology. Flex-A-Lite also make less
expensive controllers that don't have variable speed or soft
start. I bought the 33054
from Summit Racing for about
$100 and it was in use in my black 242
Turbo (installed summer of 2012) with the big Ford fan shown
above until it failed in 2016. It was wired
to control the fan high speed circuit only.
I later discovered that this fan controller is not really quite a true variable speed controller, but it was more reliable than the Delta controllers I used to have. It uses a probe in the radiator fins and when the set temperature is reached, it will turn the fan on at 60% power (set point adjustable from 160 to 210 degrees F). If the radiator temperature increases more than 10 degrees above your set temperature, the fan switches to 100%.
So the reality is this controller is only a 2-speed controller, instead of a true variable speed controller.
That was a big disappointment to me, since the big Ford fan can cool quite well at low speeds (maybe 20-30%) under light load and this controller can't do that. This controller will also operate your fan(s) for up to 30 seconds after shutting off the car if it reads a high enough temperature. And of course it has the connections to add the A/C "ON" circuit (turns on at 60% continuous) as well as circuits for a manual override "ON" switch and manual override "OFF" switch if you want to add these switches.
The installation instructions for the Flex-A-Lite 33054 can be seen here: http://static.summitracing.com/global/images/instructions/flx-33054.pdf
If you're looking for a true Zero to 100% variable speed fan controller, you might have a look at this Derale unit: http://derale.com//products/electric-fans/fan-controllers/pwm/pwm-fan-controller-push-in-probe-detail. It's available at Summit Racing for about $160.00: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/der-16795/overview/
Or this Hayden 3655 PWM variable fan controller for about $80.00: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/hda-3655
I have NOT tried these yet.
FINAL NOTE: I'm a fan of fitting larger radiators, especially when running AC, but there is prior planning needed when it comes to a 240 Turbo. The standard intercooler configuration limits the radiator width to the stock dimension. So if you go wider, you must plan to install a different intercooler so you can route intake tubes around the wider radiator. You can also go with a taller radiator. It's even possible to install a 19 inch tall radiator. Don't believe me? See the following Turbobricks thread: http://forums.turbobricks.com/showthread.php?t=296380 . Good stuff!
In 2012 I decided I wanted a bigger (WIDER) radiator. I bought this one from Griffin and ordered PN 1-55221-X3. It's 26 x 15.5 inches, 2.7 inches thick, has two rows with 1.25" tubes, 1.38" OD hose inlet/outlet (they call this radiator a universal fit "Chevy style"). Price was about $300. It can be ordered without a top radiator cap flange, but I left it on. The cap used is Stant PN 10230 or 10231. I then had aluminum male AN fittings welded on the right side for the expansion tank and turbo feed hoses (I believe these sizes were -6 and -10). Probably the smarter method would have been to have Griffin install those before shipping if they'll do that.
Before I bought the Mark VIII fan below I was still using the Ford fan mounted in a 740 Turbo fan shroud above.
It was not quite wide enough for this wide radiator, but it worked ok for the time I used it.<<< Then in 2014 I bought a new complete fan assembly on eBay for a 1997 Lincoln Mark VIII. The Mark VIII fan assembly is the correct width for this new radiator (after trimming off the four protruding mounting ears), so it fits nicely. Before 1997 these fans were made as 2-speed fans. This one is a 1-speed fan from 1997. The Lincoln Mark VIII fan is legendary. It easily pulls 40 amps at full speed (at 14v) and some reports say it pulls over 4000 CFM. That's more than double the flow of a 940 fan. If you're tired of fans that just aren't enough for your hot climate, like that puny 940 fan above, and you have AC, you might think about this one.
Outer Dimensions: 22 inches wide (without 2.5 inch mounting tabs), 19 inches tall, 5.5 inches deep. Weight: about 8.8 lbs.
Lots more info here: http://forums.tccoa.com/6-general-tech/136722-ultimate-mark-viii-fan-thread.html
NOTE: If I was still using a stock width Volvo 240 radiator I would have cut off the entire outer shroud from the Mark VIII fan barrel and mounted the barrel inside a 740 Turbo shroud similar to the above conversion #3.
After trimming off the mounting
steel braced frame inside the TOP
of the shroud
to fully support the weight using the top radiator brackets shown
simple 1/8 inch bar steel for this brace, typical stuff found at your
local hardware store. Width was
1/2 inch. Then I bought bolts and clip-on barrel nuts
(AKA: U-Nuts) from McMaster-Carr. The bolts were PN 98093A436 M6 x 1mm, 16mm long
with a flange head (see photo). These have a 10 mm head. The barrel
nuts were PN 95210A150 M6 x
1mm made for a panel thickness of 0.8 to 4 mm.
<<< Here's the Griffin radiator and Mark VIII fan installed in my 240. As you can see the original style intercooler is gone since it no longer fits and instead I installed an eBay intercooler in front of the radiator with new pipes going around the radiator. This radiator is WIDE and there is barely enough room to keep the battery in the original location, but it still fits.
<<< Here's a bottom view of the Mark VIII fan. Yes, the Mark VIII shroud is taller than the radiator by several inches. This is fixed by adding some aluminum sheet metal to seal the gap. It's securely fastened and then some duct tape added to seal the bottom gap.
<<< I continued using the Flex-A-Lite 33054 Variable Speed Controller that I had previously installled in conversion #3. As I mentioned before, I was disappointed after I discovered that this controller is actually only a 2-speed controller instead of a true variable speed controller. I really would rather have something that begins spinning the fan at 10% or 20% or 30% instead of 60% low speed like this controller has.
<<< 2016 UPDATE NOTE: A new, better fan controller has become a reality. The Flex-A-Lite died in the summer of 2016 (while pulling into a car meet), so then I decided to build my own custom 4-speed fan controller using reliable relays to control my Mark VIII fan.
Here's the detailed page: http://www.240turbo.com/fanharness.html.
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