Turbocharging the b230f is a relatively easy job, and well worth the gains for the effort involved.
This article will cover the necessities to turbo charge your LH2.4 equipped b230f. This article will also apply to a b200f.
As this is a UK article I have not covered converting cars running older management systems such as LH2.2, I’m sure a lot of the mechanical side of this article is accurate for LH2.2 but there will be a lot more involved in the electrical side.
There are actually very few differences in the b230f from the b230fk/ft:
- Pistons - the b230f has a compression ratio of 9.8:1 whereas the b230fk/ft is 8.7:1 due to a deeper dish in the piston.
- Oil feed & return - Of course the turbo motor has these holes drilled in the block, but the b230f does have the casting so it can be drilled if you would like to, there are however easier ways to tackle this which I will cover in the article.
- Valves - The b230fk/ft has sodium filled exhaust valves, which is ideal for turbo application but not necessary. The vale sizes are the same otherwise.
- Camshaft - The b230f has an M cam which is good as a doorstop. The b230fk/ft has a T cam, which is also good as a doorstop but better than the M. If you are keeping budget low I would recommend sourcing a Volvo A cam to go with the conversion as it will wake it up a bit more.
The physical block is exactly the same, and LH is quite capable of handling a turbo with the extra compression the b230f has to offer. It is easier if you have a donor car handy but if not don’t worry I will put a shopping list up which will cover everything required.
One thing to note is that in 1990 (in the UK market anyway) Volvo introduced 13mm rods which are much more suited to this upgrade. If your b230f block is pre 1990 you may want to reconsider your goals if they are high. The 9mm rods are known to bend at stock boost.
- Year 90+ Turbo manifold (earlier will work, but the 90+ flows better).
- Turbo - You don’t need to use a Volvo turbo, and now is the time to decide. The b230fk/ft uses a td04h-13c and it’s tiny. You could buy a bigger Volvo turbo that will bolt to the manifold such as a td04hl-16t (18/19/20t also works).
You could also buy a decent size T3 turbo and bolt that up - if you look at the outlet on the manifold it has a small round lip, machine this flat and you have a standard T3 flange (it’s worth opening up the port to match a T3 gasket, there’s loads of gains to be had here).
For the sake of my shopping list and article, I am going to cover the fittings and parts required to bolt up a Volvo TD04 turbo.
- Turbo water lines - The lower radiator hose with the take off for the turbo feed, the coolant reservoir lower hose with the take off for the turbo feed, and the hard pipes (they will likely still be bolted to the turbo you removed). These aren’t necessary, but the turbo will fail a lot sooner without the proper water cooling it was designed for.
- Intercooler & Pipework - This includes the extended brackets that hold the radiator and intercooler at the top. If this conversion is for a 200 series you will need to make sure the intercooler is taken from a non AC car or 700 series as the AC type is much wider and won’t fit. If your car has AC it could be worthwhile sourcing the correct AC wider type.
- Injectors - The b230f uses hi impedance injectors so you won’t have a ballast resistor installed on your car. The 940 turbo use low impedance with a ballast resistor, so if you plan on using the turbo injectors make sure you take the resistor or buy yourself a decent set of high ohm injectors. The stock turbo injectors are good for around 1 bar on a stock turbo, if you want to aim higher then now may be a good time to upgrade. A set of Astra VXR Z20 470cc are a good upgrade that could see around 320hp without the need for the resistor.
- Fuel pressure Regulator - The b230f uses a 2.5 bar regulator whereas the b230fk/ft has a 3 bar regulator. There is conflicting information regarding this online, so I used the turbo regulator just to be sure.
- The stock b230f fuel pumps will provide enough fuel so they won’t need swapping.
- Oil feed - An easy way to get oil without drilling the block is from the front oil galley plug. *insert pic*
To make this work you will need to buy the following:
- 1/4 NPT to AN4 (male) 90 Degree adapter. (Oil galley plug is 1/4 NPT)
- AN4 1 meter braided oil line.
- 2x AN4 (female) hose end connectors.
- M12x1.5 to AN4 (male) adapter.
- Oil return - You can do this a few ways, but I always found it easier to weld an adapter to the sump. You can drill out the casting where the original turbo return goes, but it’s not ideal unless you have the engine on a stand with the sump off etc. To achieve the return via sump you will need:
- TD04 AN10 return adapter.
- 1/2 meter AN10 braided oil line.
- 2x AN10 (female) hose end connectors.
- Steel AN10 (male) weld in bung.
You can do this much simpler using the original oil return pipe off the turbo, cut short and connected via rubber pipe to a piece of pipe welded to the sump.
I found it easier to do this on a spare sump and then swap the sump over. It’s a bit of a nightmare changing the sump over especially if you haven’t got access to a ramp. I have heard of people doing this to the sump still on the car using compressed air blown into the crankcase to deter the shavings from going in. It could work and sounds a lot easier, but I don’t want to advise it...
- Turbo fuel ECU and ignition EZK - These are plug and play with your LH2.4 b230f and are a definite requirement if you want to push any useful amount of boost through your engine. If you get hold of the gold ignition EZK you will also be able to buy chips for both ECU to allow bigger injector scaling, fuelling improvements, fuel cut delete etc etc.
Without the gold EZK you can still get chips but you will need to solder a daughterboard on first.
- Downpipe - This all depends on the car in question. If you are converting a 700/900 then you already have down pipes available to be taken from a donor car. If it is a 200 then you will need to modify a 700/900 downpipe or make your own. Alternatively ClassicSwede offers a 240 turbo downpipe
Now you have your car up and running, give it a good check over for leaks, take it for a drive at standard boost and listen carefully for any detonation. I would strongly suggest running a wideband O2 sensor to monitor the fuelling before you go any further.
LH is very capable, but it isn’t bullet proof. Remember you are running more compression than these ECUs were set up for and they are going to be a lot more detonation prone. Get into the habit of running vPower and be sensible with your boost. Sure, people will say they ran 30psi with no issues on their +t conversion. Purchasing a knock detector such as KnockSense would be the most ideal solution, but not a requirement. Just remember it’s detonation that will be your limitation until you start looking at better engine management systems so be sensible with it, most people stick around the 15/16 psi area and it’s plenty enough power. Past that you will start exploding your stock intercooler and likely need a new clutch etc etc.