Restoration of a 1961 P122S Volvo Amazon

Welcome to my little project

Welcome and thanks for visiting this site. I'm trying to give a detailed recording of my activities and their results as I slowly restore my Volvo P122S Amazon to something resembling an actual car. Please feel free to pose questions or add suggestions, comments or criticism whenever you like. If you are looking for special subjects or phases, please use the content browser at the top.


Still working on the front

Time for another update. While working on the right side, I had also used tin as a putty on the weld-seams and on the newly created part to reduce the amount of polyester putty required by the painter. I had also removed all the old paint on the right side, producing bare metal where I could. There are some tight spots that are impossible to clean completely, and by the looks of it they were actually never painted. This because it is mostly on the top-inside where there would be hardly any external influence damaging the paint, yet that was the only part with only rust and no paint at all. There was some polyester putty on the right top-centre section where an old collision damage was obscured, and I took that away and straightened the part as well as I could. I did find that the bonding paste for the tin contained a very aggressive compound that caused everything in a radius of about 40 cm to spontaneously start rusting. So I made it a habit to cover metal I wasn’t working on with a thin coat of zinc-primer. Here the tin still needs to be worked back as it is too thick. As this is in a sharp hollow curve, I used a very coarse wood file for the rough shaping.IMG_2539

This all happened before the last picture in my previous post, but I thought it might be fun to see as well. Then I started on the left side. First I took a piece of sturdy paper to determine what part to replace. On the right the front had been dented and the whole side section had needed replacement, here the bottom part seemed healthy enough. So I ended up only replacing a section.


Then it was time to cut another piece of metal, taking it all a bit wide to allow for corrections, and put it in the mould.


And then it was hammer time again.


Now I could take a preliminary fitting before taking out the spot-welded rim that the grill would sit in. As I carefully cut it loose, I found that there was quite some tension on the metal as it came forwards about a centimetre. (or, more likely, the inner works moved backward as the front stayed straight)

Now I could fit again, but this time with the new rim being able to sit in the place where the old rim used to be. And again I found that this part curves in all directions. So I had to bend, hammer, twist an work the part to get it to follow the original as close as possible. Finally it was to my liking and I could mark where the top needed to be folded back and also mark what piece needed to be cut out of the front. As you can see by the markings below, when the rim moved to it’s original place, the whole section moved about 8 mm further out as well.


So more cutting with my dremel, and more fitting. Both on the ground and on the car.


Now it was time to mark the seam with the fender and then put it in another mould to hammer the first lip in a 90 degree angle while keeping the curves.


When that was done it was time to test one more time. This time with the grill to be sure.


And then I noticed something I had not seen before. Level with the cross-bar, there was a seam opening up between the front an the grill. Closer inspection revealed that his was actually because the grill, immaculate as it seemed, was actually dented. The outer rim had been pushed in but the cross-bar had not given in. Taking it all apart showed that there was now e serious dent in the rim. An other chore to take care of at some point.


Satisfied that it was the grill and not the front, I proceeded to first cut the old interior part away before welding the new part in place. Before I did so however, I put tin on the rims and parts that would be double plate in the future.


That had also been applied to the lip towards the fender, so now it was a matter of extending that lip on the inside and then completing the hammered lip. Of course after making sure it had a tin coating first.

After smoothing out the welds it was time again to test-mount it all.


Yes, that was definitively starting to look like something. So boldly (or in my case mostly baldly ;)) forwards. First thing was to mark an drill the holes for the bolts with witch the fender would be mounted against the front. With that done I could weld the nuts to the strip so I would not need the grip pliers. Then it was a matter of taking the piece of cardboard again for the side, roughly cut the strip, flatten it, trim it and test it. Of course I again put the edges in tin, so I would have optimal rust protection. IMG_2198

Then testing it on the car. Unfortunately, the whole front needs to be taken off and remounted each time, but I’m not going to cut corners now.


When I knew I had that right I could take it off and weld it. Then an other test, just to see I was still right.


Now it was time to fill up the seam with tin, clean it and while on the car for fitting welding it in place. Unfortunately I did not get around to doing that till now, so this is wat it still looks like today.


More will follow.

Working on the front

In part as a result of some frustration with how the sunroof was turning out, but also because it had become too cold to work on it, I started working on the front again. It too seemed to follow the natural route things tend to take with the car, but more on that later. First off I decided to have a second go at recreating the D-shaped back that is supposed to close of the front wheel-wells for the left side. I had tried for the right side but wasn’t satisfied with the result at all so I had re-used the original. Bad as it was. On the left that did not seem an option. As you can see in the picture below, not only the outside towards the fenders was a Swiss Cheese, there were holes in that D as well.


So I cut a piece of metal and, as a form of frustration therapy, started beating it with a hammer. To my complete surprise, it turned out rather good. Not what a full blown press and original casts would have produced, but still.


Now, when I said the front seemed to follow the same pattern as the rest of the car, I meant that quite a lot of times I spent a lot of work, energy and time to do something, only to take it out again and redo it. But now better. Hey, this is my first car restoration, so I don’t expect to get it right the first time. Plus it can teach those that have the heart to read through the whole thing something by posting my failures too. Now where did I fail? When I reconstructed the right side of the B16 front, I did so with the front detached. THAT WAS WRONG (sorry for the capitals, but it’s an important lesson) When I mounted it on the car for the first time, I found that the D on the right had rotated about 2 degrees while putting it back. And as the strip with which it is mounted on the frame is welded to the D, that too now had a different angle than the frame. Not that you couldn’t mount it, or fixate it, but it nagged. like a missed piece of paint on a wall that nobody sees, but you know its there and see it every time, or a nasty squeak in a hinge. But now that I knew I could recreate the D, I decided to redo the interior part on the right first. So I cut a second peace of sheet metal for a second D and started again.


First thing was to shrink the edge. That takes a lot of time, as stretching metal is far easier then compounding it. And it never works in one go. The metal always tries to find a place where it can bend rather than to be compounded. What I than did was take it out of the mould, straighten the part where it sculpted, remount it on the mould, and hammer the last part in again.


No amount of hammering will take these kinks out




Unless you put it on an anvil.



And smooth it out.

But now it stood out, so I hammered it back in.

So now it was time to make the depression in the D. So I drew a line, mostly to have something to aim for with the hammer, and started hammering. Now I know I said it is easier to stretch metal than to compound it. That is true for rims, not necessarily for surfaces. After 12 rounds of hammering it, the line is full of little marks, but the surface seems to be still flat.


So I hammered an other 20 rounds, hitting it approximately half the hammer with furder on each blow (5 mm or 1/5 of an inch). Now the result started to show.


Especially if you took it out of the mould to check on the progress.


It still required about an other 40 rounds of hammering, but I got there in the end. So now that I had the new part, it was time to take out the old. Carefully I cut it all away and then I used the carton mould for the side to recreate the side. With this in place I exercised the lesson I had learned. Mount it and check before you weld it in place. I used neodymium magnets to keep everything in place for the fitting.

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When I got the angle right, I welded it on the car with the magnets keeping it all in place.


And because I feared that rust would creep back, I filled the seam with tin before mounting it on the front section.


Likewise I coated the inner rim of this part and the outer rim of the front it would be mounted against with tin. It takes a lot of cleansing after you apply it, but once clean it gives a solid rust protection no primer can achieve. Once it was all re-assembled it was time to recreate the top part again.

Almost done. Just a small part on top and the strip that will be bolted to the frame to go.

And now it was time to fit again. Mind you, it had been on and off the car quite a few times in between. 😀 In the first picture I used masking tape to put a centre line of the holes in the frame on, so I knew where to drill the holes.

More to follow.

The Hollandia Sunroof drama – part 3 – sub 2

Things are going really slow – too many private obligations and now the weather has finally turned cold as well. Still, considering the challenge, I’m quite satisfied with the progress. First I put a filling layer of Debrasil on the hatch. As mentioned in the previous post, it is a lot harder than common putty, but on top of that I hope that the semi-liquid form bonds even better with the surface beneath and I hope that the metal particles in it will give it a similar expansion and contraction as the metal sheet skin it is covering. Reducing the chance of it partially detaching in the future. I left it as coarse as possible so it in turn would give the best possible grip to the final layer of polyester putty.


Once completely covered in polyester putty, I used a glue comb to form narrow but higher ridges. This allowed me to bring the shape in it with a minimal of mass that needed sanding away. I used the fibreglass strip to check the curves and see where it was too high or too low. Then I filled up the ridges with putty. By now it looks almost finished, but I think I need about 8 to 10 hours more on it before I’m satisfied. The following are some pictures where I try to show how the lines of the roof continue over the hatch and the opposite side.





What remains is to take out the last dents, fill up the last scratches and small holes, take out the hatch an sand the edges of the hatch and roof back so they’re straight. Give them the proper rounding, and then finalle give them a coat of 2K epoxy primer.

More to come. . . .

The Hollandia Sunroof drama – part 3

Things are going slow, but at least I feel they are going in the right direction. After I put the roof in the 2K epoxy primer, I taped off the top of the welded seam and applied body-seal past to the inside, filling up the small holes that still existed. I had also applied the primer to the new skin for the hatch, and now it was time to put it on the straightened frame.



Also the box that would function as a drain for leaking water needed some fixing and cleaning before being put pack.


Once that was done, I could mount it again and weld the supports before starting to fold the rim of the roof around the rim of the box.


I used a simple pair of pliers to do so, but being a bit wiser now, I also used a thick piece of steel to make sure the pliers wouldn’t cause the edge to point up. It was slow going, and I had some blisters before it was done, but I got it finished in the end.



Now it was time to completely assemble the hatch and mount it. I was quite anxious about the fit. Would the support rails sit in the correct positions? would the hight be correct?


I had also mounted the (temporary) rubber strips to prevent the mechanism to push the hatch out of the opening. Once mounted I was quite pleased. Not that it was finished, it would need quite some work still, but it didn’t look bad to start with.


On the right front side (left bottom in the picture) it sat too high, but when checking, the roof actually had come inwards there, causing the effect. The seams were nice but not good enough for my liking, On my native forum, someone had posted about Debrasil, a 2K putty with metal particles, and reportedly a lot stronger than normal polyester putty. So I had ordered a can of it and used it as a foundation and to ad a millimetre to the rim with the hatch as a shaper. Debrasil I found is more like a very thick molasses, slightly liquid, and perfect for the task at hand. In order to only have it attach to the roof and not the hatch, and because I didn’t want to use grease anywhere near the roof while working with the putty, I used aluminium foil to avoid glueing it all together.


It is indeed a lot harder than the common polyester putty. I sanded back the hollow rim to make it round again and applied a thin layer of polyester putty as a finishing layer. By then the right corner sat perfect.


But while sanding it, I found it quite difficult to really make it straight. I decided that that probably was because it isn’t, anywhere, and using a block for sanding was a help but not the solution. So I cut a piece of an old carpet tile to use as a block. It has a sturdy, tar based back that is smooth, but allows it to bend with the curve of the roof.


It worked like a charm, and the front became really nice, so time for the side where the seam was too wide. I put 6 layers of masking tape on the hatch, to get the mm wide seam and repeated the process of the front.


After putting on the Debrasil to form a two millimetre extension of the roof and to fill up the worst, I started the process of smoothing the whole rim. I found that, although not really visible, the welding had deformed the roof quite a bit, but the carpet tile worked it’s miracles and all imperfections were revealed. Here are some pictures on how it turned out.

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At the moment I’m working on the hatch. Sanding it all by hand takes forever, but gives me the control I really want to achieve the best result I can get. In the end I’ll leave it up to the painters to revisit my work and to improve where needed/possible.

More to follow.

The Hollandia Sunroof drama – part 2

Progress is slow, but it is still there. So here’s an update.

First I did some more fitting. Although nothing is finished yet, I wanted to make sure theory and result kind of matched, so I put the skin of the hatch in the rim it would once sit in.


Satisfied with the result, I re-mounted the box that will house and support the sliding mechanism and centred it as best I could. Now it was time to put the new rim in the box.


And with a fine liner I marked how much I had to cut back the roof.


Then it was time again to remove everything, and using a Dremel mini cutting disk, I cut away the roof up until the line. With that done I made the rim bare using a sandpaper disk on a angle grinder.


Now came a tricky part. Up till now the rim had sat nicely on top of the roof, but with a hole the size of the rim, it fell through if positioned correctly. It took some time, but finally I managed. Using the plastic clamps I’ve shown earlier, I tried to fixate the rim at the correct hight. Once satisfied, I made a weld at the back, pretty much in the middle, then, alternating left and right, I put the next weld 10 cm (4 inches) further on.


That worked well, but when I reached the front, I found that I had not used enough clamps on the front. As a result, the curve of the rim was less than that of the roof, so it was too short. I ended up first cutting away the welds on the front. Then fixating it in the middle, in an attempt to keep the front-back spacing correct. then cutting away the welds on the sides to have it come in a bit more. Finally I started with the front again, welding from the middle outwards again. I used U-shaped grip pliers with wood strips as in the photo above, and welded the spot in the centre of the U.


Once everything was fixated, I started adding welds every 20 cm (8 inches) doing two rounds before stopping to let it cool. The fiddling with the wood strips an repositioning of the grip pliers in combination with about 2 seconds welds made the going slow enough to allow for serious cooling in between the welds as well.


I continued till there was a weld approx. every centimetre (2/5 inch) and then started to smooth the welds again using the sandpaper strip-disk.


I was really pleased with the result, especially when I put the 2K epoxy primer on. Only in the left front corner were small holes visible, and the welds had been hot enough to form a small bump underneath the roof as well, adding strength.


While doing this, I realised that there were only 4 more chores to complete before taking it to the painters.

  1. The sunroof – that was in progress an looking good
  2. the moulding on the left lintel stopped about an inch too early and had to be extended.
  3. The left of the front needed to be recreated.
  4. The right front door had a skin that had warped during sandblasting. I have decided to replace it rather then have the painters try and straighten it.

I’ll keep you all posted of the what and how.

The Hollandia Sunroof drama – part 1

Biggest challenge, or so I believe until now, is the sunroof. As I mentioned in my previous post, I thought I had solved it, but that didn’t fly, so I started again. First I made a mould of the panel. I clamped thin strips of wood along the edge and glued them together in that shape to maintain as much of the curves as I could. I have pictures of that, but in the end I found that the hatch its self was skewed. That meant I had to go further back and first make a new skin for the panel. But I din’t have a second donor roof, and it is curved in all directions, so how to solve that?

I ended up making a cast mould of the surface using a liquid epoxy raisin I had worked with before. But I knew it got really hot in larger quantities, and I needed a few litres (11 roughly I found out) so I poured it in batches of half a litre at first.IMG_2285

The mould was basically a box around the lid, filled and sealed so the liquid raisin wouldn’t flow out. To make sure everything would part again, all was liberally coated with petroleum jelly. Wire mesh was added to increase the strength.


Here the last two litres are added and still liquid. Once hardened, it looses its transparency.


Because I poured it in batches, and because it does shrink about 0.5%, I needed to smoothen the surface before hammering. Also, I needed to straighten the frame of the hatch. That was quite strong and needed a 6 foot pole to help me bend it back.

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The frame in the box that will be attached to the car, and on the already shaped metal sheet.


The sheet on the mould. The dynamo and starter engine help me to keep it bend at the edges, and to avoid dents I used a thin strip of oak to hammer on. Next step was to make the triple crease at the back. It first goes down for 8 mm, then goes horizontal for about 15 mm and then goes down again to be folded around the frame. I decided to do it differently this time. The first fold was made on a manual press brake, but that hat a 15 mm surface that needed to be flat after the previous fold. Last time I made a second piece and welded the two together. This time I secured the first fold against a 8 mm high piece of wood and first folded end then hammered it over the wood.

IMG_1927 IMG_1928

The third fold was once again made on the press brake. Then I used the mould again to give it the first curvature, and finished by clamping it in the middle to the frame. Initially it wasn’t bent enough and the edges showed an increasing seam.

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But at the end it sat nice and tight. Time to make the wooden mould of the frame to hammer the edges over. I used thin wooden strips again (4 mm thick) but this time I made frequent 3 mm deep cuts to reduce rigidity, and gave it back its strength by alternating were the cuts were made. 5 layers on the actual mould, 3 on the part that would keep the sheet pressed to the mould. Supports between the long sides were added to make sure it would not bend inwards while hammering the metal.


Then the corners and sides were trimmed to be the same size as the frame.


Once this was done, I clamped the metal sheet between the two halves and started hammering. Especially the corners, were the metal needed to be compounded took a lot of hammering, but in the end I was quite satisfied.

IMG_1938 IMG_1941

Next came the fitting.

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Satisfied with that, I glued a 3 mm thick strip of rubber against the hatch mould. 1 mm for the skin of the hatch, 1 for the seam and 1 for the skin of the roof. I had already temporarily closed the roof and aligned the mould to be centred then started to build the outer part of the mould.

IMG_1948 IMG_1949

Once that was completed, I took both parts off and started to build a second mould under the first, slowely pushing the mould of the hatch through the mould for the rim.


By that time my garage looked more like a woodworking shop then a place were a car was being restored. Ah well. The results count I hope, and so far I am quite satisfied. I cut the metal to have a lip of 8 mm (max that would fit in the frame) and started hammering again.


The result so far:


More news will follow (soon I hope).

More chores done

Time for an update.

There were 4 things on the ‘priority’ list.

1- I had not been able to replace the oil-seal on the drive-shaft side of the cardan. – Done

2- I had mounted the shocks on the front upside down. (Ooops) – Fixed

3- I had re-assembled the steering house, but didn’t have the gaskets and oil-seals, so never could put oil in it.

4- I painted and re-mounted the hinges and springs for the trunk lid, but never put tension on the springs or mount the NoS trunk – Done

So only one left (oh yeah, and the sunroof of course). I had ordered a refurbishment set for the steering house, so about time to take it out and take it apart again.


Luckily, everything came loose again without too many problems. I ended up just replacing the oil seals and the paper top seal. The bronze bushings showed no wear at all, which kind of makes sense. Although more than 54 years old, this car has seen very little use. According to the previous owner, it had been in storage for ten years when I bought it in 1990, and it has not been driven since. So it ‘only’ has had 19 years of real use.


And the steering house re-assembled. Time to get oil. It had to be hypoid oil. sea 80 for the steering house and sea 90 for the rear axle. Luckily they now have a hypoid mineral oil 80sea90. This is supposed to combine the viscosity of sea80 and sea90. So I bought 2 litres of it and filled both. That was two weeks ago, and I tested yesterday. They’re both still dry 🙂 There is very little give on the steering wheel, and I can make two full turns without any resistance, so I think it is correctly adjusted.

With the last item of the list done, it was time to start on the sunroof. I first remounted the panel, just to record the fit. On the right side, the front of the seam is too wide and at the back the panel is scraping against the roof. On the left, it’s the other way around. Now you could say the panel is simply rotated a bit, but it is not as the seam at the front and back are perfectly parallel.


Also, on the left front corner the hight seems to be correct, but on the right it seems to be about 3 mm too high. That will be handy to know when redoing it all. So I cut the 8 supports on the inside and put clamps on them so the frame wouldn’t be hanging on the roof. Than I started to cut the rims out, only to remember just in time that I should have some markers of where (front to back) the opening should be.

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So I put two fibreglass strips parallel to the front and back and have made markings far enough to the side to believe they’ll survive the next phases.

Meanwhile I found that I somehow don’t have the original gearbox any more. At some point in the first stages, I must have swapped it with an other one. Not really a problem, except the ones I have both have a disc as connection to the drives haft, but my drive shaft has ‘claws’ and U-bolts that hold the U-joints. So the two won’t go together. luckily I was able to get the right type of ‘claw’ for the gearbox axle. But so far getting two fitting U-bolts has proven to be impossible. Well, I’ll worry about that when the time comes. But while digging around, I found a 12Volt and 6Volt set of starting engines and dynamos. So in the evenings and when the weather was bad, I decided to fix the 6Volt starting engine op. It was horribly filthy, but surprisingly good underneath.


So back to cleaning. But only cleaning wasn’t going to be enough. The collector looked Ok, but I decided I would put it on the lathe and cut it a fraction back to smoothen it. I also ordered 4 new carbon brushes and a new coupling arm as the hole was worn out and oval.


The Collector or commutor before and after. I cleaned the grooves between the plates with a screw-head cutter. A very slim file. After that I used the smallest grain sandpaper to brush away any edges the file might have made on the plates.


Left the old coupling arm, right the new one. The bolt it hinges on is also quite worn I found later. Oh well, I’ll see if it can still be bought, if not I’ll turn it down a bit on the lathe and give it a bronze bushing. Fit now the give has been reduces fom a couple of mm to hardly any at all.

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The rear is coming along nicely as well. Again hardly any wear on the bronze bushings.

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The solenoid before and after cleaning. I cleaned the zinc plated part with triple zero steel wool, to leave as much zinc on as possible.


meanwhile, the housing was also cleaned and given a number of paint coats. I made sure that the part were it gets mounted on the fly-wheel house did not get painted. That is because it is the negative pole. The positive cable between the solenoid and the stator windings of the motor had lost almost all of it’s isolation. I tried getting the metal lip off, but it wouldn’t move, so I ended up using two layers of isolation tape and fixating the ends with shrink-tubing.


And here it is sitting next to the 12Volt version in it’s original state. I tested it, and even though the brushes have not yet had a chance to be shaped, it worked like a charm and had virtually no sparks. The solenoid also works great, so now I only have to think of a new plastic protection film over the holes at he back, and I can re-mount the steel protective band. So an other thing to store till I can use it on the car.

Back to the sunroof.