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Swirl Arm low cost repair!

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Old Apr 4th, 2010, 21:49   #1
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Smile Swirl Arm low cost repair!

Hi, I'm new to the forum and some this will help some of you! I have had the dreaded Swirl arm problem and many attempts at a repair left the parts so loose the the assembly only lasted a few miles before coming apart. I noticed the initial problem (broken link) was caused by the stepper motor being "overdriven" in order to calibrate the mechanism about every fifth time the engine was stopped. This is quite a common technique (I am an electronic engineer) for this type of arrangement. Anyway, the torque of the motor (when being overdriven) is sufficient to cause the linkage to break in time.
Once I understood this, I came up with the following solution, which has been rock solid for 6 months/10,000 miles.
(I hope the photo has uploaded OK)
Basically, I went to B+Q and got some right/angled aluminium extrusion and a rubber "foot" as a buffer. I cut a short length and drilled a hole in it so that the part could be fitted using one of the motor fixing points. I filed the hole so that it was a slot so that the position could be adjusted.
Next, I fitted the rubber foot as a buffer.
Finally, I fitted the part and adjusted it's position so that, when the calibration (overdrive) of the mechanism occurred, it used my part as a "bump-stop", instead of straining/breaking the mechanism. It is important the position is adjusted so that correct calibration is achieved, i.e. it stops the mechanism when fully extended, but JUST before it strains the arm.
No more trouble, simple to fit and costs only a couple of pounds.
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Old Apr 5th, 2010, 21:52   #2
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Default Additional information

Forgot to mention - you can just see on photo that I fitted a small washer on the ball joint where the arm clicks in. This helped on an earlier repair attempt as it stops the arm rotating laterally when moving.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 20:37   #3
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Smile Swirl arm calibration

Hi Bic,

Very interesting to read your post, i noticed on my D5/185 that the arm at the swirl arm end had come off and although it was still attached to the motor/actuator end wasnt doing much !.. a bit of investigation revealed that one of the four tiny "clips" inside the socket thats on the engine side had broken, and it seems likely having read your post that its when it tries to calibrate the movement, pushing the link toward the front of the car fully, that it must have broken the socket end. I also noticed the first time I re attached the plastic linkage (with hand crafted bracket that holds the ball into the socket on the engine side) it moved the linkage over its full range before returning to normal position. I did wonder if this only happened if the link wasnt there, but perhaps as you say it does it once every number of cycles.

Does it rely on the resistance of when the link hits its end stop to detect its reached full travel? im guessing it must unless it has some other way of measuring the position, seems a bit crude either way, as the linkages dont seem to stand up to the strain.

Ive attached some pics of the linkage, it looks a bit different to the one in your pics, what year is yours? The elastic band in the pic is only to see if it would work before glueing the bracket in place ! (pics to follow)

How did you work out where to position the stop? having the link disconnected doesnt seem to throw up any fault codes, or perhaps it does but you cant see them?.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 22:27   #4
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The motor is known as a "stepper motor" and is driven by a series of voltage pulses or steps. The software in the system knows the position of the motor by applying a known number of voltage steps to the motor. In normal operation, the motor can "slip" i.e. the motor shaft position relative to the number of pulses can shift - hence the need to routinely re-calibrate.

This is done by applying enough steps to the motor to guarantee it will be in the end position, known as overdriving. The mechanism will mechanically stop the motor at the end of it's travel whilst voltage steps continue to be applied. This occurs at every 5th switch off of the engine.

Unfortunately, the torque of the motor eventually results in the mechanism breaking as a result of this calibration procedure. (Try holding the motor still during this process and you will see what I mean!)

The bump stop position is easy to set, just move the mechanism to the end of its travel by hand and set the stop in that position. My linkage is broken in the same way as yours but this fix has been fine for many months now and just works by taking the strain out of the system.

Someone on this forum took the idea and made a much better stop than mine (electronic engineers make rubbish mechanical designers!!), you should be able to find it if you do a search.

Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 23:40   #5
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Smile Bump Stop

Hi Bic,

Also read about a modified arm kit that volvo do, presumably this is a lot stronger and less likely to break? Apparently the actuator can be calibrated using the volvo computer thingy I wonder what this does ? as it sounds like it wants to calibrate itself every 5 switch off's.

Do you mean you can move the stepper "arm" manually without any damage? to see where to set the bump stop?

Did you find any messages come up on the dashboard, or any fault codes need resetting when the arm failed on yours?

Thanks for the info,, v useful
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 07:43   #6
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I have not seen the modified arm, but in theory any stepper motor driven mechanisms can "slip", i.e. not move physically when a pulse is applied.

This is only really an issue when no additional position sensor is fitted.(The software controls the position of the arm by applying a known number of voltage "steps".)

A good example of the calibration procedure is on some modern speedos where the clocks travel to max as switch on, then return to zero. Looks very nice, but this is actually the stepper motor calibrating itself by overdriving the needle, in the same way that the swirl arm is calibrated.

My fix just uses a physical stop to hold the mechanism when being overdriven, rather than letting the arm take the strain. Provided the stop makes contact JUST before the mechanism runs out of travel, it is a perfectly good fix and will save the arm taking any more excessive stress, which causes it to break, in time.

For this reason, I would think that, even with a new arm, the software would still require routine re-calibration.

The issue seems to be that the motor is VERY (possibly too) powerful and, as I found, when you strengthen one part, it was a matter of time before the next weakest part in the mechanism broke! I was concerned that, in the end, I would have to strip part of the engine down to repair internal parts of the linkage. The idea behind the bump stop is to eliminate stress in the setup, and to date, this has worked well.(You could always combine a better linkage with the bump stop, if you want).

Hope this helps!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 04:28   #7
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Default Swirl Linkage Missing

I also have a xc90 d5 with a missing swirl linkage. It does not seem to be causing any issues other than the dash warning(I have ordered a replacement linkage). But the main thing I am most concerned about is that there is a build up of oil on the area where the swirl linkage connects to the head. Is this normal considering the linkage is missing? All the other pics I have seen are free of oil in that area.
My other concern is, the bit that connects from the head to the linkage bar is missing. I have circled the bit that is missing on mine. What is this part called?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 16:40   #8
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Default V70 swirl flaps

Hi all
Having problems with engine service req coming on a number of times. the arm has been renewed by an indy but keeps coming off. the previous time I removed it completely and im pretty sure I moving the motor back and moved the butterfly and it has been ok with no message for a couple of months. The other day after higher than usual revs the message came back & can be erased by pressing the read button on the stalk. There is no lack of performance with the car and the position of the butterfly does not seem to have an effect on the engine could this have a detrimental effect ultimately(until a repair as per the posts on the nail repair and PDF explaining operation of swirl action) is done or a new swirl flap assembly is fitted indy wants £450 I trust this will include a modified connection on the butterfly-arm socket. The problem seems quite common and the concences of opinion on the repair is mixed, also which is open and closed on the flaps away or towards the block with the butterfly.
Thanks in advance for comments. Tony.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 17:11   #9
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Depending on the age, the later style link arms can be turned around so they stay on. You'll need a pair of decent pliers (ideally pump pliers so the grip is parallel) to force it on.

When mine went this is what I ended up doing and had no more issues. Is seems the ball joint gets warn and the little recess on the arm is not thick enough to hold it on, but if you reverse it with the larger collar holds it nicely and the reverse angle of the arm doesn't seem to affect operation - it probably puts more stress on the arm but at £3 a pop its worth ago - not that mine ever went again (10k miles).

Also when the arm was not connected I didn't notice any performance difference, but in the cold weather did take longer to heat up.
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Old Mar 17th, 2014, 14:46   #10
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Default Swirl Repair

Swirl instructions here from Volvo Newsletter
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