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$25,000 Build Off: Team Ken

2013-02-28 - Ken Pruett - ipd customer service representative

Seriously? I know it builds self esteem to let the other guys participate, but this is grown-up work. We’ve got a car to build. Put the kids to bed and let’s get to it.

We don’t really need to say anything about this project beyond……..total domination. Tim and Jevon quite simply proposed a project that has been considered by many people (including myself) and executed that project cleanly, in a timely fashion and without much fuss. Then Tim did it again with another car. This project is an echo of the IPD XC70R build from many years ago, but done in a fashion that is cost effective and usable. I was happy to help with advice and parts where I could, but they made this project look easy from the beginning. In the end, all of the other builds are in their shadow.

Team Ken - Jevon Wussler & Tim Helms

My name is Jevon Wussler project support team for this submission of Tim Helms and his 2003 Volvo XC70 for the IPD $25k Build Off!  Tim is not afraid to get into any project as you can see in the first attached photo of him and his previous Fiero project car.  Both Tim and myself work as Emergency Airlift Medivac pilots in Klamath Falls Oregon on a 14 days on and 14 days off schedule, and actually have a lot of free time at work too. Just about perfect for working on a car project, and because we live in OR, we will be able to drop by IPD with the actual car for some face-time with our IPD team member frequently.

Last summer is when Tim bought the XC70 with about 100k miles on it.  The first week he had the car, he used it as a retrieve vehicle for the US Hang Gliding Championships in AZ.  Everyone loved the XC.  Comfortable, easy to load the gliders onto, hold all the gear, good gas mileage, and AWD.  With a little more ground clearance, this car may very well be the perfect Hang Gliding vehicle.  The attached pic titled "sand" was taken over a mile from the nearest road.  The car made it back out on a spare (donut) without getting stuck, after picking up the stranded pilot and changing a flat tire.  The pic titled "rock" is showing the terrain that the XC was conquering that day,  it scraped the bottom a few times on the way in and was worried about the oil pan, but the look on the faces of the guys with SUVs that had already given up on going any further, was priceless!

The car has a custom Bull bar off a Mercedes SUV that Tim found in a junk yard shown in picture "bar".   Now that he has the mounts worked out on the Bull Bar he can get a new non-dented one. The bull bar had a steel skid plate for the bottom half...  Looked good but was very heavy.  There is talk and thoughts of fabbing one out of aluminum or thiner steel.  By the way, the blue Mercedes is Tims also so transportation will not be a problem if the volvo is down for a while. 

We attached a picture of the legendary XC70R AT.  We love the looks of it and this is kinda where we're going with the project just not that extreme of course.  Tim is looking for something a little more practical, so others can follow suit.  245/70-16 is probably the biggest that we will go on tires.  That would be 1.18" wider and 2.5" taller (1.25" on either side).  Bad Swede has a 52mm lift spring kit.  So about 2.75" to 3.25" total lift depending on which tire size the car ends up with.  We are also thinking more aggressive looking rims with a different offset and some aggressive A/T tires. Also we would replace the fender flares and do some slight "fender modifications".  This may require resizing or relocating the windshield washer reservoir.  We like the way the trim looks on the XC70R AT and would like to do something similar.

We would love to pick the brain of an IPD rep and are very open to any suggestions. Tim was thinking of maybe putting one inch spacers on the front and rear subframes to keep the wide stance and the suspension setup closer to stock.  Also, would reverse intercooler piping be worth the trouble?  Or maybe a top mounted intercooler would be possible with the front subframe dropped a little and a hood scoop for more room.  We'd like to put the car on a diet if you guys have any weight reduction ideas.  Exhaust upgrade is a must and we love the way the dual exhaust looks on the All Terrain.  Tim will keep track of the fuel economy changes along the way and get a before and after car weight.  The whole project can easily be done in 3 months, but we will make sure we provide enough video and blog material to stretch it out for 8 months.  This will also give Tim time to take the car on some adventures and give advice on anything he would do different if he could do it all again.  Tim is fully intending to drop about 2k of his own money into this project.

May 6, 2013


Super excited to be picked for the Build Off, and to be part of Team Ken!  We have already spent some time brainstorming and we are lucky to have Ken on our side.  He was part of the original XC70R AT project and is a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

The car is out of commission at the moment (apparently the 10 year old plastic radiator didn't appreciate being rallied). The good news is there are a lot of fairly inexpensive aftermarket radiators out there.  The bad news is all of them are plastic.  So the trick is to find one that has a warranty (ipd has a one year warranty with theirs).

My first hang gliding competition is in Georgia this month and  I'm looking forward to tearing into the car upon my return.  In the meantime I will be doing research and ordering parts.

May 24, 2013

Just wanted to give an update on Tim's XC70 and our progress! So Tim is currently outta town on a US hang gliding competition and doing quite well so far! He could definitely use his Volvo with the lift that we plan on doing right about now because he's landed a few times in unplanned zones already! So we have put a new radiator in the vehicle and it's working out great. We have an appointment for window tinting as well. IPD stickers are gonna be on the windows as soon as the tinting is complete! On the passenger side, we've removed the plastic fender flares above the wheel wells and are plotting out modifying them more or making a custom wheel flare mold ourselves. We have plans to work on new struts as soon as Tim returns from the competition. Pictures soon to come this next week! Thanks again IPD.

June 11, 2013

Ok, so....  I have a lot of good stuff on order, but nothing here yet. So I have been doing some research on the frame lift. Here is what I found.

It is almost as if Volvo wants us to put spacers on the subframe. This is the front right mount. The OEM bolt (with red lock-tight) has an excess of 18.17mm (0.715in). If we drop the cradle more than this, we will need longer bolts.

The arrow is showing an alignment pin.  these are only on the Left side of the vehicle. The pin is 24.7mm (0.972in) in diameter and 1in tall. These will need to be considered when designing the spacers. This pic shows the left front mount.

The pin is 24.7mm (0.972in) in diameter and 1in tall.

When you lower the sub-frame, you will need to disconnect the window washer fluid overflow tube. Also, the wiring harness (in the pic to the right of the overflow tube) goes up and over a hook attached to the front of the car. This hook will need to be bent down about an inch. The only other thing that needs attention is forward driveshaft tunnel brace.  There is nothing actually attached to this brace, but it will interfere with the exhaust hangers if it is not lowered.

June 12, 2013

This is a very short footage update on Tim Helms and Jevon Wussler as they work on the XC70 with Team Ken IPD for the $25,000 build off.

July 1, 2013

While the project in front of Tim and Jevon may have looked complicated and daunting to the outsider, they dove right in and completed the lion’s share of the mechanical modifications very quickly. We were pleased to see the lifted wagon in its new stance pull in to our parking lot under power this quickly.

There are also some horsepower and tuning upgrades that don’t really show in the pictures. There are sure to be further aesthetic upgrades to bring the vehicle into the full light of their vision. The “rackage” will certainly improve since it is important to Tim to have the ability to carry his glider. Maybe some graphics…………..

Stay tuned!

Chris and Ken visit with Tim Helms who dropped by for a visit to show us the progress on his 2003 XC70.

August 9, 2013

A quick update on cleaning up the fitment.

I didn't like the way everything was crammed together at the front of the rear fender.  Here is a pic with the fender liner out.

I marked and cut the rear fender.

Beat the seam flat with a hammer.

Then I used seam sealer and rivets to bind the outer edge back together.

The beautiful powder coated rims and General Grabber A/T 255/65R16 tires.

Tires on the rear before the lift and spacers. 

August 20, 2013

Here is another short footage update on Tim Helms and Jevon Wussler as they work on the XC70 with Team Ken IPD for the $25,000 build off... more updates to come and the build is not complete yet...

September 13, 2013

Took the car camping last month. Got some nice shots. Finally got the rear fender flayers back on, but don't have any pix just yet. Back down in AZ for another hang gliding comp.  then it's off to my brothers to work on a skid plate from the bull bar to the engine cradle.

I don't always wash my Volvo, but when I do I prefer elephant wash.

September 25, 2013

Contrary to popular myth, Tim did not build his XC70AT project to join the nomadic Sami herding reindeer in Lappland. This rig was built to drag stray hang gliders back to where they need to be.

Is that a little airtime Tim?

October 2, 2013

Here are the rest of the steps on Tim's lift tech.

When test fitting the front I found that the spring perch was just a little to low for this size tire. Of corse the sane thing to do would be to get smaller size tires, so naturally we welded new brackets onto our brand new struts instead.

The BAD SWEDE springs give me a 2 inch lift. The modified strut bracket gives me an additional half inch. The 15mm wheel spacers give enough clearance for lock to lock steering.

To make the car level we need half inch spacers for the back. This is a 1/2 inch thick kitchen "cutting board" made out of HDPE (high density polyethylene)

Rear with HDPE spacers. Now longer mounting bolts are needed. (ipd poly subframe bushing insert kit) Thanks guys!

Making spacers out of (UHMW) ultra high molecular weight polyethylene.

Smaller spacers for the rear brackets on the front subframe. (I did not use spacer on the brackets on the rear subframe).

Half inch clearance between the tire and spring perch now. :)

Initially the only rubbing problem was the bottom inner lip of the plastic fender flare.  I cut it off with some tin snips after taking this pic.

November 5, 2013

Another small update on the XC70 project...

We've upgraded the exhaust using ipd's Oval Tube Catback Sport Exhaust System. It is listed for only 2004-2007 S60R and V70R models but fits the xc with some slight simple mods... Tim cut away some of the bumper to tuck the exhaust up higher. See pics.

Tim was worried about it being too loud and noisy annoying but we were pleasantly surprised on the humble rumble. The tone is deep and mild, even at highway speeds. We're very happy with this upgrade!

February 10, 2014

List of parts in the build:

  • IPD ECU Flash Tune Upgrade
  • IPD Aluminum Skid Plate
  • IPD Silicone Performance Charge Air Pipe
  • IPD HD Performance Throttle Inlet Tube
  • IPD Poly Subframe Bushing Insert Kit
  • IPD Strut Bar Mount Conversion Kit
  • IPD Front Upper Spring Seat x2
  • IPD Anti-Sway Bars
  • IPD HD Sway Bar end links
  • IPD 15mm Wheel Spacers
  • IPD Oval Tube Catback Sport Exhaust System
  • IPD Upper Strut Mount Bearing
  • Bad Swede 52mm Lift Spring Kit
  • Bad Swede Grill
  • Tires General Grabber AT2 (255/65R16)
  • Window Tinting                 
  • Bull Bar and Skid plate
  • Custom Subframe Spacers
  • Rust-Oleum Truck Bed Coating

In the snow on Pelican Butte Oregon with Mt McLaughlin in the background: