You must be joking

I’ve been worrying about this much longer than it deserves. The same could be said about many of the parts on Escape Velocity, it’s just that some seem to rankle more than others. It turns out that I’ve been chasing an elegant, inexpensive solution to the problem for more than three years, really ever since the previous owner (PO) said look, don’t buy Volvo Penta anything, their prices are insane and they don’t make anything, they just rebadge everything. As an example he showed me a just purchased Volvo air filter inside a black plastic box. The catch is that the box is sealed and one simply buys a whole new black plastic box which conveniently has a new five dollar air filter glued into it. He looked up at me and after a dramatic pause for effect he said, “that five dollar air filter costs $100, and you’ll need two.”

I was gobsmacked. I mean really shocked. You must be joking. That’s when he planted the seed of discontent in my life. It seems the PO just discovered that a certain motorcycle manufacturer actually makes the air filter and can be had for one third the price that Volvo charges. Well, I felt better already. Cutting Volvo Penta out of the equation would become my new hobby, as if Volvo hadn’t already thought of this.

The good news is that I run a clean engine compartment so I figured they ought to last quite a while but eventually a solution would need to be found. The bad news is that Volvo are world class obfuscaters. How they can keep our particular engines out of all the online cross reference sites is beyond me. I’ve been chasing this phantom motorcycle air filter for years now and I’ll admit it’s gotten under my skin.

On our recent US trip I had a “miracle list” featuring things that might be considered if our needed list turned out to be cheaper than the
amount budgeted. Yeah I know, we can dream can’t we? Near the bottom of this list I’d reluctantly entered 2 Volvo #3809924 air filters. After all, a clogged air filter could be causing some of the port engine’s RPM problems and I’ve grown weary of asking for a universal clamp-on air filter that would fit. Having said that, just writing it down still stings like defeat. (null)

Santos, mi nuevo amigo that I recently met at the chicken bus stop, listened attentively to my sad tale, smiled and said no problema, let’s all go up to San Salvador tomorrow and he knows a guy. We started by cutting the front off of the black plastic box revealing a very dirty filter but no elegant solution to the problem. I asked Santos if he knew the saying “let’s not reinvent the wheel.” He said no, he did not know this saying but he liked it. It was time for plan C which had its miracle moment when we’d find a universal clamp on filter of approximately the same size as the Volvo intake. After a half dozen repuesto stops all over San Salvador we gave up and reluctantly bought two cheap can filters trading a “reinventing the wheel” problem for a plumbing problem. So it was back to the machine shop where Juan would machine a block of aluminum to my specs, or rather Volvo’s, and it’ll be done…wait for it…mañana.


So, as I was saying, I might have been better served just spending the $200 at every change but with any luck at all we will have cut Volvo out from this cash cow.


Now, about those $20 Volvo oil filters! Yes $20, it’s nautical robbery.

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