System 8 Series

From the pages of Volvo Torque No 21 Oct 1988

"GOLDEN OLDIES- Volvo 88 Series

The urgent need to replace the Titan model was the start which fired the System 8 product renewal programme. Altlough dattng offlcially from 1951, certaln components of the model originated wlth the earlier LV290 series built from 1937 to 1951.

The forward-control F88 became the mainstay of the 88 series, the normal-control N88 assuming more of a secondary role as the demand for the F-type increased, particularly in export markets. In Scandinavia, however, forward control continued to dominate for some time, especially in the heaviest class.

The introduction of completely new engines (the cylinder dimensions of which were the only feature of the earlier 9.6 litre unit to be retained) was, perhaps, the most important innovation in the 88 series. With the replacement of the 230 bhp TD96C by the new TD l00 (rated at 260 bhp) , the new models were powered by a unit designed for a higher output than was actually required. In technical terms, the new engine was of the latest design, featuring a separate cylinder head, Volvo-designed head gaskets of high strength steel, geardriven auxiliaries and sturdier engine blocks, with integrally-cast reinforcing elements to ensure uniform stress distribution and ellminate point loads.

Different alternatives to the in-line, 6-cylinder unit had been discussed prior to the development of the new engines. However, since all the available experience favoured the in-line configuration, the alternatives were abandoned.

The engines were not the only components to reach the limits of acceptable reliability during the 60s; the same applied to the transmission components which, although dating originally from the immediate postwaryears, had been required to transmit ever higher powers and torques. In the case of the Volvo 88, however, a break was made with tradition and it was decided to design a completely new gearbox. As ameans ofimproving the driveline efficiency, the twinaxle 'Norrland' final drive was dispensed with in favour of an 8-speed gearbox which, with its relatively uniform gear intervals, was designed to ensure operation of the engine within the most efficient and economic speed range. To the Volvo designers, it was self-evident that the new unit should feature synchromesh on all gears to simplify gear changing, and that all eight speeds should be selected with the ordinary gear lever. However, selection was limited to four clearly-defined positions (each with a high and low range to provide the eight speeds) t o ensure accuracy of changing. Volvo's first range-type gearbox was designated the R60.

Although the 88 series chassis incorporated several innovations, the new driveline components attracted the greatest interest.

A more powerful F88 (known as the F88-29O), equipped with a 290 bhp engine and destgned exclusively for the British market, was produced in parallel with the standard model with its 260 bhp TDIOOA unit.

The emergence of the forward-control conffguration as the natural choice, together with the imposition of stricter legal hmits on parameters such as overall length, axle load and GVW, necessitated an ongoing process of modification to develop the models into ideal freight carriers. Volvo took a maJor step in this direction in 1970 with the introduction of a modified variant, the G88 in which the front axle was located further forward to increase the distance between it and the rearmost axle - a measure which increased the permissible payload in several countries, including Sweden and Australia. This was accompanied by the introduction of a short cab increasing the available load space within the limitations of a specified overall length.

Although the F88 remained relatively unchanged in mechanical terms, a maJor advance was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1969, when the R60 gearbox was augmented by a 'splitter', doubling the number of speeds to 16. The new SR6l gearbox afforded even greater scope for optimizing engine usage.

The F88 gave Volvo its first foothold in continental European markets, while complementing the F86 in Britain and Australia. The role of the model in the company's development as an international truckmaker cannot be over-emphasised. Produced in greater numbers than any previous model, many F88s are still in service today."