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02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
6/20/19 4:11 p.m.

Success! I solved the driving light problem. Turns out (unsurprisingly) it was my own stupidity. Everything checked out at the lamp end, and I was sitting there staring at the wires coming into the housing, when I realized that I used bare terminals on the positive ends that connect to the bulb. When these were stuffed into the light housing, they must have been contacting the bulb surround - which is also the ground - and shorting the circuit. With insulated terminals in place all is well.

At the same time, I rethought the wiring a bit and decided the most elegant solution to the question of sourcing the primary power for the driving lights was simply to pull it from the same circuit that powers the fog lights. In essence they share a fuse, but since only one set or the other can be powered at a time, the fuse still only needs to be 15A. This means no additional fuses, no ugly fuse taps, and a properly protected circuit.

Now of course I can see that the inside of the driving lights are pretty dirty, so I'll have to pull them for cleaning, but that can wait. Tomorrow I hack out the leaky exhaust flange and hopefully patch it up. Then more driving.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
6/20/19 8:29 p.m.

That would certainly cause a fuse to blow!

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
6/21/19 9:24 p.m.

There's still something weird with the lights - behavior is not entirely consistent with what you'd expect based on switch position. I have a feeling I've wired something in a way that's backfeeding voltage into one or more relays, but I haven't wrapped my head around it. For the moment I'm not going to worry about it.

Today's project was to fix the blowing exhaust. The old post-cat flange was leaking, and clearly had been, as someone had tried to use exhaust putty to seal it.

As you can see, I took a less delicate approach. The cheap stainless sleeve I bought from Amazon didn't work, as the intermediate pipe OD was a little smaller than the cat pipe, so I couldn't get a good clamp on it. Sourced an appropriately-sized connector pipe and a couple U-bolts locally, which solved the problem.

Naturally, this required a test drive. I got a little more adventurous and hit one of the local dirt roads, which was kind of a muddy mess. The car seemed more at home there than it does on pavement. Rallyx is going to be fun when I finally get there. Obligatory glamour shot - unfortunately, you can't see the mud splatter up to the mirrors.

Need to get the front mudflaps mounted.

 

jfryjfry
jfryjfry Dork
6/22/19 12:44 a.m.

Ahhhh.  In its element. 

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
6/24/19 11:20 a.m.

So a few observations now that I've driven the car a few times:

- The 80s-tastic electronic gauges are crap. In spite of carefully soldering and insulating all the wiring, the gauges spike and drop out periodically, usually over bumps. They're coming out to be replaced with real gauges.

- Power is not something the car has in abundance. I think it was rated at something like 125hp. The transmission ratios don't help, as the gap between fourth and fifth is pretty wide, with fifth being quite high for anything but flat highway cruising. Momentum is your friend.

- The A/C works surprisingly well, at least in moderately warm ambient temps. It was converted to R134a back in the 1990s. It also saps a significant amount of engine power.

- The accessory belts squeal periodically. They're all new, and I'm guessing they just need to be snugged up a bit. I tend to try to keep belts only tight enough to keep things spinning, but I think I was a bit too cautious when I installed them.

- The odometer works when it wants to. I thought I had fixed it, but I guess it's coming out again.

- Finally, I had a weird episode with the car this morning. I threw my mountain bike in the back and took it out to a local trail. All good on the way out. I was parked on the dirt shoulder of a paved dead-end road, so there was a bit of a lip. When I cut the wheels over to make a U-turn out of my parking spot the car stalled. It repeated the behavior several times even once the front wheels were clear of the lip until I revved it up and slipped the clutch enough to get going. Something was obviously dragging - it almost felt like the handbrake was on (it wasn't) - but I don't know what. The drive home was otherwise normal. Since this only occurred with the wheels cranked over, either one of the front tires was contacting something (I'll have to look for signs of this) or the P/S pump was creating a lot of drag (seems unlikely, but I'm not sure how I would check it).

 

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
6/27/19 11:41 a.m.

Got the odometer fixed, hopefully for good. Had to do some surgery on the housing to get at the slipping gears. Of course the plastic clip on the speedo cable broke trying to reinstall. I managed to cobble it back together - it's working for now, though the speedo is not as smooth as it was before.

Tightened the belts, which seems to have solved the squealing.

And finally, in spite of being told that the front brakes were relatively newish (2-3 years), I decided to replace the pads and rotors. The old ones were a little rusty, and all the hard braking in the world never got me full braking power. Parts were absurdly cheap - pads, rotors, and hardware were under $20 from RA. Name-brand stuff, sold as closeouts. No-name stuff was even cheaper - there were three pad set options that were between 60 and 77 cents. Of course what should have been an easy job was considerably slowed by fiddly stupid things that became far more frustrating due to me just wanting to be done so I could get out of the heat, but it's back together, and the car stops far better than it did before. Still need to pull a little fluid out of the reservoir, but otherwise it's done.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/11/19 9:11 a.m.

As you may have seen in the main forum, the starter decided that it doesn't want to start any more after sitting for a week, so I'm waiting to get that taken care of. In the meantime, I sourced a set of proper seat belts to replace the ridiculous motorized ones. With any luck I'll be getting on that job this weekend. Still need to get state inspection done, but since the car's not being driven it's not critical; once the new starter is in and starting I'll get it to the shop.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/12/19 6:52 p.m.

So, a bit more detail on the starter job. I'm pleased to report that the starter is very easily accessed on these cars; with the flywheel forward and the starter mounted high, it's just a matter of popping off the clutch cover, throttle body support bracket, and a couple of wires and the thing is as good as out. The old one may well have been the original, judging by the look of it:

The new one slid right in, and happily seems to be doing its job far more effectively than the old one:

While I was dealing with this I also mounted some quick release battery terminals. They just slip over the posts and cam-lock on when you lower the cover. The positive wasn't strictly necessary, as the new battery cable had a good end on it, but the negative was original and needed to go. I did them both because it seemed a good idea, and my OCD wouldn't have it any other way.

With this distraction hopefully taken care of, next up is seat belts.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/14/19 1:08 p.m.

OK, so I lied. It's hot, I had other non-car stuff to attend to, and ripping out interior panels and fussing with seat belts seemed too daunting for today. I still wanted to do something on the car, if only to create the illusion of progress, so I decided to mount the new front mudflaps. These had been considered less urgent, as the originals were still in place, albeit tenuously so, whereas the rears were gone when I got the car. But I had them, and I knew it wouldn't take too much effort, so on they went.

I had already worked out the basic methodolgy on the rears: drill a couple holes, install rivnuts, attach mudflap with hardware. There were a few differences however. The rears, because of the body cladding behind the wheel opening, needed to be offset; I accomplished this using a rubber isolator for the inside mount, with standard hardware attaching the flap to the cladding. In the front this wouldn't work, as there was no cladding behind the wheel opening. This meant that the whole thing needed to be attached to metal.

Here you can see graphic evidence of just how little was left of the metal where the old mud flap attached. I only had to Swazall about two inches and it fell right out. I suppose I'll consider fixing this rust one day, but right now I care very little. I went with two rather than three mounting points, as the way the metal is folded and welded together there really isn't a good way to do three without them being on top of each other.

I used rubber isolators (they're M6, BTW) here too, as they allow for a little flexibility in the mounting, and more importantly, make the mudflap sit flatter and provide a nice channel between the flap and the body for water and crud thrown up by the wheel to exit without creating a moisture trap. I cut down the outer threads so they wouldn't catch the tire.

And the flap is on. It seems pretty solid; not quite a much so as the rears, but good enough for my purposes.

The rears stick out from the body a bit more than the fronts - I'm not sure how I feel about the look. The fronts are definitely less prominent. I may redrill the rears to move them in an inch or so to even things out. But not today.

Up next: seat belts! Probably.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/22/19 7:07 p.m.

Finally, the long-awaited seat belt conversion is done. All in all, it was pretty simple. The factory belts bolt right in, the receptacles are reused (same buckle design), and the only real converting that needs to be done is cutting holes in the rear side panels for the belts to pass through, and cutting the upper door trim to attach the grab handles/upper belt mounting points to the B-pillar. I don't think it even took an hour to complete.

The cut in the panel is hidden behind this plate:

The offending hardware removed, where it can't hurt anyone anymore:

The resultant arrangement removes a huge annoyance, making the car much more appealing to drive. It seems like such a small, inconsequential thing, but the automatic belts really are well and truly awful. Good riddance.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/27/19 7:00 p.m.

Did two small things on the Saab today. First was an utterly half-assed field-expedient exhaust repair. The rear muffler (I don't know if it's technically a muffler or a resonator; it's smaller than the muffler in the midpipe) decided to split the can from the pipe, leaving the can rattling around. Not falling off, just making noise. I didn't mind the slight increase in exhaust note, but the metallic rattling had to go. Too much metal had disappeared to rust, so there was no good way of properly sealing up the unit. Instead, I grabbed a few 90deg angle brackets I had lying around and welded them to the pipe and the can. This stopped the rattling quite effectively; the exhaust still leaks, but I don't much care. I'm debating between replacing the whole section, or just cutting out the muffler and replacing it with straight pipe.

Second up was a result of my search for every available horse. I discovered that, for reasons I struggle to comprehend, Saab put a snorkel on the intake (before the filter) that significantly reduces the cross-section of the intake. Everything from the filter to the throttle body is ~2.5"; the snorkel necks down to ~1.5" at its narrowest point. It is also wide open to hot air from the engine bay - maybe this is considered beneficial in sub-Arctic Sweden, but it's not doing me any good down here in a temperate zone.

For the moment, I just removed the snorkel and turned the filter housing so that the intake faces forward rather than backward toward the engine. It's probably just the placebo effect, but the car feels a little more lively in the upper ranges of the tach afterward. My plan is to find a rubber coupling to fit the nipple (2 5/8"), then rig a short pipe to draw outside air from below the bumper to create a proper cold air intake.

jfryjfry
jfryjfry Dork
7/28/19 10:55 a.m.

Looking good!  Two thoughts on previous posts:

 

would it be easier to just trim the rear flaps to reduce the amount that sticks out?

 

and I might re-think the quick disconnect on the positive terminal.  If you ever have to jump start the car, it might make it difficult at best.  The negative is fine - the jumper cables can go  on the block

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/28/19 6:16 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

I'm sure trimming the rear mud flaps would be easy enough, but I can just as easily drill a couple more holes in them and shift them over an inch or so if I feel like it. At the moment they aren't bothering me, so I'm leaving them alone for the time being.

I did consider the issue of the positive terminal. When the opportunity arises I'll test fit the jumper lead and see if there's a problem. If so, a new terminal arrangement will be sorted out.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UberDork
7/28/19 7:24 p.m.

I have wondered what the logic was behind the snorkus on the air box.  I’m sure there was a well thought out reason, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/28/19 7:40 p.m.

In reply to paranoid_android :

The only thing I could come up with is intake noise reduction. That seemed a lame reason to keep it, so off it came. I'm now trying to figure out if I can adapt the later cold air intake that came on the 2.1 and some other cars to my existing housing. Need to do more research. Failing that, PVC and rubber couplings from HD.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
7/31/19 9:29 p.m.

Been driving the car and dealing with some small things as they come up. First issue was raised by jfryjfry a few posts up, namely the question of jumping the car with the quick release positive terminal in place. It turns out that this is indeed not especially workable, but rather than remove the terminal, I think I figured out a work-around that actually improves functionality. There's a power distribution block that connects directly to the battery via a large diameter cable mounted high up on the right fender. I removed the M6 bolt holding the battery cable and installed a longer one with a couple of nuts to create a little post for the jumper cable to clamp to. To avoid inadvertently electrocuting myself, I grabbed a rubber terminal protector I had lying around, cut it to fit, and zip-tied it in place.

While I was there, I noticed that the vacuum servo for the fresh air flap had popped off the side of the housing. It was only held on by three rivets, so I just drilled out the old ones and popped in some new ones.

Speaking of the ventilation system, I then went to track down a vacuum leak I could hear behind the dash controls. Happened on all settings except defrost. I took apart the valve and didn't find anything, then started pinching off lines to isolate the problem. Turned out to be a tiny split in the line to the defroster servo at the servo end. I simply cut back the split end and reattached the line - problem solved.

Then the rear muffler can decided it didn't want to be part of the exhaust system any more, so it decided to start rattling around and shedding fiberglass insulation. The rest of the pipe is OK, so for now the cheapest, easiest solution is to just cut out and put in a section of pipe. I've got the parts - I just have to get under there with the Sawzall.

And finally, the odometer seems to have gone intermittent again, in spite of my initially successful attempt to fix it. I don't relish pulling the cluster again, so I'll probably just live with it for now.

In spite of all these, the car seems to by driving reasonably well at this point. I think I just have to keep putting miles on it and fixing whatever breaks (or reveals itself to have been previously broken) in the process.

 

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
8/1/19 7:45 p.m.

Welded in the muffler replacement pipe this morning. Louder than stock for sure, but not bad at all. Might get tired of it eventually and weld in a short glasspack or something, but right now I consider it an improvement.

And on the subject of noise, removing the intake snorkel really increases the intake noise when you get on it. It also seems to produce a bit more power at large throttle openings as well. Looking into options for replumbing, but for now just pulling the restrictive OE tube and rotating the filter housing to point the opening at the air flowing in through the lower valance is a step in the right direction.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
8/12/19 8:47 p.m.

Haven't really done much with the car lately, but I did take it on a ~120 mile drive today, which is about the longest I've done in a single shot. Still getting accustomed to the quirks - it rolls a lot more and has less power than my other cars, and exhibits a wide variety of semi-random noises I haven't yet identified (none seem to be tied to anything important, thankfully). But it drove fine, hauled my bike in the cavernous cargo area, and kept me cool with its surprisingly capable A/C on the way home.

I'm making of list for the next round of work, but it's all little stuff: exhaust hangers, adjust belt tension, stuff like that. Of course this means something major will fail catastrophically the next time I drive it.

 

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
8/16/19 8:30 a.m.

Upgrade time! I sourced the OE Saab intake that was used on some other variants (probably the turbos, I'm not really sure) to replace the ridiculous tiny snorkel my car came with.

The differences are pretty obvious: the new one is far less restrictive and draws air from outside the engine bay. What was not so obvious was exactly how it wanted to be mounted. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that it mounts vertically and pulls air from the space between the inner and outer fenders; my instinct was to mount it so it pulled from below the bumper, but this proved quite impossible. Once I figured it out I just needed to drill a couple small holes to secure the top portion to the inner fender and bolt it all up.

Much better. Given that just removing the old snorkel seemed to help a bit at the top end, I'm hoping this setup continues that trend. If nothing else it makes me feel better.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
9/1/19 8:14 p.m.

I've been driving the 900S a fair bit lately - not sure how many miles exactly, since the odometer stubbornly refuses to remain fixed - and it's been behaving reasonably well, usefully hauling my bikes around, and cooling me off after my ride with air conditioning that works better than you'd ever expect from something built in Scandinavia. I did notice that it's developed a new oil leak, which is annoying, but not really surprising. The best I can guess it's the rear main seal, at least judging by where the oil seems to be coming from. Given that the front main seal (which was the source of the last significant oil leak) fell out once I got to it, I can't imagine the rear is much better after 30 years. It's been added to the "probably should fix but not until it gets cooler and I feel like it" list.

Far more importantly, I decided I could no longer tolerate the state of the Super Aero wheels. They were dirty and tired-looking, and the center caps didn't match the wheels. In spite of the fact that the car has rust and dents, the headliner is falling down, and now it leaks oil (again), I could no longer sleep at night while the wheels were in this state. Action was required.

This is what I was working with:

First step, obviously, was cleaning off the accumulated filth. That left me with this:

It's a little hard to tell from the photos, but the centers are painted and the lips are bare aluminum. I like this look and so I decided to keep it. It was difficult to determine exactly what shade of silver the centers were supposed to be  - online photos showed what looked like two or three different colors. I went for something a bit darker, Duplicolor Wheel Paint in Graphite. It actually turned out somewhat darker than I envisioned, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the paint:

With the wheels clean and the lips buffed with a fine abrasive pad (which gave more of a brushed finish than a proper polished one - I'm still deciding how far I want to go with the polishing), all that was left was to tape off the lips and tires, scuff the centers with some 320 grit, and paint. The directions on the paint say to spray three light coats followed by one medium wet coat. This should be followed closely. The paint has a lot of metal flake in it, and any runs would be a disaster. Fortunately, at least on a nice flat horizontal surface, it was pretty easy to control. This was the result:

The pictures don't really give an accurate representation of the color. Straight on it looks quite dark, but from oblique angles it gets a lot lighter fast. This is about the best representation I could get in a photo:

It's still a little darker overall than I intended, but I'm not complaining. It looks a lot better than the mess that was on there before:

Lipstick on a pig, perhaps, but those mismatched center caps were driving me nuts.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
10/22/19 3:08 p.m.

Based on responses to a post in the main forum wherein I was trying to track down a noise, I decided to replace the lower control arms and bushings. It was a pretty straightforward job, but I dread dealing with old rubber bushings. And new rubber bushings, for that matter. But in spite of my trepidation, I dove into it. The arms come off pretty easily, but then the fun begins.

The arms themselves were pretty crusty. I didn't find any obvious cracks (apparently this is a common issue on these cars, and was suggested as a source for the noise I was chasing), but I didn't look too closely either. The bushings are pressed into carriers, which then slide onto the control arm, and are bolted to the chassis. I used a two-jawed puller to pull them off, which actually went reasonably easily with my big HF impact. Three of the four bushings stayed on the control arms, which made my life easier, but the one that stayed in the carrier fought me. The rubber was in astonishingly good shape for being 30 years old.

The new ones seem decent, and everything fit properly (sorry for the blurry photo).

The new bushings seem really large for the carriers, and a totally different shape than the old ones. I guess this is just due to deformation over the years. I rigged up the usual array of sockets and washers to squeeze them in. I tried soapy water to help them on their way, but it did nothing. Straight Dawn liquid did the trick, but it still required a lot of pressure - again, the big HF impact was key to making this easier.

After that it was all just a matter of bolting it back together. I inspected the mounting areas which seemed OK (I found a little area on the left side that seemed a bit crustier than I would like, but I'll keep an eye on and weld it up if need be) and hit the surface rust with some hammered finish Rustoleum. I'll coat it with Fluid Film before winter.

The good news is that, at least on the test drive, the noise seems to be gone. I'll keep listening for it, but I'm hoping this took care of it. The ride isn't much different, probably because the old bushings were still supple and intact.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
11/30/19 2:46 p.m.

Long time no update. Been driving the car from time to time; no new issues have cropped up. With forecasts indicating that we're going to get hit with some significant snow tomorrow into Monday, there was only one thing to do:

Off with the Super Aeros, on with the stock wheels.

Studded Hakkapeliittas. I look forward to the snow tomorrow....

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
12/3/19 12:38 p.m.

Well, the snow kind of fizzled, so my hooning opportunities were strictly limited, but what little I did just whetted my appetite for more. On these tires, this thing is ridiculously entertaining in the snow, even with all of its various faults. Obligatory shot of a Swedish car's natural habitat:

Mezzanine
Mezzanine Dork
12/4/19 9:59 a.m.

My classic 900 is still the best car I’ve ever driven in the snow. The only thing that stands a chance at stopping mine is ground clearance, but with snow tires it’ll rip through most anything.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
12/4/19 11:33 a.m.

In reply to Mezzanine :

I haven't had much chance to really test it, but the initial outing was very promising. I'm accustomed to RWD, so this is a new adventure. It would be even more fun if the handbrake worked properly....

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