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Robbie Dork
11/10/15 10:30 a.m.

Well, I got my CGS (Cheap Green Saab) a few weeks ago for a song. $250 and I drove it onto the trailer. You may have seen this other thread documenting that: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/i-said-to-my-wife-so-and-she-said-youre-buying-another-car/107193/page1/

I finally got the CGS in some photos and started on some work for it this past weekend. Not much so far, but some. In this thread I will document my progress.

Current Goals:

  • make it and keep it DD able
  • make subframe and steering rack reinforcements
  • get into tuning the ECU through T5Suite
  • Challenge? 1008 class? Can this be a top ten car?

Here's the starting pic:

Robbie SuperDork
11/10/15 10:35 a.m.

First order of business was the hood struts. The hood didn't want to stay up on its own.

Introducing, hood strut viagra:

Hahaha I crack myself up. Anyway, it turned out that only the passenger side was blown, evidenced by all the oil that leaked out of it here:

Quick, easy, and satisfying fix. Done.

Next is the reason the car was sold. The 'water pump' was bad.

Well, I dunno about the water pump yet, but the power steering pulley is sheared 100% off of the pump. Belt failed, no alternator charging and no water pump. Job number one is to get a power steering pulley coming this way.

ssswitch HalfDork
11/10/15 10:56 a.m.

That's an exciting interpretation of "pulley." I'm surprised the belt held out as long as it did with that much play.

XLR99 HalfDork
11/10/15 2:31 p.m.

This thread is relevant to my interests!

Man you got hosed on the purchase price though .

Why did that pulley come apart? Rust on the hub area?

Robbie Dork
11/11/15 9:02 a.m.

To the questions about the pump pulley:

I believe that it was running with no fluid (the seller mentioned that the power steering has not been working for a while, but he stopped driving it when the pulley finally failed and the alternator stopped charging), and therefore heated up and finally the shaft locked.

Somehow, the serp belt had enough power to break the shaft clean in half. Both me and my buddy who was a Saab tech for years were blown away by it. The shaft was just broken far enough into the pump that it couldn't actually come out of the pump with the pump still attached to the engine.

Mezzanine HalfDork
11/11/15 11:14 a.m.


Check out the wallowed out hole in the pump where the shaft used it as a bushing to keep turning. That is incredible.

Robbie SuperDork
11/16/15 12:00 p.m.

Well, I snagged out the really ratty exhaust system this weekend while I wait for the PS pump to come in. There were 2 places where the pipes were not even connected anymore, and many other rust spots.

The first spot (which I don't have a good picture of) is where the turbo downpipe connects to a flex pipe. That joint was totally gone, and the flex joint was disconnected from the DP.

This (used to be) flex pipe has seen better days:

Here was the other 'complete disconnection' at the inlet to the final muffler.

And of course, lets see the holes in the muffler itself for good measure.

So, basically it all needs to be replaced. The center section (S shape) is better than the rest but it looks like it is a muffler shop special with crimped bends. The whole thing looks like a relatively simple system so I am considering just fabbing my own 2.5 inch system from the turbo back (this looks to be 2.25). Want to keep a cat on there though, and it does have two O2 sensors and I want to keep passing IL emmissions, so I will see what I end up doing about that.

There's a full system from a viggen on Ebay right now that would be an upgrade, but its far away and the seller says he will not ship. I'd ideally find some performance system (or maybe the performance down pipe) used or something, so we will see.

Robbie SuperDork
12/5/15 5:51 p.m.

Well! Great progress today! I reinstalled a used (less than $50) power steering pump, and a new serpentine belt (22 something). No pics though.

I did also safety wire my old downpipe back together so I could take a trip around the block:

Basically while I plot my next move replacing the whole exhaust, I still wanted something on there so I could start testing out the rest of the car. It was a beautiful day and I didn't want to waste it.

Got the car running, filled her up with power steering fluid, topped off the coolant, and away we went. Here is what happened next. (BTW, this is how NOT to diagnose a non-charging alternator)

  1. Get in the car, notice power steering now works great. WIN! Some of the hoses looked really janky though with bad routing so I will probably clean that up. I probably should have done that before I filled the system up, but oh well.
  2. Next I notice that the battery light still seems to be on, but it is very faint, not nearly as bright as other warning lights. This was my first hint, but I totally missed it thinking that must just be how it looks when it is off.
  3. Start driving around. This thing rips! once you get into boost in 2nd gear, you go from 25 to 55 in no time. Its a bit of a wallowy driving experience right now though, feels way up high and floaty.
  4. Comes up to temp and stays there. Awesome! Bonus for not overheating on day one. Don't tell roadkill.
  5. After a bit, the ABS light comes on. Hmm, interesting. The brakes still have lots of corrosion on them, and I can still feel the rotors are not smooth yet through the brake pedal. I figure "it must just be a sensor", but really this was the second sign I missed.
  6. Next, I look down, and see the speedometer bounce. Weird, but I would swear it was just at zero. Reading normal now. I must be imagining things (but I'm actually continuing to miss signs). I'm starting to hear a backfire every now and then.
  7. Pull out onto the bigger road for a full 1st and 2nd 0-60 pull. Car starts breaking up in 1st at high RPM. Weird. Shift to second, floor it again. Normal, but then breaking up again at higher RPM. Lots of backfiring now. I think "weird, wonder what is going on. better head back home to figure it out". I look down and now the speedometer is for sure reading 0, even though I am moving. hmm.
  8. Turn signals are not working. WHAT?!? they were just working in the driveway, WTF is going on? (this is about my 10th sign that has now blown straight over my head). This car is trying to communicate to me and I am doing everything I can not to listen.
  9. Pull back into driveway, car almost stalls as I try to go slowly forward. I rev er up and make it. (another sign).
  10. I am idling now in the driveway, thinking about why the turn signals now aren't working. I pull the 'flash to pass'. Car immediately dies. Oooop. Now I get it. DUH. I say to myself, I bet there isn't even enough juice left to turn the engine over. I try the key. I was right.

So apparently the alternator wasn't charging the whole time. Well, at least I finally figured it out.

XLR99 HalfDork
12/5/15 7:00 p.m.

Nice work! Hey check my 9-5 thread I just started for some thoughts on the alt issue - if the problem is the alt itself and not cables/corrosion, you may be able to just swap in a new voltage regulator/brushes rather than a new alt.

Robbie SuperDork
12/5/15 8:30 p.m.
XLR99 wrote: Nice work! Hey check my 9-5 thread I just started for some thoughts on the alt issue - if the problem is the alt itself and not cables/corrosion, you may be able to just swap in a new voltage regulator/brushes rather than a new alt.

Yeah, I will have to look into refurbing the alternator. Where did you get your parts? It is dang tight in there though, even just getting the serpentine belt on is a chore.

Also, are there any Saab tricks to non-charging? Or are they pretty typical charging systems?

XLR99 HalfDork
12/6/15 7:26 a.m.

The charging system is pretty straightforward. I feel your pain with the tight confines!
I get most of my parts from Eeuroparts in CT; they do free shipping over 50 now and they're starting to do some of their own repops of Saab parts. My friend with Mercedes buys from them as well.

Robbie SuperDork
2/28/16 7:25 p.m.

Well, long delay but a good update today!

Nabbed the alternator out, replaced the voltage regulator, put er all back together, and boom! We have charging.

This would have been a real chore of a job, but I looked on YouTube before I went out today and saw a very helpful video. Tricks:

  1. First remove belt (1/2 inch ratchet extension fits into tensioner to loosen), then remove tensioner pulley. The tensioner pulley is only held on with one 8mm hex head bolt.
  2. Remove exhaust. I had this mostly done already, so I saved quite a bit of time, but the downpipe and cat will need to come out of the way.
  3. Remove passenger side front wheel. The lower alternator bolt is accessible from here, and getting the alternator in and out is helpful to have this angle of access.
  4. From there, the alternator only has two 8mm hex head bolts holding it on. The top one is hidden, so check out a video to have it pointed out.
  5. Alternator must go in and out through the bottom. This is why the cat and downpipe must come out.

I was quite happy to see the alternator was charging after replacing the $15 voltage regulator.

I celebrated by pressure washing the engine bay (I should have done that before i did all the work in there).

Robbie SuperDork
4/10/16 3:14 p.m.

Well, I got a few hours in this morning to take care of a few other things.

New fuel filter, new plugs, and new valve cover gasket.

Also saw a few perished vacuum lines,and replaced them.

Was going to start on the intercooler, intake or turbo I have waiting, but it started raining.

Robbie SuperDork
4/14/16 11:01 a.m.

Went to take the front bumper off last night so I can swap to the viggen style 'crossflow' intercooler I picked up for $40.

Since I had pulled the car literally as far forward in my driveway as possible (bumper just touching the garage), I needed to back up a foot or so first. Aaaand since the car has been sitting over the winter with the parking brake on, of course both sides froze up. B-E-A-Utiful.

The fix? Jack up the rear of the car, remove wheels, and bang on the rotors with a hammer until the parking brake releases. Looks like the parking brake is a 'drum style inside the disk' like many other euro cars'.

MMMMM. Crusty.

Robbie SuperDork
4/18/16 12:39 p.m.

So I installed the new crossflow intercooler from a viggen over the weekend. Pretty easy install, just pull the grill, corner lights, headlights, and then two big bolts and the bumper pulls forward.

Actually, the worst part was removing the intercooler hose clamps. Holy crap Saab cheaped out on those things, they were all so rusted they wouldn't even turn with a socket, I had to cut them off. Actually, much of the hardware on this car is almost rusted away while everything else seems just fine... On to the pics.

Old cooler:

Empty spot:

Old on top, new on bottom, the crossflow one is the same thickness, but is taller (because it is crossflow and not out and back) and has 8 rows instead of 6). I did use the tweezers trick to straighten up the fins before installing.

Also, I took off the headlight wipers while I was at it. They were not working well, and either I can take them apart and fix them, or live without them. I did have to plug the washer fluid line to them for the time being.

Robbie SuperDork
4/27/16 4:02 p.m.

Little bit of progress - got the old turbo off (left - garrett t25), and compared it to the new turbo (right - mitsu TD04).

Should just be some quick work to swap the hard lines around, and then the new turbo is ready to go in!

Robbie SuperDork
5/9/16 3:07 p.m.

Got the new turbo on. WAY more work than I thought. The stock turbo uses a slightly different oil drain tube fitting than the new, so I had to modify my old oil drain with a bench grinder to get it to fit correctly. I also needed to use some of the studs from the old turbo on the new turbo (I'm guessing because the studs came out of the donor car on dis-assembly). Those studs were a mess. I swear, SAAB used some of the cheapest hardware on this car, its ridiculous.

New turbo in place with new crush washers:

Next I started installing the new exhaust I have for this beast. I got a low mile take out exhaust out of a 9-3 viggen, and it looks great. Started installing it last night.

Also, I pressure washed the engine bay (AGAIN), this thing sure has a lot of grime going on.

crankwalk Dork
5/9/16 3:44 p.m.

Nice work! So much recent SAAB love on here the last few years. I swear you kill a brand and GRM peeps gradually still loving them more. Once the price on these hits the bottom (seems like it has already) people are finding they are pretty dang good cars.

Robbie SuperDork
5/10/16 11:35 a.m.
crankwalk wrote: Nice work! So much recent SAAB love on here the last few years. I swear you kill a brand and GRM peeps gradually still loving them more. Once the price on these hits the bottom (seems like it has already) people are finding they are pretty dang good cars.

Yeah, I agree. I have yet to really test out or start modifying the suspension, but I think this platform makes a 300hp/3000lb/$1000 daily driver pretty easily obtainable. And I hope to get this one there!

Robbie SuperDork
5/12/16 11:43 a.m.

Finished buttoning up the new exhaust last night. No sounds yet since I still need to finish up the intake (and boy is it tight in that area - really hoping I can get something done without removing the turbo again), connect the intercooler, oil prime the turbo, and reinstall the front end stuffs. However, here is a pic side by side of old downpipe and cat vs new downpipe and cat. I was able to re-use both rubber hangars and both o2 sensors, even though the relative locations are pretty different on the o2s. Rear one was perfect length of wire, and the front had like a foot too much. Zip tied out of the way. Done.

Also, I kept the original elbow and turbo flange, just in case I want to make a 'race only' exhaust down the line. I will be taking this old cat to a recycler and adding that back into the budget. I did scrap the rest of the old exhaust for about $3.38... haha

Robbie SuperDork
5/15/16 9:48 a.m.

Installed the pre turbo intake yesterday. Holy crap is it tight quarters down there. The ac bracket is what you see in the picture, and it is directly in front of the turbo inlet. I don't have the stock td04 intake pipe that v band clamps on there, all I have is a used silicone type elbow that just barely fits on the turbo. I finally got it on and hose clamped the crap out of it, but holy crapola. No pic of the finished product unfortunately.

Robbie SuperDork
6/2/16 1:32 p.m.

Got some time yesterday to connect up the rest of the intake and the intercooler hoses. The lower intake hose has plenty of room, as soon as you get your hand in there. The key to getting your hand through this hole is to:

  1. lubricate hand liberally (there is plenty of grime in the engine bay to do this nearly automatically)
  2. put hand in position
  3. relax thumb (this is critical)
  4. push hand in through the pain
  5. once hand is through, DO NOT make any sudden movements. Metal edges threaten to slice up your forearms faster than an emo kid can apply black lipstick.
  6. removal is the reverse of installation.

Here is the hole in question with the intercooler hose shown installed.

Here is the other hose installed as well as the intake to turbo pipe. There was a nick in this IC hose, so I may need to replace at a future date, especially if I am upping the boost. Bummer, but that is what you get with used forum parts.

Finally, I connected it all up to this used 'cold air intake' and cone filter I got used from the saab forums as well. Still not sure if I will use it or not. I am not convinced it is even an improvement over the stock airbox, and I can probably open up the stock airbox a bit even.

I'll post this question in the main forum as well, but anyone feel strongly about whether this cone filter is better than the stock airbox or not?

CyberEric Reader
6/3/16 12:15 p.m.

Cool car! My friend just bought one of these for cheap and has been working on it. So has my father-in-law, it's like everyone is hot on these now that they are so cheap. I can see why. I'm interested to see how it works as a DD.

Robbie SuperDork
6/15/16 12:19 p.m.

No pics, but I got the stock airbox back on last night, as well as the turbo support underneath and I re-hooked up the boost control valve. Started charging the battery as I just need to button the headlights and front back on to go for a drive!

Robbie SuperDork
6/20/16 9:12 a.m.

Well, GREAT progress on father's day!

First, I had to fix this guy (PCV fitting) that I broke while working on the turbo/intake.

When I bought the part to fix (less than $2), I also noticed that the associated PCV one way valve was less than $3. Figured I'd replace it an the lines for good measure. Old one out:

And on the other end of the PCV line, the stock arrangement is a brake line type bolt (i'm blanking right now on the real name) that connects the hard line to the intake. Since I am no longer using that intake piece, I had to cut the end of the hard pipe and add one of the two fittings to a piece of my new intake. Add in a short length of hose from my 'bucket of spare hoses', and we have a new setup.

Here's the finished product:

After that, I put the rest of the front end back together (bumper, lights, grill), and started it up and went for a drive!

Nice and quiet new exhaust (there is one spot that interferes with the rear coil spring and rattles a bit - might be able to massage that), new turbo pulls hard, PS pump and alternator are working correctly, woohoo!

The parking brake is still sticking though. Boo. I'll have to dig into that next to see what is going on. Also, I finally vacuumed out the entire interior. Looks a ton nicer now. Next I will clean and condition the leather seats.

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