1997 ng900 SE Turbo enduro car - The Saab Link Forums

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Performance Modifications for the NG900 / Old 9-3 This forum contains PERFORMANCE related Q&A's for the NG900 and 9-3. This may also include suspension.

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Old 12-03-2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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1997 ng900 SE Turbo enduro car

I've been meaning to do a writeup on this build for a while. It's long so I'll be adding it in pieces.

In its previous life this car was a tired, 200+k mile daily driver from Santa Cruz, CA. It showed up on Craigslist for $500 right when some friends of mine were looking for a first project. They weren't necessarily looking for a Saab, but since I had experience with these and spare parts lying around, and the price was right, that was just the icing on the cake. I agreed to host the build at my shop and help out. Before I knew it I was really attached to and excited about the car, became a partial owner and devoted a lot of time to it.

Three of us took the drive over the mountains to inspect the car in person for the first time and see if we could drive it back (if not we'd make another trip with a trailer). Poor car was in rough shape. The starter would turn and make horrible grinding sounds but not actually engage or turn the engine over. We pushed it out into the street, hooked it to our truck with a tow strap and after a few attempts managed to tow start it. The exhaust system leaks everywhere and the cab quickly filled with fumes.



We tried to get the windows down to make sure it was safe to drive home, but none of the power worked. I ripped off a door panel and tried to touch jumper cables from the battery directly to window motor leads, which clearly wasn't going to work. I ended up using a screwdriver to crank open the sunroof manually and just leaving the windows up.

The tires were all flat and the gas light was on, so we crept up the street to the nearest gas station and filled up with the car still running since we weren't sure if we'd be able to start it again. Turned out the gas gauge just didn't work, but at least now we knew it was full. We filled the tires up (which were also bald) and set out back over the mountains for home. One friend led the way in his truck, the other rode passenger with me and held one of the sun visors out of the sunroof to get some fresh air in the cab. There was no spedometer, the steering was rubbery and unresponsive, and the shifter was almost completely shot. The drive home wasn't as bad as I feared it might be, we made it back in one piece and parked the car.

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Old 12-03-2012, 05:17 PM   #2
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The next few days we got to assess the condition more carefully.

First the good:
The b204 is a good starting point and not slow.
trionic 5.5 engine management, corresponding electronics hardware are
all in great shape
exterior is in surprisingly good shape minus two little rust spots
lots of things in good enough condition to sell when parting out
headlights and brake lights work
brakes and clutch seem pretty good

Now the lemon:
3 bald tires, one new. We'll replace with star specs anyways.
starter doesn't engage flywheel, needs push start
exhaust leaks like sieve whole length of car; cabin fills with exhaust
windows don't open
trunk only opens with key
sunroof doesn't open
headlight switching is flakey and jiggling the key in the
ignition causes odd light behavior when headlight switch is off.
ignition switch does not automatically spring back from start to run positions, you have to carefully turn it or the starter sticks on (this is probably what killed the starter in the first place)
climate control only works when you first start the car, then shuts
off and becomes unresponsive to button-pressing
emergency blinkers work because they're hard-wired to the switch, but
turn indicators don't come on when signaling
speedometer broken (registers zero)
temperature gauge broken (registers hot even before I started the car
for the first time in months, obviously wrong)
vacuum lines dry rotted
leaky valve cover gasket
leaky cam plug
water leaking from somewhere as yet undetermined
passenger door doesn't open from inside
driver door has a trick to open
plastic panel hangs by clutch and traps your foot, care is needed when shifting
shifter bushings, reverse lockout, and knob top are busted
hood shocks won't hold the hood up
steering response is troubling, it's like winding up a rubber band.


A lot of what's broken is going to be stripped out or replaced with aftermarket parts anyways, so it looks pretty promising. Here are some of the last "before" pictures we got.





And then the fun begins, stripping out all the non-essentials!



Lots of wires...



Identifying and labeling all the various computers to sell to SaabBrains...





The alarm controller was especially fun because all the little wires are black. I began by researching how to jumper them at the connector, then traced those wires all the way to their sources and jumpered them directly, then cut out the whole alarm connector and harness. Drew myself a little diagram in case I ever do this again.

Whenever you gut an old car, you inevitably find some interesting things. I found pills, lighters, beaded necklaces, some silverware, a button, lots of change, a surprising number of cell phone sim cards (in the vents, under the carpets... we'll come back to this) but the real prize was a Nerita tessellata snail shell. These things are native to the caribbean and I only knew what it was because I've seen one in St. Croix. This car could tell some interesting stories.



All four shocks were totally, utterly blown out. As in, turn them right side up and they compress themselves. Rapidly. Until we had a complete plan for the suspension, I opted for $20 replacements found on ebay. They're made in China and the only labeling on the box said "SHOCK ABSORBER". Also got viggen brake caliper brackets, brembo 308 mm rotors, and some fresh rebuilt calipers since ours were in unknown condition. The old rotor is there for some size comparison.



Pressed out some bushings and upgraded to GS's race hard polyurethane.



Finished stripping the floor tar. By the way, don't use dry ice or solvents on Saabs. That way is a colossal waste of time and effort. Use a heat gun or a small torch. Those strips of tar peel off like masking tape once you get them a little hot!

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Old 12-03-2012, 05:21 PM   #3
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This is going to be good.

I should have written up more of the POS I've limped home... At least you don't have rust

That ignition switch could be causing a lot of the problems.

Blown shocks can break solder joints in the instrument cluster's PCB board

This is great!
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:37 PM   #4
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The rubber factory steering rack clamp was badly worn and probably contributed to how crappy the steering felt. The obvious choice is the GS clamp and brace, but since we're going to put a cage in this car I had another idea.

I took some measurements and made some basic drawings, then enlisted the help of a buddy who's a mechanical engineer with access to solidworks and a machine shop. Here's the mockup.



We picked up some 6061 plate out of a scrap pile and made it real. Next came installation. I cut into the firewall from the inside using a hole saw and dremel, drilled out the factory stud and captive threads, and mounted our new clamp using the super-long M10x1.5 bolts that used to hold the air conditioning compressor to the engine, plus some washers and nuts from the local hardware store.









But wait, you'll say, clamping the rack securely to the firewall is an incomplete solution, because under enough load the broad expanse of thin sheet metal that is the firewall can flex. Remember that this car is getting a cage. We'll get back to this later, pictures of it at this point would be going out of order.
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:18 PM   #5
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With the car rolling again, we were ready to get it caged. Evil Genius in Sacramento gave us a good quote, and we towed the car as far as Davis where we'd meet the owner on a weekend and transfer it to his trailer and have him take it from there. Very nice of him.

Three of our team loaded up the Saab that morning. It rolls and drives, but doesn't have brakes or seats. Just clutch, e-brake and sitting on the floor.

One guy climbs into the driver's floor, while another sits in the middle of the back floor ready to grab the e-brake. With guidance from outside they manage to load the car without incident. I wasn't here for this part but they tell me it was sketchy. I show up and two of us set off with the car in tow.

Upon arrival Evil John asks "So is it a runner?"
"Yeah, but it doesn't have brakes."
"Does it have an E-Brake?"
"Yeah."
"Well, that's brakes."

I volunteer to drive the car since I mistakenly believe that I know what I'm doing.

The Saab roars to life and I carefully drive it up on the trailer. The first attempt is indeed sketchy but it makes it. They tell me it's off center to the right and the tire rubs against the side of the trailer, so I (who can't really see anything while sitting on the floor) back up a few feet. When I try to get the car back out of reverse it won't go. I call the two of them over to show them. This should have been our warning sign that things aren't OK but we all shrug it off. It is a lemon after all. I shut it off and out it pops, then easily into first. Then, still declutched, start car, release ebrake, clutch. After that it was over in an instant. I clearly recall lifting off the gas and declutching and having an "oh shit" moment when the car was obviously still in gear. In the second or so it took to fumble with the ebrake it was too late.



I think our e-brake was also barely gripping enough to stop the car from rolling and so was easily overpowered by the engine even at idle. It's so light that it's practically impossible to stall. Given that, I may have actually pulled the lever before impact, I don't remember. Correct action at that point would have been to switch the key off. I'm not convinced it was impossible to have saved it if I'd acted faster, but everything is unfamiliar when you're on the floor.

Evil John, with the composure of a saint, calmly told us to turn off the car, as the front wheels are still spinning in the air as the Saab's mass sits unmoving, having beached itself. He repeatedly said "I'll just get a used tailgate and get one of my buddies to paint it. It will be $250." "It's just a tool to me." and "Relax guys, do I look upset?". Seriously, what a great guy. It's the first time we've ever met and I just crashed my POS car into his truck, and he keeps his cool.

We looked under the car and began formulating a plan to debeach, at which point we realized that the trailer's tongue jack had wedged itself between the engine and exhaust. We were very lucky in that it didn't seem that any coolers or other sensitive engine bits were damaged. We use a jack and lift stands to slowly but surly detangle the car from the trailer. We make a survey of both vehicles' damage. Yeah... that will buff right out.



Good thing the Saab didn't have a bumper. The bumper might have been damaged.



With the Saab finally secured we both simultaneously apologize and thank John for his help. John, being the nicest guy ever and completely unfazed by the state we have left his truck in, offers us the free use of his trailers in the future... Or perhaps he is actually an Evil Genius and simply assumed that if he loaned us a trailer in our apparent idiocy we'd undoubtedly damage our own truck.

Thing is, I actually couldn't see at all and when I crashed it I thought I had just bumped into the end of the trailer, and didn't realize the extent of the incident until I exited the car. That moment of realization was captured perfectly (I'm top center with the facepalm).


I did end up buying Evil John a new, unpainted tailgate and had it shipped straight to his shop. Thankfully it wasn't expensive because there's a big aftermarket for OEM-equivalent american pickup truck parts.

My final reconstruction of the incident concluded that the clutch pedal in these cars has a bracket that both holds the cruise control switch and doubles as a stop to prevent it from raising up to the point where the cable can slip off the lever. In our (read: my) haste to strip the car this got removed prematurely. I fixed it later thusly.



Having working brakes would have made this a non-issue too. I'd gotten complacent about driving junky cars with questionable or nonexistent brakes, but after this incident I've changed my ways. Nobody was hurt, so by now a year later it's just a funny story.
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:35 PM   #6
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The car came back from Evil Genius with a nice cage including all the details I'd asked for, tying into my steering rack brace. We got to work painting it to ward off rust, then put on SFI padding up top and basic low density padding down low. Also taped up the sharp edges where the door metal had been cut out.





Next we patched the hole where the climate control stuff used to bolt up between the firewall and windshield, using a spare trash can lid.







I made a new rear hatch out of a sheet of thick lexan (5 or 6 mm, can't remember), and new rear small windows out of some much thinner stuff I had leftovers of from another project.







I got the curvature pretty close to correct by using a propane torch and a 2x4. I used a respirator during this process since burning lexan probably releases dioxin and other things you shouldn't breathe. When factories thermoform this stuff, they use steam molds which have much better control of heat application.



Next came the sunroof patch. I happened to have a gigantic piece of stainless steel that was abandoned outside of a loading dock at my mech-eng buddy's work. The deal was I could have it if I could tow it away. I don't know what grade of stainless this is, but it's like battleship armor and wrecked all my cutting tools. At least I know nothing's coming through this roof if we roll the car over.





I glued it down first, using jugs of water as weights, and then went over it a second pass to put rivets in. Many drill bits were sacrificed in the process.



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Old 12-03-2012, 06:51 PM   #7
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Next up was all the electrical stuff. We relocated the battery to the trunk and put the kill switch up by the driver's window where it could be reached by both driver and crew. We traded the factory ignition switch for a Moroso switch panel with push button start, and also wired headlights and wipers to this, allowing us to simplify the relays and wiring further.

We wired up an adapter so the Lawicel CAN-USB plugs right into the can bus near the ECU, and used t5suite and t5carpc to help determine whether sensors or instruments were faulty.



(Also notice the firewall/steering rack clamp reinforcement in that picture. I'm really happy with how that turned out.)

With the help of t5carpc, we determined that the computer was getting a temperature signal, no road speed signal, and inconclusive on the fuel since that doesn't appear to be availabe on CAN. To see if we could fix our gauge cluster (speedo, temp, and fuel all busted), we tried a spare DICE (no luck) and then a different gauge cluster, which fixed the temperature gauge but not the fuel gauge.



The speed was fixed by properly reinstalling a loose ABS sensor on the driver's wheel. We eventually determined that the fuel level sender is busted, which nobody is looking forward to fixing. Thus far, we've just ignored it and based refueling strategy on clock time.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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There was a last-minute scramble getting the car to its first race. I was out on travel for the last week before it, and I actually drive a Miata for another team. I'm just a very deeply invested consultant for the Saab.

It basically only made it through the parade laps. It lost all power, wouldn't restart, and had to be towed in. The team tried all the quick fixes they could, but it was clearly having serious engine trouble. They were actually going to radio me to come in and help them fix it, but the miata team captain stopped them.

When I finished up my session and came over to help with the Saab, it was partially taken apart but it wasn't obvious what was wrong. We put it back together enough to start it, and to everyone's surprise it started up for me. It sounded like it had rod knock and maybe timing chain rattle. When engines eat it suddenly, it usually means oil starvation. For an engine that had been running great up to that point, had no signs of sludge in the valve cover, and had no oil consumption problems, this was troubling.

After race weekend we got back to the shop, pulled the engine and tore it down. The #1 rod was discolored from heat cycling. The crank was frozen up badly. The #1 rod bearing had extruded itself spectacularly. There were all kinds of copper flakes in the oil. It was oil starvation alright, but why?

Took the pickup tube cover out and looked in the sump and... white plastic? Looked closer and there's a CHEWED UP SIM CARD IN OUR OIL SUMP. And what looks like a relish packet. And a little bit of sludge. All this crap got stuck in the pickup screen and did the engine in. Incredibly, I could make out that the sim card was a Boost mobile one and was able to read its serial number. Where you at? In yo' engine! Snap!

Everyone who's heard this part of the story asks the same questions. A sim card? How did that get in your engine? Well... remember when we were stripping the car, how I found sim cards in all kinds of other weird places? Yeah. Not a coincidence. So the moral of the story is to pull the oil pan and clean it and the pickup screen out before you go into action with an unfamiliar engine.

Last edited by jerrit; 12-03-2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:20 PM   #9
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The moral of the story... Always pull the oil pan.

So did it spin a bearing or do I hear getting the crank cut and adding oversize bearings?

BTW. Pretty awesome... Even though I don't like the fact that it's "ruined".. I'm planning on finding one and SCCA Autocrossing it.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
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After some debate and prodding, we decided to shelf this engine and start over with a used one from our local Saab dismantler. After getting an engine that was supposedly known good (but probably sat in storage for a while), I carefully checked the oil pickup this time. We did all the installation and fired it up. It spewed smoke from everywhere and emitted flammable liquids from the exhaust pipe, a mixture of gas and oil. It also managed to overfill the crankcase with gasoline. Compression was bad and also very slow to build up on the #1 and #4 cylinders, so after exhausting what I thought were all the other possibilities I concluded it had bad rings and we got a THIRD engine.

Engine 3 was a significant improvement in the compression department so we got our hopes up, but it exhibited a few of the same symptoms when started, namely the presence of flammable condensation in the exhaust. We swapped a turbo for a spare and tried everything we could think of, swapping injectors, swapping every sensor there is, tracing the whole t5 harness with a multimeter, hooking up spark plug tester lights between the plugs and coils, swapping ecus... None of it made any difference. On top of the rest it developed a stalling problem that eventually worsened to the point where it wouldn't start. Between the two engine swaps and the weeks of fruitless diagnosis, this was an enormous amount of time and work going down the drain. The team was getting pretty depressed. Other friends told us they'd have sent the car to the crusher by now and admired our patience.

On a whim I tried swapping the idle air control valve's harness with injector #1... they're the same color plug with the same key and they're interchangeable. How can that be, aren't these things all keyed uniquely so you can't mix them up? Even the O2 sensors are keyed so you don't get the front and rear confused! But there was no denying they fit. We cranked the car over a bunch until it caught, and it gradually got better until it was perfect. I think we were too mad to celebrate right away. I wrapped the idle control plug with colorful tape and labeled it so we couldn't screw it up again.

During each of these engine swaps, I replaced the front and rear main oil seals, checked the valve covers, cleaned the pans and pickup screens, replaced all the o rings in the pan pickup and water pump attachments, disconnected the balance shafts, replaced the balance shaft chain tensioner with the GS tensioner delete kit, and replaced one of the chain guides and the crank balance chain sprocket with carefully shaved-down versions that only acted as spacers. So engine #3, by the time all was said and done, had decent compression, was free of sludge, and had a nice reduction in rotating mass. All's well that ends well.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:05 PM   #11
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During all the engine swap madness, we also decided to do some other stuff "while we're in there".

One of the guys noticed wheel bearing play on the driver's tire, so now was a good time to swap both front ones as insurance. The passenger one felt fine before, and felt fine after, so no problems there. The driver's one still felt wobbly after getting a new bearing. Well shit. We got a used strut knuckle from our dismantler next. It makes more sense when you see them side by side.



Seems like it must have taken a hit on the driver's tire at some time during its life and bent the strut up slightly. We pressed another new bearing into our new-used strut and all was well.

The steering rack also had a lot of play when operated by hand detatched from the struts, and seemed like the gear lash inside was probably off due to wear. We found an unbelieveably cheap source of remanufactured units and bought one.

Our last attempt to set the alignment had only managed to snap off the small pinch bolts due to rust. Between that and the new suspicion that the car had had front end damage, we opted to get new tie rods. And some GS steering rack bushings while we were at it.

We don't need power steering since the car is so light, but since the car uses a serpentine belt and the water pump is driven off the back side of the belt, the power steering pump had to stay (for now). We removed all the power steering reservoir and lines, looped the hoses at the rack, and set the pump up to recirculate. This arrangement seemed to work fine but had a critical flaw that wasn't immediately apparent. I'll come back to later.

During the engine swapping the brittle plastic on the throttle cable had snapped. There, I fixed it!



We'd also had a wall of duct tape cover up the mass of wires by the driver's left leg, which had already started deteriorating. I scrounged up a broken piece of fluorescent lighting panel in frosted clear acrylic, cut it to the right shape, reinforced it with a layer of duct tape on both sides (combined, it's now rigid and shatterproof) and reinstalled it with velcro. It's surprisingly not as ghetto as it sounds.





Our car had a side exit exhaust and a gutted stock cat made from pieces of the badly rusted factory exhaust. It was barely functional and in need of a refresh. I welded up a new side exit out of 3" all the way back. I also made my own downpipe, but I'm not that good of a welder and don't have any of the correct fabrication tools to do compound curves, so I accepted that it would probably be a temporary solution.













I connected the two pieces with 3" v-band. The downpipe with its simple curves sits awfully close to the ground, but hey, it works and the car runs!
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:22 PM   #12
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With the major things coming together, we were much more confident going into the second race. My miata had a history of outrageous paint jobs. It used to be this...



...until we took hard contact and replaced some bodywork, and opted to change it to this rather than try to fix the original paint.





The Saab team decided it was time to beautify the car at least a little. After throwing some ideas around, we agreed on chevrons, the joke being that this car is a heap that wishes it was a viggen. We started with a coat of navy blue on the roof, then built up silver triangle, yellow triangle, and blue stripes layer by layer. I did all of this using a measuring tape and some simple geometry scrawled on the masking paper, so it's not perfect when inspected up close. Looks good from a distance though.

















The finishing touch was the lettering, which was done using photoshop and a laser printer.



Here's our lettering compared with the original.


Last edited by jerrit; 01-02-2013 at 11:57 AM. Reason: Added picture of completed paint job.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:47 PM   #13
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Our intercooler hoses were pretty cracked and shitty, so I used the opportunity to upgrade to my old viggen intercooler (my viggen has the ETS) and the hybrid hoses. No pics, but this is a common swap you can read about elsewhere.

The rear of our car was feather light and stood up on the tips of its toes. We ordered the lowest rear race springs in the GS catalog, which are these hilariously tiny Eibachs. That's a stock rear ng900 spring next to it.



Once these were on the car the rear was slammed low to the ground. Much improved.

Things had just come together in time for the race. It was two nights before when we declared everything done. I wanted to take the car for a victory lap around the shop. After a few laps I noticed smoke coming from under the hood and the smell of hot chemicals. Pop the hood and after some inspection figure out that our power steering pump is frozen up and incredibly hot. I had to pour tap water on it for a while, which boiled off instantly, before I could get in there and diagnose it.



Yep, it's truly busted. Wobbles all over in my hand.

I sent out the emergency emails and teammates picked up spares on very short notice. At the last minute I swapped out the pump and determined that a combination of foaming, lack of fluid volume to dissipate heat despite having no load on it, and no reservoir higher than the pump, had killed it. We still had the old reservoir and there were enough assorted hoses around to make it work. The fix involved a massive amount of zip ties. I'll see if I can find a picture of this.

Next update, race #2: did the car explode again? Stay tuned!

Last edited by jerrit; 12-03-2012 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:03 PM   #14
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No! It did NOT explode again! It was all clutch and shifter issues that were easily resolved with a few minutes of pit stop each.

Issue 1 was clutch not disengaging. The clutch lever arm pretensioner spring and clutch cable auto-tensioner are shot on this car so we had to introduce some more preload. The guys used an aluminum san pellegrino can and some green masking tape to make a spacer. The car went back out for a while.

Issue 2 was that the bolt that holds the shift linkage to the transmission (not the pinch bolt; the other side of the linkage) rattled loose. It backed halfway out and interrupted the rotation of the shaft to the point where 3rd and reverse were inaccessible, then fell out completely and the transmission was fully disconnected from the shifter. I stole an M8x1.25 bolt from the dash and used it and a lock washer to reattach the linkage. All gears came back and the car
went back on track.

Issue 3, by the end of the first day the car was stuck in gear again because the spacers from fix 1 had compressed or else the cable had further stretched and we effectively lost our preload. I added more tape and a shitload of zip ties and got the clutch back. That finally fixed it well enough that it ran all day Sunday without incident.

There was also some oil seepage from the bellhousing that's either rear main seal, transmission input shaft seal, or both. Wasn't a show stopper.

What took the car out of the race was too many black flags/penalties due to a misunderstanding about a particular rule change. Eventually they were given a penalty with a time duration longer than the remaining time in the race, and had to retire. Not to be deterred, they took the car to the dyno instead and pulled 170hp at the wheels. As far as I know that's only 4 hp down from a perfect example of stock, which is great for an 18 year old engine.

My Miata, being a Miata, was reliable, nothing to report there.

Up next: yet more build to fix the persistent clutch problems, and gradually catching up to the present.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:38 PM   #15
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The race performance had raised a few issues.

First and foremost was the stupid clutch cable. We could have just gotten a new cable and called it done, but this thing had bitten us time and again and I was sick of it. I instead convinced the team to upgrade to the hydraulic clutch from a 9-3. I got the clutch pedal assembly from our dismantler, new master and slave cylinders, some missing bits and pieces and a braided stainless line from GS.






I used this as an excuse to re-upgrade the clutch in my viggen to the quartermaster dual disk, and donated my Spec aluminum flywheel and viggen pressure plate to this car. I also donated a carbon stage 3 clutch disk but we ended up getting a stage 1 organic disk from GS and holding onto the carbon one for later. Drilling the new holes through the firewall was surprisingly not that bad. Swapping the transmission back into the car was by far the hardest and most obnoxious part. These things really don't like to line up for you.


Speed in a straight line was good. Cornering was apparently pretty dicey. For one, the car is absurdly front-heavy since more heavy stuff stayed in the front than in the back. Plus the front suspension (stock, soft, high) is badly mismatched with the rear (stiff, low). I browsed some options before buying Afcoil 5x9.5" 400 lb linear rate springs.



Stock was 5x13.5 so even with the increased rate I was worried I'd have to shim these to prevent rubbing. Quite the opposite, they only dropped the car a modest amount, maybe back to what stock height was before all the weight reduction. The car drives nicely with these but if anyone wants to follow this route, I'd buy something shorter. Time will tell how they do in an actual race.

My downpipe had bottomed out during the race, which is scary since it could crack studs on the turbo or exhaust manifold. We ponied up for GS track-only catless 3" downpipe, which is just a thing of beauty.



It's on the car by itself for now, venting the fumes out under the driver. I'll be modifying the back half of the exhaust to mate up with this. Shouldn't be much work.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:13 PM   #16
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Maybe the most exciting post-race project was the conversion to an electric water pump. If you look through my previous threads (there aren't many), there's the story of modifying a 1992 900 Turbo to use a Davies Craig EWP. So I have some experience with this that came in handy.

The power steering recirculating contraption attempt #2 had held up through the entire race weekend, remarkably, but I knew it was a gross hack at best and a fire hazard waiting to happen at worst. Recall that the water pump depends on the power steering pump placement, basically. We'd already removed the air conditioning system in the very early days and swapped the stock belt out for a Dayco 6pk1795. The brand isn't important, it's the standardized metric sizing that's important: 6 rib serpentine belt with a 1795 mm circumference. Beyond this, there was no off the shelf option and I'd have to figure something out.

Converting to an EWP means the power steering pump is free to go, and the only belt driven accessory we'd have left is the alternator. Not only does this simplify things in some ways, it should add a little power and will definitely improve throttle response since belt-driven accessories are rotating mass.

I began by confirming that a super-short belt path would actually work. I removed the ps and water pumps and mocked out the belt path using a string, which looked like it would work. From there I measured the string's length, fudged the numbers a little, and bought some belts in a range around that size.



That's when I discovered that I can't measure, or else these belts aren't literally the size they say they are. I ended up trying like 20 belts before finding the magic one, which was of course the rarest and most expensive and had to come from Europe. Dayco 6pk1137 fit perfectly around alternator, crank and tensioner assembly.

From there I mocked up the coolant flow path and which pipes would need to be modified or created from scratch. I used old spare steel water lines to make the thermostat bypass and a combination of 6061 tube and a heavily modified oem saab water pump housing to make the intake to the block. It still connects to the intermediate water pipe with the o rings and bolts to the same places, but instead of the centrifugal pump there's now just a 1.5" outer diameter pipe where a hose can connect.







Inline temp sensor goes in the upper rad hose.



And the EWP itself fits with the help of various silicone leftovers cut to juuust the right size, and one final custom welded 1.5" x 3/4" tee junction.





A 3/4" hose connects from the tee at the intake to the other steel pipe at the thermostat bypass, and the coolant reservoir connects to the new additional hose barb up there.

The Davies Craig microcontroller is a pretty cool self-contained unit that in my experience "just works" out of the box. You connect it to positive, ignition on, pump, sensor, and ground, and then it does the rest. You can read up on the control logic on their website.

When all the pieces of this puzzle came together at last, it finally just started and ran like a champ on the first try. I think this car and I have come to an understanding.

It comes up to temperature reasonably fast and stays there as it should. The clutch feels great. The power and responsiveness are noticeably better. It goes from idle to bouncing off the rev limiter and spinning tires alarmingly fast, at least. And the sound, man, that GS downpipe sounds much better than my homemade one somehow. This car sounds like a lion fighting with a jet engine. I almost feel bad we're going to put a muffler on it, but a lot of tracks will black flag you for excessive noise.

That's it, the present day. I'll keep this updated occasionally if/when the car gets other work done to it.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:02 PM   #17
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The moral of the story... Always pull the oil pan.

So did it spin a bearing or do I hear getting the crank cut and adding oversize bearings?

BTW. Pretty awesome... Even though I don't like the fact that it's "ruined".. I'm planning on finding one and SCCA Autocrossing it.
The #1 bearing was extruded into a film and many surfaces nearby are scored and discolored. I saved it all in case we ever want to machine it out and build up a serious race engine. b204 blocks are the most desirable starting point. For now, it sits in the corner.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:19 AM   #18
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Even though I don't like the fact that it's "ruined".. I'm planning on finding one and SCCA Autocrossing it.
Ruined? That would be if the car went to the crusher. This one is getting a second life in the racetrack, even if it's with Lemons.

Great tread, love to see the building of a budget racer
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:18 AM   #19
 
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Awesome posts!!!
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:22 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Snabb SAAB View Post
Ruined? That would be if the car went to the crusher. This one is getting a second life in the racetrack, even if it's with Lemons.

Great tread, love to see the building of a budget racer
I guess I was a little tired when I posted and forgot to add a couple of these after the word ruined. I was kidding.

It's pretty sweet that you're actually using a Saab for racing. Not a lot of guys do. Pretty sweet build too. I may have to steal some ideas from it.
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