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  #21  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
Location: Calgary, Ab
My Saabs: 1987 900
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One of the things that needed to happen was to take care of the steering. The system leaked oil, it was stiff, it was sluggish, and the feel was terrible. To my surprise the tie rods and ends were in decent shape, but I had new ones so out they go.

Everyone's rebuilt a steering rack in these cars, right?

I decided to remove the servo assist. It's a preference - I like manual steering in light-ish cars. The 900 isn't LIGHT light, but it's light enough that I want to see what it's like. If I don't like it, I have another rack I can rebuild and swap in. No way to properly go assist-free unless you disassemble the rack. Looping the lines just turns the steering rack into a steering dampener - you need to know the slightest bit about hydraulics to figure that out.

After making many mistakes and finally getting the rack apart, the offending lump of metal has been removed and dealt with.



Two cuts with the death wheel, a whack from a cold chisel, and it's not a problem. The grooves in the shaft are there to keep the piston in place, they're not made by me.



It wouldn't have contributed much friction itself, but leaving that piston in would have required pressure equalization on both sides of the system. Any fluid would get pumped out of one chamber and into the other, even air creates a dampening effect. Adding that to the drag of the seal moving back and forth in the cylinder is why you don't just drain the rack and loop the lines. I'm not worried about the seal up the middle of the rack - that's not a big source of friction without pressure activating it.

Again, many mistakes and much filth & cleaning makes for bad photo reference on disassembly, but the reassembly process makes for better photography.

Since I had no pesky piston in my way, I can install the passenger side retainer first. In goes the bushing housing, followed by the spring washer and then by the seal housing and the snap ring. The snap ring cannot be seated yet, don't even try. Grease up the bushing and seal with a nice low-temp molybdenum grease.






Clean and grease the pinion bearing. Install so you can read the numbers later on if needed. Don't forget the snap ring.



Grease up the rack. You can slide it in from the pinion end, avoiding ALL the hassle of trying to get the teeth past the seal in the middle.




Center the rack. From the bushing to the end of the rack, each side was 77mm.



Install pinion. Twisting the rack along its axis while being careful not to move it back and forth, and twisting the pinion slightly back and forth, the teeth should engage with the pinion in this position (pointed straight 90* towards the driver side)



The helix of the teeth rotates the pinion so that the notch is pointed straight up (down in this picture). Re-check rack is still centered:


Last edited by Matt Dupuis; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:50 AM.
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  #22  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
Location: Calgary, Ab
My Saabs: 1987 900
Posts: 61
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Install rack bushing on pinion end, along with spring and threaded elements. Spring retainer gets threaded in until bottomed out, then backed off 40-60* (per factory manual). Lock ring gets tapped on (and off) with drift and hammer if you don't have the right size wrench. Moly moly moly.



Install pinion side tie-rod, don't forget the rack stop ring. This is the element that limits travel. (Pinion nut is still loose here, it gets tightened once the rack stops, aka tie-rods, are installed)



Stake it down:



Grab your tool. Mine is about 1 5/8" diameter and 7" long. Not too much to look at, but hard as steel. Juvenile jokes aside, this butts up against the passenger side seal housing and the shoulder of the tie rod, with the rack pushed all the way over so the pinion side tie-rod is butted up against the stop. Screw the tie-rod on with water pump pliers - it doesn't take much - and everything stacks up and compresses that spring washer enough to snap the snap ring in place. Make sure it's in its groove all the way around.



(Taking it apart is an exercise in patience. I used a thin pokey bit to push the ring out of its groove through the access hole, then a thin hookey bit to grab the ring, then a loop of stainless MIG wire to grab it. Ride the wire loop up to about the middle and pull the spring out of there.)



Rack done, ready for install. I used generic o-rings everywhere since there won't be any pressure in the rack, just the grease and a little bit of oil. I will plug the pressure and return ends with expandable rubber plugs.



While I was at it, I discovered that the U-joint that clamps onto the rack pinion was very stiff in one direction. With much cleaning and penetrating oil and back-and-forth action, I got it loosened up to where I was happy. If I let scope creep take over, the column would have been out of the car and I would be addressing this on the bench, but I'm satisfied with it.

The shifter felt really stiff and gross on the road, so I wanted to address that too. It came out of the car and got blown apart. All the old grease was cleaned out. I found that the shaft had a bunch of factory weld spatter on it that had torn up the bushing so I knocked it all down with a file and cleaned up the bushing some. More low-temp moly grease and the shifter is moving nice and free. No pictures.

More cleaning. Before:



After:



Again, it's never going to be a show car but it's nice to have it clean.

Engine work next. Gotta get it out of the garage and on the road for a bit, so need to keep the momentum up and the focus sharp.

Keep in mind, the budget for this car is practically zero. I can't toss a bunch of money at it to make it perfect, which makes a lot of my decisions easier. I know the subject matter isn't the most exciting and the end result won't be pin-up material but it doesn't matter.

Last edited by Matt Dupuis; 1 Day Ago at 11:43 AM.
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  #23  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
Location: Calgary, Ab
My Saabs: 1987 900
Posts: 61
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Got the engine & transaxle separated last night. I'm only referring to the manual when I'm not sure of something, which means that for the rest of the time I'm figuring crap out myself. I thought pulling the clutch & flywheel was necessary to get at a couple bolts behind the flywheel, thankfully not. Getting the flywheel out with the engine in place is possible, but not necessary. Most of you already know that, I'm just figuring it out for myself. My clutch is so worn out that I had a really difficult time generating the clearance needed to get the throwout bearing and clutch removed - I had to get a little savage. No money to be spent on this car yet, so the old clutch will go back in and I'll need the practice for when it comes time to change it in situ.

But before any of that... is this a joke?



I mean, seriously? How small can this be? I understand this thing only sees torsional loads and not the bending loads of a conventional FR transmission, but here's a picture of the Saab input shaft next to one from a Volvo M46 (which is dwarfed by the shaft from the ubiquitous BW T5):



(The M46 is the 4 speed + electronic overdrive that was installed behind everything from the 95 hp B21A to the 180 hp B230FT+. It's good for about 250 WHP before 3rd gear becomes a problem, but the ratios are very wide and utilitarian.)

It puts a new perspective on how beefy a part needs to be, because I haven't read about anyone with actual power in a Saab breaking one of these input shafts.
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  #24  
Old 2 Weeks Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
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My Saabs: 1987 900
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In an effort to spend as little as possible, I'm creating an awful lot of work for myself. Example: Put the whole mess back together, get it in the car, start hooking it up. While I bleed the formerly good (adequate) clutch slave cylinder, now it has a horrendous leak (as in a steady stream). Well, since the clutch disc, throw out bearing, and pilot bearing are all crusty and/or worn the heck out, might as well do everything again right?

Good thing I have a parts car.

Sheesh.
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  #25  
Old 1 Week Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
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My Saabs: 1987 900
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No pictures today, but the engine is mostly hooked up, the VW parts are in, the return fuel line from the warmup regulator has been built (the old one included a return from the frequency valve that needed to be eliminated), and it's all ready to go in that sense. Wired up, plumbed up, and ready to fire. I've still not decided if I'm going to eliminate the deceleration valve or if the cold acceleration enrichment system will still work, I suppose I can try them out first and see if I get any trouble. I vote simplicity, but

I set the car on its hubs, on jack stands, and leveled it out to give it a crude alignment. Boy oh boy, is that driver side a PITA to deal with! Good thing I removed, cleaned, and anti-seized all the bolts in the upper control arms before I dropped the engine in place. If I had to fight them as well as the tight spaces, it really would have ticked me off.

Next up: exhaust.
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  #26  
Old 1 Week Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
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My Saabs: 1987 900
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All the old junk cut off, and the donor pieces on the floor. The little oval muffler came out of the parts car:


Cutoffs from my old garage furnace. I have 6 of these aluminized 2" mandrel bent 16 gauge tubes. The surface rust and other goo wire brush right off:


The only part of the old exhaust I'm keeping:


Downpipe and flex section. The downpipe has a brace up to the diff cover (hidden):


That old muffler cleaned up okay:


Rear section, BBQ painted black.


Sounds pretty beastly, but I've got some issues to sort out with the fuel injection. #4 injector isn't squirting very well at idle, and when I switch fuel lines at the fuel distributor between #3 & #4, the problem moves to #3. Under load it runs okay. I've got a guy on a local VW forum donating another fuel distributor for me to try.
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  #27  
Old 2 Days Ago
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2017                                                
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My Saabs: 1987 900
Posts: 61
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This past week and a bit has been a flurry of activity.

The replacement fuel distributor was glued up solid with varnish, and wasn't coming loose. I pulled the regulator valve out of it and the o-rings crumbled, so I figured what did I have to lose and pulled it apart. It actually looked pretty good inside, once I got the varnish loose and GOT inside, but of course it didn't seal up again. I read up on quite a few tips & tricks & procedures to get it sealed up and I have full confidence in being able to do so, but before I spent any more time I blew my first VW distributor out again and tried it. The more I run the engine, the better it runs, so I think there's a bit of varnish in that one that's getting washed away by fresh gasoline.

The clutch is back in and hooked up, and the bleeding process went painlessly. I forgot to take photos of the setup, it's pretty simple: An old master cylinder reservoir cap with a hole drilled in the middle. Through the hole, one of the fancy bolt-tightened tire valve stems with the Schraeder valve removed. Then with a cheap bicycle pump I put 8 or 10 psi into the reservoir, and with a clear hose on the clutch nipple you watch until bubbles stop coming out and there's a bunch of fluid in the hose. For good measure I then puffed some shop air into the hose to drive the fluid back into the slave and push any bubbles that might be trapped on the master cylinder side back into the reservoir and out that way. Took about 5 minutes, and the clutch feels magnificent!

With the hood back on, I washed down the body in brakleen and shop towels. I peeled off all the badges, moldings, and trim, and scraped the adhesive tape off the body. More brakleen and shop towels. Then a couple hours with a clay bar, a couple hours with the rotary polisher and heavy cut cleaner, a round of swirl remover, a hand job of sealer and a hand job of wax, and I ended up with this:







It didn't do much for the rust, dents, scrapes, or other body damage, and the paint certainly isn't going to make anyone drool, but it looks presentable now. I really dig it without the side trim, though I probably need something to replace the bottom trim and cover the alignment holes. I'll probably get a narrow (maybe 1.5" wide), low profile, solid black strip for this instead of the big bulky Saab stuff that's in bad shape. The upper rub strip is staying off.

I took it for a victory drive:

The steering feels pretty good. Stopped, it's stiff like you'd imagine but certainly no worse than a manual steered car. Nowhere NEAR as stiff as it would have been with looped lines, but we already knew that, right? On the move it snaps back to center with a nice return action, it has no torque steer (could be that it's also got no torque), and it generally feels nice and communicative. Parallel parking is a bit firm, but yeah... we'll get used to it.

The exhaust... sounds good. It's not as loud on the road as I thought it would be as long as you keep the revs down, with the windows up it's actually pretty easy on the ears. 5th gear, 100-110 kph, there's no drone or excessive noise. The whine from the timing chain is more noticeable. Open it up and that changes though: it barks and rasps, bellows and howls. Pretty sweet. Before it warms up and the decel valve starts opening there are delicious pops and crackles on the overrun, and then when it warms up and that valve starts working they go away. I may add a switch on the dash to disable that valve for giggles when I'm feeling raunchy, and leave it enabled when I don't want the rally car sounds to annoy the neighbors.

The alignment feels good enough to leave alone, the steering isn't numb or wandery, there's no pull, all the clunks and bangs in the front suspension have gone away with the new ball joints, and basically everything works as it should on a new car. I could have replaced the bushings but I'll do that the next time I've got the engine out. The rear springs are sagged out and the rear shocks are very soft compared to the Bilsteins in front, so my next move is to tighten that up back there and I would love to get some sway bars in the car, but for the next few weeks I think I can just drive it and leave it alone.

I need some quality time with the car to start to see any value it may have, besides what my stubbornness bestows on it. For the next few weeks I'll be getting that time with this car while working on the VW, then I'll chase down whatever adjustments this car might need to survive the 1000 km Beater Challenge, and then I'm going to strip apart the '89. Later!

Last edited by Matt Dupuis; 1 Day Ago at 11:48 AM.
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