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C900 Performance, Mods & Tuning Covers Tuning & Performance modifications for the Classic 900 (C900)

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  #101  
Old 11th April 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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That picture represents half the order - I actually dropped off two engines' worth! Generally speaking there isn't a huge penalty for more pieces - loading up the powder in the first place is the big cost, and more pieces are little increments. The entire order of 16 parts was $200.

As a point of reference the shop that did the exhaust manifold above in ceramic was $150. So, that's the difference between 16 pieces in basic powder in California and one piece in ceramic in rural Washington state.

In both cases I just dropped off whatever came right off the engine (or out of the brackets box ). They steam cleaned, blasted & coated.
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  #102  
Old 22nd April 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Getting there!

Finished installing my BMW power steering reservoir:


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...g_psbottle.jpg

Pretty happy about this. BMW E36 bottle, Saab 9-5 bracket, factory 900 suction hose, modified 900 return hose... the modification is 1' of 1/2" ID hose and a 1/2"->3/8" union secured with some Oetiker clamps. Time will tell how it ages, but I'm always up for getting rid of tough to find parts.

Got the accessories all installed and head on, which felt pretty satisfying.


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...spg_headon.jpg

I had to call it a day at that point, but assuming nothing gets in the way, it should be wrapped up next weekend.
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  #103  
Old 5th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Got side tracked with some other stuff, but got back to it today.

After getting the valve train all back together, I turned it over multiple times with a ratchet to be sure the tensioner was doing it's thing and cam timing stuck. Something I'd never noticed - maybe never had reason to notice - is that even turning the motor over by hand is enough to get results from the oil pump.


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...newheadoil.jpg

Eh, I guess it's hard to see in the picture, but there is a bunch of oil spread out throughout the head. The head was spotless, and the oil pump had been removed. 15 or so turns with a ratchet was enough to get the pump to do it's thing. Not bad.

Most of the mechanical bits are back in place...


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...nearlydone.jpg

Basically left is the air filter and an oil change.... bleed the cam followers. Checkup, done?

Looks great without a leaky power steering system on the side, but now that hole looks awfully.... gaping.


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...85spg_nops.jpg

Hopefully tomorrow I can finish it up... it needs a bit of road time and I gotta get it smogged this week!
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  #104  
Old 5th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Started it up, heater control valve inlet broke and fell off. Coolant went everyone. So great!
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  #105  
Old 6th May 2019
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Greaaat.
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  #106  
Old 6th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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This is the second time this has happened to me (in 25 years of owning c900s). 25 YEARS. I AM SO OLD.

The first time it happened, it was a new-to-me car that really had no business of being on the road, but I decided to drive it anyway. About 2 miles in I felt something on my foot, and then the valve let go and dumped hot coolant onto my feet. That sucked.

At least this time it failed in the driveway, and failed into the engine bay!

In both cases, the plastic of the valve had turned to mush... crumbly black mush. Interestingly (to me?) when I "redesigned" the cooling system on my XR4Ti I made the mistake of using a Dorman tee fitting which lasted just a few thousand miles before doing the same. I'm not sure what makes plastic not turn to mush with hot coolant, but it seems that magic substance gets weaker over time, and Dorman doesn't use enough of it.

I ordered a new valve from eeuroparts… they offer "OES" (which is PPS, which is POS) and Uro Premium. Talk about the lesser of two evils... I went with the Uro option. Hopefully that wasn't a mistake. Of course, at 2500 miles a year it'll probably last forever anyway.

I need to run it for a little while - there is quite a racket from the head. Oil pressure is good (70psi at start, 35psi idling hot) so at least I know that's not the issue. It's probably just collapsed lifters... hopefully they pump back up again. On rare occasion I've had perfectly good lifters not survive an extended sit. I'd prefer NOT to take the head apart again! (And this time, I don't think I have any good spare lifters!
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  #107  
Old 7th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Had a little time last night, so I decided to fire up the SPG & let it run to see if I could get the head to quiet down. It didn't want to cooperate, so I thought it best to pull off the valve cover and do a quick check to be sure everything was behaving itself. While it was open, I got antsy and decided I might as well install these:


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...g_camgears.jpg

orrrrrrr…….. that's what I wish had happened.

In actuality, after about three minutes of running (loudly), the car just died. Dead. My heart sank, I got a bit sweaty, and all I could think was "Damn machine shop blew it and I dropped a valve" - or something like that.

I pulled the valve cover off and didn't immediately see anything wrong, so I turned the motor by hand to see if maybe it had jumped timing. Which it had. Intake was a good 60 degrees off exhaust.

Initially, I could not understand it - I'd cranked the motor by hand many, many rotations and everything looked great. I'd bled the cam followers without incident. How could it have jumped time?

Then I saw it - the bolt on the intake cam had backed off, the cam wobbled, and sheered off the key. Why? I'd forgotten to torque down the cam sprocket bolts. In probably 40 head gaskets I've NEVER forgotten to torque anything, and of course on this one I forgot something that could catastrophically ruin the engine. NICE.

I looked everywhere but had no spare sprockets (which is inexplicable - I used to have a stack). My only option was pull the set off the spare motor in the garage.

I got them installed, my heart was racing fearing the worst (valveiston contact), and started it up. It idled great, sounded great, and I don't immediately have a reason to think something is wrong. 1000-5000rpm sounds like it should. I should probably do a compression test, but I'm afraid to.

But, uh, it runs and runs quietly. So it's good, right?

Also, ADJUSTABLE CAM GEARS!

Last edited by jvanabra; 7th May 2019 at 05:35 PM.
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  #108  
Old 8th May 2019
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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Oh my, if I came out that lucky, I'd be one happy guy. I'd still do a leakdown test because a lack of noise doesn't confirm the lack of a leaky cylinder, and if you tagged a valve enough to tweak it, it might break and drop at a much higher RPM than at idle.
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  #109  
Old 8th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Ugh. I know.

I decided to drive it to work this afternoon just to see how it's doing. Tech II shows all systems operating normally and it feels good doing normal things. However, there is what I would describe as severe ignition breakup as boost builds past 8psi or so... Tech II doesn't see anything wrong, and repeated pulls resulted in the same breakup. No CEL, though, which I think is odd. This could be the DIC failing - it's old and used, but did not have this problem before... of course, with the head in the condition it was in I have no doubt in-cylinder conditions aren't what they were either. Or, it could be a wack valve, so there's that.

I will monitor for misfires and do some logging on the way home, go ahead with a leakdown test, and I have at least a couple spare DICs to swap in. TBH, I don't *think* it's a bent valve … unless it's maybe a lot of them. The effect is pretty dramatic, not what I would expect from an engine with some lost capacity.

Bah!

On the upside (?) having power steering for the first time in nearly ten years is a treat... although I am instantly reminded of why I didn't entirely miss it. c900 PS is incredibly overboosted - not a great deal of feel! I will miss that... until I get around to modifying the pressure relief spring a bit.
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  #110  
Old 8th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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So... the leakdown did not go as anticipated, but at the same time isn't much of a surprise...

First, the car was MUCH better on the way home. No more hesitation, oddness, nothing. Fast and smooth. I can't help but wonder if maybe Trionic needed some adaption time. I probably should have forced an adaption after restarting it, but whatever. After a brief hesitation at the first pull, the rest of the drive home was great. All sensors report good things, every OBDII monitor except evap set within the 18 miles of driving.

On getting home, I hooked up the leakdown tester.

#1 = 0% leakdown - 80 in, 80 held
#2 = 0% leakdown - 80 in, 80 held
#3 = 12% leakdown - 80 in, 70 held
#4 = 25% leakdown - 80 in, 60 held

In both the leaky cylinders, all loss was through the BOTTOM. Tangible airflow from the valve cover. On #4, I made the mistake of putting my finger over the hole in the valve cover which resulted in a GLOP of oil bubbling up through the dipstick. Whoops.

This isn't great news, but at the same time isn't a huge surprise. I have no reason to believe the bottom end is in any better shape than the top was... for all I know, the bottom end is the original 250k lump.

Retrospectively, I wish I had just effing bit the bullet and replaced the engine and transmission rather than messing around with a head gasket turned ugly. I also wish I had "before" figures to compare.

But, at the same time this result is acceptable to me. The car only sees a few thousand miles per year, I have zero intention of building it up, and if this iffy bottom end can do another 10k or 20k then I'm 100% satisfied. At least I have boost to make up for the loss of compression.

Hopefully it'll smog in its current condition. There is still the chance it might need a new cat, but it's worth trying it out now. It's not leaking or burning anything right now, which is a huge improvement... I'll at least try!

Edit: Compression is 165-170psi across all four cylinders. Maybe I have some sticky rings from sitting for two and a half months? Could be. Either way, with good compression I'm definitely okay with those leakdown results.

Last edited by jvanabra; 8th May 2019 at 08:24 PM.
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  #111  
Old 9th May 2019
Matt Dupuis Matt Dupuis is offline
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You could try some top end cleaner to see if the sticky ring hypothesis pans out. I have had good luck with General Motors' stuff, and Seafoam also works well. I'm not a believer that either of them will perform miracles, but every little bit helps. Backing it up with the compression test shows that even though 25% leaks past on your gauge, in reality it's happening so slowly that at 200 RPM cranking speed there's very little difference between the best and worst cylinder.

Regardless, leakage past the rings is a great sign, in terms of the health of your head. It will run like that for forever.
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  #112  
Old 9th May 2019
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You're good, move on. No worries with that motor, run it.



Don't terribilize it with all those measurements!
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  #113  
Old 9th May 2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvanabra View Post
Then I saw it - the bolt on the intake cam had backed off, the cam wobbled, and sheered off the key. Why? I'd forgotten to torque down the cam sprocket bolts. In probably 40 head gaskets I've NEVER forgotten to torque anything, and of course on this one I forgot something that could catastrophically ruin the engine. NICE.

I've missed tightening enough bolts lately that I'm going to start marking them with a paint pen. I think my car work is more "broken up" than it has been in the past. I'm working on things one or two hours here and there. At least that's the story I'm sticking with, it can't be age (I'm 41)!!
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  #114  
Old 9th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tboy View Post
I've missed tightening enough bolts lately that I'm going to start marking them with a paint pen. I think my car work is more "broken up" than it has been in the past. I'm working on things one or two hours here and there. At least that's the story I'm sticking with, it can't be age (I'm 41)!!
Yes, this. I am sure I missed the bolts because the head assembly was So. Slow. It took like nine days between tightening the head bolts and putting on the valve cover. Still, I'm generally really good about keeping track of progress and, at least with c900s, I know where all the fasteners are and it's easy to run through a mental checklist. Still, failed.
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  #115  
Old 9th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Dupuis View Post
Regardless, leakage past the rings is a great sign, in terms of the health of your head. It will run like that for forever.

Yeah, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Some day the transmission will give up the ghost - it's been physically beat - and when I get there I can swap the whole thing out. No worries.... I just don't need to do all this work again. And, really, I'd be real sad if all the work I did over the last month was for nothing. That would SUCK.
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  #116  
Old 11th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Decided to take the SPG in for a hail-mary smog test today. It did not work out. Results were slightly better than the previous one, but not good enough to pass. High HC and high NOx. Having gotten some miles on the car, watching Tech 2, I am pretty confident the engine is running right. All the front-end stuff looks good (MAP, ECT, IAT) and output (O2) looks good, so I'm blaming the cat. Does make me wish I could run this car with cat diagnostics, c'est la vie.

The exhaust is janky and I've never trusted the cat, so this was always on the table. I got 10 unexpected years out of it, so I can't be mad. Still, after this last work push, I was hoping to not have to deal with exhaust too, but whatever. It was gonna happen eventually.

I got it back home and went back to work - replaced the heater control valve, and finished some wiring I should have done last year... hooking up the fuel pressure gauge and the WBO2 gauge.

While doing so, I may have inadvertently found the source of the stuttering problem I encountered last week. The fuel pump relay appeared to be misbehaving! When the key is turned on, the relay just runs and runs and runs, never shutting off after the initial prime. Turning the key off and back on again stopped it, but sometimes it wouldn't start again. I'm thinking maybe it was randomly engaging and disengaging while driving. I replaced it and the behavior stopped, so hopefully that was it!

I donated the radio from this car to an '01 9-3, so next personal project is sticking a new one in. And maybe seeing about one more gauge, just to fill the hole:


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...pg_fpgauge.jpg

It's not pretty down there, but whatever. It works. (And, I'm happy to report my fuel pump is delivering the 3 bar it should be!)
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  #117  
Old 16th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Tunes: Check. (again)


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org...g_newradio.jpg

Kenwood Excelon KMM-X503... all the things except a CD player which, like, who cares? I'm hoping the 5v pre-amps clean up the sound a bit... we'll see. It's kind of amazing what $130 buys these days, but OTOH I remember when an Excelon head unit felt like something special. Now it feels like a $130 head unit with high volt pre-amp outputs.. :shrug:
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  #118  
Old 24th May 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Tomorrow SPG goes in for exhaust. It'll be the ATP 3" outlet, 3" downpipe 3" cat, then 2.5" back over the axle. It should support way more power than I ever wanna make from this car. This is a big grey area, since under normal circumstances modifying the downpipe is not legal but there is some leeway with the exemption sticker. I'm hoping to fall on the RIGHT side of the grey area... otherwise after this is done I'll need to take it back to have a SECOND exhaust made. LOL.


I'm 99% going to have the downpipe powder coated to match the manifold, so it looks like it was done in one pass rather than two... having the appearance the ref ok'd the configuration (I think) will be huge. OTOH, my buddy has an SPG with a crazy downpipe, no EO, and he passes every time, so maybe I'm overthinking this.


Fingers crossed it works, regardless of how it works.


The car continues to run very well. The goofy acceleration issue hasn't reoccurred - not sure whether it's T5 adaption or my relay swap. Only thing I am finding annoying is that boost comes up very quickly and it seems to catch the ECM off guard - the boost cut at 12/13/whatever psi is pretty severe... no smooth tapering off like one would expect. It seriously feels like the Super60 spools up too quickly!


With the exhaust done, and the AFR gauge working, I'll throw a mild tune on it.... Good motor, light flywheel, big clutch, Super60, FMIC, T5, big fuel pump, big intake, big exhaust should be good for an easy 230-250hp - and that's all I want. Maybe upping the numbers will take the drama out?


(Also, I am REALLY regretting not fronting the big dollars for #8 primaries way back when... even with a stock 185hp tune 1st gear is worthless)
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  #119  
Old 3rd June 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Got me a big ol'downpipe:


http://www.sacsaabs.org/sacsaabs.org..._3downpipe.jpg

I used the ATP "ultimate wastegate housing" as mentioned above, but also grabbed one of ATP's 3" mild steel mandrel-bent 90 degree elbows. The shop then sectioned and re-welded the elbow to greater than 90 degrees, which made for a very nice, clean bend. V-band at the exhaust outlet, then V-band after the bend to make for a removeable exhaust. It flows into a 3" cat and then narrows down to 2.5" after.

It demonstrably improved turbo response, and there is a bit more whistle in the exhaust now as well. I've also got a functional WBO2 sensor now, so that's nice.

I need to modify my WGA again, but I think that should be easy enough. Hopefully this is the last piece of the mechanical puzzle for a while.
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  #120  
Old 4th June 2019
jvanabra jvanabra is offline
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Ah, dumb roadblock!


The only issue with the WGA is that this swing valve has a 1/4" stud instead of the 5/16" stud on the c900 valve, and the larger eyelet doesn't fit properly. Wish I had looked at this last week and I could have gotten an eyelet from atpturbo. Now I gotta pay $15 shipping on an $8 part. Whoops.


Oh well... got a pair of new eyelets (a spare) and a pair of e-clips coming. Then the WGA will stop falling off the swing valve.
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