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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After taking the advice of some people on here, I began replacing my timing chain in a 15F windchilll. That was mistake number one.
Mistake number two, one of the plastic straps that I used to connect the old chain broke right at the crankshaft sprocket. The chain fell clear out of the sprocket.
Has anybody been able to recover the chain from above or should I just begin dismatling my engine and timing cover? Also, if the timing cover has to be removed, what is the procedure?
 

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I believe our member 900t has recovered his chain from below the crank sprocket. I think he employed a combination of fiddling, swearing, and fishing with a wire coat hanger or similar. Drinking helps too in this instance. IIRC, 900t's efforts were successful on the chain, but the engine he repaired turned out to be buggered anyway. Tant pis pour lui. I'd try a magnet on a stick, a long piece of wire, and shine a good strong light down there so you can see what you're doing. Maybe it'd help to get a friend to turn the crank at the same time too.

Taking the timing cover is a bit of a difficult dance without taking the engine out. It's best done on a headless engine, but there's a stud (yes, a stud) that connects timing cover to gearbox that you have to remove with vise grips or two nuts locked together in order to remove the timing cover. Also requires oil pump, crank pulley, and water pump removal. Difficult. The reason I say take the head off is because the head gasket seals the timing cover to the head, and this joint will no doubt leak afterwards, because you can't avoid nicking the gasket when pulling the cover.

I'd try fishing first. If you want to dismantle all the way, then buy a proper endless chain and sell your split-link one. Also check your guides, because you can replace them while you're in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I will immediately write to 900t.

Can't believe how much trouble I am having with my cars... I am about to purchase another car, a SPG which will need its clutches replaced. I gotta do the chain tomorrow otherwise I'm in very deep guano.;oops:

But I have to admit- your camshaft removal method worked like a charm...All I had to do is just loosen the bolts until all the valves are closed!
 

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Hello

Yes I did have this issue. The chain I had attached but it broke and I ended up with no chain inside the engine.

The coat hanger is too thick, wire too thin... I tried magnets on a stick and all kinds of things.

What I ended up being able to do was to use a toilet auger thing (like a large metal spring) and push that on one side of the crank sprocket and get the chain that I had dangled in the other way with a wire loop on the end, then pull it up and around. However you need to be careful not to get it caught up in the upper timing chain guide which is a pain. At the store with the toilet auger, they had mislablled the price and consequently I got it for free!

With the head in place it would be more difficult, but I don't see why it would be necessarily impossible.

It would be tricky though to try and turn the engine without contacting the valves, but if you move the engine slowly a bit, then move the cams, then move the crank, cams, etc and then set everything to TDC once the chain is in place... or even use a kind of flat piece of metal to allow you to pull the chain around the sprocket without turning the crank... though actually removing the cams would be WAY easier and faster.

The engine ran fine after this, the problem was for some reason it lost oil pressure and got seized... I eventually "unstucked" the engine using a really long pipe and a breaker bar on the crank pulley, although by that time I had already installed a used engine. In retrospect I should have done that with the engine in situ (though there isn't really enough space) and seen how the engine ran, maybe it would be beat up around the crank, a little noisy maybe, but hey if it pushes the car past 100 mph and burns less than 1 quart of oil in 500 miles I'm happy...

So yeah, I recommend a 30-pack (I love America) of cheap American beer, a length of thin steel wire and a toilet auger with that spring on the end:
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If you shine a light in there can you see the end of the chain?
 

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though actually removing the cams would be WAY easier and faster.
I think he has removed the cams, or at least got all the valves closed. I told him to and he said he did, anyway.

So yeah, I recommend a 30-pack (I love America) of cheap American beer, a length of thin steel wire and a toilet auger with that spring on the end:
Image uploading. Refresh page to view
Git'er done!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All the valves are closed, yes. I can see the sprocket, too.

There is no chain in the engine right now. I repeat, no chain. I work at a whole metal shop with a lot of tools, so maybe I'll be able to create something similar.
Maybe my 2 years of working as a blacksmith will come in handy now....

OK, lets say that I manage to get the chain through. Lets say I join the two ends together. Then how do I distribute the slack properly? I found a good way to lock the flywheel tightly. The thing is, I removed the plastic clutch cover and I can see something that resembles a mark on the metal bellhousing at the 12 o clock position. I am assuming that this is where I have to align the "0" mark.
I will take pictures tomorrow so we can put this in the FAQ as I think right now I am battling a near-worst case timing chain replacement scenario.

I used those plastic zipties and it decided to break....spawn of satan!
Don't ever use these for this job!!!!!!!!:evil:
 

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Yeah I had always used wire before and it is better... make sure you have the tie-wraps removed and no pieces in there.

The slack distribution is easy, you make it as tight as you can on the exhaust side and between the cams, since the tensioner moves on the intake side. If there is slack on the exhaust side, then when you put in the tensioner, the cams will rotate and retard the timing. You just pull the chain over one sprocket and get it taut, then put the other, you might need to rotate the cams forward or backward a tooth to get them in the right spot... you want everything lining up when the tensioner is installed.

The line on the clutch cover should meet the 0 mark on the flywheel, I think the one on the bedplate is there too, if in doubt, just lay the plastic over the clutch and see if they line up.
 

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I used those plastic zipties and it decided to break....spawn of satan!
Don't ever use these for this job!!!!!!!!:evil:
I've had success with a wire, but I guess from now on I'll be using one of these:

The consequences for dropping a chain down the engine seem very grave indeed, considering even my tentacle-like long arms do not fit in this opening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will be attempting this tomorrow. I still can't believe this has happened.
This Coloradian weather is very inappropriate for working on your saab under a tree.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, naturally I encountered a snag.

I was able to recover the chain after multiple mistakes and I timed it according to the bellhousing mark. Well, now the car will start to fire and everything, but it is misfiring completely and can barely idle.

I need to know; which mark do I use- the plastic cover one or the notch on the bellhousing? It has all reached a boiling point and I don't think I'll ever attempt to work on anything on the car again.
If I don't fix this immediately, I will lose the car.
 

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When your timing your camshafts you want the 0 mark on the flywheel to line up with the straight mark on the top of the plastic bellhousing. Be very precise on the marks for the cams, if they are not spot on you could be off a tooth, which sounds like what may be your problem.

It's not a real big deal to go back and re-set all the timing marks.

Good-Luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well unfortunately I used a different marking.

I am pretty sure the repair shop will re-time the engine.

I can't believe this! I've overhauled the entire suspension, interior, and many other wear items on the engine. Now the timing chain has stopped me in my tracks. I am a very poor mechanic.;oops:
 

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Cheer up.
Everybody mistimes their engine the first time unless they're lucky. Well, lots of people do. In the two years I've been here, I've seen at least 4 threads about it. That's not counting all the people who mistimed their engines and didn't write about it. This means nothing about your other skills. It's called a learning curve. Try again. As White says, it's easy to retime. Pistons won't have hit valves if you were close, which you were if it runs at all.

As a mechanic, having a hot head and giving up never pays off. Be patient. Be mature. Remember the thing you're working on doesn't have feelings, so you shouldn't either. In other words, to best repair the machine, you must understand the machine. To understand a machine, you must temporarily become a machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
White and euromobile,

thank you for the encouragement. And what you said about "becoming a machine" is extremely appropriate. That'd be a great slogan.

See I'm a man of arts, not bolts and ratchets. Regardless, I have to get this thing done. I want a comfortably functioning Saab that doesn't sound like it's going to explode when you're driving.
I will attempt to retime this beast tomorrow. I took a lot of pictures, too.
It certainly is harder than I thought.

What a test for patience. I thought the patience I acquired while flying planes would qualify me for repairing cars. Wrong, I was.

But as you noted, the car has no feelings. I shouldn't be making this such a complex situation , but frankly tomorrow I'll be missing school. Even though this whole thing has been a big mess, and I have another car which I have to buy and fix for my father (who managed to recover the lost chain in 2 minutes), I can see that there is at least a reason for doing all this. Hopefully someone benefits from this...I hope we can make the FAQ so someone avoids my mistakes....
 

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Timing my engine stressed me out SO much when I did my first head gasket earlier this year on my 9000 Aero... I took a whole afternoon to do it... rotated the engine manually over and over until I was sure I had it right... when I fired it up, it barely ran and I was sure I had screwed it up, but after a half hour of idling it was fine... then, about a month later, I was helping a buddy do the head gasket on his '90 C900 'vert, and I forgot to torque the head bolts down properly, and was trying to time the engine without the head toruqed down to the right place! I was so frustrated and worried something was terribly broken... then I finally remembered, after over a day of trying... argh, I didn't torque the head bolts! After that it timed quite easily... but it's easy to make lots of little mistakes like this which turn into huge problems when you're first starting out attempting significant engine work by yourself!
 

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What a test for patience. I thought the patience I acquired while flying planes would qualify me for repairing cars. Wrong, I was.
This kind of patience is different from patience with a system or with other people. And though you're working on a machine, it's not really patience with a machine either. It's patience with yourself, my son. Most people avoid doing things that require this at all costs.

Hopefully someone benefits from this...I hope we can make the FAQ so someone avoids my mistakes....
It should be an epic FAQ post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I still can't time it right. Now it wont even fire. I used the flywheel mark and one the first rotation it lines up perfectly with the cam marks, but on the second the cam marks are 180 deg off. I don't get it. Also, I think I messed up the distributor drive...how do you synchronize it with the cams?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
The repair shop wants 280 f*****g dollars to retime the engine. I told them to piss off.

The tensioner and guide doesn't tension the chain properly so I extended it two notches to tighten the chain. Chain was perfectly tight between all the sprockets. After one rotation, the cams were aligned but the flywheel was a couple of inches ahead. What the hell? It cranks and backfires a little but doesn't fire. Also, the tensioner is puking oil like crazy...I think a lost a quart of oil while cranking....

The crankshaft sprocket seems to be rotating in front of the cams...Yet there is no visible play in the chain. I don't get this. I must have removed the Valve cover 3 times today.

I need someone from my area who's done this before to help me out. I'll pay if I have to.

Anyone who lives near Denver Colorado and has replaced a four cylinder saab's timing chain let me know immediately.

I can honestly say that I'll never tamper with any part of the valve timing system on a car EVER AGAIN!
 
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