Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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SAAB c900 Front Motor/Engine Mount Replacement, Pt 1.

I mentioned in the last post that I had a list of things to do on Gröna (aka Greeny). This is another item.

The car has that (typical?) c900 movement in the shifter - i.e. a fair amount of vibration at idle and backwards flex/movement under acceleration. So as a first attempt to cure it, I'm going to replace the front - gearbox - engine mount.

To digress a bit on nomenclature: you'll hear people say "motor" instead of "engine." A "motor" is an electrical device. Unless you have a hybrid or an electric car, you don't have a 'motor' under your hood. You have an engine. I'm not ranting here, just being more precise.

Also, I tend to say 'gearbox' because it's a pretty accurate description of what is also called a transmission. Although in the case of a SAAB c900 (and a lot of front-wheel drive cars), it's a transaxle, since the gearb... transmission and the final drive are in the same housing.

First thing is to remove the skid plate from under the gearbox. The front bolts are 12mm, the rear nuts are 13mm.

The plate removed.

Twenty-five years of grime on the engine side of it - I'm going to clean it off later.

Also note the grommet/bushing that fell down on it. I wonder how long that's been there?

I'll need to remove the intercooler pipe and the rubber bellows on the ends of it.

The mount is under there, just can't see it very well yet.

Removed the bracket holding the boost control valve and the connector that runs from the Trionic harness to the valve. You can see the screw that held the bracket in on the radiator rail.

I really like those slide/clip connectors SAAB used. Simple and effective design.

The right-hand side fan will need to be removed to get at the mount.

We use a T20 Torx driver to get the two mounting screws off.

After the fasteners are removed, the fan can be lifted up out of the way without disconnecting its wiring.

Now we undo the clamps that hold the intercooler pipe bellows on. Two clamps on each end.

This is the compressor end - the compressed charge goes from here to the intercooler, then out of the intercooler to the intake.

Here's the pipe removed from the car.

I'll clean it up and polish it a bit while it's off.

Now the mount is visible.

There's a limiter bracket (arrow) that has to be removed first.

Note the open compressor outlet. I'll put something in there momentarily.

A better view of the mount. Easy to access now that the pipe is removed. The bolts holding the limiter bracket need to come off now.

Removing the 13mm bolt on the left side of the bracket.

These bolts should be easy to remove - they don't have a lot of torque on them.

And remove the right side bolt. I just put the ratchet under the radiator hose to get at the bolt.

I've read some comments on the Interwebs that indicate both fans and the radiator need to be removed - this isn't the case.

Note that I stuffed a clean rag into the compressor outlet. Don't want to get dirt or even worse - a fastener dropped down there!

I shudder at the thought.

This is one of the bracket bolts - along with its washer and spacer. Keep these in a safe place so they can go back in just as they came out.

And here's the bracket itself.

When the mount flexes upward, as it would under hard acceleration, the it contacts the bracket which limits its movement.

There is a known 'mod' to the bracket involving putting a piece of radiator or AC hose under the top of the bracket to limit motion even more.

I had a piece of hose cut and flattened, but it was too thick - it would contact the top of the mount, so I decided against putting it in.

With the bracket removed, the rubber bump stop over the mount's center bolt is visible.

The bump stop just comes right out.

It's even shaped in such a way as to only fit one way. Those clever SAAB engineers!

And now we can see the main nut that goes on the mount's center bolt. It's bolted to the gearbox bracket.

Note the height of the bolt in this picture in relation to the bracket.

There is a lot of torque on the nut.

I soaked it with PB Blaster penetrating oil, and tried a breaker bar, but couldn't budge it, so I used my trusty Ridgid cordless impact wrench, armed with a 6 inch extension and a 19mm socket.

Five seconds later the nut was loose.

The gearbox bracket needs to be raised up so the mount can slide out from under it.

So I put a block of wood under the gearbox and jacked the front of the engine up with a floor jack.

Jack it up until the bolt clears the gearbox mount.

I had read about this online and had some trepidation about doing it, but there is enough flex in the other 2 mounts that this works fine.

Note that the bolt is now clear - compare this shot with the earlier one I referenced.

I'd guess I raised the engine up maybe 30-35mm, or about 1.75 inches or so.

The finagle the engine mount out.

In practice, I raised the engine a bit, tried the bracket, raised it another bit, etc., until the mount was clear.

You can see it lying at the bottom near the electrical connector.


Here we have the old mount on the left and the new replacement on the right. Yes, it's shot. Look at how badly the rubber is torn.

You'll also note the washer on the workbench - we need to make sure that's in place on the new mount when it gets installed. That will happen in the next post.


More SAAB c900 Fun: Painting Instrument Gauge Bezels with Flexidip

I have so many projects backed up in the queue! There's a list of stuff to do on Greeny, and a whole slew of guitar things in the wings (I made a rhyme!).

I managed to get one small project done on Greeny this last weekend. You may recall I put a set of Autometer gauges in almost 2 years ago. I like the faces of the gauges, but I've never been wild about the silver colored bezels. They really don't fit with the interior - you might say they are not very SAAB-like. I have VDO gauges in my other 900 and they have black bezels.

This is a shot of the water temp gauge from back when I installed it.

You can see what I mean about the silver bezels. Just a bit...shiny.

And everything else is black.

Not to mention that the Autometer angle mounting rings were just not working out. They kept slipping and just didn't look that good.

So I decided to paint the bezels, and install a new angled gauge panel.

I decided to use that newfangled Plastidip paint, which is a rubberized type of paint. Apparently people paint wheels and even entire cars with it! It is easily peeled off, so I figured if I messed it up too much, or just didn't like it, it would be easy to remove.

I took the oil pressure and voltmeters out of the car. After pondering how I would mask off the dial glass I came up with a solution: I cut circle masks of index card and used double-sided tape to hold them on. And I used wide blue painter's tape to mask the bodies of the gauges.

How did I determine the diameter of the circles?

I measured the gauge faces with a caliper - they were 1.769 inches. Then halving that, I got .08845 inches. Set the caliper to that and used that to set the distance on a compass.

Then I drew that circle on the index card an cut them out.

They weren't exact, but they were darn close.

Went outside, armed with some Rustoleum "Flexidip" rubberized paint. You will also find "Plastidip," same stuff by a different maker out there as well.

The auto parts store I went to had the Flexidip in quite a few colors - red, green, pink, purple - in addition to black.

Here are the two gauges after painting them.

There were a couple of silver spots that didn't get painted - I just sort of freehanded the circle masks and hit these spots again.

The upside of this paint it that it's easily removed - driving the car just this morning I saw a bit of overspray on the glass of the boost gauge - I'll just scrape that off with an X-Acto knife later.

I mentioned I took the voltmeter and oil pressure gauges out of the car.

On the water temp, the sensor line is 'permanently' attached to the gauge. Of course when I put it in originally, I just threaded the line through the hole in the mounting ring and the panel, then through the firewall to the sender.

Taking it out is a different story!

I just cut the mounting ring and panel since I'm not reusing them.

But this also means I have to paint the thing while it's still in the dash.

So I cut a hole in an big index card, fit that around the gauge and then masked all around it with newspaper.

And then sprayed away.

Worked fine.

After the paint was dry, I reassembled the gauges in the new panel.

Be warned: the paint is very soft until it fully cures - about 24 hours. It's very easy to scrape it off when you handle it.

Ask me how I know this.

Here's the newly painted gauges installed. The panel isn't all the way in the dash just yet - I like to wait a day or so in case I need to pop it out if something doesn't work (e.g. the gauge lights).

But you get the idea.

Looks a whole lot better than the old panel with the angle mounts I think.

And the color is much more SAAB-like, yes?

I hadn't really planned to paint the boost gauge bezel at this point, but since I was in up to my neck, I took it out and painted it as well.


SAAB c900 Alternator Installation

It's a lot easier getting the new alternator installed than getting the old one out.

Of course, now that I've taken one out, I know what's involved and it would take less time. Note that I say less time, not easier. It's just a challenging job, but not impossible.

First thing I did was clean up the area under where the alternator lives. I figured it was a good time to do it, especially since I'm (hopefully) not doing this job again any time soon.

I used Griot's Garage Oil & Grease Cleaner and Engine Cleaner. I put the Oil & Grease cleaner on the worst spots; but both of these products work great. The Oil & Grease cleaner is a bit stronger - and it's "Environmentally Friendly," while the Engine Cleaner is biodegradable, a good thing.

First, I put the mounting bracket back on. Look at how clean everything is! Also note the ground lead installed on the upper bolt - I left this a bit loose so I could maneuver it as needed when I went to connect the other end to the alternator.

If you've read about this job, or done it, you know there's interference between the alternator mounting bolt and the firewall.  The proper method of removal is to take the bracket off with the alternator still attached, which is what I did.

However, you will read on the interwebs of folks putting a hole in the firewall to enable the bolt to be slid off. My car has a hole like this. I don't recommend it, because it's really not necessary. But since my car does have a hole (for better or worse), I put all of the bolts for the bracket on at this point.

The method without a hole is to put the bracket on with the alternator attached, get it more or less lined up, swivel the alternator downward - and put the top bolt and ground on, then the left-side and bottom bolts on. In other words, the reverse of how I got it out with the alternator still on the bracket.

Now we put the alternator adjustment arm bracket on. The 'fork' at the top of the arm where the adjusting bolt goes should point toward the firewall. Otherwise, it will foul the alternator fan and pulley.

Don't ask how I know this.

Love love love those purple Powerflex bushings!

Next step is to put the alternator in place and run the mounting bolt through the bracket and the mount on the alternator.

The arrow in the picture shows the bolt - and you can see the hole in my firewall, sad that someone hacked it like that.

I connected the ground lead at this point while I could still get to the ground bolt on the alternator. After I had the alternator mounted, I tightened the end on the engine bracket (the one I had left loose).
I found that I had to swivel/turn the alternator to the right to slip the drive belts on. This picture shows the belts in place.

The picture above of the bolt is out of order here - put the belts on, then the bolt.

Fit the 16mm nut on the end of the bolt and tighten it up.

Sort of exciting at this point - I'm going to have a 115 amp alternator! Whoo hoo!

Now put the adjustment bolt back on and adjust the belt. I had made a mark with a silver Sharpie as a reference when I took the alternator out, so I'm in the ballpark for proper tension, I think.

I'm going to get one of these soon though.

Last step is to connect the starter and B+ leads, and there you have it.

Then I put the heater hoses all back on.

The alternator looks buried under there now!

Note also how I rerouted the throttle cable - it had previously gone under the AC hose (big one at the top). Now it's clear of the hose.

And reconnected the business end of the throttle cable. You can see it got a bit kinked when I tried to get the alternator out without disconnecting the cable. But it works fine, no problem at all.

I lost a small amount of coolant with the heater hoses disconnected, so I topped that up.

Last step is to reconnect the battery.

It works great now.

I think I wrote in an earlier post that the electrical system on this car had never been quite right in the 2 plus years I've owned it. And it had gotten progressively worse.

With a load on the old alternator, the voltage at the battery would drop to as low as 11 volts. And the battery was not consistently charging either.  I had cleaned all of the grounds in the car, and no change. So the alternator was the last step.

Now it charges, and more importantly, with a lot of accessories on - lights, wipers, etc, the voltage never drops below 13.3 volts.



SAAB c900 Alternator Bushing Replacement

Now that we have popped the alternator out of Grona, we can replace the bushings on the mounts and put the old alternator's pulley onto the new alternator.

It's a lot easier removing the alternator from the mounting bracket when it's out of the car.

Put it in a vise and undo the bolt with a 16mm socket.

Here's the bracket and the mounting bolt.

As for the pulley: it's been a while since I took one of these off. I know they can be difficult to remove.

I used on old leather belt around the pulley in the vise so as to not put vise marks on it.

The pulley was quite tight in the vise, but I couldn't budge the nut with my trusty 1/2 inch drive breaker bar.

The nut is a 22mm, by the way.

The pulley just wanted to turn. I'm not too surprised. I had Plan B ready.

Plan B is using an impact gun to get the bolt off. Took 5 seconds to loosen it.

Check out the impact gun/wrench. It's a Ridgid cordless one - uses an 18 volt battery. According to the specs, it has 325 lb-ft of torque! Of course an air gun has more, but this is much more portable.

Cordless tools have really come a long way. That thing packs some real power.

Here's the bolt after removal.

I want to start taking Grona's suspension apart and replace all the bushings now that I have this cool impact gun.

But first things first. I need to finish this job.

The alternator with the fan, spacer washer and pulley removed.

And all of the parts - the alternator mount, the adjustment arm, and the alternator pulley, spacer washer, and fan before they have a bath.

First I push out all of the old bushings. Two in the bracket. You can see how chewed up they are. I'd guess they're the originals - at the end of their service life.

25 years is pretty good I'd say.

The bushing for the engine block end of the adjustment arm is in 2 halves.

It's in bad shape too.

I took some environmentally safe degreaser to all of the parts. They came out pretty clean.

Now you can read the SAAB part number cast on the alternator mounting bracket - 7511843.

In case you needed to know.

Took some fine steel wool to the insides of the brackets to clean up the area where the new bushings will go.

I always figure, when you have it all apart, go ahead and do it right.

Well, it's the Queen's Award, innit?

I have some Powerflex poly bushings for the mounts. They're stiffer than the stock rubber bushings - should help keep the infamous c900 alternator wobble under control.

The bushings are made in England (where most of the world's race cars are built). And if you look closely, you'll see they won the 2013 Queen's Award for Enterprise International Trade.

Good thing, that.

You get a small tube of PTFE/Silicone assembly grease with the bushings...or is it 'bushes?'

Apply it to the outer and inner surfaces of the bushes before installing.

Powerflex make three levels of bushings: yellow, rated at 70 on the Shore A Durometer scale (about 25% stiffer than stock) purple, which are 80A (30% stiffer), and black, which are 95A (80% stiffer). The latter are for race applications.

The new bushings slide right in easily.

Love that purple color. Too bad they'll be mostly invisible when the alternator is back in!

The top bolt hole on the alternator mount is where the alternator ground lead goes. I cleaned it up to ensure a good connection. You can see it's a bit shinier than the other two holes.

I wasn't 100 percent sure the higher-output (115 amp vs. 80 amp stock) alternator was going to be a direct fit.

Fortunately, it is.

The shot on the right is a comparison between the two - the stock 80 amp Bosch 124x on the right, versus the 115 amp Bosch 129x on the left.

The cases are virtually identical. The only slight difference is that the location of the B+ terminals is rotated slightly, but it's no problem at all to install.

The other thing to be aware of is the ground bolt. On the stock alternator, there is one longer case screw that the ground bolts on to (see the image). On the 129x, there is a threaded hole that I used for a ground - I'll show that in a minute.

Here's a picture of the pulley ends of the alternators - exactly the same case shape.

After reading up on this on the interwebs, I was reasonably sure it would be a straightforward conversion. I just couldn't find any pictures to confirm the sizes of the alternators. Pictures! I need pictures!

Now I have one.

This is the static supressor mounted on the back of the alternator. You can see it's just a 2.2uF/100 volt capacitor.

I just took it off the old alternator and put it on the new one. Exact same location.

The screwdriver is pointing to bolt I used for the alternator case ground on the 129x. It's a 5mm thread - I used a 10mm long bolt to go there.

I probably could have used that longer case bolt from the old alternator, but the new one is so clean that I didn't want to put the old bolt on!

Note also that the supressor is installed as well.

Now we just put the spacer, fan, and pulley on the new alternator.

Funny picture - the lens focal length (24mm) makes it look like the ratchet is bigger than the alternator!

Now everything's ready to be installed in the car.