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Project Dumpster Fire - REMEMBER ME!?

With all the talk of working on the Jag... and the Land Rover... and the Alfa... sometimes even I forget about the Swedish perpetual pain in my ass that is Project Dumpster Fire, my 1984 Saab 900 Turbo sedan that I have owned (on and off) for about the last 20 years.

Well with the Jag work done and George’s Jeep’s cooling fan under recall, the front of the garage is clear for the first time in forever and behind we find a Dumpster Fire, still burning bright.

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Last weekend’s project was pretty simple: I wanted to pull the distributor and replace the valve cover gasket. If that sounds like an odd pairing, it isn’t. The distributor on an 8-valve Saab mounts to the valve cover. To get the cover off you either need to align the engine to #1 TDC, which is a pain to do because the crank pulley is against the firewall, or pull the dizzy. The last time I ordered parts I ordered 5x distributor 0-rings because I am freaking tired of not having them when I need them.

Anyway! Pulling the dizzy is easy: three 10mm bolts.

Pulling the valve cover was a little harder as I don’t think it has been off since the head gasket was done in 2001. A little love with the breaker bar and eventually I won the battle against corrosion and was treated to some shiny top end parts.

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Illustration for article titled Project Dumpster Fire - REMEMBER ME!?

It was actually really weird to see the Saab like this. As mentioned, I’ve owned this car for a LONG time and it has been in the family even longer than that. Despite all that, I’ve never really seen the engine in any state of disassembly. The dull aluminium valve cover has always been a fixture of the engine bay and seeing it gone was... unsettling.

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Illustration for article titled Project Dumpster Fire - REMEMBER ME!?

Anyway, everything looked.... fine... so I cleaned up the surfaces, prepped the gasket, and slammed that bad boy right back on.

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But while I had the distributor out... maybe I should like... see if I can replace the pickup.

I mean.... how hard could it be?

Very.

In fact in disassembling it I quickly got to the “this is never going back together” stage of assembly. It was about the time that the distributor pickup/timing mechanism came out but the centrifugal advance didn’t.

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Like I’m ever going to get those springs back together....

No good pictures here as I stopped taking them once things got... frustrating.

Illustration for article titled Project Dumpster Fire - REMEMBER ME!?
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Ocne I got everything apart I determined the replacement pickup I had was the wrong one. Thanks eBay.

I did, however, find a whole bunch of crap inside the dizzy. I know the dust shield disintegrated at one point and it sure does look like a lot of that crap found its way into the centrifugal advance mechanism. Maybe this is the source of my troubles? Certainly a contributor anyway....

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Luckily I remembered that I had purchased a replacement on my friend’s behalf a few years ago because he wanted a new vacuum canister and they’re hard to find. I called him up and while he didn’t have that one, he did have refurb one that he would give me.

Hooray!

But I need to wait until tomorrow to pick it up.

Understandable, but BOO.

Desperate for a win, I decided to go ahead and replace the INOP horn(s) with some Hella Supertones I had lying around. Not my preference, but I’ve had a hard time finding replacements for the Saab that guarantee a stock tone so... eff it.

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Of course until this point it didn’t occur to me to like... pull the old horns and take the part numbers off them. Turns out they’re Fiamm, same as the Jag and the Alfa, but an odd part number that seems to make everyone on eBay think they’re worth their weight in gold.

Illustration for article titled Project Dumpster Fire - REMEMBER ME!?
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Supertones it is.

They went in easy enough but for... complicated Saab reasons the Saab doesn’t have a battery right now, so testing will have to wait.

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But that is where we leave the Saab for now. I’m hoping to get the new dizzy on today or tomorrow. Then, if it will let me, I’ll trot it over to my exhaust guy and weld in a bung for the wideband O2 sensor so I can finally get a AF reading and figure out WTF is going on with this bad boy.

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