I won’t lie to you Oppo, it isn’t looking good for the little Saab. After the success of the last couple of days I figured I was in the clear. I even let my boss know I’d be in late this morning because I was planning on taking the car in to get registered. Yeah, that was a bit cocky.
The new brake calipers were waiting for me when I got home. While waiting for my helper I went ahead and fitted a non-factory heat shield to the battery and did some other basic clean up.
Once my helper arrived, we got the Saab back on the ramps and I set to work replacing the calipers. It was pretty smooth going with the minor problem that after this many days of straight wrenching, I can’t find any of my damn tools. My workshop etiquette isn’t the best and I usually rely on my cleaning up at the end of a project to relocate and organize my tools. Since this project, apparently, has no end this hasn’t happened yet and as a result I spend most of my time looking for my 13mm combination wrench.
That aside, I got the brakes on and, despite is weird noise from the brake booster, got everything bled and happy.
Test drive time!
Honestly it was pretty exciting to bring the old boy out onto public streets, under its own power, for the first time since 2004. Furthermore, the brakes were working (though the brake lights were not) and the gearbox was smooth.
Unfortunately, the car felt like it was being held back by something. Pushing the gas didn’t really allow the engine to roar into life so much as plead with it to do so. In retrospect, this might have been my first indication of greater troubles.
My first assumption was clutch, though that didn’t really make sense. Still, I pulled back into the garage and set to work bleeding the clutch. This necessitated taking off way more of the intake system than I would have liked, but such is life.
I forward then reverse bled the clutch and the pedal felt a little better, but that might have been justification. Anyway, back out for another test drive and things were degrading quickly. The clutch still felt a little slippy, for lack of a better term, and I quickly realized the car was losing power. Fast.
I don’t know exactly what went wrong, but all of a sudden the car wouldn’t rev. Any movement of the throttle plate cause the engine to sputter and threaten to die, or just die. I started cranking on the mix screw (dumb) to no effect.
Ok. Well shit. I check for leaks, wiggled, threatened, tightened, loosened, and all together tried everything I could think of to restore it to its formally working status, but to no avail.
My only data points were: Mix screw doesn’t seem to change anything but idle; injecting air into the intake make it rev; injecting starting fluid makes it die; it seems to be starving for air (actually saw the intake bulb flex).
At this point it’s well past bed time and I really did need to be getting to bed, so I called it.
A good night’s rest produced no new answers for me, but since I’d told my boss I was going to be late anyway, I went head and headed down to work on the car a bit before work.
On the bright side, it started (just), which means the progress of the last week hasn’t completely dissolved. Unfortunately, the running condition of the engine remains unchanged. Furthermore, a alarming grinding noise was now evident. Turns out during all my fiddling, the alternator had decided it was strong and independent piece of machinery and didn’t need no bracket holding it down. Which is to say the alternator fell off.
Furthermore, one of the bushings escaped the bracket and it seemingly impossible to put back in without removing the bolt, which in turn can’t be removed with the alternator in the car.
I can only wish for a lifetime of hemorrhoids for the designer who thought that was a good idea.
So what is going on?
It is a pretty long list. Fuel pressure, vacuum leak, fuel quality, clogged intake/ air filter, fuel filter, electrical problems, turbo problems, timing… the list goes on. At this point I am leaning towards fuel pressure and timing. Could be that the vacuum advance gave up. Could be the weird noise coming from the brake booster is causing a vacuum leak. Could be the automotive gods are smiting me for not liking the Volkswagen air cooled engines, or something like that anyway. I have a lot of things to check, but not a lot of time to check them.
It’s not all bad news
The brakes are still working, the transmission and power steering are working, and I don’t hear any odd noises from the running gear. Furthermore the car still starts and idles fine and doesn’t appear to be having any overheating issues.
But it doesn’t look good
I only have this evening to get the alternator back in and get the car running again. If I can’t get it road worthy today, I can’t get it registered tomorrow, which means no drive on Saturday, regardless of what progress I make on Friday evening.
Don’t hold your breath, Oppo.