I was going to skip this update, but I figured since I won’t post until after my “go/ no go” deadline I would attempt to build tension, or something like that.
On that subject, tomorrow (Saturday) makes the “one week to go” mark. Coincidentally, I have decided if the engine isn’t operating by the end of this weekend, I’m throwing in the towel. I know this seems defeatist, but with a full time job and other shit to do, if it isn’t running by the end of Sunday it doesn’t have a chance of being road worthy by the 8th.
Since I am/ was waiting on parts, I decided yesterday (Thursday) was going to be an off day. That lasted until I got home from work and decided to bleed the brakes. I knew the brakes weren’t working and I also knew the mechanic/ jailer, aka Annie Wilkes, said he couldn’t get the rear brakes working. Surely they just needed bled... right?
Yes, my ability to underestimate a project knows no bounds.
Anyway, after doing the brakes on my Alfa, I realized I desperately needed a vacuum bleeder and proceeded to buy an el-cheapo on on Amazon a while back. I busted that puppy our and immediately realized I didn’t have an air fitting for it. I cannibalized one off another tool and set to work.
Smartly, I identified the size of the bleed nipples before getting under the car. 11mm, by the way. Smart! I then got under and proceeded to creeper myself to the rear wheels (my set-up is weird and should probably be its own post). I get there and immediately realize the fronts and rears are different sizes. Of course they are! How could they not be?
More futzing around and I got the bleed nipples open and the vacuum canister attached. I eagerly pulled the trigger aaaaaaand... nothing. Little drops of fluid but overall nothing.
Hmm... I checked my compressor pressure. It was too high so maybe I was sucking air from somewhere? Adjust and... nothing.
Ok... maybe there is a problem with the dual bleeder? I change it to a single and, you guessed it, nothing.
Clearly this cheap vacuum bleeder is the problem! (Again with the optimism.) So, while still under the car, I call a helper and have him come pump the brakes. Nothing. He describes the pedal feel as “normal” and doesn’t feel like I have the bleeders open.
Lulz wut? Ok... I completely disconnect one of the brake lines from the calipers (I’ll come back to that) and I’m still not getting any fluid, so clearly something is amiss. The brake master is new, so unlikely to be the problem. Since the brakes are done in diagonal pairs that rules out most of the intermediate piping too.
Just to verify I’m not completely nutters, I crack the bleed nipple on the front brakes and immediately get a flood of good, clean fluid. Huh.
Oh look, flex hoses! For better or worse and as previously mentioned, I own an Alfa. When I did the brakes on it the standard warning is to do the flex hoses too, as they go bad after a while. Knowing this and knowing the Saab had bad brakes, I ordered some a while back. Once I located the disconnect point (under the back seat) and cracked that off, it was pretty clear the flex hoses were the problem as fluid started flowing pretty much instantly.
Cool! The hoses were a pain to remove, but eventually they submitted and soon I had two shiny new flex hoses in. Button up, bleed the lines, and we’re good to go, right?
Oh hey you remember that hard line I disconnected earlier...
At this point it was well past my bed time and after a hour of trying to get it lined it I poured myself a glass of wine and went to bed. (I also forgot to eat so the wine was extra fun!) Tomorrow is another day. As an apology, here is a doggo helping hold up my service manual.