More welding

Been using Helga regularly for the last few weeks, and all was going well. Fixed a few niggles along the way like the central locking on the boot and making a bushing to take the slack out of the clutch pedal.

Had a bit of a showstopper though, suddenly started getting a knock from the back so I investigated and found the shock has parted company with it’s mount.

Also, there was a hole in the back corner of the boot floor.

So, having just moved into a house with a garage again, I bought myself a 250 amp gas MIG welder and got to work.

Plus there was a patch in the boot floor. All acid etched, seam sealed and shcutz’d now, though I still need to paint the body areas in her Odoardo grey yet and refit the aero panels so she looks very mad max for now.

For a while there’s been a leak between the turbo and it’s elbow, which turns out is because the elbow has pitted quite badly. As a temporary fix I’ve made a thick copper gasket, but ultimately I’d like to do a 3″ downpipe.

Anyway, after all this I took her for a MOT on Monday which after an initial fail and quick tinker, she passed! Which is great news, because it was just in time for the Gold Cup at Oulton Park.

This year it was drama free apart from popping a boost hose yet again while trying to find out who’s fastest in the gang. Amazingly a chap came up who said he used to own Helga!

Other work done lately:

  • Fitted a decor panel (the bit between the rear lights, might take it back off, not sure I’m fussed)
  • Fitted the front seats that I refurbished way back.
  • Fitted a new old stock bonnet release cable – finally I can get my mole grips back
  • Fitted the bigger sump guard from later 900s
  • Fitted a LED running light in place of the broken boot light – bit silly bright but pretty effective.
  • Made a new parcel shelf from ply
This got covered in carpet

She’s running fine, so I’m going to keep using her for now but there’s plenty to do tidying wise. First up I think will be to sort the paint and refit the aero panels. There’s a slight whine in the box so I think at some point that’ll need changing, though it hasn’t got any worse. I’ve got a spare lined up for when the time comes.


Super Inca Wheels

I’m not much of a fan of minilite-style wheels on 900s, so I got hold of some freshly refurbed Super Incas from JamSaab along with super rare locking centre caps. Had some Uniroyal Rain Expert 3’s fitted, and on they went. Annoyingly, the centre caps don’t actually fit – they’re about 1mm too big for the hole. It might just be the thickness of the paint, but I’m not too keen to file them down so they’re staying off for now.

Also – what’s this? A genuine Saab whale tail? I’m still in two minds about it – I think they look great on later slope front cars but I’m not so sure about flat fronts like Helga. I’ll leave it a while before fitting.


Ignition timing

Found since getting Helga back on the road that she was misfiring under boost. At some point I’d taken the distributer off and lost the timing. Simple to sort normally, but what made things more confusing is that the timing marks have been machined off due to the flywheel being lightened. There were three lines of paint but no indication of which one was TDC. Eventually sussed it with the old screwdriver down the #1 plug hole trick. It was the yellow line!

She’s running great now, though one potential issue I spotted is that pressurising the vac capsule to around 15psi only retards the timing three degrees, whereas I thought stock it should be more like six, so from 16 to 10 degrees. Currently it only goes back to 13, which I think might be causing the boost to be slightly erratic in how far it will go. This is the opposite of what I was expecting because I was told when I bought the car that the distributer had been modified to retard further on boost, so the off-boost timing could be advanced more than stock.

In the middle of all this the bonnet cable snapped at the end that attaches to the pull, so for now that’s been replaced with some mole grips.

While I was diagnosing the misfire I did a compression check, the results seem good enough so the head gasket swap can wait. I’ll end up doing it eventually because I’d like to replace the timing chain and tensioners, plus I’ve got an uncracked exhaust manifold ready to fit. Of course that’s not necessarily a head off job but I’ll bet at least one of the studs will shear.

Cold compression
1 125
2 120
3 130
4 120

Hot compression
1 120
2 120
3 125
4 115


Back on the road

Progress on Helga since the last post on repairing the outer arches has been a bit slow, but she’s back on the road. The front inner arches have been repaired, etch primered, seam sealered and schutzed.

More filler on the front wings, and a coat of filler primer. That’ll keep it protected until it gets warmer when we can address the paintwork properly.

Naturally I then took the interior out. The carpets were sodden, looks like water has been getting in behind the pedals past where the cabin air intake thingy meets the bulkhead. Fixed the missing vacuum line for the heater controls and put the interior back minus the carpets for now until I’m happy the leak is fixed.

And home! Looking very scrappy but she made it no problems.

She was struggling to start after being stood so I’ve fitted a new Varta D24 for good measure. I’m really pleased that the new temp sensors seem to have done the trick, she starts almost instantly and idles perfectly now.

Had a spare full interior for Helga in really good condition, apart from the stitching was coming apart on the driver’s side base so I spent a little time stitching it back up. I’ll save it ’till the outside is tidied so she feels like a new car.

For a bit of fun I drew up the missing 16v badge for the bootlid. Not delighted with the print quality but it looks okay painted.


Saab 900 front arch repair

Time to replace the front arches on Helga – once I started poking at the bubbles it was clear they needed replacing. Luckily Saabits offer weld-in replacement sections, and I’ve got a friend with a welder.

Cut out the old

It’s not technically possible to get the front arches as repair panels – the trick is to buy rear ones but swap left to right. Still, I’m not sure why the curve of the new arch was quite a bit smaller radius than the arch we cut off because I’d read they’re supposed to be the same.

While my mate Rich was doing the welding I fitted a new water pump, thermostat, ECU temp sender and fan temp switch along with fresh red antifreeze. I’d already done the gauge temp sender and the radiator looks pretty new so that’s all of the cooling system overhauled. The old pump was binding at certain points and it was weeping slightly because the mounting face hadn’t been cleaned up properly last time. Hoping the temp sender helps the wonky running and the others are just for luck but it should all go towards better reliability once she’s back on the road.