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  1. #1
    Saab Enthusiast XLR99's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2014
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    Medina, OH
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    113
    Saab(s)
    '04 9-5 Aero Wagon, '90 900
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    '90 900 Project - XLR99 - Ohio, USA

    I figure it's time to start a build thread on this car. Hopefully a few of the things I've learned to date will be helpful to other people as well.
    I found this 900 base model auto local-ish to me for cheap. I was initially thinking it would make a decent winter car. It was completely filthy, inside, outside, and underneath. Odometer was dead at 251k. Baseline pictures:
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    Glorious blue interior. I wish the velour wasn't so faded. The headliner is almost perfect, must have been done recently.
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    Filthy engine compartment. Looks like something got very hot around the alternator/oil filter area at some point.
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    One of the highlights is the bungee wrapped around the distributor that is holding up the guard around the flex plate. Also, the recirc door is jerry-rigged closed for some reason.
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    The head has supposedly been off recently, and it looked far cleaner than everything else in there. The timing chain sounded pretty quiet as well.
    It was billed as a TX car, which seems reasonable given the 2000 TX inspection sticker on the windshield. There's also a sticker from a TX AC shop converting it to R134 in 08. No AC belt, but the system is complete.

    So there's the baseline. After getting it home, I realized that it was in fact about 97% rust free and should not be subjected to the evil brine that they dump on roads these days. I also happened upon a $250 Civic that a co-worker was selling which made a much better sacrificial anode for winter use (borrowed that from somebody else's thread; I love it).

    My short term goal is to get it converted to a 5 speed so it's at least driveable. The current slushbox dumped out several quarts of ATF over the winter, has long delays before banging into D or R, and was suspect when I bought it. To that end, I'm working on a couple possibilities for donor parts or a parts car.

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  2. #2
    Saab Enthusiast XLR99's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2014
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    Medina, OH
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    113
    Saab(s)
    '04 9-5 Aero Wagon, '90 900
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    When I got the car, 5 of the 6 headlight ball joints were broken, which made for a somewhat exciting last 15 minutes of the drive home . Fortunately the 9-5 chase car/tow car has good lighting.
    I ordered replacements, along with new white nylon inserts, from Eeuroparts. I broke a few more of the Eeuro ones before I figured out the mounting surface profile is a slightly different shape. I ended up filing off a bit of material on the mount bosses on the reflector so the Eeuro balljoints would seat correctly. Dark picture, but the left side has been filed, right is not modded yet. Hopefully this tidbit will be helpful for somebody!
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    I ended up having to combine headlight bucket hardware from old 9000 parts, and buy a used light off ebay. The steel pieces from this car were perfect, but I had to soak the other parts in an oxalic acid bath to de-rust them enough to get apart and reuse.
    Lots of use of chemicals, elbow grease and child labor to clean things up. I discovered that something exciting happened in the engine bay at some point. Can't find the picture, but I found a few 1" long pieces of shrapnel in the grease and muck .
    Current status after about 5 cans each of degreaser and Honda spray polish- better, but still lots of muck to get rid of:
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    Now that I'm resigned to doing a 5spd swap sooner rather than later, I'll hold off much more decon until the engine is out, then use the MIL's pressure washer to do a better job.



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  3. #3
    Saab Fan spydergear's Avatar
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    14 Dec 2012
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    West Coast
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    33
    Saab(s)
    1985 900 Turbo EAG, 1990 SPG Talladega Red
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    That's a fairly nice 900. The single stage paint will rub out nicely is my guess. The engine looks like it has been worked on at some point by a non-SAAB guy using stainless-steel hose clamps. They are easily replaced with the SAAB originals - a pet peeve of mine.

    On my 99, I replaced the plastic gear that goes bad in the odometer. Unfortunately, North Hollywood Speedometer says VDO parts aren't available these days, but I have seen some on the Internet that are fairly pricey. Let us know where you find yours.

    Also, I found that R134 doesn't cool as well as R12. Good enough for me, as I don't like 40 degree air blasting at me in the middle of summer.

    Congratulations on finding a good project!

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  4. #4
    Saab Enthusiast XLR99's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2014
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    Medina, OH
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    Saab(s)
    '04 9-5 Aero Wagon, '90 900
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    Thanks spydergear. The paint is actually pretty thin - it looks like several areas have been resprayed and not masked all that well. I tried a test spot with cleaner wax on the hood and it looks really thin there now. There's peeling clear-coat on the hood and hatch - maybe these were the only things repainted, since there's no clearcoat peels anywhere else on the body? . My kind of intermediate goal is for it to be a pseudo-rat rod. My loose plan is 5spd > turbo > T5, then work on cosmetics. I think it would surprise a lot of people with a healthy 180-200hp and it's current appearance .

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  5. #5
    Saab Enthusiast XLR99's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2014
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    Medina, OH
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    Saab(s)
    '04 9-5 Aero Wagon, '90 900
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    Hopefully I'm about to start making some progress here. Re-injured my back so I haven't been able to do much the past few months. I've found a couple parts cars sort-of close by, just need to drag one home.
    Just realized I never added pics of my superglue odo fix.

    Sent from my VS920 4G using Tapatalk

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  6. #6
    Dave T.
    Super Moderator Dave T's Avatar
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    03 Aug 2010
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    near Seattle, Washington
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    1,314
    Saab(s)
    1999 9-3SE (2013-2015), 2005 9-3 (2005-2013), 1990 900 (1990-2003)
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    Great photos! I had a 1990 900 with the same interior. I never took photos of the inside so your photos brings back memories!

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  7. #7
    Saab Fan spydergear's Avatar
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    14 Dec 2012
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    Saab(s)
    1985 900 Turbo EAG, 1990 SPG Talladega Red
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    Quote Originally Posted by XLR99 View Post
    Hopefully I'm about to start making some progress here. Re-injured my back so I haven't been able to do much the past few months. I've found a couple parts cars sort-of close by, just need to drag one home. Just realized I never added pics of my superglue odo fix. Sent from my VS920 4G using Tapatalk
    I'm interested in the method you used to fix your odometer. When I owned my 99, I could buy VDO replacement gears from the speedo shop. Now the original gears appear to be unobtainium...

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  8. #8
    Saab Enthusiast XLR99's Avatar
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    18 Nov 2014
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    Medina, OH
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    113
    Saab(s)
    '04 9-5 Aero Wagon, '90 900
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    Sorry spydergear and anyone else looking for pics!
    I couldn't find any details on anyone who had been able to successfully DIY repair the newer style of speedo. Not sure when the transition happened, maybe '89. This style has a black cover over the back of the speedo housing. I know of a few people who were able to successfully fix the old style odo, which tends to have the same problem with gear hubs cracking enough to spin on the odometer shaft. I won't go into removing the cluster from the car as that's well documented elsewhere.
    Fast forward to getting the cluster on the bench. Here's what the back looks like. To disassemble, remove the black rubber gasket around the outside, and remove the screws holding the instruments together. Be careful with the black clips that secure the foil onto the sides of the cluster! They've been removed in this picture.
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    The hardest part of the process was removing the speedo needle to allow me to take the speedo housing apart. One important tip I saw - first pop the needle over the low speed stop and take a picture so you know where the needle naturally sits:
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    I used a pair of needlenose pliers and a towel to carefully pop the needle off. It does take a decent amount of force.

    After disassembling the speedo housing you get this: Plastic frame that doesn't look very user servicable. Notice the clockspring in the center around the speedometer shaft.
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    The bevelled purple gear on the left was slipping, along with the white plastic gear on the right, next to the '1's column on the odometer. The trip odo gears were still tight. I was able to easily get some superglue into the hub of the purple gear. The pic below shows how I drilled a small hole thru the frame just outside the hub of the white gear to get some superglue in there.

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    This turned out to not be enough; I was able to break it loose easily. I also had to carve out a small radial hole from the front face of the odometer to get more glue in there. Be careful to avoid getting glue into the bearing surface of the frame itself!
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    I worked slowly with removing as little material as possible, and also with putting very small amounts of superglue into the hub area.

    I haven't been able to drive the car or see what kind of lifespan this cheap fix will get. However, as spydergear points out, we may not have a supply of replacements available any longer.

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