Product Spotlight #3 & The Grand Finale: Max effort V4 long block

Well, with the Sonett officially off to Connecticut today to join up with it’s new owner, it’s time to list the last piece of the What on Earth is a Sonett sweepstakes!  [UPDATE 4/24/19:  The engine is now sold as well!] Looking back, I actually have more money into the engine than the chassis.  It’s hard to believe, given the amount of time spent on the chassis.  With the engine, it’s the components and machine work that definitely add up!

The plan for the engine was simple:  create the most powerful Saab V4 of all time.  And this long block is ready to deliver!  Most of the upper end engines built by some of the Saab greats have crested in the 180-190 HP range, impressive given what that motor came with for horsepower bone stock.  And there were whispers of a Saab factory effort cresting over 200 HP using a turbo back in the day.  I didn’t want there to be any doubt, so this was designed to handle a full on sequential fuel injection system (available separately!), a high end Borg-Warner EFR series turbo, and methanol injection.  Power was to start at around 220 HP and crest in the 270 HP range under “full kill” tune.  To handle that, this is a summary of what was done:

  • Full hot tanked and cleaned Saab V4 block out of my 30,000 mile ’72 Sonett.  This received the same machine work as Donnie’s (machine shop owner) 1000 HP ZL1 Camaro.  With 30+ years of Ford and past V4 machine work experience, there was no better choice of machine shop.  The piston bores were opened up to fit the new custom pistons (more on that in a second), and the high tech boring & honing machines did a beautiful job.   The deck was checked for straightness and the main crank journals checked for alignment.  New cam, balance shaft, and main bearings were fitted.  Block casting was then painted in POR-15 to protect against rust.
  • Crankshaft was cleaned, Magnafluxed to ensure no cracks, journals polished, and balancing brought up to modern standards.
  • Rods were resized to match the crank perfectly and to fit the new pistons.  Top of the line ARP rod bolts were installed (accept no substitutes!).  Rods were also balanced.  New rod bearings were provided too. 354cd8d3-73bb-483f-a524-0d50f3b223b1
  • New Wiseco forged pistons were selected for their strength in boosted applications.  These were personally specified by Saab V4 legend Jack Lawrence of Motor Sport Specialties (MSS).  Included new matching rings, which were custom file-fit and installed on the pistons by my machine shop.  The new forged pistons were then hung on the connecting rods by the shop too.  The new pistons bring the compression up (along with the revised combustion chambers) to 9:1 compression.  Up a full point for much better power off-boost, but still low enough for proper turbocharging.
  • ONE OF A KIND, custom CNC-ported V4 heads.  Yes, you read that right.  I had a mechanical engineer write a personalized CNC program and personally oversee my cylinder head modifications.  We chewed through a number of scrap V4 heads until the program was absolutely perfect, then my actual heads were cut (after a proper cleaning, disassembly, and Magnaflux by the machine shop).  The end result are heads that are practically jewelry!  Every runner, every combustion chamber, is exactly the same.  This gives you consistent performance across all four cylinders.  The chambers were unshrouded to allow the oversized intake and exhaust valves to do their job.  This also allowed us to run the forged flat top pistons without too high of a compression ratio.  The silly and way oversized intake valve boss was removed to open up the intake runner, and the exhaust port reshaped for a dramatic increase in flow without hogging out the port (preserving velocity!).
  • The heads were professionally cleaned yet again after the CNC machine work and the heads resurfaced to ensure a perfectly flat surface.  New valve guides were installed, and a 3 angle valve job performed.  New higher performance valve springs from MSS were installed, along with spring dampers  and new retainers.  New viton valve seals and cooling jacket plugs too, of course.  POR-15 paint was then applied to the exterior of the heads to protect against rust.a250a5df-e845-4f17-9398-96d94a18be03
  • Jack Lawrence then specified a performance cam that would deliver results in streetable manner with great drivability, without sacrificing power.  He also sent along new lightweight lifters to replace the original ones.  Lastly, he sold me a full metal timing gear set to eliminate the durability concerns of the original “fiber” gear ones.
  • Brand new oil pump and oil pump driveshaft were installed using Royal Purple Max-Tuff assembly lube.  An original NOS oil pan was sourced, stripped, and powdercoated to look original but last much longer.  New stainless bolts were used to secure the oil pan.
  • A rare, no-fan-bearing, V4 timing cover was sourced.  It was then soda-blasted to remove the old paint, and then covered with POR-15’s Detail Paint to simulate fresh cast aluminum. e2f85e80-6742-4a4b-b7d9-d31af4ba78e7
  • Engine was assembled with custom ARP main and head studs to seriously improve clamping force and even torque across the crank and heads.  An expensive, but correct, insurance policy on a high end motor.  Every gasket and seal is brand new, as expected.
  • The flywheel was lightened to Saab Sport & Rally specs, resurfaced for new clutch work, and then machined by MSS to allow the use a diaphragm clutch.  This is a massive improvement over the factory style clutch!  The clamping force is superior to even a race version OEM-style clutch, but the pedal is light and easy to engage.  You get the best of both worlds!   It just costs more… sounds familiar?  🙂  ARP flywheel bolts were used to secure the improved flywheel, and a new pilot bearing installed.
  • Brand new diaphragm clutch and pressure plate specified and provided by Jack Lawrence as well!  This will go with the motor to the new owner.
  • Brand new, high torque and ultra light starter motor was imported to replace the giant (but weak) OEM one.   Also being thrown in along with the motor, saving you $300 plus overseas freight. af855661-06f3-4085-8ecd-a061ae04b07e
  • Royal Purple oil filter was fitted, and another one is ready to go after initial break-in runs.  Royal Purple “Break In Oil” was sourced, and a batch of their HPS High Performance Synthetic oil is ready to go in after break in.

So, that’s it in a nutshell.  With basic 115 horsepower rebuilds using cheap cast pistons going for $6,650 (no clutch, no starter, no CNC chamber & intake port work, no ARP bolts & studs, no timing cover, etc), it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that I have nearly $9,000 into this motor.  I’ve never seen another one like it.  Just like the chassis, no expense was spared in making the V4 the very best it can be.  Given what I have into this, asking $5,900.00 should be an absolute steal for someone in the vintage Saab V4 community.  Heck, it’s cheaper than a basic rebuild!  Plus you don’t even have to pay freight to ship your old motor to me, and you don’t have to wait for it to get done.  It’s ready to go, sitting in my heated and air conditioned garage.  If you’re interested, send me a note at jcayea99 at gmail and we can work out the details.

And with that, I’m officially out of vintage Saab parts to sell!  Best regards to Andrew, who purchased my Sonett chassis, and to Ramses who bought my gearbox.  I’d love to see some finished results down the road!  But as of this writing (1/20/19), all that is left available is the fuel injection setup and the long block engine (UPDATE 3/31/19:  The fuel injection setup is now sold!).

I’m going to leave the blog up indefinitely in hopes that it helps someone else out down the road, and maybe I’ll make a blog post here or there for the heck of it.  Especially if I get some updates on my past project Sonett.  But, as for me going forward, I’m taking Saab’s advice and Finding My Own Road…

Product Spotlight #2: Custom V4 Fuel Injection System

So with the gearbox and chassis spoken for, the next item available from the once-in-a-lifetime What On Earth Is A Sonett collection is a custom engineered V4 fuel injection setup (UPDATE 3/31/19:  This fuel injection setup is now sold!).  And in typical overkill fashion, this is no lame-o batch fired or throttle body injection setup, but rather a full on modern fuel system that would be in service by a late model Saab itself!  This system will have the capability of drive-by-wire and/or sequential fuel injection with coil-per-cylinder ignition.

643DEF4B-E323-464A-88AE-162A42C15D77

Here is the list of what will come with this package:

  • Custom built marine-grade aluminum fuel tank.  Based on Sonett tank dimensions, but downsized a bit to allow much better working clearances and reduce fuel slosh up high.  Tank was pressurized and leak proofed by Roger’s Radiator in Medway (they specialize in custom tanks & radiators for classic vehicles).  They also applied a tough corrosion proof coating to the exterior.  Provisions for a fuel sending unit, fill port, fill vent port, tank vent, and a pair of -6AN ports allow for fuel injection supply and return.  With the downsize dimensions of this tank, it may also fit a 95 or 96 as well. EE9F6625-AB4A-4F21-ABD7-E0B43FE44F08
  • High performance two barrel intake manifold, custom milled with fuel injector bungs machined in.  The two barrel has a superior plenum opening vs the normal one barrel, so the one barrel was rejected early in the system design phase.  Custom CNC plate was designed and cut to allow you to mate up typical aluminum tube (included) to the standard two-barrel mounting flange. 7803319F-2209-4215-BC88-A6E390976084
  • Four brand new, never used, AC Delco LSA/LS3 style fuel injectors.  These are the same injectors that come on the 560 HP Cadillac CTS-V, and are sized to handle well over 200 HP on the V4.
  • Custom fuel rail prototypes and extra fuel rail stock
  • 2.0L throttle body with custom CNC plate to allow you to mate the throttle body to the tube that feeds the intake manifold. BA771C98-E324-4031-94C2-C55943CDF0E8
  • Surge tank to allow fuel pump mounting, a new Bosch 044 equivalent pump, pre-pump fuel filter, mounting bracket, post pump fuel filter, and check valves.  All brand new, never used.
  • Full roll of Russell fuel line with an assortment of Russell adapter fittings and Fragola shutoff valves.
  • A pair of V4 valvecovers beautifully restored and powdercoated.  Stand-offs were precisely added and welded in place to allow individual coils.  A brand new set of AC Delco D585 LS2-style coils fit the mounts exactly and will be able to accurately fire up a V4 of virtually any power level.
  • A prototype distributor replacement stub.  This allows you to eliminate the distributor and still be able to drive your oil pump as the factory intended.  Custom designed and fabricated by a high-tolerance machine shop that provides parts for a nuclear submarine supplier.  Tolerances of this shaft are within 0.0001″ (not a typo). 7B88F541-4086-4869-A0ED-62D6AFDE78F8
  • Brand new timing trigger wheel sized up to perfectly mount to your balance shaft pulley!  Includes a universal wheel sensor and mounting bracket as well.

So, simply add the engine control & wiring of your choice and away you go.  Very cool stuff!  Equipment alone (no design/engineering time) was $2300.00, and if you had to duplicate this you would easily be in the $3000.00 to $3500.00 range.  I think $750.00 is beyond fair but am open to a thoughtful discussion on it with my blog readers (jcayea99 at gmail).  Like the gearbox and chassis before it, I’m assuming that you girls & guys will snap this up too.  🙂

Product spotlight #1: Restored 1972 Sonett Chassis

 

So, my beefcake gearbox is already sold as of Thanksgiving 2018…!   It went out to a great guy in the Midwest with a ’68 Sonett.  [UPDATE 12/29/18:  And it looks like the chassis is already sold now too.  It’s going to a great home in CT.  I’ll get you guys an update soon regarding the couple of other items I still have available.]. And you guys have been quick about checking in for more info about everything else.   While virtually everything I’ve done is documented throughout my blog, I figured it would be way more convenient if I just did a summary post for each remaining piece that is available.  Also, I thought you would guys would dig the “vintage” image in front of my neighbors barn:

20181022_130356-effects So, here are the details:

  • 1972 Sonett III chassis, with just over 30,000 miles on it that spent it’s life in the South/Midwest US (Arkansas).  Brought to Massachusetts just under 5 years ago, stored in a heated & air conditioned garage.  This chassis has a full, clean, Massachusetts title and I have the OEM VIN plate.
  • Chassis was full stripped and professionally sandblasted by Superior Sandblasting out of Medway, MA.
  • Any and all spots of corrosion were cut out and replaced by fresh 16 gauge sheetmetal (same as OEM), and fully seam-welded in.  Any suspected seams were fully seam welded as well.
  • Entire chassis was acid-etched, and received an full coat of POR-15.  Prior to cure, all seams were treated to fresh Eastwood Seam Sealer.  Prior to that cure, the entire chassis received a second full coat of POR-15.
  • Entire underside received a full coat of POR-15 Undercoating (to ensure compatibility with the regular POR-15).  After curing, the entire underside received a full coating of Hercules truck bed liner to provide additional protection and help simulate the heavy coating Saab had used originally.
  • ALL suspension pieces were sandblasted and powdercoated (upper & lower A-Arms, rear “axle”, steering knuckles, brake backing plates, rear control arms, driveshafts, front spring perches, etc…).  Brand new bushings all around.
  • Brand new springs were made up by Coil Spring Specialties based on the OEM Sonett springs.  Springs were wound with the correct spring rates and wire thickness, but with 3/4″ drop to improve handling.  According to Jack Ashcraft, this one step makes the biggest improvement in Sonett handling of everything you can do.  Also did brand new rear upper spring perches, which were a surprisingly high $290.00 for the pair..!?!
  • Brand new bearings front and rear, packed with Mobil 1 Synthetic grease.
  • Freshly rebuilt brake master cylinder by White Post Restoration with documentation.  Brand new cupronickel brake lines.  Brand new front rotors (with high temp painted rotor hubs and edges to prevent rusting), front brake pads (EBC Greenstuff street performance pads), rebuilt and coated front calipers.  New rear brake cylinders and shoes, refurbished and coated rear brake drums (POR-15 with POR-15 high temp top coat).  Brand new correct brake fluid reservoir.
  • Brand new Wilwood clutch master with hardened clevis and bolt.  Brand new correct clutch fluid reservoir.
  • Freshly rebuilt steering rack by The Rebuilding Factory in California.
  • Most interior contacting surfaces coated with noise and heat rejecting rubberized mats.
  • Brand new 2 gauge battery wire run front to back.  Pure, multi-strand copper, welding cable was used, and clear heat shrink sleeve bonded to much of it to provide additional protection.  Secured with rubber isolated stainless steel clamps.
  • Brand new, custom made, handbrake cables were made based on OEM cables.  These are not available for “off-the-shelf” purchase typically.
  • Custom, 16 gauge stainless steel, pedal cover sheet (vs flimsy OEM standard steel one) to help prevent vibrations and noise transfer.  Will never rust.
  • Every single nut and bolt replace in either beefy Grade 8 or stainless steel depending on strength required.
  • Pedal stand is fully sandblasted and restored, with new stainless metric pins.  New rubber footpads (not yet installed).
  • Set of five “Soccerball” wheels in good condition.  Not yet refurbished, but workable to move the car around.
  • Every single boot and seal has been replaced, without exception:  inner and outer CV boots, new A-Arm bumpers, new bumpstops, new steering rack boots, all grease seals, etc)

 

 

So, there you have the vast majority of it.  It literally was a “nut and bolt” restoration that reads like a wishlist of everything you could think of.  I skipped nothing and spared no expense.  What can I say, I just wanted to do it right.  This chassis will come with a good condition fiberglass body shell.  All of the glass is included, and it all looks to be in very good condition.  I also have virtually all of the interior parts as well that will go with it (seats, dash, upholstery, etc).  I’m hoping this chassis is the perfect basis for one of you girls or guys to built the perfect Sonett.  I’m located in Central Massachusetts, so pickup is obviously easiest.  I could arrange for a delivery in an hour or so radius, but if you’re much further away you’re welcome to send the transport of your choice.

In terms of money, I have $4,000.00 in material receipts alone, plus the cost of the car to begin with, plus well over a hundred hours of labor.  Your local stealership or professional restorer would no doubt look for $10,000.00 to cover the labor and welding, which I am obviously not looking for.  But at around $20,000.00 total all in, it’s not insignificant.  Is $5,000.00 reasonable?  That puts me at about 25 cents on the dollar, and a fantastic bargain for someone.  Let’s talk if your interested (jcayea99 at gmail is best way to reach me).  But I can’t think of a nicer chassis available to the vintage Saab community.

 

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans…

I always got a kick out of that famous John Lennon saying, because it really is true.  It’s hard to believe I’m coming up on FIVE years of owning the Sonett.  My goal was to build a technically superior Sonett, and on many of those components I feel like I’ve succeeded.  There has been a lot of great work done, but I don’t think it’s going to get finished.  A bunch of events have come together to slowly change what my plans are.

First up is my son working towards his driver’s license.  Younger generations tend to favor Asian import cars, so last February we picked up a Mitsubishi Eclipse GS.  It ended needing a fair amount of work more than expected…which is an understatement…  So a full set of Stoptech brakes (pads, rotors, calipers), new Focal 18″ wheels with BF Goodrich Comp-2 tires, VIS carbon fiber hood, DC Sports cold air intake, stainless cat back exhaust, new front bumper/radiator support/headlights, and a ton of rustproofing later… we still have more work to go.  But seeing my son smile makes every busted knuckle and cash hemorrhage well worth it!  I would do it again in a nanosecond.

BC756178-2EFF-4E12-8AEE-450D1B965983

Second up is my employer.  I started there two years ago, and quickly realized I was surrounded by some of the craziest gearheads on the East Coast!  The cars are assorted, but all share one trait:  the love of horsepower.  We have twin-turbo Porsches (two of them!), a 707-horse Challenger Hellcat, a 750-horse Cadillac CTS-V, a 900-horse Mustang GT, and a Focus ST with a 650-horse turbo build underway.  What can I say?  I got bit by the horsepower bug and a few months back picked up a leftover 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS.  With the 455 horsepower LT1 engine and blazing fast 8-speed auto to go with a full aluminum frame, it seemed like the perfect platform for a fast car.  And it didn’t disappoint, running a 12.1 @ 114 bone stock, smoking a ton of “more powerful” cars that day too.  And all that with heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, color heads up display, blind spot warning, etc!?!  It’s insane where muscle cars have gone lately.  It’s no one-trick pony either, it pulls near 1.0 G on the skidpad with stock tires, 60-to-0 braking of only 117 feet (Brembo brakes all around), and cruises like a good citizen when your friendly law enforcement officer is around…  And like any good gearhead, I recently bought a Whipple supercharger for it which should push horsepower up near 700…

2A98E605-CD09-4957-A782-50F5B198BB96

66339A7A-92A6-4158-B3BA-C3D9D4F452C4

And since I now have a car that I’m bringing to the track, I know it’s just a matter of time before I grenade something.  I’m not loving the idea of breaking a halfshaft two hours away from home, so I decided I needed something to be able to tow my car with.  My company car 2017 Ford Explorer wasn’t going to cut it, and frankly it was getting a little rough around the edges after 80,000 miles.  So I went for the gold and submitted on a 2019 Toyota Sequoia Limited to company ownership.  Amazingly, I didn’t get fired, and the beast is now in my driveway!  With 381 horsepower and 401 ft/lbs of torque, and an integrated trailering package with 4 & 7 pin connectors ready to go, trailering the Camaro should be a non-issue.  I was pleasantly surprised at all the tech in this “old-school” SUV:  lane departure/blind spot/rear cross traffic warnings, full LED head and fog lights, sonar parking sensors front & rear, backup camera, radar adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, power folding third row seats, power liftgate, 20″ wheels, etc.   So far I’m loving it.

1BD2A8B4-758D-43E5-9350-ED4F23E5815A

So, that leaves me with the following that I am offering up to my loyal readers:

  • Titled 30,000 miles Sonett chassis:  fully restored.  Professionally sandblasted, fully welded, double POR-15 coated, brand new springs and poly bushings, fully refurbished steering rack & brake master cylinder, powdercoated suspension (all of it!), new brake lines, all new brake components (rotors/pads/hardware), cupronickel brake lines, new bearings with synthetic grease, etc….  You guys have read this blog and know how much work this was.
  • Fully rebuilt and bulletproof V4 engine:  fully machined with one of a kind CNC ported cylinder heads, forged Wiseco pistons, fully balanced rotating assembly, ARP head and main studs, ARP rod bolts, steel timing gears, new oil pump/pan/driveshaft, rare timing cover without fan bearing, new Jack Lawrence street cam with upgraded valvesprings/retainers/lifters, etc.  This was designed to handle a turbocharged application of 200+ horsepower.  Jack Ashcraft gets $6K for a basic rebuild, and with all due respect, this engine is light years past that.
  • [EDIT:  Gearbox is already sold!] Beefcake V4 gearbox:  virtually all new bearings (believe only one was reused since it was in mint condition), all new seals, Jack Lawrence custom sleeved/pressed/welded freewheel, powdercoated linkage & throwout bearing arm, POR-15 coated case, synthetic oil, etc.  Again, a basic rebuild is $2400 normally, and this gearbox  is obviously beyond that and has been designed to handle the above 200+ horse engine.
  • Full V4 fuel injection setup:  custom machined two-barrel intake manifold, with CNC adapter plates to handle a 2.0T throttle body, fuel rail prototypes for you to copy, brand new GM LS3-style fuel injectors, distributor replacement prototype, valve covers with custom coil mounts, brand new GM LS2-style coils, new trigger wheel with sensor and bracket, custom marine-grade aluminum fuel tank, etc.  Virtually all the development work is done to add sequential, coil-on-plug, EFI to your V4!  Again, I haven’t seen anything else like this out there, and this is a game-changing addition to your ride.  Thousands invested in this setup.

So, if any of my loyal readers are interested in any of this stuff, just let me know.  I know that you never see anything close to full price when you sell car parts, so I’m happy to work with you guys on what you think it’s worth.  Honestly, I’d like to see you guys get some use out of this stuff.  It was a lot of work, and I don’t want to see it go to waste.  If there is something you want to inquire about, send me a note at jcayea99 at gmail.  There are obviously pictures of just about all of this stuff in the blog, but I have additional pictures that I can send as well.

Thanks again to all of you for following along over the past few years.  I really loved all the emails from you guys (Roger, Reed, Jonathan, Simon, David, Adam, just to name a few). Hopefully you found something useful in all these posts, or at least something that you got a chuckle out of.   Can I ask you guys for one last favor?  Stop by my wife’s online website (https://stripedcatmetalworks.com/) and pickup an honest-to-goodness handmade piece of jewelry for your wife/significant other.  Remember, keeping the boss happy means she might look the other way when it comes to your ill-advised automotive ventures…!  😉

And remember to watch out for those hidden wasp nests…!!!

 

Winter of 2017/2018 Hibernation Report

Well, with winter firmly entrenched here in New England and our two NG 9-5’s firmly occupying our garage, there isn’t a lot of room for Sonett work.  But that minor detail isn’t going to stop me!  With the long block together, there is still a lot to do.

It’s hard to believe I’m so far into this project without doing any business with Jack Ashcraft, who is a noted Sonett specialist.  I guess I’m just not following the typical “rebuild playbook”.  But I had a component I didn’t know much about, and I knew he did…the wiper motor!  I don’t need it now, but will at some point.  And frankly, I got sick of tripping over it in my garage.  So I packed it up and shipped it out to Oregon.

 

 

A couple of weeks later, the refurbished unit shows up.  Jack cleaned out the 40 year old grease and dirt, cleans up and paints it, and checks out the motor and internals.  He also runs it on his test bench and gives you instructions on how to get it to “park” correctly if you’re dumb enough to pull the spiral cable out of the sleeve…which of course I did…  So, one part ready to go for when the time comes.  I boxed it up well and put it away for safekeeping.

 

 

Next up is figuring out a way to time my motor.  I’m not planning on using a distributor (!) so I looked about and found a site the sells toothed “trigger wheels”.  It’s a site in the UK and they allow you to pick the right tooth setup (36-1 in my case) and the right size too.  So I measured up the diameter of my balance shaft pulley and ordered up a wheel to fit it perfectly.  I also ordered a universal sensor and bracket in case we need them with the new EFI system.  Not sure how it will get mounted to the pulley yet, but that will get figured out soon.

 

 

Next up was an ignition for said EFI system.  I decided to go with LS2 style ignition similar to my brother Jake’s monster GTO project.  I figured if I ran the same thing he does, then I can call him for tech support when mine doesn’t work!  Jake sandblasted the old V4 valvecovers, welded on standoffs for the new coilpacks, and powdercoated them black.  Beautiful, and one of a kind!

6F1258CD-F210-4E3D-95E2-0B756B5A648C

I jumped online and ordered up new coils.  Technically, they are D585 coils that come on the truck versions of the LS motors.  Jake had welded the standoffs to fit these coils, so I bought four brand new GM coilpacks and then picked up some stainless cap screws and lockwashers to mount them with.  So happy with the finished result!  This will let us have absolutely superior ignition firepower to any other V4 I’ve ever seen.  Plus the plug wires will just be a few inches long, as opposed to a foot or two long in most cases.  If this were a combat operation, this setup is the nuclear option!

 

 

With birthday number 42 rolling around, I woke up to a pleasant surprise from Mrs. Sonett… a Sonett birthday cake!!!  It was delicious!  And it was a great reminder of what my car is supposed to look like, since the only thing I see these days is a gigantic pile of Sonett pieces…  maybe if I just tell people those pieces are hibernating like the local bears and that they will wake up for Spring soon, I’ll feel better about it!

A1253542-F413-4A13-B9D8-9D0585F5B7D4

A Christmas Story

Well, it’s Christmas 2017 and all is right with the world.  The “kids” (at 23 and 16, they aren’t really kids anymore…) have opened their Christmas presents, with a  haul that rivals some third world nations yearly Gross Domestic Product… We have a nice layer of nice white snow here in Massachusetts (the only thing this state has yet to tax…), Mrs. Sonett is swearing at her Zelda game for the fancy new Nintendo Switch game console, and my cat (Maximilian, aka Max) is taking up the entire loveseat by himself for his daily mid-afternoon nap (how does a 9 pound cat completely rule a household of people?!?).  Christmas time always makes me think back to good ole Ralphie in A Christmas Story.  His quest?  To get a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.   My quest?  To get my Sonett running.

IMG_1914

To that end, I needed yet even *more* prep work.  Much like Ralphie begged for his BB Gun, I begged my brother Jake for some bead blasting and powdercoating!  First up was my “unobtanium” non-fan-bearing V4 timing cover version 2.0.  What happened to version 1.0?  I tried to weld up the small hole in the front so that it could be powdercoated.  Then it cracked.  Then I tried to get the crack welded, and it burned through…twice…  So, I pretty much ruined a generally unavailable piece…  I managed to get my hands on a second one, and this one is just getting painted!  Jake bead blasted it to gently remove the old paint, and I gave it a coat of POR-15 Detail Paint.  I popped out the old balance shaft seal, and pressed in a new double lip style seal instead.  I also gave Jake the balance shaft pulley, alternator brackets and motor mount covers.  A couple of days later, they were all powdercoated black and ready to go!

I started install my new all-metal timing gears that I bought from Jack Lawrence a few months ago.  Thankfully it’s easy to tell the balance shaft gear and crank gear apart, since the crank gear will have 2 dots instead of 1.  That lets you line it up with both the cam gear and the balance shaft gear.  So I put both the balance shaft gear and crank gear on.  Next up is the timing cover adapter.  So I had that cleaned up to remove all the rust, gave both the block and adapter a light coat of “Right Stuff” gasket maker, and sandwiched in the gasket between them.  With that in place, you can now pop the cam gear on and torque down that bolt.  Another coat of gasket maker, and another gasket, and now the timing cover itself goes on (pro tip from my pal Roger:  make sure the balance shaft opening is centered around the actual shaft stub!).

Just like it’s not a proper Christmas without a great movie or two (love the original Die Hard), it’s not a proper V4 rebuild without replacing the crank pilot bearing.  I gave it a very light coat of Redline Synthetic grease (super high temp drop point means it should stay put) and carefully pressed it into the crank hub.  Next up is my triple modified flywheel!  It was lightened by Dyno Machine, then surfaced by RAD Auto Machine, then setup for my new clutch by Motor Sport Services… yikes, hope I never need to buy another one!  I mounted it up on the hub, and broke out my new ARP flywheel bolts.  The bolts get Loctite on the threads and ARP Ultra Torque under the bolt heads to help achieve the required torque.

IMG_1878

With that on, I flipped the block over and installed my new oil pump, oil pump driveshaft, and pickup using the new thin gaskets.  Don’t put any sealer on these gaskets!  Torque them all to the factory spec after working some fresh oil into the new oil pump.  Next up is a new Royal Purple oil filter.  This guy will only be on for a very short period of time to facilitate engine break in.  I broke out my “refurbished NOS” oil pan and some brand new stainless (of course) oil pan bolts, and tightened down the pan approximately 1,477 times to get all of the bolts properly torqued…

IMG_1893

With the short block done, next up are my custom heads.  Good friend Mark and I worked on our own version of these heads that we felt could really only be done justice by way of a CNC machine.  It’s hard to explain how nice they came out!  The chambers are all exactly the same!  They are opened up in a way that does a beautiful job of unshrouding the new oversize valves, and getting the compression ratio down to a more reasonable number for use with a turbo (~9.2).  The exhaust port has a new shape; square versus round.  I didn’t like hogging the top and bottom of the port since the majority of the flow restriction is from left-to-right.  So we’ll use a custom CNC exhaust adapter to get the new 1.75″ stainless exhaust pipes to mate up.  The intake had the ridiculously restrictive intake valve stem guide boss machined off, and the ports were opened up to match the gasket openings too.  RAD gave them a very light surfacing and installed the new oversize valves.  They also setup the new heavier valve springs, spring dampers, and seals.

I screwed in yet more ARP studs, this time replacing the factory head bolts.  The studs just get lightly snugged in, not tightened.  All of the torque will happen on the nuts and washers instead.  I oiled up the lifters and dropped them in, then slid the head gasket down onto the block.  The heads slid down the studs onto the gasket, and I torqued them down in three equal amounts to 90 ft/lbs.  It’s worth noting that all ARP bolts will use much higher torque settings than the OEM bolts!

So, over two years later, the engine is finally coming back together.  So, just like Ralphie, it looks like I’m getting my wish!  But given the current political climate, it’s probably for the best that Ralphie didn’t try to ask for a gun these days…!

img_1913.png

 

Progress… sort of

Any expectations on vintage Saabs must be tempered, sort of like being an actor in Hollywood these days.  In the old days, “I got a role in a movie!” would have been a reason to celebrate.  Now, it’s “I got a role in a movie…with Kevin Spacey…”.  So, that being said, I’m happy to report some actual good news on the motor front.  Progress!  Sort of…

IMG_1860

Several months back I traded some emails with Jack Ashcraft where I asked how I could get my hands on a smaller, lighter starter for my V4.  I mean, after all, why do we have such a huge starter for a little motor?  It’s like our starters hung out with Roger Clemens personal trainer…  So I asked Jack if he knows of any lightweight and/or smaller starters and his reply was:  “On the starter—get over it”.  Hmmm… challenge accepted…with tempered expectations, of course!  After the better part of a year of looking, I finally connected up with a factory overseas who was willing to help me research the issue.  I’m happy to report that I was able to get them to source me a starter that is literally half the weight!  In addition its a full inch smaller in diameter, which is good news for those interested in running low profile engine mounts.  And best of all, it actually has more starting torque!  So if you’ve upped the compression on your V4, you’ll be good to go.

In addition to the new starter, I decided to step up the cam profile as well.  This is another situation where things can go off the rails pretty quickly.  Everyone wants max power, but when it comes to cams, a huge cam in a street car is a pretty quick way to ruin drivability.  Choppy idle, no vacuum, and the low-end torque of an electric weedwacker awaits those who fall into this trap!  So, as usual, I reached out to V4 guru Jack Lawrence and he suggested his “street” camshaft.  The more aggressive profile gets you a power band of 3500-7000 RPMS.  So I sent off my stock cam (core) after the new one arrived.  Since these cams are reground, you need to run taller lifters to compensate.  And according to Jack, the stock lifters weigh as much “as a dead dinosaur!”, so it was good to make a change on that front anyway.  So along with the cam, I ordered up his lightweight hollow lifters.    Just to verify Jack’s claim, I threw a stock lifter on Mrs. Sonett’s postage scale… 102.9 grams, while the new lifters checked in at 76.3 grams.  Knocking 30% off your weight in the valvetrain is unreal!  It allows higher RPM operation without needing substantially higher spring rates.  So more good news there.

Since I was on a roll with exceeding my expectations, I decided to take a look for new flywheel mounting bolts.  The stock ones are one-time use only (torque-to-yield) and are worth about the same as a used 8-track.  Everyone knows my fixation with ARP bolts… but from what I understand, there are worse fixations to have… I think there is a Matt Lauer joke in there somewhere…  More good news, ARP makes part 151-2801, which works for V4’s!   Another box checked off.

IMG_1672

With most of the prep work done, it was time to start putting things together (without too high of hopes, of course!).  I lubed up the cam and balance shafts and put them into the block (machine shop had previously installed the new bearings).  I coated the block plugs with some black “Right Stuff” oil-resistant sealer and tapped those in too.

 

Speaking of bolts, I don’t want to use any of the factory ones for my mains and heads.  We know how important good bolts are, right?  Since no one makes great head and/or main studs, I decided to come up with some on my own.  Working with ARP, I’m happy to report that I now have both main and head studs for the V4!  Studs allow much more even clamping force, which is probably a good thing at 7000 RPMS and under boost…  I screwed them into the block (by hand until finger snug), snapped down the new bearings, and checked my clearances with some plastigauge.  With everything looking good, I applied some Royal Purple Max Tuff to the bearings and dropped in the prepared crankshaft.  With the other half of the bearings and caps on, I broke out the torque wrench and torqued down the main caps!

With the crank in, I put the pistons into the ring compressor and tapped them into the block, making sure to put assembly lube on the rod bearings too.  A little ARP fastener lube on the ARP rod bolts, and those got torqued down to spec too.  With ARP lube, you get superior torque accuracy (vs oil, etc), so it’s the only way to fly.  The caps were numbered so make sure those match up when putting things back together.  An short time later, all four forged pistons and resized rods were in the block.

20171025_205909

So progress and good news!  And I’m not telling CNN, that way it won’t be fake news…!!!