Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Reveal

Step 5 - Paint (Roll) More Red Paint

Tonight - we added another 32 pounds of red paint, and also painted the hood.  Ferrari would be jealous.  Upon drinking a 6 pack of Dos Equis, we decided to take off the tape to reveal the white stripes (the paint, not the band).  Surprisingly, the white paint stayed on the car, and not the tape.

It should be noted that this was an impromptu paint session, given that our engine CONTINUES TO LANGUISH IN SOME MACHINE SHOP.  Thats right, we're officially 4 weeks away from the race, and we have yet to see any sign of our engine.  Panicked?   Doe the Pope where a funny hat? Does the French Army wear white flags?  Is "Saab" Swedish for "sh*tty"?

YES.  We're panicked.  Sunday is the next targeted engine build date (its the 4th targeted engine date, so our hopes are not high right now).

Below - pictures of the fancy paint job (with much touch up still required).   There is some internal debate whether we look like the Norwegian Dukes of Hazzard...and whether some redneck at the race will think our flag on the roof is the Confederate Stars and Bars.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Rebuilding Begins

Well, its official. All the fun demolition work is done. The engine has been marooned at the machine shop for 10 days, the transmission is still leaking oil on my garage floor, and the car generally looks ridiculous with no weight on its front wheels.


Given that everything on this car is covered in a thick coat of oil (fresh oil at least, since it wasn't in the engine very long). We decided that the car needed a good bath.

In my driveway.

Which really is kind of dumb, given the environmental condition I now have in my backyard. Its now becoming very clear why no one wanted this car at their house. Here is a picture of the Slaab getting a good cleansing.


Well, at least Dave thinks he's the Van Gogh of rattle-can paint jobs. We tend to spend more time thinking of more complicated ways to paint this car than actually painting. This year, we're starting with the white stripe, then painting the blue stripe, then painting the car red. The predictions are in - when we pull the tape off the white outline stripe, the stripe is coming up with the tape. You heard it here first.

Below is a picture of the blue stripe (with the white stripe covered up). You'll notice that we began putting the red paint on, and uh, well, it looks like crap. Its thin, and we'll need probably 25 cans of spray paint to get Dave Can Gogh's required sheen and color consistency.


OK - so Dave Can Gogh had a brilliant idea. Buy a gallon of red enamel paint (same brand as the rattle can stuff), and, cough cough....ROLL IT ON. Commence laughter here.

You done? OK - it actually worked pretty well. We painted 2 coats of 95% of the red in about 60 minutes, only had 47 runs, added 40 lbs of weight to the car, and it looks pretty good. It still needs another 2 coats for the required coloring, but you get the idea. From 15' away, this car looks amazing. From 1' away, well, it looks value engineered. Notice the windshield wiper. Yes - the stripes will be reflected on the wiper. Take that Pimp My Ride.

Here is a quick comparison of how the car is being transformed from a Swedish Meatball into the Norwegian Rocket.

NEXT UP - The engine rebuilding beings. We think. Well, actually...we're praying at this point.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Engine

Does Lego make instructions for how to put a Saab engine back together? We're going to need it, because sure as a Swede can't design a normal car to save his life, this car is not going back together easily. But - taking it apart was a totally different story. With Dave working the torque wrench with one hand and a beer in the other, this engine came apart easily. Maybe too easily.

While Dave and Nick worked at disassembly, I was relegated to "Book Boy" (really, the only fun part of this entire build is the taking everything apart part, and I was reading the manual and treating every word as Gospel). Afraid of the damage my mechanical skillz would impart (HEY - I was NOT the guy who almost flipped the car), I drank my beer and read out directions. Regarding Dave and Nick working while I read the book aloud - picture the Stig listening to a self-help book while driving.

Looking for catastrophic damage inside our puny 4 cylinder oil processor - we found little obvious damage. Well - we do have some bearing failures on the crank shaft and connecting rods - but hey - what Saab doesn't?!? We found no obvious scoring on the oil processor piston, nor did we find any damaged piston rings. The mystery deepens.

Tomorrow - the dirty, burnt oil smelling block goes to Tony for review. In the Q7. I think this is going to end badly.


The two primary mechanics (beer already gone by this point). Notice the all-important hammer of death.

Here is but a small sampling of our parts. Some are numbered. Some are labeled. Some aren't. Indiana Jones couldn't decyfer our crytpic notes. Do you believe these parts will make it back as designed? I don't.

"Book Boy" I'm pointing at a part, asking "does this Swedish part suck too?"

Thursday, January 8, 2009



First news first...we were officially accepted into the 2009 Gator-Fest LeMons race in Houston for February 28th. The team, on hearing the great news, celebrated by drinking a lot of Egg Nog spiked with tequila, hoping the pain from the last race would not be repeated. I took the Tequinog drinks as a sign of happiness on their part. But I am not sure. Nor are they.

We've set our goals very high for Race #2.



Given the history on other Saabs finishing these races around the country...this is like asking Brad Pitt to win an Oscar. We'll be competing against 1-2 other Saabs in this from a team out West who has a significant amount of experience watching Saabs break and the other from the local Saab 9000 team (who lasted, ohhhh, 1 lap last year). Tough competition for the Fastest Svede award.


Work on the car has progressed at a speed which would make the original Saab engineers happy. Slow and steady. Dave and I spent most of an evening labelling every hose, connector, pipe, and vacuum tube with blue paint tape and magic marker. We used very obvious words and numbers, all of which have rubbed off, are unreadable, or generally make no sense whatsoever to anyone including us. We also took a bunch of hi-res photos of the engine bay in case, you know, we want to photoshop what a real engine would look like in this car. So the likelihood of this car ever starting again are up there with this group of chrome domes growing hair.

On Tuesday of this week, the engine officially came out of the car. Here is a picture of the 3 Norwegians laughing at the empty engine bay.

Q - "Why is there no rust in here?"
A - "its been covered in oil for 25 years!"

Q - "Thing a Chevy V8 will fit in here?"
A - "Yep. And the engine would go on strike immediately for the poor working environment."

Q - "Is that undertray bent from the two-wheeled excursion?"
A - silence.

(its not bent)

Anyway - here are some pictures from the work session. Next step is to get the heads ported and polished, block bored out, pistons ordered, cam ordered, and to figure out why this 113hp wonder-engine (as in "I wonder how this thing even runs") broke in the first place (and no Bruce...being Swedish is not the reason.)