Buttercup’s Antics Again

OK, so another post on cars…that’s life.

We don’t drive either car very much and the dock master at the local marina keeps asking us if we’re storing our cars here since he doesn’t see them going anywhere. Buttercup literally has only been getting driven to the car wash and back until a couple weeks ago.

Both cars are looking a bit shabby (more than dust!) and we promised ourselves that we’d–at a minimum–get Wesley (the while 87 900 Turbo) painted this year. They’ve had a tough time since we left DC in late 2006–they’ve sat forlornly outdoors near the ocean in various places with salt spray thrown on them and barely had a bath in the past 5 years. We noted tiny bits of rust along the sunroof and edges of doors on Wesley so we decided to paint before it gets too far along. The jury is out on whether we should paint Buttercup. She’s got, well, how can I say this delicately…ummm…serious rust. And. Well. Quite a bit of the serious rust. Structural. The sort of rust that sadly takes cars to the junk yard and well, unless we find a new home for Buttercup–ah, hem, somebody with a background in welding and a big garage–Buttercup will be finding her way to the junk yard in the next couple years too. Sad. We had Buttercup painted 10 years ago and really the paint still looks good but rust has set into the places in the undercarriage that these cars all eventually rust out. Considering she was built in 1976, I suppose we should think she’s in great shape.

Recent pics of Buttercup–top she looks OK, but lower, see the rust along inside the doors.

Every time David and I focus our energies elsewhere (for example, on getting Wesley into a shop to be painted), Buttercup finds a way to interject her “importance” into the picture. For years, Buttercup has run a little hot and only last year we installed a broad spectrum O2 sensor and good fuel/air gage so we could see if she was running too lean (and thus the running hot)… indeed, she’s lean..and no, that’s not good! The Bosch CIS injection system on the 1976 Saab is similar to those on numerous Porsche from the early 1970’s until the early 1990’s so I found much info online about how to tweak the system by swapping out the warm up regulator or modifing it to be adjustable. So, a couple weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet (she’s my car after all so it was my decision) and do some unorthodox modifications to Buttercup’s fuel injection system to allow her to run at a better fuel/air mixture.

Then, we started test-driving Buttercup. All was well with the fuel/air mix after the initial injection system mod and even better after David made a part of the non-adjustable warm up regulator adjustable. I was all set to start driving Wesley around to the auto body shops for estimates on the paint job. Buttercup decided “NO! I’m the center of attention, people!” and proceeded to refuse to let us have the use of the starter motor. Ah, a familiar antic on the part of our cars to do this to each other. The old “I’ll just make my starter unreliable so I’m the center of attention” trick is really that–OLD.  Previous cars Pepe and Bopeep played this jealousy game for many years.  Now it’s Wesley and Buttercup, but the game hasn’t changed.

So we push started her here and there and yonder while deciding if it REALLY was the starter or something else. After two weeks of huff-and-puff interspersed with the occasional quick start, we could pretty much say that, at a minimum, the solenoid needed replacing. On this car, it is hidden under the exhaust manifold. David spent the better part of a day putting our spare solenoid in and discovering it wasn’t just that. So, in goes the “we’re not sure if it works” starter motor from another car. Nope, that heavy bit of iron has been traveling with us for no reason other than to be a core to trade in for another starter. $105.43 later, I’ve got a UPS tracking code on a rebuilt Bosch starter (with new solenoid) that should be here early next week.

With my mind turning again towards Wesley’s paint job, I was unsuspectingly side-swiped by the information from David that Buttercup seems to have gasoline dripping from under her fuel tank–a leak! Hummm….we removed that tank and had it lined with a “life time guarantee” coating about 7 years ago while in DC. I began to imagine having to ship it back there or find a vendor here with the same “system.” Argh! I just hoped it was a hose. While I kept my fingers crossed, yesterday evening David crawled under Buttercup to take a look. It was cracks in a little pre-formed bit of fuel hose connecting the fuel return line to the tank. We drove Wesley over to the auto parts store to find out if they had anything with even one 90 degree bend in it, though we need two. There, covered in under-the-car grime and with hopeful expressions on our faces, the poor clerk must have really felt sorry for us; he gave us the short straight length of hose we needed and wished us luck in bending it. Have I mentioned that we tend to look like homeless people once we’re in the work-on-the-car-or-boat mode? This is just more evidence that, no matter what David says, it isn’t my imagination that we look pretty pitiful at times.

With a SAAB part number stamped into the 5/16″ hose body, I thought “google is my friend” and began the search, last night, for the replacement part. I figured it wouldn’t be available but I’d try. If I couldn’t find the part we’d do as David wanted to and bend the new hose into shape. What I found online really horrified me. It was a USDOT recall:

1976 Saab 99 Fuel System, Gasoline Recall 78V001000
NHTSA: Action Number: N/A Service Bulletin Number: 78V001000
Report Date: Dec 04, 1978

Component: Fuel System, GasolinePotential Units Affected: 18088 Manufacturer: Saab Cars Usa, Inc.

Summary: The fuel line may have been installed in a way such that the axle could contact the line and eventually cause the line to rupture, allowing fuel to leak to the ground.

Consequence:  see below

Remedy: The dealer will remove the hose between the return check valve and fuel tank and install a longer hose of a preformed shape.

Notes: Vehicle description: passenger vehicles. System: fuel; fuel line.

Consequences of defect: fuel leakage is a fire hazard and if an ignition source is present, a fire will occur. Personal injury and property damage could result. Note: the following precautions should be taken to prevent the rear suspension from bottoming and the fuel line from rupturing: (1) avoid driving with fullload in the trunk and more than three adult passengers, 2) avoid driving overrough roads and drive only at moderate speeds, (3) check rear tires to ensure proper inflation, (4) do not operate the vehicle if any leaking fuel is detected.

OK, so first, it seems the preformed hose IS the replacement one.  However, finding the recall info told me that I wasn’t about to let David bend the straight bit of fuel line in place over the axle into the tank.  Oh, no.  The replacement part is nowhere to be had, though.  Stumped….All I could think was how heavily we load up Buttercup anytime we use here as our main vehicle.  We use our cars like trucks.  Have I mentioned the semi-truck sized speed bumps at the marina?  The few trips to the car wash probably did in Buttercup’s poor fuel line.

Stumped….until I found a wonderful, nifty little device called a “Unicoil” by the Gates company.  Ah–a way to put the required bends into the fuel line.  Of course, none of the local parts places have it in stock in the 5/16″ size.  I ordered two from NAPA and will be picking them up tomorrow morning.  We’ll bend them into place on the “free” fuel line we got and install them.  I’m considering hanging a rosary in the car that we can use whenever overloading Buttercup with pre-trip provisionings though!

I’m glad to have discovered the Gates Unicoil since we have a couple of really “bent” hoses in Mahdee’s cooling system that I’d like to use them with.

I will post pics tomorrow of the hose and the unicoils.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Google Analytics Alternative