By Tikkis

Since I restored AEU in 2001-2002 I haven’t had any possibility to drive it because of leaking sylinder head gaskets. The car has still its original 1815cc engine with loose copper ring headgaskets. Something went wrong when I assembled the engine in my garage in Malmö Sweden 2002. I had bought new gaskets and rings, put the measure was wrong, which I didn’t recognize in that time. Just wonder when cooling liquid drop to the oilsump… I was pretty pissed off for a while, put then comes other things in life; new job, making career, making kids, driving rallies, making home etc. So I practically forgot the whole thing. All I did was take the water out and make an oil change.

Last summer was IntSaab2011- happening in Finland and I promised to borrow the car for display at the hotel main lobby (Just check out previous stories). It was a very nice happening and I thought it would be nice one day again to drive with AEU. I made a phone call to BE Strom to Trollhättan and discussed about this issue. I bought one set of new gaskets from him waiting better time to open the engine. I also got great support from other enthusiasts like a Hubbe as well as old Saab competition mechanics. Thanks All!

D-day was last weekend. It’s quite a lot of work to do actually. So much water pipes & hoses and the cross flow manifold is complicated to take out. When all the necessary parts were out from engine and it was easy to find out why first assembly got wrong. Those copper rings I bought didn’t match the thickness of the gasket. It’s so that all the Works Rally V4 were machined a 1 mm deep groove, but those rings had been made for other depth. After tightening they were 0,05mm under gasket level, so no wonder they didn’t work! The right value is BEFORE tightening 0,04-0,05mm under gasket level. I measured the new gaskets, and they were exactly between those optimal values.

Then I measured the cylinder heads. Unluckily they were around 0,15mm like a “bananas” so I had them machined straight. One of the important things is every time also to check how straight the exhaust port plane is. In this case I found two more “bananas”. By the way; do you like globalisation? I’m not so friendly with it, and look at the photo I took: I decided to file the port planes myself and went to buy a big file. I tried to find a high quality file made in Finland, Sweden or Germany, put didn’t. The only one I managed to find was made in – guess where – China. It was very difficult to work whit such a junk!

Because the engine had been so long empty of cooling liquid, it was very dirty inside. I took the risk and rinsed the water canals with garden hose. It was good decision, so much rust and all kinds of dirt came out. I found out also that some engine parts had rusted slightly because of coolant in oil sump. I polished the cylinder walls with fine sandpaper, and filled up 0,5 litres diesel fuel to oil via valve lifters + some 2 liters extra high quality mineral diesel engine oil as well via valve lifters and camshaft to be sure that they had good lubrication when engine will start.

Inlet manifold, Saabs legendary Cross Flow system, needed a lot of work before everything is ready. I don’t explain now everything, just some pictures what need be done to the inlet gasket. Inlet surface is so narrow in rally engine that it’s always a risk that something get wrong and gaskets don’t hold properly. Due to that and the cylinder head gaskets, it’s good have a test drive before rallies and be sure that engine work as it should work.

Duraluminium rocker arms need 3 spacer tubes. I have found out that the measurements vary all the time, so I decide to order from local turner some extra spacers with 0,05mm step. It works well, and for the next engine I will order more. It was easy to just choose the right length. Next step was to increase oil pressure before putting distributor in its place. It takes a while before all the rockers have oil, so this shows how important its actually do it for all competition engines which have not been used in a long time!

Cooling system would be still full of dirt I thought so I filled it with pure water and a washing solution. After I had assembled all the necessary parts, it was time to try starting. I was surprized the engine started practically immediately and oil pressure was high already during starting procedure.

Ok, after that it hasn’t been as easy as in movies; it has been lot of work and adjustments. Pretty normal when doing rally cars. First oil change I made when engine had been warmed up. The old oil was so odd coloured because of water in it. With new oil and filter I filled up also 1/3 litres oil washing solution and overfilled some 2 litres of oil. Now I run the engine much longer and try to find out better idling. All the time the car was in garage and there was not any driving in the road. Same time I put also some washing solution to the gearbox and let it run with 4th gear. This is good way to wash gearbox inside. After this engine&gearbox inside washing was done, it was time to change oils again and have a test drive in public road. Just a short one because last annual road inspection has made in 2002! Everything worked quite good.

Back to garage, and water/coolant mix out of engine and more washing with garden hose. It comes still so brown and dirty water from inside that I made decision to do more even more washing with water & sodium carbonate. Some more test driving around town and all the time car is working better and better. I also drove straight to the inspection station – and got the stamp of approval first time in ten years! When coming back I met a setback when the heater valve started to leak. Just a bit of typical spot of bad luck we car enthusiasts face sometimes. So – a little extra work, but I managed to find one old heater valve and now it looks it works well.

Now it’s time to do some more test driving with the Blue&White V4.

Thank You Bengt-Erik Ström and “Hubbe”

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