Saab 99 Turbo Part 13 – Alternator and Starter Motor Restoration

I restored the alternator and starter motor. Pretty straightforward job other than the pulley and fan on the alternator being pretty stuck. Mostly just a bit of cleanup, glass bead blasting and new paint. I also replaced the old nuts and washers with new shiny ones. I still need to send the fan and pulley to be zinc coated and yellow passivated with the other parts needing new surface treatment.

A few photos:

Saab 99 Turbo part 12 – Learning To Use Auto Body Solder

I have seen body solder used in some custom car shows over the years, but have not tried it myself. It’s sometimes also called “lead loading” since in the golden age of Hot Rodding lead was used to fill and shape body panels. Epoxy fillers (“bondo”) were not really available back in the day so body solder was used instead to even out the surface for paint.

Here’s an example:

Body solder used on 1959 Saab 93 roof and side panel seams.
Body solder used on 1959 Saab 93 roof and side panel seams.

People usually describe body solder use as difficult and a “lost art”, so I kind of thought it as too time consuming to start learning it. But as a fellow Saab enthusiast decided to use it on his project car – a 1965 Saab Special – I decided to give it a go myself. Body solder does have some advantages over epoxy filler – it doesn’t attract moisture and it’s flexible. You can still work with a body panel after solder has been applied as it will form with the steel unlike bondo (it will crack).

But the more important thing is the fact that bondo will suck in moisture if it’s not completely sealed in. Danger spots are weld seams that may have minor holes or cracks in them where the water can come in from the back of the panel. This of course will ruin the paint some time later. Body solder on the other hand will fill the seam and keep the moisture from seeping under the paint.

So – how hard can it be? As it turned out – not hard at all.

Unleaded or leaded body solder?

There are basically two types of body solders. Lead free and leaded. There’s bit of a trade-off between these:

  • Unleaded is a lot safer but it is more difficult to use and requires more heat to melt. This in turn may cause the body panel that is worked on to warp from heat (happened to me on the rear quarter). It’s also a harder material which equals more work when sanding it down. And because of the high melting point it doesn’t stay in a malleable form so it’s near impossible to shape when applied.
  • Leaded body solder on the other hand contains lead, which is indeed poisonous. You definitely need to use glowes with it and preferably not breathe in any fumes. But it is a lot easier to use in my experience. It’s softer than the lead free solder so it’s faster to sand down. It is also relatively easy to keep in a buttery state by applying just the right amount of heat. This means you can shape, spread and smooth it out when working with it.
From left: Lead free and leaded body solder and on the right pure lead.
From left: Lead free and leaded body solder and on the right pure lead.

My recommendation: Try them both and see which you prefer.

In addition to the solder bars you need a small torch – a typical butane torch will do – and a wooden paddle to spread the solder around. You can soak the paddle in parafin or food oil to keep the solder from sticking to it.

Also soldering paste is needed for priming the surface. The paste is basically acid (flux) with a bonding agent and powdered solder. It also comes in leaded and lead free mixes. You also need some baking soda mixed with water to neutralize the acid after priming.

The process

Youtube is filled with videos on body solder usage – just search “body solder”. Many guys there have a lot more experience than me so this is basically just for inspiration – even a complete beginner can get some pretty nice results.

The most difficult part is learning to control the heat. Use the torch with a small flame first. I used the lead free solder here as I only needed to fill a low spot and there was no need to shape the solder. Only to sand it down.

So – it’s not as difficult as some say. Now that I have some experience in using it I actually quite enjoy using body solder. And prefer to use it where I can. Of course epoxy filler still has it’s uses to fine tune the surface but from now on I will use body solder as much as possible.

A few more examples:

Saab 99 Turbo part 11 – restoring the brakes and suspension components

Brakes on the Saab 99 can be a bit tricky to fix these days. All the components can be found but probably not off-the-shelf at the local auto parts store. The Saab Club Sweden can help with some of the components, like seal kits. Also new dust shields are available – although not very cheap…

I decided to go by the route of fixing the brakes myself. This meant taking the original suspension completely apart. So a few photos on the brake job below.

First a look at the rear axle:

All the brake components are then pretty much awaiting installation on the Turbo. I also bought new brake lines, shoes and installation kits. The brake lines and shoes were available at the local auto parts store but the installation kit I got from Saab Club Sweden.

Saab 99 Turbo part 10- Corrosion repair almost done

The corrosion repair on the 99 Turbo is finally almost done.

Basically what’s left to do is fixing the driver side door. The “good” doors I had turned out to be not so good… The passenger side door needed just a few patches but the driver side door needs to be re-skinned. More on that later.

So – it’s starting to look like the car will be in primer before the spring!

Some photos of the progress since last post.

Saab 99 Turbo part 9 – front section welding

The Saab 99 Turbo is proceeding once again – welding as usual…

I had a busy summer and the project was pretty much on hold for a few months. At the moment it looks like I will not be able to put too many hours on the car but the plan is to have all the body work done this winter.

But – at least the floor, trunk area and the rear quarters are done! The one major thing to do is to fix the engine bay area and the windscreen frame. And then there is some smaller stuff like fixing the doors, but they are not too bad.

Rust repairs on the  trunk area and floor are now done. I sprayed on some epoxy to keep it from rusting while other sections of the car are done.
Rust repairs on the trunk area and floor are now done. I sprayed on some epoxy to keep it from rusting while other sections of the car are done.
Wheel well area.
Wheel well area.
The spare tire compartment came out pretty nice.
The spare tire compartment came out pretty nice.

Making a welding jig for the front section

We came up with a plan to make jigs to keep the various pieces in the front in correct position while welding. So we constructed jigs for the front end of the fenders and also for the window frame.

Making a welding jig for the front section. This will help keep the fenders in place while fitting everything.
Making a welding jig for the front section. This will help keep the fenders in place while fitting everything.
The windscreen frame bottom section was badly corroded and needed to be replaced. We made jig for it using the water holes as fixed points.
The windscreen frame bottom section was badly corroded and needed to be replaced. We made jig for it using the water holes as fixed points.
Most of the rusty pieces cut away.
Most of the rusty pieces cut away.

Welding the window frame

The bottom section of the windscreen frame was badly rusted and the easiest solution was just to replace it completely.
The bottom section of the windscreen frame was badly rusted and the easiest solution was just to replace it completely.
Before welding in the piece we cleaned and painted the heater area. It's not easy to do afterwards.
Before welding in the piece we cleaned and painted the heater area. It’s not easy to do afterwards.
The welding jig ensured the correct position.
The welding jig ensured the correct position.
And the window frame welded. Compared to some of the other stuff this was pretty straightforward to do.
And the window frame welded. Compared to some of the other stuff this was pretty straightforward to do.

Bonnet fitting problem

It seems the spare bonnet we had was a little too narrow at the rear.
It seems the spare bonnet we had was a little too narrow at the rear.
We tried to stretch it with a jack, but it seems the Saab 99 bonnet is just too stiff to easily accomplish this. Fortunately it seems I found a better bonnet and need try it later.
We tried to stretch it with a jack, but it seems the Saab 99 bonnet is just too stiff to easily accomplish this. Fortunately it seems I found a better bonnet and need try it later.

Making a bigger hole for the light

Removing some storage rust on the front fender.
Removing some storage rust on the front fender.
Making a bigger hole for the light.
Making a bigger hole for the light.
And the hole done.
And the hole done.

Fitting the fenders

Cutting away some more rust.
Cutting away some more rust.
Fitting replacement pieces.
Fitting replacement pieces.
And fitting the fender.
And fitting the fender.
Fender in welding jig.
Fender in welding jig.
Fitting the right hand side fender.
Fitting the right hand side fender.
Seems like nice fit here.
Seems like nice fit here.
Looks like a bit of a job here.
Looks like a bit of a job here.