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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I bought a Shrinker Stretcher machine. I have seen them used on some Youtube channels and they looked pretty handy. They seem to help a lot in making tighter curves and radiuses. The English Wheel is handy also, but the Shrinker Stretcher seems to speed up some operations a lot. Also – at my skill level – shrinking edges with just a hammer and a dolly (or stump) is challenging. Making an even shrink along an edge is especially difficult. So, I decided to try it out.
How a Shrinker Stretcher works
The device comes with two sets of jaws. One set for shrinking and another for stretching. The jaws clamp on the piece of sheet metal and pull the metal in towards the center (or push out if stretching) when you pull on the handle. This forces the metal to curve.
The jaws can shrink and stretch steel about two inches or 5 cm deep, and around 1 mm thick.
Above you can see the teeth marks the jaws make on the metal. These need some smoothing out after the desired shape has been attained. An English Wheel is a great help.
Foot operation stand
Already after my limited experience I would say that a foot operation stand is a must. A stand would have cost almost as much as the device, so we decided to make one of scrap metal. The pedal is a Saab 96 brake pedal.
The foot stand gives you a lot more power but it also frees up both hands to hold and guide the piece you are working with.
Repairing a Saab 99 Turbo rear brake dust shield
So here’s the first real test repair where I used the shrinker stretcher.
All in all I have to say that using the shrinker was a lot easier than I thought. Ofcourse making complex panels is a completely different thing, but for small parts like this it seems a real helper.