Oldtimer Praxis Saab 96 Restoration magazines

Ok. This is old news, but I only just got hold of the Oltimer Markt / Oldtimer Praxis Restaurieren 1 and 2 special numbers that came out already in 2010. I didn’t try to get the magazines back in 2010 for some reason. But I’m really happy I got them now (Thanks to Petri Petrie in Germany).

The restoration specials follow a nuts and bolts professional restoration of a two-stroke Saab 96. Ofcourse the texts are in german, but even if you only look at the photos you will get an extremely good idea what it takes to restore a car. I don’t speak german all that great and I have done a few Saabs already, but there were still a few tips and tricks I found even on a cursory reading. So I think I will spend a few evenings for a more complete read-through…

If you can get your hands on these magazines I urge you to get them.





Triboron nano boron two-stroke lubricant

This is a semi-sponsored story in the sense that I got a free sample of the Triboron 2-takts koncentrat on the condition that I would test it and write about it in my blog. But I also think that this is something that would interest other two-stroke enthusiasts.

Triboron is a Swedish company and had a booth at the Saab Festival in Trollhättan this summer. They market all sorts of fuel and oil additives for racing but also everyday use. What I got to test was the Triboron 2-takts koncentrat which is a lubricant for two-stroke motors. What’s interesting about it is that it is not oil based – the lubricating agent is actually nano boron. There’s no oil in the mix at all.

I talked with the company spokesman Tommy Lindholm about the Triboron lubrication. Apparently Nano boron is a very effective lubricant. It reduces friction and wear by bonding to metal surfaces and forming a low-friction coating on them.

Tommy told me that unlike oil the Triboron mix burns completely leaving only the nano boron coating behind. Since no oil is needed for the engine, the burning process is a whole lot more effective and cleaner than with oil. This means that the days of the blue exhaust smoke are pretty much over.

Tommy also said that by using the Triboron mix you get little more power out of the motor. I suspect this is mainly due to the fact that there’s no oil in the mix which makes the burning process more effective.

Well, does it work?

Yes it does. On my two-stroke I have used 98 octane fuel with 3% two-stroke oil as recommended by Saab and also Niklas Enander from www.classicsaabracing.com. Tommy instructed me to test the Triboron with 95 octane fuel with 1% Triboron mix. Apparently this should be optimal for Saab (pre-mix! NOT for Sport/MC etc. There’s a ready-made mix available for two-stroke Saabs with oil pumps).

Initially I was quite apprehensive of putting this ”snake oil” in the tank, but then thought that what the hell – we only live once. The worst that could happen was that I would need to replace the engine… 😀

You can start using the Triboron mix even if you still have oil mix in the tank, but as it happened I got to test it on pretty much empty tank. So I filled up with 95 octane with 1% Triboron. I was 250 kilometers from home so I was pretty sure that if the stuff was worthless the engine would surely blow out on my way home. Especially since it was a motorway and I drove around 120 km/h for the most part. But everything worked just fine. I had no problems whatsoever.

After the next re-fuel I figured most of the two-stroke oil remnants had left the system. Tommy had said that the car would start better when using the Triboron mix. I cannot judge that very well since I have had no significant problems starting my car since I put in breakerless ignition. The car started as good as ever.

But what was really notable was the lack of smoking. The car just would not smoke even when doing a cold start. That is pretty cool. No watering eyes. No coughing your lungs out in the garage…

It was also clear that the burning process was much cleaner. The carbon/oil deposits on the pistons and spark plugs started to clear away.

All in all I got to test drive around 1000 kilometers with the Triboron mix.

What about the costs?

I can only speak from the Finnish perspective. Here the cheapest two-stroke oils cost around 7 to 8 euro per litre. If you use them then using the Triboron mix will be slightly more expensive.

But when compared to ”regular” grade two-stroke oils (Castrol, Mobil, etc.) in the 10 to 15 € per litre price range, the costs are close to even. No significant difference.

At the moment you can only get Triboron from Mekonomen in Finland.

Ecological two-stroke Saab?

Triboron gave me an idea though. I have been thinking about converting one of the ’66 engines for E85 fuel (85% ethanol). But so far the cost has been a bit steep. Ethanol does not mix with normal two-stroke oil. You need a special oil designed to mix with it. Most of these oils are for racing purposes and can easily cost 40 € per liter. That’s way too expensive for my taste. Especially since with E85 the fuel consumption would probably increase as much as 30%.

But Triboron mixes with ethanol and could be used with E85 also. That would reduce the cost of driving when compared to racing oil. It wouldn’t be cheap but not prohibitively expensive either.

The engine would need a little work also. Mainly re-jetting for E85. But I already have the lambda gauge which would make it easier to figure out the correct jetting.

So this is definitely something I would like to do if I ever have the time to put into it.

The conclusion.

I am truly impressed with Triboron even though it initially felt a bit suspect. If you feel you don’t like the smoking and would like an easier to start stroker you may want to give it a try. In Sweden they use Triboron on Saab-racers and speedboats, so I’m pretty convinced it’s safe to use. Of course my test was only 1000 kilometers, but I had no problems during that period.

For my self – I rather like my two-stroke to smoke, smell and make a loud noise. A tasteless, smokeless bullnose Saab just doesn’t feel right. So I’ll probably stick with oil. But the E85 conversion is definitely a possibility.

There’s two versions of the Triboron mix available:
2-takts koncentrat for pre-mix (1% mix or 50% of recommended)
2-takts injektion for Saabs with oil pump (Sport, Monte-Carlo, etc.)

More info from www.triboron.se

Airflow and suspension issues – two stroke

While we were driving in Sweden the two-stroke was having some overheating issues because of the very warm weather …and due to the fact that we were blasting ”full speed” on the highways for several hours on one sitting. I could maintain a speed of about 100 km/h, but anything over that I had to deploy the age-old ”extra cooling unit” –  the cabin heater. But maintaining a steady 120 km/h was pretty much impossible because of the engine heating up more than it should.

I figured it has to do with the triple carb engine producing more heat than the old radiator can handle – especially regarding the tiny hole in the bonnet that air should pass through. The engine bay behind the radiator – as well as the front fenders –  were almost scalding hot after a long stretch. A clear sign that there was not enough airflow.

As a first aid I decided to remove some of the obvious obstacles for the engine compartment airflow:

The modification worked out better than I thought it would. I have since driven the car on motorway in very hot weather and the temperature stays very nicely in control. Only if I push the car over 120 km/h will the temperature rise above normal.

So –  the next order of business will be opening up the bonnet Saab Sport style. I borrowed a set of original Saab Sport safari grilles as well as the templates to make them. Now I can make new ones for my car.

While I was making the bumper modifications I also decided to make some suspension changes. I think the car came with some rally springs originally as it was sitting pretty high:


As a way to improve the handling a bit I decided to lower the whole car. I had these progressive springs from some japanese car and decided to test how they would work in the front. I also had some stiffer but shorter V4 springs for the rear. So I tested them out:


The front looked much better but the rear stayed at pretty much the same height. The stiffer springs kept the rear up despite being shorter. So the next order of business was to shorten them some more:


That brought the rear down a little but I think I may still need to shorten the springs some more to get the stance right. But handling wise the car improved a great deal. It no longer rolls as much as it used to in tight cornering.

And here’s something I picked up at Juha Lehtonen’s place – A Saab dealer sign from the eighties. Pretty cool.


My trip to Trollhättan

Route Map
Route Map

The trip to Trollhättan started on Wednesday from my garage at Nokia, Finland. I drove my two stroke to Turku where I met Tikkis and Sami who brought the V4 Rally on a trailer. The V4 was offloaded (we left the trailer at a fellow saab club member Tero Setäläs shop) and we continued on to harbour and the ferry. Thrusday morning  we were at Stockholm and it was time for the drive to Trolhättan. We took a bit longer route visiting some friends in Katrineholm, Askersund and Vadstena, and continuing on to Jönköping to drive around lake Vättern. We were at Trollhättan on Thursday evening. The event itself lasted three days from Friday to Sunday. On Sunday we left at noon to drive back to Stockholm and continue on back to Finland.

So – a few pics from the trip follow. There are many photos of the event already online around the net so I think I’ll skip posting a generic photo gallery. Instead I will post a few pics and stories of specific cars and other stuff later.

Saab two stroke trailer hitch

I decided to put a trailer hitch on the two stroke. Basically just in case I need to take something bigger to a club event.

I had an original Saab 95 trailer hitch that I did not need so I exchanged it to the 96 model with a fellow Saab Club member Vesa. It had some surface rust but other than that it was quite solid. So here’s a few photos on how I installed it on the two stroke:

Come to think of it – maybe I should get one of those mini-carvans…


Fuel system repair on the two-stroke

As I promised in the previous post – here’s a bit more info on what we did to fix the fuel issues on the two-stroke:

So – as we suspected the fuel intake pipe in the fuel tank had become corroded during the long period the car was stored outside before I bought it. On the long drive to eastern Finland the pipe collapsed because of the rust and caused all sorts of problems (read all about it here).

As I wanted to drive to the Saab Club driving season opening last Thursday we decided to fix the problems. The Saturday before the event we swapped the fuel tank and made some changes to the fuel system. Here’s some photos:

The bigger pipe was used as we suspected that maybe we put in a slightly too small pipe during the restoration. This was done basically just to make sure the pipe would cause no problems.

After putting in the new fuel tank, new pipes, and a new (restored) SU fuel pump we decided to try and start the car. It started right up and ran very nicely – not a hint on fuel starvation issues. But – at slow idle the engine made a tiny knocking or pinging sound…

So – on sunday we removed the engine and dismantled it to check the bearings. As hard as we looked we found nothing substantially wrong. The bearings felt good and there was no sign of any problems with them.

But of course this engine is old and has not been rebuilt. There is visible wear in the cylinders and maybe the pistons are becoming slightly too loose. Also – one of the piston rings looked slightly too loose in its groove as I rotated the crank.

I also suspected that the port edges in the cylinder were too sharp. The edges should have a small (1 to 1.5 mm) chamfer at the edge to guide rings over them more smoothly. These chamfers had worn off and the edges were razor-sharp. Maybe one of the piston rings snagged slightly on one of the edges and that made the noise.

On this suspicion I used a small compressed air grinder to smooth the port edges and chamfer them.

I have never done any port grinding but Niklas Enanders XP Tuning Manual (www.classicsaabracing.com) gave some good info on it. The engine is somewhat worn anyway. If I botched the job the worst outcome would be that I needed to have it bored to oversize and get new pistons. That’s very likely going to happen anyway in the future so I went a head with it.

After we put the engine back together again it was time for another test run. Unfortunately the pinging sound was still there. This time we ran the engine longer and as it warmed up the sound disappeared. This leads me to believe that it might be the piston ring groove or maybe one of the piston sleeves is slightly too loose. As the sound disappears when the engine warms up I decided to live with it for the time being. When the sound becomes more substantial it is probably time to rebuild the engine with new pistons and a rebuilt crank.

On the left the hevier shortnose flywheel. On the right the lighter '66 engine flywheel. Saab definitely went for a sporty feel with the triple carb longnose.
On the left the heavier shortnose flywheel. On the right the lighter ’66 engine flywheel. Saab definitely went for a sporty feel with the triple carb longnose.

One more thing – I swapped the ’66 flywheel for the heavier short nose flywheel to see how much of a difference it does to the character of the engine. It does indeed make the driving a lot smoother as it’s easier to drive the car in traffic and at slower speeds and revs. The ’66 engine with the lighter flywheel is somewhat more awkward to drive slow or when you need to stop often.

I had a little test drive on Tuesday. On Thursday it was time head for the Saab Club meet at Hyvinkää (some 400 km drive in total). The car worked very nice and run 120+ km/h easily at the highway. Swapping the tank (and the fuel line) was definitely the right move.

The next longer trip is to Saab Festival in Trollhättan. I have already booked the ferry tickets to Sweden…