Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Engines with a lot more than stock horsepower [or an air conditioner, or both] need a lot more than stock COOLING! This is how I do it when my customer is serious about protecting his [expensive] high performance V4 Saab engine. This is a "take no prisoners" radiator and fan set-up. I have built a large number of systems just like this one and they really work!

The dual Flex-A-Lite 850 cfm 10" fans are shown above the modified Sonett III radiator. This set up is going into a Saab 95 wagon with a 115 bhp V4 engine, and will ultimately also have an air conditioner unit installed. Note the mount straps [at ends and center] with quarter inch mount bolts welded in place. Flex-A-Lite wants you to mount the fans to the radiator CORE, which is a very bad idea. The strap mount system I use prevents damage to the radiator core, from the weight and constant vibration of the fans.

Here the fans are set in place to check the fit on the rebuilt, re-cored radiator. I snug the fans up as close to the radiator core as I can, though nothing actually quite touches the core.

The assembled unit, ready for installation. The relays and the adjustable thermal switch will be mounted forward on the left inner fender well of the Saab 95. All the wires are shielded and clamped into place. I don't believe in doing a half-assed job on any work I do, and this is a good example.

This is the wiring layout for the dual fan set up. The thermostatic switch will turn on the primary [left] fan at the preset coolant temperature. When the air conditioner compressor turns ON, the secondary [right] fan will come on. The driver can flip a toggle switch to turn on either [or both] fans. Whenever either fan comes on, for whatever reason, the monitor light next to the override switch for that fan will light up. Your V4 engine would LOVE to have a killer cooling system like this in front of it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Well, this engine is done and ready to drop into the customer's car. It is an over-bored 1700cc Saab V4 that will produce around 115 horsepower. With the proper COOLING SYSTEM this engine will run at 6000 rpm for as long as the owner has the road and the courage to drive it that way.

This little screamer has a big 2 bbl Weber carb, a high torque cam, big valves, big ports, a light flywheel, and is fully balanced to race engine spec's. Saab-o-files will note the lack of a fan pulley on the front cover. Horsepower, guys, equals HEAT, and this sucker will have a BIG radiator with two electric fans.

From the back, you can see the light flywheel, the rebuilt, recalibrated, recurved distributor, and get a peek at the back side of the Weber carburetor. I spend a lot of time modiflying, measuring, fitting all the engine parts and carefully tightening every bolt and nut to the correct torque spec's on my engines. I build every engine as if I intended to use it in one of my own cars. And...YA SURE! I LIKE TO GO FAST!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Here I'm putting on a connecting rod cap...AND doing it so the numbers on cap and rod are on the same side--a VERY good idea.

I have already checked each of the rod bearings for the correct clearance. Time to "button 'er up."

Being a belt and suspenders sort of guy, I add LOKTITE to the con rod nuts. Cheap insurance, see...

I'm using a recently calibrated precision "clicker" torque wrench to tighten the rod bolts to exactly the correct torque. And yup, I DO check them all twice. Note the new [orange] rear crankshaft seal. You can also just see two of the five new [brass color] water jacket expansion plugs in the block. All the reciprocating parts of this engine have been precision balanced by a local shop that has built over 5000 V8 racing engines. He thinks its FUN to do a little Ford V4!
Engines that we build in this horsepower range idle smoothly, are completely reliable and have amazing performance.


Here is a nice set of new oversize pistons on rebuilt connecting rods. The four are balanced to 1/10 of a gram--NICE when you expect the engine to "live" at elevated RPM!

Note the new connecting rod bearings and a set of V8 rod bolts and nuts. V8??? Yeah...I get serious when I build a hot V4 engine! This one will produce about 110 horsepower for our customer. He wants to go fast! How about you?

I'm holding the number 3 piston assembly, with the piston ring compressor tool compressing the rings. Note the orange sleeves on the connecting rod bolts.These keep the bolts from damaging the crankshaft journal when the piston is tapped into place.

This is a three handed job. One to tap the piston into the bore, one to guide the rod into place on the crankshaft journal. The third to keep the ring compressor tight. Oh yeah--and the arrow on the piston crown has to face FORWARD as the piston is tapped into place with a wooden hammer handle. Piece 'a cake, mate!

Here I've rotated the engine upside down. I've just pulled one of the protective sleeves off a con rod bolt. Nice to use the right tools for the job, eh? I have 'em all! I've been rebuilding these engines for 42 years and counting. I've probably done about 300 stock, race & rally engines in that time....

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The rearmost bottom corners of a Sonett III hood assembly is normally held in place with a bolt. The tilt hood on the Electric Norseman makes that sort of fix just a tad unhandy. My fix is a set of inclined pins--one on each side of the car--welded to the square steel inner hood reinforcement. Each pin--as the hood is lowered and latched at the back, slips over a horizontal pin bolted to the frame. When the hood is latched down, the lower corners of the hood just snug up to the frame of the car, so it all lines up and doesn't flop around.

I got in a bitch of a position to take this under-fender photo, but you can clearly see the inclined pin. As the hood goes DOWN, the pin draws the hood IN, against the frame of the car. I made the bracket--that is bolted to the frame--adjustable, so it is entirely possible to get it "just right".

Two drawings in one....the main drawing shows the tilt hood partly open. No. 2 [in both drawings] is the square steel reinforcement frame inside the 'glass hood skin. You can see where the inclined pin is welded to that frame, and how, when the hood is closed, the pin slides right over the second pin on the strap bolted to the frame of the car.

In the smaller drawing on the right, No. 1 is the fiberglass skin of the car, No. 2 is the square steel reinforcing frame, and No. 3 shows how the fiberglass hood skin is sucked right in against the frame of the car. Thus "gestopping der flopping." Simple fixes are almost always the best.


I've never been much for "...oh, I think that's OK..." when it comes to rebuilding distributors. The engines that get my rebuilt distributors don't think much of guesswork, either. This picture shows a special tool that I built, a MightyVac and the data sheet that records exactly what was done to a typical distributor and the results of the rebuild work.

I plot out the curves--shown on the data sheet--for mechanical advance [top] and vacuum advance [bottom]. The mechanical advance curve is checked on the SUN distributor machine. I correct that curve by taking the distributor apart and changing advance springs. Testing it again on the SUN machine tells me if I managed to get the correct springs or not. This can go on....and on....I call it the perverse nature of inanimate objects....

This is the tool I built to test the advance curve of any Bosch vacuum advance unit [the silver "pot" mounted on the tool at the bottom of the photo]. I attach a MightyVac to the vacuum advance unit and start applying vacuum to the advance unit. I read the vacuum applied [on the MightyVac dial] for each degree of advance [shown on the scale at the end of the red tool. I record that on the graph on the data sheet.

Another view of the tool. The scale at the end is calibrated in degrees, taken off a precision protractor. It's a lot of screwing around to make an old, nasty, dirty, tired, worn-out distributor like new again! But the engines my distributors go into think my time was well worth it. A guy told me once he thought I operated in a vacuum. I told him I probably did but it was a precision one.

Friday, July 2, 2010


This is the OTHER half of the hood latch system for the tilt hood mechanism in the Electric Norseman '73 Sonett. This is the SECOND pin...I built the FIRST pin half an inch too bloody short! The fair Kathleen said something about "...dumb shit...", tho' I didn't hear all of that....

The latch PIN threads into a nut welded to a sleeve, that is in turn welded to a mount plate. The mount plate bolts to the square steel frame for the tilt hood mechanism. The pin is adjustable in all three planes. The view is the passenger side of the hood [with the hood open]. The stock hood door is on the left side of the photo.

The hood pin [top center] just about ready to drop into the latch assembly. The hood ass'y is just about closed. Uhhh...I THINK it is going to reach, now....Photo taken from inside the right fender well.

The pin is in place, locked into the latch assembly. YES! It DID reach! Note that the Fiat latches have a strong "push-up" spring [out of view in this photo] that pushes the hood ass'y up about 1.5 inches when the latch is released. So now the Norseman has a new latch on life.....