Thursday, March 22, 2012


I got into a mini-production line fit of rebuilding Volkswagen VDO speedometers. This is the mess of nasty, corroded, gummed-up parts of two speedometers from so-called "Type 3" bugs-- the Fastback and Squareback VW's of the 1960's.

Note the discoloration of the plastic "glass", which was caused by demon rust on the metal panel that supports the plastic. Both of these speedos were in pretty rough shape. The input shafts were seized up and the old grease was about the consistency of dry clay soil. I had to build a couple of new special tools for these two, even though many of their "innards" are very similar to the VDO speedos used in Saabs.

Above is one of NINE pages of sketches I made as I disassembled, cleaned, adjusted, re-lubed and reassembled these speedometers. I do this on EVERY speedometer TYPE that I rebuild--the first time I encounter one. Makes great reminder information for the NEXT time I get one of them in for reconditioning. I could never see the point of reinventing the wheel....

Here are the two reconditioned Type 3 Volkswagen speedometers. Other than some very minor scratches on the plastic "glass", they're completely reconditioned, calibrated and ready to go--good as new!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Saab did a lot of things right with the V4 cars, but one of the areas they could have done much better was the cooling systems. They were great for Sweden but not so great anywhere south of the 38th parallel. My "COOLING IT" book tells you not only where the weak spots are in these cooling systems, but how to test the systems and how to improve them.

The poor bugger shown in the cover drawing [above] has probably lost not only a couple of V4 cylinder head gaskets but a sexy girlfriend, thanks to the effect of an already too-small cooling system in his 96...Poor Sven...

This is one of many drawings in the book. It shows where hydraulic erosion often occurs in the timing cover mount and the water pump back plate on the V4 engine.This erosion reduces the coolant flow through the system and invites overheating. Further text explains how to repair these areas. I wrote the book to help you avoid Sven's fate, and there are many more very helpful How-To tips like this in the book.

The best major fix for a marginal cooling system is always a bigger radiator. This is a Sonett radiator equipped with dual electric fans, a MUST with a V4 with more than stock horsepower or an air conditioner. Especially if you live south of the 38th parallel. The book has all the spec's and dimensions for the fan framework as well as the wiring diagram, which shows all the switches, relays and indicator lights and where to locate them.

The bottom arrows show where the front grille sheet must be trimmed in order to use the Sonett radiator on a Saab 95 or 96 V4. The top arrow shows where fan clearance must be maintained when the Sonett radiator is used with a conventional belt driven fan. This 56-page book is jammed full of information like this, all intended to make hot weather life bearable for the little engine, and more pleasant than it was for Sven. For more information on this--or any of my books--contact me at And...stay cool!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I always think it is a very good idea to TEST any unit or part that I have reconditioned. I test the rheostats for the proper resistance with an ohmmeter, and that is a good first step. The proof that the job was done right is to load the rheostat with instrument lamps, just like the ones in the speedometer, tachometer, clock and other gauges in your Saab.

You can see eight 2-watt instrument bulbs mounted on the test panel, along with one of my reconditioned rheostats. To the right is a 12 volt car battery. The reconditioned rheostat is hooked up and ready for the "hot check."

This photo shows all eight lamps ON. Loading the rheostat in this manner gives visual proof that the rheostat provides a smooth increase in light intensity from dim to bright as the knob is rotated. When the 'stat passes this final test, I know my reconditioning job was done right.