Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

When I changed fuel systems, I did this for easy access.

Simple drain clean out cover from Home Depot.

I can't get the pic with the lid closed to download. :(

Sure makes it easy to mess with the pump when needed, though.


  • 006.JPG
    497.7 KB · Views: 58
  • 007.JPG
    662.8 KB · Views: 59
When I changed fuel systems, I did this for easy access.

Simple drain clean out cover from Home Depot.

I can't get the pic with the lid closed to download. :(

Sure makes it easy to mess with the pump when needed, though.
I did that on my Camaro using the original metal and a piano hinge but I can't get myself to cut the trunk floor in this one. It certainly would be easier in the long run though.
I have a bunch of Saab 9000's and the first time I had a fuel pump failure it was very early in the internet forum days, at least for me. I dropped the tank and all the other BS that goes with that. Old school way. Took hours and hours. This was before I learned Saab put an access panel in the hatch floor under the carpeted wood panel. After that I could change fuel pump assemblies in 45 minutes, start to finish, even with a full tank of fuel. I don't think I want to cut a hole in my GN trunk floor, though.
A lot has happened since my last update. I waited to post until I had something positive to say about the car. lol

It appears that I was having issues with oil, brake fluid, and exhaust leaks as well as an alternator issue the last time I checked in. I put the turbo back on with the new drain gasket and studs, copper sprayed the downpipe gasket, went through the alternator again, and fixed nothing at all.... I was extremely pissed! In fact, I went backwards because I had a new massive exhaust leak between header on the turbo. There's no chance of RTV sealing those pits and warps. I also got mad and ordered a new alternator.

I bought a new Remflex gasket and visited a local exhaust shop. They offered free advice and parts to try which I thought was very generous. Their solution worked, and I'm super happy about it. Why didn't I think to source bigger springs?

I bought a brand new Reybestos master cylinder. Let's hope it lasts a while. I'm glad my old Powermaster bench test stand can still be useful.

Washed, scuffed, and repainted the booster.

And finally learned the tricks/order of installing all the turbo parts so that every nut and bolt can get tight. The drain pipe is not easy to torque, but I finally got it to stop leaking. The new Remflex gasket and longer downpipe springs also sealed up the exhaust! The V6 is finally leak-free!

I finished installing the master cylinder. It's one of my least favorite simple jobs because I always get brake fluid on something. I had water handy, so hopefully I didn't do any real damage.

I was still not convinced that a new alternator was going to fix my problems, so I decided to research the rest of the charging circuit. I had seen a lot of old forum threads about this topic, but nothing replaces a good diagram.

It looks like the L pin ins in series with the volt light which is even simpler than I thought. It helped me realize that yes, the alternator could be defective, but it was the more obvious yet uncommon thing that I've been overlooking. The grounds.

I totally overlooked the fact that I painted everything including accessory brackets and alternator cases. In theory, there is no longer a path to ground and there's no reason the alternator should work, so I decided to give bulb check a closer look. Rolling the key over to run showed a very dim volt light which is not how it should be. However, this could still be a cluster issue, so I did another test. This time, the connector on the alternator was unplugged and the pin was alligator clipped to a header bolt. This way I can kill two birds with one stone. (cluster and block grounds) This time, the volt light came on as bright as day. Both the cluster and block grounds are good. It is concluded that either the alternator or it's painted surfaces are causing a no charge issue. I'm leaning towards paint. If that tiny light comes on at all, but doesn't have a strong enough connection to illuminate fully then the rest of the alternator is REALLY going to struggle. I'll knock some paint off tonight after work! Hopefully I can return that alternator and get $100 back.

Regardless of which issue it ends up being, I think I'm going for a test drive tonight! The brakes could still use a bleed/flush, but I have enough of a pedal to at least putt around the neighborhood.
It looks like my ground was fine after all. This alternator is just junk.

I went ahead and just dropped the new one in.



I took off the covers for the first time since October which allowed me to test the Kill Mat.
From here things take a turn for the worse.

I only made it this far before noticing that something was up. The shifter felt very wrong, and there was a hesitation every time I touched the throttle. I decided to check the trans fluid and added a little. This also helped me notice that I was leaking coolant. The radiator I was so shocked to see in great shape was no longer in great shape. The brazed joint at the upper neck is now cracked. :(

I didn't let this stop me from taking a quick drive though. It was almost out of fuel.

It seemed to be running well for the most part. I wasn't sure if I was not used to the new converter or what but the trans felt different. I couldn't really place a finger on it.

I decided to step on the throttle on the way home. It downshifted just fine, and the rpms went pretty high. However, the car wasn't pulling quite like I expected and it wouldn't upshift... I took it home to play with the sticky shifter.

I played, but couldn't figure out or understand what happened. Neither the transmission nor shift cable were removed. Why is it suddenly sticking? I did have to adjust the column side to release my tumbler, but it didn't fix the situation. Given this goofiness, I figured it was worth checking the TV cable too. Despite being the same cable on the same throttle body and same transmission, it was misadjusted by about 1/4"

I already knew my fate at this point, but I took it for another quick test drive. The hesitation is gone, but with the added features of crunching and grinding. It won't shift out of first, and the car is reluctant to move. The trans is toast despite doing nothing to it except a torque converter.
I feel for you, I have been going through the same thing after another. First alternator then trans ( I put a used restall in) pretty sure it was the converter, turbo (compressor nut decided to come off) , last but not least, took out the thrust bearing. All within 2500 miles of driving. Got it running again, see what happens next. Your rides looking good just have to work the bugs out. Just letting you know your not alone.
I feel for you, I have been going through the same thing after another. First alternator then trans ( I put a used restall in) pretty sure it was the converter, turbo (compressor nut decided to come off) , last but not least, took out the thrust bearing. All within 2500 miles of driving. Got it running again, see what happens next. Your rides looking good just have to work the bugs out. Just letting you know your not alone.
Wow. Yeah, that actually makes me feel a little better because it feels like just my luck!

There are so many coulda shouldas going through my head today including "shoulda tried harder to sell it last summer" and "Coulda had the 3800 swap done by now if I did that instead."

But that's not going to help anything. The only answer is to keep trying. I really hope it wasn't the converter's fault because Dave Husek seemed really excited about it. In fact, I still hope that it can be saved with only about 10 miles on it. I doubt whoever builds it will agree to that though, and I don't blame them. I'm hoping to give Jimmy's a call because I have a couple friends offering to trailer the car up there. I have no desire to take the rebuild on myself. I just hope that the car is sorted after that.
I feel for you Jon . Keep at it you're almost home !!
The fact that you seem to like to make fixtures & tools to make the job easier , I figured you could use a smoke machine to find vacuum/boost/exhaust leaks . Here is a video on how to make one . I made one for myself and it works great .
Hope isn't lost after all...

I finally got a chance to fiddle with the GN some more. All the linkages were messed up. I'm still having trouble with the column linkages which may be bent up, but the throttle valve is finally set correctly, shifting when it should, and transmitting power like it should! The car sounds and feels great!

I'm not out of the woods though. I'm still fighting leaks. Getting the car hot allowed me to find loose heater hose clamps. That was a mess. I still have a cracked radiator neck which I think I can fix myself, and the power steering is leaking from an unknown spot. Whish me luck. I still really want this car in Bowling Green.
Yes! Nats is once again the goal. I think I crossed the second biggest hurdle last night.

The offender

Big crack!

I've never repaired a radiator before, but I figured I had little lose. If this ends up not working or looking ugly, I'll just buy the TA radiator. After watching a few videos, it seems like I can solder this back on similarly to sweating a pipe. I spread some flux, aimed a propane torch at the top of the neck, and let the heat suck the solder in. Let's just hope it holds.

I think cleaning the area with acetone would have helped but the seam looks pretty good. If I have a leak it will be at the dimples shown below.

I'm pretty sure it's going to work fine though. It certainly won't be worse!

Tonight I'll throw this radiator back in and start looking for the OTHER leaks. My power steering is leaking pretty bad and oil keeps dripping on to the lower intercooler bracket. I think the oil filter adapter or cooler sandwich plate are still leaking. The turbo drain seems to have fixed itself because the lower rad hose has stayed dry.
Oh yeah... While I'm under there I'll need to pull the steering shaft off again. I managed to get the shaft splined wrong on the box and now the steering wheel is off about 10 degrees. It's not a big deal, but it's really annoying to look at.
Remember when I said,
I'm pretty sure it's going to work fine though.

Nothing like doing something twice am I right? At least I don't have to pull the radiator out this time. I don't like undoing the trans and oil cooler lines.

This time I cleaned the area with some acetone. I think that helped a lot.

The paint keeps wanting to bubble up, but scuffing and giving it another coat made it look great again.

I just really hope it's sealing now. I'm going to scuff and repaint the hold down plate because I can't stand looking at that orange peel.

My shifter is also acting up again. It doesn't want to go into park or release the key. I'm about to remove the column linkage, leave the column in park and call it good. I always liked the little quirk of the column cover rotating with the shifter, but it's not worth this hassle.

Power steering leak is gone. The hoses on the reservoir were not clamped tight. The exhaust is leaking at the driver side header and somewhere around the turbo. It would be nice to get another gasket for the header. That's an easy enough fix. However, I'm tired of messing with the turbo. It's staying as-is. I wonder how much I can tackle in a few days. This whole car is in need of a lot of cleaning too!
That didn't fix it either. No more messing around! I made an ugly be effective pressure tester and got this thing sealed up once and for all.

I was proud enough at that point to scuff and repaint the hold down plate which turned out really nice. Nice enough in fact that it felt right to re-sticker it.

AC blows cold! The only thing left to do was undo the steering shaft, re-center the steering wheel, reinstall and test everything out.
I stopped for a car wash to get rid of months worth of dust and grime. I got stuck in conversation with some enthusiasts who were excited to see the car at the gas station too.

Test drive 5-23.jpg

It's not perfect. There are some rattles that I can't quite pinpoint, but they're not sounding super concerning. The car is overall much smoother and quieter to the point that I may have not notice those rattles before all these repairs. Maybe they've always been there! The shifter is still causing problems, and I think it's because of worn body bushings. I'm hoping I can find a way to disable the column linkage and just leave that in park.

I think she's ready for Bowling Green!