VSCCA - VIR - 2009VRG - NJMP - 20091500cc SAAB/Ford V4Vapaa Vintage Racing
VSCCA - VIR - 2009

VSCCA - VIR - 2009

George Vapaa, Lotus 7 CC leading

VRG - NJMP - 2009

VRG - NJMP - 2009

Stefan Vapaa, SAAB Sonett

1500cc SAAB/Ford V4

1500cc SAAB/Ford V4

built with a great deal of help From Jack Lawrence

Vapaa Vintage Racing

Vapaa Vintage Racing

Formula S, foreground - Sonett, background


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1964 Quantum Formula S

12-27-2011 Update on chasis crack repair

Written by Stefan Tuesday, 27 December 2011 14:16

Things are progressing. Here's an update...

Right side, rear lower A-arm mount cracks welded prior to reinforcement
On the A-arm pivot point mounting areas, first I welded the cracks

Right side, rear lower A-arm mount reinforced
Then I welded on a reinforcing piece

this hole is for the bolt that holds the metal plate that is behind the A-arm pivot
I'm trying to catch all the cracks, but some are in the craziest little places


This piece (resting on the Vice-Grips) was just too thin to weld up. I had to replace it.

All welded in

Additional weld inside the engine bay bracing

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 December 2011 14:26 )

12-01-2011 Formula S CRACKED

Written by Stefan Saturday, 03 December 2011 19:36

I was cleaning up the engine bay in preparation of refitting the engine when I noticed a crack in the transmission mount. Then I noticed one at a brace, and a triangulation point, and a frame member, and a suspension mounting point and on and on and ON!

It seems that the hammering from the axles in the drivers did more damage than I realized. So, the crack hunting and repair work has begun.

You can click each photo to view it larger in a gallery. Also, in that gallery, there are more photos than I've pasted here.

lower portion of original transmission mount

Rear transmission mount

left side rear engine bay bracing where it meets the floor

Engine bay brace

looking at the transmission mount from underneath

Rear transmission mount viewed from underneath

right side engine bay brace

Right side engine bay brace

front end of engine bay floor diagonal from underneath

Engine bay floor brace viewed from underneath

upper right of transmission mount

Right side of transmission mount (there's a matching crack on the left side)

looking from inside engine bay at upper frame member above upper A-arm front pivot point

Ride side upper engine bay frame, just above the upper A-arm front pivot

patch piece for upper frame member above upper A-arm front pivot point

Repair piece

rep[aired upper frame member above upper A-arm front pivot point

Welded in

right side lower A-arm rear pivot lower mounting hole

Lower A-arm mount

right side lower A-arm rear pivot point upper mounting hole

Lower A-arm mount

right side lower A-arm front pivot point

Lower A-arm mount

right side lower A-arm front pivot point

Where frame meets lower A-arm mount

right sie lower A-arm front pivot point

Where frame meets lower A-arm mount

right side engine bay bracing

Right side engine bay bracing

below right side engine bay bracing

Same place, but viewed from underneath

repaired transmission mount

Repaired trans mount

repaired engine bay floor diagonal

Repaired floor brace

And there's much more to be done still...


11-18-2011 Formula S inner drivers

Written by Stefan Friday, 18 November 2011 14:42

At the Mt. Equinox event in August we broke a piston ring. So we pulled the engine out to repair it. In the process, we found a cracks in our fabriacted transmission mount. We reasoned that they were the result of the horrible bumps on the mountain, but I had a nagging sense that there was more to the issue. When I thought about it, those bumps just didn't seem like a "whole" answer.

We've had problems for years with the transmission mount breaking. At the same time, there is a vibration that I can feel during cornering. That vibration has been a puzzlement, though I always suspected that the driveshafts were hitting the inner drivers when the suspension compressed on the outside corner.

Well, last night I confirmed that suspicion. See the photos below. They show that the end of the splined shaft of the inner drivers have been whacking smartly against the center of the differential. This is obvious when you look at and compare an OK driver and the ones from the Formula S.

This is what a good one looks like.

This is one of the ones from the Formula S.

This is the other side.

Foreground: Good one from the Sonett.
Background: Not so good from the Formula S.

I've decided that one problem is the cause of both the transmission mount breaking and the cornering vibration. It makes sense right?

So how did this problem show up?

The A-arms on the car had to be shortened to fit the chassis. Apparently, they're too short.

So then, the obvious solution is less-short A-arms!

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 November 2011 14:49 )

No spark on the Formula S?

Written by Stefan Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:19

A full race report will be forthcoming, but here's a little spoiler...

In the last session of the weekend at VIR, the Formula S suddenly stopped running while Jeremy was driving. He was able to coast all the way from the back straight to the pit lane. I looked at it and determined there was no spark.  There was no obvious reason for this, as all the wires appeared to be intact. Since it was the last session, we put it on the trailer.

Last night I had a chance to troubleshoot the issue and was thrilled to find... It was a simple fix.

The screw holding the distributor rotor fell out!

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:21 )

10-03-10 Duck Duck Vrooom

Written by Stefan Monday, 04 October 2010 04:32

So what does duck have to do with the Formula S?

Well, not much, but there's a little and it was a very ducky kind of day today.

In the kitchen, Annalisa and I are making duck confit, had duck breast for dinner and I am just now (at 12:01 AM the next morning) finishing up rendering a batch of duck fat.

So you are right, that has NOTHING to do with the Formula S... But this does. I changed the distributor today.  Gone is the BR7 with points. In its place is a custom hall effect unit that came in a pile of parts we got from Robert Alder when he removed the SAAB two-stroke from his Bobsy SR3 (seen below).

The original power plant used by Duck Waddle and John Houlton -- a 3 cylinder, 2 cycle, 900 cc engine.

Not my car. This *is* our engine now though. It is on my workbench right now!

The Bobsy and the associated pile of parts were previously owned by a man by the name of Duck Waddle. No, I didn't make that up.  I've met him.  Neat guy!  It was in 1997 during a SAAB convention track event and he was one of the Skip Barber instructors on hand to teach us how to drive.

See, I figure that the reason I was having so much trouble with the Formula S starting (being incredibly difficult and backfiring through the carburetor all the time) and running terribly was because the distributor wasn't working properly. I'm guessing that the ignition advance is buggered or something similar.

So the distributor I put in is something that appears to have been fabricated from a variety of sources. The wiring was done by Rhode Island Wiring Service, Inc. 567 Liberty Lane, PO Box 434, West Kingston, RI 02892-0434. (401) 789-1955.

I don't know who did the welding on the shutter wheel / ignition rotor, but it was well done.

There's some stock BOSCH parts included...

It wasn't too hard to install.  Much more challenging was making some accurate marks on the crank pulley that would be visible for timing with a timing light.

Since this particular distributor has the ignition locked out, I needed to time it with a timing light. The old trick of doing with a test light or from the spark at the points just wasn't going to work anymore.

Finding TDC wasn't hard since I had a custom tool... A dial indicator with an extension fitted to an old gutted spark plug body.

It isn't as "slick" as the official SAAB tool, which I also have, but my official SAAB tool is missing the extension for the indicator that allows it to actually reach the top of the piston. So it's kinda non-operational until I can fix that.

When the engine is in the Formula S you can't see the stock timing marks on the engine block. So once I found TDC I picked a spot on the block to put my zero mark. There's a casting artifact on the block that is easy to see from the left side of the car. I cleaned it off and put a fine line of white paint on it. On the harmonic balancer, I struck a corresponding mark with a chisel and then painted it white.

The shop manual states that 18.7mm and 22mm from the zero/TDC mark measured on the perimeter of the pulley correspond with 17° and 22° of crankshaft rotation.  So I measured carefully and put marks there too.  Unfortunately, I determined later that I screwed up rather a lot. The book says "on the pulley" and I measured on the harmonic balancer. That's not the same. Not at all. Dummy.

The book is even specific about the pulley diameter and since we have a custom aluminum pulley from http://www.classicsaabracing.com that is, I think, smaller diameter... I'd have been wrong even if I'd put the mark on the right component. RTFM!

No matter, my timing light has a dial on it that lets me set it for the advance I want and then just look at the zero TDC mark.

That all done, I found a place for the BOSCH thingie to mount, wired everything up, inserted the "new" distributor and proceeded to time it.

The advance mechanism on this distributor appears to have been locked out by bending over some tabs on the advance mechanism with brute force (hammer and screwdriver) such that the weights can no longer swing out. The springs are gone of course.

So, timing it now is done by hooking up the timing light (#2 wire), setting the advance to 18° BTDC, and hitting the starter.  While it is cranking, rotate the distributor body until the 0° marks line up.

That should be done, or at least close. So I try to start it.

It fires up relatively easily. Certainly easier than it was with the old distributor!

I recheck the timing and see that it moves a little bit as the revs climb.  That's probably due to slop in the mechanism or gear lash relative to where I was timing it at cranking speed.  So I reset the timing so it looks right at 5000-6000 rpm and lock it down.

NOW it sounds crisp! Or, at least I think it does.  It's a little hard to tell with my earplugs in but I wasn't willing to take them out while it was running in the confines of my garage with all the doors closed!

Smokey garage!

So, now I just need a racetrack to test it out.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 October 2010 16:57 )
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