Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Saab 9000 Belt Tensioner Compression Tool

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Update January 2021: I am no longer making belt tensioner tools.  We have sold the shop and moved overseas to Taiwan (long story…)  This particular tool is not hard to make on your own if you have some basic tools handy.  A torch or little wire feed welder helps a lot to simplify construction but one could be designed just using bolt together construction I’m sure.  We have also sold our last Saab (cry…cry…).  But fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) there is still a Saab dealership near us in Taichung City, Taiwan.  Go figure…

Update June, 2019:  I’ve just shipped the last tool I have available.  Currently we are preparing to move and all of my shop (what’s left of it) is packed away.  Also my acetylene regulator went bad and I haven’t replaced it yet so I’m out of the tool making business for the foreseeable future.

NOTE: if you are having issues with the serpentine belt “walking” off the A/C pulley or any of the other accessories there’s a very good chance your tensioner is buggered.  This happened on my ’96 9000.  The rubber bellows on the tensioner had become torn and water got into the cylinder and damaged it.

With several drivers in the family, and a newbie driver on the way, vehicle maintenance is a rather sore topic at Fairway Academy. We bought our first Saab in 1995 and the disease has simply worsened since then. The current fleet includes a couple of Saab 9000 models. Changing the serpentine belt has always been an adventure since we don’t have the special tool used to either compress or retain the automatic belt tensioner. Faced with some significant work on the latest addition to the fleet I finally decided to try to obtain one of these devices. Failing that, the next step was to simply build one of our own. It came out so well, at least as nice as the official Saab tool used to compress the tensioner, that I had a request right away from someone if I could also make one for them. Well, here it is:

Saab 9000 belt tensioner compression tool

Saab 9000 belt tensioner compression tool

I have a few of these made up and enough material on hand for a few more. If you are interested in obtaining one ($35USD incl. shipping in USA) please send a message to the administrator at

Update, March 2014:  Due to demand  I have made another batch of these and currently have a couple extra tools left over for immediate shipment if anyone is interested in obtaining one.  Glad to see there are still some 9000’s running around out there.  Also I’ve had some feedback from users about using the tool, see below for instructions.


Slot locations for attaching tensioner compression tools

Be careful to note the locations of the two notches or slots in the serpentine belt tensioner brackets, one located at each end of the spring tensioner device.  The tool is designed to be attached to these slots with the bolt end facing down, as shown below:


Belt tensioner tool in place, ready to compress the automatic tensioner.

Once properly fitted to the tensioner bracket, use a ratchet with an extension to gently tighten the tool, compressing the tensioner just enough to relieve the tension on the serpentine belt.  NOTE: THE TOOL CAN BE DAMAGED BY OVERTIGHTENING!  I purposely designed this tool to self destruct if abused in order to prevent damage to the belt tensioner and its mounting brackets.  You bend that bugger and you’ll never get the belt to stay on and you’ll have to replace the whole kit.  Note also that the tool was designed to be used only one way, with the bolt on the bottom as shown.  If you are cheating and trying to use it from the top without taking out the wing liner you risk damaging the tool since it won’t fit as closely to the bracket as it will when oriented with the bottom down.  Note in the picture above how there is a bit of an offset between the moving and fixed parts of the tensioner bracket.  Also if you are replacing the idler pulley on the tensioner arm loosen the bolt (it has left handed threads by the way) prior to attaching and using the tensioner compression tool to avoid damaging the tool- sometimes it takes a LOT of torque to get that bolt loose, and you’ll need the belt tight in order to have something to work against.

We’ve Moved…

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Fairway Academy was spun off from FOM Systems, Inc., in order to give FOM greater focus on a single subject, selling and hacking on Zuken’s CADSTAR EDA software tools.  If you’ve googled on alternative energy and come up with FOM Systems but can’t find the pages anymore under that url then you’ve come to the right place, they are all here.

We’ll continue to chronicle life with wood heating, as we are most of the way (hopefully…) through our second winter of relying exclusively on our EconoBurn EBW-100 boiler for heating and domestic hot water.  Sorry about the confusion, hopefully Google will have things all sorted out once it deals with my sitemap.xml file.

Yeah, and I also apologize for the dweeby default WordPress theme, but I’ve just spent the last two weeks hacking on php and css for the FOM Systems site and I’m just not in the mood at the moment for something more fancy, sorry.


When CD’s Were A Dream About To Come True

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

I can remember the very first compact disk I purchased- I was in Japan in November of 1982 and CD’s were taking the county by storm (as things tend to do in Japan). It was a recording of Holst’s “The Planets”. Going through my archives doing some research recently I came across an entry from Len Feldman’s column “Sightings” in the August 1981 issue of db, The Sound Engineering Magazine:

“Those studios with vast libraries of analog master tapes may find little or no use for them when the world “goes digital” in a few years. But as for the fears about the obsolescence of the conventional vinyl disc, I think that such fears are over-exaggerated. The digital disk will make its way into homes slowly, I feel, and the analog LP discs which have been sold by the billions are not about to be discarded overnight, or even over a span of ten or more years. I’m not saying that they will never become collectors’ items— only that it’s a bit early to discard our collections of 12-inch LPs before we see which way the digital disk is really going to go— and how soon it’s going to get there.”

Hahahaha! This is one reason I love history, it’s so much fun looking back to see how things really turned out, and how often the experts get the future wrong. To be sure, it took a while for CD’s to make it to our shores (I didn’t purchase my first CD player until 1985, a Sony CDP-302, which is still in service by the way) but by 1986 vinyl disappeared virtually overnight from the stores. I think Len Feldman completely overlooked the convenience factor of CD’s. On good equipment vinyl sounds almost as good as a CD, and certainly a poorly recorded CD will sound worse than a good vinyl recording, but to be free of the hassle of handling LP’s and constant fiddling with turntables and styli, the cleaning, need to turn them over after 20 minutes or so, and the wear out issue, the same things that drove many to use cassettes to record their record collections when cassettes’ quality got good enough, was the big driver in the rapid embrace of CD’s. It’s hard to believe CD’s have been with us for almost 30 years. Which is why the current struggle of Blu-ray against ordinary DVD’s may not turn out the way futurists predict today. While the conventional DVD was a vast improvement over the VHS tape, many people can barely tell the difference between an upscaled DVD and a Blu-ray video image due to the long history in this country of people accustomed to watching sub-par video. Blu-ray is no more or less convenient than DVD, so from that perspective there is no reason at all to upgrade to Blu-ray. Even many folks with HD tv’s often can’t tell if what they are watching is in high definition or not! We’ve been down this road before, folks. When was the last time you purchased a superAudio CD? I thought so…