ALFAcentro T E C H Q & A
Tech Questions

July 2004 Tech Q & A

Do you have a maintenance issue that has you stumped? Are you considering some performance modifications, but would like some advice on what combinations will work best on your car?

AlfaCentro's Technical Correspondence section is the place for you!

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Due to the volume of letters we receive, AlfaCentro is not able to respond to all technical correspondence. Published letters will be edited for length and clarity.

Rex Chalmers

Technical Editor Rex Chalmers brings over 30 years of experience as an Alfa Specialist to this column. You can contact Rex at the address below:

Alfa Sport
Alfa Sport | N2001 Rolling Drive
Campbellsport, WI 53010
| 920.533.4505

Spider Oil Burning: question by Kevi Henry | 1976 Spider

My '76 Alfa Spider is using about a quart of oil every 250 miles. The car has 40k original miles. I have owned it since new. I replaced the head gasket two years ago due to an external oil leak (which I thought was the source of the excessive oil usage) and I noticed a grey foam in the radiator. The hot compresson test with throtle open is 185 to 195 psi, all cylinders. I am about to replace the valve seals. Am I headed in the right direction and what seals would you recommend?
Answer : I suspect that you probably have a set of piston rings that have lost their seal and/or tension. Before you take the cylinder head off, make sure you do a leak down test to determine the condition of the rings. One quart of oil going through the valve guides every two hundred and fifty miles is not very likely. The reason your compression test was so good is that when the oil rings allow oil to pass the oil acts to seal the compression much like doing a “wet” compression test. When you have the head off, I would seriously consider rebuilding your 28-year-old cylinder head. I would suggest that you use valve guides made of manganese-bronze alloy, and Teflon seals. You can also use intake guides on the exhaust side as well. The Teflon seals hold up well on the exhaust side due to their ability to live in the higher temperatures generated on that side of the valve train.

GTV/6 Starter Problem : question by Kevin Hutcheson | 1986 GTV/6

Strange starter problem. the original starter packed it up without warning. Never a slow turn or premature kick out of starter drive. Just "dead". Removed and bench tested, frozen. Replaced with a known good used starter from one of my parts cars. After installation, worked well for about a week then developed an annoying tendency to spin up but not engage. Given both the price of a new v6 starter and the rather ridiculous effort required to replace one on a GTV-6, I'd like to think it could be the solenoid or starter drive, but thought I'd seek a second opinion before tearing everything down. Voltage at relay ok, problem still occurs with direct battery conection (bypassing relay and starter switch). Any thoughts?
Answer : Sounds to me like your problem is probably with the solenoid. If the starter spins and the drive doesn’t engage, chances are that the solenoid has failed. There are several other possibilities; the yoke shaped linkage arm between the solenoid may have failed; the drive may be broken; the yoke pivot bolt may have fallen out. If your first starter’s motor has seized, it may have a good solenoid, drive and yoke. You might want to do some bench testing to determine if you have enough parts between the two starters to make one good one.

Crank Plug Replacement : question by Steve Landin | 1974 Spider

In the January 2004 Q&A, you answered a question about oil pressure in a 75 Alfetta. I have heard that the crank plugs can tend to pop out and think this is a strong possibility for low pressure in my Spider. Question - you said that a new plug can be easily installed. Can this be done after removing the oil pans?? Otherwise it sounds like a total engine removal (which definitely isn't easy for me!) Thanks!

Answer : The good news is that you can replace any crank plugs that have fallen out by removing the oil pan: the bad news is that if you want to replace all of the plugs, it is very difficult to get the old ones out with the crank still installed in the block. I’ve done it, but it is a very tedious job that requires some creative tool selection due to the lack of access to some of the plugs. Before you tear your oil pan off, MAKE CERTAIN that you do actually have low oil pressure by installing a mechanical testing gage at the oil pressure sending unit port or at the idiot light sending unit port. Alfa sending units and gages are notoriously inaccurate.

L-Jetronic Injector Replacement : question by Jay Pizoli | 1984 Spider

I am replacing my fuel injectors and would like your advice on how to remove the old injector hose connecting to the fuel distributor manifold and then connecting the new injector hose. Thanks for your help!
Answer : Well Jay, the only method that I am aware of to remove injectors involves razor blades, not for your wrists, but to slice the hose at the manifold fittings in order that the hose can be removed from the fitting. You will have to replace all the hoses if your new injectors don’t come with hose. Most new Bosch injectors come with hose, but if yours don’t, use only high-pressure 8mm fuel hose. Hose designed to work with carburetors won’t hold up to the pressure that your fuel injection system delivers.

Milano Ignition and Cam Timing : question by Jesse Sherman | 1987 Milano Silver

I just bought a Milano Silver that sat for 6 years because of the timing belt being broken and I am wondering how to properly set the timing because none of the mechanics around here have heard of an Alfa Romeo.
Answer : If you are referring to ignition timing, the specification is 2 deg. BTDC @ 900 RPM. Cam timing is a tad more involved and I would suggest that you obtain a shop manual and follow the directions. Here is the short version of the procedure: with the engine at TDC on #1 cylinder, remove both cam covers. Set the cams so that the reference marks on the cams line up with those on the camshaft caps on both banks. Now install the timing belt and adjust the tensioner. With the spark plugs out, rotate the engine by hand several revolutions, ending at TDC #1. Now check to make certain that the timing marks on the cam still line up with those on the camshaft caps. This is an extremely important procedure: it must be done correctly. I would get the shop manual for your non-Alfa literate technician.

For more information on setting cam timing, see our Special Tech Section on the V6 Timing Belt Tensioner.

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