Sooo, looks like the TA is partially working.
Put the test piece in and the car ran a bit better, well enough to at least get it warmed up.
Should be 29.00 mm extended as I read the threads.
I only got 27.30 mm.
Nearly 2.0 mm short.
Engine was way better with the test piece in place.
Not wonderful but the plugs also now need to be cleaned.
Also ran long enough to find out that the exhaust headers have some rust holes.
Hoping the headers can be repaired as I have other plans for my cast set.
The cascade of "Minor" (but expensive) issues is why Italian cars have a reputation as being pricey and finicky.
That they were noticeably more expensive than their contemporaries when new does not help even if they are more "Civilized" with their less sporty attached convertible tops and wind-up windows.
Currently a bit indecisive on the SPICA system.
On one hand a "Minor" fix, but $$$!
Still simpler than a Weber conversion, but more $$$ since I already have a set of Webers that just needs jets and chokes.
Of course there is the pesky backward linkage issue.
For now I think I'm looking for a "Sure Start" and may just leave the test bolt in place for a while.
EDIT: In answer to some other comments I saw while researching this.
I ALWAYS let any aluminum engine reach full temperature before use.
Taking heed of advice given me by an old time Ferrari racer.
He claimed you could drive them as hard as you like so long as you wait until they are fully up to temp first.
From what I've seen he was probably right.
I've driven Alfa's hard with no problem, also very hot-rot BOP/R V8's.
But the common failure of modern Rover v8's seems to be head gaskets.
Maybe because the yuppies believe in immediate take-off?