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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-27-2018, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Spica Newbie

I'm reading .. and reading .. it's like preparing for an exam.. Lot's of good posts and threads...

So i am brand new to the SPICA system .. willing to learn and capable I think. I'm not looking for short cuts but if there are any .. lead me by the nose.

Situation is this-- '73 Spider new acquisition --74000 miles -- 335 put on in the last 7 years.He had added 7000 mile in his previous 14 years.. Car was owned by a guy who was not a DYI-er.. Wall Streeter.. If the car needed a light bulb he faithfully took it to an independent shop specializing in foreign cars.. the 335 miles were probably tooling around in 3rd gear judging by where he lived.. long winter layups and minimal use.

What history I have from receipts is sketchy .. car has a new gas tank, battery, alternator, fuel lines, filters etc..A recent "tune -up" last Spring addressed a misfire (probably carbon-ed up to the hilt) but the PO's shop doesn't spell out whether points were changed but gap was set... I suspect the shop hated getting down there to get at the distributor... Whenever the car had running or starting issues (and it did) it seemed the shop would throw in a new set of plugs, check the charging circuits/battery and points gap and send him on his way.. There doesn't seem to be any witness marks on anything to do with the Spica.. TA shows some green crust around the top gasket end suggesting it has never been tampered with in a very long time. I suspect the independent shops just didn't have the ability to investigate the SPICA so they danced around it and changed anything they knew something about. One even put some sort of starter switch relay to safeguard the ignition switch. After all, they knew this guy was just not going to drive the car much so band-aids were the order of the day. I am sure they thought most of the plug issues were related to his driving style.

Cutting to the chase.. Car is notoriously slow cold start.. Haven't figured out the proper sequence but it does finally kick over with some signs of early flooding if I don't get it right. The PO thought the manual throttle was a choke... For 21 years he pulled that knob thinking it was doing something. Little did he know that it wasn't even connected to the linkage to add insult to injury. Tail pipe is sooty black..Once started she runs great with no smoke.. no stumbles and full range.. mostly a burble on decel with occasional back-fire that has gotten less often with an "Italian Tune-up" but will still do it.

I've read all the threads.. but I need to set priorities on what to attack first.. Let's rule out fuel delivery for now and get to the starting issue and richness issue...What are the steps you guys would take once the filter housing is off? Kind of like what should be the first order of business to correct the cold start and the rich running. There are like 4 choices as I see it. The "Gap" ; the CSS; the TA; and the Fuel cut-off. .. Any thoughts? Where do I get my hands on this thing first. My guess is the gap and the TA. Thanks.

Last edited by divotandtralee; 10-27-2018 at 02:15 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-27-2018, 05:38 PM
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By all means get Wes Ingram's Spica manual if you don't already have it. Slow starting like you mention is often related to a sticking cold start solenoid. Some people put an interrupt switch in line but, if you're a little dexterous you can just pull the wire off the top of the solenoid. That will usually allow for an easier start when cold. I highly recommend installing an MSD ignition which, of course, will fire fouled plugs with alacrity. It's been awhile since I drove a Spica car so I'll let people with better knowledge and experience comment.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-27-2018, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I have all his materials.. just trying not to screw things up.. kind of like roasting a pig when you only want his feet.. after experiencing how it drives so well I think I understand why so many pumps get out of whack and stay that way for fear someone will screw it up by trying to make it more correct. thanks for the input looks like the CSS is first base.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-27-2018, 06:39 PM
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Did you read the paper I wrote on buying a Spica injected Alfa?

1. Before doing anything with the Spica, the ignition system must be in good working order. It sounds like it is, since it runs well when warmed up, but you should still inspect the points for burning and the inside of the distributor cap for carbon tracking. Also check the wires on a dark night for arcing/shorting.

2. Is the fuel supply system working properly? When you turn the key switch on, does the fuel low pressure warning light (top left red light) come on momentarily, then extinguish?

3. Have you checked the engine sump oil for traces of gasoline, which would indicate that the injection pump is leaking and therefor needing overhaul?

4. You can check both the CSS and FCS solenoids (engine off, key switch off) by just running a wire from the positive battery terminal and momentarily touching the tang on top of the solenoids. You should hear a "CLICK," followed by another "CLICK" when removing the wire.

5. Are the plugs fouled with black dull soot (overrich), or shiny soot (oil fouling).

6. Have you done a compression check? (Engine warm, spark plugs removed, throttle full open . . watch how the compression builds, sharply or gradually)

If that is all good, then it's going to be time to go through the tuning process, in LOCKSTEP order. No shortcuts. Each step in the process depends on the previous step being done. On the adjustment of the relay crank (Idle and WOT stop screws), I have the jig that you use to set those stop screws. Despite it's nomenclature, the idle stop screw does NOT control the idle speed.

It's not hard, but you must have the discipline to not cut corners and start fiddling aimlessly. The Spica system WILL actually run when it's grossly out of tune, but certainly not optimally.

I HIGHLY recommend the electronic ignition module from Petronix. It will give you much easier starts in any weather condition and it never needs tuning. I've had mine for 15 years with zero problems. It's inexpensive as well and relatively easy to fit in place of the points.
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Last edited by Roadtrip; 10-27-2018 at 06:41 PM.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-27-2018, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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I wasn't too good on the dip-stick sniff test.. could be i have a some gas there.. Anything better than a nose?.

I did pull the dipstick and there is a hint of gas smell.. I've read that could be from wash from the cylinders, so removing the BA cover and checking is probably better. I'll do that. The car has sat for few days. With all the typical rich running symptoms, I don't want to throw the baby out with the wash water and surrender to a pump rebuild yet. Would it not be prudent to do the pump sniff test under the BA cover first and then address the other primary issues like CSS, TA , FCS and gap FIRST before I send it out for rebuild or am I in denial? Car runs great on RN9YC plugs FWIW... Also the hard lines were changed in the last 4 years so they must have been toast at one time. Here is one post that was interesting. by Paul W---

" I think I might of found my hard start issue on my 73.....yesterday it was about 55F out when I tried to start it, but still no dice. My cold start valve is not connected electrically, and it was cold out the night before, so the engine was probably more like 40F. It would just turn over and turn over.

Then I looked at the temperature setting lever on the SPICA system....it was set to "N"....moved it to "C", cranked it over while depressing the gas pedal and releasing it, fired right up."

It all adds to the mysterious nature of the beast.

Is there a best time to check for gas smell under the BA cover? like let the fuel pump prime the pump and turn over the engine a few times without firing or dos it matter?

Last edited by divotandtralee; 10-28-2018 at 05:27 AM.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 05:46 AM
The TA is a perishable item - if it hasn't been replaced I'd be highly supicious of it's condition. Makes for hard starts and rich running.

Get the motor up to operating temp and check the gap - if you've done your homework (and I'm sure you have) you know you should be at .019" @ 185F with the long rod disconnected. More gap means rich mixture. Still warm, you can pull the TA out of the SPICA and measure the extension.

Without a property working TA you're fighting windmills and the rest of the setup (which John correctly insists must be followed lockstep) will be for not.

Due to the high cost of a TA (and ignorance) most SPICA pumps are horribly misligned. But the good news is that once reset and assuming they haven't been abused they are wonderful, reliable systems. One thing that I find interesting and fooled me a couple of times is that as you step through the setup process the motor usually starts running worse. It's only when you complete the final step that it suddenly jumps to life.

Lastly, I heartily agree that an electronic Ignition is worthwhile upgrade. The Pertronix module is a good choice if your dizzy is in good shape (particularly the advance weights). Money aside I prefer the fully electronic 123 - new dizzy, no weights or other mechanicals to wonder about.

Enjoy the journey...
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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The TA is a perishable item - if it hasn't been replaced I'd be highly supicious of it's condition. Makes for hard starts and rich running.

Get the motor up to operating temp and check the gap - if you've done your homework (and I'm sure you have) you know you should be at .019" @ 185F with the long rod disconnected. More gap means rich mixture. Still warm, you can pull the TA out of the SPICA and measure the extension.

Without a property working TA you're fighting windmills and the rest of the setup (which John correctly insists must be followed lockstep) will be for not.

Due to the high cost of a TA (and ignorance) most SPICA pumps are horribly misligned. But the good news is that once reset and assuming they haven't been abused they are wonderful, reliable systems. One thing that I find interesting and fooled me a couple of times is that as you step through the setup process the motor usually starts running worse. It's only when you complete the final step that it suddenly jumps to life.

Lastly, I heartily agree that an electronic Ignition is worthwhile upgrade. The Pertronix module is a good choice if your dizzy is in good shape (particularly the advance weights). Money aside I prefer the fully electronic 123 - new dizzy, no weights or other mechanicals to wonder about.

Enjoy the journey...
Really really appreciate the input.. I guess I'm at a stage where all those checks have to be done with one leg in the boat to cast off to Ingram's.. I don't want to injure a perfectly good motor by ignoring gas in the oil system.. So if I get everything going right, I feel I am still vulnerable to that issue which is sort of a conundrum created when a car has 45 years of age and 74000 miles on it. It might be time to fish or cut bait. The money to redo it with Ingram isn't the issue either. I'll never be under water on this car. The mileage should extend beyond my lifetime but I don't want to hurt the chances it will by diluting my oil sump with gas. The Petronix thing is an absolute for sure .. Thanks
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 09:04 AM
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Lots of good advise here already. Definitely download the various online manuals. As mentioned, Spica systems generally get checked over from front to back as one operation. If you make yourself a dummy actuator you can do both the cold engine and most of the warm engine adjustments on a cold engine. Just confirm if you are to use a 27 or 29mm one. It's a pretty straight forward process and by the sounds of it you will have noticeable improvements after. The TA's are delicate, don't kink the little tube. It will be fun.

I've found with cold starting that I am more successful with several short attempts than only one or two long attempts.

Cheers,
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 09:07 AM
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Another quick way to check for gas in the oil is to see if the drip on the end of the dipstick with ignite with a lighter. Standard cautions apply... :-) Then nothing stopping you from getting a second hand pump from APE or other sources.

Cheers,
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 11:34 AM
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You shouldn't need to move the temperature lever with temps as they are not. In fact, here in South Dakota, even in winter, I just leave it in "N." With properly functioning CSS and correctly tuned system, the engine should start fairly easily after a couple rotations, especially with a Petronix. The correct starting technique is to wait for the fuel low pressure light to go out, then crank the engine with about a half inch of throttle applied.

Yes, do check the pump gap on the rear of the injection pump when the engine is above 175F. Pump gap should be [I].019" or less[/I].

Have you checked the items I listed in the previous post?

It sounds likely that you have a "leaker," but maybe not a real bad one yet. Removing the Barometric Compensator (BC) and extracting some oil from the logic section will confirm or deny that. If you do have a leaker, you want to call Wes Ingram and get into the cue for overhaul. He and Herb are almost always backed up in overhauls by several months considering how labor intensive and time consuming each one takes. I believe you can just get in line, then send your pump into him when your number comes up.

I strongly recommend AGAINST used injection pumps. 90% chance they are shot.
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Last edited by Roadtrip; 10-28-2018 at 11:36 AM.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-28-2018, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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"I strongly recommend AGAINST used injection pumps. 90% chance they are shot."... TOTALLY agree..Why bother.. Like buying a used hot water tank.... well, I'm going in the queue at Wes's tomorrow.. I just think it is prudent. If the car had 30,000 miles, I'd fight the battle. I'll go ahead and start the make-overs for "training" purposes while I wait for the snow to fly and then send it in. I'll keep you all posted. When we get the photo posting back I'll give you a blow by blow of what I am finding. The nagging issue of gas in the oil would never sit right with me... no matter how little it is .. like a dripping faucet or leaky toilet .. It never gets better... and i can't live with those either.

So with the choices Pertronix offers.. it begs the question .. What package should I buy as offered by Pertronix.. for street/stock application?

Last edited by divotandtralee; 10-29-2018 at 06:06 AM.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Update #1

Just removed air cleaner canister for first time.. ... keep in mind the car had not been touched in this area by me before this.

The first thing I noticed is the main fuel filter has not been cracked open for a long time.. like it never existed. I can't find any receipts for one over the last 19 years and 7000 miles.. Mind you the shop that did all the work was meticulous in record keeping ..so much so to charge $1.97 for "anti-seize" and $ .95 for a "terminal end" and $ .75 for "washers." All the time changing injectors, hard lines, fuel tank and soft lines.. Ya think they missed beat to the music?

So then i saw the real offender.. The first real sign someone had "monkeyed" with the SPICA.. The Temp Setting lever (F-C-N) was set or maybe installed 180 degrees out of phase..(I don't see how it could get in that position without removing it and putting it back wrong). Ya think "they" knew what they were doing? Only as much as I expected. I've owned the car for less than three weeks and know more about how it works than they did over 20 years. More to come.. Oh, can I set the lever right without twanging the spring by not locking it down some how? I don't know what the actual setting this is.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 01:13 PM
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What makes you think it's been tampered with? Looks like the lever is in the Freezing position. Just move the lever to the N (normal) position. That should lean fuel mixture a little.

The lever is not keyed to the shaft. Don't loosen the nut or it could go out of calibration. If you loosen the nut the lever will rotate without the shaft turning. The Barometric Compensator (BC) has a calibration procedure that is outlined in the Spica Factory manual.

On the Pertronix, get the model number of the distributor on your car and go to pertronix.com and look up the kit for it. Summit Racing sells Pertronix. There are also a few threads on the BB on installing it.
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Last edited by Roadtrip; 10-29-2018 at 01:21 PM.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Got you.. I'm paranoid on the lever.. It just looked odd compared to diagrams.. On the Pertronox I have an S103 Marelli. I was going to get the basic Ignitor kit but there is a Ignitor II with more oomph. Do I need the coil changed or just leave it alone?
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-29-2018, 03:07 PM
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@divotandtralee Congrats on your alfa! I don't have a spica car now but spent lots of time with an Alfetta GT and my brother's Spider and Alfetta sedan.

You can send engine oil out for analysis if you are not sure about fuel in the oil.

On the pump, after you have gone through the maintenance and adjustment protocol, maybe you will have a good running, easy starting car without removing the pump. Is this all done, including a check and replacement of the TA if required? Petronix or 123 is a nice upgrade but if the points are properly adjusted and ignition components are in good shape, should not prevent you from getting the engine running well until you upgrade. Change the oil, put some real mileage on, good and hot, and send the oil out for analysis again.

I'd forget about what the PO owner and/or mechanic did or did not do, just go through your progression and make it right. Put a spare spica belt and a throttle cable in your spares-for-the-road kit (you can jury rig those but easier to use the real thing).
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