Duetto nel Texas - Fix-up thread! - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-27-2012, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Duetto nel Texas - Fix-up thread!

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Hill Country Alfa club “coffee and cars” at Mozart’s in Austin and somebody (who shall remain nameless in case these postings prove to be incredibly boring) said “you should do a restoration thread on the Alfa BB”. Well....let’s give it a shot. Though for now this is more of a “light fix-up” thread.

Here’s the story so far.

The car; a 1966 Duetto, white. It’s a Euro car (speedometer in km/hr, gauges in Italian the way they should be, covered headlights, etc.) From previous ABB posts and the Duetto register I’ve been able to trace a bit of history. The car was purchased by an American expat in England and restored over there. He brought it back to the West coast but it had made its way to Virginia before I bought it and hauled it down to Austin, TX.

This was an eBay buy.

Yes, eBay. I can’t believe that I bought a car over eBay. But I worked up to it...cameras, electronics, lenses. Hmm, I like the proverbial frog in warming water I didn’t really notice that my threshold for eBay purchases was getting higher.

So, I was browsing on eBay after a Friday night martini and saw a Duetto with a bid that was not at all unreasonable. With the Mini back on the road, another project was a possibility and an Alfa was always on the short list. (I owned a 1980 Spider back in the mid-eighties and I’ve got fond memories of it.) My wife said “It’s cute. You should bid on it!”

Spousal approval? Say no more. Nanoseconds later the bid was in. A few days of suspense (and a last minute increase or two that took it up from “not at all unreasonable” to “the going rate”) and I actually won it.

Arranging transport took a few weeks, but in the fall the Alfa arrived in the belly of an enormous Passport Transport truck. The driver backed it out (talk about a white-knuckle job) and after a quick spin around the neighborhood it was in my garage. So....what did I get here?

It turned out to be better than I’d expected though maybe a little worse than described. First, the as-described good points. The car has been upgraded with a 1750 engine and transmission (hydraulic clutch). The rear axle seems to be 1750 as well (at least it has ATE brakes instead of the rather complex Dunlop arrangement). That was a plus for me since my end goal is a very nice weekend driver instead of a by-the-book 1600 restoration.

The body is pretty good (though with a few bodged areas as I’ve found out). The top is newish. The seats have been re-upholstered. The rubber mats, curtains, etc. are there - worn a bit but not too bad. The engine sings at speed and there are no bad noises from the transmission or axle. The brakes pull up straight and there are no surprising puddles under the car.

OK, no big surprising puddles.

Of course, there’s a punch list.

It’s rare that somebody sells a car that’s perfect. Fixing up a car is a long trek in steep terrain. It’s the false peaks that get you. You think you’re at the top but then the new alternator turns out to whine like a 737 spooling up for takeoff. Or the jet in your rebuilt carb decides that that a joint between plastic and brass was never meant to be and separates on the steep hill a mile from home (yes, that’s from personal experience). That’s the way it goes.

So I was expecting an Alfa “To Do” list. The previous owner has a couple of other cars (including a Sunbeam Tiger) so I suspect that he just needed to consolidate and simplify; maybe the Duetto just needed a bit too much attention.

If it had been perfect it would have been another $10k, it wouldn’t be a project and I wouldn’t have bought it.

So, on first inspection here’s what needs doing.

-Second gear synchro is pretty shot. Crunches on both upshifts and downshifts even with the ritual pause through the gate. I’m shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, to find this on an Alfa.
-Starting is hard. One out of three times the starter solenoid will click but the starter doesn’t spin. And starting seems to require a lot of cranking and a mystical combination of choke and hand throttle.
-After this hard start, idle is a little uneven. One cylinder down on compression? Well, I hope not.

The other things on the punch list is mostly “this is a 45 year old car....stuff wears out” kind of stuff.

-The driver’s window won’t go up and down (this happened right after delivery - it did work a couple of times).
-The driver’s door won’t open from the inside
-The passenger door occasionally won’t unlock
-Headlights and other lights are dim
-Interior light doesn’t work
-Wipers don’t self-park
-Trip odometer can’t be reset (well, you can wind mile by mile but that would take a while)
-Horn doesn’t work (needed for the state’s safety inspection)
-The steering wheel is on upside down (also disclosed in the eBay ad)
-Washer bag has a hole in it
-The Dell’Orto carbs seem to be leaking a bit from the diaphragms
-Slight water leak from the lower radiator hose
-A few misc oil leaks
-Under hood light is disconnected
-The door check straps are missing their plastic covering and the doors “swing free” until they get to the end of the stops
-Top elastic straps to the “floating” bow are shot
-??? I’m sure there’s more that I’ll discover in good time

So....the plan is to get take care of the small stuff first and get the car running well, registered and drivable. Next step is to get the transmission overhauled. Then drive it for a few years until I’m ready to do a full body, interior (and suspension) restoration.

Here’s a picture of the Duetto fresh off of the truck:
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-27-2012, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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The Window and the eternal mystery of the lock linkage

The driver’s side window went off the track and any attempts to move it mean odd noises and a feeling that something was going to break. Well, I had to open that door up anyhow to figure out how to get it to open from the inside. This seemed like a nice simple job to start off on, so I decided to work on this even before going through the horn and lights to get ready for the Texas state safety inspection.

Right. Little did I know that the Alfa Duetto window regulator is a cable operated gadget reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci in a pact with the Devil. The first step was figuring out how to get the door panel off. The little clips holding the winder and latch knobs took some fiddling - I built a tool to release the clips out of some scrap brass bits.

And the door panels on my car are held on with trim screws, not the stock hidden clips. Not too obtrusive but it is too bad that somebody drilled holes in the door panel.

When I took the panel off I could see that the inside of the door was a bit of a mess. Window out of the track, cable snarled and the metal bracket at the bottom of the window glass bent.

I knew i could buy new regulators, but really....the mechanism was fine. It just needed a new cable. And Breed & Co. (the local really good hardware store) has stainless steel aircraft cable in many sizes. 1/8” inch was a decent replacement for the standard 4mm (?) cable. The anchor into the body of the regulator was taken care of by some brass tube stock soldered to the cable to make the cable end.

It did take a couple of tries to get the length right (and it might still be just little too long - I used up most of the adjustment).

I didn’t replace any of the seals or window track felt parts. My reasoning is that all this stuff will need to come out again when I paint the car and that’s the time to spring for new parts, There’s no point in replacing worn (but not worn out) door parts now.

The factory paint coverage inside the doors wasn’t great. (Hard to spray up there?) So I painted some Eastwood rust converter anywhere I could reach, sprayed some rattle-can paint inside and used a bit of rust prevention spray (kind of like “Waxoyl lite”) along the bottom. That will keep rust at bay until the repaint.

The regulator and window are back in place. The linkage is adjusted so that the door opens from the inside. (That was simple....just loosen the mounting bolts for the interior door latch mechanism, take out the slack by sliding it back toward the latch and re-tighten.)

But there’s one goofy thing. It looks like there’s supposed to be a linkage between the exterior door lock and the interior door lever. I’m theorizing that if you lock the door from the outside with the key you shouldn’t be able to unlock it from the inside with the inside lever. The passenger door works that way (well, at least I think it does -- it has its own problems with not unlocking from the inside).

Fellow ABB folks say that there is a linkage and one guy even posted a picture of the linkage he made. Well, I made a linkage too (it turns out that model airplane control linkage rod-ends fit perfectly). But it didn’t work.

The mechanism on the door lock and the mechanism on the interior handle seem to work 180 degrees off from each other so that a fixed length linkage won’t work. There’s something here that I don’t understand and after a couple of days of intermittent fiddling I decided that this mystery will be solved when I eventually open up the passenger door. Time to button everything up and get on to the the jobs needed to get the car through the state safety inspection and registered.

But the inside of the door looks much better now. The door opens from the inside and the window goes both up and down!
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-28-2012, 06:03 AM
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I thought you already asked about the "missing link" in another thread. Oh, well. IT must be my old age and bad memory. Hi's a picture I took while assembling my doors.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-28-2012, 01:21 PM
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Duetto

good looking new Alfa. I will follow your thread.

Good Luck

George

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-28-2012, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Missing Link - Thank you!

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Originally Posted by ossodiseppia View Post
I thought you already asked about the "missing link" in another thread. Oh, well. IT must be my old age and bad memory. Hi's a picture I took while assembling my doors.

Your memory is fine - I did ask about the missing link in another thread and I got some pictures of the link on its own. But your picture (I think) clears up the mystery. It looks as if the link is bolted to a bracket on the door (the bolt in the middle of the link acting as a pivot). That would explain why mine (no pivot) seems to "work backwards". Is that correct?

My door doesn't have a bracket but that's something I can take care of next time I'm working on the door.

Thanks! Lorenzo
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 05:56 AM
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Your memory is fine - I did ask about the missing link in another thread and I got some pictures of the link on its own. But your picture (I think) clears up the mystery. It looks as if the link is bolted to a bracket on the door (the bolt in the middle of the link acting as a pivot). That would explain why mine (no pivot) seems to "work backwards". Is that correct?

My door doesn't have a bracket but that's something I can take care of next time I'm working on the door.

Thanks! Lorenzo
Nope, the picture is a bit misleading. The link has two rubber bushings that pop on to the latching mechanism and the door handle. When you unlock the door, this is the thing that transfers the movement of the tumblers to the locking portion of the door latch. The fastener in the middle of the link is to shorten or lengthen it to make the adjustment for proper operation of the lock. I hope that sounds right.

So, it would probably be best to fabricate one with the same adjustment features as the original.

I'd be happy to look and see if I have a spare, but....my basement and spares are such a mess that I really don't like going down there. It's too depressing.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
I knew i could buy new regulators, but really....the mechanism was fine. It just needed a new cable. And Breed & Co. (the local really good hardware store) has stainless steel aircraft cable in many sizes. 1/8” inch was a decent replacement for the standard 4mm (?) cable. The anchor into the body of the regulator was taken care of by some brass tube stock soldered to the cable to make the cable end.
Wow, talk about intrepid! You took on one of the great mysteries of Alfadom. I've only seen someone rewind window regulator cables once and still couldn't figuire out how he did it. You could start a second thread this alone.

Jim . . . '72 Super 1300, '70, 1750GTV, 2nd series,
'62, Lancia Flaminia Zagato3c, 2nd series
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 07:43 AM
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Hi Lorenzo,

You are at the same general point in history, but the window regulator design is actually based upon the anchor windlass mechanism used on Columbus' ships; the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria

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.... Little did I know that the Alfa Duetto window regulator is a cable operated gadget reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci in a pact with the Devil....


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 09:16 AM
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You are in good company with the "coffee and cars" guys, I know a few and they are a great source of information and inspiration. Lucky you.
on the wipers not parking it could be as simple as the plug into the foot pump being off but more likely the contact arm in the wheel mechanism on the wiper motor is shot. Looks like a great project! congrats, just go with the flow because you are on a roller coaster but well worth it!

The passenger seat is 15 miles an hour faster than the drivers seat.

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the ones that got away:
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Door Link...a greater mystery than the window regulator

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Nope, the picture is a bit misleading. The link has two rubber bushings that pop on to the latching mechanism and the door handle. When you unlock the door, this is the thing that transfers the movement of the tumblers to the locking portion of the door latch. The fastener in the middle of the link is to shorten or lengthen it to make the adjustment for proper operation of the lock. I hope that sounds right.

(
Thanks for this info....when I take the passenger door apart I'll copy the linkage for the driver's side. I did make up a linkage but I don't think I included enough adjustment. BTW, that's a really well lit clear photo of the inside of your car's door and the parts inside look better than new.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 04:48 AM
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Welcome. NICE in white with 1750. Very desirable IMO.

You are following my dream experience: purchase late 60s white Alfa in decent order and restore to strong weekend warrior.

We wish you all the best.

Don Sanders - 1977 Spider
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 06:13 AM
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...BTW, that's a really well lit clear photo of the inside of your car's door and the parts inside look better than new.
Thanks. With digital cameras, it's much easier to get a good picture. I love my old film cameras, but I could never have gotten pictures in tight places with a bulky 35mm camera and flash.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-30-2012, 11:14 PM
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I'd be happy to look and see if I have a spare, but....my basement and spares are such a mess that I really don't like going down there. It's too depressing.
Same for me. I spend more than 80% of my time wondering "where the heck did I put that one".

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-02-2012, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Window Regulator Thread

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Wow, talk about intrepid! You took on one of the great mysteries of Alfadom. I've only seen someone rewind window regulator cables once and still couldn't figuire out how he did it. You could start a second thread this alone.
OK, I did it. I cleaned up my sketches from re-cabling the regulator and put it up as a separate thread. I'm not sure if I'm helping or just luring other unsuspecting Alfisti into frustration and madness.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-02-2012, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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Encounters with The Artful Bodger

My car was advertised as being in pretty good shape as far as rust goes. There were a few holes in the spare tire well and some surface rust on the bottom but no rot. To my great relief, that seems to be generally true.

I’d heard stories about Italian steel rusting away to nothing but it seems that in 1966 Alfa was using steel that was actually pretty good. There are plenty of places (under the dash, inside the tops of the doors) where the factory never really painted things all that well. I found a light coating of surface rust but no serious corrosion. Same thing with the underbody of the car. Some surface rust but no rot. When I pulled the splash shield off from the back of the front wheel to get access to the side repeater light during the Great Turn Signal Wild Goose Chase I was relieved to find nothing scary.

But there are some areas on the car that are, frankly, bodged. Like most cars, this one must have gone through a “ just fix it up for cheap” stage at one point or another and the services of an Artful Bodger were employed.

The passenger side headlight area is kind of rough. The headlight bucket was held in place with tie wraps and good intentions and there were signs of the headlight “scoop” being crudely welded in place with liberal use of bondo to smooth it out. The panel behind the headlight bucket was missing. As was the splash shield. There’s some kind of dubious bondo work and mis-matching paint right along the rim of the “scoop”.

The other side was better - the panel was in place, though one of the headlight mounting studs was gone and the splash shield was missing. There was some rust perforation in the fender under the battery tray. But the tray itself was pretty decent.

Down under the bottom of the nose (right in the front of the anti-roll bar) it looked like somebody had hit a curb and filled the dented area in with a half inch of fiberglass resin and bondo.

I chipped away the fiberglass and bondo (so that water wouldn’t stay trapped in behind it) and used Eastwood rust converter where I could. Not a permanent fix but it is a holding action until I get to the body work.

So, that’s not too bad. Nothing structural and I’ve got plenty of time to look for panels before a paint and body extravaganza sometime in the dim and misty future. Let’s hope nothing worse shows up in other areas!
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