I had some sunshine this afternoon, and was able to work on the Alfa some more.
Pulled the camshafts, pulled the starter, cannot turn the engine by hand at the crank nut. It's not looking good for the home team.
Except for a few small irregularities, I haven't found anything that I would consider a 'smoking gun' as to my current problem. I did find a small amount of grit and some minor scoring in the forward journal for the exhaust camshaft. One of the screws holding on the #4 injector was loose. One bolt loose on the starter (but no damage or unusual wear to the starter gear, or the portion of the flywheel I can see). I found no seal around the shaft of the VVT solenoid, and indications that it too had been seeping oil. Once I had all the FI components removed on the intake side, I could see that the head gasket had been seeping on that side too.
I do have a mystery though: When I removed the thermostat, it looked like a piece had fallen into the bottom hose. It looked like some kind of brass washer. I fished it out, and found this installed in the hose:
My workshop manual makes no mention of this item, nor shows it in the illustrations. It looks like some sort of spring loaded flow restrictor. There's a spring inside, that pushes against that inner disc with a hole in it. Its orientation in the photo is how it was sitting in the hose, with the hole at the top. That means (according to the diagram in the workshop manual) the spring was biased with
the flow of water, not against
. That basically makes it a static orifice, whose purpose is unclear.
It is looking certain that I'll have to pull the engine. I need to figure out the best way to accomplish a solo engine pull. If I pull the heads first, will it make the engine that much lighter and easier to handle? Can I leave the trans in the car, and pull just the engine?
I think my very next step is to order an engine overhaul manual. Then I'll start accumulating the items I need to pull the engine, and break it down on a stand.