Engine Seized? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-02-2017, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Engine Seized?

This evening, I did a few minor things to my '88 Veloce. I put some stop-leak in the radiator, some STP in the oil, and set out to hoon it for about 10-20 minutes (with the heater wide open and the top down) to let the stop-leak take effect. The car runs and drives great, and I was looking forward to a little starlight, top-down driving.

In less than 5 minutes, I was stopped at a traffic light on a hill when the engine died. I had the radio cranked pretty loud, and I thought I had simply killed it with bad clutch technique. I went to restart it, it caught and immediately died again. When I tried to crank it again, it turned over reluctantly...ok, something is wrong. I coasted it to a parking lot, walked back to the house to get my Avalanche and tools, and returned to the car.

Long story short, the starter could hardly turn the engine...even with the Avalanche connected via jumper cables. There were no indications prior to the engine stopping: oil pressure, electrical, temp...all indicated normal, with no warning lights. The radiator cap and oil cap were securely fastened. In fact, I hadn't even got the engine up to temperature to circulate the stop-leak; I can still see it floating in the neck of the radiator.

I towed it home, put it in the driveway, and put the battery charger on it. It showed 59% charge, which seems reasonable considering the cranking attempts, and towing it home with the flashers on. I pulled the plugs and put a scope down the holes...nothing out of the ordinary; the plugs show normal proper wear. I cranked it briefly with the plugs out, but again, would barely turn.

There are no unusual leaks, it made no strange noises, and as I mentioned above, it gave no indication of impending failure.

It would seem that I have a seized engine (with a radiator containing uncirculated stop-leak)...and I don't know why. I guess another possibility is that the starter suddenly went bad, but that doesn't explain the first failed start attempt.

It's going to sit tonight while I ponder this. I cannot think of anything I would have done to cause this, but coincidence is rare. I searched the BB and internet for relevant information before starting this thread, but obviously found nothing useful.

If anyone has any wisdom, I'm all ears.

NOTE: This story has a happy ending. See post #541 HERE for a summary of the project and lessons learned.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)

Last edited by Shakey; 07-04-2018 at 12:52 PM. Reason: Summarize
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post #2 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-02-2017, 11:58 PM
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Kevin,
what I'd do first is, with all plugs out, put it in 4th gear and push the car......it should be easy to push.

Dom - Alfa Spider 1990 S4 - formerly: Alfa 101 Sprint, 2600 Sprint, Montreal - family classics: Jensen Interceptor II, '58 Hooper RR Silver Cloud I, Shadow II, '60 Corvette.
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post #3 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 04:58 AM
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It could be a poor connection of the ground strap between the bell housing and the chassis.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500
2011 Jaguar XKR

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #4 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 05:10 AM
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Are you sure you didn't mix up the Stop Leak and the STP?
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post #5 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 06:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Kevin,
what I'd do first is, with all plugs out, put it in 4th gear and push the car......it should be easy to push.
No, won't roll. Tried rocking it back-and-forth in 4th and 5th to no avail.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)
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post #6 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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It could be a poor connection of the ground strap between the bell housing and the chassis.
Checked that; all clean and good. It appears the starter is trying. When I try to crank the engine (which by the way, this morning will not rotate at all), the headlights dim out, and the aftermarket stereo will reset.

The battery was on a charger all night, and has been otherwise OK.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)
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post #7 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mmarvi View Post
Are you sure you didn't mix up the Stop Leak and the STP?
Although I am 55 years old, and it was dark at the time! ...Confident I did not; alumaseal in the radiator, STP in the oil.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)
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post #8 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 08:12 AM
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Although I am 55 years old, and it was dark at the time! ...Confident I did not; alumaseal in the radiator, STP in the oil.
Good to hear. I'm the same age, and even in full daylight I have to worry about these things.
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post #9 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 08:21 AM
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How bad was the radiator leaking and from where? I wonder if the leak was the result water not being able to circulate back into the engine, and resulting in higher than usual pressure somewhere to cause the leak.

I am not sure on these cars having never run any of mine out of radiator water, but the temperature gauge might not tell you much if its not 'wet'. I know why my Chrysler sludge motor died I never saw a high temp reading. Once the oil got into the water and clogged the channels the temp gauge read real low.
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post #10 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 08:23 AM
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Did you look down the plug holes to see if there is coolant in the combustion chamber?

If it is not hydraulically locked then it sounds like either a seized camshaft or crankshaft. I thought maybe something might have fallen into a timing chain sprocket and locked it but that would not account for it turning slowly before it locked up.

The next step maybe to pop the valve cover, slacken the timing chain and try to see what is stuck.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500
2011 Jaguar XKR

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #11 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waltong84 View Post
How bad was the radiator leaking and from where? I wonder if the leak was the result water not being able to circulate back into the engine, and resulting in higher than usual pressure somewhere to cause the leak.

I am not sure on these cars having never run any of mine out of radiator water, but the temperature gauge might not tell you much if its not 'wet'. I know why my Chrysler sludge motor died I never saw a high temp reading. Once the oil got into the water and clogged the channels the temp gauge read real low.
The frustrating thing is that none of these issues were critical (radiator, oil).

The radiator leak was just an annoyance, and when I added the stop leak, I ensured the level was topped off. My first thought was that the water pump had seized, but I'd only driven the car perhaps 3 minutes (less than a mile from my house); didn't even get it up to temperature. When I looked things over in the driveway, I could see the stop leak still floating at the top of the neck in the radiator.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)
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post #12 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alfaparticle View Post
Did you look down the plug holes to see if there is coolant in the combustion chamber?

If it is not hydraulically locked then it sounds like either a seized camshaft or crankshaft. I thought maybe something might have fallen into a timing chain sprocket and locked it but that would not account for it turning slowly before it locked up.

The next step maybe to pop the valve cover, slacken the timing chain and try to see what is stuck.
The scope showed nothing unusual in the cylinders. Couldn't see any scoring, no debris or anything.

I think you're right...take the valve cover off, and start to see exactly what's stuck.

-Kevin
1988 Spider Veloce (with lots of 3D printed parts)
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post #13 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
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My first thought was that the water pump had seized, but....
Water pumps don't tend to seize, but even if your's did, the fan belt can't transmit that much power. That is, even with a stuck water pump, the crankshaft would keep turning while the belt just slipped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alfaparticle
The next step maybe to pop the valve cover, slacken the timing chain and try to see what is stuck.
Yea, though I doubt you will see much. It would be interesting to de-couple the cams from the crankshaft to see which of the two are stuck. My guess is the crankshaft, perhaps some odd effect of the STP.

I once had similar symptoms on a newly-assembled engine. Turned out to be an 8 mm bolt wedged between the back of the crankshaft pulley and the front cover.

Jay Mackro
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Last edited by Alfajay; 10-03-2017 at 09:36 AM.
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post #14 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 09:36 AM
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Is there oil in sump?
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post #15 of 569 (permalink) Old 10-03-2017, 10:03 AM
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Something similar happened to me. Check to see you have a solid connection to the starter motor.

Spending my kids' inheritance one mechanic at a time.
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