Engine stopped... - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Engine stopped...

Finally got my brakes sorted and since I may be down a few days doing the water pump and main crank seal, I thought I'd take a run up to Virgina City.

About ten miles from home, on the way back, the engine abruptly cut out and I rolled about 1/2 mile down hill and pulled over. Engine cranks and all electrics were operational but no start.

Back in the garage (thanks AAA) and a buddy helped me confirm spark. A shot of ether into the crossover, upstream of the throttle was expected to confirm my suspicion of a fuel issue, but no joy ().

Pulled #4 plug and confirmed compression. Lots of air around .

Visual exam of engine compartment and all appears nominal. Have yet to confirm fuel supply, but with no effect from ether, I'm ruling that out for now.

Going to check spark timing tomorrow.

Thoughts?

Steve Waclo Carson City, NV; '87 Spider QV, ES Champion, 2018 Reno SCCA (125k);'93 Honda Nighthawk 750 (105k);'03 GMC Sierra SLE 2500HD Turbo Diesel (155k);'08 Altima Coupe 3.5SE, 6sp (125k)
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 05:34 PM
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'87 Spider would have L-jetronic FI & ignition. See the link in my signature to a page of diagnostic info about our cars.

I guess I'll have to ask the dumb question - is there gas in the tank? Assuming there is, my first guess would be a loose/torn intake duct connection. Second guess is faulty flywheel sensor (there are two - they are identical - one for timing, one for rpm). You can check then with a simple ohm meter - info in the L-jet Diagnosis page.
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- - Eric
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~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Diagnosis page

Thanks for your reply.

Fuel indicated 1/4 tank (no low fuel indicator) and as I mentioned, the ether had no effect.

Will do it by the numbers tomorrow.i

Steve Waclo Carson City, NV; '87 Spider QV, ES Champion, 2018 Reno SCCA (125k);'93 Honda Nighthawk 750 (105k);'03 GMC Sierra SLE 2500HD Turbo Diesel (155k);'08 Altima Coupe 3.5SE, 6sp (125k)
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2018, 12:29 AM
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I was lucky- I pulled up to the house and parked across the street; that evening, the Alfa wouldn't start. After reading through Eric's link I found the main fuel pump to be inop. It gave me a day on the road, then died. Sometimes ***** does happen with old cars...

86 spider Veloce
74 TR6
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2018, 09:20 AM
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Quite the mystery Steve. That fact that you have confirmed spark but starting fluid does not get the engine to fire is odd.
Are you sure your battery is good? Last year I was driving along when I noticed the voltage gauge had dropped from the usual 14+ to around 8. Then after a few miles more the battery warning light came on. I made it home and deduced the internal voltage regulator on the Bosch alternator had failed. $40 for a replacement, a couple of hours of wrenching, and I was back on the road, but there is no telling what would have happened if I had not noticed the small drop in the voltage gauge or if the bulb in the battery idiot light was burned out. The engine may have just stopped if I kept on driving when the ECU failed to get enough juice to stay on.
Just a thought.

Edward
'88 Quad - "Claudia"
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2018, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevew View Post
...as I mentioned, the ether had no effect.
This does not disprove anything. If it started with ether that would prove that spark is present and timing is close enough to run. That it didn't start could mean you either don't have spark or the timing is way off.

- - Eric
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- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2018, 09:57 AM
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You know I'm wondering if the same thing has just happened to me. I'm knowingly using an old battery (whilst my new one is on order) which doesn't hold its charge for long. The car just randomly stalled whilst idling (at home, thankfully) but I do notice the low battery light tends to stay on. Not sure if that's down to the alternator suffering or the battery knowingly being ready for throwing out or both. But perhaps it just didn't quite get the juice it needed to keep going - no problem for fuel, spark, compression etc just like you. It's a possibility. And as I've learnt with fuel injection, just one of many possibilities :/

Good luck, I hope you find the solution soon and it doesn't cause you too much aggro.

1975 Giulia GT1300 Junior, 1981 GTV6, some modern German stuff, and a 1958 Messerschmitt KR201.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-25-2018, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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A bit of progress

Thanks for all the insights, gang!

Last night, I opened the trunk to recharge the battery, which had laboriously pulled my Alfa up our 30', sloped driveway on Friday.

When I started to make the connections, I noticed I had left my disconnect device, installed to battle phantom loads, had not been tightened after my last time in. Duh.

Optimistic I was on to something, I tightened the knob and left the charger on overnight.

This morning, the engine cranked for about 5 seconds before coughing and trying to come to life. After multiple attempts, it settled into a ragged idle. I shut it down, and added 2 gallons of fresh gas to the tank, with the same result. Sounds a lot like what I have experienced when my intake plumbing began leaking.

There's always tomorrow.
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Steve Waclo Carson City, NV; '87 Spider QV, ES Champion, 2018 Reno SCCA (125k);'93 Honda Nighthawk 750 (105k);'03 GMC Sierra SLE 2500HD Turbo Diesel (155k);'08 Altima Coupe 3.5SE, 6sp (125k)
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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It's the soft stuff...

Several years ago, when I was deeply involved with a controls engineer on my ultimately successful but economically unviable electronic Vacuum Sensor Device (VSD) replacement project, I learned the location of the partially hidden manifold takeoff that feeds the VSD. On my car, that line now feeds a repurposed Chrysler MAP sensor and then an electronic circuit that feeds the timing controller.

Today, while performing a thorough visual and wiggle test of the numerous plumbing bits that comprise our L-Jet systems, I pulled on the aforementioned vacuum line and...wait for it...it came off in my hand.

Trimmed it back 1/2", and reattached.

The engine struggled for a moment to fire, cleared its throat and settled into a stable idle. Good throttle response followed and it appears I'm back in business.

Still puzzeled however, since a vacuum leak at that point should have simply resulted in loss of ignition advance, with the timing ECM reverting to base mapping. Also, while a vacuum leak at that location would surely effect idle, when air requirements are low and critical, I don't believe it should have resulted in the abrupt engine cut out I experienced.

Many Spider owners have experienced leaky VSD's, with the primary symptom being a whistle from behind the passenger seat and, as the situation worsens, an increasingly ragged idle. Lack of vacuum advance due to a failed/failing VSD will also reduce performance somewhat (for those with sensitive seat-of-the-pants ) as well as marginally degrading fuel economy. A careful economy check with my electronic unit indicated about a 5mpg improvement at steady cruise over a 300 mile round trip (to 32mpg) on an essentially flat route, w/wo VSD. I'm at 4500' here in Northern Nevada and 90% of the journey was as close as possible to 60mph.

Back to my current situation, at throttle positions above idle even a massive leak, and resultant unmetered air at the VSD fitting is not particularly significant, considering the total volume of air moving through the system, and again, I don't believe abrupt shut down should have happened.

Hey Eric! Maybe I did just run out of gas!

Thanks again, all! 👍

Steve Waclo Carson City, NV; '87 Spider QV, ES Champion, 2018 Reno SCCA (125k);'93 Honda Nighthawk 750 (105k);'03 GMC Sierra SLE 2500HD Turbo Diesel (155k);'08 Altima Coupe 3.5SE, 6sp (125k)
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 11:05 AM
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L-jetronic is very sensitive to 'false air'. The 'L' in L-jetronic stands for Luft - German for air. All air entering the engine must pass through the Air Flow Meter (AFM) - anything else is called false air - unmetered. It is amazing how even a small intake air or vacuum leak (aka false air) can significantly affect not only the idle but overall operation of the system.

- - Eric
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~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 12:20 PM
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If I've learnt anything about L-Jet during all my troubles with the GTV6 it's that if literally any of the components aren't working properly, the car probably won't work. And that I've gained a bigger appreciation for both carburettor-fueled cars, and those with injection systems that don't give any trouble and miraculously just work (although hey, who knows how reliable they'll be 20 years down the line once their components start ageing and playing up...)

I'm glad you found your answer at chapter 1: vacuum leaks instead of having to diagnose all the rest of it too!

1975 Giulia GT1300 Junior, 1981 GTV6, some modern German stuff, and a 1958 Messerschmitt KR201.
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