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Hi, I am new to the board, thanks for your help in advance. I recently bought a 1988 Quad, having trouble with shifts to first and second, grinding. I think this is fairly common but looking for a concise description of the issue and the resolution from one of the members here. Also, if you know of a good Alfa shop, I am mid-atlantic located looking for a place that would have experience with this type of car.

thanks for any help!!!

Brian
 

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Welcome to the AlfaBB.

First thing I'd suggest is making sure the gearbox oil is the correct type. Many 'modern' oils are too slippery and will prevent the synchro's from being able to grab the spinning gears. Redline 75w-90NS (make sure it is the NS version) works well. Tip: be sure you can open the fill plug before draining the oil...

Next, the shift from neutral to first will almost always graunch. Apparently there isn't a synchro for the 'upshift' into first. The trick here is to first 'touch' another gear (say 2nd or 3rd) by partially moving the shift lever to one of those positions and then shift into first. This uses the synchro of that gear to stop the spinning gears. Otherwise, you'll have to hold the clutch down for a few minutes and hope the gears eventually stop spinning.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome to the AlfaBB.

First thing I'd suggest is making sure the gearbox oil is the correct type. Many 'modern' oils are too slippery and will prevent the synchro's from being able to grab the spinning gears. Redline 75w-90NS (make sure it is the NS version) works well. Tip: be sure you can open the fill plug before draining the oil...

Next, the shift from neutral to first will almost always graunch. Apparently there isn't a synchro for the 'upshift' into first. The trick here is to first 'touch' another gear (say 2nd or 3rd) by partially moving the shift lever to one of those positions and then shift into first. This uses the synchro of that gear to stop the spinning gears. Otherwise, you'll have to hold the clutch down for a few minutes and hope the gears eventually stop spinning.
Eric


thanks for the advice, I will try these things this weekend.

Brian
 

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Welcome to the BB....I agree with Eric. You'll find that there are many querks to owning and driving an Alfa. This is just one of them. When going from first to second, pause a moment in neutral, then slide the shifter into second....Or, double clutch.... Yes, we like picture....Also, put your car model in your signature so you don't have to mention it each time you start a post.
 

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My '86 quad recently exhibited the same symptons. It started to grind whenever I tried to shift into first or second gear, which it had never done before. This went on for a few days. But I found that if I pressed the clutch down as far as possible I was able to get into gear, so I took the car out for a drive in the countryside. Coming to a stop sign I discovered that the clutch pedal was no longer attached to anything -- the clutch pedal shaft had given way completely! (A long tow ensued.)

If you are near Raleigh, North Carolina, Terry at Exotic Coach is fantastic, although he is very busy (typically tinkering with Ferrari's rather than Alfas)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Now then, regarding photos. We like photos! Thus we request you post some. They could even be of your Spider...
Eric, I'd be happy to share photos, here is a link to the car< I bought on BAT

 

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If the clutch feels like it's not disengaging, and you are getting rough shifts when it used to shift easily, then it may be:

1) the transmission lube, as Eric described-- is it low? Is it the correct type? Is there a leak at the tailshaft seal?
2) the clutch slave cylinder may be leaking, or has entrained air in the system, not completely actuating the clutch fork
3) the clutch master cylinder may be failing, or have entrained air in the system
4) the clutch pedal pivot arm may be failing, which is indicated by a visible drop in height of the clutch pedal
5) the short rubber hose from the steel tubing to the slave cylinder may be peeling on the ID, partly blocking the flow of hydraulic fluid, and thus affecting the response and quality of the shifts.
 

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While I agree with all of the comments and suggestions already posted, if you do end up rebuilding the gearbox, whoever does it can modify the first gear syncro to be like the other 4 which will allow you to downshift into first without a grind. There may be some posts on this forum about doing that. I did 3 of them that way last year.
While these syncros aren't that strong, if used and not abused with the correct oil, I have had them last quite well
 

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The OP is a newbie Alfa owner who purchased what looks to be a well cared for and maintained car. My guess, and its only a guess, is that the car performs fine, and it's just that he needs to learn the querks of how a Alfa shifts and operates.
Congrats on the purchase. It's a beautiful car. Now go drive the hell out of it.
 

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I would wager that the dog teeth are broken, and the synchro rings are worn, on the 1st and 2nd gears. Changing the gear oil to Redline 75W90 NS might improve the shifting a bit (and they always shift a little easier after warmed up), but I doubt the problem is clutch related since no complaints with any of the other gears was reported. Ultimately, and unfortunately, I believe a gearbox rebuild is the best solution. If you are a competent mechanic, you can do the job yourself and save about $1K. You should try to find a used donor gearbox for parts ($200-$300) to start with, and you will need a 20 Ton press (Harbor Freight), a good pair of external cir-clip pliers, a decent gear splitter, and a few metrology tools.
 

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I would wager that the dog teeth are broken, and the synchro rings are worn, on the 1st and 2nd gears. Changing the gear oil to Redline 75W90 NS might improve the shifting a bit (and they always shift a little easier after warmed up), but I doubt the problem is clutch related since no complaints with any of the other gears was reported. Ultimately, and unfortunately, I believe a gearbox rebuild is the best solution. If you are a competent mechanic, you can do the job yourself and save about $1K. You should try to find a used donor gearbox for parts ($200-$300) to start with, and you will need a 20 Ton press (Harbor Freight), a good pair of external cir-clip pliers, a decent gear splitter, and a few metrology tools.
Excellent advice especially about the high quality circlip pliers and at least a 20 ton press. I use a fry daddy to preheat parts before dropping them onto the shaft. Never too hot or not hot enough that way. Of course if I use vegetable oil instead of motor oil, I end up hungry from the smell. :LOL:
 
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As a new Alfa Romeo Spider owner, welcome to the community of Alfisti. Bookmark the two following links:

Spider Technical FAQ Digest Covers everything and very handy.

Vin's S4 Transmission Rebuild for Dummies This is an excellent description by Vin on how to disassemble and reassemble a Spider transmission. Includes all you never wanted to know about dog gears, synchros, etc., and how to make the 1st gear fully syncho, referred to the the "1st gear fix." I followed his instructions and successfully rebuilt my tranny.
 

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Brian, I own an 89 QV that looks identical to yours, and has just 50K miles. I did do the tranny rebuild, which helped a lot, but the tranny still did not shift right. Looking under the car a few weeks ago, I was a pool of liquid, which turned out to be the brake fluid from my clutch hydraulic system. The slave cylinder was seriously leaking. Having rebuilt many hydraulic cylinders in my life, I ordered a kit from Mr. Fiat in Atlanta. In a few days it arrived and I installed it, and bled the system of air with the assistance of my wife. She has done this many times in our 5 decades of marriage.

The difference was remarkable. Now, when I let up on the clutch pedal, the clutch does not start to engage until about 60% of the travel up. As Alfaloca pointed out in his No. 2 likely cause, you may also have a leaking clutch slave cylinder. Those seals only last so many years, and mine were worn out. Go to your car and, after starting it, push the clutch pedal all of the way to the floor. Slowly let up on the pedal and if the clutch begins to engage before you get half way up, you likely have a leaking slave cylinder. Completely new clutch cylinders are available for $45 from Centerline and Mr. Fiat.

BTW, a friend of mine near Houston was bidding on the same car that you got on BaT. It is a good car, and only needs a little TLC. Have fun!
 

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Richard Jemison
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Fix the clutch issue first. But before "changing" parts while the petal is being pushed down bleed both the Slave cylinder. The bleed screw MUST be at the top center. Then bleed the line attaching to the bottom of the clutch MC. That will eliminate air. In fact bleed (burp) the MC hose first.

Replacement slaves have the shorter push rods. which is a problem.
On the MC push rod unscrew it a few turns (Say 3) if that raises the release point, then try a couple more.
At some point the piston will be in too deep and block the return port that lets fluid back in the reservoir. If that happens screw the NC`s push rod back into the clevis a turn or 2.
Release should happen before the petal is half way down. Lengthening the short
Slaves push rod" about a 1/4" is the real solution.
 

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On some of the toughest bleeding jobs I can recall, I finally had to do progessive bleeding as Richard describes it above. Starting at the highest point in the system crack open a fitting and expel the air one pedal stroke at a time. Then work your way downward, in this case to the clutch flexible hose, crack that fitting open and bleed out the bubbles. Finally at the slave cylinder with the bleed fitting at 12 position, bleed that until no more air escapes.

Or just buy yourself a motive products pressure bleeder, and forget all that business. You'll be glad you did. And you won't need an assistant.
 
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