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Discussion Starter #1
Recently installed my new Centerline electronic distributor. Test drove the car, good acceleration at higher RPM, some hesitation at lower RPM. Timing light showed the timing to be at about 40 degrees max advance. Then I retarded the timing to around 30 deg max advance, went for test drive, engine kept dying at lower RPMs, and had to restart the car many times until I got home. Next day, advanced the distributor slightly, but engine would turn over very slow and not start. Put in new battery today and tried starting the engine again. It cranked a couple of times very slow, smoke came from the positive battery terminal, and the terminal was hot to touch. Is there a problem with my starter? I need help!
(Also when I removed the valve cover yesterday to check the TDC, I noticed that when the cams are lined up with the TDC marks, the pointer at the pulley is about 6 mm before the "p" mark).
 

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Hmm, it sounds like you have three problems going on:

1) The new distributor may not be timed properly. Assuming that the timing pointer on the crankshaft pulley is aligned correctly (which it sounds like it isn't - see #3), then 40 degrees max BTDC is too much, but 30 degrees would be too little. I'd suggest 36 or so for the street, assuming you use typical gasoline.

2) The smoking battery cable could be several things related to the cable or starter. Is it possible that the cable simply wasn't on tight? But sure, it is also possible that all the re-starts on your test drive finally drove the starter to failure.

3) Either your pointer was re-installed out of alignment the last time the water pump was replaced (most likely) or your cams aren't properly aligned with the crankshaft (less likely). You might try removing the #1 spark plug, dropping a long rod down into the chamber, and trying to sense when the piston is at TDC. Where does the pointer aim then?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for your reply Alfajay. The battery cable is tight. If my positive terminal is heating up while the starter is cranking, does it mean that there is a short in the starter? Do starters short out if they are about to die? If, as you mentioned, the timing pointer is incorrect, it means that the last time I test drove the car it had a max advance of less than 30 degrees. Would driving the car around for a few miles with a 10 degree retarded timing cause damage to the engine? I use premium unleaded gasoline.
 

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I have not seen a published curve for the Centerline distributor but this is what I think it is:

Wth the static advance set at 7 BTDC, it stays at 7 until 1000 rpm then it rises in a straight line to 36 degrees at 3000. 36 is a safe number that should give good performance for most 2L motors on 91 octane and that is where I would set it. Retarded timing is generally safe. I have done a dyno run at 30 on my current motor. It made less torque and power than at 34 or 36.
 

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71 Berlina 74 GTV 17 Giulia Q4
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For what it's worth I tried the Centerline dist, a couple of them. If I set the max advance at the M mark at 3500, 4000 rpm it would put in so much advance so early pulling from 2 grand in a high gear was impossible due to the bucking, it just couldn't do it. What I could not fathom was there were two weights in the advance mechanism but only one spring on one weight. The other weight was just flopping around. I asked about that but never got a satisfactory answer. I was able to return it and have been with a RML dizzy since. Good low end pull and top end performance. Just my O2.
 

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I'm running a centerline (405?) distributor in my 1750 spider. I believe I set it at 34 at 4000 (memory is a bad thing to lose as you get older--could be 36--I should check my notes). It pulls hard and smoothly past redline (63k), idles smoothly at 750, and no transition flat spot. I've no issues with it-- I've seen some bad press on the BB about this distributor but once I set it up this way and tuned the webers, I am completely happy with it. Maybe I got a bad one :cool: I did follow George Willet's tuning procedure---
 

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The battery cable is tight. If my positive terminal is heating up while the starter is cranking, does it mean that there is a short in the starter? Do starters short out if they are about to die?
I cannot recite all of the failure modes of Bosch starters. But something appears to be going wrong with your starter. I'd remove it, and bring it to a rebuilder for testing, and probably overhaul.

Would driving the car around for a few miles with a 10 degree retarded timing cause damage to the engine?
No, it wouldn't cause any damage. Just reduced power.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
GTV Starter

I removed the starter yesterday, and this is what I found (see picture). The tip of the metal housing has broken right off! What are the reasons for the metal cracking like this, and what should I do at this point? I imagine that the starter is no repairable. Would a starter from a later spider(77 or 78) work on a 73 GTV.
Thanks.
 

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Ouch !
To be quite sure, you should first ascertain if your ring gear is 130 or 131 teeth. The starters are slightly different in the size of the pinion gear. A starter designed to work with a (slightly bigger) 131 tooth ring gear will work on both ring gears, but a starter for a 130 ring gear will tend to bounce off a 131 ring gear and would need to get shifted outboard something close to a mm to work ok. (Ask me how I know... ;-)
There is info around about what year starters to look for based on ring gear count (e.g. here on the bb, or on Spruell's site), and you'll have to decide whether to go for a later reduction gear starter or not. It's not as simple as 8-tooth or 9-tooth.
No good suggestion about how to see whether 130/131 apart from simply counting the teeth, either through the starter hole or by removing the sheet metal cover at the bottom of the bell housing. You can make assumptions if you are positive the flywheel is the original, but if you're not sure, better to count. IIRC, my car had a flywheel off a later car from when the PO had it rebuilt in the early 80s.
/Neil
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong, tuning wizards, but ... I believe there's something else to think about regarding timing that hasn't been mentioned here. Cars with fuel injection and cars with carbs are timed differently. Is your motor as it came from the factory? If so, time it to the spec given by Alfa. Specs are available several places on line.

On motors changed from fuel injection to carbs, you have at least two issues. One is that you need to time the car according to the spec for carbureted motors. Two is that your pulley is most likely marked to time a fuel injected car, so you can't set it accurately without first determining where the new timing mark on the pulley should be, in the 34- to 36-degree range.

My car has a 2L motor that came with FI, but now has Webers. I first made sure my cams were timed properly and had both lobes pointing out when cylinder #1 was at top dead center (with no extra slack in the timing chain). Then I made sure the TDC mark on the pulley was lined up properly. After that, I used a degree wheel to make a new maximum advance line on the pulley, which was marked for a FI car. My newly built 2L with carbs needed 34 degrees of max advance. I only time to max advance; always have in nearly 50 years of Alfa ownership. Old dog, same old trick.

Regarding distributors, I used a Magneti Marelli electronic ignition on my GT for 20+ years, then switched to the Centerline 405 unit when the MM unit got tired. I've driven with the Centerline ignition since 2004 and found it to work well.
 

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Would a starter from a later spider(77 or 78) work on a 73 GTV.
No! (see eedneco's post above). In fact, it's possible that someone tried installing a later starter in your '73, which resulted in the broken housing. What is the part number on your broken starter? Is it a 001-311-110? The 001-311-110 is intended for a 131 tooth RG, while Your '73 came with a 130 tooth RG.

A good reference for which starter fits which ring gear is at http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/gt-1965-1974/39666-starters-ring-gears.html See post #3 written by George Willet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The stater has been on the car ever since I bought it 10 years ago, and it is a 001-311-110. It looks like the PO got it from APE (there is an APE sticker on it)! The starter hadn't given me any issues, until I messed around with the timing. The ring gear seems slightly damaged (see picture), but I think it is from the broken starter housing hitting it. Did the these cars come with the 130 ring gear? Is the 001-311-110 designed for the 131 ring gear, and is it a 1.1 hp?

According to George Willet, the correct starter for my 73 GTV is either 011-211-987, or 011-211-025. So I guess I can't use the 77 Spider starter I just bought on ebay! Since most likely I won't be able to find one of these original starters for my car, what other starter can I use?

As I mentioned in my first post, the P mark on the pulley does not line up with the cams. I wanted to check the TDC myself with a TDC indicator I saw on Amazon. It looks like a tire pressure pen that gets screwed into the spark plug hole. What do you guys think about these gadgets? Thank you.
 

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"As I mentioned in my first post, the P mark on the pulley does not line up with the cams. I wanted to check the TDC myself with a TDC indicator I saw on Amazon. It looks like a tire pressure pen that gets screwed into the spark plug hole. What do you guys think about these gadgets?"

I have the tool you're referring to, but normally just use a screwdriver (carefully).

I don't recall seeing whether your car has carbs or FI. If the former, George has an excellent write-up on how to synchronize them without a synchrometer. I have that tool also, but use George's method.
 

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I mentioned the info on Spruell's pages, did you have a look ?
Aluminum Flywheels for Sachs Clutches from Spruell Motorsport

To be sure, I would again suggest you count the ring gear teeth. I was able to do it in the same situation as you are in, found that a rebuilt in the 80s had put a 131 tooth ring gear on my car, hence the starter that I got from APE (late reduction gear starter) would bounce off the ring gear. I had to on purpose not use the shoulder bolt (did yours have it or not ?) so as to push the starter outboard by about a mm so the engagement worked. I epoxied a small strip of sheet metal into the bell-housing shoulder bolt hole to help force the starter outboard. I'm not proposing this is a good way of doing things, just illustrating the variables involved. I was able, in a way I don't remember now, to get a reasonable measurement of how far outboard the engagement needed to shift, and the measurement did match the factor 131/130 if one assumed the teeth to be equal size. 15 years later it's going fine.

About why the starter nose broke, without feigning any real expertise, I would hazard a guess that you're getting kickback during starting from having the ignition timing quite advanced. Either that or a location problem from the pinion/ring gear not working well together, either from a long time ago that's finally done enough cycles to failure, or something recent if you've loosened the starter, etc, during your recent work on the car.

'bout all I can say I think...
HTH
/Neil
 

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I wanted to check the TDC myself with a TDC indicator I saw on Amazon. It looks like a tire pressure pen that gets screwed into the spark plug hole. What do you guys think about these gadgets? Thank you.
I think that it is hard to get it spot on with one of these. I have a home-made version with a dial indicator that fits into a spark plug base. The problem is that at around TDC there is very little vertical movement of the piston because the crank pin is at the top of the circle. A more acurate way to use the proposed tool would be to use a mark that corresponds to about 20 degrees away from TDC and lightly mark the pulley at the two points where the pen marker lines up, then split the difference between the two marks on the pulley.
 

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Here is my TDC tool. I have been using it for about 10 years and it is very accurate. I knocked out the center of an old spark plug. The HF dial gauge cost about $10 and it is a nice interference fit in the spark plug base.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks eedneco for the link to Spruell. Apparently my car has had the wrong stater (001-311-110) for the past ten years. I am still waiting for the starter I bought on ebay to arrive. Unfortunately, this one is also a 011-311-110, but the solenoid has 2 quick disconnect terminals on the back of it, instead of one like mine. These are the heaviest starters used on the 2.0 engines. My car has the 130 ring gear and the SPICA, so should I try to find one of the small starters from the 90-94 Spiders?

alfaparticle, that is a great TDC finder. Where did you get that?
 

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The reduction gear starters are a lot lighter, more efficient, everything. You can also use a smaller battery than with an old starter. From my perspective it's a no-brainer to go with one.
/Neil
 

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The reduction gear starters are a lot lighter, more efficient, everything. You can also use a smaller battery than with an old starter. From my perspective it's a no-brainer to go with one.
I agree with that. The standard starter for the 74-85 Spiders used a support bracket at the front. Running without the bracket can break the bellhousing. The gear reduction starters do not need a bracket.

alfaparticle, that is a great TDC finder. Where did you get that?
I made it from an old spark plug and a cheap dial indicator.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
New starter

I finally installed my remanufactured Bosch stater (see pictures) today, and advanced the timing a bit. The car started up right away. I bought the starter at Auto Zone for $130. Thanks everyone for your help.
 

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