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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! I recently picked up a 91 Spider w/ approx. 60k miles (although the speedo is 20mph off so its probably really has less) and it needs a little bit of work.
In order of importance:
1. when accelerating from a stop in first gear it shakes/vibrates through the drivetrain. Only in first gear from a stop and it only lasts for a second or two and is gone. Supposedly the car had new U-joints installed last year, but the mechanic was very incompetant and may created the problem himself.

2. Next is the speedo, its approx 15-20MPH too fast at freeway speeds. Which also causes the odometer to accumulate miles that really aren't being driven. Of note: the car has the Veloce 15" rims but may not be original (I'm not familiar enough with these cars), it may have had 14" rims originally. Would this be enough of a gear change to make the speedo that far off? (Thanks Paradiso for bringing that up)

3. Grinding gears. It grinds into first and reverse consistantly, and sometimes into second. I've read that this is a notorius problem with these cars and switching to synthetic may help. What are the best options to take to resolving (or at least helping) this situation?

Sorry about the long post. Thanks!
 

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Caveman.
What you described in No.1 sounds like the classic drive shaft support bearing. Not sure about the speedo, but changing the wheel diameter could be the problem, however, you should take into account the overall wheel/tire diameter. A 14" 185/70 has an overall diameter of 24.2". A 225/50 15" has an overall diameter of 23.85" This would not make a noticeable difference in your speedo.

For changing gears, always go into second before going into first and always 4th before R. This will stop the grinding. When changing gears it is a good idea to pause in neutral before going to the next gear. You may also want to learn how to double clutch and do rev-matched downshifts.

Good Luck

Zal
86 Spider V
74 GTV
79 Alfetta
74 Vespa 150
 

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Discussion Starter #3
74GTVEEE said:
Caveman.
What you described in No.1 sounds like the classic drive shaft support bearing. Not sure about the speedo, but changing the wheel diameter could be the problem, however, you should take into account the overall wheel/tire diameter. A 14" 185/70 has an overall diameter of 24.2". A 225/50 15" has an overall diameter of 23.85" This would not make a noticeable difference in your speedo.
You may also want to learn how to double clutch and do rev-matched downshifts.
Drive shaft support bearing, huh? I'll have a look at that, thank you! It drives me nuts~!

I'm under the same inpression about the whell diameter, I'm not rollin' on 20's or anything like that.

I've been practicing the 2nd to 1st and 4th to reverse technique (and will continue to do so) but am looking to help the situation even more.

Can someone please explain what double'clutching is? I've read this elsewhere and am not familiar with it.

Thanks for the response!
 

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Double-Clutching:

You are accelerating in first gear. Somewhere between 4500 and 6500 RPM (depending on need and cajones), you:

1. Lift off the 'go' pedal, while simultaneously depressing the clutch pedal and shifting into neutral.
2. Lift off the clutch, while giving the gas pedal a slight 'blip'.
3. You then quickly depress the clutch pedal again, and place the gear lever into second.
4. Lift the foot off the clutch quickly and hit the 'go' pedal to the floor!

There, you have just 'double-clutched'. Do this again into third and fourth. Forget fifth...there is no time...here comes the hard right-hand corner!

Now, you are definitely going too fast for the upcoming corner, so you want to decelerate!

1. Lift foot off gas. Apply brake with ball of your right foot (behind the big toe)
2. Clutch in.
3. Shift to neutral. Lift foot off clutch.
4. Using outside edge of right foot, blip the throttle.
5. Clutch in.
6. Shift to lower gear.
7. Lift foot off clutch, while continueing to apply brake.
8. Repeat into second (This was a tight corner, remember?)

Now, accelerate out of the corner!

Although this sounds hard, it really is easy once you 'Zen' with it. Just practise until you get it down to an art!
 

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Factory size for the 1991 Spider was 14" wheels with 185/70 tires. Change your tires to something close to the 24" roll diameter and you should be fine, provided the speedo works okay. The Tire Rack has a nice selection of Bridgestone's (my preference).

In regard to the grinding, you only mention first gear and reverse, typically the second and third synchro are the problem ones. Personally I would not change to synthetic, I know there have been problems with the LSD clutch and synthetic fluids. I use Shell Syntax 80W90 and it seems to really help my snychros and the LSD.

Using the shifting procedures others have noted and becoming more comfortable with those should alleviate most problems.

Make sure when you change out the D/S bearing you replace all of the components.

Good Luck

Zal
 

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I was going through some of my saved Alfa Digest posts and came across this email from the one and only (God rest his soul):

" Subject: Shifting gears up or down the Di Matteo way.

Double clutching is a waste of time and effort! To learn my way is not at all difficult. Practice for 20 minutes and you will have it down pat.

I will not give you any technical numbers to remember.

To upshft without crunching Push the clutch ALL the way down to the floor. The extra fraction of a second allows the gears to fully stop.

To down shift fast from any gear Do Not take your foot off of the
throttle, maintain the engine speed you are using in that gear, then deprtess the clutch all the way and shift! You may want to down sdhift from 5th to 4th to 3rd to2ndin rapid succession , you'll find the engine rpms at perfect speed each time.

That works perfectly in every Alfa I have owned, in fact I
learnd that method in my very first Giulietta in '58

regards, Fred"

This was in response to a post I had made, bemoaning my crunchy 2nd gear. At the time I thought "this guy is nuts".

So having found this, the other day I was driving along and decided to try it: SON OF A
B***CH!!! No matter how fast I'm going, if I just keep my foot on the gas and downshift, it slides right in like butter. Its gonna take some time for my right foot to learn to stay on the gas while my left is depressing the clutch, but this is definitely the way to go.

If I can ever learn 10% of what Fred forgot in his life I'll be the smartest Alfa guy on the planet!
 

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I had used Redline with success but had old motor mounts. Since I believe Redline tends to enhance any potential leaks, I made the move "back" to Shell Spirax 80-90 and replaced the mounts.

No crunch, no odd vibrations, no blood spots on my garage floor, plus the car sits level again!
 

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I was lucky enough to have a (very rusty but reliable) '76 Alfetta GT as my first car when I was 16. I always double clutched/heel-toe downshifted due to the weak 2nd gear. My friends in high school thought I couldn't drive. Ever since that car, heel/toe is not a problem, and all my transmissions are in great shape since.
vAnother way to think of it is to treat neutral as another gear, albeit a very brief one. Good luck.
 

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Hi caveman,

From recent experience:

the 1-2 seconds of clunking on startup is almost certainly the support bearing. Hold on to the transmission tunnel forward of the handbrake whilst accellerating, you should feel it. Crawl under the car and look at it. It probably looks fine. Grab hold of the driveshaft at the coupling and shake it like you were trying to rip the thing off because you were so sick of it. It shouldn't move more than about 1-2cm in any direction, but I'll bet you'll manage to recreate the knocking sound. Unfortunately, you'll need to find someone with a mukkle big press and a gas axe to change it.

Not sure of your clutch setup, but check the pedal adjustment, it may be you've got a bit of hydraulic actuation you can't actually actuate 'cos the pedal has hit it's end stop. This almost caused my car to be pounded to death with a lump hammer after I changed the clutch. I had similar symptoms, bad grinds in 1 and R but ok into other gears. Bit of spannering on the clutch rod and the lump hammer was put away for another day. (This seems to me to be a sign that the clutch is not entirely disengaging, so may also be an early indication of failing hydraulics.) 2nd gear crunch probably a seperate issue as discussed above.

And finally, a bit of speculation. I don't think your speedometer overreading is related to the odometer overreading. If I'm correct (and I may not be...) The drive for the the odometer and the drive for the speedo are mechanically isolated. I believe the speedo overreading is typical and something to do with bearing wear, magnets, flux and air spaces. Why the odometer seems wrong, I do not know, but I'd be interested in finding out because my (uk) car seems to be inflicted with the same problem. I wondered if it was actually clocking Km insted of miles?? dunno.

Of course, I've got a nasty mechanical speedo, so that may be irrelevant!

Congrats on your new purchase!

Dan.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks everyone!
I'm sure glad I found this site!

Dan,

I'm going to diagnose the vibration in the driveline this weekend and maybe have a hack at the clutch. Could you possibly be a little more specific regarding clutch adjustment?
I didn't think there was any adjustment with a hydraulic clutch, or do you mean the pedal assembly?

Thanks again everyone!
 

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You may want to try bleeding the clutch as well. If you search under my name, there was a post I made where I couldn't get the clutch to fully disengage. Thanks to advice from board members, it turned out there was air in the top of the slave cylinder, that would only come out by bleeding it at 12 o'clock.
 

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Iron Machine said:
.......it turned out there was air in the top of the slave cylinder, that would only come out by bleeding it at 12 o'clock.
AM or PM?

Sorry IM, couldn't resist!:p
 

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Hey Capt,

Pretty hard to help with the clutch, I've a uk right hand drive car, the hydraulics of which are original but look like they were cobbled together using spare bits from a Victorian steam traction engine. By a mental patient using tiny articulated spanners. To give you an idea, the clutch master cylinder is bolted underneath the car below the driver's seat.

The clutch I have is of the hydraulic, self adjusting type. That is, the hydraulic part is self adjusting. I can, however, vary the length of the rod that actuates the clutch master cylinder (this adjusts the resting height and any free play in the pedal) and also adjust the pedal end stop. After my clutch change, I had the situation where pressing the clutch right to the floor did not fully disengage the clutch, but happily by messing with the adjustments above, I got the extra travel I needed and everything was ok.

The pedal rod basically screws into the end of the master cylinder with a locking nut holding it. Back off the locking nut and spin the entire master cylinder part around to adjust the length. I found I had flats built into the end of the rubber boot on the master cylinder to enable this. Yours may be different!

I should also mention that I changed a leaking slave cylinder at the same time as I changed the clutch, I don't know how this affected things.

A bit fiddly to set up - with the pedal adjusted properly, I only have about 1-2 cm movement of the hydraulic parts, but I'm told this is correct.

Hope that helps,

Dan.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
BeigeAlfa said:

The pedal rod basically screws into the end of the master cylinder with a locking nut holding it. Back off the locking nut and spin the entire master cylinder part around to adjust the length. I found I had flats built into the end of the rubber boot on the master cylinder to enable this. Yours may be different!
Thanks Dan! That is exactly the information I was hoping for.
Glad you got your problem ironed out and hopefully I will do the same.
I'll check it this weekend and update.


Thanks!
 
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