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I just bought a black 78 Spider from the for-sale forum, and one reader requested I start a thread on its resurrection here. So here goes. No pics yet; the seller deleted the pics he posted, but I'll get some today. Here's the prelim:

This is the original thread: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/alfa-romeo-cars-sale-wanted/176862-1978-spider-parts-project-car-bwa-wheels-cheap.html

The basics: complete, sad black 78 Spider, BWA wheels, bad top and interioer, OK body, been sitting in the Sacramento area unused since 1996. Original Calif car, still has its blue plates, which ended up in a tow yard and has lien sale paperwork. Seller deals with such cars, and posted it to the BB for $500. I need an engine for my 74 Berlina, and thought this might be a donor candidate, so I went last Friday to Sac to see it. My posts thus far:

After getting back from Sac on Friday: My plan is to take the good tires off the Berlina, get them mounted on the BWAs, and put those back on the Berlina. Some incentive to get the rest of the car up to the level of the wheels.
This car is in much better bodily condition than I would have expected, and it's complete. That doesn't mean it's a beauty; the top is shot, the interior is pretty so so, and the engine didn't produce great compression (80-150) when we spun it over, but I may do some more research there. It's not rusty at all, amazingly. That's the Sacramento Valley for you.

Saturday: I put in a couple hours today and got it running. Put the points back in the dual point distributor, got spark, put in some gas, found I had fuel at the injection pump. Jury-rigged a few electrical connections, and it eventually fired and ran on all four. Warm I got compression readings 160-180, not bad, so I may use this engine after all in the Berlina, which I had given up on after poor readings in Sac yesterday.
It leaks fuel at the rear hoses, and the wiring is helter skelter after prior removal of the ignition switch and some fuse-box work. I'll sort that out. The heater valve leaks water all over the interior, so I'll short-circuit the heater so as to keep water in the engine. It has an actuator, but I presume it's not giving any projection at all (I haven't checked yet) so it seems to run pretty rich. I'll swap in a good actuator. Then I'll try to drive it. It has clutch and brakes. We'll see.
Near as Lenard and I can figure, it hasn't run since 1997. This is a testament to Alfa engineering, I think, especially the Spica pump. Let it sit 14 years, put a little gas in it, and it works. And still got clutch and brakes.

Tuesday: Fixed the rear fuel hose yesterday, put in a more fitting temp ignition switch, ran the heater hose direct from the water pump to the manifold outlet to solve the heater leak. Still not getting voltage to the coil, more figuring needed at the fuse box, which has been pillaged. However, hooked things up again yesterday and it fired up. Cold-start solenoid is causing problems for the starter solenoid, so I bypassed it, thus making it a tougher to start. On starting, runs at 2500 rpm due to Spica linkage screwiness. I'll swap in a decent actuator next and set the gap and rods to get it running better. Then I'll try to drive it, fingers crossed, fire extinguisher at the ready.

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #3
More progress today. Installed a good used actuator, and roughly set the pump gap. Tools of the Spica trade include as many dummy actuators as you have, plus a meat thermometer to test the water temp as you boil your actuator to test its extension. This one come out to about 31mm, so I used a brass sealing ring to shim it up shorter, in the 28/29mm range. Then adjusted the long rod, again roughly, to get a reasonable fast idle, not 2500 like before.
Monkeyed with the fuse box some more and got good power to the coil, so turning off the ignition actually shuts off the car, whereas before I was jumpering the coil off the starter, so the engine would keep running til the pump ran dry. Not the best setup.
After a fair amount of prodding (cold start still not hooked up), it fired and ran pretty well. Idled fine, plugs show reasonable color, not black with lots of tailpipe smoke as before. So I'm much more in the mixture ballpark now. Fuel cutoff is hooked up to bypass the microswitch, another item that needs looking into, but basically I just wanted to get it running tolerably.
No major leaks, so I backed it out, washed off the windshield, and drove it. All five gears and reverse work, clutch feels good, steering is very nice in spite of stone-age tires of several style and sizes, and brakes are great. It drive reasonably well around the neighborhood at the don't-tempt-the-cops-with-an-unregistered/uninsured-car speeds I went. No gauges work other than the mechanical ones (tach, speedo), but I'll try to jury-rig an oil gauge tomorrow.
Warm compression test showed 175-190 on all four. No bad mechanical sounds I can hear, so if the oil pressure checks out I've got my Berlina engine and trans, I think.
Here are a few pics, showing dummy actuators, views of the car, old and new actuator, view down the long lonesome highway. Another Alfa back doing what it's supposed to.
Andrew
 

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Hey at least the compression is good! I have another one coming at the end of this month Ill give you a call. I will also be over for that $100 :p
 

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. . .The BWAs, what all the fuss was about on this car in the first place. . . . .
Absolutely! They look in real nice shape as well.

A bit of a hijack but, do you (anyone?) have a recommendation for refurbishing the BWAs? I have a set that I would like cleaned up and would be willing to ship them to someone who has known experience with this wheel.

Good job on your progress!

Thanks.
Gerry
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sorry, I encourage, not discourage, patina. There are plenty of wheel places to do refurbishing, two good sources are BMW and Porsche club newsletters or parts places, as they're pretty deep into cosmetics in those brands.
A friend has highly polished BWAs on his Berlina, I'll ask where he got them done. He's in CA though.
Andrew
 

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. . Sorry, I encourage, not discourage, patina. . . .
Great! Let's swap and I'll pay for all shipping charges.:p No charge for the extra patina.:D

. . . A friend has highly polished BWAs on his Berlina, I'll ask where he got them done. He's in CA though. . .
Thanks. Shipping cross-country is not an issue if he has had good results. Probably a few places locally but I'd rather not take a chance with an unknown place that probably has not done BWAs before. The surface of the spokes are not flat but have fine, regularly spaced, radial machining(?) lines. Not looking for a highly polished look but original sans surface corrosion.
 

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BWAs

Hey Andrew,
Way to go! Paint yours red and we can run up to Marin like twins.... Saw the ad for the car and thought I should buy the car just to get the BWAs.

The guy I used for my BWAs is still around. Contact him at Rite-Way Wire and Wheel Specialist 1119 Alpine Road in Walnut Creek, CA (925) 933-4046. Mine are polished center and painted back on the inside of the spokes. He did a great repair on the curb damage from this set from Ebay for a total of $300. 5 years ago though.
Good luck,
Arthur
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Been sick the last few days so not much has happened. But I got the car in the garage, fiddled with the fuse box some more, and now have engine signals and some lights. After remembering to hook up the oil pressure wire, it showed 60-65 on the gauge. So that's the last confirmation I needed that this engine is headed for a new Berlina-shaped home very soon.
I have to kick the Spider out for my MGA this weekend, but after that patient has been attended to, the Spider will get an engine-and-trans-ectomy, in the next week or two I hope.
Andrew
Andrew
 

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Now that it's resurrected, I'm killing it. I got the engine/trans all prepped to remove yesterday. Another hour today if it doesn't rain and I should have them out. Will then clean up, do what fixes are needed, and drop the combo into the Berlina, which got an engineremovalectomy earlier this week.
Spider will then become a kit, with another engine/trans, and all its pieces, for someone else to enjoy getting back on the road. I hope to have it ready to go to a new home this week. Will get some pics of the engine removal.
Andrew
 

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OK, with a friend's help, got the engine/trans combo out this afternoon. Came out without much trouble at all. However, with it on the ground, I noted that the bellhousing is cracked (not a big deal) and the block is cracked at the exhaust side lower corner (a big deal). I've seen plenty of broken bellhousings, usually on the starter side, but this is on the exhaust side right near the broken block. I don't know the cause, and have only seen this before on Jon Norman's race engine in his TA GTV, accustomed to much harder use than I'd expect this car to have seen.
So heck, this is not now a viable engine for my Berlina. I've got a 2000 sitting on the garage floor that needs assembly, so I guess I'll stop buying cars/engines and just build that one. Bummer.
The Spider is for sale if anyone is interested. Complete package, but obviously you'll have to sort out the engine and get a bellhousing. Includes everything to get it mobile except an actuator, and the ignition switch has no key. Blue Calif plates, lien papers, no title, not registered since 1996. Car drove reasonably well; engine, trans, brakes, clutch all work. No rust, but a few dents. Has front grille piece above the bumper, missing the V below the bumper. Front bumper good, rear bumper poor. Includes a potpourri of wheels and tires; I'm keeping the BWAs. Electrical system is not the greatest, but is fundamentally sound, and should be sortable without too much hassle.
Andrwe
 

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We'll, the cracked block is certainly a kick in the knee. Sorry to hear about that. Good luck with plan B.
 

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The crack runs almost to the rear main bearing. I consulted with Norman Racing, who said in theory it's possible to fix, but it's a lot of work requiring complete disassembly of the engine to weld. If this was a GTA or 8C block, maybe it'd be worth it. On a run of the mill 2000, not even close. So I'm looking at another engine.
See pic of the crack from the rear (it's a bit tough to see, and runs diagonally NW to SE, reaching almost to the lower right corner near the main bearing cap. Make sure you have alignment dowels, your engine/trans bolts are tight, and your flywheel bolts tight. Also, check out the wear on the front driveshaft bushing. That's got to have caused vibration galore, with the driveshaft that far off center of the trans output shaft. Used cars can really get used.
This car is headed for a new home, today I hope.
Andrew
 

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Car went to a new home today, with enough junk to get it reliably back on the road.
Andrew
 

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Just found this thread. Congrats on sending it on it's way.

My '71 spider did the same thing to its driveshaft. Not nearly that bad, and I caught it much earlier.

I'd say this car was lucky to be in Sacto. This is what you get when you leave an Alfetta outside for 15 years:



All three 'fettas up here have engines, but I'm not touching any of them as I assume they're all rusted solid.
 
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