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Discussion Starter #1
About a month ago It was a beautiful Friday and I was driving the Spider to my hangar (man cave) at the local airport. I always take this nice twisty back road along Marsh Creek just north of Mt Diablo. Anyway, I had just filled the tank and the Alfa had been running just perfectly when all of a sudden she sputtered a little bit. I figured, that ain't right so I took the nearest opportunity to turn around and head back home. All was fine for a bit then some more stuttering, backfiring, bucking and kicking and then it quit. Luckily there was a big wide area off the side of the road to coast in to.

I popped the hood and started checking things and found out right then and there all of the essential things my little toolbox was missing. Like the line out of that Pink Floyd song "I thought I'd thought of everything..."

Anyway - had to call for a tow and have her ingloriously hauled home. First thing I suspected was maybe the points (even though I had just recently done a tune-up) so I pulled the distributor and well, the gap did seem to be a bit tight so I adjusted that, reinstalled everything and she fired right up. I adjusted the timing and she ran better than ever so I figured - problem solved.

Well, a couple of weeks later I start it up in the garage for a run to the store and although she starts fine it soon begins to sputter and cough so I bail on that idea and use the other car. Later that week I pull the distributor again and check to see if the points have drifted but they seem fine. I put it back in and it starts right up and runs perfect.

So everything seems fie now, I've driven the car quite a few times and it's running just great. Today I'm coming back from the airport along the same back road and no problems. I stop at the grocery store and pick up a six pack of Lagunitas IPA (it's Saturday night) and about a block from home here we go again - same sputtering and coughing and then - DEAD on the side of the road next to the graveyard.

Okay so, I'll wrap this up now. seems like every time I just touch that distributor the problem goes away and I'm really wanting to find a smoking gun here because frankly, I'm tired of this crap. I'm wondering if it's the coil but I've never in my life ever had a coil go bad. Especially the Alfa coils because they are way back in the corner, away from water and heat and all, they just last forever. Another thing I've never had fail is a condenser but I figured it's worth a look. Sure enough, when I touched it the wire just fell right off. I still had the old one in a box in the garage and after installing it - she fired right up and runs perfect.

BTW - that was a new condenser, just recently installed.

Anyway, that's my tale, posted here just for entertainment and nothing else. No, I don't want to install an electronic ignition. I did, in fact put in an ID405 from Centerline once but didn't like the way it performed. I'm perfectly happy with the original Marelli and don't mind going in there and pulling the distributor for a tune-up every now and then. I even still use Golden Lodge plugs (although I'm not sure you can get them anymore)

I just wish they'd build condensers like they used to in the old days.:mad:
 

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71 Berlina 74 GTV 17 Giulia Q4
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sounds like somethiing is getting hot and breaking down current wise. Does it run ok after it sits and you don't touch it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nope, absolutely nothing until the distributor is physically removed and replaced, even though I (at least one time) didn't actually do anything to it while it was removed, other than look at it and check the point gap.
 

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is the cap and rotor, from napa auto parts, if so that's your problem,,the centre carbon brush in the car. will leave a resadue on the rotor, causeing the problems you have,,i had a napa parts on my alfa spider before,, crap stuff. and that was there premium napa cap and rotor, go back to bosch.
 

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Replace the coil, or maybe it is a fuel problem which seems like an electrical problem. When it quits, immediately feel the coil. If it is extremely hot, it is likely to be the problem.

Robert Hill in Memphis, TN
 

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two words......vapor lock

Next time the problem occurs, remove the gas cap and let 'er breath like a nice cabernet.
 

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71 Berlina 74 GTV 17 Giulia Q4
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When it quits have an extra sparkplug handy and check for spark or have someone hold a plug or the coil wire close to ground and check for spark, depending on how much you care for this person either give them a good pair of insulated channel locks or not:) This doesn't sound like your problem but using sandpaper to file points will leave a residue on the contacts resulting in no spark so if you are using an abrasive to clean the points clean them with a rag and some brake parts cleaner to remove the residue. Sorry if I missed it but what year is your car and is it stock, carbs, injection, spica or bosch? Speaking for only myself I also sent my ID405 back but that's another story but as far as plugs go you can't beat NGK BP7ES.
Also start her up at night and look around at all the wires and look for arching. If this is a spica car is your low fuel pressure light working?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm pretty sure it was the condenser. When I checked it the wire just pulled off and it appears as though it was hanging on by just the insulation. I also took a good look at the points and they are pretty badly pitted. My theory is that they would load up with carbon from the arcing to the point that they would arc at full open which would prevent the coil from collapsing. My act of checking them with the feeler gauge was enough to clean them up to work again (temporarily)

Yesterday, when it was down, I checked for spark and there was none. I pulled the distributor and replaced the condenser with the old one. I also reset the point gap and it fired right up. After getting it home I took the whole thing apart, cleaned up the ground block under the plate and put it back together with the old points. It's running great again.

Another thing I noticed before was that it would initially fire right up but the more I drove it the harder it was to start.

To cover some of the other posts - No it is definitely not heat or fuel related. I've got a new set of points, condenser, rotor and cap on order and I feel what I had was a defective condenser out of the box. The parts were Facet from Italy that I bought from Alfa Parts in Berkeley. Not that they are in any way to blame but it's possible there may be a batch of bad condensers so if anyone buys a new one they might want to check it before installing. Like I said, I've never had one go bad before and I've owned this '72 Spider for 35 years now.
 
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