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Discussion Starter #1
I'll start by saying that my car (used to) starts right up, though the starter seemed to bog down a bit, but always turned it over. I figured it was the 10:1 pistons making it just a bit harder to turn over (compression checks are at 205 psi). The starter also does a whirring sound. Sounds sort of cool.

I'll throw in that the Alfetta wouldn't start when I was about to leave the Italian/French Meet today - and nothing was accidently left on. Found a guy with jumpers, and it took quite a bit of revving on his part (lovely red Round-Tail) but starter finally turned over enough to start. Drove the 30 miles back to my place and after parking it inside, it wouldn't even think about restarting.

You could have skipped the previous paragraph, but since you're stil reading... I then got a reading of 12.8V when placing the 'probes' on the battery's posts themselves. I got zippo, nada voltage when placing the + on the end of the clamp's post. So replaced the clamp and didn't even consider it wouldn't then start. When I did try to start the engine, it just barely turned over, but not enough to start.

Checked voltage every which way at the battery and it was all 12.8Vv, including the contact to the alternator, and to the starter.

For now lets elimate the battery (month old and had it checked two weeks ago) and alternator (rebuilt unit for a 3.0 Milano) checked out at 14.2V at a high (1200) idle four weeks ago.

I've put the charger on the battery and car now starts, but not very easily.

Now for the questions: Does the starter's whirring sound tell you anything? It didn't do it when I first installed it (a spare starter - not rebuilt - installed seven years ago or so).

I'm leaning towards worn brushes (I don't put a lot of miles on the Alfetta, but do start the engine a lot).

Could be the solenoid but installed a new one three or four years ago.

Anything else you can think of?

I'll pull the starter tomorow, but let's pretend that the brushes are fine and the starter spins as it should 'on the bench'. Then what?

Hmm, just thought about the possibility that it could be the ignition switch. It is only a few years old though. What's the best way to test it without taking the two piece shroud off? Okay, I know it has to come off, but what a miserable thing to install. I do have a couple of spare ignition switches. Is there a particular ohm reading - on the bench - one should get when turning the key? Between red and black contacts?

It goes without saying that if someone comes up wih a real simple fix and it works, I'll be one happy camper.

Biba

I know, replace the ignition switch, then when that doesn't work, move over to the starter. You're no fun.
 

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Have you tried to "hot wire" the starter by connecting the battery lead directly to the solenoid. Your car has carbs so you cannot just take the cold start wire and jump it to the battery lead.
That takes the start switch system out of the equation and would start to narrow down your search for the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Paul, thanks for the thought. I'm pretty sure the problem is the starter. I charged the battery for a couple of hours (though it really didnt't need to be); tried starting it, barely turned over, tried twice more (had hood open) until smoke (shades of Lucas) came wafting up from the rear of the engine bay. Closest suspect (to the crime) is the starter. Yes, it has a good ground. I actually stuck my hand under the carbs and felt the starter and solenoid. Both were cool to the touch.

I'm thinking that unusual whirring sound from the starter was trying to tell me something.

Good talking with you today. How many Alfas were there? Anyone count them all?

Biba
 

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Check the battery cable. Are you getting 12+ at the starter? The cable corrodes on the inside.

One of the "aftermarket" repairs for Alfetta's was to put a remote solenoid on the firewall to help with starting issues. Also was to put a ground from the cylinder head bolt to the chassis to improve the ground. I also installed a MSD and the car usually started on the first turn of the key. If you were to add a Marelliplex distributor, you would have one hot starting and smooth idling Alfetta.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I appreciate the comments. Photos below are obviously of the old and new battery clamp - and as mentioned, there was no voltage reading between the minus post and at the end of the clamp, though I had 12.8 V from post to post.

After spending way too much time trying to repair the starter from the Alfetta, I did get it to motor, but not enough to start the car. The long screws holding the entire starter assembly together were loose when I removed it. The armature was pretty worn and had the feeling the starter was simply tired.

As it turned out, I was able to get a later, permanent magnet (Bosch) starter. Once installed, the engine immediately started. Tried it a couple of times, always the same. I do have a MarelliPlex on the Alfetta GT and have had it on there for about five years and yes, makes a huge difference.

I haven't had a decent idle with the Webers snce I installed them in 1980 (bought the car in '78, switched to carbs when I found gas in the oil).

But about a year ago, I devised a way to synch the left and right pair of carbs, which is next to foolproof. I have a Synchrometer and it verified that both sides were and are in synch.

I now have a very nice even idle, though it can stall at idle until I've driven it about 500 feet. Then it's 'good to go'.

Biba
 

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As it turned out, I was able to get a later, permanent magnet (Bosch) starter. Once installed, the engine immediately started. Tried it a couple of times, always the same. I do have a MarelliPlex on the Alfetta GT and have had it on there for about five years and yes, makes a huge difference.
I would still install a starter relay when you get the chance. It's a 30 minute job, costs a few bucks, and will extend the life of the overloaded ignition switch indefinitely.

bs
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Brian, I fully agree with you regarding the starter relay. I've had one on my '75 Alfetta GT since '85. Almost immediately after buying the car in '78, it would refuse to start when hot. Absolutely nothing would happen when the key was turned.

In '85, by pure chance the car wouldn't start when I was at an auto electric shop. Owner kidded me that he bet I'd replaced the starter, coil, battery, etc. I had to say yes to them all. $35- later and the Alfetta has never failed to start except for unrelated problems.

I most always install a relay on client's starters - using the same type of Bosch relay as on the Alfetta.

Biba
 

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I most always install a relay on client's starters - using the same type of Bosch relay as on the Alfetta.
Which Alfetta Bosch relay?

I don't know of any relay I've ever seen on an Alfetta that I'd trust as a starter relay. Those are purpose built and very heavy duty.

bs
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Brian, sorry I don't have the Bosch model number handy for the relay but it is a pretty basic black plastic (sealed) relay (roughly $15- each). I replaced the one that was installed in '85 about two years ago, for no particular reason since it was still working fine. I'd say 23 years and still 'ticking' is apparently rugged enough.

The fellow who owned the auto electrical shop seemed to be a pretty sharp older guy (except for only charging me $35-).

I can undo the relay on the car and get the number if you'd like.

Biba
 

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Brian, sorry I don't have the Bosch model number handy for the relay but it is a pretty basic black plastic (sealed) relay (roughly $15- each). I replaced the one that was installed in '85 about two years ago, for no particular reason since it was still working fine. I'd say 23 years and still 'ticking' is apparently rugged enough.

The fellow who owned the auto electrical shop seemed to be a pretty sharp older guy (except for only charging me $35-).

I can undo the relay on the car and get the number if you'd like.

Biba
No need to get the number, obviously if it's been in service for 20+ years it must be somewhat sufficient.

I do think there's a difference between a standard relay and a starter relay, however. Starter relays are generally rated at 50 - 60 amps or higher, and have very heavy duty contacts designed for short duration high current flow. Standard relays (at least the ones found in our Alfas) are generally rated at lower currents (30 amps or less), and designed for more constant passing of those lower currents.

The starter solenoid and cold start circuit probably draw a lot of current under cranking.

Fwiw, I generally use a heavy duty Chrysler starter relay from the 70's. You can find them in most parts stores for $7. You will see the difference between them and a standard relay right away, they have a heavy duty post for the main power feed, about the same as the post on the solenoid and alternator.

HTH,

bs
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Brian, yes, it is a 30A relay. I believe the big difference is that you live in MA and I live in So.Cal. I doubt if my starter/engine has ever had to crank over when it is below 40 degrees. I keep fresh plugs in the Alfetta and with the MarelliPlex (and even before with analog ignition) it starts immediately. There's no real 'cranking', just a quick turn over and zooom.

'Our' problem is worrying about A/C fan/compressor and rad. fan draw. I just converted my radiator fan to come on when the engine is shut off. Most frequently (with a 180 degree theromostat) the fan keeps running for 30 or so seconds. Wish I'd figured out how to do it out 32 years ago.

At last Sunday's French/Italian car meet sidewaysalfa told me he was having a four gauge cable installed for his separately A/C fused/relays in his Alfetta GT. The steep slope of the GT's windshield makes for a real interior 'heat soak' situation. After installing the rear venetian blind (louvers) on my rear glass, it has helped keep a portion of the heat out. They're not just for looks.

If you read my original and follow up comments, you'll find that the car was starting easily, even though I had pratically no voltage coming to/from the battery and had a starter (but not solenoid) on its very last legs. Doubt much that poor 'arrangement' would have lasted long in MA.

That said, should I start venturing farther from 'home' with the Alfetta, getting a beefier starter relay would be a good idea.

Biba
 
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