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Discussion Starter #541 (Edited)
Summary Part 1

I’d thought I’d write a summary to wind down this thread, mostly to provide encouragement for other ‘shade tree mechanics’ when it comes to such projects on their Alfas. I’ll break this up into several posts, so that it’s more digestible.

Foremost, I want to thank everyone on AlfaBB who contributed to this thread. I appreciate the knowledge and encouragement the members provided. I bought this car without any Alfa knowledge whatsoever; if it weren’t for AlfaBB, I probably wouldn’t have kept it. The air-cooled VW forum I’m on is not nearly as civil, and I can’t even find a useful forum for my ’60 Impala.

The synopsis is that last fall, I put some STP in the engine, and went for a drive. The autopsy seemed to indicate that the oil additive broke loose some accumulation of grime or sludge, which blocked some oil channels and caused the crankshaft bearings to bind up, or progressively seize. About eight months and $2,500 later, the car is back on the road.

I have mostly hand-tools, a few power tools, no air tools. I’ve got an unheated two-car garage; one side is full of motorcycles (a Harley, three Hondas, and a Vespa), the other side hosts whatever current project I have underway. I have a concrete driveway, which generally makes it easier to find whatever it is that I’ve just dropped. No lift; I have four jack-stands, a floor jack, and a motorcycle jack that I use to drop beetle engines. I also have no assistance; having been blessed with a wife and three teenage daughters in the house.

Working under a car on jack-stands in lieu of a lift means your access and freedom of action are going to be constrained. It’s harder to see, reach, and wrench in the available space under your car. Unless you have the appendages of a Hindu deity, holding tools and hardware while removing and installing parts is going to be challenging.

For guys in similar circumstances, here’s my first tip: Take a wrench in one hand, and a small screw, nut, or washer in the other hand. Go out into your driveway. Drop them. Find them. Pick them up. Repeat. Get used to that.
 

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Last paragraph was great! And thanks for posting a 'root cause'. I had lost track. You got off cheap! Stout work, lad. :grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter #543
Summary Part 2

After the lesson in patience as mentioned above, my second lesson was documentation; this includes during tear-down, repair, and rebuild. Without adequate space to spread everything out, pieces and parts ended up in boxes scattered throughout the garage. During tear-down, I took digital photos of items as I disassembled (I have an inexpensive digital camera that I use in the garage, specifically for such work). I thought I was taking plenty of photos, but still wished that I had a few more when re-assembly time came. Even mundane things that you think you’ll obviously remember, can become a ‘game-show quiz’ days/weeks/months later.

In addition, keeping track of the pieces and parts was important. If a screw or nut could go back in place, I kept it there. Otherwise I put it in a Ziploc bag, and labeled it. Initially I kept the bags in the same box as the associated component, but changed to keeping all the bags in one box, like a card catalog. I found I was spending too much time playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’ constantly going through the different boxes (i.e. “Did I put that Ziploc in with the valve cover, or with the front cover of the block?...or maybe with the VVT stuff?”)

I had also labeled wiring, connectors, etc. in the engine bay with white electrical tape and blue sharpie. Even though the hood was closed and the engine bay not directly exposed to the weather, the blue marker did not hold up well over time. I think perhaps next time I’ll try some cloth tape and a paint pen.

Overall, I felt that I did a pretty good job. I ultimately had no lost or extra parts, and only a few brief mysteries; such as the oil gallery bolt under the flywheel, and the oil light and 02 sensor wiring connectors.

My third lesson was technical references. I would not have been successful, had I not purchased the engine overhaul manual. I already had the workshop manual, and a Bosch fuel injection manual. The overhaul manual was worth its weight in gold. On other cars, such as air-cooled VWs and classic Chevrolets, there’s a certain amount of latitude when it comes to procedures and hardware; not so the Alfa.

The particular design of the Alfa engine means that numerous torques and tolerances are critical…not to mention the sequence of re-assembly. Without the overhaul manual, I would have screwed the pooch early on. (I should mention that even in the hot-rod days of my youth, I never had to tear an engine down to the bare block before, so this was new territory for me!) I always tried to find the answer in the manuals first, before posting to the AlfaBB. The store of knowledge available here is priceless. Don’t ‘wing it’ on these cars!

One more post, and the summary will be complete!
 

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Discussion Starter #544 (Edited)
Summary Part 3 - Final Thoughts

Fourth lesson: equipment. Being a driveway mechanic, I knew I’d need to obtain a few things to do this engine work: engine stand, engine hoist. I elected to buy a hoist rather than rent one; I didn’t feel like playing ‘beat the clock’, concerned about getting the hoist back in time and accumulating rental fees. I figured I’d have use for it again.

There were several smaller items that I needed as well: seal pullers, gear pullers, flywheel lock, supplies for removing gasket material, digital calipers for measuring valve shims, additional torque wrench, valve spring compressor, cylinder hone, etc. Plus, I had to fabricate a few items: seal installation tool, pinion nut socket, spark-plug-threaded-rod head puller, liner hold-downs, and I even 3D printed a clutch alignment tool. Let’s not forget gasket solvent, Ultra Copper, Ultra Gray, anti-seize, thread locker, Prussian Blue, assembly lube, valve lapping compound, and Diet Mountain Dew.

I estimate that about a third of the cost of this project was for special tools and consumables.

My fifth lesson was focus. This project was to repair an engine that quit running. I had foreknowledge of a few things that needed attention at the earliest opportunity, like motor mounts and radiator. It is enticing to listen to suggestions about replacing camshafts, cross-drilling the block, threading the crankshaft oil galleries, and numerous other things “while you’re in there”.

I had to ignore the siren song of “restoration” and focus more on “repair”. I did accede to a few things to improve drivability and reliability for the wife and daughters: AC repair, silicone hose kit, transmission synchro mod, replaced differential pinion seal, and re-cored the radiator. The only cosmetic thing I did (other than cleaning all the oil off everything) was to do some touch-up painting to the engine compartment.

The final result is a running spider that’s more pleasant to drive, and doesn’t leak anywhere (for now). The only thing dripping underneath the car is condensation from the AC!

My sixth and final lesson learned has to do with thread arc: If you find a thread that addresses your project, read EVERYTHING before you do ANYTHING. It can be challenging to wade through a thread when it’s tens of pages long, but it can be important. I failed to do this on a couple of key threads I was referencing throughout this project. I’d read the posts, and follow the examples. At one point near the end of a thread, the OP was having some difficulty, “Oh no! I’m having this problem. I should have done this differently!” I’m thinking, “Oh no! Me too! I should have read ahead!” Fortunately the circumstances resolved themselves, but I learned to read to the end of the thread to see what the results were, and any lessons learned.

As part of that, it’s also up to us who start threads to go back and revisit those posts, so we can give updated guidance for members’ initial read-through. I plan on doing this myself with this thread, just to help the next guy out.

For other amateurs like me… You can do it!...but…it’s probably going to take longer than you think, and cost more than you expect. On the plus side, you’ll end up with more tools and gadgets, you’ll learn more about your Alfa, and you’ll gain the confidence to take on more of these tasks yourself. I no longer harbor any fear of my Alfa, but a complete set of Alfa special tools would be nice!

Plus, if you’re like me, you’ll gain copious amounts of street cred in your local non-existent Alfa community and club. I'm a lone wolf here in Mid-Missouri!

Lesson 1: Patience
Lesson 2: Document (photos and labels)
Lesson 3: Technical References
Lesson 4: Equipment
Lesson 5: Focus
Lesson 6: Thread arc

Thanks again to everyone for their advice, assistance, and support; I couldn't have done it without you!
 

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Whoever dies with the most tools wins!
 
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Kevin, thank you for the follow up to a very enjoyable thread that will ultimately prove very helpful, once the Duetto engine comes out.

Jim, it sounds like you have already cornered the market on tools and they are mostly Alfa Romeo factory tools. I am learning that I possess more tools than talent and I don't have all that many tools...

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #548
300-mile update!

Car is still running great:
No leaks
No evidence of water in oil
No evidence of oil in coolant
Not burning oil
3D-printed VVT bushing still holding position
3D-printed injector seats and seals doing well
Engine still air-tight...pronounced drop in idle RPM when dipstick is pulled
Trans shifts smooth
AC still works well
Lovely exhaust sound

The only downside I have, is an annoying uneven idle when cold. Once warmed up, it idles and runs like a champ. I'll talk about that in another thread.

I've been giving the youngest daughter driving lessons in the Alfa. She should be taking her test in a few days.
 

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Glad she's running well. Don't forget to do the cold head retorque after 1250-1500 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #550 (Edited)
Another Update

I might be crazy, but it seems that this thing runs better and better, the more I drive it!

- Still no leaks anywhere! (I swear!)
- No cross-contamination of oil and coolant.
- Not burning any oil.
- All the 3D-printed parts holding up (VVT bushing, fuel injector seats and seals).
- AC still holding its charge.
- Trans still shifting great.
- Engine still air-tight. Removing the dipstick results in a drop of 300RPM at idle. I measured this with an optical tachometer gun. Coincidentally, that's about the same RPM drop when turning on the AC at idle.

I just performed the head retorque at 1400 miles. Just by observing the torque at which the nuts broke free, it didn't appear the torque had drifted much at all.

I had previously commented on an uneven idle when cold. I believe I had found the cause. I read elsewhere on AlfaBB about the need to 'prime' the bottom drain hose of the OVS with oil, to prevent air backflow. I had failed to do this during engine re-install. Even though the engine was 'air-tight', I think this may have caused some confused air flow that the L-Jet was detecting. After I primed the OVS, I did not experience any idle problems. Whether the OVS was the cause, or the problem resolved itself...I cannot say. Either way, it certainly starts and idles fine now.

I only have one lingering issue: On occasion, when backing out of the driveway, the car makes a slight 'groaning' sound. I initially thought it was clutch-related. When it occurs, I can feel a slight sensation in the gearshift, and can make it better or worse by applying lateral pressure to the shifter.

I think it is possible that I do not have the washers installed in the correct order on the gearshift trunnions. There was considerable discussion about this in posts #443 and #457 of this thread. The symptom is not often or severe enough to concern me greatly, but once the weather warms up, I'll see if I can pull the center console and access the trunnions from above.

If I find anything noteworthy, I'll address it in another thread.
 

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Alfas, in particular, love to be used. Even my electronically controlled v6 engine in the 156 stumbled a bit after too longer rest when accelerating on to a freeway recently ... by the trip home she was purring like a kitten, as usual. Alfa 33's used to frustrate my father when he was an Alfa Romeo service manager because in the case of being bought for partners that did not drive often and hard enough they would begin to misfire. All they needed was a short blast, so before any tune up the mechanics, with an Alfa Romeo, were always instructed to warm them up thoroughly and take them for a proper drive.

There is some fact in the term "Italian tuneup"
Pete
 

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Great story and I agree the contributors on this forum are very helpful. How is your daughter doing behind the wheel?
Maybe a graduation present?

thanks again for sharing
 

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It is not surprising that as the engine gets used, it loosens up and seems to run better.

Like Don Peterson's "Full Monty" thread, I really enjoyed this thread and am a little sad it has nearly come to its conclusion. I guess like they say all good things must come to an end...I do however appreciate the updates and hope that they keep coming; for one thing it will help me locate this thread when I start in on the Duetto. The 164 is almost finished with a few details remaining.

I guess that you used the factory engine manual; would anyone here have a copy available for the 1600 Duetto engine?

Mark
 

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I might be crazy, but it seems that this thing runs better and better, the more I drive it!

- Still no leaks anywhere! (I swear!)
- No cross-contamination of oil and coolant.
- Not burning any oil.
- All the 3D-printed parts holding up (VVT bushing, fuel injector seats and seals).
- AC still holding its charge.
- Trans still shifting great.
- Engine still air-tight. Removing the dipstick results in a drop of 300RPM at idle. I measured this with an optical tachometer gun. Coincidentally, that's about the same RPM drop when turning on the AC at idle.

I just performed the head retorque at 1400 miles. Just by observing the torque at which the nuts broke free, it didn't appear the torque had drifted much at all.

.
This reminded me of my Alfa dealership days. About half of the new spider owners would bring their car in before the first and free 1500 mile service which was just a look over and oil change. They would be complaining about slightly rough idle doesn't seem to pull hard enough etc. All were what I would call minor complaints.

I would just tell them to wait until around 1500 miles and it would all change. Sure enough when they would come back for the first service. They would all basically say the same thing. At about 1500 it all of a sudden became smooth, had more power and idled better.

But the difference between now and then is most of them were daily drivers. It didn't take long to rack up 1500 miles in Atlanta. Nowadays I think most engines do not get fully broke in. Owners will put a couple of hundred miles on them then they sit for several weeks or months.

The best thing to do with an Alfa engine. Well really any engine after it is built is to drive it until you get around 1500 miles on it. During the that time for short periods drive the snot out of it. Your engine will thank you.

Also a well broke in Alfa 4 cylinder will burn a quart of oil about every 1500 miles.
 
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Also a well broke in Alfa 4 cylinder will burn a quart of oil about every 1500 miles.[/QUOTE]

I have noticed that it is much more fun to drive my Spider when I go WOT and shift at 5K. The car seems to come alive then and I feel 40 years younger. Any way, I have noticed that I get a slight whiff of burnt oil smell when I come to a stop after driving the car hard. I just went over 50K miles and was wondering if this is normal. If I drive the car easy, there is no smell. Maybe it is just a little oil getting past the rings or from down the valve guides.
 

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I have noticed that it is much more fun to drive my Spider when I go WOT and shift at 5K. The car seems to come alive then and I feel 40 years younger. Any way, I have noticed that I get a slight whiff of burnt oil smell when I come to a stop after driving the car hard. I just went over 50K miles and was wondering if this is normal. If I drive the car easy, there is no smell. Maybe it is just a little oil getting past the rings or from down the valve guides.
Check the spark plug wells on the top of the head. Oil leaks from cam cover gasket (or elsewhere up there), pools in the plug wells, and starts to mildly burn when the engine has been hot for a while.
 

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"40 years younger" , thanks for the laugh. Many/most of us are older and either fight or accept or struggle with this aging nonsense. Personally I bounce between the three prior options.

If I knew then what I know now .................
 

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"If I knew then what I know now ................."

Funny that there are two sets of song lyrics that are polar opposites yet both profound. Choose your poison!

"I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger"
-The Faces (Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Wood) "Oh La La"

"I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then"
-Bob Seger, "Against the Wind"
 

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Discussion Starter #560
Great story and I agree the contributors on this forum are very helpful. How is your daughter doing behind the wheel?
Maybe a graduation present?

thanks again for sharing
The two daughters swap back-and-forth between the Alfa and '60 Impala. They both are doing very well; in fact, I rode with my oldest daughter the other day, and was very impressed with how she handled the car and shifted through city traffic.

If I could find another spider that wasn't too far away and not to expensive, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
 
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