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Discussion Starter #1
I would be extremely grateful for any suggestions, 1974 spider.
I recently found that the engine wouldn't start, and tracked it down to a likely faulty coil. For this reason, the engine hasn't been run for a couple of weeks when I was waiting to receive the coil from centerline. I just put the new coil in, and attempted to start the engine again, but the engine seemed to be locked in that the starter motor would not turn the engine beyond one initial impulse. I was worried about some kind of mechanical interference, so I took out the spark plugs and looked into each cylinder. I was extremely surprised to see fluid in the third Cylinder. I siphoned out something like 50 mils of coolant. I checked the dipstick, and the oil looked perfectly okay. I opened the radiator cap, and there was a tremendous release of pressure with bubbling in the overflow reservoir. It looks like there must be some kind of leak in the head gasket. Does anyone have any idea what's happened here? How come the coolant pressure is so high even after two weeks not being driven? I am despondent since the car was running perfectly okay before the starting problem a couple of weeks ago, and I really thought that just replacing the coil would do the trick. What should I do next. Obviously, I'm concerned that there's been water in cylinder 3 for about two weeks so it might be rusted. Does this mean inevitably that I have to do a new head gasket job? Should I try to idle the engine a little bit to blow out all of the water to prevent more corrosion? Or would this likely cause further damage?
Any suggestions gratefully received
Mike
 

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Mike,

If there is indeed water in the cylinder(s), trying to start the engine can do some real internal damage (rods, ect.) with all the pressure or resistance of the water. The balking of the starter hopefully did you a favor. I would say you would need to remove the cylinder head and correct the issue with the head being surfaced, a new gasket with Viton O rings and roll pins, if not already installed.

I did this myself some years ago. Not too difficult to do the removal and reassembly of the cylinder head yourself. I'm sure there are quality machine shops in your area.

Also, see what the more knowledgeable members recommend you do as well.


-Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wonder what is the likelihood that I've done some damage to the engine by trying to start it with the fluid lock in cylinder 3, 4 or 5 attempts in total. The engine never turned over, it just jammed after the first Starter impulse each time. If the probability is that the engine is fine, since it never actually ran, then I could proceed with the head gasket replacement.
Is there a simple way of telling whether the engines okay prior to proceeding with the head gasket job?
If I do go ahead with that gasket replacement, I will be heavily reliant on the bulletin board for guidance. I see that there are detailed accounts of how to do this with a more recent model spider which I could use. This really is a wonderful resource!
So, the question is, have I damaged the engine, and is there a simple way of determining whether I have or not.
Thanks for any ideas
Mike
 

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Mike,

With the cylinder head removed and dissembled, the machine shop would be able to give you an assessment of what needs to be done. I would get in touch with Ingram Enterprises, Inc. || Home Page

When my cylinder head was removed, I didn't turn over, or move the pistons because I was concerned of displacing the "wet cylinder liners". Otherwise, knowing if the piston is indeed achieving TDC (top dead center) would be a positive assurance of not having a bent rod. Again, I feel that not having a robust starter, may of saved you from doing damage with your start attempts.

I will sit on the bench and let other, more knowledgeable owners chime in with their thoughts. Good luck, Mike.


-Doug
 

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If I do go ahead with that gasket replacement, I will be heavily reliant on the bulletin board for guidance. I see that there are detailed accounts of how to do this with a more recent model spider which I could use. This really is a wonderful resource!
It sounds like you have a blown head gasket which has allowed water to seep into the combustion chambers. While you apparently encountered hydrostatic lock, if you did so by simply trying to start the car rather than having it happen when you were driving, then you're probably OK. Hydrostatic lock does real damage while driving and not usually when the car is sitting still.

Have you turned the engine over with the plugs out? If not do so. That will quickly blow any water seepage out of the combustion chamber. Then reinstall the spark plugs and try to start the engine. It should start and run. If it runs smoothly then replacing the head gasket will solve the problem.

The only caveat is that if the engine has been sitting for some time, the water in the combustion chambers would have caused the rings to rust. If you were driving the car, this won't be a problem. See if the engine starts and runs. That will tell you a lot about how bad the problem is.

Unless you have someone knowledgeable to help, doing a head-gasket repair is a bit beyond the skills-fit for a first-timer. You'll probably be better served by taking you car to a shop that works on Alfas and let them do the work.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I have decided to take the plunge and replace the head gasket myself. I will be very cautious, and patient, and use references and bulletin board resources. The first step, to remove the engine block drain plug took about 30 minutes of struggling since it was very difficult to reach with the wrench. 22 mm. My approach will be to keep going doing a little every day as much as possible.
Mike
 

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There is an excellent thread (with lots of photos!) about head gasket replacement in the Spider section. Click here: Head Gasket Replacement for Dummies.

Also, make sure to secure the liners against movement. There is a slim O-ring at the bottom of each cylinder liner. If the liners are disturbed it is possible to break that seal and later allow coolant to get into the sump - bad for bearings!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the tip Eric.
The initial event in this recent breakdown was a failure to start couple of weeks ago, with faulty coil producing no spark. In the process of trying to diagnose this, I fiddled around with the ignition timing, and probably pushed it out. I think that this might have inadvertently saved the engine, since I discovered the Hydro lock couple of weeks later returning from vacation when I tried to start the car with a replacement coil. On attempting to diagnose the initial starting problem, I'm pretty sure that I buggered up the timing, and that's why the subsequent attempt to start the car resulted in no firing up (thank heavens) but just Hydro lock.
I'm going to leave ignition timing question alone at this stage, while I proceed with replacing the head gasket. Hopefully solve the timing problem once I have gasket replaced. I have ordered a gasket set from centerline, and also bought the head removal tool from EB spares in the UK. Off we go.
Wish me luck!
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Have been thinking further. Is there a significant chance that I have bent a connecting rod trying to turn the engine over with the starter. I made multiple attempts before I discovered the lock, perhaps 4? Since relieving the lock the egine turns over just fine, but perhaps there is slight deformation. If so, could this lead to problems after the head gasket is replaced?
Would it be a good idea to check this out before replacing the head gasket. Is there a way to confirm that the con rod/ bottom end of engine OK, short of taking the whole engine out?
Could I gain access to cylinder #3 by removing the oil pan, then perhaps directly examine the associated con rod before committing to head gasket repair.
Am I overthinking this, since the lock was not on a running engine, just on starter turnover, and the engine turns over just fine now.

Any comments would be very welcome. I am uncertain how best to proceed at this stage.

Thanks to you all..

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here's an update
History: Hydrolok in cylinder #3. Coolant flushed out and block drained of coolant to obviate any water entering the sump.
Checked compression, cylinders 1-2-3-4;
dry 100-75-75-100
oiled 115-100-100-100
(Im thinking that the low readings throughout are because engine hasn't been run for a month, and lots of gas has washed cylinders dry of oil, plus, testing done with cold engine and accelerator pedal not depressed. All plugs were removed however.)

Used TDC gauge to measure the rise of each piston, all exactly the same at TDC.

My thoughts are that, on the basis of compression testing and piston rise measurements, there seems to be no obvious sign of a bent con rod in #3.

I am going to proceed with the head gasket repair.

If I have made any dangerous assumptions, would be very anxious to hear your opinions.

Thanks

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I wonder if someone could give me some guidance about Cylinder head removal. I have looked at the excellent step-by-step procedure outlined in the bulletin. However, this was on an injected vehicle. I think that the carbs are supposed to come off with the head. Where do I detach the carbs?

Thanks for any help

Mike
 

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Take the carbs off the mounts, then take the inlet manifold off the head. (The mounts are removed from the back side of the inlet manifold, if you need to remove them).
13mm nuts on the carb to mounts, 12mm nuts (usually) on the inlet to head.
Hope that helps,
Steve
 

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I would leave the carbs on. There is no need to remove them to lift the head. Disconnect the throttle linkage (or cable if you have a SPICA manifold) and the fuel line (and the cold start cable, if you have one). There may be a carb support strut to remove if you have a Euro manifold with rubber mounts.
 

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Depends how strong you are. Leaving carbs on makes the head/carbs assembly very heavy for one person leaning over. You're going to want to take them off anyway to check flexy carb mount condition, valve guides, valve stem oil seals etc, so I'd remove them while they're in the car. You'd also be tempted to use them as a lifting point whilst lifting the head, which isn't a good thing.
I always get them out of the way, whatever the car.

Steve
 

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We removed a cylinder head from a Spider race car in the paddock at VIR this afternoon. We left the carbs and air box connected. It took about 30 minutes. Lifting and removing the head is a two person job, with or without the carbs attached. The hardest part was getting the lower nut off #4 exhaust.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok
Puzzled
Have engine at top dead center on compression, and inspecting the timing chain, I see no link in the place where it is supposed to be. How do I proceed to uncouple chain. Do I have to release chain tensioner then disengage chain from lower sprocket and bring it round till link in correct position?
Will try to post some pics to show this
Thanks
Mike
 

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Rotate the engine a few more times to TDC, each time watching for the link to appear between the cam sprockets. It will eventually appear in that location.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Bingo!
There it is
Thanks Steve
Have taken chain apart and tied ends to the engine compartment. Next the head nuts and the old heave-ho
Engine at Tdc before chain undone, with cam timing marks practically spot on to reference points.
Will try for another picture
Mike
 

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