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Discussion Starter #1
77 Alfa Spider (SPICA 2.0L) Sat for 15 years.
I have done the following,

1. Fuel filters, pump, and lines are new. Clean fuel tank and fresh gas with a little sea foam treatment.
2. Oil and filter are new.
3. Battery new.
4. Plugs are cleaned and gap correct. (I have good spark, tested)
5. T/A was bad so I made a dummy and it is set at 29mm.
6. Checked all electrical and made sure wires and fuses are as should be.
7. Installed a pressure gauge in fuel line between main filter and SPICA intake. My fuel pressure light doesn't work. I have yet to test if it is the bulb or the switch. When key turned but not starting pressure reads quite high, 38psi. Once the key is turned to start pressure reads about 19 which again is above the 17psi so I am confused about that because I just changed a 3 port to a 2 port pump. Took out the "T" and ran connected the line to the overflow hose into the gas tank.

When I turn to start no firing. Every now and then it tries to. The plugs get sooty but not wet so is it running rich or just not firing off right therefore the fuel doesn't burn properly? I don't even know where to go next. FCS? Barometric Actuator? Injectors? Timing chain? Switch 2 point distributor to the electric ignition? I really want to keep the car as stock as possible so I don't want to change things up too much. But **** she is finicky. I have played with american car a bit but jeez this is a whole different ballgame.

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.
 

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Considering how long the car sat, I think you need to be sure that the 4 injectors are squirting fuel or not. Faced with a similar issue, I inserted long strips of white paper into the intake runners far enough so that the injectors would squirt fuel on the paper. Crank the engine; there will either be fuel on the paper or not.
If there is fuel on all 4 cylinders, read the threads in this forum on adjusting the SPICA system (this will take a good bit of time). Until you understand how the SPICA pump really works, your situation is close to hopeless. Read and understand the tech papers that Roadtrip has posted.
If there is no fuel on the papers, read the threads in this forum where people were getting no fuel from the SPICA.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Tom!

I have about a dozen manuals and books from the PO on all aspects of the car including the SPICA. I have read up on them quite thoroughly. In fact, I am an artist by profession and saw some of the design and mechanical diagrams, so I hand drew them to scale on larger paper and made glass frames for them for my walls. Over the winter the car was snowed into my garage so I couldn't work on it, so I did that to help understand how this baby really works.

Problem is, I get very overwhelmed when I look at the cars motor. My focus on how one piece works gets overlooked by, is this right, whats this loose wire, this looks too old, there is a leak here, etc etc.

Today I am going to go down and open the plate and check the spring clips inside it, I read that if it broke or came undone from the BC it'll run really rich.

I was also told by a bunch of people not to worry about the injectors because they operate under high pressure so usually don't clog up. That didn't sound right to me. Last fall I did get the car to start and run a bit but it ran super rich, would foul the plugs and stall. I will do the paper test you mentioned today and see. I have a hunch that they aren't atomizing the fuel properly because cylinder 2 comes out wet but the other 3 don't so I am wondering it some are dribbling out the fuel or are even backed up completely. Is it difficult or risky to pull the injectors and clean them? I know there are many small and delicate parts on this motor.

P.S. I love this car and am determined to get her in prime shape. I just wish there was more room in the engine bay haha! My old american cars I could sit inside the bay. This girl I can't get my hands into the SPICA with having 3 elbows. But where is the fun without a challenge.

Thanks again Tom!
 

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If a particular injector is not squirting any fuel, it is 99% likely that the problem is NOT in the injector itself.
The reason I want you to do this test is that the problems in the SPICA pump that cause NO fuel are usually completely different than the problems causing SOME fuel (either too much or too little) to be squirted.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just tested

Ok so I just got back from working on her this morning. I rechecked the TA and it's set at 29mm. I uncapped the spark plugs, pushed some white cardstock into the plenums all the way in and cranked the engine just a little. I removed them and looked. Each cylinder is different. 4 is more of a thick blotch pattern. 2 looks like a big cast. 3 and 1 both have some cast and some dribble. I have the strips, I can photograph them and post the image if that helps. I took off the injectors and am going to let them soak overnight. Visual inspection wasn't good. Looks like the PO at some point in time had them off because cylinder 2's injector is missing the metal ring that it mounts against. Then in all of them there was clearly some tiny particulate matter both in back and on the tip. I also took off the BC and looked inside. The spring is connected. I try to gently push the lever inside that the BC presses against. It is rigid and clicks up or down. It doesn't have a smooth spring action so I am wondering if that's an issue.

I plan on disconnecting the injector lines off the Spica and blowing them out and clean just to make sure they're not gunked up either. Is that a bad idea?

Sorry, I know I am a bit of an idiot with this stuff but this is my first foreign engine. My group of mechanical friends all don't want to go near it, as it is just too unknown for them. Slowly but surely I will get her there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The only thing that strikes me as odd, is if all four cylinders are getting some fuel, even if not in a great spray, wouldn't it still try firing? It doesn't fire whatsoever. Or are these engines that precise that if the gas doesn't atomize just right, in the right quantity, it won't fire at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Could it be the distributor isn't properly adjusted? I am getting spark, I arced the plugs onto the block to check. It isn't much but it's there. Could it possibly be sparking at the wrong times for the cylinders to be in the proper places?
 

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Valve guide seals could have dried and shrunk and could allow oil into combustion chamber after 15 years.... Water pump will be in poor shape from corrosion in cooling system. But not stop her starting. Have you cranked it for a good while without plugs to get it spinning freely and oil pressure up for a good period... Do this without fuel connected though...Spray WD40 into combustion chambers during the no fuel run to help loosen any stuck rings...... put in plugs and try start her again...... Try look into combustion chambers for oil or water on pistons...... maybe add some more WD40 just before putting in plugs and starting will add a good fuel source that will help too....
 

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For one thing the 29 mm dummy T/A is for a hot engine. A cold engine isn't going to start at that mixture. You might be able to get it going with some starting fluid and try keep it running with throttle until it warms up. Either that or use a shorter dummy to get it started.
 

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I would recommend starter fluid as well. If you can get it to run, even if only for a short bit then you know that you are getting spark and cam timing in approximately the right places. Then you can concentrate on fuel delivery problems.

As many times as I've blamed SPICA is as many times as I've been proved wrong. It is surprisingly forgiving. My latest SPICA blame game spanned 2 years until I realized that my fuel tank was so gunked up that it was clogging the fuel filters almost immediately after being replaced.

The dummy TA should be used to set the .019" gap. Then shorten it by 6mm to simulate a cold TA.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
All good comments. I read that the 29mm TA is for a warm engine but it wouldn't effect the cold start too harshly. I will shorten it in increments to see if I can find a sweet spot.

Question, the screw in the TA, where should i have that set if i was to have the TA at 29mm? all the way down?

I have the injectors apart and soaking now, I will put them back together and get them installed and try again.

Question 2, under the BC I mentioned I pushed on the metal lever, the spring is intact, but that lever clicks into either an up or down position. Is that right?
 

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Be careful adding cleaners into fuel tank before it's up and running. You don't want any more junk loosening off and getting in fuel than there is already from cleaned out tank.. Clean fuel alone is better but just my opinion..
 

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...Question, the screw in the TA, where should i have that set if i was to have the TA at 29mm? all the way down?...
No, use that to get the 0.019 gap at the reference. Use the manual, don't move stuff around out of sequence.
 

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Concerning the distributor, make sure the rotor is pointing towards plug wire #1 when cyl #1 is at TDC with both valves closed.
It is possible to put the distributor in backwards.
A cold engine does not like to start if the bellcrank to reference screw gap is less than around .075"; if cold, it does not like the "hot" gap of .019".

I would also suggest that you take the time to get the low fuel pressure warning light working. When that light goes on and off will provide useful information going forward.
 

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26 years ago I picked up my first Alfa, a GT 1600 Junior, because the PO could not get it to run properly - also tried to start, coughed & wet plugs.

Root cause was incorrect routing of the plug leads......so simple & the car fired up straight away. Correct order is 1342, with 1 when #1 piston is at TDC on the firing stroke

Quick & easy to check

Aye
Greig
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Root cause was incorrect routing of the plug leads......so simple & the car fired up straight away. Correct order is 1342, with 1 when #1 piston is at TDC on the firing stroke

Quick & easy to check

Aye
Greig


My distributor cap has a 1 2 3 4 on each lead, and I have them going to each cylinder, 1 being in front, 4 being in back. I believe that's right?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Concerning the distributor, make sure the rotor is pointing towards plug wire #1 when cyl #1 is at TDC with both valves closed.
It is possible to put the distributor in backwards.
A cold engine does not like to start if the bellcrank to reference screw gap is less than around .075"; if cold, it does not like the "hot" gap of .019".

I would also suggest that you take the time to get the low fuel pressure warning light working. When that light goes on and off will provide useful information going forward.

OK so I'll take the dummy out, and the screws top to mounting seat should be .019"? I am just going to start over from the manual. Haha. after if it doesn't start I will take off the valve cover and check if everything is properly aligned as mentioned. I want to get the fuel pressure light working. The bulb is fine. The wires seem fine. Hence my assumption that the switch is no good, but both centerline and IAP have them on backorder.


Thanks everyone! All this help is truly priceless!
 

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A stuck in "on" cold start solenoid will keep mixture too rich as opposed to only on for a few seconds at start. Take off inspection cover and WD40 it and check it moves ok. You don't want to set up and get car mixture right then have it unstick and be left wondering why car starts to run poorly after all the hassle....

You don't want to flood it as well.... could explain sooty plugs...
 

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Root cause was incorrect routing of the plug leads......so simple & the car fired up straight away. Correct order is 1342, with 1 when #1 piston is at TDC on the firing stroke

Quick & easy to check

Aye
Greig


My distributor cap has a 1 2 3 4 on each lead, and I have them going to each cylinder, 1 being in front, 4 being in back. I believe that's right?
You need to ignore those markings and find top dead center. You do this by removing plug #1 (the one at the front) and rotating the motor until the piston is all the way to the top AND both valves are closed. Then remove the distributor cap and note where the rotor is pointing. Replace the cap and the spark plug wire that is closest to the rotor position is #1 regardless of what is marked on the cap. The next wire (clockwise) goes to plug #3, then 4, then 2.

This is critical and the motor will not start of this is not correct.
 
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