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Hi All,

Well, I only had the car back for a week after getting the alternator replaced (thanks to all here who provided advice) along with re-installing the choke cable.

Now it won't start :frown2:. It ran perfectly on the drive home from the shop (my mechanic had also performed a carb tune up) - started nicely, pulled cleanly etc.

It's cranking strongly, the battery is good (12.8v) but is not firing at all - no coughing, no spluttering - nada.

Feels like no fuel is being delivered at all - I'm not smelling any fuel after my starting attempts. My first suspicion is the pumps - am I right in thinking I have 3? One in the petrol tank, an electric one and a mechanical one in the engine bay?

I've got a spark plug removal socket and torque wrench ordered so mid-week I'll crank it again and check for wetness on the plugs but what is everyone else's opinion.

What would you check, in what order? Is it checking the voltage across the electric pump?

Also, I've recently had an electronic distributor fitted along with new leads and plugs - I'm assuming for the time being that ignition and timing are both good.

I'm feeling a little despondant to be honest. Perhaps naively I had thought I had reached a stable point with reliability - I hadn't anticipated another failure only a week after resolving the last - that's classic car ownership I guess :sad:

Thanks in advance guys

Tom
 

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Hi Tom

I would like to say you need fuel and electricity to strat your car.

Check your fuel : gasoline comes out of the pipe just befor ethe carb when you give a key ?

and chek the electricity : you have a spark at the spark plug when you give a key ? If yes, the spark is strong ?

Let us now. It will be easier then to tell what to follow.

Chris
 

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My first suspicion is the pumps - am I right in thinking I have 3? One in the petrol tank, an electric one and a mechanical one in the engine bay?
I am not familiar with the Alfa models sold outside the US, so my advice may be incorrect. But I strongly doubt that your Junior has more than one pump. And it's probably mechanical, mounted on the R side of the engine below the distributor.

Electric fuel pumps emit a whine that can be heard after the key is turned to run, but before the engine starts (and drowns out the sound). Did you ever hear a sound like that?

If you do suspect the fuel pump(s), pescara's advice is good: just remove the supply line to the front carburetor, stick it into a clean plastic bottle, crank the car a bit, and see if fuel has come out. If not, then it probably is the fuel delivery system. This is easier to diagnose than pulling the plugs and trying to tell if they are wet.

I've recently had an electronic distributor fitted along with new leads and plugs - I'm assuming for the time being that ignition and timing are both good.
I wouldn't assume anything. With these sort of failures, the cause is often the most recent component replaced or worked on.

I'm feeling a little despondant to be honest. Perhaps naively I had thought I had reached a stable point with reliability - I hadn't anticipated another failure only a week after resolving the last - that's classic car ownership I guess
Yes, I'm afraid so.
 

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I hope this helps. Just got my GTV (same basic engine as your junior) running again after playing dead for a couple of weeks. It started when I ran completely out of gas and spend several minutes trying to crank it up on vapor fumes. To make a short story long, my car had been sitting in a museum for years before I acquired it last year. My guess is that running it on empty must have pulled not only air into the electric fuel pump but also old grime and cruds from the bottom of the gas tank.
1. I highly recommend starting by cleaning the gas tank. You can then pull one of the spark plug leads out, stick a screw driver in it and hold it 1 - 2 cm from the engine then asking a helper to crank the engine to see if it sparks. If it doesn't then you need to check the electricals (distributor cap, points, coil, etc). If it does make sparks, then electrics are probably good and you must move on to fuel delivery.
2. If you're too lazy to clean the gas tank like I am, add 10 - 15 gallons to top off your tank. Gauges on old Alfas are often "optimistic" and you may have simply ran out of fuel. If not, extra fuel in the gas tank won't go to waste and the weight will help the pump more efficiently.
3. If you have an electric fuel pump you should be able to hear it. Most owners have converted from mechanical pump to electric, usually is in the back close to the gas tank. Confirm location then turn switch on without cranking engine and go to the back to have a listen. If not running, ckeck fuse and make sure that all wires are connected. If you hear it running, go to the front with an empty cannister and disconnect the incoming hose attached to the fuel regulator / filter on the right side of the engine bay. You will need to bleed the fuel line to purge system from air bubles and dirt and grime. If still not working you may need to change the pump.
4. If you can't find the electric fuel pump, go to the front lower right side of the engine to find the mechanical pump. Same principle, pull out the hose feeding into the regulator to make sure that you have fuel coming in.
5. You find a glass cup containing the filter under the fuel regulator. Clean that too.
6. If your fuel supply is good and it still doesn't work spray a good dash of carburator cleaner directly into the carburators. If you have an injection system, too bad....
Good luck. DSC_1079.jpeg

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If it's like mine - weber carbs - you will only have 1 fuel pump, which is a mechanical type - driven by the engine's rotation. It is located on the front, right hand side of the engine, near the distributor. It is possible that a previous owner may have removed the pump, blanked it off and fitted an electrical pump. If so, the electrical pump may be located near the fuel tank or in the engine bay. Good luck getting it fixed.
 

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So.. it started at the mechanic's shop ..drove home..and parked it for a week? And now won't start.. Is that right?

'73 GT jrs had only a mechanical pump.. there were not 3 pumps. Don't know where you came to that conclusion.. Not having a plug socket or torque wrench handy tells me you are not very comfortable around mechanicals.. That's ok.. Don't lose faith but perhaps this isn't the time to learn maintenance procedures on your own.

I don't know why you aren't calling your mechanic with the issue. After all, he could have done something that contributed to the problem that he needs to know about. At worst, he can talk you through a few checks and at best he can have you towed back to his shop. It might be worth the tow in the end. It will save you a lot of hand wringing and anxiety and lost faith in Alpha Romeros
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So.. it started at the mechanic's shop ..drove home..and parked it for a week? And now won't start.. Is that right?

'73 GT jrs had only a mechanical pump.. there were not 3 pumps. Don't know where you came to that conclusion.. Not having a plug socket or torque wrench handy tells me you are not very comfortable around mechanicals.. That's ok.. Don't lose faith but perhaps this isn't the time to learn maintenance procedures on your own.

I don't know why you aren't calling your mechanic with the issue. After all, he could have done something that contributed to the problem that he needs to know about. At worst, he can talk you through a few checks and at best he can have you towed back to his shop. It might be worth the tow in the end. It will save you a lot of hand wringing and anxiety and lost faith in Alpha Romeros
Thanks for your input - yes, you're right, I'm new to tackling the mechanics and tentatively feeling around the jobs I'm willing to try. I'm aware I'm on a steep learning curve! And yes, running fine a week ago and nothing now.

Just had a good look around and I definitely have the mechanical pump. There looks to be a fair amount of gunge around the gasket and definitely wet underneath so perhaps the gasket has failed and it no longer has pressure. I did see the fuel filter bowl three quarters full, so I know the fuel is getting that far.

Tomorrow I will disconnect the hose to the carbs and find out what the pump is delivering. I'll assess options from there - getting it towed back to the shop is an option. I'll ring them and see what they say.

I'm feeling better about it all today - just another hitch on the road right?. When it's running well and I'm enjoying it, theres nothing like it :grin2:

As always, thanks for everyones contribution. I'll keep you posted.
 

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What you are going through is something we all have experienced.. Our first instinct, if we don't have past experience is the worst case scenario. I would bet you are experiencing just the opposite of what you think is happening. I would bet you flooded the engine. Here is why I think that. Your mechanic tweaked the carbs. It doesn't take much to change the character of how best to start your car... what was five pumps on the pedal and a full choke at 25C ambient might not work like it did before the tweaks on a damp winter morning. All my cars have their own quirks. They all do based on state of tune and atmospheric conditions. Each engine has it's own character. What starts one, won't necessarily work on another. They all have personalities in themselves. I'd suggest the personality of your car has changed.

I would not lift a finger to it until you crack open the accelerator with the key off and let the carbs and plugs dry out.. as long as overnight. Then try again with only a partial choke. If no fire..let it dry out again.. There will be a happy medium where the air and gas mixture will fire 1,2 or all 4 plugs. Be patient and only crank the starter in short burst of like 10 to 15 seconds at a time... no more that 3 or 4 cycles. You don't want to heat up your starter and flood it again. Save the tow and don't panic and tear into things that probably are fine.

I'll share this story.. just bought a Spica injected Spider. The owner had it for 21 years. I jump in to start it at his house and he tells me to "pull the choke" and pump the pedal 5 times to start it.

I follow his directions and it starts reluctantly. Bottom line is the "choke" knob was the MANUAL THROTTLE and there is NO CHOKE on these cars... and to make it even more funny is the manual throttle wasn't connected to anything when I opened the hood to inspect the car when I got home. The manual throttle cable was hanging all by it's lonesome in thin air. He thought his stating procedure was how to start the car and it wasn't doing anything remotely correct to build a fire in the combustion chambers. Keep the faith. It will start .. and save the tow and the tools.
 

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What you are going through is something we all have experienced.. Our first instinct, if we don't have past experience is the worst case scenario. I would bet you are experiencing just the opposite of what you think is happening. I would bet you flooded the engine. Here is why I think that. Your mechanic tweaked the carbs. It doesn't take much to change the character of how best to start your car... what was five pumps on the pedal and a full choke at 25C ambient might not work like it did before the tweaks on a damp winter morning. All my cars have their own quirks. They all do based on state of tune and atmospheric conditions. Each engine has it's own character. What starts one, won't necessarily work on another. They all have personalities in themselves. I'd suggest the personality of your car has changed.

I would not lift a finger to it until you crack open the accelerator with the key off and let the carbs and plugs dry out.. as long as overnight. Then try again with only a partial choke. If no fire..let it dry out again.. There will be a happy medium where the air and gas mixture will fire 1,2 or all 4 plugs. Be patient and only crank the starter in short burst of like 10 to 15 seconds at a time... no more that 3 or 4 cycles. You don't want to heat up your starter and flood it again. Save the tow and don't panic and tear into things that probably are fine.

I'll share this story.. just bought a Spica injected Spider. The owner had it for 21 years. I jump in to start it at his house and he tells me to "pull the choke" and pump the pedal 5 times to start it.

I follow his directions and it starts reluctantly. Bottom line is the "choke" knob was the MANUAL THROTTLE and there is NO CHOKE on these cars... and to make it even more funny is the manual throttle wasn't connected to anything when I opened the hood to inspect the car when I got home. The manual throttle cable was hanging all by it's lonesome in thin air. He thought his stating procedure was how to start the car and it wasn't doing anything remotely correct to build a fire in the combustion chambers. Keep the faith. It will start .. and save the tow and the tools.
That's a great story!

Thanks - I thought the same as you - i.e. I had flooded it by using my new choke. I went in again a day later and reverted to my 'original' technique, i.e. 3 or 4 pushes on the accelerator only - no choke, then gentle throttle as I crank. Usually on the 2nd attempt I get coughing and spluttering, and on the 3rd it catches and I let it warm on a gentle throttle.

Now - there is no coughing whatsoever, it just cranks.

I'm not discounting a change in character but I tried all kinds of techniques and I'm out of ideas - I will call the shop after some further checks tonight. I will follow your advice.

Am I right in thinking if the fuel filter bowl is full, then the pump must be working to an extent? To draw the fuel from the tank?
 

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Fuel bowl full? maybe... nothing is for sure from here. Make that call .. If your mechanic isn't too far away, perhaps he will come to the house for a few pints and get her goin'. ... Pints .. afterwards.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A little further forward - however still not starting. Initially tried using as little fuel up front as possible to avoid flooding, i.e. no choke and only 2 throttle pushes.

Then I let it dry out and tried again using a little choke - still no joy, didn't even attempt to fire.

Tested the fuel delivery as suggested - removed the hose to the carbs and cranked - sure enough a pulse of fuel came out.

So, current working assumption is that the pump is good and we're back to checking the spark (Jay, you called this one!) - I have ordered a cheap ignition tester rather than remove the plugs. I suspect this will be a good investment.

I will call the shop tomorrow and get their opinion too, and probably make provisional plans to get the car towed (i'm hoping they offer to come out to take a look).

Has anyone experienced these issues so soon after fitting electronic ignition (123)?
 

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You won't hurt the plugs or anything else... and you don't need a torque wrench... Just a plug socket at a parts store (tell him std size..3/4") and a ratchet . ( those plugs are gas soaked carbon by now) Undo one at a time. (Lefty loosy righty tighty) .. A good smack with the meat of the palm of your had will break them loose. Spray the plugs with brake cleaner or carb cleaner and let air dry...Clean out the base of the electrode with a toothpick while you do this ...same as a lawn mower in a pinch...It's not precision but it might help.

Install the plug with yer fingers tight.. Then give them a 1/8 turn to seat them with your wrench.. snap the wires in place and start the car.
 

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You won't hurt the plugs or anything else... and you don't need a torque wrench... Just a plug socket at a parts store (tell him std size..3/4") and a ratchet . ( those plugs are gas soaked carbon by now) Undo one at a time. (Lefty loosy righty tighty) .. A good smack with the meat of the palm of your had will break them loose. Spray the plugs with brake cleaner or carb cleaner and let air dry...Clean out the base of the electrode with a toothpick while you do this ...same as a lawn mower in a pinch...It's not precision but it might help.

Install the plug with yer fingers tight.. Then give them a 1/8 turn to seat them with your wrench.. snap the wires in place and start the car.
Don't even need to do that to check for spark. Just pull one the cables out and stick the end of a screw driver in, then let the (insulated) handle sit on top of the cam cover (thereby leaving 1 - 2 cm between it and the screwdriver shaft). Ask helper to crank it up and you should be able to see the spark. If you do then you can focus on fuel delivery, if you don't then back to tge start of the thread.

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On mine, if the car is left standing for sometime then it needs a very long crank before there is any sign of life.

My assumption is that much of the fuel in to carburettor bowls has evaporated.

It usually needs several 10 second cranks for the fuel pump to refill them. After these cranks, I do several throttle pumps(~5), pull the choke and crank the engine. This usually causes the engine to fire strongly, but then dies. Some feathering of the throttle pedal required.

Repeating the x5 pumps before cranking 1 or 2 more times gets it going.

I have bought, but have yet to fit an electric pump. Hopefully this will quickly fill the carbs without needing the long cranking periods

I have fitted a 123 distributor, new coil and HT leads. Not a massive transformation on my car, but one less thing to worry about.

Hope this helps.
 

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I always carry a spare sparkplug in glove box, easiest way to check spark:)

maybe your "recently fitted electronic distributor" is the problem......what distributor did they fit, do you know? was it a 123 or just a pick up in place of the points?
 

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I always carry a spare sparkplug in glove box, easiest way to check spark:)

maybe your "recently fitted electronic distributor" is the problem......what distributor did they fit, do you know? was it a 123 or just a pick up in place of the points?
I have a feeling you may be onto something.

Don't berate me for this, but when I got the car it came with a box full of spares - one of which was a nearly new 123. It had been fitted previously but still pretty clean - I had no idea of the backstory i.e. why it was no longer fitted. Anyway we decided to fit it and low and behold, it worked a treat.

Fast forward to now - maybe 6 weeks after fitting it and I'm having this problem.

Related? I should know more later tonight when I test the sparks.

This is fun isn't it? Like your favourite soap opera where the main character is a non-starting Alfa.

Tune in soon folks - updates to come
 

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choke

Similar issue with mu GT Junior, previous owner said he never used the choke to start, (the hand throttle is disconnected), I find that after a few days it takes several throttle presses then several goes with the ignition before anything happens. I know it will eventually start but would like a quicker start. Always starts 1st time after she's been running for a while.
Really don't know if the choke makes any difference or not.
 

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It's all physics..cold start from warm start...trust it. Cold starts are easier to "FLOOD" the engine= too much fuel in the air mixture to ignite and wetted plugs..Frustration usually leads to more cranking and more flooding which is going in the wrong direction. Batteries aren't going to put out as much, starters are going to strain more to turn that motor which is tighter when cold and the oil is thicker. Condensation wets contacts. All are just little negatives that add up.

My car(s) sit as long as a month in a deep sleep in a cold winter.. It's always "fingers crossed" on that first start. I've learned not to get too zealous on fuel feed initially.. just crack the choke a couple of strokes of the pedal only and crank, maybe 3 times in short burst . If no go I close the choke and smoke an inch off my cigar then revisit and put the pedal to the floor while I wait. The choke is done in the process.
I did learn an important lesson a long time ago.. The main fuel line can dry out and getting the prime of the pump (mech) back can be near impossible without priming the line. My Super has a clear plastic Cavis tube bridging both carbs (came that way from Alfa for a period on 105's) It really gives me a visual of whether I am getting fuel to the carbs. I recommend it. If I don't see a moving bubble in that line the whole starting process is going to be fruitless.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Success! Car is running sweetly again....

Thanks to everyone who offered advice, especially divotandtralee who hit the nail right on the head.

I had indeed flooded the engine and managed to foul the plugs. I put this down to being over zealous with my new choke cable. In my defense, the advice given by my mechanic was to extend the choke fully, then prime with 4 or 5 throttle pushes before cranking. In retrospect, this was too much and led to the flooding.

Anyway plugs out, heated over a gas flame to burn off the worst of the carbon deposits and got the rest of the crud off with a wire brush.

Popped them back in and bingo - it fired right up after 2nd attempt - no choke required!

Went for a celebratory drive and it was faultless. Idled almost imperceptably and pulled cleanly through the revs.

I've learned lots from this experience and feel pretty good about having resolved something myself.

Thanks again everyone
 
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