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Discussion Starter #1
My Duetto was always really hard to start, but yesterday she decided to take the day off completely. I think there are some circumstances that influenced this decision, so I will give you some background. Have not worked on an engine before, so please be a little patient with me.

This is a 2liter engine with solex carbs, and regular ignition with points
I think she runs rich, by the smell of it
Overall, when started, the engine runs fine, and idles really well when warmed up.
It does backfire when letting off the throttle
When I took out the plugs, the were black and wet (but then again, I had been cranking for a while.

Any advice would be helpful.
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
one more piece of info...it wants to start, but just won't catch. So I do have a spark of some sort
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Her'shat I have done sofar. I have set the timing (corretly, I hope as the f-mark was hard to read, but it was the only mark besides the M and I.
Nowit doe nt evnwnt to try n strt. I clene my plugs, and made sure I have spark.
Then I tried spraying starter fluid into the airintak manifold...no success. Please let me know hat else youthink I can do.

thx
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK, I think it gets worse, I am afraid I messed up my engine :mad: :eek:

I double checked the firing order, based on some threads here on the board. Guess what, it was off. Really wierd, as the wires have been replaced by an Alfa mechanic, and untouched since :mad: :mad:

Anyway, after I changed them, she fired right up.....but what was that ticking noise?? She died and does not want to start anymore....when the engine wants to catch, I get smoke from my air filter.....I am afraid the timing chain may have skipped while setting the timing, and now I have bent my valves? I this likely?
 

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It's late here, and I've been testing this year's vintage (too much acidity, I'm afraid, but it took three glasses to be really certain) but you'd have had to do something REALLY dumb to make the chain skip, or anything else of a like nature. Don't panic. It'll turn out to be something pretty simple. Meanwhile, don't do anything. Have a glass of wine (if you don't have any, you can fly to Victoria and I'll give a glass or ten) and wait for help from the MOTB (masters of the board.)
 

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In the cold, wet light of dawn, let me offer somewhat more useful (I hope) advice. First, don't worry about having screwed up the engine. That's almost impossible, unless accompanied by VERY loud noises. Then, tell us about the firing order being wrong. If the car was running, and stopped, it won't be because the firing order suddenly went off. It'll be because the points finally closed to the point of not sparking, or plug leads wore out (the insulation, usually), or something similar. How do you know the order was wrong? What did you then do? Which way do you think the rotor rotates?

Apart from that, the best clue you've given is the black, wet plugs. You're right: they were wet because of cranking, but that wouldn't make them black. The engine has been running rich. So. The basic mix on Solex carbs (or any other carb) is determined by the float level. Assuming you have a manual, check that. Get it right, put in new plugs, and let us know what happens. AFTER you tell us about the firing order.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
from the alfabb I found out that the firing order should be 1-3-4-2, one being the cylinder closest to the radiator. The lead that I used for 1 is the one that is at the 4 o'clock position on the distributor.
I am not sure what the firing order was before, but it was completely different. I do not know in which direction the distributor turns, how do I find out?
 

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roll the car forward in 4th or 5th with the dizzy cap off - you'll see the rotor turn. Pretty sure it's clockwise.
 

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The distributor rotates clockwise WHEN VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Take out the plug from No. 1 cylinder, put a plastic straw (or something similar) into the hole. Put the car in 5th, push it until the straw is at its highest point. Check the marks on the pulley. If there is a pulley mark at or near the reference mark on the chain cover, you're at TDC. If not, turn the engine 180 degrees, and check marks again. There should a pulley mark at the reference mark. Now you can make sure the firing order is correct. Looking from the top, the rotor should point at number one lead, more or less. Note that you have the engine set at TDC, and the engine fires slightly before TDC, so the lead will not be exactly where the rotor is pointing, but pretty close. The next lead, clockwise, will be No. 3, then 4, then 2. (I assume that you didn't loosen the clamp and turn the dizzy. If you did, let us know and we'll offer different advice.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks, I will do that. I did get it running again yesterday, but very rough, and could not drive it. My main worry is that there is still this sound that seems to be coming from the engine, like a bearing is gone, or something is broken....only noticeable above 2000 rpm....oh well, one thing at a time.
Thanks for all your help so far!
 

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What does it sound like? You might have severe preignition, which can sound like something broken. By the way, your number one lead will be at 4 o'clock (where it should be, as I recall) or 11 o'clock, which is where mine is, presumably because the same numb nuts who put the fuel lines on the SPICA backwards installed the dizzy 180 out. It really doesn't matter, as long as the rotor points to the number one at TDC.
 

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One cause for the noise might be the distributor. The rotor might not be down far enough, or you got the cap on
a little crooked. Use a broom stick and put one end at your ear and the other on different points , but be careful
not to get it caught in any moving parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK. I double checked the timing the way you described. When at the F-mark, number one cylinder is at TDC. When I then check the rotor, it is past the 4 o'clock position, more like 5 or 5.30, closer to 4 than 8, but still, it should be a little before 4, right?
 

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The plug fires before TDC, so when the engine is at TDC the plug has fired, meaning that the rotor is past where the lead is. With the engine at TDC, the rotor should be at 5 o'clock or so. If you could get back to where you were, I think you'll be able to sort things out. If you moved the dis, and changed wires, put it back to where it was, and we'll work on the mix, which I suspect is the real problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
thanks Ian! I think the timing is as good as it gets the way it is with static timing, from what you describe. I agree that the mix is probably the real issue. I need to work on that
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here's what I did. Found out that the mix is rich anyway, but it did not help that the choke was stuck in the open position. Fixed that. Cleaned the plugs, and she started. Idling OK. Double checked static timing, right on the mark. Still, running very poorly when revved, could it be the timing not advancing ?Bought a dynamic timing light, and it looks like it is not advancing at all. I can not see the M-mark at 4600rpm, unless I turn the light 60 degrees....it can not advance 60 degrees from the f mark, right? I hope this still makes sense, any ideas appreciated
 

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I'd set the motor at Tdc # 1 compression stroke. Remove the cam cover and verify both of the #1 valves are closed. The cam's should be pointing outward towards the intake and manifolds on the #1 cylinder. There is also a notch on the front cam caps, and a line on the cams that should line up. These are viewed looking towards the front of the engine. Then remove the distributor cap and see where the rotor is pointing, this is where your #1 plug lead should be (approx) Normaly this is straight ahead on a 2 liter. Then verify from that point in a clockwise rotation that # 3 is next then #4, and then #2. This should give you a basis from where to begin. Then see if the car starts and check the timing at idle @ the F mark with the timing light set at 0. Then slowly rev the engine and observe you timing mark with the timing light set at 0. It should be smooth as it travels. If it is jerking around you have spark scatter, indicating broken advance springs, or a worn out distributor. Also dont discount faulty spark plug leeds, bad points etc...That ticking sound your hearing could be a plug lead leaking voltage to ground
 

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Here's the most valuable tip I know of when diagnosing lack of power. If the engine won't rev up with no load, the problem may be ignition or fuel. If the engine will rev up to 5000 with no load, and hold at 5000 for 15 to 30 seconds, but lacks power with load, the problem is ignition. Can you drive the car? Don't worry about perfection, just get it started and take it out on the road and tell us what happens. Don't go too far from home without an escort car to tow you home.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
thought I would give you all a brief update. I tried everything, and could not figure it out, so finally I threw in the towel and had it towed to the local Alfa Romeo shop :eek: :eek: Two weeks and $500 :eek: :eek: later, I picked it up.
They have put a fuel pressure regulater in, because they said the fuel pressure was too high. Now dialed in at 1.5 (PSI?), down from 3. Also, spark plug leads were replaced. When I picked it up, it was warm, so it started just fine. And it drove really well, revving easily.
A few days later, I tried to start it....again, really hard to start. It ran OK, but decided to cut off at around 6000 rpm.....A week later, again hard to start, and does not want to rev beyond 5000-5500 rpm. Drove it for over an hour, to see how it would develop. After an hour, it sat for 10 minutes. Now even a warm start was kinda difficult:mad: Drove it for another 20 minutes, and now the card won't even rev beyond 4500 rpm.

This driving me nuts. I fiddled with the fuel pressure regulator, thought maybe it did not get enough fuel, but that did not help.........Is this my distributor going out/not advancing timing? Should I start considering putting in an electronic ignition? This is what my mechanic suggested to do in a few months, in order t get it perfect, but hey, it was running fine. I have never had an Alfa with problems starting or running. I need this fixed, and this is beyond my capabilities. All help is appreciated, even if you simply recommend a great mechanic in the Austin area. I feel I have just wasted 500 bucks and still don't have my baby running

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #20
bump....can anyone please give me sme advice?
 
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