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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Always been a Toyota guy and have gotten comfortable doing all 3 banana or easier jobs by myself.

Decided I needed a project, something with curves, Italian flair, and a nasty exhaust note.
I found an 87 Graduate for a decent price, it test drove well enough, and the deal was done.

Now, I hope this isn't an omen, but I had no sooner pulled out of the POs garage to drive it home when the clutch master cylinder decided to puke fluid. I drove it home without a working clutch, parked it in the garage, and prepared myself for the inevitable disapproving looks from my wife.

The car has surprisingly little rust, the engine is smooth and quiet, and the top is pristine. She needs a few things though. Okay, a lot of things...
 

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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
ISSUES REMAINING:
  • leaks oil from about 8 different places
  • Valve cover leak
  • needs front rotors and pads soon
  • Caster bushings are shot
  • driver rear axle seal leak
  • door checks look like death
  • driver seat bottom vinyl is ripped (parts obtained)
  • Cracked #4 exhaust manifold tube (parts obtained)
  • AC belt missing (replacement obtained but not the right size?)
  • paint damage inside fender from clutch fluid leak (parts obtained)
  • boot cover needs minor repair
  • carpet looks like poop, plan to paint (parts obtained)
  • courtesy lights not working
  • gas smell in trunk (parts obtained)
  • needs oil change, coolant flush, and plugs (parts obtained)
  • Tiny crack in windshield
  • Definitely needs more exhaust sound
  • And hundreds more projects waiting to be discovered

FIXED SO FAR:
  • 16 year old tires replaced
  • trans mount replaced
  • Floor mats replaced
  • Seat pans rehabbed
  • trans, diff, clutch, brake fluids swapped/flushed
  • driveshaft lubed
  • rear brake pads replaced
  • turn signal out, was a corroded connector
  • clutch master, slave, reservoir, soft line, and pivot replaced
  • washer nozzles replaced, cracks in washer reservoir and cap epoxied
  • battery replaced and secured
  • lug wrench missing, replaced
  • spare wheel repainted
  • driver door handle mechanisms lubed
  • front shock lower nut missing, replaced
  • fuel pump strainer sock missing, replaced
  • rear shock bushing installed incorrectly, corrected
  • Antenna replaced
  • shift boot fixed
  • Polished, waxed, cleaned, vacuumed, Febreze'd
  • Steering box oil added and box adjusted
  • door buffers replaced
  • trunk and hood lights replaced
  • PO's radio wiring corrected
  • brake light switch replaced (my fault it broke)
  • turn signal lens screws replaced with stainless
Guibo is fairly new, as are the motor mounts. Driveshaft has enough slung grease to suggest someone had been servicing it at some point. Carrier bearing appears intact. Ball joints, wheel bearings, tie rods all feel tight. Definitely a lot of transmission fluid from up high where the shifter enters. No rust on the brake lines. Coolant hoses are not original. Had a leak from the brake master cylinder at some point (paint gone), but does not appear to be current.

It's funny going from one car make to another, how differently the engineering is. I ran into this with a previous Porsche. The Germans design things so differently than Toyota does, and boy those Italians take it a step further. I've already broken a couple things on the car trying to remove them, since I was expecting them to come apart the Toyota way. I gotta slow down and look before any more ham-handed disassembly.

I look forward to getting this car up to snuff with the help of this forum. I know I'll need lots of help :)
 

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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Goal is a cheap, fun, and well-sorted driver. Not going for Concours or purist level stuff, and it doesn't have to be perfect.. I did that with the Porsche and my OCD tendencies eventually led to more anxiety about the car than joy.

The trick will be walking the line between fixing it right and not letting it become a money pit or a source of stress.
 

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Push hard and live
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Hello Brad,

We'd like to know your location, and please post a lot of pics. You'll be surprised by what more experienced eyes will see and recognize as good or in need of urgent surgery.

The 105/115 series, which you have, are relatively easy to work on and parts are readily available.

My own opinion is to be brave, and to fix everything critical over the next six months. Don't try to draw it out for six years, or you'll get sick of the job, the lack of driving pleasure, and the nagging noise from your conscience and wife.

Once we see the pics, more specifics will follow. Knowing where you are might get you some help.
 

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Good you reached out..The first thing is you will need hands like ET... Long fingers and no palms.. Rust on a car like yours? Pretty much a non-issue by that time in production unless it was driven year round and in salt with no regular chassis washes.. Oil leaks? Alfa's don't leak oil .. they drip oil. Gross leaks are usually from the shift tower gaiters torn ( the tranny oil will spout up the shift tower and all over your tanny support bushing and exhaust bracket bushings) , oil filter not on tight, cam cover gaskets, and rear main seal ... The rest are drips in drops.

You will learn to appreciate the engineering.. just stay with us. We don't drink the Kool-Aid that some marques have as followers. there is always some head scratching. Most solutions are OMG simple unless you wander into turf that is contrary to the recommended solution and you THINK you know how to do it without consulting the PROPER way to do it.
 

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Goal is a cheap, fun, and well-sorted driver. Not going for Concours or purist level stuff, and it doesn't have to be perfect.. I did that with the Porsche and my OCD tendencies eventually led to more anxiety about the car than joy.

The trick will be walking the line between fixing it right and not letting it become a money pit or a source of stress.
I did the same thing. Porsches ( 356/911) up until Alfas 40 years ago and been down the OCD trail with you .. Finally got into two cars that are purely drivers .. Very presentable with one car wash per year and a California Duster for cobwebs.. Very fun and no guard dog to over see them when I leave them parked open. Makes life oh so much happier and less stressful. There is some investment in know-how required if you want to enjoy the car and not curse it.. Make the investment in time and manuals.. They are not at all weird like a Peugeot or Lancia or Citroen.. Simple metric hand tools and doing the things the right way rather than guessing how they should be done will reward you (and your spouse) lots of pleasurable miles of ownership. I recommend putting her behind the wheel often.. It helps the support program and she'll have an appreciation for the purpsoe of owning it.... fun tripping.
 

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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you, folks. I'm in Colorado Springs, although the car spent most of its life in Cleveland and New York

Pics to come. My goal is to replace the clutch master and slave today, swap the tranny fluid, pull it out of the garage, degrease the underside, and re-assess where the leaks are coming from. I'll try to get some photos of the leaks before cleaning, in case the source may be obvious. I'll also get lots of photos of the mechanicals in general.
 

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I was in your shoes in 2014 after having purchased my first Alfa Romeo (a 1988 Spider Quadrifoglio) and wanting to do as much of the delayed maintenance, restoration and repairs myself.

The best advice I can give you is to obtain a factory Workshop Manual and a color-coded wiring diagram for your car.

I prefer to have a hard copy on my workbench that I can thumb through whilst wrenching, and used ones can occasionally be found on eBay, but cardisc.com offers a superb collection of digital documentation (shop and Owner's manuals) for around $50. Well worth the investment IMO.

And if you subscribe to this forum, one of the moderators will email you a wonderful set of color-coded schematics for your vehicle (produced by the late Jim Neill aka "Papajam"). You will find these wiring diagrams to be unique and priceless as you chase down electrical gremlins (and you will certainly have several).

The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system in your car is almost bullet-proof and very dependable, once you have sorted out any faulty sensors or wiring connections.

Finally, best of luck with your new project. These cars have fairly simple engineering, and can still be repaired without the use of a computerized diagnostic system. And the pleasure you will receive buy fixing it yourself, and the spirited driving, will be priceless.
 

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...one of the moderators will email you a wonderful set of color-coded schematics for your vehicle (produced by the late Jim Neill aka "Papajam"). You will find these wiring diagrams to be unique and priceless as you chase down electrical gremlins (and you will certainly have several).
Oh, you caught me after my late morning nap and before my early afternoon nap!

Brad, check your 'conversations' - click on the mini-avatar in the upper right corner. Prepare to be amazed.

The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system in your car is almost bullet-proof and very dependable, once you have sorted out any faulty sensors or wiring connections.
If you click on the link in my signature you'll find a page of info & DIY Diagnosis for the L-jet system in our cars. You may first need to click the down arrow to see the whole signature.
 

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Thank you, folks. I'm in Colorado Springs
As Deno points out in the previous post, the annual Alfa Romeo Owners Club convention is taking place in Colorado Springs September 7 - 12th? Stop by and get some sympathy from folks who've been there, done that. See: Alto Miglia
 

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The Alfa Romeo National Convention is coming to your town in a week and a half. You should drop by, check out the cars, and meet some folks.
Consider joining the club as well. Details of the convention is on the AROC-USA website.
Whose town?
 

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You got this!!
 
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Doesn’t sound like you are over tour head at all. Alfas are a piece of cake to work on compared to most modern cars.
 

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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Doesn’t sound like you are over tour head at all. Alfas are a piece of cake to work on compared to most modern cars.
Well, hold that thought. After reading the service manual, I thought it would take me about 3 hours to replace the clutch master and slave yesterday. But I'm still not done. The lower nut on the master and the hard-soft line connection both added significant challenge. Eventually I gave up on replacing the soft line and just proceeded.

I spent a couple hours bleeding the system and still can't get more than 3mm of throw in the slave actuator rod. By the time I realized I had a Motive power bleeder adapter that would fit the master cylinder, I was getting low on fluid, so I bought some more fluid and will attack again this morning with the pressure system. Pretty frustrated that I could not get it moving under its own power yesterday.

On a positive note, my son and I noticed that one of the front turn signals had stopped working, so we managed to track down to a corroded connector plug between the engine bay and the signal housing. We found the plastic screws on the signal lens cover had turned to dust, so that was a bonus challenge to be solved. But we got it all squared away.

On a negative note, I found a crack in the exhaust manifold and found that one of the (apparently very new) front shocks is missing the lower mounting nut.

So two questions -
1. Is the flare nut on the bottom of the hard line (where it meets the soft line) supposed to turn? MIne wouldn't, at least not without twisting the hard line itself. The 19mm nut had already been loosened, but now that i think about it, maybe I should have left that 19mm tight when trying to loosen the flare fitting.
2. Anyone know the specs or a source for the front shock lower mount nut?
 

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Richard Jemison
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It`s a common 10mm nut. Can`t remember if the thread is 1.25 or 1mm. ( 1mm is fine thread and it`s likely 1.25mm) ).
 

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The hard line and flex line connection takes some mechanical advantage to undo.. Simple trick is to stagger two "tube" wrenches and squeeze hard with two hands.. Yes, the bleed process on the clutch is a pissser without the Power bleeder.. but it works well .. Remember to put bleed fitting at 12 O'clock... There are lots of slave war stories on the search menu if you know how..Click the three dots next to your avatar upper right and go to Advanced search..
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It`s a common 10mm nut. Can`t remember if the thread is 1.25 or 1mm. ( 1mm is fine thread and it`s likely 1.25mm) ).
Thank you. I dug around in my large tub of nuts and bolts accumulated over the years and found about twenty different 10mm nuts. All but one had the wrong pitch, but that one is all I needed. Also found a nice shock bushing washer, so the shock issue is now all sorted. (y)
 

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1987 Spider
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The hard line and flex line connection takes some mechanical advantage to undo.. Simple trick is to stagger two "tube" wrenches and squeeze hard with two hands.. Yes, the bleed process on the clutch is a pissser without the Power bleeder.. but it works well .. Remember to put bleed fitting at 12 O'clock... There are lots of slave war stories on the search menu if you know how..Click the three dots next to your avatar upper right and go to Advanced search..
Ah-ha! Got it loose and the new stainless hose is swapped in. Thank you for your help!

So now I've pressure-bled about a gallon of fluid through this thing, I've back-bled it, and I've used a speed bleeder. No love. I only get about 3-4 mm of slave actuator throw. Pedal has good feel. I think it's bled as well as it can be.

So I was about to pour gas on the car and set it on fire, but then I realized the clutch pedal sits way below the brake pedal. I also noticed the old clutch master rod had been adjusted a few mm longer than spec. Even with the new rod adjusted to the same length, the pedal is still way too low.

So my theory is that the weld on the pivot was already on the way out (see prior adjustment to master rod), and then when the master died my mashing on the clutch pedal with all my might finished it off.

Does this theory make sense for my current symptoms?
 

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Push hard and live
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Rod length adjustment is important. Expanded too long, and the return port in the master cylinder will never be exposed. Too short and you'll never get the "throw" that you need.

Did you eventually get out the bottom bolt on the master? The original bolt is an Allen-head, not a hex head.
 
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