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1971 Spider (USA) 1750 Spica
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have an odd experience with 44K Platinum to report on. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not. Just feel like passing it on.

My daily driver is a 76 Spider 2000 Veloce, which I picked up at the end of last year. It had sat undriven for a few years before I got it, started easily and ran well. The odometer showed about 58k miles, which appeared valid based on service documents from 20 years ago. It had also purported to have had a Spica rebuild by Wes Ingram, but I haven’t been able to confirm that as of yet.

Be that as it may… a couple of months and a couple thousand miles into my ownership, I decided to try using the 44K Platinum as a sort of preventative fuel system treatment — something stronger than MMO. I was planning to rebuild the engine anyway, so I figured there wasn’t really any downside to trying the additive/cleaner — who knows what kind of crud had accumulated, right? Well, a few weeks after treatment, I was proudly displaying the running engine’s smoothness to a friend, and it suddenly went sour. Running very rough, almost felt like it wasn’t running on all four cylinders. I drove it home and continued to drive it daily, but the performance grew steadily worse. Finally decided to check compression — it was horrible, across the board.

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Although I didn’t take photos at the time, I checked compression shortly after acquiring the car — it was fine in all four cylinders, maybe a little low in #3, but nothing startling.

When I finally took it off the road (about a month ago), it was burning lots of oil and had absolutely no power to speak of. Lots of sputtering. Eventually, it could reach highway cruising speed, but no acceleration at all. So, I’ll be going ahead with the rebuild in a few months when I return to the states and am dying to see what I find when I tear the engine down. Is this failure coincidence, or was it accelerated by the 44K Platinum doing TOO good a job of cleaning? Is it possible/likely that there was so much crud in the cylinders that having it come loose so quickly disturbed whatever "equilibrium" existed inside? 🤷‍♂️

Enquiring minds wanna know! What say you all…?

As an aside, I’m entertaining suggestions/recommendations for the rebuild. It’s a stock1976 2.0L with matching Spica. I’d like to perk up performance a little, but nothing over the top — I.e., not gonna race it, and don’t want to make any enhancements that will require modifying the Spica. And I do want to keep the Spica, not interested in a carb conversion. Just mild changes to the engine itself that will make it peppier. Cams? Pistons, rods? And not anything that’ll break the bank. 😁. Your thoughts…?

Best,
Bob
 

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do you have to get smog tested (ie in CA)? if so, in CA, I would not recommend anything other than stock everything otherwise it becomes an every-two-year major hassle to get it to pass. Here is the minimum I would do, bare minimum, assuming the parts in question are 'still good' -- ie they measure out OK
1. Hone liners (assuming no vertical scores and the liners are not elliptical) : check pistons
2. R/R rings with Hastings
3. Check all crank and rod bearings, wrist pins
4. Rebuild oil pump or at the very least, measure everything and inspect
5. rework heads
6. check SPICA for leakage
7. check throttle bodies for leakage (air at bearings)
8. Check, inspect everything and measure everything

If you want a little goose in performance get a set of cams from RJ.

PS -- a bare minimum motor overhaul is going to be $700 in parts AT LEAST and that doesnt include new cams
 

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1971 Spider (USA) 1750 Spica
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331 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
do you have to get smog tested (ie in CA)? if so, in CA, I would not recommend anything other than stock everything otherwise it becomes an every-two-year major hassle to get it to pass. Here is the minimum I would do, bare minimum, assuming the parts in question are 'still good' -- ie they measure out OK
1. Hone liners (assuming no vertical scores and the liners are not elliptical) : check pistons
2. R/R rings with Hastings
3. Check all crank and rod bearings, wrist pins
4. Rebuild oil pump or at the very least, measure everything and inspect
5. rework heads
6. check SPICA for leakage
7. check throttle bodies for leakage (air at bearings)
8. Check, inspect everything and measure everything

If you want a little goose in performance get a set of cams from RJ.

PS -- a bare minimum motor overhaul is going to be $700 in parts AT LEAST and that doesnt include new cams
Well, the good (great!) news is that because it’s 30+ years old, no smog testing required In Massachusetts. Woo hoooooooooo!

I’m expecting that the head work will be the biggest expense, but have no idea HOW big. And I’ve also prepared myself for new liners to be on the safe side. I’ve also reached out to RJ for his input — not surprisingly, much like Wes Ingram, there’s a pretty lengthy wait (like, 4 months or more!). But that’s fine with my current timetable.
 

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Well, the good (great!) news is that because it’s 30+ years old, no smog testing required In Massachusetts. Woo hoooooooooo!

I’m expecting that the head work will be the biggest expense, but have no idea HOW big. And I’ve also prepared myself for new liners to be on the safe side. I’ve also reached out to RJ for his input — not surprisingly, much like Wes Ingram, there’s a pretty lengthy wait (like, 4 months or more!). But that’s fine with my current timetable.
OK thats good. Re the head, you can do a fair amount of the work yourself -- The only thing I have the machine shop do is cut it (if its not flat) and if needed, install seats. The rest of it (typically) can be done at home with a Neway seat cutter, alfa tool to R/R guides, etc. Typical garden-variety daily driver rebuild -- for fancier stuff prob better to send to RJ or whoever -- get a copy of Jim K's 'power tune alfa motors' book and read it

On my last rebuild -- GTV -- total complete OH -- I think I was in about $1500 in parts/outplant including NOS P/L set, all new bearings guides, a few new valves, crank polish and clean, resize big end on conrods, etc etc etc and probably 40-50 hours of my labor. Excludes SPICA as my old one was fine. Motor came out beautifully.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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Sorry to hear of this. My own opinion, and of my late mechanic Carlo, is to never ever use any of those so-called "cleaners", as they are not only not needed, who knows just what they could do the inside of the engine. My own experience has been through the decades is to regularly use a motor oil with decent detergents, and they will do the job of keeping the little stuff in suspension in the oil and the filter will take out any bigger stuff. That's all you need.

With only ~58k confirmed miles on the engine, it should have been pretty much like brand new inside, and you confirmed that it ran well. I wouldn't have thought to try to mess with it. These engines are sooo robust. At that mileage I personally wouldn't replace anything except water pump and retorque the head.

As goats says, just cleanup. I didn't have my 64 Sprint GT engine rebuilt until it had 125k miles on it, and Carlo said, well, the bearings are still within spec, and the compression is good. It really didn't need messing with, just regular service.

Now? Unless you try to run it some with a good detergent based oil for a while, changing plugs and filter, to see if the symptoms start to clear up, you will have to now take the engine part to clean out or replace whatever got screwed up inside, maybe fouled rings? A shame.
 

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Wes is currently building an engine and HP SPICA for me and it is about a year wait. Wes recommended and I ok'ed going with his propritary Darton liners which he says are transformative. See discussion here: Ingram Enterprises, Inc. || High Performance Race Components I don't know (yet!) but figured worth a try. Maybe someone else out there has gone that direction and can comment.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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He did say it was running fine before. I would guess that the Spica is ok. That setupin our 78 Alfetta sedan never had to be rebuilt even after ~165k miles of DD, except for replacing a broken altitude compensator spring. The car always ran fine.
 

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Until you disassemble the engine it will be hard to determine anything. The fuel injection pump...the head the pistons... are all things that change the rebuild time and cost. The cylinder head is an item that needs to be done right. Valve guides and valve seats if needed should be done by a mechanic, as it isn't that you can't do it but it depends on your ability. Cams centerline has a mild set that will do just fine but that also requires new cam followers. Checking the pistons, the ring groves and the liners is also important as just re ringing it may or may not be in your best interest. 123 distributor is a good option on the way back for good spark and advance. Good luck on your journey!
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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I haven't used the Platinum stuff, but I've used the regular BG 44K and never had any issues. It's considered one of the better fuel injector/valve/cylinder cleaners out there and it's the only one where I've seen evidence myself that it actually works.

(I mean, Techron works too; it's the same detergent additive they put into gasoline, just more concentrated. But I've actually seen a difference using the BG44K stuff)

I'm struggling to think how BG 44K in the gas could cause what sounds like a sudden compression loss, but I'm also struggling to think of anything else that would cause sudden compression loss in all four cylinders. Carbon build up in the rings, maybe? I know 44K is very effective at de-carboning combustion chambers, maybe it broke carbon free and the carbon gunked up the rings?

I dunno how to un-stick piston rings, but might be worth trying as that's way cheaper than a rebuild, and it might be all the car needs. At minimum do a leakdown test and see if you're losing compression at valves or rings.
 
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But Mad North-Northwest
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Surely an injector issue ... ?
Causing loss of compression? I mean, rich running could cause cylinder wall wash down and loss of compression, but that wouldn't be so sudden. Or are you thinking something else?
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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So this is in line with my thinking: carbon from the pistons plugging up the rings.
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I've never tried decarboning rings, but looks like some folks have had luck pouring Seafoam directly into the cylinders, letting it sit overnight or longer, and then driving the crap out of it (high temperature/high load). If you're going to rebuild anyway, trying this can't hurt, I guess. Just make sure you don't have a bunch of Seafoam still in the cylinders when you go to start the engine so you don't hydrolock anything.

Related story: I changed the spark plugs on my wife's Audi A4 when I was but a wee lad, and afterwards the car wouldn't start. Had it towed to my mechanic and he told me it had zero compression on all four cylinders.

As I started to mentally panic he told me "Nah, we see this all the time. When you removed the plugs, carbon broke off the top of the combustion chamber and lodged under the valves so they aren't closing fully. We'll flush it out with Seafoam and it should fix things." $200 later for the labor and it was running fine.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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It appears that this stuff he used is not your usual fuel additive, such as something like Techron.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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It appears that this stuff he used is not your usual fuel additive, such as something like Techron.
Yeah, but it's not battery acid. It's mostly naphtha (gasoline) with detergent additives, same as Techron. I understand how it works and have used it many a time without issue myself: I can't see how it could mess up compression besides my carbon hypothesis.

It could, of course, just be a complete coincidence as well.
 
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Causing loss of compression? I mean, rich running could cause cylinder wall wash down and loss of compression, but that wouldn't be so sudden. Or are you thinking something else?
I don't connect the poorly running engine with the lack of compression. A low power yes, but should still be smooth. I think the disturbed carbon has ruined an injector, to cause the immediate poor running.

Btw I used a engine cleaner additive once. My father said at least twice not to, but I was young and did not listen. I also ruined the engine. Carbon build up helps old rings seal.

Note my engine didn't suddenly start running rough from memory ... ???

Additives should be illegal, lol
Pete
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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It wouldn't be carbon plugging the injectors. The Spica injectors are in the intake, no carbon there to speak of. I suppose the additive could've dissolved some gunk or something in the fuel lines or Spica and plugged up the injector? But that seems like a stretch: I've never heard of that happening even on EFI cars and they have tiny nozzles that operate at much lower injector pressures than Spica does.

Anyway, you can't lump all additives together. Injector cleaners are just concentrated forms of the detergent additives that are in all modern gasoline. They've been proven to work well.

Are you talking engine flush? Those are bad news and are a good way to mess up an engine: I'd never recommend one. And carbon doesn't help piston rings seal, but it can sure screw the rings up.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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I either use gasoline with Techron in it, or buy gasoline where I have to add a small amount once in a while. Nothing else. I certainly would never flush an engine. Have never ever had a problem with Alfa injectors in our many hundreds of thousands of miles in our various Alfas.

Who knows what he really did to cause the problem. He did say it was running fine before he did what he did. At that low mileage, I wouldn't have touched it, but, as I've said before, that's just me. Lol, maybe I'm just a little lazy, never ansious to tear into things. As Carlo used to say, if it ain't broke....

Hope it turns out well after all.
 
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