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Discussion Starter #1
Setting idle and timing this afternoon. Just some basic checks and maintenance. Car was running smoothly for a change.
I heard something pop. Thought it was a wrench hitting the floor.
Now I sound like a helicopter. No smoke. No drips. But... uh...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
So the rubber wrap that protects the connection between the wire to/from the O2 sensor was torn off and it looks like the bare wire connected with the body. Could that have killed the ECU?
 

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HELLO Chairmankaga
It sounds like A CAMSHAFT OR PUSH ROD ?
REMOVE THE CAM COVERS AND HAVE A LOOK BEFORE YOU START THE CAR AGAIN
you don't want anymore damage

sportiva
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Could the belt have jumped while I was setting the timing?

Well, that's sort of the trick. The PO used some sort of liquid gasket on the valve covers and I can't remove them. They're basically epoxied to the heads. I've tried dozens of suggestions but they won't come up. I was planning to take it to my mechanic for some AC work in a month or so and have him try. I might just be towing at this point...
 

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cam covers can get stuck try using a blade to pry the cover open, be careful not to damage the alloy surfaces
 

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That sounds bad (as if you didn't know already).

Better not run the car again. Not going to fix itself.

It sounds like a broken pushrod or (hopefully not) broken valve. It's not that uncommon to drop a valve or guide. It's hard to tell in the video - are you hearing backfires or getting fuel charge into intake?

At the very least, to be prudent, you'll be pulling valve covers. Use dental floss or bailing wire to cut the gasket. Once removed if you can't see anything out of ordinary, it's time to pull heads.
 

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Please tell me this isn't as bad as I think it is
It's as bad as you think it is.

Stop whatever you're doing. Call your local Alfa Club and see if there's anyone who can come over and give you a hand. Don't start the motor or turn it over until you remove the spark plugs and valve covers. I'd also remove the cam belt covers as well.

Was that you that posted the no-start situation after inserting multi-meter probes into the wrong places of the O2 sensor wires? When I read that all I could think of was that Space Cowboys scene when Clint Eastwood says "Ethan, DO NOT latch-on to those PAM rockets, ya' hear me?"
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I don't think that was me with the previous O2 sensor problem. Haven't experienced that one yet. You did provide some good info related to the air leak/idle issue that I was actually in the process of resolving when this happened.

I assume you saw the update where I noticed the O2 sensor wire connector had lost its insulation and was grounding against the firewall?

Valves and such. Yeah, so the dilemma remains with the valve covers. I had a monster thread a while back about how the PO had used liquid gasket, which has more or less transmogrified into adamantium weld between the covers and heads. I even said screw it and grabbed a Dremel to cut some grooves between the two parts so I could pry them up. Still no go. I even had a Jaguar/Range Rover mechanic who lives in the neighborhood literally say, "Dude. That's effed up." He hasn't come back by. If a mechanic for the least reliable cars ever made runs and hides... Yeah, I'm still stumped.

I did everything else I could. Got to the point where I was going to turn the crank by hand to see if the belt had jumped and realized A) I didn't have a 41mm socket, or however monstrous that nut is. I guess the outer pulley for the AC has to come off to get to the nut, anyway?

The more I think about it, the more I think something broke in the driver's side head. I heard a loud clank while I was in the engine adjusting the timing. It was advanced a bit too far, probably because I'd set it previously with an air leak and a wobbly idle. But it was only a few degrees and I doubt that discrepancy was enough to cause this.

I wonder if the liquid gasket isn't part of the problem? I wonder if he didn't use too much (there's quite a bit squished out on the outside) and it got into the oil passages or somehow restricted oil flow up top? Just a wild hunch. Doubt it has any merit. At least according to the incredibly accurate in-car gauge, my oil pressure was fine. I also know there's plenty of it.

If the engine is gone my wife will probably fight with me to sell it. I simply don't have the time or money (mostly time, though) at the moment with two small kids around. Maybe in 10 years I'l be back in a position to have a project car. I'm probably just being pessimistic because I'm FREAKING FRUSTRATED. After a year of tweaking I'd finally worked out all of the running issues and had this car strong and reliable.

One more question - my Honda experience tells me it might be cheaper and easier to just get a new engine than to rebuild mine. Any merit to that?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It sounds like a broken pushrod or (hopefully not) broken valve. It's not that uncommon to drop a valve or guide. It's hard to tell in the video - are you hearing backfires or getting fuel charge into intake?

No backfires but for the few seconds I ran it, there seemed to be a real issue with getting fuel into the thing. You know, I'd been having running problems with random shut-downs, which I thought was related to an air leak at the plenum connectors. I wonder if that wasn't an intake valve jamming/letting go? I've never experienced that before so I don't know what it would sound or feel like.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Do you think there's any chance I borked the combo-relay when I was futzing with the O2 sensor, and if so is there any chance these symptoms could be caused by a wicked fuel injection system malfunction as a result of said borking? I'm just looking for any possibility that doesn't involve rebuilding significant sections of the engine.
 

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A faulty combo-relay would just shut down the fuel pump. I don't see how it'd cause horrible noises from a running engine.

New (used) cam covers are not that expensive. I'd get a set in hand then do whatever you need to do to remove the glued-on covers. If they used epoxy then heat would soften the bond. More likely they used RTV. Heat might help soften the RTV & make it a little more flexible. Most likely it will need lots of force - leverage. If you can get a putty knife under one corner try to slide it along and put a slightly thicker putty knife where you got the thin one starter. An adhesive sealant like 3M 5200 might mean you need to get destructive - thus the advice to get new covers is especially important.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It's RTV, but the tolerance between the head and the cover is so small I can't even get the corner of a razor blade in between.
Working on sourcing new covers... I've already cracked the lip for the breather valve trying to pry it up.
 

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It's RTV, but the tolerance between the head and the cover is so small I can't even get the corner of a razor blade in between.
Working on sourcing new covers... I've already cracked the lip for the breather valve trying to pry it up.
I have a 2.5 motor that came out of my '85. It is a good motor but I cannot sell it so I guess I should part it. The cam covers are good. I can post pics if you like.
 

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Try using a new wood chisel, maybe 1/2 inch wide, flat side against the head, the angled side under the cover. Hit with a mallet to start to force the chisel under the goop if possible along the top surface of the head. Keep the chisel flat to the head. That way you don't scar the top of the head but force the cover up.

Be prepared to waste the cam covers.

Some PO'S shouldn't be allowed to own cars. In almost 50 years of owning Alfas, I've never needed to use anything on the cam cover gaskets.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have a 2.5 motor that came out of my '85. It is a good motor but I cannot sell it so I guess I should part it. The cam covers are good. I can post pics if you like.
I might be able to use them. I don't want to commit to anything until I know what the problem is. If it's dropped a valve seat and the only fix is more or less a total rebuild, I'm just going to find a new motor. Somebody here had a 3.0 for sale recently... In the traffic and conditions around here, the extra torque would be pretty handy.
 

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One more question - my Honda experience tells me it might be cheaper and easier to just get a new engine than to rebuild mine. Any merit to that?
Well chairman, I'd say don't place the carriage in front of the horse. You might be lucky and it could just be a broken pushrod - which could be indicative of another problem. That being said, I'd try a tile "biter" type of steel tool with a bit of bevel on it. Something you can tap with a hammer with the flat side down to minimize any damage to the head side of the problem. As GHNL has said once you get some progress on a short section, you can then try something thin and therefore "sharp" to force laterally. Once started, it usually gets easy (propane torch might come in handy as well). you just don't want to damage the mating surface of the head. Don't waste your time fretting about and postulating. Be methodical and tackle what's obvious. Once you get those covers off, you can check mechanical timing and peer into the spark-plug wells with an LED flashlight. Most likely will require removal of the heads as mentioned by racingswim. New motor might be grounds for divorce (as that has many challenges and potential pitfalls as well).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm just psychologically preparing myself for the worst case scenario with some overt pessimism... praying it's just a wrecked pushrod. That seems like the simplest fix.

Question - if it did drop a valve and wrecked the piston and cylinder, I assume a new head would be easier than machining this one. I also assume I'd might as well replace all of the pistons/rings. Any other recommended work? Again, just mentally preparing myself for essential or at least recommended repairs.
 
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