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Discussion Starter #1
With some of the classic symptoms at hand, the last being my baby ('84 L-Jet)spewing forth large, sweet smelling clouds of vaporized antifreeze from her behind, I've begun to get into pulling the head and hopefully find that all she needs is a new head gasket.

I've got the Braden books, the Alfa manual, the Alfa engine manual, etc.

What I'm seeking are those things people have learned from having done this that don't appear in any of the books.

Thanks in advance for any "sharing".
 

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You may get a lot of responses. I just did the head on my 89 Spider due to burned exhaust valves. My thoughts:

* Knowing what you're looking at is important, so read up, and poke around here, if you haven't done this before.
* Work methodically, noting where everything goes, and how it all fits together. Take notes, pics, make diagrams. You'll be amazed how obvious it looks when it comes apart, and how clueless you'll feel two weeks later when you try to put it back together.
* Be clean, and bag and label all your parts and hardware.
* The head may be difficult to lift if it's corroded. Maybe you'll get lucky, but the factory head removal tool is sometimes essential.
* Figure out why the head gasket was leaking. Was it improper torque, overheating, old warped head, cracked head, liners too low, or what? If you don't find and solve the problem, it may return.
* Hold the liners down with the factory tool or a tube and nut once you get the head off. Don't rotate the engine at all without clamping the liners.
* Put in roll pins in the six oil passages if you don't already have them; use Viton o-rings in those locations.
* Get head, block, and liner surfaces scrupulously clean before reassembly.
* Bone up on getting your cam timing right, and find actual TDC before doing so; do not rely on the pulley/pointer, as it may be inaccurate.
* Before you actually start the engine, turn it over by hand first, then on the starter with the ignition disabled, to make sure there is no mechanical interference.
* Replace anything that looks marginal (hoses, clamps, injector seals, etc) while you're in there, because it's a much bigger hassle later.

Those are the biggees I can think of now.

Andrew
 

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I have just done this job on my 78 Spider and can say that if you follow Andrew's advice you will be on the right track He said all you need to know.
The only thing I can add is that I did a leak down test after the head was redone(cracked) and was very glad I did as I found that #3 had broken rings and lands. This of course caused me to pull the engine but it is much better than than not knowing and putting a good head on a broken cylinder and wondering what why the car isn't running right.
If you chose to do a leak down test I can describe how to do it with the head off one cylinder at a time if you are interested.
 

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A few pearls....

Keep your cams (I or E), followers, and shims labeled...i.e. I1, I2, I3, I4, E1...etc.

Don't forget to clearance the valves on reassembly or on the bench for that matter.

Don't drop the chain master link or the rear cam nuts or half moon seals down into the sump.:D

Have the head pressure tested and checked for flatness.

Do the valve job.

Reinz gasket with sealant across the back of the gasket around the oil drain back holes.

You can use laundry line rope in cyl trick to pop a head loose once cams are out.

Tie off the timing chain with some scrap wire so that you can dig it out when ready.

Get new lock washers and brass nuts for the exhaust manifold.

Dry fit the head without gasket to insure the head sits completely down on the roll pins.

Chase your head nuts and studs. Torque with oil on the bolt threads and the washers.

Don't forget to put oil in the cam journals and the baths.


Best Regards,
John M
 

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watch out for the cam chain tensioner, dont loosen the bolt too far when removing the chain. if it comes apart, it is easier to put together while the head is off.
cliff
 

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If the engine's still together, you might want to do a compression test/leakdown now, to see what you get, and where the leakage is going.

Andrew
 

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Did this for the first time before 3 months.
What i've learned:

1) Don't mix the valve shims-mark each one where it came form
2) Do oil HEAVILY the chain tensioner housing
3) If you need to replace the head gasket DO just that, if you make everything NEW the work multiplies in time AND money
4) Never trust the pulley marks - Definately buy the TDC clock Gauge, feeler for valve adjustment and clock gauge that measures the shims.
5) Take it slow ,have the manual open near you,have someone around for help -when connecting the timing chain
6)one more- try not to remove the chain - fasten the chain ends so it doesn't drops inside the engine
7) if the cams are timed weird on tdc mark them

Replacing the head gasket wasn't THAT difficult ...but a really stuck head (2 custom pullers and lots of vinegar), a f**k up that stuck the chain tensioneer and mixing the shims took me 2 weeks of 3 hours each day to finish this. You never know what can come up- nevertheless i prefer trashing the engine than have a mechanic put his hands on it.
 

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Hi John,

Here are a few comments:

The Rienz head gasket fits newer 4 cylinder engines, but doesn't seal at the rear of older engines, resulting in a BIG oil leak. I'm not sure of the model year break, but can post a diagram illustrating where to add the additional sealant.

Excellent advice regarding turning the engine by hand before cranking. The cams have two timing marks, and one will be 180 degrees out which puts valves and pistons in collision.

Be sure to put rags under the cam chain master link before removal. And, when reattaching the chain, it is possible for three links to align with two teeth at the bottom of the intermediate sprocket. If this occurs, the ends of the chain won't be close enough to install the master link. Not a big deal, wiggle around under the sprocket, and the links and teeth will align.

Finally, as advised, be sure to prevent the liners from moving. This can break the O-ring seal near the bottom. Use big washers and spacers, and retain with nuts on top of the head studs.

Good luck!






With some of the classic symptoms at hand, the last being my baby ('84 L-Jet)spewing forth large, sweet smelling clouds of vaporized antifreeze from her behind, I've begun to get into pulling the head and hopefully find that all she needs is a new head gasket.

I've got the Braden books, the Alfa manual, the Alfa engine manual, etc.

What I'm seeking are those things people have learned from having done this that don't appear in any of the books.

Thanks in advance for any "sharing".
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey guys-

Well, what I thought would be the worse is over:
Clearing the head of all of it's attachments, especially the L-Jet side. Kind of spooky as you're staring down at a web of wiring harnesses, connections hoses, etc.
The head amazingly was loose once it's nut's were backed off. None of them were loose. I used a 2ft breaker bar (it was close at hand) and even with that, I needed to put a pretty good tug onto them to get them started.

The larger challenge right now it seems is getting ahold of the head and lifting it high enough to clear the studs. I've nearly completed the build of one of those head removal tools using pipe just to use it as a handle to lift and remove the head.

Could someone be kind enough as to post a diagram of where exactly they've used sealant on the head gasket as a couple have mentioned? What kind of sealant?

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share "tribal knowledge".

Now...back to the garage-
 

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if the head is loose, you dont need the head removal tool. just lift it off the studs. the head removal tool is just for breaking a stuck head loose.
cliff
 

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Here it is:

...Could someone be kind enough as to post a diagram of where exactly they've used sealant on the head gasket as a couple have mentioned? What kind of sealant?

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share "tribal knowledge".

Now...back to the garage-
 

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On late Bosch cars you don't need the sealer back there; on early ones you do. The way to tell if you need the sealer is to see if you have oil drain-back passages behind #4 in the block and the head. If you have them neither place, you don't need the sealer.

I think it would be OK to put a head without the passages on a block with them (I'd use sealer), but I wouldn't put a head with the passages on a block without them. I think you'd end up with standing columns of oil in the head's passages.

You can tell from the outside which kind of head you have; the shape of the angled passages behind #4 are quite different, and looking down through the top of the head behind the rear cam bearing, with the cam cover off, you can tell whether the passages go all the way through the head or not.

If in doubt, can't hurt to use the sealer back there. You do need it on Spica-era cars and earlier with these head gaskets.

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Head Gasket replacement - DONE!

Well, the head gasket replacement is complete except for retorquing the head now.

Thanks to all who shared from their own past experiences.

Personally, it wasn't really such a monumental task once it was broken down in manageable segments, which is what I've found to be key in starting anything, especially something for the first time.

Does having done this one time make one an expert, far from it. Would I hesitate doing it again, not at all. For me, it was more daunting a task thinking about dismantling the L-Jet FI but, wasn't anywhere near as difficult as I imagined. Keep in mind here, what worked for me was only stripping away and pulling back the fuel injection system, not a total removal from the car.

For those of you who've shyed away from something like pulling the head, with only a few basic tools it can be easily and safely done, if you do some research (books Braden's really put things in plain English), pay attention to how things came apart (draw pictures, diagrams, take digital pics, whatever....) keep things meticulously clean, it's really not all that difficult.

Anyway, thank you to all that shared some "tribal knowledge" , my good friend and neighbor Michael aka "MidLifeCrisis" for toiling away into the evening, and a big thanks to Don Erimenas of Erimenas Imports who came thru on a holiday weekend, in the 11th hour with the "goods".
 
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