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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm finally getting my Alfetta registered and that means fun Spica smog times ahead. I've been told that the car must be leaned out excessively so that it runs like crap and then run through smog and then richened back up to run properly. No one has told me any other way to get it through and so I'm pretty sure that must be accurate. But if you have a Spica car where this is not the case, please let me know.

Ok, I think I have all the smog gear installed including the hot air intake from the exhaust, the working air pump, and as of today, a CA catalytic convertor. The only problem I'm having is that the car idles at 2000rpm. The idle adjustor has no effect and even if I pinch the hose or completely block that port, the idle does not change. The butterfly valves are set to the proper .002" clearance. The short rod and long rod are set correctly. And today, I tried leaning the mixture out a little and that had no effect either. The thermostatic actuator works properly and the settings are correct with 29mm (actually it's around 30mm but the adjustor nut is set correspondingly.) The clearance when warm of the rear set screw to the long rod bracket is 0.

So I think most things are set properly and still nothing ever seems to affect the idle speed. What am I missing? Ignition timing seems ok but maybe that could be it....

Anyways, any smog knowledge would be appreciated. I'm taking it to someone who although not an Alfa mechanic, does a lot of smog tests for a nearby Alfa shop but I wanted to get everything as close to ready as possible before dropping it off.

Thanks.
 

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...The butterfly valves are set to the proper .002" clearance...
Where does that come from? If the throttles are not closed you won't be able to adjust the idle with the restrictor. I had a '79 Alfetta for a number of years and never had any trouble getting it through smog. The advice for setting it super lean sounds questionable to me.
 

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Where did you buy your cat? I am just north of you and will soon be making the same "attempt" on my '79 Sport Sedan.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Where does that come from? If the throttles are not closed you won't be able to adjust the idle with the restrictor. I had a '79 Alfetta for a number of years and never had any trouble getting it through smog. The advice for setting it super lean sounds questionable to me.
It's from one of the very few online manuals of how to set up Spica. I forget the origin but I got it from an AROC from Portland IIRC. And .002" is less than a sheet of paper; it's basically just enough to prevent the butterfly valves from digging into the throttle throat as they are used over time.

As for the setting it lean to pass, I have been told this by every Alfa shop here in LA when asked how they get them through. This has been over years of asking many different shops. I agree that it sounds flawed but still, that's what they've said. These are reputable shops. Have you passed a Spica car through CA smog and have a different story?

Where did you buy your cat? I am just north of you and will soon be making the same "attempt" on my '79 Sport Sedan.
I got my cat used off of vwvortex. Someone had used it on a early Golf/Rabbit which use the same 2" pipes and flanges that my car has. My car has a test pipe so I was looking for a cat I could just bolt in without altering the rest of the exhaust. I hope to be able to run the cat once it passes smog but all of my sources say that it's not really possible as the rich setting will result in premature death of the cat. I guess we'll see.

I know this sounds hopeless but I see a fair amount of Spica Spyders around town and whenever I ask how they got through smog, they usually don't really know but say they just took it to a local Alfa shop so obviously there is a way that they will pass.
 

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One key is to be sure the car is hot when you go there. If he takes a long time to get to your car, you should tell him he needs to let it get hot again.

The last time I smoged my 79 (now registered in Tahoe), I called a new guy in my new town and over the phone he told me would I mind driving the car hard for 1/2 hour before I dropped off. I smiled over the phone and said, "certainly". Maybe it's just known for old cars by the old guys, but keep that in mind.
 

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...Have you passed a Spica car through CA smog and have a different story?...

I know this sounds hopeless but I see a fair amount of Spica Spyders around town and whenever I ask how they got through smog, they usually don't really know but say they just took it to a local Alfa shop so obviously there is a way that they will pass.
I did but it was quite awhile ago, late 90's. I would think the standards are the same though since they are based on year of manufacture. My 79' Alfetta was kind of a "beater" and the Cat was completely blown out but it always passed. It was a daily driver for over seven years.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but to say "lean it out until it runs like crap" sounds like to the point of misfiring and when it does that, despite being lean, it would be passing unburnt fuel and would probably fail. My Spider is a '72 and I don't need to go through this so I'm not the best source for advice. Maybe they are just more strict these days. I wish you the best of luck.
 

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My 76 Alfetta GT passes. Every 2 years I bolt up the air pump, hot air to header tube, the smog pump manifold is bolted back onto the Euro headers. Then I take it to Santo's, my local Alfa Shop, to make sure I have not missed anything.
Last year, I did have to lean it out 1 notch (our local Alfisti smog tech conveniently left the test to "get a phone call" as I adjusted the mixture. Adjusting the car at a Test Only shop (non Calif people, don't ask what that is) is not allowed. And fortunately this guy has "poor vision" and therefore did not notice that my home made manifold was not bolted onto 1 of the header pipes.
After that is passed the test fine. I drove the car for quite a few weeks with the leaner mixture with no real problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I did but it was quite awhile ago, late 90's. I would think the standards are the same though since they are based on year of manufacture. My 79' Alfetta was kind of a "beater" and the Cat was completely blown out but it always passed. It was a daily driver for over seven years.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but to say "lean it out until it runs like crap" sounds like to the point of misfiring and when it does that, despite being lean, it would be passing unburnt fuel and would probably fail. My Spider is a '72 and I don't need to go through this so I'm not the best source for advice. Maybe they are just more strict these days. I wish you the best of luck.
I'm told that they do make tyhe standards stricter in order to pass. Not really fair as how can they expect a car to run cleaner than how it was designed? Well, that's basically CA in a nutshell for ya: in other words, that's your problem. I guess cats are better nowadays but the Spica system isn't the greatest in accuracy especially when it comes to adapting to changing conditions that all cars function under.

And today an Alfa shop tuned it by feel to get it close. So now the car hesitates a bit when first revving from a stop and the idle is a bit sloppy in that it feels like it's about to stall any second so I found myself continually blipping the throttle at stop lights to insure continued transit.
Ahh, but Alfetta had other plans: first she wouldn't start at a smog station I had to stopped about multiple tests. Finally traced it down to a faulty wire from the ignition switch in the steering column. Then I stop to get gas. And guess what? No start again but this time she'll crank but no spark. Thought it was flooded but in fact even when warm at this new leaner setting, she needs some throttle to get going again. So I figure I'm learning along the way until this strange banging sound starts occurring which sounds like something getting caught in the fan belt. So I stop and look under the hood to find that coolant is flying out of the cap of the overflow container with some violence. Ok, great, shut it off and rest in the shade for a half hour or so to cool off. Put in new coolant and check for leaks. None. Apparently the electric fan has stopped working now and that's why the overheating but the temp gauge never went high so not sure why as it usually works. Arggggg, more wiring issues, can't get the fan to work again but close to home so that's where I'm heading. I give up for today. Alfetta has beaten me for now.

So with the lean setting it definitely doesn't run too well. But you could live with it I suppose. I wouldn't but you could. And still I'm told that it's too rich for the cat to last so they say once through the test, yank the cat! I don't like doing this but I'm not trying to reinvent the game either.

Oh, well, finally, another reason to hate CA other than just the horrible people....Yes, i know there are nice folks too but you just can't imagine the horrible ones here in every aspect of life that you come across, over and over, every single day it seems, neverending, especially ones that HATE cars with a seeming passion....Ahhh, but the weather's nice and there are so many great cars here everywhere, everyday, so that when traveling I can't believe how boring the cars are anywhere else.

ok, Rant over...proceed with the thread while Alfetta cools in the sun and I wash the smell of gas fumes and hot coolant out of my hair!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My 76 Alfetta GT passes. Every 2 years I bolt up the air pump, hot air to header tube, the smog pump manifold is bolted back onto the Euro headers. Then I take it to Santo's, my local Alfa Shop, to make sure I have not missed anything.
Last year, I did have to lean it out 1 notch (our local Alfisti smog tech conveniently left the test to "get a phone call" as I adjusted the mixture. Adjusting the car at a Test Only shop (non Calif people, don't ask what that is) is not allowed. And fortunately this guy has "poor vision" and therefore did not notice that my home made manifold was not bolted onto 1 of the header pipes.
After that is passed the test fine. I drove the car for quite a few weeks with the leaner mixture with no real problems.
Interesting, but what about a cat? do you leave it in or just for testing? And, yeah, I don't think the leaning out is as severe as it sounds. I guess the Spica cars, as most older systems and/or carbed cars, like to run rich but this is not good for smog. So leaning out to pass isn't the same as leaning out so that the mixture is damaging to the engine, but just lean enough to pass which is basically how lean all modern cars run. Problem is that the Spica cars need a bit extra to run smoothly especially at tip in and probably to make full power.
 

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Somebody get him a beer!

The cat is always on the car. The 2 muffler shops I use won't do a test pipe. Heck even my Time Trial Alfetta had a cat since it was a street car.
 

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If the inspector is on top of it, they'll look at the number on the cat; is it a CA cat? And so you know its condition?

Throttle plates should close fully, at idle all air goes through the little air distributor, as Paul says. Often the air restrictor o-ring is solidified and has no effect regardless of how much you squeeze it.

Have you checked timing? That can cause high idle, as can having the rods adjusted wrong length. I'd say go through the full Spica setup with someone knowledgeable. I've tested two Spica Spiders with cats in the last couple years, both passed no problem. If the engine and pump are basically sound, and set right, it should be possible to pass. The cat makes up for a lot of small ills in terms of emissions levels.

Andrew
 

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When they passed the emissions exemption law we were so close to having a 25 year rolling cutoff, that's how it was originally written, but for some reason they compromised it at the last minute and froze it at 1975. If we had gotten the original law things would have been so much better for Alfas but there is an element who are on a crusade to rid the earth of all old cars and force everyone into a new Nissan Leaf.

Ironically the greatest amount of pollution a car makes over its life cycle is in its production so those of us who buy and drive used cars are actually far greener than the smug Prius owners. :whistling:
 

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The smog testing requirements in California are based on the mailing address of the vehicle.

The three categories are "test on sale" (rural areas like Tahoe, Crescent City, etc.), "regular" (Napa and others) and "enhanced" (LA, Bay Area, etc).

It appears that out of state addresses are treated as "test on sale".
 

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The spica must be set properly for it to pass smog. The throttles must be fully closed, the mixture set at 2000rpm not at idle. Check the TA when it is warmed up, the lever should be fully towards the block. It should idle fine, if not then throttles are open, air leak somewhere, timing off, etc. Mine passes smog easily, year after year, with the mixture slightly rich for power. If you plug the idle air port with your finger, the engine should die immediately, if not there is an air leak somewhere.

An easy way to test the mixture is to get a O2 sensor and an air fuel meter. I cobbled mine off ebay for less than $40. It cost another $40 to have the O2 bung welded in the exhaust ahead of the cat. At 2000 rpm, flat road, cruising, the meter reads 0.75 volts. At full throttle, 0.85 volts. And the reading is rock steady. Voltage range for a narrow band sensor is 0 to 1.0 volts.

There is a lot of mis-information in some of the earlier replies, so much that I won't waste time answering that.

From my own experience and from talking with experts, the Spica system is very accurate if it is adjusted properly or not worn out. Wes Ingram near Seattle rebuilds these and he sells a manual for setting Spicas up. There are over 30 steps that must be taken, and in exact order, to set one up, and no special tools are needed except for the mixture nut wrench.
 

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The only problem I'm having is that the car idles at 2000rpm. The idle adjustor has no effect and even if I pinch the hose or completely block that port, the idle does not change. The butterfly valves are set to the proper .002" clearance.
Just noticed this. Was re-reading because previous poster said there was misinformation in early posts. All advice posted is good and helpful, though.

This would indicated air is getting in. Either the .002 clearance you have or another air leak.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The spica must be set properly for it to pass smog. The throttles must be fully closed, the mixture set at 2000rpm not at idle. Check the TA when it is warmed up, the lever should be fully towards the block. It should idle fine, if not then throttles are open, air leak somewhere, timing off, etc. Mine passes smog easily, year after year, with the mixture slightly rich for power. If you plug the idle air port with your finger, the engine should die immediately, if not there is an air leak somewhere.

An easy way to test the mixture is to get a O2 sensor and an air fuel meter. I cobbled mine off ebay for less than $40. It cost another $40 to have the O2 bung welded in the exhaust ahead of the cat. At 2000 rpm, flat road, cruising, the meter reads 0.75 volts. At full throttle, 0.85 volts. And the reading is rock steady. Voltage range for a narrow band sensor is 0 to 1.0 volts.

There is a lot of mis-information in some of the earlier replies, so much that I won't waste time answering that.

From my own experience and from talking with experts, the Spica system is very accurate if it is adjusted properly or not worn out. Wes Ingram near Seattle rebuilds these and he sells a manual for setting Spicas up. There are over 30 steps that must be taken, and in exact order, to set one up, and no special tools are needed except for the mixture nut wrench.
Ok, some things have happened....

First of all, timing is set properly, cat is CA compliant (not that I have ever in 20 years of testing 3 cars in LA seen any inspector actually look at the cat other than from bending over and making sure that there is a cat present but nowhere near close enough to read the fine print on the cat), there are no air leaks, the throttle butterflies are not allowing enough air in to raise the idle, etc. etc.

Apparently the cause of the high idle was that the long rod was set improperly and was richening the mixture and raising the idle speed. And the reason this rod was set this way was because there may be an issue with the Spica pump. The Alfa shop said that the solenoid was not able to richen the mixture as it should which may signify a pump problem. So to compensate, the long rod was adjusted to richen the mixture. As it was set, the car ran great except for the high idle. However, the Alfa shop set the idle incredibly slow, less than 1000rpm and now it's been stalling. And the tip in is horrible from idle to 2000 or 3000 rpm. And the tip in is so bad that the car couldn't even be tested at 15mph on the rollers as it would buck and hesitate and then stall. It was painful to watch. And all he could really test was idle and slight revs which
resulted in decent readings except for the hydrocarbons which were around 500 at idle and then climbing to 2000-2500 when revved a bit. It has to be under 300 to pass. This can indicate either excessive unburned fuel from bad ignition, bad air pump or it can also be a lean mixture caused by air intake leaks. Or a bad cat. So could be anything....

**** Alfetta!

So I think I'll be taking it to a shop and leave it so hopefully they can get it through. And if not, who wants to buy a nice little Alfetta sedan?
 

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Arrgggg, now the car will run about 15 minutes and then slowly creep up in temp until the overflow bottle starts shooting boiling coolant out of the cap which has small holes in it. Is this cap supposed to be sealed and pressurized or is it vented to allow coolant to escape?

Also, once the coolant in the overflow starts to boil, the radiator actually gets cool to the touch and the air coming out of the cooling fan isn't hot despite the fact that the overflow is boiling. What's going on here?

Needless to say, I can't pass smog with a car that is overheating. That also probably affected the previous reading with the high HC since the car was overheating then also.

Just don't know what to do with this car....
 

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First off don't panic you just need a new thermostat (unless you're water pump belt broke) Secondly go back and read some of the advice here. If you pinch off the idle air hose the engine should quit. If that doesn't happen then you don't have it set up right.

It sounds like you have about half a dozen people fiddling with it who all have different ideas of what should be done.

Seriously, how much do you want for it? Got any pictures?
 
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