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72 Berlina
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My recently bought 72 Berlina has always been hard to start when cold (cold was 70 F on trip in May). Idle was acceptable and it didn't stall. Overall, it ran pretty good across the country back in May, but I knew it needed some help. I have done the following:

  • Installed rebuilt TA (actually one I had that checked good) as old one was dead. - I thought that was easy, ha!
  • Checked CSS, FCS & microswitch - all working - note, car always backfired on decel.
  • Ran thru the procedure in Wes' book (also have other Spica docs)
  • Found throttles were a bit open, set per Wes' instruction.
  • I also slightly adjusted the short link so that throttles were closed, but not jammed into throttle bores.
  • Set pump gap to 0.019" at 180 F, then long link to 0.019".
  • TA had to be shimmed as hot it was ~29 mm, a washer did the trick, and I set the pump gap to 0.019".
  • Read lots of threads on Spica issues, etc.

Results - improved running/throttle response, backfiring gone! Cold start just as bad & idle barely acceptable!

Idle has deteriorated to the point now where it won't idle, and cold starting is still terrible (6 hits of the starter to maybe get it going). Releasing throttle fast or slow, leads to a very slow hunting idle before it dies in ~5 seconds.

Plugs look lean and always have since I've owned it, haven't gotten to mixture setting yet.

Reviewed the Spica roadside diagnosis write up - everything seems fine. Pump itself seems good (did match test on oil from logic section, no flame jumping). Oil volume in sump is not increasing!

Really thinking I just don't have it right yet, so guessing best approach is to start over at the beginning.....again.

A couple questions:

  • It seems that idle is acceptable, when everything is correctly set, as the idle adjustment does very little, right?
  • How critical is the short link for idle/cold start? What is best way to set the short link?
  • Could the FCS be sticky and not release fully to let it idle? Doesn't seem likely to me as it idled before.
  • Plugs seem lean (insulator is very white, electrode not burned up though), but I don't want to just richen up the CSS & FCS. What might be a reasonable amount that won't make things super rich, a 1/2 turn, a full turn? I can always put it back to where it was.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.
 

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72 Berlina
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Vintagemilano,

Thanks for reading was worried it was a TLDR post but seemed like it needed some background.

Back in Alfa after a long time, thought I can handle Spica, ha.

Ignition timing was at ~5 degrees before TDC, running a 123 ignition with bluetooth. I haven't touched the ignition as it was on the car when I got it. All seems well, cap/rotor in like new condition, but will double check timing once I get it near an idle again.

Yep, I meant squeezing the o-ring on the idle manifold, the o-ring isn't rock hard, but probably not like new. Just put 4 new hoses on for each line to each throttle so good there.

I can check the leakage at each throttle with hand, paper or a uni-syn left over from days gone by once I get it to idle again.

Absolutely got to give it throttle to get it started, depress while cranking to a 1/4 or 1/2 in. No way it starts without throttle.

I got a taste of how it should run, so need to stick with it and figure it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
vintagemilano, slowcreek, thx for input, hoping to get some time this PM on it, if not then Friday.

Planning to double check my settings, once I get it running will try and verify timing gets to M on the pulley. And, yes I need to learn more about the 123 set up.

Conedriver, the link doesn't work. Is this approach different from the acitivate the CSS and see how much rpm drops?

Weather is good here into early next week, so hoping to get it resolved before the cold is back.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No, idle adjustment through the tower can be made with the engine hot and throttle plates fully closed. Ensure that the four black rubber tubes are tight at there ends and crack free, and the rubber O- ring is soft. There should be no air being drawn through the thottle plates with the engine hot.
Understood. the 4 hoses are new as in just installed, o-ring is still pliable, not new though. I had no air being drawn through throttle plates before this. A quick thumb over the idle port led to quick stumbling. Will recheck.

Every setting is critical to get the Spica system right. Do you have access to the relay crank idle stop/full throttle tool? This is the best starting point to set the short link and get the throttle plate settings just right. Every setting relies on the previous one, so its best to start from the top. On a cold start the throttle plates should be open a crack once the TA and long rod are adjusted hot at 0.019. This is communicated back to the relay crank and the short rod for cold starts.
I do not have the throttle stop tool.

I've been following Wes' book and using the Oregon club write up for additional reference. Planning to start over by following the order in Wes' book, unless there is a better way. The book kind of glosses over setting the short link. I understand that throttles are a bit open for a cold start. Cold TA makes pump setting richer and also opens throttles via long/short link for more air. I needed to shim the TA to obtain the 0.019" pump gap, but I think this is pretty standard today.

Yes, the FCS can be sticky. You can do the 12V test to its lead. If you suspect its sticky and slow to return remove the rear access plate on the pump and try working it with a small blade screw driver to see if it frees up.
OK, good to know. I've done the test using 12V from the battery, the FCS clicks every time (as does the CSS). If I measure the current position (height), maybe remove the FCS and try to de-varnish/gum it with carb cleaner or other?

Getting the CSS adjusted right may take a few mornings of cold starts. Adjusting the FCS has no direct impact on cold starts.

Having said all the above these settings are moot without getting the ignition timing right, dialed in, so you can rule it out.
Good point on CSS. My car just does not fire quickly which to me suggests lack of fuel. Plugs are not wet or black after a cold start. Seems FCS would come into play once it catches, but what do I know. Will check timing at advance, which is M line on pulley.

The good (sadly) is it ran acceptably, but not perfect, with a dead TA and before I became intimately involved. Yeah, it backfired on decel quite a bit, but it ran and idled. I'm guessing the system may have been "adjusted" to compensate for some issues? Will run thru it again when fully alert and see what I learn, I plan to try and verify timing first.

Will report back and thanks for the help.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Only got a little time today but the timing does not hit the M mark at 3000+ rpm. Best I can tell, I'm ~5 degrees short. Did not observe any additional advance once I got past 3000 to 3200 on the tach, seems to make sense from some data I have on one of the 123 advance modes. I think the last cars that I set timing on were our 85 Golf and my 78 Sport Sedan.

I can advance the timing a bit.

Unfortunately, I won't get back to this until Friday or later.

Pump gap was a tick big, so I made a small adjustment. Seems like I don't always measure the gap at exactly the same temperature and of course the actuator changes a thou or 2. Overall, I think the pump gap seems to be where it should be.

So, plan is to advance ignition timing bit, then carefully roll thru Wes' procedure.

I believe when the Spica injection is properly set up the engine will idle smoothly with no hunting and will pull well thru the rpm range. Hoping to be there soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Need to check pump timing. I find that off most of the time on cars that come into my shop the first time.
To check. Bring engine to TDC on #4. Then turn engine backwards to the I mark.

Also remove altitude compensator and make sure rack spring is not broken.
Jim, pump timing is correct. I had radiator out to shop to repair leak a month or so back. I checked pump timing and replaced the belt at the same time. Compensation spring (vertical spring) is intact and not corroded. Pump was overhauled before my ownership, guessing by the guy in San Diego.

George, thx for input, I have the Oregon chapter writeup along with the old AROC Spica book (maybe TMI).

This might be keeping me awake at night, laughing. I think I had the set up pretty close, I mean it ran with a bad TA. I find myself thinking FCS is somehow acting up, but of course this is just a hunch.

Enjoy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Drew, I have not touched the 123 setup and honestly am not really familar with it. No doubt will need to learn more.

Car ran reasonably well with the installed 123 unit on the trip across country and has been OK around town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
OK got out there this late afternoon and just wrapped up.

Short story - its fixed, idles nicely at 600, maybe 650 rpm. The short link was set too long even after multiple attempts to set it.

Long story:

-Removed FCS, cleaned it by soaking business end in solvent, repeated 2X, flushed solvent squirted oil on it & reinstalled. Verified it works, but no love, no change.

- Checked that each plug was firing, cap and rotor (they look new), wires seem fine, all electrical connections tight.

- I eventually noticed that holding my thumb over the idle port/adjuster did little as I tried to approach an idle speed. I had set the short link per instruction again just today, but apparently the throttles were not quite closed (maybe the bores are a bit worn from throttle plates digging into them?). For me, the soft/hard close approach didn't do it.

So, yeah, I was way lean at idle, hence stalling/sputtering. I simply adjusted the short link until my thumb told me the throttles were closed. I figured this would sync the throttles with the pump. And bingo, it suddenly idled nicely.

The FCS seems to work really well now, maybe cleaning helped or maybe I'm rationalizing the time I killed cleaning it.......

- My ancient dwell tach says idle is a pretty even 600, but I think it reads 50 rpm low (I compared to another some time back). Either way, I'd prefer 7 to 800 rpm. But I still need to set mixture (and CSS) and make sure all is right, so maybe I'll gain a 100 rpm at the end of it. The idle o-ring is fine also, plenty soft and not squished. Don't know if the idle tower has the update (basically a larger hole), not sure if that helps idle.

-I'll see what else I learn here and update.

Thanks for all the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Nice. If you have the plastic rod ends on the two throttle rods still, have a real close look at them. The can crack, the round part that snaps over the ball and also where the threads are. If it’s cracked where the threads are the ball end can slide on the threads and you loose your previous adjustment.
Yeah, although the rods ends are reasonably fresh, I pushed them off and on so many times I think I'll order a set to have just in case. At the moment, they are OK. Still a bit more work to do, but at least she runs. Thanks for the input
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
So today I checked some things mostly to make sure I had everything tight and where it needed to be and to check for sockets/tools, etc. in the engine bay before starting/test driving it.

Before starting I richened the CSS by a half turn. This must have helped as it lit on 3 hits of the starter instead of 6 or 7. Did not get a fast idle, but it idled right away and took throttle after a minute or so.

Test drive says mixture is pretty close as it pulls smoothly and easily to 5500. Previously it sounded strained above 4000. Power is great all thru the range, revs like it should. Set up per the procedure makes all the difference..

No backfiring or other nonsense during driving and it always returned to idle without any of the, is it gonna idle or stall out drama that I was more or less used to.

Idle was good, maybe a bit lean, I can tighten the idle adjuster and squeeze the o-ring a bit and see if it helps. Or maybe mixture needsto be a tick richer. Will drive it some more and see how plugs look. Either way, I'm very close to where it needs to be.

Thanks again.
 
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