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Spica System or Snipe hunt

1217 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  rogerspeed
Ok, I am ready to throw in the towel and either get rid of this thing or take it to someone who can get it running. After a couple of thousand dollars in parts, a picky fuel system and following all of the procedures I managed to turn a poorly running car into a non running car. What in the hell is the trick to getting these cars running anyway?

I get the thing warmed up, set the timing, check the gap, then adjust the long rod and set the crank and the thing will not start. :mad::mad::mad: I am done for the night. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.
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If the distributor curve is wrong for the engine, you may be setting it way off the static timing when you set it for the correct advanced timing. That can make it hard to start. How much did you have to tweak it? Recheck the static timing... tomorrow:).

Ok. The fuel supply system is now working correctly now, right?

Recheck the basics.
1. Static timing?
2. Spark plug wires correctly routed?
3. Getting spark?
4. Fuel low pressure warning light out?
5. Pump gap set at .019" with dummy TA, or with engine temp at 175F
6. Pump gap hot at .019" with long rod connected.
7. With relay crank against the idle stop screw, short rod is adjusted so that the throttle butterflies are "just" closed.

Check to make sure you've got power at your coil and that you're getting spark. Spray some starting fluid in the intakes. If you don't get an initial firing, then it's ignition for sure.
1. Car WAS running. I turned it off to adjust the long and shor rod. Now it will not start
2. Checked static timing. Still will not start
3. Chaecked that the FCS is 10 turns in from the first thread. Still will not start
4. Fuel pressure light OUT
5. Gap was at .019 before I shut it off. unable to get it running so I cannot re check.
6. Plug wires are correct as it was running
7. Ignition good as it was running

you just breathe on this system and it will not run.
I am throwing in the towel.

I decided this morning that I just do not have the technical know-how to get this thing up and running. Once it is set properly I am sure I can keep it going but at present it is so far out I am just chasing my tail. I am going to take it into the closest Alfa guy I know of (Nick Falcone) and get it done correctly.
Hang in there a little longer - everyone on this forum has been exactly where you are. You can figure it out. You just need to start at the beginning and go over everything step by step. My experience is that 99% of the time, non-running = electrical. The SPICA system is amazingly forgiving in the sense that it can be way out of wack and still be able to run (maybe not well but still running). The one time I couldn't get the car started period and it turned out to be SPICA related was when the drive belt had broken (might just take a peek at that).

Too many times I have reached in to mess with the SPICA and knocked off one of the leads to the coil. One time I found a spliced primary lead that looked good on the outside was bad on the inside. Over the years PO's do some wacky things to wiring that come back to haunt the guys who's just trying to getting it right.

Most recently had a somewhat similar situation in that I hosed down my motor like I've done a thousand time before only to have the motor die on me. It started but over the course of the next hour it began to run worse and worse. Finally it quit and would not fire. My first suspicion was the ignition but I checked and got spark. After a month of fooling with it off and on, I finally decided that the only thing that made sense was the ignition (even though I was getting spark). I had a Crane optical ignition kit on the car and swapped it out for an old points/condensor dizzy that I had. Started right up. I obviously had shorted the unit out but I there was enough left to allow it to spark but not enough to fire. Learn to trust the procedure. I heard Wes Ingram say that as you go through these steps the motors actually gets worse before you finally get to the last step. Then everything comes together and it runs like a top.

Alfa's can be very frustrating. But if you like solving puzzles Alfa's can keep you "entertained" for hours ;)
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Thanks for the words of encouragement but I am just burnt out. I have been actively trying to get this car on the road for over 6 months and I have just reached my mreaking point. Last night I had it running well. I took the next step in the set up procedure and now it will burp just a little and not keep running. I took some advise early this am and checked the static timing etc and still nluck.

Enough is enough. I will take it to the Spica guy recommended by the local Alfa club and just get it done once and for all. I just calculated I have spent more than $1500.00 in parts alone and still do not have a car that will even drive down the driveway.
Ignore me, I am an idiot. Thanks Roadtrip, Gprocket, and Bills. Thanks also to UHAUL for not being able to find a car dolly within 50 miles. I needed to vent and think. After reading your posts and thinking all day I came home with the intention of starting from scratch. First thing......look for loose wires. Dammit, I found one on the coil.

Fast forward. Car now purring in the garage and I feel like a fool.

Thanks again, and Roadtrip, on hundred thanks for all you have done for me getting this car on the road.

Now just click on the Site Donations tab in the middle of the green bar and give 10% of what it would've cost to take it to someone!!!

Good to see another Alfa rescued from the brink......been there myself many times!:cool:

Glad to hear it's running well. That's the reason I suggested using spray starting fluid as a diagnostic tool. It's cheap and easy, and if you don't get any reaction with it, you KNOW you're not getting any spark in the cylinders.

Is the fuel low pressure warning light still staying extinguished?

I'd recommend that as you get time that you go through the car front to back and clean and tighten all the electrical connections. Given the 30+ year age and exposure to corrosion, it's good preventative maintenance. I even removed the dashboard and cleaned, tightened, and replaced bad connectors in the whole pax compartment. Now EVERYTHING works first time, every time . . . no flickering, snapping switches back and forth to get something to work, etc.

When bringing back a neglected Alfa, patience and meticulous work is essential.
WAY TO GO! Ah, the sweet taste of victory. My wife caught me once giving the "Now whose your daddy!" lecture to my motor after I got it running. She just walked away shaking her head.

Enjoy the car and if you heed roadtrip's advise you will continue to reap the real rewards of Alfa ownership.
This thread is exhibit "A" as to why the BB is invaluable. Enjoy Alfafan61.
if the light is coming and going. I would check the fuse under the dash and the wires feeding the fuse(the fuse for the pump). I has to reach and spin the fuse in mine for many years. then one day I had it and replaced the fuse box with one I got at the local auto place. the type with a cover and takes the spade type fuses like most new cars take. that seemd to fix 99% of all the electrical.
the old type fuse just would not stay working for long I had to clean then all the time. the new type has never had a problem not even once. and now I have a fuse for the horn and a bit of fusable link on the mane wire coming off the battery. so there should never be a fire due to the electrical wiring. why alfa did not fuse the horn?
...... why alfa did not fuse the horn?
my guess, the circuit has a relay and the switch is a "ground" if it was a hot circuit with a fuse it would entail more wiring. quite the pain when it grounds out and the horn turns into siren, I've been there.
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