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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is the story of an '89 164 that belongs to a new friend of mine, Joe, who runs his own landscaping business. Joe has owned this 164 for nine years and had two other 164s before that. However, Joe is not confident with working on mechanical things, and flagged me down one day in the street when I was out-and-about in my blue '89 164. That was before Christmas.

The immediate problem to solve (engine cutting out intermittently) had confused several other people, but turned out to be nothing more than faulty plug leads and distributor cap.

With that out of the way, a special arrangement began where all sorts of work got done around my house and garden - trees removed, trees cut back, lawn tended-to, trees and plants planted, fence waterblasted, and even a load of metal taken to recycling thanks to Joe's tip-deck truck.

In return I promised to undertake a series of improvements to the 164...

- Polished the paint, especially the roof, bootlid and bonnet. I set Joe to work on the roof. He's not actually that dark originally but has a permanent suntan as a result of working outdoors every day.

I considered that getting the paint looking nice would serve as motivation before the work ahead.

As you can see, the 164 is not a bad looker considering it is over 20 years old. It has an early-style leather interior. I can't say I like the wooden Momo steering wheel (too small, can't see the instruments, and I don't like the feel of a smooth varnished surface), but never mind - each to their own.

- Replaced reverse light switch. There was bodged wiring between the reverse light switch and the idle air control valve. The switch turned out to be faulty (stuck 'on') and the idle air valve wiring was found melted behind the engine - repaired.

- Repaired brake light switch - dirty contacts.

- Replaced speedometer sender with spare, to get speedometer/odometer working.

- Added washers to right-rear door striker pin so that door opens and closes easily.

- Removed clutch damper. Inspected clutch hydraulics, no fault found.

- Drilled out worn-oval hole in clutch pedal arm and made/installed larger clevis pin to eliminate about 1" of free play at clutch pedal.

- Cut away excess carpet under clutch pedal - thin black carpet glued on top of original faded green carpet.

- New clutch ordered (clutch pedal still very heavy without correct over-centre action).

- Cleaned wheels.

- Levered metalwork away from engine 'dogbone' top mount - damage sustained during previous engine removal operation - to cure an annoying chirping noise.

Driving the car was a horrifying experience - mainly due to the 7mm of free movement in the suspension lower balljoint causing the wheel to find its own geometry. Unbelievably the car had a recent Warrant Of Fitness despite this fault and the non-working brake lights.


The story continues...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I lent Joe my blue 164 while I went overseas to Ireland and England for a work trip. After my return a month ago, my time was filled by other work, a friend's wedding, business trips to Dunedin and Wellington - and then, finally, the current round of work started on the 164 (late March).

Jobs to do:

- Clean and degrease engine.

- Replace clutch.

- Correct noisy starter motor (graunching sound). Replacement starter obtained to rebuild.

- Correct sloppy gearchange (reaction rod bushing nearly 1cm free movement.)

- Replace completely-worn-out lower balljoint, RH side.

- Replace seemingly-worn front control arm bushes (both rear, one front)

- Rebuild front struts to fit bumpstops, replace strut bearings, refurbish springs, and correct assembly so that spring does not rub on wheelarch liner.

- Replace water pump to correct noisy bearings (rumbling sound).

- Replace thermostat (stuck open).

- Rebuild leaky hydraulic tensioner.

- Replace cambelt.

- Replace expansion tank and clean/test cooling system.

- Replace split CV boot, RH outer.

- Correct wheel alignment.

- Repair broken ashtray latch/closer and replace blown bulbs in climate control panel.

- Re-wire or replace stereo as necessary to cure no-power condition.

- Solve various creaks and rattles of interior trim.

Target date for completion - one week from now (14 April). Current progress - about 40%...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Primitive Pete strikes again...

There is so much wrong with the first photo below. I had attempted to loosen the nut on top of the strut spindle while the weight of the car was still on the strut. I thought this was no problem, except that the strut spindle thread stripped - someone had somehow jammed on a nut with incorrect thread pitch or no thread. The nut was stripped, as well as the spindle, and the resultant mess meant that no nut would fit safely, so now the car could not be raised lest the spring fly out.

I discovered a metric tap and die set during a recent garage cleanout but alas, the M10 tap/die was 1.5mm thread pitch. I had to go and buy a single M10x1.25 die, in order to re-cut correct thread on the spindle, at least enough to refit nut and allow strut to be removed from the car. I knew this was likely to be a Primitive Pete operation of my very own.

Not enough clearance between studs to use correct die wrench - so I had to use pipe grips to hold the die. Wanted to buy hex-shaped die (i.e. a die nut) but that particular size was sold out - only round die available in this size.

Difficult to start die correctly on thread - cross-threaded many times - perhaps that is what the file and hammer in the photo were used for, I prefer to forget.

Spindle also spun freely and had to be restrained with narrow Vise-Grips, limiting the depth of the thread that could be cut. Rough, rough, rough!

Finally once strut removed and spring compressed and removed, I was able to repair thread properly with correct die wrench and careful technique.

Strut bearings fell to pieces and bumpstops were missing from both sides, boots were also shredded. Shock absorbers were recently replaced so obviously not done by someone who cared. Other strut had bowed spring because top plate was incorrectly fitted.

Both springs had minimal rust, so I sanded and painted, fitting new plastic tubing (16mm diameter) to ends of springs, and new bumpstop/boot kit from Strut-Mate, part number 63620 (hole inside bumpstop needs slight enlargement with sharp knife).

I find it useful to clamp bottom plate onto spring ready for assembly, and I use two sets of spring compressors because each set is only able to span three uncompressed coils. An air impact gun reduces the time and effort considerably.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Proof that you can never have too many spare parts...

I had a seized strut on my burgundy red 164 (now sold), and had to purchase a complete second-hand strut to match the one on the other side. I stripped the seized strut, expecting to throw it away, but I kept the parts in a box just in case.

Now three months later I found heavy corrosion under remaining fragments of rubber boot on lower spring plate, Joe's 164. Chipping away the rust flakes revealed a huge hole.

Luckily my spare was for the required side, a fact I was able to confirm thanks to Alfisto Steve's excellent photographic evidence at http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/164...fying-l-r-164-front-strut-spring-perches.html. I actually loaded the relevant forum page on my iPhone and took it outside to compare against the parts I had.

You never know when you might need spare parts - if not for your own 164, then perhaps for someone else's.

Strut now assembled with spring sitting correctly and with new tubing, bumpstop, boot, and bearing. Not expensive compared to the price of the new shock absorbers fitted previously...
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Control arm bushes - again...

I had a struggle in the past to replace a front bush - this time, at least the removal was easier, but the fitting of the new bush went sour.

To remove the old bush, I used a propane torch known as "The Yellow Match". I have since bought my very own Yellow Match to save the 30-minute trip across to Cambridge where Mal Simmonds, proprietor of Dino Enterprises and importer of rubber bushes and other parts, kindly helped me out.

Once the bush is burned out in a crackly, blackened mess, a cordless saber-saw makes a proper cut down the length of the steel sleeve and the sleeve can be compressed and tapped out.

Pressing in the new bush is easy - until the edge of the arm rounds off under the several tonnes of pressure required. Then it is hellishly hard to restrain the arm in the press. It seems a mass of odd angles, rounded corners, and general awkwardness. Net result is that the bush is pressed in flush with the back of the outer tube, so the arm is probably sitting about 2mm back from where it should be, once installed on the car. Oh well. Corrections of caster can probably be achieved by slotting strut top holes or by reducing space between front bush and subframe.

Rear control arm bushes relatively easy to remove - fell off on one side once nut and washer removed, other side came off after a brief struggle with grinder and chisel.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
You don't need me to remind you that the worst part of removing the gearbox was the starter motor top bolt - but really, this particular time was something else again.

Having gained access from under the car via several long extensions behind the starter motor, using the fingertips of the left hand (reached over the gearbox) to locate the socket, things seemed to be going well. On schedule to remove the starter motor in less than half an hour. But then - the ratchet would hardly move.

After several squeaky extension-flexing 1/16th-turns, the top bolt sheared off. I just laughed.

The gearbox was sitting on the subframe soon after and the starter motor removed from its home behind the heatshield/manifold, but that still left the problem of what to do about the sheared-off bolt. It was tempting to ignore it and install only two bolts. But would that really be the right thing to do... Those bolts are both on the very edge of the starter motor and the housing is a fairly thin alloy casting.

I tried to get the gearbox properly out but the ABS piping proved difficult to shift - the master cylinder is right there next to the gearbox. So I decided to leave it sitting there on the subframe. Mine had come out quite easily so there must be some difference in brake pipe installation/subframe spacers (not fitted on this car).

First I heated the exposed thread (Yellow Match again) and applied penetrating oil. I filed some flats on the few millimetres I had to work with, and bought a new pair of Vise-Grips. I couldn't get enough of a grip to shift it. The Vise-Grips must have sprung off a dozen times.

Today I decided to buy some more tools before trying again. You can never have too many tools.

Ground off sheared bolt (die grinder $39.99), drilled out to 7mm with new cobalt drill bit ($12) and air-powered drill ($48), tapped with M8x1.25mm tap (set of six metric taps and poorly-clamping T-handle, $10), trial-fit with over-length bolt bought by mistake (pack of six 50mm M6x1.25 bolts, $6.99) and good fit with spacer and housing, straight and true, bolt went in at least 10 turns. (3/8" air ratchet for eventual assembly, $51). Found spare FIAT bolt in correct length (free).

Realised that the two non-sheared bolts are now lost, and therefore the job still can't be finished without getting replacements - priceless.
 

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I don't have any complaints for the aftermarket (FRAP brand) lower control arms that are available here. They are about $60-$70 and come with new bushings. For that price, it isn't worth messing with replacing bushings in OEM arms IMHO. Though I don't know how available those are in your part of the world.
Charles
 

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It's a good thing you posted this now. Now I know what to check once I have the broken spring on mine replaced. The wrecker was supposed to call me when he got the Thema he was waiting for. He might had, but my phone also broke down last week.

I'm now in a train, taking my weekly trip home from work (250 km).


Broke a spring on a monday, broke the radiator on the petrol ZX on wednesday and phone also broke down on thursday,not to mention the lung infection I'm recovering from. And they ask how the landscaping is going...
 

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It sounded like Joe needed a restore almost!
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Thanks all for the replies! I didn't get any work done today but tomorrow is a big whole day all to myself, so I have high hopes.

Alex, How's the landscaping coming? (running away now).....
Hehe... actually, seriously, I don't quite get the joke ;) why do you have to run away? You mean is Joe still doing my landscaping and gardening? Yes, and a great job of it too! It's nice not to have to worry about such things for a while.

I don't have any complaints for the aftermarket (FRAP brand) lower control arms that are available here. They are about $60-$70 and come with new bushings. For that price, it isn't worth messing with replacing bushings in OEM arms IMHO. Though I don't know how available those are in your part of the world.
Charles
I agree, I would much rather replace complete arms at that price (front and rear bushes add up to nearly that). However, I tried and I cannot source complete arms anywhere in NZ. The general suspension people haven't bothered for a few years and the specialist parts suppliers have sold out a while ago at the price of about US$200.

The bushes may not have needed replacement but you might recall some odd geometry problems and vague steering on my previous (burgundy) 164, I thought I'd learn from that and do my best here. Those original rear bushes are very soft - the replacements (without plastic insert) are less compliant and will perhaps sharpen the steering. We'll see.

It's quite easy to be motivated by the potential improvements. I'm looking forward to the improved feel of a gearlever that doesn't hit the plastic trim and the ability to select reverse without switching the engine off first (the clutch was never quite disengaging and the pedal required a massive force, the absolute maximum that might be mustered for, say, the brake pedal in an emergency). That and the little lurches in cornering/tugs at the wheel made it a handful to drive!

It's a good thing you posted this now. Now I know what to check once I have the broken spring on mine replaced. The wrecker was supposed to call me when he got the Thema he was waiting for. He might had, but my phone also broke down last week.

I'm now in a train, taking my weekly trip home from work (250 km).

Broke a spring on a monday, broke the radiator on the petrol ZX on wednesday and phone also broke down on thursday,not to mention the lung infection I'm recovering from. And they ask how the landscaping is going...
Sounds a tough week :( Problems have a habit of coming along in threes. Front suspension on the Thema is a different design (struts above the hub, not in front) but I guess you knew that already.

Wow I will do all the landscaping you ever need if you work on my cars like this haha
Yeah well, I thought it was a fair deal, haha! Some of that work out there just wasn't getting done, so it makes sense to have some sort of labour-trade arrangement. We're going to reimburse each other for parts and materials. He had to subcontract a couple of jobs like stump grinding and some of the waterblasting.

It sounded like Joe needed a restore almost!
Just a long list of jobs small and large as a result of a non-mechanical owner over many years... it's hard to get general workshops to do a good job and I think I persuaded him of that, first by pointing out some of the bodges and second by lending him my own 164, which while rougher body/paint wise, definitely drove a lot better. I simply promised to get his up to the same mechanical standard.

Today I was cruising down a main road in town (the type with the slightly higher speed limit and dual carriageway) and a 164 pulled out into the lane beside me, ahead. My first thought was, "there's a 164, a rare sight", and my next realisation was that it was my own car, being driven by Joe with flair and gusto. :D This was a useful test because there were no clouds of smoke visible, I had wondered about that ever since the smoky startup after the engine work but I think the proper usage is helping the engine to prove its worth. Funny seeing your own car out and about. It looked tidier than I remembered...

-Alex
 

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Sounds a tough week :( Problems have a habit of coming along in threes. Front suspension on the Thema is a different design (struts above the hub, not in front) but I guess you knew that already.
Indeed it is a tough week. Steve had warned me of that difference. I talked to the "best in town" on Alfas and he says the springs are about the same on the Thema and the Turbo but the Turbo's springs are different from the ones on the V6's.

Finding either car is tough. In the mid to late 80s many people were still driving motorcycles around here, not many people had such fine machines, especially with the bad reputation Alfa Romeo has in this country.

I did find two 9000s in the wreckers but the mechanic says the springs are different. The Thema I'm waiting for is due to arrive, I just don't know when.

Now for some better news, I found three Turbo engines there. For a moment I felt like buying one and replacing the worn engine on the diesel ZX, which has a new set of bushings and shocks. :D

Then I remembered that the only ZX with an engine like that (the volcane 2.0 16v) had wider axles, Girling brakes instead of Bendix and ABS, sports seats, etc. Oh well...
 

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Indeed it is a tough week. Steve had warned me of that difference. I talked to the "best in town" on Alfas and he says the springs are about the same on the Thema and the Turbo but the Turbo's springs are different from the ones on the V6's.

Finding either car is tough. In the mid to late 80s many people were still driving motorcycles around here, not many people had such fine machines, especially with the bad reputation Alfa Romeo has in this country.

I did find two 9000s in the wreckers but the mechanic says the springs are different. The Thema I'm waiting for is due to arrive, I just don't know when.

Now for some better news, I found three Turbo engines there. For a moment I felt like buying one and replacing the worn engine on the diesel ZX, which has a new set of bushings and shocks. :D

Then I remembered that the only ZX with an engine like that (the volcane 2.0 16v) had wider axles, Girling brakes instead of Bendix and ABS, sports seats, etc. Oh well...
Please post your findings on whether you can adapt/use those Lancia Thema springs on your 164 TS. Maybe they are the same length even though strut different. I would think Thema springs would be similiar to the Sabb 9000 and Fiat Croma but having never seen them what do I know?
 

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Please post your findings on whether you can adapt/use those Lancia Thema springs on your 164 TS. Maybe they are the same length even though strut different. I would think Thema springs would be similiar to the Sabb 9000 and Fiat Croma but having never seen them what do I know?
Today I learned a lesson: too much respect for said experts can be a source of trouble.

As I said here, I came home yesterday. Today I decided to try adjusting the idle air myself, something I was afraid of messing up (car spent the whole of december and part of january on the shop because of what happened after I patched that leaking turbo hose). It turned out to be quite easy to do, I just turned the screw two turns out and now it idles OK, it's just not dead smooth yet.

About the suspension, the car was definitely tilting to the right side when I took it to the mechanic, I couldn't even see the spring because the tire was almost touching the wheel well but now it's normal again.

Was it a stuck shock? They're the ones it came with when I bought it and the car was sitting on a garage for years. Previous owner said he had the car on stands with the wheels not touching the ground.

Anyway, at 25€ each the Thema springs sound cheap enough to have around. Just in case I or someone I know needs one. As Alex said, you can never have too many spares.
 

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So as we say here back to "level playing field"? I hope so.
 

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So as we say here back to "level playing field"? I hope so.
I've still got to try and adjust the idle air better. It's a bit high (1000/1500 rpm versus 750) but it keeps running when it's hot. While it's cold it still has a tendency to stall, but it goes away in about 5 minutes. Considering I hadn't ever done this, I'm surprised at the good results.

Today I might just go to work on it. It's 250 km and I'm averaging about 10L/100km. Considering gas is now at 1.599 €/l in most stations, it's an expensive journey if I don't find someone to go with me. I'm feeling ever more tempted to ask for a price on a conversion to LPG (0.822 €/l), as long as it is fully reversible and I don't have to put that ugly blue sticker on the rear. Life's getting too expensive.
 
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