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Waking Up Sleeping Beauty

1314 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  canadian_fly
I bought my 1978 Spider over the summer for $400.00 off of Craigslist. My original idea was to use it as a rolling parts warehouse for my 79. But when I saw it, I decided that it was in too good condition for that fate. Rust is minimal, and the only things missing are the left rear side reflector and the right side mirror. It also has a bruise on it's nose- easy to repair. The hard top is from my 89, because about half of the soft top is gone. The 79 lives in the garage next to the Midget, so it gladly lent it's top to it's slightly older sister in the driveway.

It was not running, so it was towed home. When I removed the air filter box, the filters were filled with pine straw and acorns. It looks like some type of rodent made the air filters into a cozy home at one time.

The oil was clean, without any coolant, and the coolant was clean, without oil- a good first examination. The spark plugs were a little sooty, but nothing too bad. First I sprayed a little penetrating oil into each cylinder, replaced the plugs a let it sit for a few days. As the oil worked I removed the fan and radiator to get easy access to the crankshaft nut on the harmonic bal. pulley. The next weekend I removed the plugs, put a socket on the nut and turned the engine over by hand several times to make sure the pistons moved and of the valves were sticking. Wow, as I did this I could even hear those little SPICA pistons working.

The gas cap was also missing. Goodness knows what or who lurks in the gas tank. So to bypass the highly questionable tank and fuel lines I made a temporary system, powered by my boat battery and a 14 psi fuel pump.

Then it was disconnect the fuel pump fuse, hook up the battery, and turn the engine over for a cold compression check. All cylinders were between 155 and 161, dry and only a pound or two more wet. So far so good. Pop in a new set of NGK plugs, reinstall the radiator, hook up the Rube Goldberg fuel system and start it up, right? NOT !!! No spark. Pull the distributor- almost as much bare wire as insulated (well not quite that bad, but enough to keep it from sparking). Rewire the dist., set the points, and drop in back in place. Yes, it now has spark! Hook up the fuel supply and try it again. Yes, it cranks, it starts, and it runs!!! But since the clutch master cylinder is frozen I can only sit in the driveway until I repair that. But the most important test has been passed. The engine runs and is in good shape. So now it is on to fixing the clutch, dropping the gas tank, etc, etc... I know what I am going to be doing over the winter.



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,,lucky man, you got a 'sleeper' car.. good find:)
Indeed a very good find. Had the same thing. Sleeping beauty, I have now, was asleep for 10 years in the elements of Florida under a rotting tarp. Took the SPICA off and soaked it for a week in carb cleaner. Trying to move it. Massaged it every morning before work and then one day it turned. Put it back in and got her started and woke her up slowly. Drove it for months before I had to change the head gasket. The tank needed the most TLC. Stripped it with degreaser then a caustic mix of lye and hot water, then sealed it with the POR 15 tank sealent system. No problem with the tank any more. The fuel pump is on it way out but the SPICA is running great. No fuel in the gas....yet. Guess that time will come.

congrats again.
No fuel in the gas....yet. Guess that time will come.
Uhhhhh......... What? :)
The only prep I did to the SPICA was to:

1) Change the oil in the BC
2) Into 1 gal. of gas add 1/2 bottle of STP fuel system cleaner and 8 oz. MMO
3) Connect my temporary fuel system to the SPICA with the gas mix in a gas can, run the fuel pump for 30 minutes to cycle the mix through the SPICA pump
4) Crank the engine over without plugs, and with the fuel pump running for 10 seconds or so, wait 1/2 hour and do it again
5) Replace the gas can with one containing normal gas, let the pump cycle a bit to flush the SPICA, turn the engine over a few times to flush the injectors
6) Wait 1/2 hour so the gas injected into the cylinders can evaporate
7) Install the spark plugs and start the engine

Since the engine has not been run a quite some time, I only let it idle for about 15 minutes, and reved it to 2500 rpm twice for couple of seconds. I am going to treat the engine as if it is going through a new engine break in period. Not only that, but I did not reinstall the cooling fan. I am going to replace it with an electric one.

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Uhhhhh......... What? :)
Hybrid/Shmybrid - I guess those clever Italian engineers were way ahead of their time. I never knew the SPICA system worked with no fuel in the gas...!

Just having some fun with ya - that is indeed a good story. Nice to hear about your success.
Crazy of me. Ya no fuel in the gas, right... That would be cool to see. Must have been sleep typing again. Ment to say no fuel in the oil.

Fuel leaking by the injectors into the oil side of the SPICA pump, then into the crank case can be an indication of a worn and tired SPICA pump. I have not seen this happen to mine...yet. BUT, Still a little worried about the small needle bearing that rides on the end of the cam follower carving a grove in the 3D cam.

Had to order a Thermostatic Actuator due to the one that was in there, was out of tolerance.Way out. Highly recommend the SPICA manual from Wes Imgram if you feel you need to do a tune up on the SPICA pump. Had to make a tool made out of copper tubing, copper plate and a threaded bolt to make some adjustments. Can give you the simple design of it, if needed.

congrats again.... Hope I didn't make any more silly typos... : )
I had terrible Spica problems with my daughter's car, most of which are documented elsewhere in this forum. However, once a good pump was installed and tuned (Kudos to the Spica experts here. You know who you are) it is amazingly robust!
Agree...I will be installing a new pump to bring the fuel flow back up. Getting around the .4 Gallons per minute mark with new filters. Otherwise the SPICA in working wonderfully and is a centerpiece to most conversations about the engine.
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