Alfa Ownership & Maintenance Blog

February 15, 2021

70,747 miles on the odometer

In the last ten days or so I have tracked some of the low hanging fruit to fix on Alfie, I have continued my cleaning – but this time under the car, and I decided to trace the fuel system and vacuum hoses to inventory the types and sizes of hose clamps used on the car. Most of the original hose clamps are still on the car but a number have been replaced and usually with cheap inappropriate clamps. The clamp inventory project turned out to require a bigger effort and time commitment than I thought. I will make this the subject of a separate category and post at this location: https://valvechatter.com/?cat=2043.

I ordered an upper radiator hose and installed it only to discover that the radiator leak must be from the top of the tank rather than from a perished old hose! This will require some further attention, but it looks like either a radiator repair or replacement is in my future.

The handbrake did not function at all so I undertook a fault finding mission and the restoration of braking. As it turned out, the handbrake mechanism located at the rear of the differential was rusted in place and frozen preventing the operation of the brakes. 

This is a photo of the original cable mechanism. As the center cable is pulled (at the top in the image) when the handbrake arm is lifted, the two brackets with the LH and RH cables (in the middle of the swivel arms) are supposed to pivot and pull the drum brake cables tight. However, mine was rusted and frozen in place and consequently did not operate properly. 

Handbrake Center Cable Mechanism Mounted

I ordered a new mechanism from Centerline International and installed it on the car. The original part number is 605.17074 with Centerline’s order number being BC420. The item was $59.50.

Alfa Center Brake Cable

After removing the old assembly, I took the opportunity to clean up the differential a bit more  and I painted the two steel mounting blocks just to prevent them from further rusting.

Handbrake Assembly Mounts

I then installed the new assembly. I applied synthetic grease to the rotating components. Yes, that really nasty looking brake pipe is one of the next few items that will get my attention!

Handbrake Assembly Installed

At the other end of the cable I attached a new fork to the handbrake lever with a cleaned-up clevis pin and new split pin. The cable slides through a threaded fixture on the car chassis. It is the red item in the photo below. The cylindrical device is a rotary adjuster that is used to tighten/loosen the slack in the primary center cable.

brake cable adjuster

The first step in actually adjusting the handbrake is to place something heavy on the handbrake handle to keep it down (depressed) while making alterations to the system. I then lifted the rear of the car so as to remove both rear wheels/tires. This makes the rear brake rotors accessible. The handbrake works by expanding two small brake shoes inside the drum (rotor). There is a star adjustment wheel inside the drum that expands and contracts the shoes against the drum surface. Using a screwdriver the star adjuster can be moved toward the front of the car (loosen/contract) or toward the rear of the car (tighten/expand).

After removing the disc brake caliper one can loosen and remove two screws and then pull away the rotor/drum – AFTER CONTRACTING THE SHOES. However, in my case it was not necessary to remove the caliper and rotor drum. Because the handbrake is almost exclusively used when the car is stationary, the shoes actually have very little wear.

Rear Brake Rotor & Handbrake Drum

Brake Shoe Adjustment Wheel

Turning the Adjustment Wheel

I then turned the adjustment wheel on both the LH and RH wheels to fully tighten the shoes against the drum. I then loosened each adjustment wheel three clicks. This enables the wheels to turn freely or perhaps with just a slight friction or rub. Once this is accomplished, the next step is to turn the cylindrical cable adjuster to tighten (not overly) the center pull cable for the brakes. This process resulted in my handbrake working fully on the third click on the brake pawl.

I then reinstalled both rear wheels/tires and torques the lug nuts to 70 ft. lbs. I then tested the handbrake in the driveway and again after a short test drive and concluded that one more task could be checked off the list! 

The rubber door buffer on the RH door was broken and deteriorating. I ordered a replacement from Classic Alfa part number RB061 for $7.10 and installed it by removing two Phillips head screws from a threaded captured plate pin the rear of the door.

Rubber door buffer

Rubber Door Buffer Installed

The Alfa has power mirrors on each door. They are controlled by a small switch with a rotational stalk on the center console and each mirror is selected by turning a ring with a selector tab to one side or the other. Alfie was missing the selector ring but I was able to find one (and a spare) from a fellow Alfa owner who frequents the Alfa Bulletin Board. The little ring must be carefully positioned on the switch and then pressed into place. Once installed Alfie’s mirrors both functioned properly!

Power mirror control

Power Mirror Switch

Power Mirror Selector Ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2021

70,735 miles on the odometer

After a longer than expected storage at the Madison Automotive Apprentices Shop in Harrisonburg, VA I finally transported Alfie to our home in Florida. We don’t really have the space for him, but we will make do. I need a project, Alfie needs some work and the time is right!

Passport Transport (Camille) moved the car to Florida. The process took about four days. here is a shot of the car being unloaded in Bradenton.

Passport Transport Delivering Alfie to Florida

Alfie Unloaded in Bradenton

While he looked good in the Florida sunshine, he was actually quite dirty. He started just fine. The brakes felt a little squishy, but I drove Alfie the 2-3 miles home from the delivery point.

The first thing I did was wash, polish (with a buffer) and wax the car just so it had some protection and, of course, he looks a lot better too. I then began a process of inspection and discovery to see what worked properly and what did not. I began with the interior and exterior while the car was on the ground and then followed that with putting it on the garage lift to clean and inspect the underside. I took literally hundreds of photos and made a few videos of the entire car. I can use these to compare my car to others and to answer my own questions about how things were BEFORE I started tearing things apart. My experience with this is that you can never have enough photos. More is always better.

After Wash and Wax

I was pleased, and surprised to find that most things electrical worked as they should. A few needed some cleaning and coaxing such as the courtesy lamps. I have spent a lot of time on the Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board and learned a great deal. One of the contributors suggested that I should snap the door jamb switches a few times and spray them with some electronics contact cleaner. I did just that, and like magic the courtesy lights are now working! 

I am sure that I will discover many other items that need attention but this is my first list of things that need to be addressed. Should be fun!

  1. The upper radiator hose leaks. I installed a new heavy duty clamp and really cranked it down but it still leaks so I have ordered a new hose to try it before I conclude that I have a radiator problem.
  2. Both power windows are slow (probably from lack of use), and the driver side window will only operate with the door open suggesting that I may have a wiring issue in the door jamb where the wires pass from the body to the door.
  3. Both of the door upper trim pieces need to be replaced – especially the RH side.
  4. The car has a fairly strong fuel smell that seems to be emanating from the trunk as opposed to the engine bay.
  5. The car is missing its radiator shroud. I have a new one to install at some point.
  6. I need to locate the water temperature sensor that is typically located on the shroud.
  7. The dash pad has a couple of bad cracks on the top – very common.
  8. The windshield is slightly fogged on the “A” post LH side.
  9. The front license plate mount is still on the car. A front plate is not required in Florida so I will remove the bracket.
  10. I do not know the age of the fuel hose and vacuum lines in the engine or from the fuel tank to the front of the car. These will all need to be replaced. Most of the hose clamps look pretty well used or weathered so I will look into replacing them as well.
  11. The mirror control switch is missing its bezel that allows the operator to select the LH or RH mirror for adjustment. These apparently break fairly easily and they are hard to find. I located a couple and have ordered them.
  12. The front, under dash speakers appear to be Alfa originals – at least the speaker grilles have the Alfa Romeo name. They don’t sound very good so I may see if I can find some improved speakers that can use the same grilles. There are also some rear speakers located on the rear parcel shelf that are not working.
  13. There is a lamp at the rear view mirror. I really do not know how it operates so I will need to explore that a bit more.
  14. The speedometer needle does twitch especially at lower speed so I may need to look at the cable?
  15. The heater blower does not work at all and I discovered a brand new heater blower motor in the trunk of the car that was purchased by a previous owner. Some of the Bulletin Board posters have suggested reaching up to the fan opening under the dash to see if the fan action can be freed by starting it with a finger push. I will give that a try. Everyone says that accessing the heater and its motor is a royal pain in the _ss, so this job will be put off for a while. 
  16. The air conditioner blower works just fine but apparently the compressor does not and I am sure that it needs a coolant conversion and refill. The crank/compressor pulley belt is not on the car.
  17. Under the car there seems to be a slight leak at the brake pipe joint located near the fuel filter.
  18. The pinion seal on the rear differential appears to be leaking. the casing was quite oily and dirty. 
  19. It is hard to tell at this point, but I am obviously experiencing a pretty good leak from the engine rear main and/or the transmission.
  20. The flex disk or guibo looks to be in satisfactory condition. I don’t see any cracks in the rubber. However, I know that the center driveshaft support bearing and housing is bad and needs to be replaced. Again, a previous owner purchased new items and they are in the trunk of the car. Looks like I get to be the lucky one to replace them!
  21. The welded front muffler bracket that attached to the brace on the transmission has been broken off and is missing completely.
  22. A number of the mounting brackets and clamps (fuel filter, fuel pump, exhaust) located under the car are quite rusty, they are still functioning as they should but look pretty bad.
  23. The rockers or sills on both sides of the car a quite rusty and will need to be repaired/replaced at some point. The front floor boards and the spare tire wheel well have also been patched – probably Bondo. I will need to remove all of that and properly patch with metal.

I am sure that I have only touched the surface of issues with Alfie, but it is a start and gives me a list of parts I need to order and install or repair.

July 10, 2017

70,600 miles on the Odometer

Ignition Update

I am experiencing some starting problems that seem to be due to a partial discharge of the battery after the car has been sitting. Not knowing the car and what others may have changed/updated/disconnected or connected, I thought I would begin by replacing components in the ignition system including the distributor cap, ignition wires, rotor and coil. I ordered these components from Centerline International.https://www.centerlinealfa.com/store

Centerline International Invoice

Old Coil to be Replaced

New Bosch Coil to be Installed

New Bosch Coil to be Installed

 

I began the task by removing the old coil. There are a total of six wires connected to the coil terminals. The (-) terminal has four wires secured to the mounting post with an 8mm nut: a larger cream-colored wire, a white wire with a black tracer, a yellow wire, and a white wire. The (+) terminal has two wires and both of them are light green with black tracers.

Wiring to the Old Coil

Wiring to the Old Coil

To access the mounting bracket nuts for the coil, I found it easier to first remove the coolant recovery tank. This was accomplished by loosening the screw in the bracket connection and then lifting the tank temporarily out of the way.

Coolant Overflow Tank Mounting Bracket

I was then able to remove the old coil and install the new one:

New Bosch Coil Installed

I then carefully marked each ignition wire with a number to designate its location for replacement, and after also marking the old distributor cap for location purposes, I snapped the top off of the black plastic loom to free the wires.

Ignition Wiring Loom Harness

I then disconnected each wire at the spark plugs and popped free the two securing clips on the distributor cap. I could then lift away the old cap and wiring. I had previously disconnected the coil wire while replacing the coil.

The new wiring came with numbers on each wire. After properly locating the wires in the appropriate place on the new distributor cap, I pushed the wires into their seats. This is a tight fit and they were somewhat difficult to fully seat. The coil wire included a rubber cap to press fit over the top of the coil.

New Bosch Distributor Cap

Alfa Spider Ignition Wiring Kit

I then removed the old rotor and installed a new Bosch rotor on the distributor shaft.

New Bosch Rotor

New Bosch Rotor Installed

The new distributor cap and ignition wiring assembly was then reinstalled to the distributor and to each of the spark plugs and to the coil. The coolant recovery bracket was replaced, the coolant tank was restored to its mounted position and the bracket was screwed back together. 

The task was then  completed with a successful test drive.

However, I discovered the next morning that the battery discharge issue remains and I will now begin my sleuthing to try to discover the source of the problem.

Battery Clamp Set

My battery bracket/clamp was pretty rusty and partially consumed by battery acid. I could have replaced it with a universal clamp for considerably less expense, but I chose to purchase and install the proper clamp set from Alfaholics in the UK. https://www.alfaholics.com/parts/105-series/electrical/battery-clamp-set/

Battery Clamp Invoice from Alfaholics

This is an image of the battery clamp set as it was received:

Alfa Battery Bracket

I just did not have the space at our home to keep Alfie and not having the time to work on him, I decided to relocate Alfie to a friend’s shop. After some sleuthing about, it was discovered that the start-up injector in the fuel injection system was not functioning properly and it was replaced. This solved the start-up mystery and the car now starts without any hesitation!

Dash

Dash Components

Air Distributor Box

Details on the box which sits below the dash can be found under the Heater post: https://valvechatter.com/?cat=103

Mounting Bracket for Radio Control Panel

This bracket shares the mounting bolts with the air distributor box, and mounts behind and above it.

Mounting Bracket for Radio Control Panel

Mounting Bracket for Radio Control Panel

Powder Coated Mounting Bracket for Radio Control Panel

Powder Coated Mounting Bracket for Radio Control Panel

Air Distributor Box Installed

Air Distributor Box Installed

Instrument Panel Assembly

While the speedometer and tachometer are placed directly in front of the driver in the MK2, the rest of the gauges and most of the switches are located in a central panel in the dash referred to as the Instrument Panel Assembly. The panel is mounted with two thumb screws at the top corners of the panel that when released permits the panel to swing out on hinges.

Information regarding the individual gauges, instruments, and switches may be found under the “Gauges, Instruments and Switches” post.

Instrument Assembly Panel

Instrument Assembly Panel

Newspaper Tray

The Newspaper Tray sits immediately below the gauge panel in the center of the dash.

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

It is secured with two #10-32 nylock nuts and two rubber washers on the mounting studs.

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

The newspaper tray has a grey flocking on the interior of the envelope. At this time I am not sure how I will replicate the flocking, but I am sure that I will figure out something. I media blasted the tray to prepare it for powder coating.

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Newspaper Tray

Right and Left Fascia Board Assemblies

For the purpose of testing my electrical system, gauges and instruments, I installed my yet to be refinished dash fascia boards. The driver’s side fascia board houses the Handbrake “ON” Position and Brake Fluid Container Level Warning Lamp,  the speedometer and the tachometer with internal clock. The speedometer includes warning lamps for high beams, low fuel and ignition charging. The passenger side fascia board houses

the “Cubby” glove box that incorporates a light that illuminates when the door is opened.

As the Service Manual suggests, fitting and removing the driver’s side Fascia Board is made easier (though not necessary) by dropping the steering column to the seat. The central instrument panel was already removed from the car.

Since this is not my final installation I did not install the small twisted (steady) brackets nor the top brackets for the mounting of the screen rail dash top.

Driver's side fascia board

Driver’s side fascia board

Passenger side fascia board

Passenger side fascia board

I did install the LH and RH mounting brackets to the wooden fascia as seen in the images above. The brackets were all cleaned, bead blasted and repainted before mounting to the fascia boards.

Fascia Board Refurbished mounting hardware

Fascia Board Refurbished mounting hardware

While I did not get a photograph of the wood when I reinstalled the renewed brackets one can see in this image that outside brackets for both fascia boards have studs that go through holes in the car’s body bracing and are then secured with “special” oval washers, split washers and nuts.

Driver's side fascia board outside mounting bracket

Driver’s side fascia board outside mounting bracket

The inside brackets for both fascia boards have rubber seals that I assume are to block light that might escape from behind the instrument panel. Two #10 – 32 x 1/2″ machine screws mount through the inside brackets into the car’s body.

Passenger side fascia board internal mounting bracket

Passenger side fascia board internal mounting bracket

 

Cubby Box Door Hinge

The Cubby Box Door Hinge is a chrome sliding hinge, being in excellent condition, I simply cleaned and polished the hinge. It is attached to the Cubby Box with four chrome slotted wood screws.

Dash Fascia and Gauges

When we bought the Bugeye, it came with a working tachometer and a dead speedometer. After thinking about having the original instruments refurbished or buying new ones I decided to buy new Smith’s gauges. Keeping the original tach would have involved installing the guts of an electric tach into the casing of the old gauge since we had previously installed an alternator making the original worthless since it had a mechanical drive off the back of the dynamo.

So the new gauges were ordered from APT Instruments, but it would be terrible to install them in the old dash so replacing old vinyl with new naugahyde was the only thing to do! I began the removal of the dash and proceeded slowly, carefully labeling the wiring to each instrument or switch.

I initially disconnected 2 orange/yellow braided wires to the wiper washer pump. Using a micro switch, my dad had previously converted the manual pump for the windscreen washer to an electric pump. Next was the heater switch. I disconnected a green/brown wire from the harness from a black wire to the heater switch. Then I disconnected a black wire from the heater switch body from a double bullet connector into a light green wire.

Washer Wiring

Washer Wiring

Washer Wiring

Washer Wiring

Heater Wiring

Heater Wiring

Heater Switch Wiring

Heater Switch Wiring

The turn signal wiring was next. The switch has three spade connectors. On the side with tow spades, a yellow wire attached to one and a blue wire to the other. A white wire was disconnected from the side of the switch with the single spade.

turn signal switch

turn signal switch

The Ignition Switch followed. The switch had four screw terminals. The top right terminal had 2 red wires joined together. The top left terminal had 1 heavy gauge yellow wire. The bottom right terminal had two white wires joined together and an red fused wire from the the electric fan switch that had been added. Finally, a large blue wire was disconnected the bottom left terminal. A previous owner had fabricated a clamping system to hold the ignition switch in place, that while primitive, did work. It will be replaced later.

Ignition Switch Wiring

Ignition Switch Wiring

Ignition Switch

Ignition Switch

Gauge Lights. Wiring for most gauges is red. The oil/water temperature gauge light fit into the retaining bracket sleeve. The tach light was also red, but this wire was ultimately discarded as it was not needed for the lighting for the new tach.

Oil and Tach Lighting

Oil and Tach Lighting

Oil & Water Temp

Oil & Water Temp

Tach lamp wiring

Tach Lamp Wiring

Speedometer Lamp Wiring

Speedometer Lamp Wiring

Wiper Switch. Disconnected the dark blue wire with a soldered tip from the right screw terminal, and the black wire from the left terminal.

Fuel Gauge wiring. One black ground wire was removed from the retaining bracket. A red/white wire for the lamp to the retaining bracket, a green wire to the left terminal and a green/black wire to the right terminal were all disconnected.

Fuel Gauge Wiring

Fuel Gauge Wiring

Panel Lamp Switch.

The panel lamp switch had three wires. Two red/white wires were joined and connected to the right terminal and 1 red wire was disconnected from the left terminal.

Panel Lamp Switch

Panel Lamp Switch

Radiator Fan Switch

Radiator Fan Switch

The radiator electric fan switch

Has three wires: the black ground wire was removed from the top spade terminal, the blue power wire from the switch to the fan itself was removed from the middle spade and the red wire with fuse to the ignition was also disconnected.

The Horn

Had one brown wire from the horn trim ring to the horn itself. The wire was disconnected at the bullet connector.

After removing the starter button and cable, the choke cable and the heater air control assembly cable, and the grab handle, the dash was removed from the car. Two ¼” hex head bolts secured the dash to the body on the left and right side. Two chrome phillips head screws fastened through two brackets from the firewall to the dash and finally one nut is fastened to a stud located centrally at the top of the dash.

Recovered Dash

Then it was time to recover the dash. I purchased some naugahyde at a local fabrics store and some contact cement and went to work. This is the result:

Fresh New Look

Fresh New Look

Reupholstered Dash

Reupholstered Dash

Horn Ring

Horn Ring

Reupholstered Dash

Reupholstered Dash

The new tach and speedometer

While not original design, certainly look period. The tach required some new electrical connections.  One wire connected to the coil, another to the fused power block and one to ground.

Smiths Electronic Tach

Smiths Electronic Tach

tach coil connection

tach coil connection

Tach Fused Power

Tach Fused Power

Tach Ground

Tach Ground

Coil White Wire

Coil White Wire

Finished Dash Installed

Finished Dash Installed

Demister Hoses

The old paper demister hoses had holes in them and obviously did not work well. With the dash off it was the perfect time to install some new hoses.

Left Side Hose

Left Side Hose

Right Side Hose

Right Side Hose

Aluminum Racing Pedals

My dad had installed racing pedals in the Big Healey and thought they did give a better pedal feel in addition to looking cool, so I bought a set for the Bugeye as well. They do look nice. I did not use the racing pedal for the accelerator pedal as it was just too close to the brake.

A Little Wiper Work

Wiper WorkPlanning on attending The British Car Fest in Buckeystown, MD on Sunday the 27th, so we needed to get a few maintenance items taken car of on the Bugeye. We had never reinstalled the wiper motor when we finished restoring the car so that was the first job. We pulled the dash off the car which may not have been required but it did make access much easier. After much trial and error with fitting it was figured out and the motor and wipers were installed and made functional. The sweep doesn’t seem to be sufficiently wide so a little more research is needed to determine how to adjust.

Dash Wiring!

Dash Wiring!

Wiper Box Left

Wiper Box Left

Wiper Box Right

Wiper Box Right

Refurbished Wiper Motor

Refurbished Wiper Motor

The brake lights were not working. I connected the two brake switch terminals with a wire and the rear lights functioned, so I determined that the switch was faulty. I put a little brake fluid in the new switch, quickly removed the old one and reinserted the new one. Voila! Brake lights returned.