Alfa Oil Vapor Separator (OVS)

The OVS on the Alfa has been a well discussed topic on the ALFA Bulletin Board. Apparently it is a component that is subject to failure, although in fairness, I don’t expect that Alfa engineers ever expected this part to last over thirty years! The part is susceptible  to corrosion – often suffering pin hole leaks, rotted out internals and clogged lines. 

Richard Lesniewicz aka “divotandtralee” a contributor to the Bulletin Board, studied the problem and designed and partially manufactured a replacement for the original unit. The new OVS is entirely brass and Richard machined the individual components of the assembly and sold them as a kit to be assembled by the purchaser. “Assembly” in this case is primarily soldering. The new OVS is almost identical in size to the original and once painted black will be almost indistinguishable once mounted in the engine bay.

Richard sketched the OVS to first demonstrate how it functions and then to show what happens to it after extended use:

OVS Diagram

Problems with Used OVS

This is a link to his instructions for assembly and use:OVS Construction Instructions 

It is important to align the tubes off of the primary canister in the same fashion as the original OVS. Since that is still on the car, I will wait until I remove it to complete the “construction” of the brass OVS. The following image shows my progress to date:

Rose OVS

This image shows the location of the original OVS mounted to the RH engine bay valance. After disconnecting its hoses and pulling it out of the car I was able to put it on the bench and use it to determine the proper location of the ports on the new brass OVS. I followed the directions and installed the port fixtures.

Original OVS in Car with Mounting Bracket

Original OVS Port Alignment

After final assembly of the kit, I decided to apply some Bondo body filler to the canister to even out some of my solder joints and create a better appearance once painted. This took a little more time but the final product was worth it.

OVS Body Filler Applied

I then made my own mounting bracket that permits the bracket to be fixed to the car separately from the canister itself. I used some brass plate and a piece of 1/2″ x 1/16″ x 9.5″ steel bent into shape. I was pleased with the result.

OVS Mounting Clamp

I then primed and painted the assembly:

OVS Painted

OVS Painted

I then connected the various canister hoses and mounted the assembly to the car:

OVS Installed

The button in the center off the OVS top is a rivet that is pushed into a rubber grommet. the rivet and grommet can be pulled out to permit inspection of the inside of the canister. Next step will be to get some new hoses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfa Ownership & Maintenance Blog

April 28, 2021

70,815 miles on the odometer

The door seals on the car are torn and discolored so I ordered replacements from Classic Alfa. The new seals are very similar to the originals. The two photos below show the discoloration and seal tear:

Discolored door seal

Torn Rubber Door Seal

The first step in the removal of the old seals was to remove the inner plate that holds the seal to the sill threshold. It is held in place with four phillips head screws. The rear of the plate lines up exactly with the rear of the outside threshold plate. Unfortunately, the front screw on the driver’s side had been broken off previously.

Seal Inner Securing Plate

The next step is to remove the B column vinyl trim piece that retains the seal. It has four Phillips head screws. The panel on the driver’s side is slightly different because it houses the trunk and gas filler pulls. The panels had been tampered with before and are not in great shape. I have ordered replacements. In both cases, the panels do not need to be completely removed – just loosened so that the seal can fit under or next to the panel.

RH B pillar trim panel

RH B pillar trim lower fastening screw

The next step was to remove the chrome trim cap on top of the door seal. This is held in place by only one Phillips head screw.

Chrome Trim Cap with Securing Screw

Access is then gained to the rear termination of the door seal.

Rear termination of Seal

The old seal can then be pulled away from the car. This photo shows the lip the seal grips when replaced:

Seal Mounting Lip

After installing the seal in the door, I screwed the trim panels back in place and cut the rear terminus of the seal with a hacksaw blade. Then installed the little rubber plug and replaced the chrome trim.

Cutting the Seal to Length

There is a rubber plug that fits into both ends of the seal to prevent water from entering the rubber tube. These were also sourced from Classic Alfa. I used a little rubber grease to make it easier to push the plugs into the seal ends.

Rubber Plug for Seal

Seal Plug in Place

Chrome Trim Cap and Inner Seal securing plate screwed back in place

Chrome Trim Cap Back in Place

RH Side Seal Installed

The RH door capping was broken and I ordered a replacement from Classic Alfa. The replacements are metal rather than plastic so they should hold up much better. I just tapped the capping into the six metal clips with a light rubber hammer. The finished product looks much better than the broken piece!

Door Cap Replacement

Door Cap Replacement

 

April 13, 2021

70,787 miles on the odometer

Original Romablok hose clamps don’t seem to be produced anymore. I did find a source for reproduced clamps that are very similar to the originals and are stamped romablok at Jens Putzier Tools in Germany. The clamps appear to be of slightly lighter gauge steel and they have hex head machine bolts (a good thing) rather than the original cheese head round screws. They have a yellow zinc finish. I ordered a variety of sizes of the clamps and used them to replace many of the clamps on hoses under the hood. I will also replace the fuel hose clamps under the car when I replace the hoses. More detailed information about the original Romablok clamps can be found in a previous post: https://valvechatter.com/?p=12820

The Spider has a number of vacuum hoses associated with the L-Jetronic Fuel Injection system. These all seems to be functioning just fine, but I expect many are original and are showing their age. I thought it time to replace many of these hoses before failure and to dress up the appearance of the engine. I did not replace all of the hoses yet. My plan will be to replace those that are somewhat hard to access when I get around to pulling the intake plenum for a clean up. On my list for the future.

I decided to use silicone hoses to replace the old vacuum hoses and sourced them from HPSI Motorsports. They make a very nice kit that contains all of the various sizes required for the Alfa Spider and also provide a helpful set of directions making the job quite easy. 

Plenum to Auxiliary Air Device  – Silicone Hose “F” with two 20-23mm Romablok clamps.

Plenum to Auxiliary Air Device

Air Intake to Auxiliary Air Device – Silicone hose “F” with two 18-20mm Romablok clamps.

Air Intake to Auxiliary Air Device

Plenum to Brake Booster – Silicone hose “A” with a 16-16.5mm Romablok hose clamp at the check valve and a 17-19mm Romablok hose clamp at the booster fitting.

Plenum to Brake Booster

Idle Speed Adjustment Port at Plenum to Air Intake Pipe – Silicone Hose “F” with a 13-14.5mm Romablok hose clamp at the Idle Speed Adjustment Port and a 15-16.5mm Romablok hose clamp at the Air Intake Pipe.

Idle Adjustment at Plenum to Air Intake Pipe

Rocker Cover Breather Port to the Oil Vapor Separator (OVS) – I did not replace the hose at this time, but I did replace both hose clamps with 24-27.5mm Romablok hose clamps.

Rocker Cover Breather to OVS

Coolant Hose from Thermostat Housing to the Top of the Plenum – I did not replace the hose at this time, but I did replace both hose clamps with a 17-19mm Romablok Hose clamp at the Thermostat Housing and an 18-20mm Romablok Hose clamp at the top of the plenum.

Coolant Hose from Thermostat Housing to Plenum

Air Intake Pipe to the lower port on the OVS – I did not replace the hose at this time, but I did replace the original 22mm Romablok Hose clamp with a new 18-20mm Romablok Hose clamp at the Air Intake Pipe. I left the original clamp on the lower port of the OVS and will replace at a later date.

Air Intake Pipe to the lower port on the OVS

Air Intake Pipe to the Charcoal Canister – I did not replace the hose at this time, but I did replace the hose clamp at the Air Intake Pipe with a 17-19mm Romablok Hose clamp.

Air Intake Pipe to Charcoal Canister

Coolant Overflow Hose to the Overflow Tank – I replaced the coolant hose for the radiator overflow port to the overflow tank and used a new 12mm Romablok Hose clamp at each end of the hose. The braided, clear hose was sourced from Classic Alfa.

New Radiator Tank Cap and Overflow hose

This image shows an overhead view of the “upgraded” appearance of the engine bay with many new hose clamps installed. While I was at it I also added the warning decal for the radiator cap, also sourced from Classic Alfa. Now I need to clean that hideous overflow tank!

Overhead View of New Hoses and Clamps

Radiator Cap Warning Sticker

I ordered a new coolant recovery tank and mounting strap rom Classic Alfa to replace my discolored tank and tired strap. Unfortunately neither fit! I will give cleaning the tank a try but I was able to shorten and reshape the new strap so that I could use it with the original tank. At least the strap looks better now!

The problem with cleaning, replacing or replacing with new items is that they make older components look even worse. Note the air conditioner drier below. It definitely needs some love.

Coolant Recovery Tank Strap

April 5, 2021

70,752 miles on the odometer

The original radiator was leaking around the lower lip of the upper tank. I pulled it out and took it to Sarasota Radiator Service, Inc., a local “old school” repair shop. Ron pointed out the very small white specs at the top of the core, next to the tank which are apparently tell-tale signs for solder joints going bad. We could have tried resoldering the unit as it was but instead decided to go ahead and order a modern core and installed it. Everything was accomplished in seven days. 

I sanded the tanks to remove the marginal paint that was on the radiator, primed and repainted it in gloss black. I then reinstalled the radiator in the car with a new fan shroud. The car, as I received it, did not have a shroud mounted. The shroud certainly makes the installation process a bit awkward and tedious but all was accomplished.

Alfa Fan Shroud

Radiator and Fan Shroud Installed

The air conditioner drier (air conditioning was an aftermarket dealer installed item) also made installing the upper right radiator mounting bolt a real pain to get to! The lower radiator hose clamp is also quite hard to access, but with considerable patience all was buttoned up.

I then installed a new radiator overflow hose to the coolant expansion tank and used a couple of new 12mm Romablok hose clamps. I also installed a new radiator cap sourced from Classic Alfa. I have taken the car for several runs making sure the car was under driving temperature. All seems well. The car runs at 175 degrees and I am experiencing no leaks.

Overflow hose and Upper Radiator Hose with Mikalor Clamp

New Radiator Tank Cap and Overflow hose

 

March 22, 2021

70,750 miles on the odometer

The Oil Vapor Separator (OVS) found on the Alfa was, I am sure, never designed to last thirty plus years. When dissected, one finds nothing but sludge and rust. New units are unobtanium, so one of the enterprising contributors to the Alfa Spider Bulletin Board designed and fabricated a kit made of brass to do the job of the original OVS. The down side of the kit is that it must be assembled requiring some artful soldering, but with a little practice the requirement is not too daunting. I put together a separate post on the OVS kit found at this link: https://valvechatter.com/?p=12619

There are more photos in the OVS post, but here are a few of the assembled kit:

OVS Painted

OVS Installed

 

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!