Berlina Register Newsletter No. 13 (November 2001)
Notes and Comment
The Berlina Register, home to all unwanted Berlinas, bought yet another Berlina in June. Weeks after I bought the beige 1973 2000 mentioned last issue, the owner of one of two 1974 maroon rubber-bumper Berlinas I had looked at in the spring called, desperate to sell. I didn't really want the car, but by now knew that my beige car's engine and FI pump had problems, and it would be easier and cheaper to use the good engine and pump out of the maroon car than to rebuild what I had. So I drove to Davis, Calif. on Father's Day and bought the maroon Berlina after checking over the engine, trans, pump, and brakes. The car drove well, but had a cracked windshield, so-so body repair, a cheap paint job, and a cheap interior. It was complete and worked, and provided parts for the beige car, which has a much better body and interior. It also had BWA mags and fat tires, which may migrate to my GTV. I spent the summer swapping components between the cars and fixing problems on both cars. Now the beige car is done, and runs and drives well. It's my track car, doing well in its first on-track session October 14 at Sears Point. I put the maroon car back together and sold it as a runner to a Bay Area guy in October.
Here are some miscellaneous Berlina items: (1) If you have not already sent me your email address, please do, so I can send as many future newsletters by email as possible. (2) The list of Berlinas is on the website. Go to www.berlinaregister.com and click on View the Berlina Register, updated periodically. (3) We're working on LHD 2000 Berlina dash caps. (4) Matt Jones at ReOriginals mentioned he'd received some new 1750 and 2000 Berlina exhaust systems from Italy. Contact ReOriginals if you need one. (5) I may make up a batch of Berlina Register baseball caps. Are you interested; somewhere between $15-20, depending on quantity? (6) Adam Lunn, in England, plans to restore his Berlina this winter and would like advice and counsel. Contact him at email@example.com.
Howie Stein reports that he rechromed his C-pillar air extractor covers. They are plastic, but he says the excellent job done makes them feel like metal. He sent them to Custom Coating Corp, 4794-C Woodlane Circle, Tallahassee, Florida 32303; phone (850) 562-3847. He is very happy with the work done, but it wasn't cheap. These grilles are often in poor condition, so it's nice to know they can be fixed up when restoring a car.
Antti Korhonen writes: "I am collecting a pictured paintchart of all the factory colours used in the 105-series Alfas - this meaning different Giulia/Berlina/GTV/GTj/Spider - models made before 1980. I've already found some lists from the net, so my idea is to help identifying the right colour of when the tonecode is missing from the trunk lid with proper examples and Sikkens/Standox - numbers supporting the factory name. Therefore I wonder, if you could help me by asking for pictures of different original colours with their codes for me in the forthcoming Berlina Newsletter." If you can help, respond to Antti Korhonen / Club Alfa Romeo Finland (CARF), Allinkatu 12, as. 2, 20100 Turku, FINLAND, or e-mail: AnttiKorhonen@carf.fi
The keeper of the Berlina Register is Andrew Watry, 1284 Monterey Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707 USA. Phone (510) 526-0391. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me corrections to your register information or any other Berlina-related facts, rumors, tips, or needs. Always seeking articles for the newsletter. Free Berlinas and parts gladly accepted.
Fuel Delivery for Spica Injection, or
The Story of the Spica Spider With the Berlina Heart
By Willy Schmidt
Given the recent interest in filters and pumps for Spica injected cars, and my own tribulations with a Spica injected spider, I thought the Berlina newsletter readers might enjoy a short article based on my recent findings. As you will see a root cause of most of the problems was from the car sitting for a long period, something not uncommon with Berlinas that find new homes after long periods of neglect.
I recently put my 71 Spica injected spider on the road for the first time since I bought it as a non-runner. As purchased, the spider was fairly complete but had a seized 1750 engine. It had sat for many years, and although solid, needed a significant amount of work to get it back on the road complete with safety inspection and emission testing. Rather than rebuilding the 1750 immediately, I decided to install a 2000 engine along with a Spica FI pump that was looking for work, rather than just sitting on the shelf. It had come from a 72 Berlina that I had parted out some months before. Hence the Berlina heart. I knew it was working as I had driven it home.
Amazingly enough this assortment of bits and pieces was up and running with little adjustment, and looked great in the emission testing. As this was completed in November, the spider stayed inside until spring, waiting for the great weather we have been having here in BC.
On the road in May as a daily driver, everything was looking good, until the a long hot drive resulted in a stall once I came off the upper levels highway, across Lions Gate Bridge and was idling at a stoplight. I was able to get going again after a cool down. Not realizing that I was having what was likely a fuel problem, I had checked all the plugs. As I only had the Alfa tool kit on hand, I couldn’t get #2 plug out. Unfazed, I decided to crank it over anyway to clear the cylinders in case the engine was flooded, as it looked so. In doing so, the engine started on one cylinder!!!! I turned it off and replaced all the plugs - and cranked. No start! So after a could of tries, I decided that if the engine would start and run on #2 alone, let’s do that. Once running I put the remaining plugs back in and drove home.
It took a few more weeks for the symptoms to show up again. It was curious as the engine would start and run fine from cold, cruise at high speed, but stall at an intersection. As the pump would make unusual noises just before stalling, I suspected the pump. I discussed this with my local “highly trained professional (HTP)” who carried out the remainder of troubleshooting this problem. Closer inspection and running on the “bench” indicated that the pump was okay, but worn in the motor brushes and seal. I tried a couple of other pumps without success. They would all pump for a few seconds and then start sounding very stressed.
Finally, I decided that it would be prudent check out everything in the fuel delivery system a systematic way to determine the root cause of the problem. First, I determined that the pressure switch was working, but not switching the light on. This wiring problem was quickly resolved. Thanks to Andrew Watry for feedback on the functioning of this switch. Yes, it is indeed a pressure switch that turns the light off once the pressure is above about 9 psi. There was a co-relationship with the stalling. Light on and it was just a matter of moments until the engine stalled. Sometimes this could be delayed by going to higher revs.
Checking further, I discovered that the pressure relief valve located at the high pressure filter in the engine bay could be adjusted, but decided that this wasn’t a problem as it only activated at pressures much higher than normal running. So it wasn’t bleeding off pre-maturely.
Now with a functioning warning light, and adding a pressure gauge downstream of the pump, I was ready to let HTP step through the fuel delivery system. The pump being used would deliver about 15 psi with an open discharge. In the engine bay, with the line before the filter in the engine bay disconnected, the delivery pressure was a bit higher, but not much. Similarly when disconnected downstream, between the filter and the Spica pump. About 15 psi again.
With fuel flowing through the Spica pump, and out the discharge port (with its orifice unmodified), the delivery pressure increased to about 18 psi. Still no problem found as there was definitely good pressure and good flow. I was running out of ideas why there could be a problem. After all, from here on it was just the return line and the connection to the tank. And the 18 psi seemed reasonable, as indicated by the collective wisdom of the Alfa Digest. On to the return line - perhaps it was kinked.
When HTP disconnected the return line at the rubber hose that connects to the tank, HTP noticed that a bit of fuel ran out of the hose. This was curious as this line should be free to drain! Finally the systematic troubleshooting had found something unusual. Further investigations showed that steel tube which dips into the tank was plugged! Reconnecting the hose and restarting the pump showed that the pump pressure immediately went off the 60 psi scale, headed for infinity. And the pump changed sounds to that funny, now familiar pitch that indicated it was not pumping. A further check confirmed that there was no easier way to clear the blockage in the dip tube. Once the return tube was cleared and checked for leaks, the system seemed to be working fine again.
As a daily driver now, the fuel delivery problems have become a thing of the past, except for the occasional tank filter replacement as it collects more debris from the tank that is also a result of sitting for years. While it is still a bit of a mystery as to why this tube did plug, I suspect that it was mainly due to corrosion at the fuel level which took place slowly over the years. And this pluggage, while not enough to bother the supply pump while running at normal cruising speeds, caused it to build extra pressure and overheat when the engine was idling. Once overheated, the pump would stall and give up completely until it cooled down. This probably explains the excessive brush wear in the pump motor (the gear type pump, not the flow-through Bosch type) too.
So that is the story of how one more Alfa is back on the road as a daily driver. One final note, to make this story short enough for the newsletter, details on safety precautions, types of testing fluids (ie non flammable) etc. not been included. Gasoline is an extreme hazardous and flammable fluid. The reader is advised not to carry out this type of troubleshooting at home, contact your local HTP to carry out this work.
Berlina Trunk Hinge
By Fred Zimmermann
We have been working on a 1969 Berlina for a little over a year. It is nice enough to show at the Italiano Concorso this year in Monterey. It's pretty much complete, with one exception. The paint is a bare metal metallic silver and turned out beautiful. About a month ago, while opening the trunk, a gut wrenching slamming noise occurred. Turns out the trunk hinge pivots on large rivets. There are mini garage door springs that are used to counterbalance the weight of the trunk. One of the rivets that acts as a pivot for the hinge snapped and the trunk slammed down onto the new paint. It didn't do a lot of damage, but after all of the time and money that has been put into the car and this close to the big weekend in August, we had to have it repainted. Actually, it's the smallest area to repaint on the entire car. Just between the trunk and the bottom of the rear window.
I finally had installed the last of the door rubber molding on the last door. A very tedious job that rewards you with a door so hard to close that you have to slam it shut. Once closed, there's so much pressure on the locking mechanism, that's it's really hard to open. Oh well. The gasket material is obscenely expensive and then offers hours of pushing it in the groove around three sides of the door, with a screwdriver - one blade width at a time. This time consuming procedure also allows you to get in positions so awkward that they can't be described.
So, it's Friday morning, the day before the car goes to the shop to be repainted, and time to go to work. Started the engine, put it in reverse, let out the clutch and the worst noise came from under the car that I've ever heard. Clutch in and it stopped. Neutral, clutch out, there it was again. Oh no! Maybe the throw out bearing or clutch or please no, maybe the transmission. It drove smooth and shifted easily. Well, I just eased down to Emilio, the local Alfa Guru. Funny thing, I always get looks of admiration when I drive the beautiful little Berlina. The looks were a lot different this morning. Most folks were looking for me before they knew that I was headed their way. They all had a look of what seemed a lot like horror.
After arriving at Emilio's, it was up on the lift for my little Italian beauty. After several checks, the initial verdict was transmission. My heart sank. There's always the concern about an unknown expense, but in addition, there's almost no time left before Monterey. This day was starting at one on the worst emotional lows that I can remember. I called my wife, and she came and picked me up and we went home to get the spare Alfa. Since she was actually driving our official spare, the Duetto, I got to drive her 71 GTV. The combination of the three makes a really nice stable of Alfas. I didn't say much on the ride home. I was depressed and my mind was racing trying to figure out what to do, for all of the unknown possibilities. How much would it be? How long to get parts and get it fixed? Should I reschedule the paint repair or just wait? What did I do to screw up a virtually bulletproof Alfa transmission? What to do. My whole day was really busy, but it didn't keep my mind off of the awful way the day started and that horrible grinding sound. Went out and had lunch, but wasn't really hungry. Well, around 3 or so in the afternoon, Emilio called and asked when I wanted to come pick up my little baby. Could this be true or was he playing some cruel joke on me? Turns out it was low on transmission oil. How could this be? There are only minor drip marks in the parking place at work and almost no leak signs on the cardboard on the garage floor. Doesn’t every Alfa owner have cardboard on the floor in their garage? The answer is an obscure seal for the speedometer cable, on the transmission. It looks like a small front end bushing. It’s about 5/8” (about 16 mm) and has solid metal ring with a floating rubber seal on the inside with an ID of about ¼” or 7mm (kinda like a slinger bushing ) It was leaking, but only at speed. The speedometer cable was wet with transmission oil and it leaked down to the heat shield that protects the brake master cylinder. The asbestos (Shhh!) is now soaked with transmission oil. This seal is something that I’ve never about leaking, but it can sure have potentially serious impact. Matter of fact, both of the parts that failed on our car are parts that I never gave any thought to. Both of the rivets that act as pivots for the trunk hinges are now replaced with clevis pins, with a washer on both side and secured with a cotter pin. Check both of these parts the next time you are inspecting you car.
Berlina Market Report
Here are some cars that actually sold in the most recent period:
1971 European 2000 Berlina. £1600 (around $2100). May 2001. UK. Red with black; nice condition but rusty sills; mag wheels. Price included a year's MOT. Sold to buyer in South Wales. Ad started at offers around £2000.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. $500. Mar. 2001. Blue rubber-bumper car converted to steel bumpers; black interior; runs and drives well. Poor body repair including covered-over gas door. Lowered with fat tires. Ad in Oceanside, CA, recycler newspaper.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. $900. May 2001. Blue rubber-bumper car with tan interior, little rust, bad paint and interior, runs well. Sold from CA and AZ.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. $600. June 2001. Maroon rubber-bumper car with tan interior; good headliner; engine, drivetrain good; poor body repair, slight rust, cracked windshield, BWA mags. Ad in recycler newspaper; Davis, CA. Began at $1800 in mid-2000.
1971 US 1750 Berlina. $1,000 WTC donation. Sept. 2001. Original metallic olive car in good mechanical condition with average rust. Factory sunroof. Alfa Digest. Boston, MA.
1974 US 2000 Berlina. $500. Oct. 2001. Same as Davis car above, with different good engine and trans. Some things better, some worse. No mags. Alfa Digest. Berkeley, CA.
Here are some cars seen advertised, but not actually sold:
1969 US 1750 Berlina. Plum with tan interior. Excellent original car that has been for sale for months. Bid to $6,500 on ebay but did not meet reserve. Apparent private sale afterward at unknown price. Sept. 2001.
1972 US 2000 Berlina. In local newspaper ad in Petaluma, CA. Little rust other than on hood; head is off engine; poor interior. $995. May 2001.
1973 US 2000 Berlina. Listed on ebay as Calif. car in Oregon. White, black interior, 69,000 miles, slight rust, needs paint, interior, windshield. First sold on ebay for $1525, relisted at $1500. June 2001.
Berlina Classified Ads
1973 Berlina 2000 for sale in Windhoek Namibia, Africa. Genuine 110,000 km. Paint slightly faded, a few minor mechanical problems. The rest tops. Original owner. US $4000/BO. More details for interested parties. D C Salvoldi, email Charly@iway.na
1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina for trade. The car runs very good, looks good in the evening from about 25 feet away. All original. Wood work is nice. 72,317 miles. I am not interested in A CASH SALE...just a good INTERESTING car that gets GREAT gas mileage and is ROCK SOLID dependable. NO CHEVYS PLEASE! Mike 503-329-1345 or email@example.com