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Well, summer had rolled on in and topless motoring beckoned. The spider is a really lovely machine, but there were a couple of jobs that needed some little attention. First up was a reconditioned Idle Speed Control Valve (ISCV) and intake bellows to fix an irregular idle. Then there was a new fuel tank (leaking) and fuel-pump (on its last legs and moaning like hell). Then there was a new wooden Momo wheel to replace the old air-bagged monstrosity - which to add insult to injury, was on slightly crooked.
A word to the wise here; if you thought that 75 steering wheels were difficult to get off - hah! This baby stripped the threads right out of the wheel itself rather than let me take it straight off. In the end I had to drill larger diameter holes, fit larger bolts through the wheel and bolt them from the back before leaning on the poor steering wheel puller so hard that I warped the nose on it. Wow, was it a load 'crack' when the wheel eventually gave or what!
So, after that it was just a new stereo before my better half could really enjoy proper summer spider motoring.
All good and harmless you might think. But Rachael (my 75), being an Italian girl took a very poor view of all this attention being lavished on some blow-in. So, driving home from work one day her big-end bearing went BANG! Now everyone, and their aunt, will tell you that these engines never blow their bottom ends. If I had a Euro for every person that explained this to me :-(
A trip to Paschal Kennedy Motors in DunLaoghaire confirmed that something was badly amiss internally. A chat with David Kennedy yielded some useful advice. As an aside, I could not recommend a better Alfa fixer than the boys in Paschal Kennedy's; not necessarily cheap, but for old Alfas they've never done me wrong over many, many years. Anyway, David's advice was that rebuilding the engine might be a false economy. His reasoning being that something unusual must have caused the big-ends to go pop (these engines never blow their bottom ends...). So I could end up rebuilding the broken bits without finding or fixing the root cause. So really an engine swap was the most logical alternative.
So time to source an engine then! A lot of trawling the internet turned up a number of engines looking for homes. All were around the same price, but all were in the UK and transport was not going to be cheap :-( But then this TS Veloce came up on eBay. It was only about £50 more expensive than an engine alone. It was in pretty unloved condition, but had had an engine swap late in its life, so the motor was reasonably young, and had had a lot of money spent on it. So, thinks I, X pounds to buy an unknown motor, or X+50 quid to buy a motor that has to be a good runner (or I don't do the deal) plus a rather large metal box of 'Ricambi Originali'. And it could transport itself home. Hmmm, not much competition there :-)
So part one of the adventure. My best mate Aindriu and myself flew off to deepest darkest Wales to pick up my engine on wheels. What a great trip, what good company this guy is, what a decent nutter the vendor was, and what a dangerous car to drive that was! When I say that the brakes on it were not great, please believe me that I've ridden skate-boards with more stopping power! Usually by the same method, i.e., running into something! That and the fact that on the motorway at anything approaching seventy the bonnet kept lifting!!! We missed our booked ferry home. Still we caught a later one and made it home just in time for pints. Mmmmmm. Guinness!