Swirl flaps How To and MAF clean How To anywhere? 159 1.9 - Page 3 - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Just picked up an inpact socket set up from machine mart. The nut on my fuel pump pulley is 22mm so it may be the case Alfa have done different sizes just for fun. Good old Alfa ????
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Spoke to Ned at Autolusso, thank you. I will give you a call once I'm in position for the remap.

Got the intake manifold off. What a pain in the arse. Getting ready for a deep clean on it now. Only spanner in the works. NO SWIRL FLAP THERE! The complete mechanism is there, and all 4 swirl flap pins there but no flaps. Obviously been removed at an earlier date. Not sure if any of the parts have been cleaned before, but they are filthy and will need a good clean regardless. A lot of leaking oil from the housing of the 4 rotating mechanisms for the swirl flaps so will be happy to sort that out and bloke up the pin holes.

Issue in my head now is why I have a dead car if it is not the flaps as there isn't any there. Could it be the DPF? MAP sensor was mucky also but didn't test it after cleaning it. I just went straight into a full dismantle.

Got the fun job of cleaning, then trying to remember where everything went (electrics and hoses) before testing. Then oil change and will sort sumthing on the DPF too.
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Sorry you are correct about the nut size, I remembered it was the largest of my 3/8 set at home which I thought went up to 24mm but it only goes up to 22mm.

Are you sure that the flaps havnt come loose and are wedged in the inlet tract.
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Originally Posted by JON156VELOCE View Post
Sorry you are correct about the nut size, I remembered it was the largest of my 3/8 set at home which I thought went up to 24mm but it only goes up to 22mm.

Are you sure that the flaps havnt come loose and are wedged in the inlet tract.
No prob about nut size. I got the opportunity to go shopping in Machine Mart which should be called every mans church. Got a lovely set of sockets. No doubt the wife will want some new shoes now.

Come loose?? All four of them? I'll have a look when there's more light. Damn awkward to get in there to see. If they have come loose n wedged into the inlet tract, can anyone suggest how to retrieve them without loosing them any further. I did notice with the pins though, when I manually rotated the mechanism. All the pins didn't move together, at least two of them.
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Here is a video link of my air intakes below the manifold. I don't think any broken swirl flaps have falling in, but anyones feedback would be great thanks.

http://youtu.be/mMr7Sdom5cc

Don't worry about the small bits of dirt that have dusted there way into the intake. I'm on the case and will be extracting them.

Last edited by Resolution; 18-01-16 at 19:14.
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Resolution: You'd be able to tell if your inlet had been previously removed and the flaps dismantled from the spindles. All the many hose clips you've had to undo to get the manifold out would likely be aftermarket Jublilee type with a screw and worm mechanism, rather than the OE 'Clic' clamp type used at the factory. The latter can be reused, but unless whoever did it had the special tool Hose clamp pliers "Clic"-Clamps - Alfa Romeo Ersatzteile - Italia Ricambi they will be mangled to an extent. Specialists and dealers should have the tool but otherwise it's usual to replace them with the easier to use Jubilee type.

Also there would be witness marks on nuts that have previously been undone.

The amount of carbon in your EGR block and manifold looks pretty similar to mine, which had definitely not been disturbed at 78,000mls.

Also, if the flaps were deliberately removed some time ago, the flat face of the spindles will all have much the same amount of carbon on them, and the top bearings should be fairly unworn (as they haven't had the stress of flaps). You might be able to tell more by cleaning off the carbon and having a look at the welds that used to secure the flaps. If they show signs of having been ground, flaps will have been removed deliberately. If not and the welds have broken, expect a ragged appearance like mine in the photo I posted. It is difficult to break the flaps out deliberately, and took me a lot of force. I had to roll the very hard and rigid stainless flap into a sardine tin lid shape, and work it repeatedly to break the welds. They're tiny, but very strong.

If they're in the head tracts, as one of mine definitely is (and I hope the other), I can't see any way to get them out other than removing the cylinder head The stainless flaps are completely non-magnetic, and access down into the port is terrible. The bright edge of one of mine was initially visible with a torch and mirror, but it fell lower into the inlet as I tried to fish it out. I've tried more fishing with various shaped wires but I've been unable to find any image of what happens below the point where the swirl port joins the main inlet. There must be a mixing chamber before it splits to feed the two inlet valves, and I'm hoping to find a small collection of swirl flaps there. To go through the valve, I think they'd have to arrive short edge down. There seems a reasonable chance they'd get stuck instead.

If anyone has an image of the inlet area of the head face, without the valves in place, I would be very interested to see it , just to get a better idea of how the ports are shaped.

Detached flaps floating around inside the head would definitely mess up airflow and might explain your poor running. I am trying to look on the bright side
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Your video, it's the same view that I have of mine. Except the valve stems at the back of your swirl ports are far more carboned than mine are - mine are clean steel. Odd. It's perhaps interesting that the stem of one (#1, I think) has a small bright nick in it. That might be where the edge of a flying flap has recently dislodged a fleck of carbon.

From poking around inside mine I think the swirl tract and inlet tract siamese together, an inch or so after turning down toward the valves - but I am not entirely sure. It might be the swirl tract feeds one valve, the inlet feeds the other and swirl happens only in the combustion chamber. Or it's possible that mixture gets swirled in a chamber that feeds both valves. Dunno at his point, but it might have a bearing on where loose flaps end up.
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That's really made my day halftone, thanks. I have ALL original clips. Hard to tell if any signs of nuts n bolts being removed before due to age of engine, but I'd guess more than likely not. And the spindles are not ground down. My worst nightmare.
But all 4 flaps broken off, really? And iv not noticed any problems. It's not gradually got worse, it was instant. And it's travelled half a mile from where it happened.
The spindles have a carbon build up all over them. I'll Post a picture later of one spindle I cleaned, and another of what they all came out like.
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Spindles, one I've cleaned. Three caked in carbon all over (this includes the one I cleaned). The one at the bottom less caked.

I'm thinking back to when the car immediately died, and there was a loud tinny rattling noise lasting around 1 or 2mins. I'm putting two and two together and thinking, "could this have been one of the swirl flaps snapping off and disappearing down the air track rattling on its way?"

The other three I'm lost about though. Obviously gone before I had the car if this is the case and wedged deep on the inners of the air system (is that even possible?). Iv had no real running issues with the car in the 6mths iv had other than the gearbox bearings. But on a performance point of view iv always though I was quite good. I'm baffled.
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On the attached video I put up a few posts ago, I start at chamber 2, then corrected myself and move to one, two, third and then four. (Or the opposite of that depending which side u wana start from).

But inside chamber two.....is that one of the swirl flaps sitting there sideways?
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Sorry, but it does sound as if you have missing flaps as opposed to removed. You are right about the video. Cylinder numbering on this engine is #1 at the timing belt end, #4 at the gearbox end. I think that reverses your numbering. See the attached Photoshopped composite image, which doesn't include the port you did first, but I think shows 4-3-2-1, L to R, top to bottom. Check the timings shown against your video. #3 (top right) certainly has something flap-ish obscuring the lower part of the valve stem.
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The amount of carbon and goo on the flat faces of those spindles suggest the flaps have been missing for a while, apparently without any serious engine damage. Interesting that your drive gears are oiled up too, mine were completely dry. Perhaps your lower bearings and seals are in a worse state than mine. What were the top bearings like, any sideways slop and up/down play? What's the mileage of this engine? Do you know which cylinder the least-caked one came from? That's likely the most recent one to fail. How do the spindles match up with the port pics? It'd be fortuitous if the most recent failure was the flap lodged in #3, and the noise had just been it clattering against the valve stem...

[EDIT: Looking again at the tops of those spindles, they're so crusty they can't have been barely touching what remains of the top bearings, so the spindle/flap assemblies will probably have been very loose and scraping against the inside of the inlet manifold. On my inlet I could see a bright line where the most recently departed flap had been pushing gunk out of the way and hitting the alloy. You might want to look in your inlet manifold for similar clues to which departed most recently.]

Last edited by halftone; 19-01-16 at 01:51. Reason: Info added
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I'll post more later. But just a quickie. What do I do next? What's involve in going deeper into the engine, what needs remove in all?

As you can imagine, this has come unexpected. This was suppose to be a swirl flap removal, to improve performance. Not to find they already gone, and every one of them in the engine. Extremely upsetting. I know your in the same boat halftone
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Originally Posted by halftone View Post
The amount of carbon and goo on the flat faces of those spindles suggest the flaps have been missing for a while, apparently without any serious engine damage. Interesting that your drive gears are oiled up too, mine were completely dry. Perhaps your lower bearings and seals are in a worse state than mine. What were the top bearings like, any sideways slop and up/down play? What's the mileage of this engine? Do you know which cylinder the least-caked one came from? That's likely the most recent one to fail. How do the spindles match up with the port pics? It'd be fortuitous if the most recent failure was the flap lodged in #3, and the noise had just been it clattering against the valve stem...

[EDIT: Looking again at the tops of those spindles, they're so crusty they can't have been barely touching what remains of the top bearings, so the spindle/flap assemblies will probably have been very loose and scraping against the inside of the inlet manifold. On my inlet I could see a bright line where the most recently departed flap had been pushing gunk out of the way and hitting the alloy. You might want to look in your inlet manifold for similar clues to which departed most recently.]
I spoke to Ned again at AutoLusso. Brilliant that he is willing to help those in need over the phone.
He told me it would be a miracle if my engine was still running with all the flaps falling in. Iv sent him the video so he can assist further. He says it sounds like that have been removed, but if that's the case I don't understand why iv had the rattle, why it looks like there is a flap in #3. Iv also a very detailed full service history. Why would a job like removing swirl flaps it be documented.

You will have to explain what the top n bottom bearing of the spindle are. Is the top bearing the small plastic ring the spindle slots through on the alloy part,and where the pin end of the spindle inserts is the bottom bearing? I don't know what's should be there or how it should look in the 2st place so hard to tell there condition. Plus being caked in Poland carbon makes it impossible to see.

Just over 100k on the clock.

I did not check which spindle was which. I just wanted to clean it so I dismantled straight away without looking too hard. This was also before me thinking the swirl flaps had broken off. I first presumed they been removed.
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Yes, the same uncomfortable boat. I can't see any way forward except removing the cylinder head, to reclaim flaps from the inlet tracts if there, and assess damage if not. I am resigned to doing whatever is necessary.

If it's an option for you, you may want to think about getting the car towed to a garage and handing over to a pro mechanic. I'm not fond of working outside in January, and would prefer to have handed this can of worms to a specialist, but personal austerity rules that out.

Actually getting the head off isn't so bad, but does mean the timing belt has to come off (and will require re-timing on reassembly). That means the aux belt has to come off first. Mine is off anyway, as there's a nasty intermittent rattle from something - crank pulley or alternator one-way pulley or idler or tensioner. I removed the inlet manifold partly in expectation of having to replace the alternator, partly as I was paranoid about swirl flaps...

The common rail and metal fuel pipes to the injectors need to come off, if they aren't already. Injectors have to come out. The cam cover carries the cams is next, leaving the cam wheel attached (this is why the timing belt has to be slackened at the tensioner, and the earlier smart move of bolting the HP pump pulley to its support bracket is now redundant).

The exhaust manifold can be removed with the turbo attached, so it's 'just' a matter of disconnecting the exhaust from the turbo along with electrical and vacuum connection.

Then the head itself can be unbolted and removed. It will then be immediately apparent whether or not any flaps have made it as far as the combustion chambers.

If they have, expect some permutation of piston, valve, cylinder head and bore damage that could be minor or easier to fix by replacing the engine. The turbo could also be a casualty of shrapnel so will need inspection of the turbine wheel for blade damage.

If not, then unless the flaps fall out of the head, it will be necessary to remove inlet valves to retrieve them.

I am sorry, this is massively depressing. I've got no further than squirting Plus Gas at the exhaust manifold fastenings. I probably won't get to stripping it and the head for a few days. Fingers crossed and pray for flaps stuck in the inlets.
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I spoke to Ned again at AutoLusso. Brilliant that he is willing to help those in need over the phone.
He told me it would be a miracle if my engine was still running with all the flaps falling in. Iv sent him the video so he can assist further. He says it sounds like that have been removed, but if that's the case I don't understand why iv had the rattle, why it looks like there is a flap in #3. Iv also a very detailed full service history. Why would a job like removing swirl flaps it be documented.
I think that he's right, it would be a miracle, but we're now in the realm of forensics. There is simply no way to tell what has become of the missing flaps except looking for them. What can't happen is that one or more remain loose somewhere in the cylinder head. You might be able to buy or hire a borescope/endoscope that would verify they're not, and also check combustion chambers for damage through the injector or glowplug holes.

I'm in a slightly different dilemma, since I know for a fact that one flap is in the head, but I can think of no way of removing it without removing the head. A borescope isn't going to tell me anything I don't know, except perhaps what has become of my other missing flap. If I've got to take the head off anyway, that'll be obvious one way or another.

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You will have to explain what the top n bottom bearing of the spindle are. Is the top bearing the small plastic ring the spindle slots through on the alloy part,and where the pin end of the spindle inserts is the bottom bearing? I don't know what's should be there or how it should look in the 2st place so hard to tell there condition. Plus being caked in Poland carbon makes it impossible to see.
Yes, the top bearing is that shonky little plastic ring, housed in the manifold and acts as a bearing for the 2.35mm pin atop the spindle. The one of four I show is seriously ovalled in my photo, they all were. That allows the spindle to move side to side and jam the flap into the side of the inlet manifold.

The lower bearing, well, there isn't one really AFAICT. The plastic shoulder of the cog extends up the spindle and bears directly on the alloy of the manifold. There is however a small blue plastic oil seal seated in the hole, I presume a gesture toward trying to prevent carbon goo from leaking down into the rack and pinion. Mine are actually OK, and were barely leaking, but the top of the spindles rock around 1.5mm

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Just over 100k on the clock.
Before I started I read as many of these threads as I could find. ~100k seemed to be the point where flap detachment became an epidemic, though some people seem to have had them fail much earlier. Like me, as it turned out. But it's circumstantial evidence, we don't know whether yours have gone for a walk or been deliberately removed.

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I did not check which spindle was which. I just wanted to clean it so I dismantled straight away without looking too hard. This was also before me thinking the swirl flaps had broken off. I first presumed they been removed.
OK. I'd still have a close look at the carbon in the inlet manifold, to see whether there's any footprint of recent flap operation.

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I spoke to Ned again at AutoLusso. Brilliant that he is willing to help those in need over the phone.
Here to help

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Spoke to Ned after he had my video. And without hesitation he stated "get the head off". Flaps defo come off and are hiding somewhere. He was shokes it still been driving for as long as it could have been. And what is in the video, #3 is definitely a flap.

He told me I can do it myself. I'm no mechanic and iv only limited get my hands dirty knowledge (suspension, brakes, normal services etc. But Ned said if iv got this far and done what iv done then I can definitely do the rest. Hr said getting a reconditioned head he would highly recommend as he said something about the walls of it are super thin and they are likely to go out of shape easily. Every one of these he does this job on he will put a reconditioned head on and not take the risk. For me that's going to be down to cost unfortunately. I bought the car cash 6mths ago, done full gearbox bearing replace, full suspension coil replace and full brembo brakes replace so I'm burnt clean outa cash. Hence this having to be a DIY job.

I'm gona start the next stages tomorrow.
Steep learning curve but the information everyone here has provided so far has been priceless. So thank you everyone. Your help and knowledge halftone especially. Even though it's crap, having someone else in the same situation with only minor differences, has took the blow off how bad this actually is for a car that was driving nicely a week ago.
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And thank you Ned, great to have a shoulder to cry on. I'm sure you will be hearing from me for parts and advice very soon. Let's get this Alfa back on the road better than ever.
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You're in much the same situation as me, then. No choice, just get on and do it

I did at least buy the car knowing it had issues I'd have to deal with and that swirl flaps would be on the list, though I was hoping they'd still be intact.

On the plus side, the swirl flaps and EGR are the Achilles heels, and once they're sorted these engines should live long and healthy lives. I'll save up for a remap after this present unpleasantness.

Interesting about the recon head. I'll bear that in mind when I get that far.

You could do with a copy of eLearn for the 159. It's a CD-based less-than-brilliant workshop manual, but is useful for getting an idea of what needs to be done and in what sequence, torque settings etc. eBay or Google for 'eLearn Alfa 159'. Be careful where you download it from if you find somewhere hosting it - usually as an .iso CD image packed inside a compressed .rar file.
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There's a download link for eLearn here: https://www.copy.com/s/l008mZacqTjmp...ISO%3Boid%3A34 It's the same as the one in the stickies.

Would either of you be willing / able to do a photo-diary / how to for the head removal? Really interesting and potentially useful thread. My 1.9 has the plastic manifold and is on 107K miles. Right in the danger zone according to Halftone. I wasn't worried before but now...
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I'm not sure the recon head is a necessity, just a precaution. I will look into it tomorrow.

Thanks for the info on the elearn manual. Seen it come up a few times on threads and didn't know what it was all about.

My biggest worry n least knowledge is with the timing of engine, setting it and what to do. Auxiliary belts iv replace on other cars before but nothing with cam belts. Last couple of cars iv had used a cam chain so didn't have anything to worry about.

I'll try n take pics along the way and keep updating my progress.

All the parts iv taken off I have cleaned and they are ready for going back on. But iv been thinking of a spray painting some parts to make them easier to keep, obviously with be right heat proof paint.
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There's a download link for eLearn here: https://www.copy.com/s/l008mZacqTjmp...ISO%3Boid%3A34 It's the same as the one in the stickies.

Would either of you be willing / able to do a photo-diary / how to for the head removal? Really interesting and potentially useful thread. My 1.9 has the plastic manifold and is on 107K miles. Right in the danger zone according to Halftone. I wasn't worried before but now... http://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/image.../depressed.gif
I'd do my best to keep notes n pictures. 107k? If I was to start again, and if I just found all this out and was worried, I think best thing to do for inspection, is to get your hands on some kind of endoscope, take off the throttle body and stick the camera down the manifold to see if the swirl flaps are there. If they are their, get the manifold off quick and remove them the right way. If one or more has gone, they prepare yourself for a big DIY dismsntle down to the cylinder head to access the damage and hope all is ok. Because it's clear with mine as an example, you can have three or all four off them all dropping/breaking off and falling into the engine and still have a perfectly drivable car, or what seems like it. Fingers crossed for anyone with the plastic manifold.

Thanks for the link.
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The one local garage I trust for advice told me the flaps could break up and blow out the exhaust. I'm guessing if they could they wouldn't go out of the exhaust due to the DPF.

There was a lot of messy oil around the bearings of the swirl flaps where they were leaking due to being so badly worn. and the plastic shield that's meant to protect them and hold them in place (LOL) does not hold fluid well. So there is a nice oil mess down back of the engine.

There is also a messy oil leak around the turbo at the front. What that means in relation to everything, I do not know. But will hopefully solve and clean that up too.
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I'm not sure the recon head is a necessity, just a precaution. I will look into it tomorrow.
Not worth the risk with the head it is too much work to re do

We can do all your gaskets etc, re con head is only 200 + VAT and postage (exchange), do you really want to do this job twice?

EGR delete by post too

Ned

Last edited by Autolusso; 19-01-16 at 22:11.
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