Two weeks ago I bought my first Alfa, a 1997 Spider, 2.0L TS. Mileage at purchase was 101K with the last record of a cam belt change at 54K in 2004, so definitely due for renewal! I bought the car as a project and decided to do the work myself and having now finished thought I would share my experience. While the engine was it bits I also changed the water pump and variator.
In the dim distant past I used to service my own cars and have rebuilt a couple of old British bikes but Iíve never changed a cam belt before or done so much work on a modern, (to me anyway!), engine.
Essential tools for the job include:
1) A good set of hex and ribe bits (£10 from ebay)
2) Cam locking blocks and long bolts
3) Cam and balance belt adjusting tools (came with my cam locking blocks from ebay for £20)
4) 10mm offset ring spanner for balance belt tensioner
5) 15mm offset ring spanner for auxiliary belt idler
6) Variator removal tool
7) Tube of locktite
8) Tube of automotive silicone
9) Most helpful online guide: http://www.alfatecnico.co.uk/car%20mechanics.pdf
You will see there is no dial gauge for finding TDC. I thought about getting one but decided that mechanics have been finding TDC for over a century on petrol engines with nothing more than a stick! It worked for me.
1) The auxiliary belt idler can only be removed with a 15mm offset ring spanner as there is not enough room to get a socket in the gap between the idler and the inner wing. To get the spanner to fit I had to grind the shoulder off so that the ring could go over the bolt. I also found that wedging the ring onto the bolt with a screwdriver handle that filled the gap between the idler and inner wing stopped the spanner jumping when first loosening the bolt and for final tightening.
2) I could not remove the variator with the inlet camshaft in situ, it just would not budge. In the end I removed the camshaft and held the far end in a large vice, supported the variator end on wooden blocks and attempted to remove the variator with a bar and hammer. Despite having a large vice I just could not hold the round end tight enough to stop it turning so in the end had to grind two flats on the end of the camshaft so that the vice could hold it securely. Even then the variator was very hard to remove and took a lot of flogging. If I replace a variator again then it will be a camshaft out job.
3) The crank pulley was a swine to remove. Eventually I put a hooked lever behind the pulley and used the engine mount to pull against and the pulley popped off.
4) All the instructions say set the tension of the two belts with the tensioning tools but none explain how to use them! The cambelt tool has an offset pin that goes into a hole in the block by the tensioner. Once in the hole the tool acts as a cam to move the tensioner. I also found that tightening the tensioner nut increased the tension on the belt so after a bit of trial and error I set the tensioning pointer slightly loose and when the nut was tightened the pointer was spot on. The balance belt tool works in the same way but has an offset hole that fits over a dowel near the tensioner.
In all I spent 8 hours doing all the work including 2 hours alone on the variator, (an hour in situ and an hour to remove the cam and then refit with the new part). Probably spent as much time trying to undo stuck, stubborn or awkward fixings as I did on the actual job.