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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

It´s time to present on society my

Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf + Selespeed.

This project represents a crucial point in my experience as an Alfa Romeo enthusiast and therefore I will devote all the means it deserves to reveal it properly.

I dedicate it to my family which always supported me and especially to my grandmother who taught me that nothing is impossible if you really believe in it.

1.1. Introduction:

Being an Alfa enthusiast is difficult to explain with words. It's something intangible you were born with, it can´t be learned nor teached. In my opinion all humans are Alfisti although many don´t know it and others get it later on. For those of us who have already realised it any insignificant trip may turn into pure pleasure.

1.2. Project reasons:

Three fundamental.

First, beyond the madness and obvious irrationality of such project, is the challenge itself. The idea came to me out of nowhere. I thought to myself ¨why there was no 145 Selespeed? Did not it occur to Alfa Romeo that such a model could literally crush the competition?¨
I did some web research on any Cleverleaf-Selespeed project and found nothing! Convinced that each of us is unique and dreams about a fully customized car I decided to build one myself. All the comments were stuff like: ¨the world is enormous and if it were possible any other would have already done it¨ or ¨stop dreaming¨ or ¨forget about it way¨... It´s strange how people are used to avoid huge obstacles or prefer giving up. But ladies and gentlemen, I´m not a surrender! Take as example a huge puzzle. No matter how big it is, if you separate it in mini-puzzles, look for the solution of each one and then you sum all the mini-solutions up it will give you the total solution.

Secondly, for personal delight. It´s mine. Only mine!

And finally, for any future benefit. Not literally but in the sense that it´s increasing my value added as a specialist in some particular area of vehicle mods.

1.3. The virus called ¨Alfa ¨:

Many people tend to interpret badly Alfa Romeo as a low reliable car manufacturer. They´re all wrong! Few years ago I had a marvellous 156 2.0 Twin Spark with Koni adjustables, lowered, all black interior, etc. which made me love this unique italian brand of sporty cars. Once you´ve tried such a machine you realize that this love/virus will last forever.

My ex-156:

But I made the mistake of trying a 145 Cloverleaf and there were no way back because it´s a toy for grown children! A year of searching, 4-5 possible candidates and only one winner. I got a 145 Cloverleaf built in the very beginning of February '96. No accidents, from first owner, perfect in timing belts´ changes, compulsory oil changes every 5K miles, maintained at the same workshop, etc... .

After eliminating some small defects it looked like this:

The white one behind (Citroën XM TurboCT) is my other great passion:

The 528i I had to sell it and the money went on financing my Cloverleaf-Selespeed project:


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
2.1. Engine rebuilding

From the very beginning we must have things very clear: What we've got?, What do we need?, Is it viable? What should I do first, second..?
Order is needed!

Early 145 Cloverleaf mounted a 67.204 type engine which is slightly different from the 32.301 type fitted lately. Main differences among both ot them are as follows:

-Injectors rail and fuel pressure sensor
-Ignition coils (they differ in the connector)
-Aluminum vs. variable-length plastic intake manifold
-Exhaust manifold
-Camshaft position sensor and exhaust camshaft pulley
-Crankshaft position sensor
-Engine coolant temperature sensor
-Valves cover
-Mechanical vs ¨drive-by-wire¨ throttle body
-Air conditioning compressor and piping
-Serpentine drive belt (difference of 30 mm)

Many of these differences are easy to fix. For some of them a simple fitting is sufficient, other require imagination and the rest is free up more space under the hood.

We must also consider the total replacement of ABS module & brake pipes.

ECU, ABS and Selespeed modules are connected in a network they operate in together exchanging information. A failure or malfunction detected by one of them may limit another one´s functions. It is impossible to use the original 145 Cloverleaf ECU and ABS modules and therefore it´s better replace the entire electrical system. Change the engine management unit requires match the ignition switch key with transponder to CODE module in order to allow starting of the engine. As you can see everything is interrelated and therefore the best we can do is attach the new wires to the dimensions of our 145. Later on I´ll devote a whole section on this topic.

There we have the 145 Cloverleaf on my improvised ¨surgery¨ table. It´s not the cosiest workshop but it´s all what I have. It´s a shelter with a pit behind my summer house on the beach.

The car remained at this position over the pit for several days because I had no courage to destroy something working perfectly. Completely lost in my project dreams I had no idea where to start from. Moreover, the Selespeed gear box was a complete unknown to me. I take it off of a car I had no information about. (Later on I discovered that it had less than 50K miles!!!)
After several days of doubts and I decided to be brave!

Bottom view:

It is well-known that the 145 had several endemic leakage points.

Although the engine had an excellent appearance:

I started with the easiest: the air filter, front bumper, fenders, battery ....:

A close look of the intact beams. No accidents ever!

View of the gear box from below:

In fact this is a second-hand 1.6 TS gear box I fit when I bought the car because the original one was completely worn. It is also known that these gear boxes suffer from leakages due to low-quality seals and that´s why it´s strongly recommended to check the oil level very often in order to prevent future interior damages. A Cloverleaf gear box differs from the rest of 145´s range in larger 1st and 5th gear ratios and nowadays it is very difficult to find one in excellent conditions.
View from above:

You see the bunch of cables and hoses where in theory I should have to fit the Selespeed robot. I had no idea what to do with this!

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Before proceeding with everything else I wanted to leave the motor as a brand new one. For this purpose I decided to replace all items prone to wear with new ones. Piston rings seemed to still have much more mileage ahead. Pistons were also at a perfect condition because this engine has always been maintained with the best oil always at the top level, as it should be in every Twin Spark engine. I also removed the oil sump,separated the steel plate from it, cleaned everything with gasoline and there we have the result:

First look at the crankshaft and the engine block seen from below:

I cleaned everythink until I got a smooth and clean surface where later I´ll stick the sump with gasket.

Pistons had a lot of impurities, which is something normal for an used engine (13 years and 117K miles!!!). But the dirt I was interested in remove was the one hiding in the piston rings´ seatings because it can lead to poor lubrication at high rpm and cause a costly future repair.

Old segments are removed, pistons are cleaned and this is the result:

At the bottom end you can see the ring compressor which helps to introduce the pistons. Before this we must spread all contact surfaces with a plenty of oil.

Close look at the cleaned piston:

The new segments:

Already on the piston. They are placed at 120 ° from each other.

We are about to restore completely the engine block and move on with the mod.
The appearance of the block before cleaning was:

Unfortunately the former owner did not know what antifreeze was. For me it´s cheaper to buy a bottle of 5 liters compared to the cost of 2 radiators and a thermostat
Upper view of the cleaned block:

I love the next pic because there you can observe the minimum wear of the engine even with 117K miles!!! Look at the upper area above the last ring. There was only a hardly noticeable drop in the jacket. You can still observe the factory treatment of the shirts. So ladies and gentlemen, change the oil every 5K miles at Twin Spark engines has its reward!!! Aaah, and another thing: do not be slacker! The good oils are more expensive but ultimately worth it.


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
2.2. Cylinder head

According to some mechanics the cylinder head represents an 80% of the engine. While the engine block has not changed almost nothing during the last century, the cylinder head has always been the great unknown (along with the electronic fuel injection) and has undergone some huge changes in the last 30 years. Present car producers spend significant resources in developing new technologies which could manage precisely air intake and thus improve combustion.The most recent example could be the Fiat Group ¨Multi-air system¨, awarded as ¨best engine of the year 2010¨.

If the block has its crankshaft (in terms of development, the most sophisticated and perfect part within the engine), the cylinder head counts with valves and camshafts even more important. These latter determine the overall behavior of the engine. They feed him with what he most needs of: AIR! I won´t go any deeper into details on valve overlapping because anyone who is interested in the topic can find plenty of information in internet.

Once removed the cylinder head I noticed it also had a lot of impurities. I flushed it several times. Then I sent it to be checked for flatness:

They had taken only a 0.08 mm. They also have made other kind of measurements and tests and everything was within the normal bounds.

All valves had the same amount of charcoal and also the same color. Good sign! I placed all the springs together and discovered that one of them was about 5 mm lower. The next day I replaced it for a good one caught from a spare cylinder head I had. Those of you who have never made this before I recommend you to mark all parts (cam covers, hydraulic tappets, springs and valves) with a permanent marker so that when assembling all is replaced in its original place. It´s very important!
I forgot to comment another trick: when you take out the tappets get them into a bowl full of oil! Otherwise they could remain stucked!

Well, it´s valves turn. I´ve never grinded one so a friend of mine who is mechanic taught me how with one of the valves and I did the rest by myself. The best way is by hand and constantly changing the direction of grinding. Also replaced all the valve stem oil seals. Overall I spent about 3-4 hours including sanding of each valve, but ... you'll see that it´s worthy!

All perfect with an opaque line constant from side to side! I felt very proud of myself. Actually, it´s a super simple task!

I also flushed the places in the cylinder head where the fresh air and exhaust gases pass through. I did the same but inside the combustion chamber.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, if you do something ..... do it well:

In the photo above you can see the 3 marks (shows a lack of prior planning), two in the corners down and one up in the middle.

A close look:


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I'm looking forward to the bit where ALL of the engine management/CAN bus to Selespeed ECU gets transferred from a 156 to a 145... That seems like an adventure!


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks to some pictures I saw several years ago in the spanish alfisti forum I got to know about an interesting one-way valve. It´s an official Alfa Romeo document where they say it´s recommended (I would say it´s COMPULSORY) to install this one-way valve (ePer # 60677899) in the cylinder head. It consists of a cylinder with a metal ball and a spring calibrated to an exact pressure. This valve comes up as a solution to the noisy variator problem and prevents from further malfunctioning and premature wear of the variator. Some of the latest Twin Spark engines were fitted as stock. For those of us who do not have it installed you may use the instructions I post below (I´m sorry it´s in spanish but I´m sure anybody who is interested in would manage to get this translated):

In order to be absolutely precise I´ll specify that this valve itself does not replace a previously damaged variator. The estimated useful life of the phase variator is about 50K miles. In February 1999 came the second version of the so famous variator which supposedly had a longer life although in practice the problem remained the same. This valve maintains the oil pressure in the top of the engine. Thus, the variator, camshafts and hydraulic tappets always remain lubricated and do not suffer any wear in the first 3-4 seconds after starting the engine. Hence, the valve elliminates the annoying noise of the variador and protects it over time. Unfortunately the only way to make this improvement is removing the cylinder head and assuming the cost of labor, new bolts, gasket, lathe services (becuase of the hole) and the ridiculous cost of € 3 by the valve itself. I recommend you not to use the repair kit available at eBay. I have information that it does not last more than 5K miles and therefore it is throwing time and money away.

To recap: if you have removed the cylinder head, install the one-way valve and change the phase variator with a new original one, not rebuilt!

There goes my particular modification:

I put a little bit of gasket silicone around, only to slip right into the hole. A gentle touch with the rubber hammer and :



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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Once assembled all the 16 valves and the one-way valve I proceed with the upper side of the cylinder head.

I took the hydraulic tappets out of the container full of oil where they were stored, cleaned them up with a dry rag and placed them back to their original places previously spread with the new oil (Castrol Magnatec 5w40). I´ve also changed both camshaft seals, variator´s bearings and mounted a brand new last generation phase variator.

Tightened the 9 camshafts´ caps keeping their original order previously marked with a permanent marker. The same as I did with the tappets and valves, everything on the place where it belongs.

Here I have the new gasket of the valves´ cover. As you know the engines type 67.204 and 32.301 have it slightly different, being the second gasket and cover much better. The first (mines one) is prone to leak oil because it is thinner and has a lower quality.

The valves´ cover of the first engines (67.204) also has a weak point where easily cracks. It´s situated near the screw at the top left part in the next picture. As the engine is slightly tilted forward this causes the oil to accumulate at the place where the cover is cracked. Then it goes outside the cylinder head and slips into the timing belts compartment without touching any of the pulleys. Here I have the valves´ cover completely clean with its new gasket and ready to be assembled with the head:

Just for the moment I jointed them both to prevent the head from dust. Later on I´ll come back to the gasket and will spread it with silicon on both sides and thus compensate for its poor quality. I recommend you to not tighten very much the screws at first. Once started the engine and reached a temperature of at least 50-60 ° C is much easier to be tightened and less risky because of the weak point issue previously explained. For this I also recommend you to tighten all the screws in several stages, as recommended for the head gasket.

This last picture shows another two modifications. Both are mandatory if you want the engine to get started. One is the phase-position sensor that has a slight difference in cable length and connector. The other is the exhaust camshaft pulley. Moving from an old to a modern type ECU requires changing all sensors involved in the engine management. In this sense the signal generated by the original pulley has only one peak (only one window in the pulley) while the new one (type 32.301), generates 3 peaks although different from each other (3 windows on the pulley, each with a different lenght). For the rest, both pulleys are exactly the same!

Back when the head was completely disassembled, I cleaned everything I could from the inlet holes. No porting, just cleaning:

The same with the exhaust holes:

And with all this I think the cylinder head was ready to be assembled:


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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
2.3. Gear box and clutch

Up to now I got the block, the crankcase and the cylinder head ready to be assembled but still there is much work left. The next logical step is to find out if in practice the gear box with the Selespeed unit would fit under the hood of my 145 QV. The best possible donor is the 156 because, although looking modern and larger, in some aspects is almost identical to the 145. I consider them both (145 & 156) successive models as they share technology and coincide chronologically in the production line. Hence my choice for a 156 and not a 147. In such transformation the more they match the better! Not because it´s slightly easier but because it´s more viable from a technical point of view as both models (145 and 156) have enough differences to make the transformation complicated. The 147 model is also a CAN-Bus based which is an additional inconvenience.

First I put some pictures of the donor. At first sight it looked like this:

While, almost at the end, looked as follows:

Both 145 & 156 models are 95% equal under the hood. So, in theory, no problems. Not at all! Because almost all the differences are concentrated in the area we´re interested in: near the gear box, between the battery support and the servo-brake pump.

I had two clutch kits both at half use. I know that in such a project, involving so much time in investigation and ellaboration, the wright choice would be to fit a brand new clutch. But the truth is that I was running out of money, I didn´t know if the project would come to a good end and both clutches were still usable. I chose this one:

Instead of wasting time on unsuccessful attempts I decided to copy the outline of the gear box with robot unit in a paper. With the paper outline I made some comparisons and realized that more space was needed in the area in question. I'd rather spend more time but make sure everything is OK. I needed the new gear box sufficiently far away from anything nearby without touching or pressing pipes and thus have solved the issue permanently. The only way to do things is doing them well.

In the 156 Selespeed engine compartment everything is well picked up because they knew (when still designing it) they would need every single free space. On the other hand, in the 145, they did´t worry too much. For that reason the air conditioner pipes between the expansion valve and the dehydrator pass freely over the control rods of the manual gear box. I had to invent something to pick up all these pipes to the corner below the ABS module. I came up with the following solution:

The dehydrator is fixed to a plate enclosed between the chasis and the gear box support. Cutting an inch of it and making three new holes for the bolts I managed to leave more room for the pipes. Also, one of the pipes (the one which goes directly to the condenser) passed beneath this plate when previuosly it passed over it. The goal was to get the pipe ¨larger ¨, fix it to the corner and make sure that fitting the Selespeed would not cause any problem due to space limitations.

Slightly better look at this pic:

Binded up all Selespeed cables and connectors to prevent from moisture problems in the future. A side view:

OMG! It´s in, tightly but in there! Due to all these small modifications my new Selespeed gear box was fitted leaving sufficient space to the servo-brake pump and the air conditioning hoses without even touching them. Finally I did a test by putting the battery holder and everything was perfect!
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