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I am currently working on my first Alfa which is a 1989 1600 Spider (RHD). I bought it as a rolling(ish) restoration with the plan to get the oily bits and the worst of the rust sorted before the summer to have a few months enjoying it before taking back off the road to carry on over the winter. The car has been standing for approx 5 years, but I was told it was a daily runner until then. The engine is now out and the head has gone of to local machine shop for an overhaul. Before I removed it I did have the engine running for a few minutes just to confirm all ok (oil pressure measured with mechanical gauge all fine). There appeared to be an oil leak from head gasket hence it being off also the engine was covered in oil/muck so a good clean was in order. I am hoping what I have found under the muck is just from the casting but need to check its not actually a crack. You can see from the photo a line running right across the top of the block, no water is leaking from the area and i can't see any sign of long term leakage. The "crack" also runs inside the chamber where the timing chain is. This makes me think either its just the casting or block is well and truly dead! Any thoughts please.
 

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Its always choking to find cracks in an engine block. As I read your question and looking at the photos the crack is only in the front of the block where the timing chain is. It'll lead oil and not water there. Its difficult to know how it has come.
Can any cracks inside the chain housing be seen?
If it only at the front, it can be made tight (not leaking) with a product called Belzona, which is made to repair cracks in aluminium castings. It often used to stop oil leaks in gearbox alu casting.
But check the sides of the engine block, too. I'm not sure Belzona will hold tight hot water at running temperatures.
Good luck.
 

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That looks like casting marks to me - obviously hard to diagnose from a photo though, just looks like there was a pause when the casting was poured? Have you tried grinding the surface of the mark to see what is below? Use a file or some sandpaper,so no heat is generated (melting material) and have a look 1mm deeper, I think you will find solid, unbroken material....
 

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2017 Guila 2.0 Tbi Lusso spec, 1972 S2 Spider Junior, wife drives 939 Spider, + Abarth 595
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Welcome to the forum, lets hope we see lots of posts from you telling us about the progress you have with your car.

Dont you think if the block was cracked it would be leaking coolant?
 

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You can check the surface for cracks using Dye penetrant Inspection. You probably need some one with experience to do this though it is quite simple. Clean up the area by grinding smooth any casting marks, apply dye by brush of spray, leave 10 mins, clean off , spray on developer, leave 10 mins. any cracks will hold dye and "bleed" out onto the white developer. happy to do it for you if you're anywhere in West Yorkshire.
 

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if that was a crack (basically going around the whole block, so it seems from the photos!) when you started the car the block would have said the immortal words: "Houston, we have lift-off!"

Very poor casting compared to what I have seen on alfas, but I bet it is a casting mark.

Still, before you put on the new head, have a professional look at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the input gratfully received, I am seeing the guy doing the head today so will see if he can check it out for me.

Having never seen this type of engine close up before I had no idea if it was even possible to be a casting mark.

Thanks again
 
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