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Discussion Starter #1
The GT has never had a thread of its own in the image lounge. It had a short thread in the 156 lounge, but it soon reached the image limit, and I gave up. Given that I have been doing some interesting (OK, somewhat challenging) things to it, it’s probably time to start writing it all down. In true modern film style, there will be a prequel somewhat further down the page which explains the history.

It has been an utterly reliable beast for the 5 years that I have been driving it. Just add fuel (lots) and change the oil regularly, other than that, zero expenditure. Until two weeks ago. I got a call from Mrs rxe, who said that the car was beeping, and complaining about the battery charge. She’s very well trained, she hadn’t turned it off and was already heading home, thankfully only 10 miles away.

When it was presented to the workshop, it was indeed beeping and displaying the “your alternator is shagged” light, which is a battery symbol. Not a good sign. The worst was confirmed with a voltmeter, the alternator had no output and the battery was sitting at 11.3 volts with the engine running. A quick google search suggested that this job is considerably worse than, well anything. Swapping the alternator on a V6 is subframe off and the engine close to being taken out. To rub salt in the wounds, the alternator had lasted 47,000 miles, which really isn’t good enough.

However, I did find a post on AlfaBB which suggested an alternative route out.

Changing Alternator Voltage Regulator in V6's WITHOUT removing Alternator - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums


This made sense – alternators are robust things made of thick bits of wire – other than the regulator, which has electronics in it. Electronics next to a 3.2 catalyst is never going to be good, so there is a reasonable chance that swapping the regulator will solve the problem.

Step 1 – find a regulator. They’re really hard to track down, but I managed to find one of the ones listed in the AlfaBB post for £35 in Germany. There are loads of choices if you’re not that fussed about genuine Bosch, but if I’m going to spend several hours on my back, I’ll use genuine parts. Here's the old and the new one side by side. I know, I've spoilt the anticipation, I have clearly managed to get it out:






Step 2 – get the front of the car in the air, on axle stands. Remove the OS road wheel. Remove the Aux belt – you do this by loosening the tensioner by leaning on a 15 mm gooseneck spanner and locking off the tensioner with a suitable nail. The belt comes off, and you can just see the alternator at the back. Disconnect the battery – very important.

Step 3 – remove the oil filter. Might as well change the oil while you are there.

Step 4 – undo the alternator mounting bolts (circled, below) . You need a fairly low profile 13mm socket – I used a 3/8” drive ratchet, 1/2 “ would not fit. The bottom bolt comes out easily, the top bolt hits the car and won’t come out. The answer is simple – put a jack under the OS engine mount and lift the engine an inch or so. The bolt will now come out, honest. Shove the alternator off its mountings.



Step 5 – you now need to get the cover off the back of the alternator. With it loose, you can rotate it, so that you can get tools through the gap between the PAS and oil pipes. This is a really narrow aperture:



First up – the thin sense wire – an 8 mm ¼ drive socket with a really long extension does the job. Then the main power feed, once this is off, the alternator will rotate freely. If you haven’t disconnected the battery before this step, this is the point at which the car will catch fire. Mine as held on by a stupid low profile 13 mm nut that was very tight, and trying to hold the alternator in the right position with one arm, while exerting force with the other was impossible. Impact gun to the rescue – it meant I could concentrate on getting the angles lined up and then pull the trigger (gun set as low as possible.). Remove the next 13mm nut under the first one.

Step 6 – remove the 15mm nut and the machine screw. The machine screw is the reason you have to dismount the alternator – there is no way of getting to this with the alternator installed. The cover is now free, and can be extracted, with a small amount of violence. The regulator is now exposed.

Step 7 – undo the 3 circled screws, and off comes the regulator.



The working conditions are somewhat cramped.

Step 8 – put the alternator back together. I replaced the stupid low profile locknut with a conventional M6 locknut, it will be easier next time. Nothing frightening here.

Step 9 – getting the alternator back on – you need a pry bar. Get the lower mount on first – there is a lug on the left hand side of the bolt which is a suitable thumping point. Then rotate the alternator around the lower mount using the lug as a levering point. Replace the belt, make sure there is an oil filter on, and the sump is full.

Step 10 – start engine. Great success, no battery symbol on the dash, and 14.6 volts at the battery with the engine running.

Step 11 – the tools needed. Note the preponderance of really thin, long extensions. I’d have been stuffed without the super long ¼” items. Total time was about 3 hours solid work.




Despite the success of the alternator, there are some other problems lurking. The OS CV boot is a little second hand:




And the thermostat block is clearly leaking. Not sure where from yet, pic from underneath:

 

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Discussion Starter #3
With the nose of the car up in the air and secured on axle stands, why not change the cambelt? It’s due on time, but not on mileage (15K), so no need to change the water pump and plugs. Crack off the top of the engine and get it all lined up:



Boot full of bits again:



Nothing particularly scary to report – the big idlers came off without a fight, and as I was doing a stainless bolt replacement, I took off the inlet trumpets as well. I suspect the answer to stuck idlers may be this:



The idlers are done up tight – and the surface of the steel corrodes against the aluminium block, expanding and making it even tighter. Giving them a smear of grease may help. Mostly back together now, I took the opportunity of fitting the red intake rubber bits that were part of a group buy a few years ago and have rattled around in the boot ever since.



Here is the front bank – note the nice stainless section on the left that replaces the rusty bit of metal with the thread that strips out (from TotallyAlfa):



Tool of the day – from Koken, the best sparkplug wrench ever. 3/8 drive, so suitably narrow. It’s single piece, so there is no losing the socket at the bottom of the well when it decides to stay attached to the plug rather than the extension bar. It grips the plug properly with a little metal spring.



I finished it off, and started it – worked perfectly, but fuel was pouring out everywhere. Arrgh. I’d disturbed the rear fuel rail to sort the insulation on some of the wiring, and it had obviously not seated properly – the 10 year old o-rings had given up. You can’t get them without the injectors, but Alfaaid had some JTS ones (blue) which are available and fit perfectly. Full of smugness, I started her up again, and it all worked, for a while. After about 5 minutes, the idle deteriorated markedly and it cut out. Hmmm. Cambelt still in place (phew).

From the driver’s seat the MCSF was on, so time to have a look. All 6 injectors are showing “low signal”. Either a lottery winning coincidence has caused all 6 of my injectors to fail – or there is a common issue affecting all of them. A bit of research turned up this document, on an AO post:

https://forumphotos.s3.amazonaws.com/GT/MotronicME3.1.pdf

Very useful. It works like this:

- The injectors are powered with positive via a relay and a couple of fuses
- The ECU connects them to ground when it wants to fire them.
- If they have no positive power, then the ECU will connect them to ground, see no current flow, and throw the “low signal error”.

So it would appear that I have no positive power to the injectors and coil packs. First place to start is connector G133 on the wiring diagram, which is the big connector in the plastic box at the back of the engine. If you don't have power on the 1st pin (circled, red wire on one side, red-blue on the other) you're dead. I was dead.



A quick rummage in the fuse box to the right of the battery revealed a blown 15 amp fuse and a dead short to ground:



Some loosening and wiggling suggested that the short was under the plenum (of course, where else would it be....), so off it came. All looked superficially OK, but then noticed the coil on No1 cylinder. That didn't look right:



Thank fully the 166 project is "resting" next to the GT, so i nicked a coil, reconnected it, put the plenum back and started her up. The engine ran awfully, misfiring and getting on, then it stopped and chuffed a big cloud of smoke from under the plenum. Off comes the plenum again, to reveal another dead coil:



OK, so something is causing the coil to fail. The coils are provided with a permanent positive (via that fuse) and a permanent earth. The third pin is the ECU connection that switches to ground and discharges the coil. It would be reasonable to assume that this coil is being fired permanently ... overheating and failing. Thus the short must be in the wire (green-red) connecting the coil to the ECU. This was quickly found:



and repaired



Engine works perfectly again, all errors cleared. I have bought 2 new coils for the 166.

While everything was in bits, I cleaned the BMC filter which has done 15,000 miles and 5 years, so probably needed doing. The cleaning kit works well, much simpler than I expected. The one worry is the oil for the filter and the chance off killing the MAF as oil blows off the filter. I've seen posts suggesting running the car without a MAF for 15 minutes, which seems a bit painful. Here's my solution - 15 minutes on max suck:

 

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I very much want a Koken plug spanner now.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
And finally, the drive shaft, and this is where it starts to get a bit out of hand. Extracting a driveshaft is a pretty awkward job. In addition to mechanically disconnecting it, you need to take half the suspension apart to actually get it out. If you’re taking half the suspension apart, then this is a perfect opportunity to take the KWs off the shelf and actually fit them. So you’re now taking the suspension of both sides of the car apart. If you’re taking the suspension off, it is only a short step to popping both driveshafts out and sticking a Q2 in. The Q2 was originally destined for the 166, I’ve managed to find another second hand one to replace it.

The suspension is complicated by the fact that you can’t split the bottom fork from the shock/spring combo in place, unless someone has been in there before and greased it. They didn’t grease it at the factory.

Right, in we go.

1) First job is to undo the hub nut. Every one I have come across in the past has been 36 mm. This one was 32 mm. Thankfully I had a 32 mm ¾ drive socket and an impact adaptor. If you do this later, it is impossible with the upright flapping about.
2) Disconnect the upper and lower wishbone ball joints with a splitter. Remove the ARB link.
3) Remove (and support) the brake caliper.
4) The upright will now swing backwards and out of the way.
5) Your next problem is undoing the hex bolts holding the drive shaft on. They’re tight, and it is impossible to stop the driveshaft from turning. You can’t undo them with the suspension all together because the brake disk is too big and you can’t get the angle right. Here’s an approach that worked, a bit heath robinson:



6) Undo all of the 17mm nuts holding the strut in place (under the bonnet) and remove it.

7) Drain the gearbox oil

8) Do the same suspension work on the other side, and pull the driveshaft out. On the NS it just pops out of the gearbox with a firm tug. Undo the 10mm bolts holding the OS driveshaft extension, and pull it out of the diff. Remove the cover plates with the driveshaft oil seals from the diff.

9) Remove the exhaust. This may be corroded….

10) Disconnect the rear engine mount. To do this you have to remove the big bracket that bolts onto the diff housing with giant 24 mm bolts. Time for another tool of the day:



A 24 mm ratchet spanner. Anyone who has undone the upper nut 1/16th of a turn at a time (you can’t get a socket in there) will appreciate this.

11) Lower the back of the engine using a trolley jack. The back of the diff is now exposed, and a mixture of 13 and 17 mm bolts will release. It looks like there is no way of getting it out past the subframe, but the whole lot comes free with room to spare. If you didn’t drain the gearbox oil from the lower drain hole … you now have a litre of gear oil on your chest. Go and have a bath, that stuff stinks. Note that the OS upper 17 mm bolt will not come free alone – it needs to come out with the diff casing. Importantly, it needs to be put back with the diff casing – don’t put it back last, or you will have to undo the whole thing again. Don’t lose the spacer that sits on one of the bearings, and make sure it goes back in again. Here is proof that you can do this with the gearbox in place. Inspect the debris on the magnet (circled) - mine was the usual metal dust, so I just cleaned it off




12) Conventional diff and Q2 side by side, Q2 on the right.




To tell them apart in place, pop a driveshaft out and look down the centre. Conventional is blocked with a pinion carrier:




Q2 (and quaife) is hollow:





13) Put it all back together again. Nothing particularly scary, but lifting a 10 kilo diff and carrier while lying on your back under the car (and keeping it all spotless) is hard.

14) New struts all built up, with the shock/fork joint slathered with waterproof grease. One of the arms had play in the pin, so both have been changed:



The easiest way of putting them back is to split the fork from the shock, and put them in separately, otherwise you’ve got to be really violent with the lower arm and driveshaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Putting it all back together was reasonably simple, but I thought I should sort out the nuts on the exhaust. The triangular down pipe connections were fine - I did these in stainless bolts when I rebuilt the engine 5 years ago, and they came off easily. The flexi/catalyst join was horrible, and the bolts behind the catalysts sheared - they were mild steel that I put in about 4 years ago when I put the Wizard on.

Best tool for the job? The mighty 5 kW oxy blow torch. This is the most awesome device, and just makes things white hot in seconds. It made short work of the seized studs behind the catalyst:



Only two threads were exposed, but after a battering with the torch, they came out easily. The centre section looked more of a challenge:



No problem:



The exhaust is now back together again, all stainless fasteners, slathered with copper grease.

So, how does it drive? The KWs, on default settings for bump and rebound, are utterly fantastic. On all the other upgrades I've done, somethings been a bit flawed, particularly on a bumpy section of the test track where I think it is all set a bit hard, and you can feel the dampers working. Then you get onto a normal stretch of road and it all feels fine. The KWs just handle everything. Nothing feels wrong, the front end just feels solid and planted.

The Q2 seems gentler than the Quaife, its not as obvious when cornering, but it as completely cured the squirmy wheels on hard acceleration. Overall the big problem with the car now is that there is absolutely no feedback that you are doing huge speeds - it used to require attention "above the legal limit" .... now it just goes where you point it, no fuss, no drama. Gotta do the back now.
The only worry is that I drove it to work today, and the last message it threw up on the screen was "immobiliser failure" as I turned it off. Hopefully it will start this evening.
 

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FYI - those studs in the front of the catalyst where the downpipes are held on, they are only 'shrink-fit' in the flanges. So heat the flanges and they'll tap out if you want to nut & bolt them. At the back end the flange is threaded so you can't use the Heat n Beat technique. Good feedback on the V3s :thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Arrrgh - now you tell me - I spent about an hour drilling the little blighters out on the 2.5! Heat and beat - I like that....
 

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I hate drilling studs out. Worst are the captive studs in the manifold flanges. You did good saving them on the GT, judging by the state of those nuts I'd have said they'd not have come apart in a re-useable state.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks! Drove it to work again today, the utter lack of drama at speed is very real - joining the M4 today, I wondered why everyone was going backwards - ooops. I'll have to be careful. I've also got to get back in the diesel Dogwagon, or this commute will cost me a fortune. Enthusiastic driving in a 3.2 does deliver the most appalling fuel consumption.
 

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Awesome thread.
Thinking of getting a GT v6 as I am currently sans car and I've seen one that looks like a good buy. No q2 though and since I've spent the last year in a r53 Cooper s, I suspect I'll find handling a bit of a pain in the GT in comparison. Suspect the noise would make me forget all that....
 

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Thanks for the great write-up @rxe it's a shame the 1.9 doesn't have the same engine layout as this would make it much easier. The alternator is up higher on the 1.9 and there is non-flexible pipework in the way of the rear of the alternator so no possibility to move and twist it away from the mounting bracket.

I keep going back to the eLearn version but their instructions don't make any sense. Even their images of the process on the 1.9's don't match the 1.9 that is my car. It asks me to remove stuff that doesn't even exist (for example remove the power steering pump protector, which doesn't even exist?!?!)

Ahh well. Back to the drawing board.
 
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