I have been under the Alfa the past couple of days, swearing.
The new brake booster was leaking air near the pedal so I had to take it out again and put in another one. Since the clutch master cylinder and brake master cylinder are both mounted on the “pedal box,” I have to bleed the brakes again. Whoopee.
Now I have it up on six jack stands to replace the flex discs in the driveshaft, the clutch (whose release bearing is grinding), a worn rear engine mount, upper radiator hose, rear brake discs, coolant change and an oil change while I’m at it.
After dropping this exhaust system from headers, I pulled the driveshaft out and removed the rear engine mount. The rear engine mount is held in a cast “bell housing” by friction. To remove it, I used a propane torch to heat up the surrounding metal while I pounded it out with a BFH and BF screwdriver.
Unfortunately, the BFH, PB Blaster and the propane torch didn’t work on the the rear brake discs. This Alfetta has a De Dion rear suspension, a transaxle and in-board mounted brake discs. My next attempt at removing the hex bolts holding the brake discs will be a 6 point hex wrench with a 2 ft length of 1″ pipe for additional leverage. From what I’ve read, people also cut the heads of the bolts, which reduces the stress on the threads, making them easy to remove. I have something to look forward to.
The brake pedal went hard on the Alfa, indicating that something with the brake booster (servo) wasn’t working. I removed the vacuum hose from the booster and there seemed to be enough suction.
I know there are some Alfa owners that drive without their boosters but it felt like I really had to stand on the pedal if I wanted to get close to locking up the brakes.
I replaced the brake master cylinder a few years ago when brake fluid started leaking into the booster, so I guess five more years was a pretty good deal. The brake fluid that leaks into the booster is sucked into the intake manifold and on deceleration, a smoke screen ensues that would make James Bond proud.
I called Alfa Parts in Berkeley and talked to Ruth Ann. The next day UPS delivered (non expedited!) my new rebuilt booster. It was painted silver and a little rust was already starting to show through. I had an open can of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator that I’ve been using on the BMW so I put on two coats.
The job went more easily than I thought. Drain the fluid out of the brake and clutch reservoirs; disconnect the brake and clutch lines; remove the steering column covers (so the column can be lowered out of the way), remove five bolts holding the pedal box and it all pulls out forward through the engine compartment.
Putting it back together wasn’t too difficult either. The Motive Power Bleeder I bought a few years ago was a good investment. I had tried Speed Bleeders but the Power Bleeder made it even easier.
In fact, the hardest thing was trying to get the two holes in the rear top half of the cheap plastic steering column cover line up with holes in the steering column and the bottom half of the cover. It took me 20 minutes. I guess something always has to be a pain in the ass.
The damage that the inattentive driver did to the Alfa has largely been repaired after some co-operative Allstate insurance people.
My neighbor who is also a car guy, Tony Prock, recommended J & J Auto Body in Monterey and I’m happy with the work they did. It cost me a little more than the insurance paid but the car looks better than what could have been done with the insurance settlement.
It was a pain getting the appraisal and trying to get what I thought I should get from Allstate, but I learned you should not give ground on what you think “make you whole” means – recovering all of the costs for returning you to where you were before the accident. If I had agreed with the first adjuster that wanted to total the car, all I would have now is a check for $1250 and no car.