Run by Alain de Cadenet
Total mileage 151,187
Owned since 1972
Miles since May 2016 report 901
Latest costs £374
MUCH ADO ABOUT ALMOST NOTHING
I was out on a run in the Alfa in March when a loud screech started coming up from the front of the gearbox. I was stationary with my foot off the clutch, and pressure on the pedal stopped the sound immediately. The clutch worked fine, but I couldn’t work out what could cause such a din. I didn’t think it could be the thrust bearings, which are beefy, modified affairs that run on a throw-out ring manufactured by Paul Grist.
For some reason, I jumped to the conclusion that the ’box had to come off to investigate the problem. So, floorboards out, pedal board out, pedals off, bell-housing nuts off… With the chassis perched in the air on decrepit axle stands I withdrew the cart spring through-bolts to drop the banjo/diff unit complete. Next came the oil lines, speedo cable, front brake rods et al. After hours on my tod, cussing like a navvy, I finally got the gearbox/ torque tube/propshaft and banjo on its brake drums rolled back to investigate the cause of the problem.
You’d think that after looking after the old dear for more than 45 years I’d know better than to go through the above. What a goon I am. All that had happened is that the clutch pedal rear limit bolt and lock nut had worked loose. As a result, the two thrust roller races were able to come back too far and mill away the aluminium collar that goes over the input shaft to protect the bearing from ingesting grit.
A 10-second adjustment was enough to cure the fault, but trying to get everything back in place was going to be impossible without skilled help. Fortunately, I managed to recruit C&SC’s international editor Mick Walsh, who’s even more afflicted by 8Cs than I am. He even turned up with his own overalls – eschewing my offer of genuine Alfa factory gear – and with work shoes, to boot. Impressive. Cool colleague to have come and sort it out.
The old bird is back to exactly how she was again, having had one over on me right royally. I’ll have my revenge. At least it gave me the chance to grease the shackles and bolts, and re-adjust the speedo drive, which is on an eccentric bronze mounting that has to be correctly positioned to give a gnat’s of backlash on the gearbox internal drive.
While everything was down I decided to replace the exhaust gaskets, which had to be made from solid copper and then annealed. I also fitted an in-line petrol filter to avoid a recurrence of the fuel starvation that I had at Goodwood a few years ago.
I have also finally managed to obtain a pair of the desirable Bosch tail-lamps that contain a 5W festoon bulb for the rear light and a 15W single filament brake light. I’d been after some of these for years, but when I took them to pieces I discovered that one of them was only made with the festoon, and no cutout for the numberplate light or a brake light. Should I perform surgery on it, or try to find another partner for the good one?
The total cost of repairing FLC was four gallons of Exol 20/50 oil, one paper filter, a cartridge filter, gearbox oil (EP90) and a Thai lunch for Walsh, all of which came to 130 quid. Labour would have been costly, I suppose. Thankfully, I still have a decent toolkit and a sort of brain from the old days.
‘The old bird is back to how she was again, having had one over on me right royally. I shall have my revenge’
Just who needs a fancy workshop, anyway? De Cad with the Alfa Romeo after stripping and rebuilding it in his London mews garage.
Only one of the recently acquired lamps is correct type. Offending clutch-pedal stop bolt and nut. The bronze eccentric speedo drive housing. Races were grinding the input shaft collar. Outside The Black Lion on Chiswick Mall.