Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

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Will01
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Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:58 am

Hi Guys
As some of you know we like to keep our free time busy with numerous vehicles!
Recently(4months ago) i bought another car for my wife after selling my Jaguar XJ8 4.0.

We found the other Alfa 156 saloon just wasn't big enough, because i am not a fan of big cars like people carriers etc we decided on an estate car. This is where my (i think) clever thinking came in to buy another 156 but in estate form! The reson being i know the cars pretty well, they are cheap to run and easy to get hold of parts for, plus there are certain parts which can be removed form my GTA which can be used as upgrades for the standard car.

For the grand old sum of £775! 2002 Alfa 156 2.4JTD 10V (150hp) Sportwagon with 132,000miles on the clock. my original budget was £1500 so i have set about making the car right so it is safe and comfortable car form my wife and family to use especially for the long distance driving we are now doing frequently from Dumfries & Reading.

The plus points
- Timing belt kit recently done
- Upper suspension arms recently done
- Full recent service
- Recent new clutch fitted

Bad points
- She looks a bit tired to say the least
- Horrible blue velour interior

Stick with me on this one though. This is not just going to be a boring i have another car thread, there is still some development work that i feel the car requires. Some of it has already been done so i will explain as we go through.
For me i have to explain that i have never driven any car and thought yes thats perfect. Every car has something wrong with it. But with a little time, it is possible to improve anything. SO this will be a budget improvement thread.
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:49 pm

So the first thing needing doing on the new car was tyres. Really all the tyres were legal, but I could also see that there were several small chunks and one tyre didn’t hold its air very well.
You never really know how much abuse a tyre gets with varying quality of drivers out there I thought it was safer to replace.

However I also found it a bit strange that when I came to replace the tyres 205/50/15 had been fitted when they should have actually been 185/65/15!
The wheels themselves also looked a bit grubby so I decided to source the larger teledial 16” wheels that came as standard.
all the ones I found were in a terrible state so I bought some for £40, had them media blasted and then we etch, high build primed and painted them in silver. Then these were shod in some nice new Kumho 205/55/16 tyres. Straight away the car just drove better and didn’t ground out soo often.

The next step was to get the car running a bit better. First of all I took the car down to a local specialist in Penrith and we both gave the car a good going over.
Found a few ball joints were loose so I ordered a complete lower set of suspension arms and for all bushes that needed replacing I also had a set of PU bushes lying around which were surplus from my last 156 suspension rebuild on the GTA. Perfect as these are basically free as I had forgotten about them.

The rear shocks I found were just far too soft. Since the car had a towbar fitted it must have spent a lot of time towing a caravan. Therefore I decided to replace the entire suspension with a upgraded kti from AP. This included new springs and dampers.
I also sourced a complete brand new set of upper mounts as there is no point spending days fitting new parts up against old worn out parts.

Just because I was at it, I decided I would also like to make the car less boaty in the corners. I had an old set of antiroll bars off my GTA which were a lot thicker and designed to upgrade the GTA model to be a lot more sporty. These were surplus as I had already upgraded to Eibach stiffer arb’s.
Again I had many pu bushes lying around so I also had new pu arb bushes to fit aswell.
From my experience of the GTA I also knew that Meyle make a HD droplink which lasts well. So these were also ordered.

Some other niggly things I had found.
The handbrake was a bit stiff, so new OE cables were ordered.
The last owner who did a service completely botched the sump plug and had a wheel nut welded on it. So a new plug and gasket and oil was ordered.
The temp gauge always read high on the gauge but on my diagnostic tool I knew it was ok. But I found a cheap aftermarket part had been used. So an OE £12 sensor sorted that out.

The last things we noticed is that when the car is fully loaded we sometimes get an error Motor control system failure fault which flashes on dash and limits power for a second or 2. The lower turbo hose was very weak and flimsy. I replaced this with an upgraded silicone pipe and this now doesn’t show as often.
I also fitted a new BMC replacement upgraded filter which sits in the standard airbox. I don’t like cone filters as they normally sit higher in the engine bay and are surrounded by more hot engine bay air. The original air box has a good inlet system fed from the arch and front bumper.
I also know from experience that a few people have tried to dyno improvements using cone filters in Alfa 156’s and the std airbox with upgrade filter seems to work best.

Now the car is booked in for a custom remap, so hopefully the fuel economy and performance will be greatly improved. If the car I drove last weekend is anything to go by it will be a huge improvement.

All of the above sounds expensive. But up until today (apart from the remap) I have now spent my original £1500 budget. The car is great and it goes to show a few simple thought out improvements can greatly improve any car. Even an old banger.

I do have a few other little ideas to further improve the car and I will post as we go along. But this is a budget family car build nothing special. Just nice and simple.
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Spider 1969
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Spider 1969 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:34 am

Well done Will! With some TLC you can double the mileage on that engine.
Regards,
Charles
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:48 am

I have to be perfectly honest here but i am not really a fan of anything diesel. I do think of myself as a petrolhead.

However what this newest car to our family proves, even a diesel can prove to be a good car choice. I almost feel like i am being pulled to the darkside. The engine pulls really well and is great for a road car.
I am under no illusions however that it would be pretty bad on the track especially with all that weight up front. The single turbo on this engine does do a good job of keeping a large torque curve as it is a variable vane turbo which is operated off vacuum to control effectively how big the turbo is.
For me this is soo far the best diesel i have ever driven as previous diesels just seem to have useable torque in a 500-1000rpm range. On this engine the variable turbo helps keep useable torque from 1400 to 3800rpm in standard tune. This means you can drive it more like a petrol car and it has plenty pull when required e.g. overtaking.

If i get another 100k out of the engine i will be more than happy.

Another item on the action list is to replace the gearboxwith one out of a 1.9JTD which has 6 speed. This has same gear ratios 1-5 as the box in my car but it has a long 6th gear and also the final diff ratio is lower so it will accelerate faster in 1-5 but in 6th the revs will drop for motorway cruising.The other 2.4JTD i drove had this same conversion and it pulled very hard and strong and with its remap it drove and sounded like a petrol turbo car.

For a cheap to run family car we are impressed so far and anything to make it run a bit more economical on the longer runs is a bonus.

Some more pictures to look over, but in a short time the car has been transformed. I think another £500 and she will be just about complete.
Next jobs, fix Mini, bit more work on the GTA to sort her out & crack on with the Capri!
Attachments
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16" teledials after sandblasting and primed with etch. You can see us starting to build up first layer of high build primer
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Gearknob fell off soon after purchase. Repalced with Richbrook gearknob.It looks OE and bonus is it doesn't pull off!
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Car soon after purchase on top of Dalveen pass
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Car with horrible blue velour interior!
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Space for the kids seats
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Vacuum hoses started to deterioate and cause flat spots in rev range
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Replaced perished rubber hose with silicone vacuum hose and flat spots gone from rev range
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GTA Arb's
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Meyle HD droplinks to replace the awlful standard links which wear out very quickly
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Borrowed set of front forks to make easy quick change of front shocks
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Cleaned up forks from parts washer
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BMC upgrade replacement filter vs std OE filter
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Old vs new springs
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All the bits which were replaced on the weekend!
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Car how it looks at the moment. A bit lower and looks good with the newer wheels.
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Spider 1969
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Spider 1969 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:45 pm

I was not a diesel fan myself. I drove my Spider for commuting in the period 1997-2004 during March-October and had a rusty Fulvia S1 coupe, nick named the "anode" for the rest of the year. This was only a 12 km single journey. Then I changed jobs and had to drive 180 km's per day of which I thought it would be not sonice for my Spider.

I bought a tatty Lancia Delta 2nd series HPE with a turbo diesel engine. Bit of a turbo lag but I was converted, it pulled hard between 2000 and 3000 and would cruise happily at 2500 rpm. When the odometer hit 315.000 km's I switched to a 156 1.9JTD Sportswagon and had the "feels like a petrol engine" experience due to the variable geometry turbo compressor.

I've been on company cars for commuting since 2007 but my wife still drives a 159SW JTD because it's so economical.
I think you can't go wrong on this one
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:02 am

Thanks Charles.

Its funny but i recently converted my in laws to a 1.9JTD 16V Saloon a few weeks back and they love it.
Now my parents want one aswell even though my father is dead against Alfa's i think the GTA and SW have him converted. I knew he would come around as he has good taste in cars normally, he has E-Type Jags so how could he not love an Alfa ;) haha
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Will01
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Location: Dumfries, Scotland
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 5:56 pm

New update is i have just purchased a full leather interior for the SW so looking forward to getting it fitted. Pictures to follow
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:32 pm

Ok so picked up Leather interior for £120 from a guy in Stockton who was breaking a Sportwagon with Momo BLue/Grey leather interior.
200mile round trip but definitely worth it.

Just trying to make the car more plush and comfortable aswell as more safe for fitting of child seats.
On that note the original velour interior is vey soft and the child seats always feel loose when in the car. The leather seats are that bit stiffer and firmer and hold the child seats far better.

Anyway whilst interior was out of car i thought i would check condition of floor as they are known to rust around drain holes and i knew i had a crusty drain hole. After quick clean on wire brush i had 3 large holes the passenger side and these were promptly patched and welded up. Doh!
Zinc primed and just ready for sealer now. Hopefully that be them ok for a few more years.

Anyway i have replaced the pillar trims with the leather versions and also fitted the front and rear leather seats and they are really nice.
Still got door cards to do and clean up the switch surrounds but she is really taking shape.
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No one likes to see this! Stupidly designed!
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Rear folding seats in and looking good
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New front seats in and Oscar loves them aswell. You can see his legs whilst he climbing on arm rest
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:28 pm

Door cards replaced and it looks alot better now.
Have noticed door speakers are a little tempramental so will be taking connectors off and replacing.

The car has been mostly running well except the engine sometimes cuts out because security fuel pressure protocols shut engine down. Only noticed when highly laoded car and hard throttle on a gradient. Restarts after stopping but can be frustrating. Going back to adjust remap and reduce peak fuel rail pressures to avoid repeating. ometimes you have to do these things when you start playing with maps etc.

Other items, the backbox has started to blow sllighlty, i have mot coming up so will be replacing the exhaust.
Car except niggly issues above is running well and doing its job as the new family car.
Now looking for another to turn into a track car as i am soo impressed with how this one drives.
I do fancy getting a smaller engine one to help with tracktability as both the V6 & 5 cylinder are big old heavy lumps.
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Will01
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Re: Yes another project! Alfa 156 2.4JTD Sportwagon

Post by Will01 » Wed May 31, 2017 9:48 pm

Update on this old thing is it has cracked 150k miles yesterday.
Just recently had to fit new front tyres which had lasted 14k+ miles. We have now clocked up 17k miles in little over a year of ownership.
She was for a time running a fun remap. But this started causing fuel pressure issues with the ecu and causing engine to shut into safe mode. We have found it is a sensor issue. But for now she is back to standard map. The injection pump needs to come out, but that will get timed in with timing belt change etc.

We also towed a trailer tent recently and towed very well indeed. Only issue was bouncy back roads where the trailer weight caused rear suspension to bottom out and catch inner arch. So I have requested a slightly longer and stiffer spring to fit in the back.

The exhaust back box rusted out so I had old exhausts lying around so made my own replacement. Just this case I cut a straight pipe up and fitted in place of box.
Ok it looks poor and the bends are pretty awful. But surprisingly enough the car sound better and not loud at all. Plus it cost £1 so is still living up to cheap motoring.

Next job on the cards is full replacement and upgrade discs and pads plus braided brake hoses and a full fluid refresh.
Discs grooved and dimpled with Mintex rear pads and Carbon ceramic front pads.
Also going to give calipers a good clean up. Luck of paint and grease up to make sure they are working their best.
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