Abarth Engine Replacement

Jonohhh

True Classic
So, about 8 months ago when my mom was driving my Abarth while I was up at school (her car was in the shop), she got caught in a flash flood and hydrolocked the engine.

I was able to get the water out relatively quickly as I was planning to come home that week anyway, but ever since then the engine has made a pretty bad tapping sound. I suspect it's somehow top end and not bottom end...but regardless, there was a lot of metal in the oil, and cylinders 2 and 4 were absolutely full of water. The car drove fine, but it was too risky for me to drive it the four hours to school in case whatever was making noise decided to give up. So it sat here at home... degrading and getting quite run down.


Now that I'm out of school for Christmas, I'm working on replacing the engine and restoring the paint and trim. It'll be treated to a Graphene Ceramic coat as well to hopefully keep it nice for longer.


This is the current progress of the engine swap. It's actually not that bad working on these new 500s...I'd put it a teeny bit more challenging than my 2006 BMW, but definitely well within reason. There's a lot of temptation for "while you're in here" things though- as so many simple things like control arm bushings require removal of the radiator support ( I believe anyway). This is also before the original engine has been taken out, not after the new one is back in unfortunately.


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kmead

Glutton for punishment
Wait until you have to replace the heater core on that car :) Tony’s pics of that were eye opening, it was as if they had built the car around the damn thing.

Good progress. It is nice that modern cars the entire front end comes off rather than finagling the thing out of a barely big enough opening.

Good luck with all the fasteners.
 

Lowtechprime

True Classic
Oooofff.. That does not look like any fun. My 500e is much simpler 😁 And of course, my older Fiats! Good luck with that! Wouldn't insurance, or a warranty cover that damage?
 

lanciahf

True Classic
Wait until you have to replace the heater core on that car :) Tony’s pics of that were eye opening, it was as if they had built the car around the damn thing.

Good progress. It is nice that modern cars the entire front end comes off rather than finagling the thing out of a barely big enough opening.

Good luck with all the fasteners.
A Lancia Scorpion is also built around its heater core.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
I'm gonna get back to respond to y'all but I just wanted to say.


A moron designed the accessory drive bracket for this engine.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
And, the input shaft seal is leaking yet again. If the dealership is to be believed, it's already been replaced twice, but the service departments won't let me see the service history because it's "Mopar confidential.

The car has had $12,000 worth of warranty work for leaks alone... although that expired years ago now.

So who knows. But what a pain.
 

TonyK

True Classic
Well your post caught my eye and led to a bit of a let down. I was thinking someone else was swapping an Abarth engine into an X1/9.

Anyway, just to share I picked up this South Carolina car that was totalled from Copart Auto Auction Columbia, was owned by a lady by the name of Barbra Rackes. I did try and get the spare key for the car from her, but she didn't respond so a spare was purchased and coded by the dealer, cost $250.
Always need 2 keys.
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A 2012 with only 41246 miles on it. Bob Martin from Kentucky was kind enough to pick it up for me and I brought it home from his place in Kentucky in 2018. It was stored here for 3 years and driven around my yard where several people learned to drive standard on it.
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So as I embark on this swap with 1004 ( one thousand and four) for a person on this form I will allow him to start a post if he wants describing what we are doing. It is his build.
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This swap starts at the back of the car as I want the complete wire harness.
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Parts everywhere again. Just part of the process.

Good luck with changing out the engine. I find the heater hoses a bitch to uncouple from the fire wall. Keep us posted on your progress.

TonyK.

Grimsby Ontario Canada.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
Wait until you have to replace the heater core on that car :) Tony’s pics of that were eye opening, it was as if they had built the car around the damn thing.

Good progress. It is nice that modern cars the entire front end comes off rather than finagling the thing out of a barely big enough opening.

Good luck with all the fasteners.
In the year or so I haven't been driving it, I forgot all about the fear of literally anything behind the dashboard failing. It seems most all modern cars have horrendously hard to access HVAC systems. Blend doors are a big concern too.


It is quite nice how easily the engine comes out though.. unfortunately working on the engine when it is out isn't quite as nice. Many things interfere with many other things for seemingly no reason other than a lack of insight during design. I'm glad to see that there were some changes for serviceability over the years, the engine I got came out of a 2015 renegade, and came apart with no issues.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
Oooofff.. That does not look like any fun. My 500e is much simpler 😁 And of course, my older Fiats! Good luck with that! Wouldn't insurance, or a warranty cover that damage?
Technically my fenderwell intake was a major contributor to the failure. We could have pursued a fix under insurance, but as many things have been messed up on this car by incompetent service techs, I just decided to do the work myself. We could have definitely gotten financial compensation but it's not worth the chance of increased rates.

Looking at the service manual for the 500e it does seem quite simple, and likely a lot less failure prone.

Everything went well though, so I can't complain too much.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
Well your post caught my eye and led to a bit of a let down. I was thinking someone else was swapping an Abarth engine into an X1/9.

Anyway, just to share I picked up this South Carolina car that was totalled from Copart Auto Auction Columbia, was owned by a lady by the name of Barbra Rackes. I did try and get the spare key for the car from her, but she didn't respond so a spare was purchased and coded by the dealer, cost $250.
Always need 2 keys.
View attachment 56318
A 2012 with only 41246 miles on it. Bob Martin from Kentucky was kind enough to pick it up for me and I brought it home from his place in Kentucky in 2018. It was stored here for 3 years and driven around my yard where several people learned to drive standard on it.View attachment 56319
So as I embark on this swap with 1004 ( one thousand and four) for a person on this form I will allow him to start a post if he wants describing what we are doing. It is his build.View attachment 56320
This swap starts at the back of the car as I want the complete wire harness.
View attachment 56321
Parts everywhere again. Just part of the process.

Good luck with changing out the engine. I find the heater hoses a bitch to uncouple from the fire wall. Keep us posted on your progress.

TonyK.

Grimsby Ontario Canada.
Sorry about the letdown 😅

This whole operation DOES leave me with a spare engine...and I am fairly certain the damage is top end, so it's a perfect candidate to swap to the tJet head and omit multiair for easy standalone control (the whole head doesn't even need to be swapped to switch from Multiair to TJet, but I believe the lower head is where the damage is) ...but I really think the revvy Lampredi SOHC is a lot more in character for the X1/9. It would be stupid fast with a 300HP Abarth motor, but considering that I already own an Abarth, it just seems like a redundant swap. The new 1.3 Firefly engine with its aluminum block would also be an excellent X1/9 swap candidate if it fits.

But, I'll likely end up leaving it with the stock engine. I'm a big fan of Natural Aspiration.


And wow! That's some low mileage for a 2012! Good luck on the project. In regards to the heater hoses, I undid the spring clamps and disconnected the hoses from the (notso) quick disconnect fittings on the firewall. I still can't get one of the "quick" disconnects to come off. Often, pushing the fitting on further before pulling it helps as it gets the O-Ring surface wet with coolant before trying to drag it off the barb, but it wasn't enough for it to finally let go. I don't want to break the heater core for reasons mentioned above!
 

TonyK

True Classic
Sorry about the letdown 😅

This whole operation DOES leave me with a spare engine...and I am fairly certain the damage is top end, so it's a perfect candidate to swap to the tJet head and omit multiair for easy standalone control (the whole head doesn't even need to be swapped to switch from Multiair to TJet, but I believe the lower head is where the damage is) ...but I really think the revvy Lampredi SOHC is a lot more in character for the X1/9. It would be stupid fast with a 300HP Abarth motor, but considering that I already own an Abarth, it just seems like a redundant swap. The new 1.3 Firefly engine with its aluminum block would also be an excellent X1/9 swap candidate if it fits.

But, I'll likely end up leaving it with the stock engine. I'm a big fan of Natural Aspiration.


And wow! That's some low mileage for a 2012! Good luck on the project. In regards to the heater hoses, I undid the spring clamps and disconnected the hoses from the (notso) quick disconnect fittings on the firewall. I still can't get one of the "quick" disconnects to come off. Often, pushing the fitting on further before pulling it helps as it gets the O-Ring surface wet with coolant before trying to drag it off the barb, but it wasn't enough for it to finally let go. I don't want to break the heater core for reasons mentioned above!
I am not so sure that you can eliminate the brick ( valve control block) on the top of the engine. The camshaft profile for the intake valves is an eccentric lobe that uses a rocker arm connected to a hydraulic piston pump. The intake valves do not have a profile like the exhaust valves do. So getting this engine to run without a cam shaft change will be a big problem.

Here are a few pictures of the engine removed from 1004. I built a stand on casters that makes the whole process of removal or installation a lot easier. The block has holes that allows pins to hold the block in place to the cart. The owner of this engine has purchased a locking differential and the transmission will be torn down and the new differential will be installed. The transmission case does not use gaskets but rather oil proof silicone to seal the mating surfaces.
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TonyK.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
I am not so sure that you can eliminate the brick ( valve control block) on the top of the engine. The camshaft profile for the intake valves is an eccentric lobe that uses a rocker arm connected to a hydraulic piston pump. The intake valves do not have a profile like the exhaust valves do. So getting this engine to run without a cam shaft change will be a big problem.
Oh man, that stand would have been lovely to have! The old engine is currently sitting in a tire...not ideal but it works.



Regarding Multiair > Tjet, it's quite easy to do, but DOES require a cam change, and sourcing a European upper head. The DOHC tJet also uses a single timing belt cog, with an internal chain and variator to drive the second cam, and do the VVT...ing.


Here's one one of my posts from a while back that puts this in greater detail. Could be quite helpful for those engine swapping their X1/9s, to allow the use of a regular ECU.

::::

I do apologize if I am telling you something you already know- I'm fairly new around here, but have been in the Abarth 500 (2012+) since 2014.

The FIRE has been around for a very long time- apparently its production started in the 80s.

The Abarth 500 engine (both in Europe and USA as the blocks are identical) is still a FIRE engine- though I'm not sure how much can be interchanged between the old and the new.

The only difference between the actual euro Abarth engine and USA Abarth engine (not including the turbo option differences, as well as motor electronics such as the Bosch Motronic vs Marelli ECUs, and vacuum pump) is the upper part of the cylinder head, the USA one with Multiair SOHC (shared with the european Punto Abarth) , and the european one with TJet DOHC, (which also has a single cog for the timing belt) of course both are 16v because well, they share the same lower part of the cylinder head. Swapping a USA Abarth engine to be a TJet instead of a Multiair (and thus allowing the use of a standalone ecu on what is 90% a USA Abarth engine, only requires removing the upper cylinder head and replacing it. As far as I am aware, the actual head can stay on the engine during this process, so you don't even need to break the engine down to the head gasket to do this conversion. I believe this, to some, may represent an easier option than running the Multiairs temperamental Marelli ECU, though you would of course have to tune it yourself, find one already made, or get someone to tune it for you.


This is the "cam box" or "cam carrier" as some call it. This is the only difference between a Multiair and Tjet Abarth engine. The single cam has lobes for each exhaust lifter (8) , as well as one lobe per cylinder to drive the Multiair hydraulic buckets which ultimately drive the two intake valves per cylinder. Everything below the cam carrier is indistinguishable from a TJet engine...because well, a that point it's not really a TJet or a Multiair.View attachment 47627

The multiair unit (below) attaches to this cam carrier, on the section near the back of the photo, and pushes down on the actual valves. You can see the roller followers- one per cylinder. You can also see, on the bottom face of the unit, the contact points for the top of the valves.
View attachment 47628

The cam carrier (which the MA unit is on) mounts to the lower head as seen below. This part is shared between the two engines. It doesn't care if there's Multiair cam carrier or a TJet cam carrier on top of it- both bolt up and actuate the valves in the same manner, bar VVT and VVL capabilities. If you are swapping a Multiair to be a TJet, this is as far as is necessary to go into the engine.

View attachment 47629

Below is an unfortunately grainy photo showing the top and bottom of the heads separated.

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And one final photo, showing a complete TJet lower head and cam carrier. Notice that the TJet head does not have a valve cover, the only gasket present is the one where the lower head and upper head "cam carrier" mate. The orange gasket and everything below is identical to the 500crew photo shown above. Though the TJet is a true DOHC, it has a single timing belt cog as mentioned above, likely to enhance compatibility with other FIRE engines, among other reasons. Inside the TJet cam carrier is a no service needed chain which drives both cams together. There is a VVT phaser inside the head as well, which is completely passively controlled via oil pressure (I believe).
View attachment 47632

I hope this helps! I hope this isn't threadjacking- just elaborating on a point made about these engines and the ability to run them on a standalone. Do not take my word as the blind truth- I could most definitely be wrong about anything said above, however this is what I've grown to know by hanging around the Abarth community for quite a few years (my 500c Abarth was my first car...fiat fanatic from the very beginning).
 
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Mike Schofield

True Classic
Well your post caught my eye and led to a bit of a let down. I was thinking someone else was swapping an Abarth engine into an X1/9.

Anyway, just to share I picked up this South Carolina car that was totalled from Copart Auto Auction Columbia, was owned by a lady by the name of Barbra Rackes. I did try and get the spare key for the car from her, but she didn't respond so a spare was purchased and coded by the dealer, cost $250.
Always need 2 keys.
View attachment 56318
A 2012 with only 41246 miles on it. Bob Martin from Kentucky was kind enough to pick it up for me and I brought it home from his place in Kentucky in 2018. It was stored here for 3 years and driven around my yard where several people learned to drive standard on it.View attachment 56319
So as I embark on this swap with 1004 ( one thousand and four) for a person on this form I will allow him to start a post if he wants describing what we are doing. It is his build.View attachment 56320
This swap starts at the back of the car as I want the complete wire harness.
View attachment 56321
Parts everywhere again. Just part of the process.

Good luck with changing out the engine. I find the heater hoses a bitch to uncouple from the fire wall. Keep us posted on your progress.

TonyK.

Grimsby Ontario Canada.
I will indeed start a thread in the coming days….wonder which section to post it in….🤔
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
So. I'm almost entirely certain the new engine is toast.


As I was installing the flywheel and messing with the engine getting it ready for installation, I did notice that there was very very little resistance to turning it over. Since it's a multir engine, and had been sitting for over a year, I figured it was simply because the multi-air have bled down and the intake valves were not opening.


After hours combined of cranking and waiting, bleeding the multir, ensuring function of the intake valves, troubleshooting, and reflashing the ECU, I have come to the conclusion that the lack of compression is not related to valvetrain function...the valves can be heard slamming shut (as they do) when the solenoids fire, while cranking over the motor.

I started to suspect something else was wrong, and unfortunately, I may have found an answer. Air is able to blow from one cylinder to the next, without travelling through the crankcase, intake, or exhaust manifolds. I can continuously blow air into every cylinder (though not evenly) while rotating the engine around, and at no point is there a seal, or anything remotely close to. Certain positions, like when the intake or exhaust valves are open, result in less resistance, but even on power and compression strokes, it's like blowing through a straw.


Pressurizing the cooling system lead to an unfortunate confirmation that something ain't right, as I am almost certain cylinder 3 filled with coolant after the pressurization. a coolant hose blew off and I ran out of time, so I will have to go back and check...but it's not looking good.


RIP that. I was getting to excited to finally have my first car back and better than ever...I guess it's gonna be a semester longer, as I simply don't have time during the school year. If I would have known I was wasting my entire Christmas break on the car only to yield no enjoyment during this upcoming semester...I probably would have worked on the X1/9 instead, or just sat around and relaxed for once (man, it's been a long time).
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
I was going to write a tips and tricks guide and document a decent amount of info once the job was complete...but seeing as the job won't be complete for a long while now, and I'm just done with the car in general at the moment...it'll probably be a while.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
Well, let's try this again.



After pulling the head off of the replacement engine, I found that it had nearly every single exhaust valve bent horribly. This was kind of expected at this point considering the cam was about 30deg retarded from where it should be- likely due to something interfering with the timing system during the wreck. I should have done a leak down test when I got it, in hindsight. For MultiAir engines that have been sitting for a long time, regular compression tests do not work, so I omitted that step and didn't think I'd need to bother doing a leak down test while it was under seller warranty.

I was wrong.



Anyway, the engine is going back in for another attempt, this time with the cylinder head off of the original engine- while the cam carrier, MultiAir unit, and block are from the new one. I'm just glad I was able to re use the new block because, well, that's what was damaged in the hydrolock anyway, and that also meant I did not have to mess with removing and re-mating the transmission from the block. That was definitely the most tedious and irritating part of the first replacement.


Pictures will come soon, the original engine has quite the bent rod on cylinder 1.
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
I'll let the video do the talking :)

Ignore the ferocious pedal stabbing at the end of the video. I was trying to get a gunshot backfire out of it but it said no.


Something isn't entirely right, so ill need to give it a quick look over tomorrow before I head out of town for the semester. It started to build boost, went into limp at 6psi, and wouldn't actuate the diverter valve. Most likely, whatever the issue is, is purely electronic.

The new multiair unit primed pretty quick, as did the lifters. I just really hope the lifters and cam wear back in correctly and it does not obliterate both of them in short order...joys of flat tappet. I can't wait to try out the ported, polished, and ceramic coated manifold, turbine, compressor, the 200cell downpipe, and the new lightweight flywheel and clutch.
 

Longitudinal

True Classic
Wait until you have to replace the heater core on that car :) Tony’s pics of that were eye opening, it was as if they had built the car around the damn thing.

That has always been my theory about heater cores. I have this image in my head of a heater core bouncing down an assembly line, and workers standing by waiting to attach piece after piece to it until there is a car.
 
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