steering box grease source? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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steering box grease source?

I won't get into the debate over oil vs. semi-liquid grease in the Burman steering boxes here. The box in my '74 GTV has a somewhat leaky seal and I switched to Chevron 000 grease about ten years ago - the box seems OK still today. I've lost a little out of there in the years since, and am having trouble finding a source of the red NLGI-000 grease to top it up. At least all I've turned up are 5-gallon pails of the stuff, which would last this car through the ice age. Anyone know of a source for something compatible with the red Chevron 000 which is available in reasonable quantities? I've seen others using the Penrite steering box lube which I think is 00 grade and amber - would I need to remove what's in there to use Penrite or could they be mixed? Thoughts and leads are appreciated!
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 08:21 AM
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From a forum for Antique Tractors:

"After three days looking everywhere for NLGI 000, I spoke with the Rhino tech department concerning a substitute for NLGI 000 in my gearbox. Guy there (hopefully an engineer) says don't worry, just use 90w. He then went on to say that NLGI 000 grease is nothing more than 90 weight with a thickening additive. When asked why they specify something that obscure if the usual gear lube works fine, I was told it's to prevent maybe losing the lube from the gear box (bad seal or crack) when it's stored in the off season. He might be right, if I'm dumb enough to lose three days of mowing and spend three days chasing this ghost grease, I might be dumb enough not to make sure I've got lube in the gear box in the spring."

I've been using Penrite for over 35 years. So far, so good..... I've also never had trouble finding a vendor to sell it to me.

From their website: "Penrite Steering Box Lube is an extreme pressure, NLGI 00, lithium based grease, blended with effective anti-wear, rust and oxidation inhibitors. It is a high viscosity, self-levelling grease that features non-corrosive extreme pressure (EP) additives to provide enhanced film strength protection."

Maybe buy a pint of Penrite ($12 on sale) and see what happens when you mix it with what you have now in your box. (Looking at the spec for the Chevron grease it appears that the two should compatible). Or maybe Penrite could provide guidance on the subject.

Bob
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 10:25 AM
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The Penrite should be OK. I may be responsible for the belief that Chevron is the right stuff as I bought a large quantity of it many years ago and repackaged it and supplied it to other Alfisti. I still have enough for one steering that I am hanging on to. I chose Chevron because it was the only semi-liquid grease that I could buy locally.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
76 Suzuki GT500
2011 Jaguar XKR

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 10:49 AM
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So how does grease work in a steering box once it has moved out of the way of the moving parts? Does the heat of the steering box cause it to melt and flow to where it is needed?

I don't understand why the leaking seal was not just fixed?
Pete

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 11:12 AM
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Pete,

In a phase: film strength.

And you are correct: we who drive LHD GTVs have steering boxes that are heated by the downpipes to a point that even NLGI #2 grease flows like honey.

Tell me about wheel bearings grease. Per Alfa's recommendation, I use NLGI #2. Wheel bearings packed with grease and a Burman steering box with recirculating ball bearings packed with grease, how different are they?

I've had to replace the bottom seal in my LHD every 30 to 40 thousand miles. So once every seven or so years. But a seal begins to seep lubricant in a year two or three.

Bob

Last edited by nunki; 07-23-2017 at 03:13 PM.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nunki View Post
In a phase: film strength.
...but also the semi-liquid consistency. These special greases are OK in a steering box as they will flow back between the bearings after the bearings move, unlike a heavier stiff grease (especially true at operating temps where the steering box is located). I'd never put a wheel bearing consistency grease in the box, as it could be displaced and lead to insufficient lubrication.
I realize that this isn't the factory fill lubricant and that the "proper" fix is a new seal, but ten years ago I wasn't able to replace the seal easily enough and feel that a semi-liquid grease fill is an acceptable alternative (and much easier to execute).
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 12:51 PM
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For a US source, Moss Motors has the Pennrite Steering Box Lube (00 NLGI grease) in 0.5L containers. P/N 225-340, $19.95

MossMotors.com - Restoration Parts And Accessories For British Cars

Tom

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-03-2015, 10:01 PM
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Moss Motors has the Pennrite
..so is this how they attempt to have leak proof brit engines?

.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nunki View Post
Tell me about wheel bearings grease. Per Alfa's recommendation, I use NLGI #2. Wheel bearings packed with grease and a Burman steering box with recirculating ball bearings packed with grease, how different are they?

Bob
Very different. A wheel bearing is zooming around and generates heat to melt the grease to get it flowing. A steering box on a motorway hardly moves so would cool right down ... what happens when the motorway ends and you go through some interesting corners? Little lubrication ...

Thankfully your LHD cars have the exhaust to keep the grease flowing , us RHD folks cars would likely seize the steering box!
Pete

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Last edited by PSk; 08-04-2015 at 02:02 AM.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 02:47 AM
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OK - so how much fun is it to replace the bottom seal with the steering box in situ?

As it happens, I have steering links etc loosely fitted at the moment, and the car is on axle stands, so I can reach it...sort of...lying on my back with limited elbow swinging room and clutching an LED torch between my teeth.

My 1600 GTV looks to have the Burman box, that model with the 'early' felt seal, I gather.

If the whole thing sucks, or the seals aren't available, the Penrite goop appeals mightily.

For PSK, a serious question - lubrication is about keeping a film between the contact surfaces, is it not? Wouldn't an oil/grease still mix do that? Surely all lubricant isn't dragged away from the bearing surfaces when turned because you use a grease mix? Forgive my ignorance, but cleaning grease off things when you WANT to remove it seems to take a fair bit of effort.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 05:37 AM
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Semi-liquid grease is used in gear casings in underground equipment where replacing seals would require bringing the equipment to the surface. That is a much tougher application than a steering box.

Ed Prytherch
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76 Suzuki GT500
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 08:47 AM
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OK - so how much fun is it to replace the bottom seal with the steering box in situ?

My 1600 GTV looks to have the Burman box, that model with the 'early' felt seal, I gather.

If ... the seals aren't available, the Penrite goop appeals mightily.

.
Burman box seal sets ARE available from Alfa Parts Exchange in California.
In fact entire Burman Box rebuild kits are available from them for -$70 U.S. plus shipping, of course. No, it's not on their website - you have to ask. Further, it's best (and way more fun) to call Larry rather than email. He's often a bit sporadic about reading it and answering.

I know all this because I've just ordered the rebuilt kit, but it hasn't arrived yet. I'll post pictures of what I get after it arrives - ideally within the next week or so.

I can't answer regarding repairs in situ as my box is out while the body undergoes major cosmetic surgery.

I've been following this thread in anticipation of successfully rebuilding the box - famous last words, perhaps?

71 Spider
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 09:13 AM
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I know Snapper makes a semi-liquid grease called Snapper 00 grease. I use it in the gearbox of my self propelled mower. Maybe that'll work. I think any mower shop would sell it.

Howie
1970 1750 GTV
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranz View Post
For PSK, a serious question - lubrication is about keeping a film between the contact surfaces, is it not? Wouldn't an oil/grease still mix do that? Surely all lubricant isn't dragged away from the bearing surfaces when turned because you use a grease mix? Forgive my ignorance, but cleaning grease off things when you WANT to remove it seems to take a fair bit of effort.
Good point!

I just wonder if a steering box ever generates enough heat for the grease to flow. After all there is a reason Alfa specified oil.

Anyway I've made my point and grease has worked for many years for the PO so maybe okay.
Pete

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-04-2015, 04:04 PM
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Well, PSK, in defence of your original proposition, I do recall a discussion years ago that lubrication of the many running/wear points on pre-war cars was done with oil, not grease. I suppose there was a reason for that.

I will now be pulling the engine to give better access for replacement of brake lines, engine and gearbox mounts etc, so the in-situ question for the steering box is probably moot.

However, it looks like the only replacement seals available are the modern metal/rubber type - can anybody confirm whether these are a direct replacement for the earlier felt seals?
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