Alfa Romeo Forums banner

1 - 20 of 36 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just completed swapping the original steering box on my Alfa 102 Spider to a Volvo 142. It required machining an aluminum adapter plate to bolt to the frame and a steel adapter plate to the stock steering shaft universal. It also required shortening the steering shaft by 1”. The end result is nothing short of amazing! The steering is wonderfully smooth with no slop or rough spots and much more precise. I now wish I had done it 15 years ago.
If anyone is interested, I would be happy to post pictures of the adapters and how it looks after installation. I have a machinist that can make all the parts if you are interested.
I am a purest in keeping my car bone stock (except for Weber carbs!) but I am also a "driver" and highly recommend this improvement. For a vast majority of folk, they will not be able to tell the difference in the boxes. But for those that actually drive these cars, you will tell immediately. The Volvo steering boxes are nearly indestructible and can be rebuilt for less than $40 in parts. I am confident that the steering box issues on my car are now solved for the life of the car.
Ken
 

·
Push hard and live
Joined
·
11,119 Posts
Yes, pictures please.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay... I thought I could just insert a Jpeg pic file but that does not seem to be the case. Any help on how I insert pictures here?
Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
dont try doing a 'quick reply,' do a full reply.

then you'll see a button above the text box that looks like a paper-clip... use this button to attach pics from your computer.

for other things, use the 'world' icon for links and the 'picture' icon for URL's of pictures you dont have on your computer, but are in/at websites.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,763 Posts
See the "How to post pictures" post here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Steering Box Pics

Here are some initial pics of the steering box conversion. They show the aluminium adapter block with the Volvo steering box, etc. as well as the adapter to the steering shaft universal. I'll send some more later today.
The first two pics show the adapter block to the frame for the Volvo steering box. It requires new bolts but go through the original mount holes.
The 3rd pic shows a side view of the mount with the Volvo steering box on it. The angle for this mount is critical and this matches the original mount.
The 4th pic is a side-by-side of the stock (left) and Volvo (right) steering boxes.
The bottom pic shows the modification that had to be done to the original Volvo bracket to fit the Alfa steering shaft universal and still clear the body. I will add more pics of this later today.
Ken
 

Attachments

·
Push hard and live
Joined
·
11,119 Posts
The output shaft appears to be shorter on the Volvo box. This would change the angle of the Pittman arm and possibly the steering geometry. Have you considered or calculated the effect of this?

thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, I wondered about that from the beginning. However, the shorter shaft only means elevating the tie rod ends of which does little to nothing to steering geometry. What does affect if is moving the steering box either forward or backward. I wanted to move it toward the front of the car on the adapter plate 3/4 of inch so that I would not have to cut the steering shaft. There is a top alignment shop in Seattle that I consulted to see what impact that would have and he assured me it would be significant. So, it meant cutting the shaft. In the end that was a very simple procedure. The welder simply cut 1" out of the portion that is under the dash (so it could not be seen) and inserted another pipe which OD was the same as the ID of the steering shaft and welded it all together. It was very clean and cost me about $40 to get it done. In the end, everything aligned up just as it was before the conversion.
Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
More Pics

Here are few more pics of the adapter plate to the steering shaft universal. I am trying to give you some pics of the final installation in the car, but I can't seem to get them to downloaded. They may be to big of a file.
The only thing I have left to mitigate on this conversion is the horn/passing light. The Volvo steering box does not have a passage way for the horn and flasher light wires so it means wiring this differently. I am experimenting with a remote control system and will let you know how that goes. Otherwise, I am open to any suggestions. Worse case scenario, a button under the dash... but I hope it doesn't come to that.
Ken
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Ken,

I solved this by what I think in English is a "sliding contact (only horn for now). I let the wire come out of the steering rod just under the fuse box and have soldered it to an isolated copper ring around the rod. Then made a small holder for a (again think it's called) carbon brush from an old electrical drill that connects the wire again to the system. Never failed yet and almost inconspicuous!

rgds,
George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
PS, I had to do this for a Rio steering box conversion. This I can recommend to all, just a 1/4 more turns and the car gets "girlfriend also wants to drive-friendly" ;-)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
George,
Thanks for the tip... it sounds great. I assume you drilled a hole in the steering rod for the wire to come out. How did you attach the cooper ring to the rod? Solder as well? Any reason you did not do this under the dash instead of in the engine compartment? Finally, I'd love to a pic of it.
Thanks,
Ken
 

·
Push hard and live
Joined
·
11,119 Posts
FNM steering box

Mudshark,

Did you also have to shorten the steering shaft and/or modify the attaching end to use the FNM box? I've got one on the way and need to prepare myself for the exercise.

I wonder if there are "contact rings" that might be adapted from other cars? As for mounting it behind the dash - not sure where one would do that. Very hard to get into the structural box that supports the shaft under the dash. Perhaps just ahead of it and before the firewall panel?

Don



PS, I had to do this for a Rio steering box conversion. This I can recommend to all, just a 1/4 more turns and the car gets "girlfriend also wants to drive-friendly" ;-)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Don, Ken,
I have my car in paintshop and no pictures available for the horn construction. I will post some later for the conversion to the rio box, this was real easy, used some standard spline stubs and shortened the shaft at the end a bit. All else fitted veryeasily.
George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
reason to mount the contact just after the firewall was cause the shaft passes close by the inner chassis beam which made it a logical spot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don,
Hmmm, I wondered about the huge opening under the steering wheel on my car... /-: Obviously someone (before I got the car) cut away the sheet metal. As a result, the steering shaft and universal are very accessible. I currently have the wires for the horn and lights coming out between the universal at the steering wheel end. That is why I thought of putting the ring there. This might require a more complex bracket, but it will put it all under the dash and out of sight.
Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
These are some pics of the conversion. Also, on the solution for the horn, you might want to check how Maserati Sebring has this, quite elegant also on the outside and where the steering comes out of the fire-wall. Couldn't source a picture quickly
 

Attachments

·
Administrator
Joined
·
14,622 Posts
So I assume you did this because you cannot get parts to rebuild the original steering box?. Otherwise comparing a good steering box (ie. Volvo one is either a rebuilt one or in good condition) to a worn out old one is hardly fair.

Pete
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, true on both accounts. Both the worm gear and roller were badly grooved on the ALfa steering box. AFRA does offer new ones at $1200 but everyone who has used them were unhappy. Apparently they do not harden the steel enough and they wear out quickly. I have heard you can weld them up, but 20k miles later you may be doing it again. For me, it became about design differences that really does affect performance and longevity. The Alfa box has a similar worm gear to the Volvo, but the roller has only one groove and the Volvo roller is 2-grooved (for lack of a better word). This seems to make a difference in smoothness and ease of steering, from my observation. I have had my car for 15 years and I can say that it steers much better with a good Volvo steering box over the good Alfa box when I first bought the car.
Ken
 

·
Push hard and live
Joined
·
11,119 Posts
I'll post pics of my Alfa box innards shortly. I think I mentioned in another post that one of the two that I have opened has the "one groove" sector (you called it a "roller), and the other box has a two-groove sector. One cannot mix and match the pieces. I'm going to pull out my installed box soon in the hopes that whatever is worn in there is the opposite of whatever is worn in my other two boxes, allowing me to assemble a complete one.

Meanwhile, I have a rebuilt FNM box coming. I note that modifications to the steering shaft are required, but otherwise it bolts on and has the same Pittman arm attachment. I have to wonder if I can I make a new flange for the FNM box thus avoiding any modifications to the steering shaft. I recognize the challenge with the horn and light flasher wires, and wonder if they can't just be fished out through the U-joint and wound around the shaft such that sufficient slack is available? Not the prettiest solution, but it spares all the modifications and leaves the car fully reversible to original if desired.
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
Top