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Discussion Starter #1
All,
My 74 Spider has a dead spot when I turn the steering wheel. It's an approximately a 10 degree dead spot; 5 degrees left and 5 degrees right of the center (straight ahead driving). The Burman box was completely rebuilt with new bearings and all. I have adjusted the shims behind the "football" shaped plate on the top of the box. That stiffened the turning force of the steering wheel but had no impact on reducing the dead spot. I have also checked the movement of the pitman arm by putting the front of the car on jack stands. The front steering rack is tight and assembled as it should be. The deadspot is internal to the box.

My next plan is to remove the front plate of the Burman box to inspect and adjust the shims. This is the plate that the horn wire goes through. I have a concern about removing this plate. When I remove the front plate do I run a risk of the bearings coming out. If so, does anyone have a solution? If need be I'll remove the box but would like to do this in the car if possible.

If anyone has had this condition before and has some advice it would be greatly appreciate.

Thanks,
David
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My next plan is to remove the front plate of the Burman box to inspect and adjust the shims.
I think that's a good idea. If there is excessive axial play in the steering column & worm gear, that would lead to play in the steering box. Does your steering column have a U-joint? Or is it a solid shaft from the box to the steering wheel? If the latter, does the steering wheel move in-out as you turn it left-right through the zone where there is play?

I have a concern about removing this plate. When I remove the front plate do I run a risk of the bearings coming out. If so, does anyone have a solution? If need be I'll remove the box but would like to do this in the car if possible.
At first I wrote "yes, the balls could fall out". Then I thought about it some more and recalled that the front plate retains a bearing race which is what contacts the ball bearings. So if you could remove the plate while holding that race in place (maybe with a screwdriver), perhaps you could insert a thicker shim without allowing the balls to dislodge.

The website at Burman Box #1 includes an exploded diagram of a Burman box. Part #27 in that diagram is what I'm calling the race.

alfaromeoblack said:
Try the easiest solution first by adjusting the worm gear screw out a little bit.
Yes, that would work with a ZF box. But the Burman box that's on TannerTrent's Alfa has no adjusting screws; you do everything with shims.
 

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Try the easiest solution first by adjusting the worm gear screw out a little bit. I had the same problem when I first bought my car. I had some play in the steering wheel and I adjusted the worm gear screw to were I thought it was just snug. This caused a flat spot as you were describing. Good luck hope it works out easy.


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Discussion Starter #4
I think that's a good idea. If there is excessive axial play in the steering column & worm gear, that would lead to play in the steering box. Does your steering column have a U-joint? Or is it a solid shaft from the box to the steering wheel? If the latter, does the steering wheel move in-out as you turn it left-right through the zone where there is play?



At first I wrote "yes, the balls could fall out". Then I thought about it some more and recalled that the front plate retains a bearing race which is what contacts the ball bearings. So if you could remove the plate while holding that race in place (maybe with a screwdriver), perhaps you could insert a thicker shim without allowing the balls to dislodge.

The website at Burman Box #1 includes an exploded diagram of a Burman box. Part #27 in that diagram is what I'm calling the race.



Yes, that would work with a ZF box. But the Burman box that's on TannerTrent's Alfa has no adjusting screws; you do everything with shims.
Alfajay. Really appreciate the input. My steering is a solid shaft. It does not have a U-joint. When I turn the steering wheel is does not move in or out. There is just a dead zone while turning the steering wheel it does not move the shaft where the pitman are connects.
When I remove the plate that retains the bearing race I will try to hold that race in place. What is going to reduce the play? Adding more shims? Or removing shims?

Oh and you are correct, there is not an adjustment screw on my steering box.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Removing shims reduces the play. I think it should be do-able in the car, as you said just try to hold the race in place.

You removed all the shims from under the football and you still have play?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Removing shims reduces the play. I think it should be do-able in the car, as you said just try to hold the race in place.

You removed all the shims from under the football and you still have play?
Gubi,
Yes. I removed all of the shims under the football shaped cover. It significantly increased the force necessary to turn the steering wheel. It however did not reduce the play in the steering wheel. It did not reduce the dead spot.

After I eliminate the dead spot in my steering, I will then re-install some of the shim behind the football plate. My steering is now to tight.
Thanks
 

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What is going to reduce the play? Adding more shims? Or removing shims?
If the steering column & worm gear have excessive axial play, deleting shims would move the races closer together, eliminating that play. If the column-gear can move back-and-forth, then as you turn the steering wheel, the worm gear would just unscrew from the sector gear, instead of turning the sector gear, resulting in a dead zone.

My steering is a solid shaft. It does not have a U-joint. When I turn the steering wheel is does not move in or out.
That part has me a bit puzzled. I would expect the column to move axially as it took up any play in the box. But maybe the play is just a few tens of thousandths, not enough to be perceptible at the steering wheel.

I removed all of the shims under the football shaped cover. It significantly increased the force necessary to turn the steering wheel. It however did not reduce the play
Hmm, that doesn't sound good. I would put those shims back in before driving the car again.

The Burman box was completely rebuilt with new bearings and all.
Who did the rebuild? What do they say about this play?

Another observation: Those cool-looking tube headers would really heat soak the steering box, so while I'm not suggesting that could cause play, adding another heat shield around the box (once you have the play issue sorted out) might be a good idea. My worry is that your steering box lubricant was not intended to work under high heat conditions.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
If the steering column & worm gear have excessive axial play, adding shims would move the races closer together, eliminating that play. If the column-gear can move back-and-forth, then as you turn the steering wheel, the worm gear would just unscrew from the sector gear, instead of turning the sector gear, resulting in a dead zone. So I would think that you should increase the shim thickness.



That part has me a bit puzzled. I would expect the column to move axially as it took up any play in the box. But maybe the play is just a few tens of thousandths, not enough to be perceptible at the steering wheel.



Hmm, that doesn't sound good. I would put those shims back in before driving the car again.



Who did the rebuild? What do they say about this play?

Another observation: Those cool-looking tube headers would really heat soak the steering box, so while I'm not suggesting that could cause play, adding another heat shield around the box (once you have the play issue sorted out) might be a good idea. My worry is that your steering box lubricant was not intended to work under high heat conditions.

Jay,
I was just putting in the shims under the "football plate" when I saw your reply. I put 2 of the 3 shims back under the football. It made the steering wheel a little easier to turn.

Just to confirm, would adding or removing shims on the other plate reduce the free play. I was previously thinking that removing the shims would reduce the free play. Do I have that backwards?

Regarding the headers, I have been considering putting a heat shield in there at some point. While I'm nearly finished with my restoration I'm still debugging a few issues. The steering is by far my largest issue remaining.
Thanks again,
David
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, I think you have it backwards. Assuming you have axial play in the shaft, the two bearing races are too far apart. Adding shims should push them closer together.
Jay,
Do you have a suggestion for a source for the shims? I will need to get those before I take off the plate.
Thanks,
 

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Yes, I think you have it backwards. Assuming you have axial play in the shaft, the two bearing races are too far apart. Adding shims should push them closer together.
Nope, you've got it backwards. The plate that presses on the bearings rides on the body of the box via the shims. Adding shims moves the plate farther out, which increases play in the bearings.

Trust me, I just rebuilt the box on my car. It was too tight as assembled, I added another shim on the front and it smoothed it out.

Trent, you can buy thin aluminum sheet or plastic shim stock and just cut to size.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Also, here is a REALLY good thread on rebuilding these boxes:

 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks
Nope, you've got it backwards. The plate that presses on the bearings rides on the body of the box via the shims. Adding shims moves the plate farther out, which increases play in the bearings.

Trust me, I just rebuilt the box on my car. It was too tight as assembled, I added another shim on the front and it smoothed it out.

Trent, you can buy thin aluminum sheet or plastic shim stock and just cut to size.
Gubi,
This is what I was originally thinking. If I remove shims then it will reduce the free play. In that case I should not need any shim stock. Appreciate your help.
Thanks,
David
 

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Nope, you've got it backwards. The plate that presses on the bearings rides on the body of the box via the shims. Adding shims moves the plate farther out, which increases play in the bearings.
Oh OK. I was thinking that the shims were circular and sandwiched between the square plate and the circular race. So thicker shims would push the race inward. But I see what you mean: the shims are square and the same size as the square plate. So thinner shims will push the race inward.

It's been awhile since I've had a Burman apart and my poor old brain doesn't retain these things. I've deleted one post and edited the other to eliminate any confusion.
 

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Take care when playing with shims in situ. When you adjust the box on a bench, you can use a dial gage to measure the end play and adjust the shims to bring this to zero. If you just eyeball it, when you tighten the end cap with not enough shims, you will stress the steering box case through the end cap bolts. And just where do these cases crack?

End play will result in a dead spot, vertical play will also result in a dead spot. Plus minus 5 degrees is a lot. Another possible cause would be wear on the main screw, but this would be worse when the steering wheel is centered and less away from center. The screw is unlikely to wear evenly at all positions.

If the dead spot is constant at all steering wheel positions and will not go away no matter how you adjust the shims, it is starting to look like the box may have been assembled with undersized balls.

If you do remove the end cap, you have to be prepared for:
  • oil flowing out
  • a 6 inch steel tube attached to the cap, to pass the horn wire up to the column; you will have to slide it out.
  • the front bearing race that will want to fall out. Have an assistant hold it with the ti oof a screwdriver, then lock it in place with a nut and washer.
It's feasible, I've done it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Take care when playing with shims in situ. When you adjust the box on a bench, you can use a dial gage to measure the end play and adjust the shims to bring this to zero. If you just eyeball it, when you tighten the end cap with not enough shims, you will stress the steering box case through the end cap bolts. And just where do these cases crack?

End play will result in a dead spot, vertical play will also result in a dead spot. Plus minus 5 degrees is a lot. Another possible cause would be wear on the main screw, but this would be worse when the steering wheel is centered and less away from center. The screw is unlikely to wear evenly at all positions.

If the dead spot is constant at all steering wheel positions and will not go away no matter how you adjust the shims, it is starting to look like the box may have been assembled with undersized balls.

If you do remove the end cap, you have to be prepared for:
  • oil flowing out
  • a 6 inch steel tube attached to the cap, to pass the horn wire up to the column; you will have to slide it out.
  • the front bearing race that will want to fall out. Have an assistant hold it with the ti oof a screwdriver, then lock it in place with a nut and washer.
It's feasible, I've done it.
Yves,
That is great information. I'll likely try this over the coming weekend when my son is here. Its good to know that you've done this procedure before. I really hope this solves the issue. If not then I will be pulling the Burman box out.
Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yves,
That is great information. I'll likely try this over the coming weekend when my son is here. Its good to know that you've done this procedure before. I really hope this solves the issue. If not then I will be pulling the Burman box out.
Thanks again
Yves,
I'm in the process of removing the front plate on my burman box. I've removed the 4 mounting bolts and have slid the plate out as far as it will travel. I have a clearance issue in removing the plate as I try to slide the horn wire tube out. The plate is hitting the chassis support in the engine bay. I don't see any way to get past it. Do you remember what you did? Any help is appreciated.

Thanks,
David
clearance issue.JPG
 

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can't see that coming out....look how long the rod is, it goes right through the box, according to this great photo!

Burman (2)_LI.jpg


(unless the rod can somehow be separated from the end plate?)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
can't see that coming out....look how long the rod is, it goes right through the box, according to this great photo!

View attachment 1610963

(unless the rod can somehow be separated from the end plate?)
Ugh! That is a long rascal. It looks to me like that tube is brazed into that plate. I don't think it will come apart. Its hard to see when its in the car. I'll wait a while and see if someone smarter than me has an idea. If not, it looks like I'll be removing the unit.
Thanks
 

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Tube is brazed to the plate. The brazing keeps the oil in at the bottom, at the top end there’s an o-ring that fits around the tube.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
All,
I removed the burman box from my 74 Spider. I've now completely dismantled the unit. I found 3 things in the box that are of concern.
1. The Shims that go behind the Close Out Plate (with the horn wire hole). There was only 2 and one of them I guessing was not original.
Shims.JPG

2. The "Tube" was bent and would not allow the balls to freely pass.
Tube.JPG
3. The unit was short on balls.

So now I need a few parts.
A. I need the 3 shims that go behind the close out plate
B. I need the tube assembly.

If anyone has these available please let me know.

Thanks,
David
 
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