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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
BURMAN STEERING BOX REBUILD PROCEDURE

Here is my procedure for rebuilding the Burman steering box.

Tools:
A 13mm socket wrench for all the screws.
A 13mm box wrench for the two nuts on the side cover.
A clean work area.
A vise.
A box of latex gloves (do not use cotton gloves or anything that could leave particles behind).
Clean shop rags.
Mineral Spirits and/or Lacquer thinner to clean the parts.
Plastic bowls to organize the parts in logical order.


Notes:

Read this procedure all the way through before doing anything. Seriously, this is not a difficult procedure but it does require some technique and a plan. Nothing is more frustrating then holding your various parts and realizing that you either need a third arm, a helper or hold something in your teeth...

Everything needs to be clean.
Everything needs to be clean. Everything needs to be clean.

Did I mention EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE CLEAN!!!

Verify that you have everything shown in the picture below:

Burman gearbox exploded view.jpg


New items:

You will need at a minimum, (54) new ball bearing balls (standard 9/32" or 7.14mm ), new O-ring seal, and new gaskets (make your own) for the upper plate, lower plate, main cover and oval cover.

Inspection:
Carefully inspect the main nut tube to be sure the tube is not crushed or deformed in any way. Run balls through it to make sure they move freely. Inspect the helicoil for chips or pitting from rust. Likewise, inspect the large (upper) and small (lower) bearing races for defects. Anything that you can feel with your fingernail will be a problem. You may be able to polish the surface but your best bet is probably to locate replacement parts.

I have found that if you open your box up and water comes pouring out – you will probably need new internals…

Finally, inspect the case to make sure there are no cracks. They mostly occur around the bolt holes around the bearing holes. Small cracks can be welded or JB welded. If the box comes apart in pieces… its time to find a new box. They do sell new boxes but they are pretty pricey. Some day they will be the only option…




Main Nut assembly



P1090449.JPG

Grease the main nut with heavy duty grease. Make sure that grease is in the tube as well as the helicoil race.

Carefully fill the helicoil with 31 ball bearing balls. Push them through the tube until they come out the other end. With all the balls in place there will be a gap less than one ball’s diameter – this is normal.

P1090450.JPG

When complete, apply another healthy layer of grease so everything stays in place. Cover and set aside.

Lower Bearing Assembly:
Locate the lower bearing race – it is the smaller of the two round bearings.

Load it up with heavy duty grease.

Fill the race with 10 ball bearings. There will be a gap – that is normal.

DSC05600.JPG

Apply another layer of grease over the top of the balls it help keep everything in place. Cover and set aside.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Page 2

Upper Bearing Assembly:
Locate the upper bearing race it is the larger of the two round bearings.

P1090447.JPG

Load it up with heavy duty grease. Cover and set aside. (yup, balls go in later)


Burman Case

You will have to determine whether you need to replace the bronze bushing. Install the rocking shaft in the case and try wiggling it around the base. If there is any movement at all you will need to replace the bushing. If so, you will also need to remove the O-ring retainer and the O-ring.

Regardless, always replace the O-ring seal.


P1090451.JPG



Lube the bearing and O-ring liberally with heavy duty grease. Cover and set aside.

P1090452.JPG

Optionally you could insert the shaft back in the case and set it so that the end of the shaft is pointing down. Place some clean cardboard or paper under the shaft. Then pour in some gear oil (it doesn't need to be filled) and let the box sit for a couple of days, periodically rotating the shaft back and forth. If any oil seems out the bottom seal you will need to find the source of the leak and fix it. It is a lot easier now then when the box is assembled and installed in the car. Ignore the leak and you'll be looking for a new box real soon...

Final Assembly:
Clamp the steering tube in a vise, flange side up. Note: This is essentially upside down from when it is in the car but I will continue you refer to the components as they would be situated in the car. In other words, the upper bearing is the larger of the two but will be on the bottom in this orientation.

Hold the shaft in one hand and allow it to slide into the tube until the worm gear is sitting just above your hand.

Slide the race (open side up) over the worm gear until it is just below the bottom of the gear. I like to set on the top of my hand while holding on to the shaft.

With your free hand, fit the (13) ball bearings around the race, allowing the grease to hold them in place. There will be a small gap when all the balls are in place – that’s appropriate.

Once all the balls are in place, allow the bottom of the worm gear to seat into the now populated bearing.

Carefully lower this assembly the rest of the way down the tube until the bearing is sitting on the flange and supporting the worm gear. You can move the assembly around a bit – center it as best you can.


worm gear.JPG

Apply a liberal amount of heavy duty grease on the worm gear.

Locate the gasket on top of the flange. I use gasket adhesive to secure it.

Take a break, wash your hands and wipe up the excess grease.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Page 3

Locate the main nut into the rocking shaft so that the boss protrudes up through the hole in the pawl – there is quite a bit of slop at this point. I put my finger inside the helicoil and then hold the rocking shaft with my palm and thumb.

Holding the case in one hand, carefully lower the rocking shaft assembly into the case from the large side opening. At some point you will need to put your fingers through one of the bearing race holes in the case and pass the main nut from your one hand to the other.

P1090454.JPG P1090453.JPG

Remove your hand from the large opening and push the rocking shaft down the rest of the way while holding the main nut. With enough grease and tender care you should be able to get everything in place without loosing any balls. If you do, remove everything and start over.

Take another break and clean up.

Now look at the slot in the tube and orient the case in such a way that if you were sitting in front of the steering wheel, the slot would be on the right side (LHD cars) and the Burman box would be pointing down (the pitman arm that is).

Once you have the right orientation, carefully slip the case over the end of the worm gear and allow the gear to engage the main nut.

While you are holding the case and main nut, have an assistant slowly turn the shaft from the steering wheel end in order to thread the worm in to the main nut. DO NOT ALLOW THE WORM GEAR TO RISE UP OFF THE UPPER BEARING! If you do, the balls will fall out and you will need to start over.

P1090455.JPG

As you continue to rotate the shaft the case will lower itself onto the bearing. Aligned properly the bearing will continue to slip into the opening in the case and the case will land on the flange.

Secure the case with the M8 screws and lock washers.

Take another break and clean up.

Next, retrieve the lower (smaller) bearing assembly. Carefully turn it over (ball side down) and just as carefully slip it into the opening at the top of the case and around the end of the worm gear. If you have properly greased the races the balls should stay in place and seat to the worm gear. If any of them fall out, you must start over.

P1090457.JPG P1090458.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Page 4

Locate the round spacer in the opening above the small bearing assembly.

P1090459.JPG P1090460.JPG


Next locate the shims around on the case. The factory built these boxes with three shims of various thicknesses. As the boxes wear the idea was that you could remove one or more of the shims to compensate for the wear. You will need to determine how many shims and in what combination you should use.

P1090461.JPG

Locate the gasket to the bottom of close out plate. Again, I use gasket adhesive to hold it in place.

Mount the closeout plate to the case with the M8 screws and lock washers making sure that the shims don’t get pinched into the bearing hole.

P1090464.JPG

You may now remove the assembly from the vise and reorient the case so that the large side opening is facing up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Page 5

I'll finish up with the rest of the pictures later tonight...

Sight down the opening in the rocking shaft and make sure the boss on the main nut is centered in the hole. Apply grease to the hole and then fit the roller (the round piece with the slot on one side) in to the hole. The slot will fit over the boss in the main nut.



Install the heavy spring into the end of the rocking shaft that it accessible with the oval shaped cover removed. Fill the opening with grease.


Locate the gasket on to the cleaned surface of the case and then place the cover over the opening. Fasten it down with the M8 screws – two are threaded to the case and two are through holes; the screws are secured with nuts and lock washers.

Install the oval shims on the main cover. This is similar to the end piece in that the shim stack up will affect the backlash.

Locate and install the small cover with the shortest M8 screws and lock washers. You will need to push down the cover to compress the spring enough to start the screws.

Assembly the spring and collar over the end of the shaft and fit the key in to the key way.



Fill the box with 90 weight gear oil and install the rubber cap in the filler hole.

Temporarily install the steering wheel onto the shaft and with the case properly secured in a vise, slowly rotate the wheel. It should be a little tight but nothing close to binding. DO NOT ROTATE IT PAST THE STOP POINT. There is a lot of torque to be developed with the wheel and you can do real damage if you push past the ends. Remember, in the car there are hard stops to prevent this.

Pull and push the wheel – there should be no end play. If there is, you will have to remove the bottom plate and remove shims. This can get tedious…

Likewise turn the wheel back and forth – there should be no play. If so, remove the oval cover and remove shims until the slop is gone.

If you feel any grinding – game over. Disassemble everything and start over.

Once everything is satisfactory, torque the bolts to 18 ft-lbs. I debate whether use Loctite and quarter-turn tighten. So far I haven’t stripped any threads so I’m staying with what works.

That’s about it. A rebuilt Burman box is one of those delightful details that is often overlooked or ignored. At best you loose out on what these cars feel like in proper trim. At worst you’ll end up with a broken box, a big bill and possibly a dangerous situation…
 

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Perfect Burman steering box re-assy.-workinstruction!

Millions of thanks! What a joy and reliefe!

There is no doubt that the steering box will get back together again. I am starting this sunday and will report on progress & show photos after coming weekend 27-29 June.

Did you document this procedure in an earlier thread or did you take the Burman box apart just for my help?

I am greatful for your assistance!

Apart from this work to be done I am planning to weld the front back to the car tomorrow. I have painted the area behind the front panel. The front panel should be quite easily to weld in place again. After some other welding work I will turn the car in the Tipboy. I will show this with pictures later on. Perhaps in another thread!

Many thanks again gprocket!

/Magnus
 

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I just discovered additional rebuild instructions in a workshop manual by Kenneth Ball entitled "ALFA ROMEO GIULIA 1600,1750 1962-1972 AUTOBOOK" (by Autopress Ltd.). Now most of this manual is basically a reprint of ALFA's official workshop manual...except that for the steering box rebuild section it doesn't provide the nice photos like those that Rich provided.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Magnus: I wrote the procedure at your request but I had taken the pictures some time ago with the intention of writing the procedure for the archives. I find that if I don't do it at the time I never remember how later...

Rossano: I read your post and I seemed to recall seeing that book somewhere. I made a mental note to look around the shop and then turned my head to the left. There was the book sitting on my credenza! I think I've been using it as a coaster for the last few months.

And you are absolutely right, it does have a succinct write up for R&R of both the Burman and the ZF boxes. Frankly I was surprised at how closely I track with it. Thanks for that tip!
 

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How do I remove it?

After I read this thread I decided to rebuil my Burman Box.
I have a GT stepnose, LHD, it is on jack stands now because I'm working under the car.
Engine is in, exaust and pedal box have been removed and the box is leaking a little so I think this is the right moment to do the job.
I searched the Forum about removal of the box, I found some information but I want more before I start.
Maybe the job is easier than I think, but now I have following questions:

What is the best position to turn the wheels when I spline off steering drop arm? Straigth, to le left (how I suppose) or to the right?
Do I have to disconnect the Track rod ends from the steering drop arm?
The steering shaft has to be sealed to avoid oil flowing into the car while removing the box?
Do I have to mark the position of the rocking shaft to the steering drop arm or is there only one position?

Any suggestion will be appriciated. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #11

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I don't see the danger of oil flowing from the box through the steering tube and into the passenger compartment. That said, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to tape the end.
gprocket:

I'm sorry to always be contradicting you, but I have to do it again - yes, oil can come out of the top of the steering column if the steering box is positioned above the top of the column while removing the assembly from the car. If you could remove the box-column out from beneath, while the car was up on a lift, oil spillage wouldn't be a problem. But for a home mechanic, pulling the box-column up through the hood opening, I think that spillage is a real possibility.

I had a couple of steering box-column assemblies in my garage recently, and was amazed by how much oil they held, and how they found ways to puke it out no matter how many times I tried to drain them. I would set the box-column upside down in an oil pan, hoping to drain all the oil out the column. A month later, I would lay the thing on its side, only to find another puddle of oil around it the next morning.

My advice would be to remove the filler cap, and turn the box upside down while it is still in the engine compartment (if possible - I haven't tried this with the engine in place), in an attempt to drain out most of the oil. Then try to seal up the top of the column (though your duct tape, or whatever, will get ripped off as you pull the column through the firewall. Don't forget to tape up the hole in the column where the steering lock pin goes. Lastly, remove your carpets, or cover them thoroughly with plastic.
 

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Burnan box rebuilt

Hi Gprocket!

I have successfully completed the overhauling procedure on my Burman box. I replaced the balls but found them a bit bigger than 3/16 inch. Anyway I followed the procedure and there is no corrections needed.

A comment only to what I did when I could not place the steering rod in the vise vertically. It is possible to replace the case over the wormgear having the steering rod in the vise horisontally too.

I was having a cold for a week and today I am off to Stockholm with the kids. When I return I will return with pictures from my overhauling the box.

Another problem has occured though. It is the steering surround (aluminium). It has a pinch bolt, and I have found cracks around it. After a week of searching the local dealers and clubs I found a replacement surround in Highwood Alfa in the UK. Mr. Chris sent me a new one for 30 quid + VAT. When it arrived I found it damaged in the package. I contaced Chis and he will send me another. Thanks Chris!

I'll be back with more pictures as previously stated.

Here's the cracked surround anyway.

View attachment surround 1.pdf

/Magnus
 

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What i dig about Chris is when i send him an email asking him like 5-6 questions
the guy will answer every single one of them
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Great job, Magnus! And glad you were able to improvise.

I did just yesterday hit on an idea that I think will work well: Once you assemble the upper bearing and balls onto the worm gear and then into the tube, you can then install the spring, sleeve and woodruff key and that should hold the balls nicely in place. I haven't tried it yet but I'm certain it will work and will make the rest of the assembly much easier. I am going to try this in the next couple of days and modify my procedure accordingly.

Bummer that the steering surround broke. I do have extras in case Chris can't help but I'm sure he'll take care of you.
 

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Once you assemble the upper bearing and balls onto the worm gear and then into the tube, you can then install the spring, sleeve and woodruff key and that should hold the balls nicely in place.
I was just about to say that this is what I used to do, and I got to your last post. Works a treat.

A couple of other notes:

I used to remove the O-ring and use a conventional oil seal. (you have to pry out the steel washer and bore the recess (or find a seal that fits) to suit an appropriately sized seal.

You must check for wear/play on the main sector shaft (both at the lower and top bearing surfaces). If any significant wear/play is detectable, you must rebush these inner bushes after regrinding the shaft journals (a straightforward job for any competent machine shop). If there is any play here, you are wasting you hard work elsewhere. The clearances here should be around 0.0075". Best acheived by honing!

The adjustment of shims for the steering column shaft should be done by feel of hand before assembly with the sector shaft (a dummy run).

The final adjustment of shims on the top oval cover (before installing the heavy spring) I used to do by installing the pitman arm and then mounting it in a vice (on the pitman arm), installing the steering wheel loosely, and then while the steering wheel is in the STRAIGHT AHEAD position, checking for play. You should aim to adjust the oval plate shims so that you get absolutely minimal play in the wheel but no binding. Then install the heavy spring. This procedure ensures that the box will have no play, but remain as frictionless as they are reknowned to be.

I have done a bucket of these boxes that people have otherwise said are "unrepairable" etc...

I have also replaced the cups and ball races with tapered roller bearings in one case when I could not get a good replacement main steering shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks Clayton!

I agree with your comments regarding wear on the main sector ("rocking shaft" in Alfa parlance). I've been lucky so far in that I haven't had to replace any bushings. In fact, I have seen very little wear on the internal components. The biggest issues I've seen are corrosion on the bearing surfaces from moisture (the result of no oil) and cracked cases.

My theory is that, here in the midwest anyway, these cars are rarely used as daily drivers, many live their lives under a car cover and rarely do we think about steering box maintenance. So the car sits there, oil drains out of the case, moisture follows and the mechanism gets real, real stiff. The stresses must be tremendous at that point. If that's not enough we add wide tires to the equation. Remember that these boxes were designed for 165mm wide tires. I'm running 205s and it is a chore to turn around in a tight spots. All that force is directed to that 1/4" thick aluminum case. Yikes!

We carefully warm the motor up making sure we we've got plenty of oil pressure and baby our precious Nords out of the garage. Then we make a sharp right turn at 1 mph and bang, there goes the Burman box! We blame the poor design when in reality if we gave one tenth the attention to the poor little Burman box that we give every other component on these cars they would last forever.

The irony in this is that it's cheaper and easier to find a good used motor than it is a good used steering box...
 

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Thanks indeed for this useful aticle. Very well done.

The problem when looking for a used Burman is that the 1750 had two versions, one being a bit longer 20mm than the other. :-(
 
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