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I suppose we should also not lose sight of the fact after 40 years especially, metal fatigue when talking about aluminum castings are not unusual. Heck on most aircraft this is way beyond normal life expectancy for sure.

Regarding the idler...I know that on my car's idler shaft I could barely turn the shaft due to corrosion and crud (dried out lubricant) buildup at the bearing interface....

IMG_6771.jpg

..what you see in the photo was after cleaning off the heavy rusty buildup. And this was on a car that was driven in a very dry albeit hot environment for most of it's life. I can just imagine what one driven in a wet/salt environment must be like.

Anyhow many good points have been raised by all and a few very good options shown...thanks to all for the lively discussion.:)
 

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What I think we need is to encourage the usual Alfa suppliers to come up with a remanufactured box that is made of sterner stuff. When I removed my old and now disgarded box from my car it had all the usual cracks described by Diogenio. It was no small task tracking down a replacement but I eventually found one.
They are easily repaired by someone who knows how to weld aluminum.

Even when the screw is BRAND NEW and totally bathed in oil, turning the steering wheel in either direction puts high peak compressive and expansive forces toward either the front or rear ends of the box, depending on rotation. This "immoveable" object (the casting wall) is what allows the torque to be transferred to, and move the vertical shaft and thus your wheels. This is a simple principle. Remove the walls and the screw would in fact go out the front or back of the box, while the wheels stay put.

Even boxes that have been well maintained develop stress cracks, and some have gone onto total failure.

Search the forums for evidence of ZF boxes cracking or failing. (BTW, they require oil too). You wont find many, if any reports of failure. Quite the contrary for the Burman boxes.

Believe whatever you want to believe. I guess it makes people feel safer.
It's more than likely true that it's a bad design and that they will crack over time. Keeping them properly maintained decreases the likelihood of this failure. If the box has the proper lubricant in it, the worm drive will move more freely which decreases the stress applied to either end of the shaft and box.

Instead of it being a single cause of failure, don't you think it could be a combination of poor maintenance and design?

Thank you and good night.
What he said.
 

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If you are concerned, a group of guys can perhaps contact Jim to have him produce a short run of the steel reinforcing plates, and the DIY guys can install them at home. I had Jim rebuild my entire box for that cost, so the plates alone would be much cheaper.
I would be interested in such an action.
 

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Discussion Starter #185 (Edited)
Holy mackerel, I didn't mean to start a steering box war here! Actually very good and interesting discussion. I guess my point is that I don't think the Burman box should be considered a bad design because it is failing after 40 years of use. On the contrary, most designs of the day were pretty ham fisted, carved out of cast iron affairs. Imagine an ugly Chevy steering box bolted up next to our beautiful Nord motors - oh the humanity!

The Burman box, in my opinion is a sophisticated design that can carry the significant loads with those ridiculously thin walls. I think someone really spent some time with this - long before FEA software! That's real engineering in my book!

But the reality is that these boxes can't live forever and there are probably many on the road today that should be retired. I've looked into having billet boxes made - no big deal except for the money. But as these boxes pass their useful life there will be few options. I doubt a 40 year old ZF box is any better than a 40 year old Burman box. And frankly adding straps to a cracked or soon to crack box doesn't really sound like an ideal solution.

Personally I wouldn't drive an Alfa today that hasn't had the box removed, inspected (including Dye Pen) and rebuilt to factory specs. The thought of one of these things breaking up on a turn at speed would keep me up at night...
 

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Rossano: that's one heck of an idler! Never saw one rusted up like that, just worn out ones with slop.

Rich: Magnafluxing does not work on non-ferrous metals, like aluminum, hence the use of liquid dye to find the cracks!

If one begins with a good used box that has been dyed and inspected, and then puts the reinforcing plates on...I'd say you are covered for most failure modes. The steel plates act like a "C" clamp between the front and rear walls, preventing them from being flexed out and cracking. That being said, hairline cracks may still develop in the box over time, but the chances for that occuring have been greatly reduced. More importantly, the plates prevent a catastrophic failure mode like in the picture I attached before. The box may still crack, but you won't totally lose your steering like quite a few unfortunate 105 owners have.

So far as the ZF boxes go - they are simply more robust in design. So are the cast iron boxes of 1967 Chevys and Fords. I don't understand why some continue to deny this. Burmans have flimsy walls, ZFs do not. The castings are of a much higher quality with a higher tensile strength. The Germans built the ZF like a Panzer tank - it's just how they do things. So do ya prefer Lucas or Bosch electricals?

If Burman had just made the front and rear bosses 50% or 75% thicker, I don't believe we would be seeing a single one crack...even after 40 years. But with due credit to Burman...they worked fine with skinny tires and gave a very nice feel to the steering. And...they were very light.

Hindsight is always 20-20.
 

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Discussion Starter #188
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Rich: Magnafluxing does not work on non-ferrous metals, like aluminum, hence the use of liquid dye to find the cracks!
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:eek::eek: Well that's embarrassing! I meant dyepen but maybe those new high power aluminum magnets will finally make Magnafux practical. :D:D

... If one begins with a good used box...
Therein lies the rub, eh? If your premise is that these boxes are a bad design (which I don't agree with) or that they are passing their useful life (which I do believe) then finding "a good used box" is like finding a "rust free" body.

...If Burman had just made the front and rear bosses 50% or 75% thicker...
On this I totally agree!


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Ha ha ha - so true, Rich! I guess from my viewpoint, none of them are "any good!" :-(

Let me rephrase that: "find one that is not cracked... and then reinforce it..." :)

Drive safe, brothers...
 

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ZF Steering Box Seals

After a long search to find the seal (28 X 42.5 X 8) for the ZF steering box I purchased a "large" minimum quantity of seals from a supplier. If you are in need of one/many I want $13.00 USD shipped within US and $15.00 USD each everywhere else. I will also put this ad in the FOR SALE section.

-John
 

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I suspect several get cracks after a front end shunt. The car will bend but the aluminum won't. I'd venture to guess that after all this time a fair portion of Alfas have suffered that fate.

"I suppose we should also not lose sight of the fact after 40 years especially, metal fatigue when talking about aluminum castings are not unusual. Heck on most aircraft this is way beyond normal life expectancy for sure." Tell that to the kids flying the B-52 H's which I believe are the only ones in service. Then again they are rather well maintained:)
 

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After a long search to find the seal (28 X 42.4 X 8) for the ZF steering box I purchased a "large" minimum quantity of seals from a supplier. If you are in need of one/many I want $13.00 USD shipped within US and $15.00 USD each everywhere else. I will also put this ad in the FOR SALE section.
I will take one. Please PM me regarding payment.
Thanks.
 

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What about having new castings made.....instead of a billet machining? Anyone out there interested in pursuing this?
I believe that Alfaholics offer replacement Burman box cases for £695.00. See: Montreal LHD Steering Box Case | Classic Alfa Romeo spare parts and accessories Yes, that item in their catalog is for a Montreal, but I seem to recall someone on the BB saying they contacted Alfaholics and learning that they could also provide a version for a 105. (for extra points, how do the Burman boxes for Montreals differ from the ones used on 105's?)

So 1750GT: given that billet replacements are available, would there still be some advantage in having castings made instead? Certainly in large enough quantities, castings could be produced for < $1,097 Canadian - but, the set-up cost would be significant, so a large run would be required to produce a unit cost competitive with the Alfaholics billet solution.
 

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Identify this Steering Box

I have this steering box that has been tucked away in the corner of the garage for at least twenty-five years. It has a year date in the casting
of "4", which I think is 1974. I have no idea where I got it. I parted out a crashed GTV 2000 back in 1976 and I parted my '72 Berlina in about '86. We've dismantled a few Spiders over the past couple of years but I'm sure I've had it a lot longer. It has a short splined input stalk. I can't find a similar looking box on in any parts book I have.

I took the covers apart and cleaned and painted them. The inside looks new.
I needs some new gaskets now. It apparently had a coat of chassis black at one time but most has flaked off. I don't need this box. My Spider has a ZF model and my 1750 GTV has one with the long input shaft to the steering wheel. I guess it could be used for parts to rebuild a long shaft model.
The Nut is buggered up or is the incorrect nut. It was barely threaded onto the output threaded shaft.
The Threads on the shaft look very good, so I guess it needs a new 22 X 1.50 pitch castle nut or the old one chased.


What did this fit on and what is it worth in excellent condition?

Thank for the help.
 

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Andrew Watry seems to know a lot about these boxes and he may correct me. I think that all of the Berlina's and some of the GTV's had the short splined box. As far as I know, the Spiders all had long shafts.
 

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My spider has the long shaft and my 72 GTV parts car, a red 73 GTV, and my driver 74 GTV all have the short splined box.
 

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Resurrecting this thread with a question. I've noticed that the steering on my 68 Giulia GT Jr is a little sloppy on center. Should I try removing one of the shims to tighten it up?
 
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