I just finished rebuilding the box out of my '74 and it also had all the same sized balls.
I went with the Alfaholics billet box, which was not cheap but is pretty cool. Ironically my original Burman box was in pretty good shape, only one small crack from one of the screw holes. Bunch of play in the bushing, however, and the box had a bunch of water in it. Internals were all in good shape otherwise, though.
I had to make an additional shim for the front of the box to loosen it up. It came out tight but quite smooth and turnable, so I'm assuming it's all good.
I just finished rebuilding my 1968 box as well following this thread. Like many, my box was cracked around all 4 lower holes. It was also leaking and filled with grease. In the interest of safety I also opted for the Alfaholics billet box. It is a really nice piece of machining. It comes with the lower bronze bushing and oil seal. You have to install these yourself. Modified assembly procedure: I had a lot of difficulty with the initial assembly and modified the approach as outlined below. The tolerances on the new box are tight and the upper and lower bearing cups are a light hand press fit into their bores. If the cup is not perfectly concentric and square to the bore, the bearing won't slide in. In the initial assembly I was holding the steering shaft, steering tube, and upper bearing in one hand and the main nut and heavy rocking shaft in the other while the box was clamped in a vice. Trying to juggle these five five pieces at the same time and get the cup into the bore squarely was a challenge and I repeatedly lost some balls in the process and would have to start over. I changed up the assembly process with success. The first piece to go in was the empty upper bearing
Second, I inserted the steering shaft and tube through the bearing and fed it into the main nut without the rocking shaft in place. Feeding the worm through the nut is now a one man job without trying to control that heavy piece. Once the main nut is on you can push the steering shaft forward and now populate the upper bearing cup. There's plenty of room reaching in from the top. If you drop a ball it just falls out the bottom of the housing.
Once the balls are in, pull the shaft back to hold the balls in position and then always keep the steering wheel end of the shaft angled downwards to maintain this position. If the shaft moves forward the balls can fall out. Next is the rocking shaft.
I loosely bolted the steering tube to the box (on less thing to hold onto). You need to have the main nut at the front end of the case and the shaft angled slightly as shown to move the nut away from the rocking shaft. With the nut in this position I lifted it up slighty with one hand and inserted the rocking shaft with the other. You have to rotate it slightly as it goes in to clear the nut but it fits and you can now mate it to the main nut.
Lastly, I installed the lower bearing and balls. I needed to heat the case slightly and then it slipped right in.
My end washer stood .025" out of the case and I only had one .010" shim so when I bolted on the end plate there was too much preload and the steering was stiff and notchy.
I made a new washer .015" thinner and when bolted up it now turns smoothly with no end play.
If anyone else is having trouble getting their box back together, I hope this helps.
I have a question on oil / grease to use for the rebuild.
As the recommended oil, I would like to use Castrol Classic EP90.
Since it is necessary to use grease to keep the balls in place, I was wondering if there might be grease that does not go well with it in combination.
Can anyone recommend a grease to use - also one with very high viscosity for an easy assembly?
As a side note, I also contacted Penrite to find out if their Steering Box Grease or an oil/grease mix is suitable for Alfa Burman boxes. This is what they replied:
A modern equivalent to the oils you mention above is GO 80W90 which is a moderately thick gear oil.
There is plenty of anecdotal talk that people have used SEMI FLUID GREASE successfully in such applications but from our perspective we have to note that this is different to what Alfa said they wanted.
Some people do say to mix grease and oil, but if you go down this path use the SEMI FLUID GREASE as it is preformulated and functionally the same.
It's been 10 years since I did my rebuild and not a single problem - the car's driven across Australian 3 times over this period too. I used Penrite Steering Box Lube and Penrite Molybdenum Disulphide grease
So I just finished rebuilding my box for a second time in three months. I'd gotten it reasonably okay but it wasn't quite right due to some worn parts I had to reuse, and also me not being as diligent about the shimming as I should've been. I ended up buying a spare box that also had worn parts, but fortunately different worn parts than the ones in my first box Stuff I've learned in doing this twice:
Hate to tell you, but as far as I can tell it is really not possible to get the shims adjusted perfectly in the car. You need to do it on a bench
Mine is a '74 box with the short splined input shaft. The trick in this thread to use a hose clamp on the spline to hold the upper bearing together during assembly is incredibly useful
For the fore-aft play, get the initial shim measurement by using the plunge function on a caliper to measure between the casing and the round spacer over the bearing. Then iterate on shims until it's not too tight but you also can't feel any fore-aft play by hand
Same for the top shims: use the plunge function to measure the difference between the top of the rocker arm and the top of the case (the surface where the football cover mounts, not the slightly lower machined area around the top of the rocker arm.) Then add 0.004"-0.008" additional clearance to that measurement, and that's your initial total shim thickness to set under the football
To set up the shims under the football:
Assemble the football cover and shims WITHOUT the spring
Temporarily put the pitman arm on with the nut and clamp the arm FIRMLY in a vise (with the box sticking up.) This lets you see and feel any play as you turn the input shaft. You can also feel the play by grabbing the body of the box and trying to rotate it by hand
When it's shimmed right you should feel the slightest amount of play as you turn the shaft or the box (this is the 0.004-0.008" target clearance.) Test by taking out one more shim: it should get really tight. Then put that shim back in and you're good. The top shims were all 0.005" in my car so one shim will move you from correct to too tight.
Now take the pitman arm back off, and install the spring under the football cover
To do the final adjustment of the shims at the front of the box
Clamp the body of the box in your vise
Use a dial micrometer on the end of the steering shaft (this is much easier in the cars with the short shaft)
As you rotate the shaft slightly back and forth the Big Nut will force the shaft fore and aft and you'll see any play in the bearings show up on the dial
If there's play remove shims in the amount of play you see (e.g. if you've got 0.005" of total play take out 0.005" of shims.)
Be careful when removing the end plate to add the shims as you don't want the bearing to fall out, which would cause the balls to fall into the box. That would suck
If you don't see any play I'd suggest adding a shim and testing again just to make sure you don't have it too tight
When I was done I got it down to ~0.002" total fore-aft play
I don't want this thing to leak again so I used EP 00 semi-fluid grease. Pennrite makes something similar, but the stuff I bought was Champion brand from Amazon. It is designed for steering boxes and will flow when cold
Final check when you're done: put the pitman arm back on and clamp the arm in the vise again. Now put the dial micrometer probe touching the body of the box and look at the play as you rotate the input shaft. If you did everything right the micrometer dial should move almost immediately as you turn the shaft
None of the above stuff are my discoveries: I found these by searching through other threads and reading some of the Alfa tech documents, but I wanted to document them all in one place. Hope you find them helpful.
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