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Drained the gear box this weekend and found this little part attached to the magnet on the drain plug when I unscrewed it. Any ideas what it is or where it belongs?
 

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It could be worse. I had a synchro come apart and it wrecked the box. There were pieces of gear teeth and other things lying in the bottom of the case.
 

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Drained the gear box this weekend and found this little part attached to the magnet on the drain plug when I unscrewed it. Any ideas what it is or where it belongs?
I too believe it part of the syncro and it means you don't drive the car. there should be no way for that to escape its assembly so that means there is something ready to come apart in a big way. take it apart now and fix it before another one falls out and jams and scraps the whole box. you got very lucky just now finding that... build on that good fortune...
 

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About the only way that expander or spacer (call it what you will) could come loose and fall out is if that gear is so loose on the shaft that it could move far enough to let the thing fall out. There is no way that you should have that kind fore and aft movement on the gear shaft. Only other way is if it was dropped out unknoticed during assembly and has been loose in the bottom of the case ever since until it finally ended up in the magnatic drain plug. Do you have a malfunctioning gear (syncronizer wise) in your transmission?

Robert
 

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Discussion Starter #8
one of those things you never want to hear

About the only way that expander or spacer (call it what you will) could come loose and fall out is if that gear is so loose on the shaft that it could move far enough to let the thing fall out. There is no way that you should have that kind fore and aft movement on the gear shaft. Only other way is if it was dropped out unknoticed during assembly and has been loose in the bottom of the case ever since until it finally ended up in the magnatic drain plug. Do you have a malfunctioning gear (syncronizer wise) in your transmission?

Robert
First off, thanks to everyone who has chimed in so far.

Ed,

I did find three little gear chunks on the plug magnet too - how did you know?

Robert,

I have driven the car several hundred miles since I purchased it 5 months ago, and never noticed a problem with any of the gears except for 2nd. In fact all the other gears (except 2nd) shift into and out of easily, and function properly.

But from day one I have not been able to shift up from 1st to 2nd or down from 3rd to 2nd without serious grinding (or unless I was travelling at very low MPH or with very low RPMs). I had been warned about 2nd gear synchros being a common problem with these cars, so I just assumed I had another one of those fussy 2nd gear synchros. Hence, I decided to avoid using 2nd gear altogether until I could sort it out (we all know there are plenty of others things to keep us occupied with a car that was poorly maintained by previous owners). I was hoping that a gear oil change might help (chuckle)....

Although a few members had suggested that I try "double-clutching" as a way around the issue, I had no success with that. I just took to shifting from 1st to 3rd and vice-versa.

I guess I now have some new things to consider (like if I want to tackle pulling or rebuilding the gearbox myself). I'm kind of limited in what I can do, having only a small, cramped, one-car garage.

If I continue to drive the car after this discovery, I'm betting that the spacer fell to the bottom of the gearbox during assembly, and just laid there not hurting anything for who knows how long. But the appearance of that moly synchro spacer definitely has me concerned that worse things could happen (as Ed suggests). Plus it would be really nice if I could use 2nd gear!

Perhaps I should just drive it one more time in its present condition: to a shop to pull and rebuild the gearbox, and replace the leaking differential seal while they have it.

Now's the time when all of you should be sounding off about how easy it is to drop the tranny alone, indoors, with the car 15" up on jack stands. And once you have it out, it's a piece of cake to rebuild, a child could do it.....
 

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My gearbox failed catastrophically about 3 weeks after I bought my '79 Spider. It was my first Alfa. I had done a clutch job on a RWD Toyota Corolla so I was confident that I could do it. I too only had jack stands. I bought a used gearbox, dropped the bad one on my own without a transmission jack and the guy who sold me the car came and helped me install the "new"" one. I was a youthful 52 years old at the time. Fifteen years later I have a lift, my reward for doing jobs lying on my back for all those years.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Yeah, it sure sounds like that piece fell out of second gear. Even with worn synchros you should be able to get it to shift without a grind.

I'd kill for a freakin' lift. One of these days...
 

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You can rebuild it or at least change the syncro and dog teeth to make it shift much better. An oil change can help (if that was dropped in somehow) if the syncro is boogered and has the wrong oil making a bad situation worse.

Have a shop take the trans out, store it for a week on their lot, swap the syncros and have them out it back in.
 

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That sounds familiar, when we had the quad for a few months, the locknut from the shiftfork 1st and 2nd fell out and I drove it home in 3,4 and 5.
I also have a small one car garage but jacked the car up as high as I could and the box was out while it was still warm from the drive home, pretty straight forward job as long as everything is coming apart without problems.
The gearbox itself is not very complicated and once you are as far as taking the shafts out of their casing the job gets more complicated and requires some specialized tools.
At that point you can decide to take the shaft with the broken gear to a specialist and have them fix it.
I myself was put off by the local shop and angry about that I welded together a press and fixed it all by myself, hopefully the shops in your neighbourhood are more friendly

good luck !!
 

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If the 2nd gear is that bad you might want to consider replacing it, the synchro slider and the synchro itself. It has probably been "crunced" enough to round off the face of the gear., It is possible that the gear is broken that holds the balk ring cover in place, hence it has come loose, the part fell out as a result. That would be an interesting picture to see.
 

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Regarding continueing to drive the car. Probably not the best thing but you have to consider that a used replacement trnsmission is not that expensive. I have 5 extra spider transmissions myself. I just bought them from time to time when a used unit became available at a good price. There is not a lot of market for used Alfa transmissions for several reasons.

1. They are unusually robust transmissions other than the fact that they have historically weak 2nd gear syncros. Hence there are a lot of survivors out there.

2. It's such a crapshoot replacing an Alfa transmission with a used unit because you don't know if the used unit will be any better than your old problematic unit. There is no inspection plate or cover you can take off easily to check on the condition of things inside a used unit. The ony way to check for sure is to disassemble the thing, and if you are goiing to disassemble one, you might as well disassemble your own unit and reair it while you are in there, rather than take a chance on on unknown used unit. The devil you know is less evil than the devil you don't know. Otherwise you can only install an unknown used unit and pray for the best. And since it is so much effort and skinned knuckels to R and R an Alfa transmission, this prospect is very unappealing.

3. Most people parting out an Alfa spider think the transmission is gold and hang on to them for a good while. They rarely get any takers for the transmission and eventually sell it off cheap or give it away just to get it out of the garage or storage unit.

So if you do keep on driving the Alfa and the gearbox eventually packs it in, it will not be the end of the world.

Note: Edward., I am packing up the cable window parts to send to your address. Just repay me the shipping after you receive them. You can email me at [email protected] if need be.

Robert
 

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My current gearbox came out of an '82 parts car and I had it rebuilt by Richard Jemison. Some parts in that box were badly worn and the broken box was a donor for them. I was glad that I had not thrown it away.

I agree with the advice about buying a used gearbox. Here is the gbox history for my car over about 90k miles.

1 Original box, wrecked in '99 - became parts donor
2 Bought from Salvatore in NJ for $250. Had poor 2nd gear synchros - gave away to local Alfista
3 Removed from '70 parts car. Had been rebuilt at some point. Decent gearbox - gave away to Richard Jemison
4 Removed from 82 pats car. Rebuilt by Richard, lightened gears - current gearbox and easily the best of the 4
 

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If you have a rebuilt lightened gearbox built by Richard Jemison, then it really is Gold! Those lightened gear sets are a work of art, beautiful just to look at, much less drive! Wish I could afford a set.

Robert
 

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Parts & pieces

That syncro lock piece could not escape without serious damage (syncro band loss) in the box. If the 2nd gear (if that`s the source) is now non syncronised I suggest you pull the trans and examine. Farther use will only compound the damages to the gear sets.
See pics!
 

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I have a related yet unrelated question. Are the newer gearboxes identical to the older, let's say 1989 vs 1974?

I've also heard that Richards rebuild and lightened gears are magical as well and now that mine are out off they will go soon.
 

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There are minor variations of the shift rods and their connection to the reverse light switch (changed round 1972). Mechanically all the 5-speed transmissions from about 1959 are the same!!

Robert
 

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I'm thinking the trany was rebuilt by or for the PO.......careless assembly of the guy who rebuilt the tranny....it fell out during assembly somehow....and slid to the bottom of the case.....guido didn't even notice it....or want to fix it after the test drive.....that's why you're the proud owner that's going to make it right.
 
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