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Hey all,

Picked up my first Alfa after getting close several times over the last 20 years. Yeah, I now, I've been missing out on 20 yrs of fun.

Anyway, it's an '85 Spider in Silver over Red interior. 140K miles, good (to my eyes) new silver paint (same as orig.), new black cloth top, decent interior.

Couple of questions:

1. Steering - is about the loosest of any car I've ever driven. Is this normal? Tons'o'play. Might it need a steering box rebuild?

2. Suspension is fairly loose as well, when rounding a turn it sort of feels like the rear body moves around (side to side) independently of the suspension. The limiting straps are definitely worn but am I best served by buying a whole suspension rebuild kit or is there something obvious that usually causes this symptom? Just from kneeling on the ground and wiggling stuff everything seems attached but I haven't yet put it on ramps or anything to really peruse it.

3. One last question - For some reason my car does not have an antenna (just a nice hole). Were these cars fitted with a power antenna or just a fixed in place rod antenna? Where might I most economically source a replacement?

Thanks,
Jim Klein
 

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Hey all,

Picked up my first Alfa after getting close several times over the last 20 years. Yeah, I now, I've been missing out on 20 yrs of fun.

Anyway, it's an '85 Spider in Silver over Red interior. 140K miles, good (to my eyes) new silver paint (same as orig.), new black cloth top, decent interior.

Couple of questions:

1. Steering - is about the loosest of any car I've ever driven. Is this normal? Tons'o'play. Might it need a steering box rebuild?
It's not normal, but it could be related to #2. There is an adjustment on some of the steering boxes, but to be honest I have to be looking at one to remember how to do it.

2. Suspension is fairly loose as well, when rounding a turn it sort of feels like the rear body moves around (side to side) independently of the suspension. The limiting straps are definitely worn but am I best served by buying a whole suspension rebuild kit or is there something obvious that usually causes this symptom? Just from kneeling on the ground and wiggling stuff everything seems attached but I haven't yet put it on ramps or anything to really peruse it.
How many miles are on the car? I've gotten to the point with Alfas that have significant miles on them of just replacing all the bushings and ball joints. Once you've gotten a corner of the car apart you've eaten most of the labor, so you may as well just replace all the components in that corner. If the car has some miles on it, you'd be surprised at how much all that slop in individual components adds up.

3. One last question - For some reason my car does not have an antenna (just a nice hole). Were these cars fitted with a power antenna or just a fixed in place rod antenna? Where might I most economically source a replacement?
Where is the hole? Look on the inside of where the hole is, if you've got room for a power antenna, and there's a blue lead (typically it's blue) lying around there, then go for the power antenna.

There's nothing special about the antennas on these cars, whatever fits, go for it. Autozone should have reasonably priced ones.

HTH,

bs
 

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The steering box can be adjusted with the screw and locknut on the top of the box, (instructions posted around here somewhere), but you'll really want to get after replacing as many bushings and joints as you can afford to before getting super worried about that. (all the box adjustments in the world aren't going to make up for spent components.....)

The symptoms you describe at the rear are consistant with the trailing arm bushes being roached. Kind of a dog-tracky, creepy detached kind of sensation.


Centerline offers some decent discounted 'all in one box' front end, rear end, brakes and driveshaft rebuild kits.

Link to Centerline kits page (scroll down to bottom for front and rear kits)
 

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Hello Jim, welcome to the BB.

As others have mentioned, worn suspension bushings are likely the source of the majority of your cars ill-handling. How about front end alignment? And what tire pressures are you running?

Replacing those axle straps should get you well aquainted with your cars underside... Use the search function to find lots of threads about the axle straps and rubber vs polyurethane bushings.

There is an adjustment for excess play in the steering box. Any evidence that it has been leaking? IIRC, the proper lube is 90W gear oil.

Were these cars fitted with a power antenna or just a fixed in place rod antenna? Where might I most economically source a replacement?
I believe that our model years would have had the antenna in the windshield. Our '84 does (and it works quite well). Most replacement windshields do NOT have the antenna in them. Perhaps your car had its windshield replaced?

Any replacement antenna should work fine.
 

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Mine has the antena on the windshield. Maybe your windshield has been replaced? Regardless, you need to fill the hole, so get an antena. New rear shocks did wonders for that loosey-goosey rear feeling.
 

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Welcome to the BB, Jim!

If your bushings are shot (and from the symptoms I would also concur that they were gone many miles ago), your motor mounts are probably no better, and you are sitting on a time bomb! (Fan breaks, "shoots" the radiator, and even the underside of the hood...)

I'm a strong advocate for all polyurethane bushings and motor mounts, and Centerline can guide you with that as well. Also, do a search on the BB as there are several good threads with good info.

Best regards,
 

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My guess is that you've got a 22 year old car there that's never had the suspension touched. I recommend that you get it up in the air and inspect ALL the suspension points. You're probably going to find many of them badly worn.

Alfa steering should be tight and precise, as should the handling and roadability. Good advice about the engine mounts, too. After 22 years, if it rubs or has rubber in it, it's probably worn. You'll be astounded as how well the car will handle with new joints.
 

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Giubo (flex joint), transmission support bushing, new shocks!

Should be high on your list! and if your fan blades have any defects/cracks or if dark yellow in colour, invest in a new one.

Also clean out the oil/vapour separator and a new O2 sensor!

TTFN Elio

Your steering play ias likele the tierods etc, not the steering box.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks!

Thanks for all of the suggestions, I have some work ahead of me! I appreciate it, time to start looking under the carts and shopping for parts!

Thanks,
Jim
 

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Polyurethane motor mounts can not be found at Centerline, but can be found here: http://www.alfa-romeoparts.com/index.html
Hi David,
I spoke with Don Ereminas (he's alfaromeoparts) not that long before the Convention in August and also at the convention, and he explained that he's been slowing down (he's been saying that for years! :D), but it actually seems like this time there is some truth to it. :) So, in order to keep servicing his customers, he has developed a business relationship with Centerline. Hence, the reason I suggested the one stop where one can get products, and if need be can be pointed in the right drection...

Best regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Follow up question

Alright, I spent some time under the car today and yes, I need to get the bushing kits and new shocks.

A puzzler - what is the bracket at the end of the transmission that seems to have two different bushings attached to it? The metal piece is kind of an L-shape with one bushing on either side of the car, one higher, the other lower. The repair manual refers to it as the "Bracket". My bushings are totally shot on this piece, the rubber is broken and bulging out.

Do the Centerline bushing kits have everything I need or do I still need to replace various bolts, etc? Or is all of that stuff reusable? I have the official Alfa repair manual and think I can do everything but have not done this type of job before.

Thanks,
Jim
 

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You talking the actual trans mount bracket (last thing before rubber doughnut, 1 big bolt in middle going cross-wise and 4 bolts going up into the chassis) the exhaust support (between bellhousing and trans mount, 2 nuts on studs with a significant overhang toward the drivers side) or the driveshaft support (between rubber doughnut and the 1st u-joint on driveshaft)?


Everything you need should be in the Centerline kit (call first to confirm and to let them know what ARB bushings you need) and what nuts & bolts hold things together like on the lower dogbones or chassis mounts are reused (unless you manage to break or strip one or decide to replace them all with new just onnaconna)

You'll need a pack o' cotter pins too if you're doing ball joints and tie-rod ends.
 

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Hi David,
I spoke with Don Ereminas (he's alfaromeoparts) not that long before the Convention in August and also at the convention, and he explained that he's been slowing down (he's been saying that for years! :D), but it actually seems like this time there is some truth to it. :) So, in order to keep servicing his customers, he has developed a business relationship with Centerline. Hence, the reason I suggested the one stop where one can get products, and if need be can be pointed in the right drection...

Best regards,
I wasn't aware of that, thanks for the information!
 
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