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Discussion Starter #1
The donor steering box I had intended for my car has significant play in the lower bushing (anyone know where to order one?), so I pulled the one in the car and tore down. It's completely identical, except bolts are not original and the lower seal has this metal ring which appears to be hammered in.

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The standard rubber burman box seal was in there, which I pried out, boy was it in terrible condition so I'm glad I decided to do an overhaul. Anyway I would guess this metal bit is previous owner syndrome of some type so I plan to pry it out unless someone can correct me.
 

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Early box with O-ring instead of seal. The metal ring is pressed in to retain the O-ring.

Don
 

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dbest is correct that the older boxes had a metal retaining ring for an o-ring seal. Newer boxes had no retaining ring and just a larger seal that can be changed with the box still installed on the car. The older box will require being removed from the car and opened up to replace the o-ring seal.
Some people remove the metal retaining ring and machine out a lip to accept the newer style larger seal that allows one to change the seal while the box is still on the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A lot is beginning to make sense. I pulled a box from a 74 and it had the large seal leading me to expect the large seal on this box I pulled from my 78. Then I found this metal retaining ring and was surprised to pull out a full size large seal, not an o-ring.

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It should not surprise me someone must have stuffed the full size seal into the cavity of this box some 17+ years ago before the documented history I have available. Not sure if this would be why the box was leaking, two years ago a mechanic drained the oil and replaced with 90W and the box has not leaked since. But hey now it will be all sparkling new inside just for good measure.

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While I'm rambling here are pictures of the two steering boxes in my posession - left one from the 74, right one from the 78. Not sure where a lip would need to be machined as both boxes appear to be identically dimensioned. No picture after I knocked out the retaining ring but no play in the rocking arm so I'm good to go. Will see about a bushing from gigem75 so I can store the spare as "ready to go".
 

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Maybe my friend just machines it to clean it up. The most important thing is to check for hairline cracks, especially by the screw holes. It’s rare to find an old, original box without them.
‘I’m about to take mine apart and if I find any, I’m gonna buy the Alfaholics upgrade.
 
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