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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, alfabb community.
My first new thread posting, as I just registered today. My 1986 Spider QV steering wheel is secured to the steering column shaft with a Woodruff key. Removing the steering wheel is not a difficult procedure, but putting it back on is a nightmare; two hands are never enough to hold the Woodruff key down in its groove while trying to push the steering wheel distance spacer tube over the key and against the pressure of the column end spring.
Does anyone know how much of a job it would be to replace this column shaft with a splined-end shaft? I ordered and received a beautiful, like new Alfa Romeo original leather steering wheel to replace the non-leather Alfa Romeo steering wheel, but the new wheel can be fitted only on a splined-end shaft. At the time I ordered the wheel, I wasn't aware that my QV had the
Woodruff key shaft. In case the Woodruff key-to-splines transformation is not possible or not financially justifiable, I will unfortunately have to put the leather wheel up for sale.
Thanks to anyone who can provice guidance on this.
 

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yep, sorry to say....sell the wheel and get one that fits on the woodruff keyed shaft.....the splined shaft only came on the S4 spiders, so 91-94 US spider with power steering (or 90-93 euro S4 p/s spiders)

getting the old wheel back on I have read where one member on BB actually glued the key into place to hold it down....which sounds like a good idea!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your quick reply, spiderserie4.
In fact, the first thing I tried was gluing the key into the groove, as prescribed by the AR Spider factory repair manual. I must confess that I used only an instant contact glue, which did not hold. Next time I'll try to find and use the approriate glue Loctite 601 or an equivalent.
Greetings to Munich, where I lived for 10 years. A true "Weltstadt mit Herz" (world city with a heart).
 

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I have no idea if it would fit but I have a steering column from an S4 spare, if any use?

Coincidentally I have just today swapped a steering wheel in the manual car to put in a Nardi personal. It looks so much nicer:)
I had to make up a small tool to get the old wheel off but it came pretty easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello, AngloSpider.
Thank you for offering an S4 steering column. Could you please confirm if that column has the splined end or the Woodruff key end? According to the AR Spider factory repair manual, as per Feb. 1990, the S4 still had the Woodruff key type steering shaft (when exactly in 1990 the S4 switched to splines, I can’t say).
As far as compatibility, I honestly don’t know if an S4 column is a straightforward fit in an S3 (my S3 being produced in Sept. 1986) or if any modifications are necessary.
In any case, replacing a steering column in an S3 or S4 reads to be a difficult undertaking and is not something I will try to do myself. I’ll try to get an estimate for that job locally IF (and it’s a big IF) I can find a competent and qualified mechanic in the south of France triangle of Avignon/Marseille/Nice. It’s not even a question of language—I’m fluent in French.
For those wondering if I’m contemplating replacing the steering column just to be able to mount the splined-fit leather steering wheel laying on my shelf, the answer is only partially ‘Yes’. Much more important, however, is the fact that a splined-end shaft makes it SO MUCH EASIER to remove and reinstall the steering wheel whenever it might be necessary to do so.
Greetings from unusually chilly Provence (time to put the hardtop on)!
 

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all S4 had splined column and all S4 had power steering (By S4 I mean US models 1991-1994 and European models 1990-1993)

The AR workshop manual you refer to is probably a US manual and refers thus to the US 1990 spider, which was a "transition" S3/S4 model, with S3 body and S4 engine management......but still no power steering.

The S3 column is one piece, with woodruff key. The S4 column is split with a universal joint and splined end. The steering boxes are, in spite of both being made by ZF, completely different in design and function, the S4 being a power steering box.

I wouldn't even contemplate trying to swop them.

A new steering wheel is the way to go:)...use some anti seize and it should come off easier next time!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi, spiderserie4.
The AR factory repair manual I have and reference is the German language version (Reparatur Leitfaden) which covers the European and US version Spiders in dedicated sections. The model ranges specified in the manual are 1983-1989 and 1990-1992. The S4 content in my manual dates from February 1990 (hence, very early in the S4 model life).
Thank you for having satisfied my curiosity about the (non)compatibility between the S3 and S4 steering columns. The idea to install the S4 column in my S3 is definitely now shelved.
Lastly, thanks for the tip about using anti-seize to facilitate the removal of a Spider steering wheel, but removal was never an issue for me. It was (and still is) the installation of the steering wheel that poses the problem. I have naturally tried to tilt the Woodruff key down toward the driver as suggested by ossodiseppia (see separate post) but when doing that the distance spacer tube that I can hold down for a couple of seconds at most comes shooting up the column with the force of the spring below it. When this occurs, one of two things happen: either the spacer tube snags on the “back side up” of the wedged and tilted Woodruff key (which acts as an obstacle), causing the tube’s edge to become badly deformed, or, the key is dislodged from its groove and does not block the tube and the tube becomes a projectile to impact whatever it hits first (my face, the headliner of the hardtop, or the back window). I have since learned to keep my face out of the trajectory path.
In summary, I will learn to live with the Woodruff key setup and hope that I will eventually master the installation of the steering wheel while under friendly fire.
Cheers to all.
 

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I thought that the columns probably wouldn't be interchangeable but it was worth thinking about it, given the problems you are having.

Having just changed a steering wheel, I am intrigued by the spring loaded part that keeps attacking you. There was nothing like that on mine - the adapter just slides on to the splines and sits there, there is nothing below it that compresses.

It must be a very different set up.

You really have had some bad weather down south. I'm in the Loir et Cher region this week and I was out driving with the hood down in the sunshine this afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Hi, AngloSpider (and others).
In the attached Spider S3 steering column diagram:
item 13 is the infamous Woodruff key
item 18 is the spring
item 16 is the spacer distance tube.
The tube must be pushed downward against the extremely resistant spring and be forced past the Woodruff key and held there until the steering wheel can be positioned over the key. Almost an impossible task for one person and there isn't really enough room for a second pair of helping hands.
Hope this diagram helps illustrate my dilemma.
 

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I also had a similar dilema. Had a splined steering wheel that was beautifully made out of wood but own an S3 spider.
The best solution was cut the splined hub out of the steering wheel and weld the keyed hub.
You do loose the use of a steering wheel, but now you can use your new wheel in the S3.
 

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I replaced my steering wheel last year and had the same problem you are having.
I removed the plastic steering wheel covers, then used vise grips to clamp the thin spacer
to the shaft after I pushed it down below the key. After I got the wheel on and the nut started I removed the vise grips and was home free.
John
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi, jveloce.
I like your idea about using the vice grips, as long as nothing gets all chewed up in the process. You say you "removed the plastic steering wheel covers". Do you mean the big plastic cylinder on the underside of the steering wheel or do you mean the upper and lower plastic covers on the steering column (that hide the combo switch)?
Also, exactly where do you position the vice grips? I would assume on the shaft itself between the distance spacer tube and the Woodruff key, but you need to elaborate on this for me.
Thanks in advance for your feedback on this.
Greetings,
Chris (RiansSpider)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi, alfamondial.
Unfortunately, I don't weld myself and I'm not willing to entrust the new splined steering wheel to anyone to start cutting away bits and pieces. I hope the job you did, or had done, on your wheel turned out as you hoped it would. I'd rather sell the wheel I have (posted for sale on BB today) and see it give pleasure to someone else who can really use it "as is", while continuing to look for the Woodruff key version leather wheel for my S3 QV.
Thanks anyway for the tip.
Greetings,
Chris (RiansSpider)
 

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just looking at your wheel in the classifieds (looks very smart!), why can't you just swop the splined hub for an S3 woodruff keyed hub?
....it is the hub that fits to the shaft........doesn't the wheel itself unscrew from the hub on the original wheels, once you pop off the plastic padded horn element on the front......like on nardi or momo etc??
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Hi, spiderserie4.
The hubs on original Alfa Romeo steering wheels (at least for the 115 Spiders) are unfortunately not "disconnectable" as they are in most after-market steering wheels. As indicated in alfamondial's previous post on this thread, the only way to change the hub and keep the wheel is to cut away the splined hub and transplant a Woodruff notched hub by welding one in.
Thanks anyway for the suggestion.
Greetings/Grüsse
 

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OK, that is good to know!......I just saw screws on the back of your wheel, in your photos, and thought the thing must somehow come apart!
There is btw a leather S3 wheel on the BB classifieds......it has been recovered so not quite as 'super' neat as yours, but looks decent. Have a look there.

also keep an eye open on german ebay (ebay.de) I have sometimes seen original leather wheels for the S3 (advertised as S4...but they obviously had the woodruff key mount!)....just keep an eye out for 'alfa spider lederlenkrad'.........you might have to sift thru some later wheels, but eventually you will find an S3 one, as everyone in Germany automatically swops them out for Nardi wooden wheels (having said that, have you not considered that path?.....I have a wooden, black spoke Nardi and it looks and feels great on my S4, very smart!)

Greetings from your old haunt...Munich:)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
OK, that is good to know!......I just saw screws on the back of your wheel, in your photos, and thought the thing must somehow come apart!
There is btw a leather S3 wheel on the BB classifieds......it has been recovered so not quite as 'super' neat as yours, but looks decent. Have a look there.

also keep an eye open on german ebay (ebay.de) I have sometimes seen original leather wheels for the S3 (advertised as S4...but they obviously had the woodruff key mount!)....just keep an eye out for 'alfa spider lederlenkrad'.........you might have to sift thru some later wheels, but eventually you will find an S3 one, as everyone in Germany automatically swops them out for Nardi wooden wheels (having said that, have you not considered that path?.....I have a wooden, black spoke Nardi and it looks and feels great on my S4, very smart!)

Greetings from your old haunt...Munich:)
Hi, spiderserie4.
Believe me, I am looking for the leather QV steering wheel not only on ebay.com, ebay.de, ebay.fr and ebay.it (each of which I set to search "world") but also on national sites such as leboncoin.fr and subito.it. I search in English, Deutsch, Français and Italiano (I am German, grew up in the US of A, and now reside in France. I also spent two years in Sicily). So much for multi-lingual searches...
As much as I admire Nardis and Momos, I find them best suited to the S1 and S2 Spiders. I personally very much like the original three-spoke Alfa Romeo factory steering wheels that were fitted to the S3s and I suppose most S4s, and that is definitely what I want in my QV.
The difficulty in my present search is twofold: 1. These original AR leather steering wheels are rare. 2. The quality and condition of the wheel I put up for sale today will be hard to match.
Last but not least: I am currently in France but leave for a 3-month stay in Sicily on 01 November 2012. If I get an immediate order for the wheel, I can ship it from France tomorrow (31 October) by mail. After that, it goes to Sicily with me and can ship from there. (I've added this note to my classified ad.)
Greetings/Grüsse/Salutations/Saluti,
Chris (RiansSpider)
 

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Chris, I removed the upper and lower covers that cover the combo switch, you might be able to remove just the bottom, you will be able to see the spacer. The spacer is thin and will flex but not warp when you squeeze the spacer with vise grips thus clamping the spacer to the shaft. You will then be able to put the woodruf key in (I had to file the key a bit to get it in place) everything stayed in place while I put the hub on and started the nut.
John
 
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