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I'm currently at the front suspension rebuilding stage of the restoration of my '73 Spider and I'll be pulling the steering box this weekend for inspection and possible rebuild. When the shell was painted the steering box and idler arm were sprayed body colour, and unfortunately I don't remember before the painting if the steering box was painted black like the column or bare aluminum. If someone could let me know, or has a picture, I'd appreciate it.

Best regards,
 

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Here is my 1969 Spider box still in the car and definitely dirty. I think bare cast aluminum.

1675165


So the one on the left is from the car after some cleaning, I decided to buy the Alfaholics box and get it polished. A little over the top. I did paint the lid on top black.
1675169
 

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Thanks!

Best regards,
 

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Here is my 1969 Spider box still in the car and definitely dirty. I think bare cast aluminum.

View attachment 1675165

So the one on the left is from the car after some cleaning, I decided to buy the Alfaholics box and get it polished. A little over the top. I did paint the lid on top black.
View attachment 1675169
Yes, I agree a little over the top; but I like it. When it’s installed only you will know it’s there (unless of course you point it out to people).

-John
 

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There's been a bunch of discussion on this if you search. I believe the conclusion was that the Burman steering box was originally painted black, but basically they all flaked off fairly quickly to silver.

I'd probably keep it bare to make it easier to find potential cracks in the future. Personally I upgraded mine to the Alfaholics CNC one. Not cheap but very solid.
 

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everyone know.. that if you paint any part of your car 'RED ' it will give you at least 10 extra ' butt hp ' :rolleyes:
 

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To the best of my knowledge the boxes were black from the factory, but as above said, the paint didn't last long. The most common approach now seems to be leave the housing in bare alloy, and paint the cover plates black. Getting the housing nice and clean is another discussion, as there are numerous ways/products to do it, with some better than others. I've just done it, and opted to use a nylon wheel on the drill which got rid of all the oxidisation etc, and will probably shoot rattle can clear coat over it to keep it clean. I know there are various chemical cleaners you can use, but some leave the alloy dull, do read up first.

When you get the box out, inspect it carefully for cracks. They're prone to crack around the bolt holes.
 

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there a way to prevent or slow any cracks from forming
 

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On any parts that you want to look like metal but not rust, Eastwood makes several different paints to look like bare metal.
 

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Interesting. I have never seen a black painted Burman steering box, and I own or have owned and seen some low mileage, never restored Alfas. Is there any way of confirming this through factory photos and documentation? If the majority say the boxes where painted black, then why didn't Alfa or Burman paint the idler box black aswell?
 

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Interesting. I have never seen a black painted Burman steering box, and I own or have owned and seen some low mileage, never restored Alfas.
I suspect the paint fails due to age, not mileage. Between heat from the exhaust and oil leaking from the engine and steering box, the paint failed within a few years of the cars leaving the factory.

why didn't Alfa or Burman paint the idler box black as well?
I can't answer that one for sure, but my guess is that Alfa was just building production cars, not show cars. The boxes came from Burman painted black, the idlers came from ___ in raw aluminum, and the guys in the factory bolted it all together. The thought that someone 50 years later would question that inconsistency just never came up.
 
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But Mad North-Northwest
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Ok, I'll bite. Please tell.
I dunno if Bianchi was asking a question or trying to tempt us with the answer :LOL: I suspect the most you can do is keep the box properly full of oil and avoid overly wide or sticky tires. The box just appears to have been under designed.

The Alfaholics CNC box is a very nice and permanent fix, but it's also over $1000, and that assumes you can do the rebuild yourself and also don't need to buy more parts to replace worn stuff in your existing box. So a high-quality solution, but not cheap.
 

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@Gubi, all, I just started, a too long postponed restoration of my 74 GTV. 18 yrs ago, I was rear-ended on the way home from a Ohio AROC track event at Nelson Ledges. I made it home (about 300 miles) and had the frame straightening and bodywork done (to the primer stage) and then put her away, until 2021. I pounded that car at every track event I could find with the stickiest 205-50-15's and dozens of autocrosses, many with 225-40-15 Hoosier Autocrosser tires. This was all before I learned about the weak steering boxes. I just pulled the engine and I am looking at the box now. It is dry and the oil level is full. What would be my next step to check for problems? Thanks.
 
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But Mad North-Northwest
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Well, I've rebuilt my Burman box (twice, technically) but I would not call myself an expert. If it's not leaking you're probably ahead of the game, though I'd probably suggest replacing the lower seal anyway just to save yourself future pain. There are some threads on how to do this without disassembling the whole box.

With the engine out it's probably not too much more work to pull the box, and that might be a good idea. You can mount the pitman arm in a vise, check for any play (turning the wheel left-right and also fore-aft on the shaft) and then see if you can shim it out.

The cracks tend to propagate from the bolt holes: the four in the top, and then the four in the front and four in the back, so that's where you want to inspect. I suspect the majority of boxes have minor cracking at this point but it can be difficult to see; some folks have had theirs dye tested to verify. Depends how paranoid you are: in the absence of major cracking it might be okay for street use, I dunno.

Some good details in the thread below. Rebuilding the box isn't rocket science, but it does require attention to detail and some work to get the shims right.

 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everyone, I'll just clean and strip the paint, then paint the top cover. I'll also clean and strip the paint from the idler arm housing.

I'm also interested in any answers about steering box inspection.

Best regards,

Edit, I notice that Gubi answered my second question while I was writing. Thanks!
 

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I'll also clean and strip the paint from the idler arm housing.
There shouldn't be any paint on the idler. I'd like to know if there is, with photos. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #20
There shouldn't be any paint on the idler. I'd like to know if there is, with photos. Thanks
My car was painted as a rolling shell, so the steering box and idler arm box and were all sprayed when the shop painted the engine compartment. I didn't bother to mask them, because I knew I'd be removing them during the front suspension rebuild.

Best regards,
 
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